Microsoft has spilt the beans and named a group of IT resellers involved with software piracy. 

Most of the resellers were had up for hard disk copying (when one copy of a software package is copied on to a number of hard drives), and all settled the civil charges against them.
The resellers named are:
* Busimax Technologies (Roodepoort);
* Multimedia Innovators (PTY) Ltd trading as Discount Computers (Selby, Johannesburg);
* Future Computers (PTY) Ltd (Roodepoort);
* Janus IT Solutions (Johannesburg);
* Savannah Computers (Cape Town);
* NPCN CC trading as Universal Computing Systems (Pretoria);
* Computer and Cellular Dynamics (Roodepoort);
* CALCELL (Yongteah Trading, Pretoria CBD); and
* MILTOO Computers CC (Cape Town).
According to the Business Software Alliance, 36% of business software installations in South Africa are unlicensed.
“This figure is cause for concern. We need to stamp out piracy and treat all cases with the same seriousness. It doesn’t matter if the value of the pirated software totals R1 000 or R1 000 000,” says Mark Reynolds, group manager: small business and transactional partners at Microsoft SA.
According to Reynolds, using pirated software can impact negatively on a company on several levels.
“Customers who unknowingly buy counterfeit products are losing out on product updates and technical support. These products are often faulty which results in users being unable to get support,” says Reynolds.
Viruses, Trojan horses and other malware could also be embedded in counterfeit products.
“The computer reseller channel needs to be aware that dealing in counterfeit goods is a criminal offence. Under the Counterfeit Goods Act and the Copyright Act it is punishable with a R5 000 per item fine or a jail term of up to three years for a first offence, while a repeat offence is up to R10 000 per item or up to six years in prison,” says  Reynolds.
“Many customers may unknowingly buy counterfeit products. Users need to look for the Certificate of Authenticity provided with all new Microsoft software. If the dealer doesn’t provide this, then the software is most likely, unlicensed.”
To help combat piracy, Microsoft recently introduced the Windows and Office Genuine Advantage initiatives. Users can check whether they are using genuine Microsoft products through a simple online validation process.
“Validation takes only a few moments, and is designed to be a quick and easy process that gives the customer peace of mind that the software is genuine,” says Reynolds.
Genuine Advantage customers get access to downloads from the Microsoft Download Centre, free updates for Windows from Windows Update as well as receiving special offers, promotions, and discounts.
“The benefits of ensuring your software is legal are enormous, as you then have access to security updates and support, you will be assured that you have access to premium security and update features and services and perhaps anti-virus features and  most important of all, it keeps you on the right side of the law,” Reynolds adds.