Microsoft antipiracy efforts caught up in Russian political scandal

Microsoft's long taken aggressive steps to curb the rampant piracy of its software in Europe, but it seems like things have gotten a little out of hand: a new report in the New York Times today says Russian authorities are using piracy "investigations" as a pretext for seizing computers and other materials from political opponents of the government and news organizations. What's more, apparently Microsoft is quite supportive of these raids -- its lawyers have described the company as a "victim" and pushed for criminal charges. Making matters even worse, Microsoft is also accused of refusing to help targeted groups which have specifically purchased software to avoid being raided -- the company has said it's a matter for the Russian security police.

For its part, Microsoft issued a statement today saying that if their outside investigators "do not comport with professional ethics, anticorruption laws, or Microsoft policies, we terminate our relationship with them" and that the company "will act to ensure due process is followed in antipiracy cases that involve Microsoft products." Sounds like this story's going to get even more complicated -- we'll be following it closely.