Microsoft Scores Software Piracy Win

Any owner who has tried to stop copyright and trade-mark infringement can attest to the difficulty of pursuing an effective practical remedy; websites come and go, distributors of pirated software disappear and rematerialize under a different name, and servers are taken down merely to pop up in a different jurisdiction.

Microsoft Canada can chalk up a win in a recent Canadian Federal Court decision (Case name: Microsoft Corporation v. 9038-3746 Quebec Inc., 2006 FC 1509).  In the decision, the Federal court slapped a Quebec-based distributor of pirated Microsoft software with a $700,000 damage award for copyright and trade-mark infringement.  The award was based on the maximum statutory damages under the Copyright Act of $20,000 per infringement, for a total of half a million dollars, plus punitive damages of $200,000.  Cerrelli, the director of the corporate defendant was personally liable with the corporation, due to his personal involvement and knowledge of the infringement.  The total damages may not come close to Microsoft’s actual loss in sales, nor the infringer’s profits, but the number is enough to drive a point home.

This case underscores two points: there can be a practical and effective remedy for copyright infringement, with a carefully prepared case. Secondly, directors can and will be held personally liable with their corporations, when the circumstances are right.  


Calgary – 11:20 MST

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