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Microsoft Corp. is warning the online community to keep its hands off purloined Windows source code.

The company on Tuesday confirmed it had sent legal warnings to some persons who it said had downloaded the stolen code from the Internet.

Source code from Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 was posted on the Internet on Thursday, and Microsoft Corp. said at the time that it had initiated internal and external investigations.

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft declined to specify the contents or the distribution of its warning message. But according to a report filed on Steven Bink’s and Ryan Hoffman’s Amsterdam-based site, Microsoft warned at least one recipient that he was in violation of copyright laws.

“The unauthorized copying and distribution of Microsoft’s protected source code is a violation of both civil and criminal copyright and trade secret laws,” quotes the notice as reading. “If you have downloaded and are making the source code available for downloading by others, you are violating Microsoft’s rights, and could be subject to severe civil and criminal penalties.”

The letter then demands that persons in possession of the source code stop sharing the code, destroy copies and inform Microsoft of the origin of the copy.

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