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Windows Microsoft Piracy The Courts Verizon

Single Verizon IP Address Used For Hundreds of Windows 7 Activations 323

An anonymous reader writes with this story from TorrentFreak: A presumed pirate with an unusually large appetite for activating Windows 7 has incurred the wrath of Microsoft. In a lawsuit filed [in] a Washington court, Microsoft said that it logged hundreds of suspicious product activations from a single Verizon IP address and is now seeking damages. ... Who he, she or they are behind address is unknown at this point, but according to Microsoft they're responsible for some serious Windows pirating. "As part of its cyberforensic methods, Microsoft analyzes product key activation data voluntarily provided by users when they activate Microsoft software, including the IP address from which a given product key is activated," the lawsuit reads. The company says that its forensic tools allow the company to analyze billions of activations of software and identify patterns "that make it more likely than not" that an IP address associated with activations is one through which pirated software is being activated.
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Single Verizon IP Address Used For Hundreds of Windows 7 Activations

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  • From Micro-Soft (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 04, 2015 @10:08PM (#49617943)

    This great piece of history still rings true today:


    Many here should read, learn, and abide...

    • This would a hell of a lot more true if Bill didnt take all that money and fuck us for 2 solid decades.
    • At the same time (Score:2, Insightful)

      by justthinkit ( 954982 )
      At the same time it is also true that Microsoft is famously tolerant and encouraging of software professionals. Offering software at cost (like offering me Office 2000 for a hundred bucks, way back when), providing dev tools and beta products for free or close to it, and tolerating staggering levels of out-and-out piracy...in the interest of having their products used by a truly large sample size.

      If it wasn't for Microsoft, we would still be on mainframes and mini-computers. Paying jacked up prices. Fo
      • by dryeo ( 100693 ) on Tuesday May 05, 2015 @12:30AM (#49618539)

        If it wasn't for Microsoft, we would still be on mainframes and mini-computers. Paying jacked up prices. For crap, frankly

        Why would you think that? There were lots of decent personal computers in the early '80's, most with operating systems at least as good as MS DOS, including graphical ones like GEM that were better then the early crap that was Windows. Even on the PC there were better versions of DOS then MS DOS which were killed by anti-competitive behaviour.
        You are right about MS understanding the benefits of getting programmers and consumers hooked though, encouraging people to copy their software at cost (the price of a floppy usually) but they were very anti-competitive for the longest time and probably did more to hold computing back as any company.

        • by DamonHD ( 794830 )

          GEM? Our bug-fix library on top of GEM was bigger than GEM itself.

          Not saying that DOS/Windows was anything other than unnecessarily crap and buggy for a long time... (And it'll still take another decade for me to fully trust Microsoft to write 'reliable' rather than meretricious code...)



        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Why would you think that?

          I think the monoculture MS created in the late 80's to early 00's was a net gain for IT in general because the standardisation of Wintel as a PC platform allowed less nerdy types to get involved and help grow the pie. You can hate on all the bad things MS did, but the fact is having a standard platform during it's infancy was good for IT, just like how the Model T jump started the auto industry. We are now entering a post MS era so can lose the hate, and focus on Apple, Google, Facebook, Tesla etc, but the

        • A lot of operating systems of early "affordable" Personal Computers (Apple 2, Commodore 64, ...), mostly running Basic were actually licensed by Microsoft as well. So really, although the industry in general would have come around eventually, it's still Microsoft that understood early on that Software was were it's at. It's actually IBM that fueled the convergence to the PC with their open standards.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by sjames ( 1099 )

        Without Gates, Tiny BASIC would have ruled the day on micros instead. The rest would have unfolded in a similar way except people wouldn't have mental scars from dealing with Plug-n-Pray. IF anything, MS held the industry back.

        • This is one of the few Gates myths with some truth behind it. He published GW-BASIC ("GW" for "gee whizz") some time in the 1980s. It was a major breakthrough: an interpreted language that could be used to develop and run custom applications on the small-office-home-office computers of the day, but which had several features of compiled languages. It was brilliant. It is still brilliant, its just that these days Javascript, PHP, Perl, and the like do what used to be done in BASIC, and much more.

          The world w

      • If it wasn't for Microsoft, we would still be on mainframes and mini-computers. Paying jacked up prices. For crap, frankly.

        Smells like the "great man" theory of history. Sometimes it's true, i.e. if Winston Churchill hadn't been where he was we'd probably all be speaking German now.

        In this case? Nah. If Microsoft hadn't done it, somebody else would - and possibly better.

        They were second choice for the IBM contract. They only got it because the guy selling CP/M goofed off & missed the meeting.

        • Smells like the "great man" theory of history. Sometimes it's true, i.e. if Winston Churchill hadn't been where he was we'd probably all be speaking German now.

          In this case? Nah. If Microsoft hadn't done it, somebody else would - and possibly better.

          Why, because you say so? If you think IBM could've done it then you've never had anything to do with IBM ever.

      • by shitzu ( 931108 )

        ... providing dev tools and beta products for free or close to it ...

        This is more of a give the first sample of crack free and keep your lower level street dealers high to keep your market share methodology, not a service to mankind you make it sound.

    • Re:From Micro-Soft (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 04, 2015 @11:51PM (#49618427)

      Its funny when you put that letter in the context of history:
      - Bill Gates used Paul Allen to steal computer time from other university staff
      - They used that stolen time, paid for by tax payers and donations to the university, to make their commercial software
      - Bill Gates received a personal loan from the richest person in Seattle (his father)
      - Bill Gates was driving a porche when he started uni - back then Porches were rare as hen's teeth

      If anything, that letter just points out how much Gates thought he was entitled to - an entitled sociopath who has made everyone think hes the Mahatma Gandhi of IT.

      • i'm secretly hoping they'll discover it was a kid learning how to mass-provision desktops in virtualbox. ooooh the embarrassment.

      • - Bill Gates was driving a porche when he started uni - back then Porches were rare as hen's teeth

        Nope, not rare. Not expensive either. About 2x what an American car would run. I've got the receipt for the '65 356C coupe my dad bought new in July '65, and his out the door price with an aftermarket AC unit was $3700. A '65 Mustang would've cost him about $2000.

        In the later '60s and early 70s there were the "budget" Porsches - the 912 and 914....

        Now if he was driving a Carrera2 or one of the 30 901 badged

    • Fuck off. You should know how reputable Dice reporting is, and if not wait four hours for the dupe when ignorant shits crap out the same crap only stupider.

    • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

      For those who've read the link, note that Bill complained that they'd only made the equivalent of $2/hr. Just for reference purposes, minimum wage back then was $2.00 an hour in 1974, $2.10 in 1975, and $2.30 in 1976. Should they have made more?...debatable. This was essentially a start up operation (many never become profitable), and initial product development costs are often written off. In that brave new world, before EULAs, nobody bought untried stuff like this.

  • Proxy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TWX ( 665546 ) on Monday May 04, 2015 @10:14PM (#49617969)
    Makes me wonder if this is a proxy, a Tor exit node, or some other form of gateway through which hundreds or thousands of PCs get some kind of Internet connection through.

    On the other hand, my work has 30,000+ computers that communicate through no more than ten public IP addresses, so if we weren't using a corporate solution for Windows activations then we might pop up in much the same way.
    • That's my thinking...

      • by Adriax ( 746043 )

        I'd laugh if it turned out to be Dell's test boot proxy and a glitch in the windows activation has it send the request despite having a cached activation.

    • Ditto your thoughts here. Wonder if MS even checked for such a possibility. I use a couple different VPN addresses routinely, and some others less routinely. I have no idea how many people use the same VPN's. Hundreds of thousands, maybe?

      • by TWX ( 665546 )
        Might even be a case where the ISP is actually not answering Microsoft's queries about the IP, so they felt a need to go public to try to embarrass the ISP into spilling customer information.
    • or hes running the pirate activation server? and somehow is allowing it to phone home
  • Confused (Score:5, Informative)

    by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Monday May 04, 2015 @10:15PM (#49617981) Homepage Journal

    I understand "one key, many IP addresses" as being suggestive of licence violations, but why would "many keys, one IP address" be?

    • yeah it seems more indicative of a small computer shop or a vpn of a business.

    • Re:Confused (Score:5, Informative)

      by n3r0.m4dski11z ( 447312 ) on Monday May 04, 2015 @10:36PM (#49618107) Homepage Journal

      "Microsoft says that the defendant(s) have activated hundreds of copies of Windows 7 using product keys that have been âoestolenâ from the companyâ(TM)s supply chain or have never been issued with a valid license"

      It means whomever is there has a legit key generator for windows. Or a computer store who buys stolen keys to keep costs down.

      Regardless, I am sure google knows exactly who they are. You aren't really anonymous on the internet. All it would take would be a few curious admins at google or facebook to check their logs for the ip.Hell i bet reddit or someone has already figured out who it is.

      • OK, that's the bit that I was missing, the keys were fake. Makes sense now, thanks!
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Maybe MS has decided to crack down on computer repair stores. I used to work at one many years ago, and an MS rep told us that we mustn't activate Windows ourselves. We had to let the end user do it so that they would be forced to agree to the EULA.

        We pointed out that our customers expected a fully working computer that was ready to use when they got it back, but they were not interested. Maybe they want to enforce that rule suddenly.

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        Why would Google care who they are? And if you are talking about a search Engine, why not Bing?

        Or they could do Linux and do a whois. Or contact RIPE or whomever is in charge of IP distribution.

        I did not read that the numbers were stolen, just that they were used. Perhaps it is so high, because it is the only company who does things legally.

        Also for Facebook and Google checking their logs, why would they do that? If there is something illegal going on, then what should happen is that they go to the court. T

    • by Boricle ( 652297 )
      Likely to either be:
      • Big corporate behind one public IP Address (probably not a problem, and would likely show up in their regular "true up" audits)
      • Small pirate with big volume registering unauthorized keys like crazy and either selling them somehow, or installing them onto machines in exchange for money.
  • small business? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 04, 2015 @10:16PM (#49617991)

    Could it be a small computer business shop that did windows activation on the behalf of their customers?

  • IP address is part of the

    product key activation data voluntarily provided by users

    Ahhh. This must be some strange new usage of voluntarily, of which I was previously unaware.

    • You don't need to activate the product over the internet. You can activate over the phone. I haven't looked into it closely, but I'd check if the code the machine generates includes the MAC address. Or if it still includes it if you disable the network driver. Or which MAC address it will use if you add another network adaptor (PCI or USB) which you can throw away as soon as you are done.
    • Kinda like the definition of voluntary that the IRS uses.. where you "voluntarily" file your yearly "confession" or we ruin your life... There for a while the IRS was using the term "voluntary compliance" everytime they opened their mouths.. Two words that don't go together very well...

  • by TFlan91 ( 2615727 ) on Monday May 04, 2015 @10:27PM (#49618063)

    Haha, IP Addresses are people now too

  • Does the Seatle public library offer free WiFi without a login?
    If so then I would bet a lot of people go there to activate Windows illegally, to avoid getting caught.
    If not then a Starbucks in the urban center.

    In any case I am curious exactly what it is.

  • I don't know about that account, but I do know that at my workplace tons of legit copies of windows 7 have started complaining that they are invalid copies. Clearly Microsoft has issues with their authentication procedures.

  • maybe it's a single windows machine riddled with some virus
  • by Livius ( 318358 ) on Monday May 04, 2015 @11:26PM (#49618337)

    I'm not sure noticing massive re-occurrences of the same IP address really counts as using 'forensic tools'.

    Microsoft has lowered the expectations of the whole of human civilization.

  • by Marginal Coward ( 3557951 ) on Monday May 04, 2015 @11:34PM (#49618367)

    You'd think it would make more sense to simply shut off the "suspicious" activations for a given IP before they got to hundreds. That would seem to be a whole lot faster, easier, and cheaper than filing a lawsuit. (Let's do the math: 200 copies times maybe $100 each = $10,000.)

    For comparison, I recently installed a new website using Wordpress, which I'm relatively new to. I got the excellent "Wordfence" security plugin running early-on, which uses a default limit of 20 failed logins within 5 minutes before it bans an IP. My new site evidently got attacked by a botnet (I assume) a few days later because there was a burst of 14 failed logins within the span of a few minutes, each one from a different country. The logins were pretty-much a tour of the ragged edges of the Internet: they came from Russia, India, Mexico, Brazil, Thailand, Belarus, Vietnam, etc. When all that failed because I had used an obscure admin account name and a strong password - and because Wordfence shut all those IPs down - the botnet evidently gave up.

    Though a limit of 20 worked fine, even that seems like more than is necessary to allow normal/legitimate login failures, so I might lower it. I certainly wouldn't raise it to 200. Or file a lawsuit about it.

  • Why wasn't Verizon subpenaed for the identity of the lessees of the IP and named in addition to the Doe's? Additionally, how does John Doe (1-10) defend against process that hasn't been served, how can a court try a civil case in absentia?

  • If you can't reinstall it 100's of times until it starts working, what else are you supposed to do? Pay Microsoft for support, that smells like anti-trust to me.

    • hahaha, this made me laugh.

      i remember ghosting hundreds of machines a day for deployment and at least a dozen a week just supporting

  • by aepervius ( 535155 ) on Monday May 04, 2015 @11:58PM (#49618445)
    A small shop installing *legal* windows 7 onto PCs would be a normal explanation and would be a single IP with many activation. How the heck do they come to "one IP+many key==pirate" ? A pirate would activate only 1 key. In fact it would be more like 1 key+many IP.
  • using Windows 7 instead of Windows 8.

  • Someone at Verizon give the White House this IP!

  • Wow, it's not like every PC has a non shared T1 running direct to Mickeysoft.

Loan-department manager: "There isn't any fine print. At these interest rates, we don't need it."