Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft May be Lying to Dissociate Itself from Kyrgyzstan Fiasco

Kyrgyz Manaschi, Karakol

Summary: Agents previously hired by Microsoft or working on Microsoft’s behalf have indeed shut down independent media using claims of Microsoft software counterfeiting

LAST WEEK we wrote about what Microsoft did in Kyrgyzstan, noting in part that Microsoft continues to assist suppressive and/or corrupt regimes like the one in China [1, 2].

Microsoft's PR drones were posting comments, mostly spinning and denying what was originally reported in Forbes. Well according to Jeffrey Carr from Forbes, who looked deeper into the issue, "Microsoft Denial On Kyrgyzstan Censorship Conflicts With The Facts" and here is why:

A further investigation into who this association is and who Microsoft's local lawyer reveals facts that conflict with the accuracy of Microsoft's statement. The lawyer is Sergey Pavlovsky (see here, here), and he is the President of the "Association of Rights Holders of Intellectual Property Protection", a Kyrgyz organization; the President - not merely a "technical advisor". Pavlovsky is also the Co-Chair (.pdf) of the IT Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Kyrgyz Republic. In other words, he's a big player in the world of anti-piracy in that region of the CIS.

In December, 2007 representatives from Microsoft signed an agreement with Pavlovsky's association to represent Microsoft in matters relating to copyright infringement and the discovery of such infringement via confidential online technology.

In January, 2010, Pavlovsky discusses the problems associated with enforcement of copyright violations in the Kyrgyz republic, one of which is that the copyright holder (i.e., Microsoft) needs to initiate a case with the Financial Police.

There is more coverage about it which refers to Carr's new claims.

As Jeffrey Carr reported on his Forbes’ blog today, Microsoft later said that “the raid against Stan Media was initiated by the Kyrgyz police without any involvement from any Microsoft employees or anyone working on Microsoft’s behalf.” The company acknowledged that personnel involved in the Stan TV raid had represented Microsoft in previous “enforcement actions.”

As president of the Kyrgyz Association of Rights Holders of Intellectual Property Protection, Pavlovsky has frequently spoken in the region on behalf of companies like Microsoft. In 2007, he spoke of his work detecting and pursuing the users of pirated Windows software. Kyrgyz law requires that a copyright holder initiate a complaint before financial police will investigate.

CPJ has documented previous occasions in the former Soviet republics in which authorities used Microsoft’s name in pursuing independent media. In November 2007, the Samara edition of award-winning Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta was effectively shut down due to accusations that the company was using unlicensed Microsoft software.

The key part is one which says that "The company acknowledged that personnel involved in the Stan TV raid had represented Microsoft in previous “enforcement actions.”" To Microsoft, the latest denial is likely to be an exercise in PR, but it is not exactly working. It did manage to censor some news sites though, so the story was not reported as widely as it ought to have been reported.

"Geeks like to think that they can ignore politics, you can leave politics alone, but politics won't leave you alone."

--Richard Stallman

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