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More than 10 million people a year visit the notorious silk market of Beijing. The 35,000-square-meter, seven level piracy temple, packed with nearly 2,000 small stalls, staffed by thousands of hard charging take no prisoner vendors, offering cheap knockoffs of the leading branded products in the world. Microsoft Windows 7 for about a buck, Microsoft Office for $0.75. Each stall is packed with customers from all around the world queuing, for the products. Almost from its inception, software technology has been dogged by digital piracy – the illegal distribution and/or copying software for personal or business use. It’s a big business that is becoming difficult to stop around different parts of the world. Counterfeiters have sophisticated entrepreneurs with organizations that have a full supply chain, a full distribution chain, and full manufacturing tools all in place, and it is all based on profits. There are strict rules in most countries to try to cut out counterfeits but the degree of enforcement and compliance varies. The United States for example, stipulates that software is automatically protected by federal copyright law from the moment of its creation. Software counterfeiters accelerate broadband speeds done through peer to peer networks, cyber-lockers, and every nefarious online way imaginable, plus the selling, buying and trading of discs. Microsoft’s top competitor is not another software company; it is counterfeiters. Piracy means Microsoft’s revenue in China in 2011 is just 5 percent of its U.S sales- even though PC sales in the two countries are almost equal. By 2010 the rate of worldwide piracy rose to 42 percent (up from 38 percent in 2007). Correspondingly this has cost technology companies about $52 billion as well as thousands of IT jobs. People will argue that counterfeits operate because of the expensive price of software and that software makers should reduce prices instead of their profit-maximising business models. However on the...
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