We'll never do it again

"We couldn't allow the destruction of our image," the man on the newscast explained. "We are very sorry." Sounds like someone who was caught doing something illegal, right? Well, not illegal, exactly. Perhaps just ... unethical. You see, an enterprising reporter had just exposed on national television the practice by resort operators in Japan's Nagano Prefecture of adding chemical bath salts to Shirahone Spa, a local hot spring famous for its supposedly curative powers. Alas, the water slowly has been losing its natural milky white color over the years, and the inn-keepers worried that if appearances weren't kept up, they'd lose business. Alas, they may still. Several visitors told the reporter they felt betrayed when they learned of the practice.

Software a soft target for international pirates

Piracy of software is a significant problem worldwide, with an estimated 36 percent of it copied and sold without permission. The Business Software Alliance, a leading industry voice, considers this a key finding of its latest piracy study, conducted by the International Data Corp., which used shipment data, analyst reports, and thousands of interviews to develop the most in-depth look at the problem to date. The study previously was limited to business software applications, but now it includes operating systems and consumer software. Of the $80 billion of software installed worldwide, only $51 billion was purchased legally in 2003. The growth of Internet piracy has been a factor in this result. Piracy tends to be most prevalent, the study found, where there is strong market growth - such as in China and Russia - and weak copyright laws or enforcement. The countries with the worst piracy rates, by percentage:

1. China (tie) Vietnam 92%
3. Ukraine 91%
4. Indonesia 88%
5. Russia (tie) Zimbabwe 87%
7. Algeria (tie) Nigeria 84%
9. Pakistan (tie) Paraguay 83%

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