Clever and nimble aren’t the first words you think of in connection with Microsoft, but the company’s decision to grant blanket IP licenses to targeted Russian human rights groups strikes me as both. It took less than 24 hours, and it doesn’t mumble about reducing its cooperation with the authorities — it takes the Microsoft weapon out of authorities’ hands:
The new Microsoft policy was announced by the company’s general counsel, Brad Smith, at its headquarters in Redmond, Wash. He said the company would thwart such piracy inquiries by offering advocacy groups and opposition newspapers a blanket software license that would automatically cover them, without having to apply for it.
In other words, Microsoft would formally declare that the programs on their computers were legal, making it all but impossible for the authorities to charge these groups with stealing Microsoft software.