Microsoft is serious when it comes to software pirates. Indeed, it has just reported that it has reached settlements in more than 3,000 copyright infringement matters that it initiated globally in the past year alone.

The vast majority of the cases were international, spanning 42 countries. In fact, only 35 of the 3,265 cases were in the United States.

Microsoft states that most of its enforcement cases have been the result of tips and feedback from consumers. To drive that point home, Microsoft notes that since 2005 it has been tipped off by over 450,000 customers who disclosed counterfeited software.

David Finn, Associate General Counsel in Microsoft's Cybercrime Center, expressed Microsoft's position publicly by explaining that software counterfeiting "negatively impacts local and global economic growth, stifles innovation, and puts consumers at risk."

Of course, such counterfeiting can hurt Microsoft's bottom line by depriving it of revenue to which it is entitled. And in terms of risk, it is true that counterfeited software at times contains viruses and malware.

Microsoft reports that one of the major cases it settled was with Ningbo Beyond Group of China. Microsoft had alleged that this company had infringed copyrights in Microsoft's Windows, Office, and other software.

We can expect that Microsoft will continue to protect the copyrights in its software products. Other software companies, if they are not doing so already, would be smart to also protect their intellectual property.