What to do about piracy and the competition?

Discussion in 'A+ Certification' started by TwoBearCatz, Aug 1, 2006.

  1. TwoBearCatz

    TwoBearCatz Guest

    Not sure if this is the best group for this question but I've noticed
    many posts regarding computer service companies in this group.

    As an owner of a local computer service company of several years I've
    run into a difficult problem with regard to one or two companies in
    town that choose to sell computers with pirated software (including XP)
    and pirated software in general. As some of you know, these types of
    outfits are pretty shady and hard to track down. They sell things
    without invoices and/or the customers conveniently "lose" their
    invoices after purchase.

    Here are the major problems with this:

    1) It's illegal

    2) It hurts my business. These outfits can and do sell computers and
    services for less than legit businesses do for obvious reasons. Perhaps
    the worst part is not simply the competition but for the fact we get
    many of their "rejects". Customers that have purchased pirated
    software/services/computers say they "didn't know" it was pirated. They
    want re-images and other services without of course paying for said
    software because they think they "already bought it". This causes ALL
    KINDS of frustration, headache, and believe it or not bad debt!

    3) Working on computers with pirated software potentially puts me and
    my company at risk.

    I am well aware of the SPA, but I'm not sure they really investigate
    such problems? I've heard the SPA has some strict guidelines as to what
    they will investigate and what they won't. If the SPA won't do it,
    surely someone else will? Can a person really get away with selling
    tens of thousands of dollars of pirated software locally? TIA for any
    tips on what I can do about this problem.
     
    TwoBearCatz, Aug 1, 2006
    #1
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  2. You can report to Microsoft directly via email or phone call and to other
    organizations as shown in the links below. You may need to ask your
    customers that have been burned to help and have them report also or help
    build your case. Good luck.

    Steve

    http://www.microsoft.com/piracy/Reporting.mspx

    So what happens when you report software piracy?
    a.. Your lead is received by a team of individuals who respond.
    b.. Education - A letter may be sent to the company stating that they have
    been reported for allegedly distributing Microsoft software in an
    unauthorized manner.
    c.. A secret shopper may make a purchase from the company that was
    reported.
    d.. The individual who submitted the lead may be contacted for further
    information/evidence (invoice, software).
    e.. If evidence regarding the company is gathered, a cease and desist
    letter may be sent.
    f.. The evidence developed may be used in a legal proceeding against the
    reported company.

    https://reporting.bsa.org/usa/home.aspx
     
    Steven L Umbach, Aug 1, 2006
    #2
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  3. TwoBearCatz

    SBFan2000 Guest

    You better make 100% sure that they are using pirate software. If thier not
    and you "make it part of your advertising" that your competitor is using
    pirate software and in fact they aren't, your got yourself into a lawsuit.
    If they are then certainly tell people because it illegal and they should
    pay for breaking the law. But be 100% sure before you advertise that!
     
    SBFan2000, Aug 4, 2006
    #3
  4. TwoBearCatz

    smackedass Guest

    In fact, I'd hire a lawyer on if you want to disparage other local
    "uncommitted" salespeople as part of your marketing campaign. I hate to be
    the bearer of bad news, but this is the world we live in.

    smackedass
     
    smackedass, Aug 4, 2006
    #4
  5. TwoBearCatz

    JohnO Guest

    Who do you think buys pirated DVDs? The same people looking for a
    bargain on PCs. They don't care, and many of them probably like
    "sticking it to Bill." That's unfortunate, but these days a lot of
    people have no ethics.

    Don't advertise this. It's bad marketing strategy, as well as a great
    way to find yourself under a microscope. Even bringing it up to your
    prospective customers is bad. If they ask why your systems cost more,
    however, make it clear: when you buy from me you get a *genuine Win XP
    install disk* and not a bootleg copy. And leave it right there. You can
    advertise the fact that you provide genuine Win XP install CDs, but
    don't EVER publish anything that says your competitor is a pirate.

    Do your competitor's systems pass the WGA checks? If not, your job is
    easy...his customers cannot get updates and the extra tools.

    If they DO pass, then you need to contact MS directly. There used to be
    a dedicated email address for that, [email protected] or something like
    that.

    -John O
     
    JohnO, Aug 4, 2006
    #5
  6. TwoBearCatz

    J. Clarke Guest

    I don't see anything wrong with making the issue of piracy and the risks
    part of one's advertising as long as one does not claim that any particular
    competitor is engaging in this practice. Note that just "not naming names"
    is not necessarily good enough protection if there is enough information
    provided that a "reasonable man" could identify the competitor.

    Even worse, an ad that says "don't buy from Joe's Whorehouse and Computer
    Store because Joe sells pirated software" is likely to send a lot more
    business to Joe than it is to you. Salesmanship 101--don't bash the
    competition.
     
    J. Clarke, Aug 4, 2006
    #6
  7. TwoBearCatz

    TwoBearCatz Guest

    On that topic, I did the only homework I could this past week. I wound
    up doing work for a customer that recently bought two PC's from said
    business on the same day. Both PC's came "bundled" with XP Home - no
    disks, and no keys to be found! Before I left, I took a look at the
    PID's for both the PC's. Interestingly enough, they were both "OEM"
    PID's and both were identical except for the last trailing digit. It
    was inc/dec by one per machine. (e.g. one machine was ending in 5 the
    other in 6). I posted about this earlier in the MS newsgroup figuring
    someone could say for sure this was a pirate job or not - but I never
    got a straight answer on the PID thing. Even though XP bootlegging is
    NOT one of my hobbies or business plans, I'm really thinking the PID's
    would always come up looking fairly "random" from PC to PC. The
    customer claims they get the XP updates "OK". I wonder if this is their
    sneaky way of making up "unique" keys to get past WGA? Any ideas?
     
    TwoBearCatz, Aug 6, 2006
    #7
  8. TwoBearCatz

    SBFan2000 Guest

    I'm not a MS professional so take this all with a grain of salt, but I do
    know that a single XP disc can be installed about 3 or 4 times before MS
    won't allow it. That is, its physically possible, not necessary legal. If
    I buy a disc I can install it on my desktop and my laptop legally. What I
    can't do legally is install it on my desktop and my friends laptop.

    When the installation goes to register with XP it will activate 3 or 4 times
    and then it will start returning an error that it can't be activated
    anymore. This I've seen, a guy I know got a XP disc from a family member to
    install on two of his machines. The first installed and activated fine, the
    other installed but when it went to activate it said something to the effect
    of "This copy of XP has can't be activated, it has reached its installation
    limit."

    What that business probably did it take an OEM disc and install that same
    disc twice, once on each computer. This is not illegal since they went to
    the same user but that user should have been given the disc and the key.
    This is assuming or course that the user is keeping both systems.

    I couldn't say 100% that the business is pirating because it is possible
    they did this because they knew they were going to the same user. However,
    that is highly unlikly and very poor business practice. That buyer should
    return and demand the key and disc. Chances are that business is installing
    it as many times as they can. I would contact MS and have them check it
    out!
     
    SBFan2000, Aug 7, 2006
    #8
  9. TwoBearCatz

    JohnO Guest

    I'm pretty certain the answer is no, but could you explain that
    question anyway?

    -John O
     
    JohnO, Aug 7, 2006
    #9
  10. TwoBearCatz

    TwoBearCatz Guest

    What you have written is technically correct, *however* since when is
    ONE seat of XP (or any other software for that matter) more than one
    seat?! I've heard this kind of nonsense bantered about by my elcheapo
    customers in the past. I've even heard the notion that MS "allows" you
    to install one license of XP on two computers provided you are the
    owner of both computers. I've never seen proof that MS indeed provides
    for this in the license. Even if MS did provide for this, they
    certainly wouldn't be providing for a reseller to do this on
    computers!? Again, I agree with you on the fact they not only should
    but *must* provide an XP disc and key (pref attached to the chassis)
    when selling WinXP. The funny part about all that is that if you follow
    that stipulation you obviously couldn't sell the same seat of XP on two
    machines in any case since one machine wouldn't have a key sticker. Of
    course, these things change a bit when dealing with volume licensing
    but then again we aren't dealing with that here. Even the largest
    "volume" PC dealers in the world are never caught without a valid WinXP
    key sticker affixed to the chassis of their computers.

    At any rate, I *think* you are on the right track about how these PID's
    wound up nearly identical. That's the question I've been trying to get
    a definite answer on to "prove" piracy (at least in this case).
     
    TwoBearCatz, Aug 7, 2006
    #10
  11. TwoBearCatz

    J. Clarke Guest

    Yeah. I have an idea. Why don't you run your business your way and let
    them run their business their way.

    What leads you to believe that making up keys will get past WGA? Microsoft
    knows what keys they have issued. Further, the made-up keys won't get past
    WPA, and without that WGA validation is irrelevant.
     
    J. Clarke, Aug 7, 2006
    #11
  12. TwoBearCatz

    TwoBearCatz Guest

    Who do you think buys pirated DVDs? The same people looking for a
    Those are good business points that I already practice. It's generally
    bad strategy to advertise against any competition. However, this
    problem NEEDS to be addressed a lot more in the future. If you are in
    this business full time and deal with the general public, trust me it
    will become a problem for you. Pirated software is even a problem
    dealing with other small businesses and their computer systems.

    It usually comes down to something like this. Said customer has
    expensive pirated software on their machines and they develop problems
    with these machines. If (as part of a repair) you reformat, etc of
    course they "lose" the pirated software they never had to begin with.
    Now, YOU have a problem on your hands even though it was never your
    problem to begin with. Many of them seem to know they have pirated
    software and have probable been turned down or had problems with PC
    service companies in the past because of it. They'll try to get you in
    the middle of their problem by saying stuff like "I don't get it" or "I
    lost the CD" or "Look, I paid for this from so and so". The part that
    is amusing the point of absurdity is that if another company is
    involved they will almost NEVER give you the name of the company. These
    same customers will NEVER lose the name of anyone else they like or
    dislike. Definitely a coverup.
     
    TwoBearCatz, Aug 7, 2006
    #12
  13. TwoBearCatz

    J. Clarke Guest

    Windows would do this for XP retail at one time--not sure if they still do.
    An OEM copy is licensed to a single machine, not a single user, and will
    activate only on the same hardware as originally installed--for any other
    situation you have to talk to a human being at Microsoft.

    As for buying a disk and using it on your desktop and laptop, that's the way
    Office is licensed, not Windows. Windows is licensed to be used on only
    one machine at a time--retail XP can be used natively and in one virtual
    machine on the same hardware, OEM XP isn't even licensed for the virtual
    machine.
    Then you have to call Microsoft.
    Yes, it is a violation of the Microsoft license. Further, if it was the
    same copy then sequential keys would not have been needed nor would they
    have worked.
    If I were another computer dealer in the same town I wouldn't. There is
    _no_ good that will come of it. It creates ill-will and lawsuits and is
    unlikely to result in the other guy being shut down. If the purchaser of
    the machine wants to raise Hell about it that's a different story.
     
    J. Clarke, Aug 7, 2006
    #13
  14. TwoBearCatz

    J. Clarke Guest

    What they _must_ do is spelled out in their contract with Microsoft. If you
    do not have in your possession a copy of that contract then you have no
    idea what it requires. If they are buying OEM copies through a distributer
    then the license requires that the key be attached to the machine somewhere
    but isn't explicit about where--since the "computer" is the motherboard
    according to Microsoft's stated policies they may be sticking it on the
    board. If they have an OEM contract then the situation may be different.
    Volume licensing and OEM licensing are not the same.
    The only way you are going to get a "definite yes or no answer" is to call
    Bill Gates' secretary and explain the problem and let her (or him) refer
    you to whoever you need to talk to.

    Personally I think your time would be better spent actually learning how
    Microsoft licensing works than stirring up trouble for your competitors.
     
    J. Clarke, Aug 7, 2006
    #14
  15. TwoBearCatz

    TwoBearCatz Guest

    You have apparently missed the entire point of this post. It is NOT OK
    if they are running illegal. They DO cause problems for those of us
    that run legal. I WILL make every effort to get to the bottom of this
    as it is usually have a very difficult time "catching" these crummy
    businesses pirating software. In fact, in about 5 years of running this
    sort of business I've not reported one due to the fact they hide out so
    well. Unfortunately (as stated) I cross their destructive paths left
    behind on more than one occasion. I take it you don't run a business
    like this?
     
    TwoBearCatz, Aug 7, 2006
    #15
  16. TwoBearCatz

    TwoBearCatz Guest

    "If they are buying OEM copies through a distributer
    then the license requires that the key be attached to the machine
    somewhere
    but isn't explicit about where--since the "computer" is the motherboard

    according to Microsoft's stated policies they may be sticking it on the

    board"

    No offense, but you sound like a defense attorney for software piracy.
    On the mainboard?! If I'm not mistaken, the rules state the key must be
    attached to the chassis which is NOT the mainboard. Also, why wouldn't
    the OEM "agreement" be the same for all small integrators?! It's quite
    simple, you can buy XP OEM in single packs or greater. The license on
    each seat is the same when you or I buy it.
     
    TwoBearCatz, Aug 7, 2006
    #16
  17. TwoBearCatz

    TwoBearCatz Guest

    Actually this isn't true. We routinely recommend customers do NOT
    install Windows Updates unless there is some need to do so. Know why?

    -Windows generally runs fine without the updates
    -Somehow, someway non-technical people actually manage to screw up
    their computers when they apply updates (power failures, installing
    optional updates, whatever)
    -Most "important" updates are just security patches for which a good
    3rd party security suite does a MUCH better job at anyway.

    The 2nd reason is the main reason we don't recommend it to
    non-technical people. Lately, it seems to be an even larger problem and
    customers are simply unhappy and unreasonable when you try to tell
    them installing any software or update on the computer is at their own
    risk.
     
    TwoBearCatz, Aug 7, 2006
    #17
  18. TwoBearCatz

    JohnO Guest

    I agree with you, especially having two boxes here that won't run
    right, and another that will need Win 2k and Outlook
    reinstalled----after taking a couple security updates. That situation
    is indeed changing, as some of the updates suck worse than the problem
    they aim to cure.

    In any case, good luck against your competitor. It sucks that people
    will go to them *because* they don't have to pay for the OS.

    -John O
     
    JohnO, Aug 7, 2006
    #18
  19. TwoBearCatz

    SBFan2000 Guest

    FYI, I have a customer that I'm installing a network for and she just
    called microsoft last Thursday in front of me and they told her she could
    install it on a desktop and a laptop provided she owns both.
     
    SBFan2000, Aug 7, 2006
    #19
  20. TwoBearCatz

    J. Clarke Guest

    And if they don't do it that way then they are pirates?
    There are several classes of integrator with different degrees of contact
    with Microsoft. Not all buy their software shrink-wrapped.
     
    J. Clarke, Aug 8, 2006
    #20
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