Canadian district audited for use of Microsoft products

School accused of piracy

Posted: Wednesday, October 09, 2002

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- A suburban school district is investigating reports of software piracy involving Microsoft products at a high school, officials have confirmed.

Spokesperson Muriel Wilson said that Surrey school administrators recently ordered an audit of Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary at the demand of the Canadian Alliance Against Software Theft, which acts on behalf of software publishers.

The group asked for proof that the school holds licenses for all of its Microsoft applications.

A districtwide review also is being made to assure that school officials comply with all software copyright requirements, Wilson said.

She said she did not know how long the audit would take to complete or the reason for the alliance's demand.

Like Wilson, the British Columbia Principals' and Vice Principals' Association, British Columbia School Trustees Assoc-iation and provincial Education Minister Christy Clark said they knew of no similar cases.

Stephen Knight, a Microsoft representative in Vancouver, said there have been general concerns about copyright compliance because many employees in many school buildings handle the software and some may be unaware of the specifics of the licenses.

He said it was unusual for a school to be investigated, adding that the action might have resulted from a report by a disgruntled employee.

If Lord Tweedsmuir is unable to produce proper documentation, Microsoft has could order the school district to delete software, pay retroactively for its use and impose fines, Wilson said.

The alliance expressed renewed concern about software piracy after an independent study found that 38 percent of business software applications in Canada were pirated last year, compared with 25 per cent in the United States.

Surrey school officials said copyright compliance is challenging because many schools accept used computers that often come with software installed and because licensing rules vary widely from vendor to vendor.

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