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8/9/2007
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Microsoft CoA Scheme Draws Prison Sentence

Prosecutors say Georgia man illegally distributed labels for Windows and other MS products--and pocketed more than $226,000.

A judge in Georgia on Wednesday sentenced a man convicted of illegally trafficking Microsoft software labels to 46 months in prison.

Justin E. Harrison, of Oxford, Ga., had earlier been found guilty of distributing labels for a range of Microsoft products, including Windows XP Professional and Windows 2000 Professional.

The labels, known as Certificates of Authenticity, could be used to activate pirated copies of the software.

Prosecutors alleged that Harrison, through a business called Sales International, pocketed more than $226,000 from the scheme, according to his indictment.

Harrison was sentenced by Judge Orinda Evans in U.S. District Court for Northern Georgia. Harrison had originally pled not guilty to the charges, which were filed in July of 2006.

In a statement, Microsoft said it welcomed the sentence, which "recognizes the value of intellectual property and the threat that software piracy presents to the global economy and consumers throughout the world.

"The case should serve as a strong message to others that distributing illicit software certificates is a criminal act that can result in a significant prison term," the company added.

Microsoft has been aggressive of late when it comes to protecting its intellectual property.

The software maker in recent months has sued a number of suspected software pirates. It also worked closely with the FBI and Chinese authorities to crack a major, international software piracy ring suspected of trafficking in more than $2 billion worth of fake software.

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