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打击盗版,微软一个人的战争

Tory Newmyer 2012年05月10日

微软想要求外国制造商证明他们没有使用盗版软件,没想到却导致其他科技巨头的群起而攻之。业界认为,自证清白的工作需要耗费不可估量的资金。法案带来的麻烦比实际的好处大得多,可谓得不偿失。

微软CEO史蒂夫•鲍尔默

    微软(Microsoft)在一场旨在说服美国联邦政府和州政府重拳打击软件盗版的行动中把自己定位成美国制造业的最佳伙伴。微软的说辞是:外国制造商正在通过使用盗版软件大量削减成本,因此他们与遵守游戏规则的美国制造商相比,拥有了一种不公平的竞争优势。

    微软表示,加强执法将保护美国的大企业,如苹果(Apple)、思科(Cisco)、戴尔(Dell)、惠普(HP)、谷歌(Google)、IBM、摩托罗拉(Motorola)和施乐(Xerox)等。谁料微软的做法恰恰引起了其中一些公司的反对。

    科技巨头们的争端主要集中在微软正在加州州议会推动的一项法案上,不过现在这场争端已经蔓延到了国会,一直在观察这个问题的游说者们认为,这场争端可能会迅速激化。

    微软表示,它的做法只是想创造一个公平的竞争环境。由于侵犯知识产权造成的不公平竞争,过去十年里美国的制造业工作岗位正在加速向海外流失。微软引用了一份商业软件联盟(Business Software Alliance)的研究称,如果在四年时间里将盗版现象减少10%,将产生近380亿美元的经济产值,并创造25,000个科技行业的新增工作岗位。

    微软副总法律顾问南希•安德森在一份声明中称:“IT盗版损害了创新,并且使遵纪守法的企业在与那些通过盗窃知识产权走捷径的企业竞争时处于不利地位。”

    反对微软提案的人则认为,微软正在推动的这个法案意味着各企业需要证明,其错综复杂、规模庞大的供应链上的每一行代码都是合法的,没有使用盗版软件,然而这样做所涉及的成本难以估量。微软在加州希望通过立法程序要求该州的制造商证明他们只使用了正版软件。不过同在加州的其他科技公司却认为这样做的复杂性大于好处。

    加州制造业与科技协会(California Manufacturers and Technology Association)的游说者桃乐丝•罗斯罗克认为:“这些公司非常关心全球市场的知识产权,但即便对于那些遵纪守法的企业来说,这项法案也增加了他们的风险。”

    现在我们还不是完全清楚微软为何会采取一个让它与其它主要软件厂商对立的战略。不过像微软和思科这样的软件厂商一直在全球各地积极地监督软件盗版。而且这两家公司依赖的是两个毫不相干的供应商网络。

    Microsoft is pitching itself as the new best friend of American manufacturing in a campaign aimed at convincing state and federal authorities to crack down on software piracy. The company's argument: foreign manufacturers are slashing costs by ripping off software, giving them a competitive advantage over Americans playing by the rules.

    But the push is engendering opposition from some of the very companies the software giant says stricter enforcement is meant to protect -- a roster that includes Apple, Cisco, Dell, HP, Google, IBM, Motorola, and Xerox.

    The nascent battle of tech titans for now centers on a bill Microsoft (MSFT) is working to steer through the California state legislature, but it has also landed in Congress and lobbyists watching the issue expect it to intensify quickly.

    Microsoft contends it is simply seeking to level a playing field whose tilt has accelerated the offshoring of manufacturing jobs over the last decade. It points to a study by the Business Software Alliance showing that reducing piracy by 10% over four years would generate nearly $38 billion in new economic activity and create 25,000 new tech-industry jobs.

    "Pirated IT undermines innovation and puts law abiding businesses at a disadvantage when competing with companies that choose the shortcut of stealing intellectual property," Microsoft deputy general counsel Nancy Anderson said in a statement.

    Opponents counter the fix the company is pushing would require firms to certify, at immeasurable cost, every line of code in huge, far-flung supply chains. And in California, where Microsoft is backing legislation requiring state contractors to certify they've only used licensed software, home-state tech companies see more complications than benefits.

    "These companies are very concerned about intellectual property in global markets," says Dorothy Rothrock, a lobbyist for the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, "but this bill increases the risks even for good actors."

    It's not entirely clear why Microsoft would adopt a strategy that puts it at odds with other major software makers. Both Microsoft and Cisco, for example, aggressively police piracy violations across the globe -- and both rely on similarly disparate networks of suppliers.

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