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posted by Fnord666 on Monday February 19 2018, @08:15AM   Printer-friendly
from the don't-stand-in-the-way-of-profits dept.

Electronics recycler Eric Lundgren was convicted of conspiracy and copyright infringement for his efforts regarding refurbishing old PCs. His sentence would have been 15 months in prison and a $50,000 fine except that he was granted an emergency stay of the sentence by a federal appeals court. Now his appeal is pending before the 11th Circuit though it has not yet been scheduled.

[...] McGloin also testified that Microsoft charges computer refurbishers about $25 for a new license and copy of the software but didn't differentiate that from what was done by Lundgren, who was not making a new copy of the software and intended his restore discs only for computers that were already licensed.

[...] Lundgren called his own expert witness, Glenn Weadock, an author of numerous software books who testified for the government in a major antitrust case against Microsoft that was resolved in 2001. Weadock was asked, "In your opinion, without a code, either product key or COA [Certificate of Authenticity], what is the value of these reinstallation discs?"

"Zero or near zero," Weadock said.

He should have listened to the experts like Ken Starks of Reglue. However, no mention was made by The Washington Post article about whether he or the court was aware that he could have improved the situation all the way around by simply upgrading the refurbished PCs to GNU/Linux instead of using a system that is always showing new ways to cause problems. The local LUG could well host an evening event with him as guest of honor to show how to improve the users' situation while staying out of jail.

Source : Eric Lundgren, 'e-waste' recycling innovator, faces prison for trying to extend life span of PCs


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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by bradley13 on Monday February 19 2018, @11:32AM (10 children)

    by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Monday February 19 2018, @11:32AM (#640056) Homepage Journal

    It seems to me that there are two issues here:

    - He was redistributing someone else's property. The fact that Microsoft makes the disk image available as a download does not (IANAL) necessarily give him the right to make and distribute his own copies. This is where the monetary value comes into play, for determining potential punishment. MS claims such a disk is worth $25. He claims it is worth $0. The truth is likely somewhere between those two figures.

    - The really stupid move: He put Microsoft and Dell Logos on the disks. You cannot go around using other people's trademarks without their permission. This was stupid.

    In a just world, the guy deserves a suspended sentence, which should be a simple fine. Basically: a slap on the wrist, don't be stupid again. In the US court system, well, justice seems to rarely be the goal...

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by jdavidb on Monday February 19 2018, @02:20PM (6 children)

    by jdavidb (5690) on Monday February 19 2018, @02:20PM (#640091) Homepage Journal

    He was redistributing someone else's property

    From a moral standpoint, he was distributing data, not property. Nobody has ever been able to prove that data is property without resorting to begging the question or argument from authority.

    --
    ⓋⒶ☮✝🕊 Secession is the right of all sentient beings
    • (Score: 2) by Wootery on Tuesday February 20 2018, @12:46PM

      by Wootery (2341) on Tuesday February 20 2018, @12:46PM (#640604)

      Nobody has ever been able to prove that data is property without resorting to begging the question or argument from authority.

      Doesn't the same objection apply to all property?

      It's a societal construct, not something that can be proved from first principles. So what? The same is true of our laws on murder, but that doesn't render them somehow invalid.

    • (Score: 2) by theluggage on Tuesday February 20 2018, @07:43PM (4 children)

      by theluggage (1797) on Tuesday February 20 2018, @07:43PM (#640795)

      Nobody has ever been able to prove that data is property

      ...it doesn't need to be proven: copyright law forbids copying and distributing certain types of data (i.e. creative works) without the author's permission. End of. The question of whether data is property is irrelevant (although certain vested interests have been pushing the 'copyright infringement is theft' line to support their inflated claims of the damage it causes). For better or worse, this guy breached Microsoft's copyright - 28,000 times. Deal with it. AFAIK he pled guilty to that anyway so its really not at issue.

      The issue here is not that the copyright was breached, but whether MS's claim of the value of the resulting disks - which affects the severity of the penalty - was fair - and it looks like that is the focus of the appeal.

      If it helps, imagine he'd taken the advice about using Linux, had made 28,000 copies of the install image for [your-favourite-distro] for resale, but hadn't included an offer to supply source code as required by the GPL. Unfortunately, the legal principle that would let the Linux authors force him to apologise nicely and release the source is the same one that lets Microsoft send him to jail. Its just that in the Linux case it would be harder to argue that he'd done $700,000 worth of damage and push the case into criminal justice territory.

      • (Score: 2) by jdavidb on Tuesday February 20 2018, @10:34PM (3 children)

        by jdavidb (5690) on Tuesday February 20 2018, @10:34PM (#640903) Homepage Journal

        it doesn't need to be proven: copyright law forbids copying and distributing certain types of data (i.e. creative works) without the author's permission. End of

        Okay, so you've chosen the argument from authority approach.

        --
        ⓋⒶ☮✝🕊 Secession is the right of all sentient beings
        • (Score: 2) by theluggage on Wednesday February 21 2018, @10:07AM (2 children)

          by theluggage (1797) on Wednesday February 21 2018, @10:07AM (#641099)

          Yes, because when you are talking about *the law*, argument from authority wins. You need to read the small print before grabbing a “fallacy” from Logic4dummies.org - they’re not trump cards and the fallacy is usually to think that the appeal to authority/consequences/tradition counts against reproducible experimental evidence.

          We’re not talking about the laws of physics or mathematics here: the experimental test is to see what happens in court, and court after court has upheld the enforceability of copyright - which (despite industry propaganda that conflates it with property) is about *the right to copy*. In this case, the issue of the appeal is the real level of financial damage to the copyright holders and the consequential severity of the penalty.

          The earlier posters defence of the ruling (that this case was about theft of property) was, indeed false - but you’re using it as a straw man against the ruling itself.

          • (Score: 2) by jdavidb on Wednesday February 21 2018, @06:11PM (1 child)

            by jdavidb (5690) on Wednesday February 21 2018, @06:11PM (#641288) Homepage Journal

            but you’re using it as a straw man against the ruling itself.

            I'm not arguing for or against the ruling. I'm talking about the question of whether or not data is property.

            --
            ⓋⒶ☮✝🕊 Secession is the right of all sentient beings
            • (Score: 2) by theluggage on Wednesday February 21 2018, @11:04PM

              by theluggage (1797) on Wednesday February 21 2018, @11:04PM (#641487)

              I'm not arguing for or against the ruling. I'm talking about the question of whether or not data is property.

              ...and in that respect I kinda agree with you, but you're on a sticky wicket because the term "intellectual property" - like it or not - is widely used as a blanket term for copyrights, patents and trademarks. The English language is defined by usage (and abusage) so all someone needs is a few quotes from published works of "intellectual property" being used to refer to copyright and you've been sucked into an irresolvable debate over what people mean by words.

              The point is that calling data "property" doesn't change the fact that copying and distributing data is still regulated by copyright law... and as long as you're arguing about law, appeals to authority (the law), tradition (precedent) and consequences ('chilling effects' etc.) are all relevant.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19 2018, @02:54PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19 2018, @02:54PM (#640103)

    > In a just world, the guy deserves a suspended sentence, which should be a simple fine.

    In a just world, Microsoft would've sent him the restore disks for free (or cost of the medium). They already got their money when the original owner paid for the license. That's the entire point of selling "licenses" instead of selling "physical copies" that you can use as you wish.

    If they sold a "physical copy", then I can lend my Windows disk to a friend so that he can install it as well (see: books, cars, hammers).

    If they sold a "license", they're obligated to replace lost/damaged disks for the cost of a blank DVD (~c25).

  • (Score: 3, Funny) by srobert on Monday February 19 2018, @04:33PM

    by srobert (4803) on Monday February 19 2018, @04:33PM (#640134)

    "In a just world, the guy deserves a suspended sentence, ..."

    At the risk of being accused of being an SJW, I'll point out that the social status of the victim is pertinent to the sentencing. The guy who stole my car didn't get 15 months, but then I'm not an international billion dollar corporation.

  • (Score: 2) by fido_dogstoyevsky on Monday February 19 2018, @11:11PM

    by fido_dogstoyevsky (131) <reversethis-{moc.liamg} {ta} {eldnahexa}> on Monday February 19 2018, @11:11PM (#640323)

    ...In the US court system, well, justice seems to rarely be the goal...

    And is too often the gaol [grammarist.com]

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    It's NOT a conspiracy... it's a plot.