Microsoft up for auction? I think not

Microsoft has denied reports it pressured auction website eBay into removing all Microsoft software sales and altering Microsoft-related customer feedback published on its site.

According to reports published on US IT news websites slashdot.com and kuro5hin, eBay "pulled" all auctions of Microsoft software conducted through its site. The reports said Microsoft had pressured eBay into terminating all sales of its software conducted through the auction site, illegal or not, in an attempt to stifle piracy.eBay was said to be obliged to waiver its privacy policy by submitting confidential information pertaining to prospective software sellers to Microsoft if that software was found to be pirated or unlicensed.

Additionally, the reports continued, anguished eBay customer feedback, pertaining to the termination of legal Microsoft product auctions, was altered before being published on the website.

Law and corporate affairs spokesperson for Microsoft Australia, Ms Alex Mercer, confirmed that Microsoft had entered into piracy-related arrangements with auction websites such as eBay and auction.com with the objective of preventing illegal software from being sold via legally operating websites.

She said pirated software presented a "great economic risk to (Microsoft's) future".

Additionally, Microsoft employed a piracy "investigation team", whose task was to globally track, and verify, all sales of Microsoft products via the internet.

However, Mercer maintained that customers of companies such as eBay were still allowed to sell Microsoft products through those companies' websites "if they're licensed, if it's genuine".

She dismissed reports that Microsoft had pressured eBay into prohibiting all Microsoft auctions and altering all Microsoft-related customer feedback as "absolutely ridiculous".

Under no circumstances were private eBay user details given to Microsoft, she stressed.eBay's privacy policy contains the disclaimer: "We may be forced to disclose information to the government or third parties under certain circumstances.

"We can disclose your UserID, name, street address, city, state, post code, country, phone number, email and company to eBay Verified Rights Owner Programme participants as we, in our sole discretion, believe necessary."

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