Last month I introduced myself and the anti-piracy program we have at Microsoft Learning. Thanks for all the tips I received! For this month’s Blog, I thought I’d expand a little bit on our program. While I can’t give specifics on what I do, I can give a glimpse into what an anti-piracy PM does day-to-day.
First, I can’t do this alone. I work collaboratively with Microsoft’s legal department, with our exam delivery providers, with outside counsel, partners, and outside consultants to help craft our programs. I also work with colleagues across the industry—not only in I.T., but in academic, professional, and licensure fields as well. Piracy is big business, unfortunately, and it takes an army to combat it. The good news is that the army is growing stronger; I’m seeing more collaboration both internally and externally now, because we all have the same goals: fair and secure testing/content programs.
I break my activities into two buckets: prevention and enforcement.
Preventative activities include working with our exam development team to design and deliver exams that are hard to steal; working with our exam delivery providers to secure test centers; constantly monitoring the web and file-sharing sites for our content; writing clear and comprehensive policies that state responsibilities and sanctions when those policies are breached; and educating candidates, proctors, and other key stakeholders on what is good behavior vs. bad.
Enforcement activities may include banning candidates from our certification program for cheating on an exam; removing illegally-posted content from the Internet; taking down brain-dump websites; secretly auditing test delivery practices at test centers around the world; or working with our exam delivery providers to correct security breaches at test centers.
My goal is to get to a point where most, if not all, of my job is focused on the Prevention activities rather than Enforcement activities. Stopping the bad behavior before it happens makes for a much stronger program all around.
One question I often get is “how do you find cheaters?” Well, I won’t say how, because then the cheaters would be on to me. A better question is “how do you manage all the instances of piracy out there?” There are a variety of top-secret methods I employ, but one of the best ways is by tips I get from the public. The majority of our learning community is dedicated to protecting the value of their content and certifications, and they don’t like cheaters and pirates any more than I do. Therefore, I always welcome tips.
One hazard of a job like mine is with so much focus on bad behavior and piracy, it can seem like a losing battle at times. But, when I look back at my reports over the past year, and I compare the number of cheaters to legitimate candidates, it’s actually quite a small number. Most people are eager to do well on an exam, to use legally obtained training materials, and to purchase books rather than stealing them. Motivation is a subject I will talk about more extensively in a future blog post.
Got a tip for me? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.