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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: 3, Insightful) by theluggage on Tuesday February 20 2018, @09:37AM (3 children)

    by theluggage (1797) on Tuesday February 20 2018, @09:37AM (#640562)

    TFA is unclear about the grounds for appeal but it looks like it’s based on MSs claim for lost sales that resulted in the excessive sentence. He had no right to bulk copy the discs - he’s already plead guilty for that - whether that really leaves MS out of pocket by $25*28000 (That MS would like refurbishes to pay for replacement *licenses*) pushing the offence into jail terr.itory - is another matter entirely, and I do hope he prevails on that.

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by sjames on Tuesday February 20 2018, @04:10PM (2 children)

    by sjames (2882) on Tuesday February 20 2018, @04:10PM (#640699) Journal

    MS has always wanted to eat it's cake and have it too wrt licensing. They were happy enough to enforce "the Microsoft tax" on practically every new PC from that era and to tie the licence to a particular machine, particular media, AND a particular person. Basically, any excuse to hold their hand out for more money. They only reluctantly accept that the law doesn't grant them quite that much leeway.

    This dates back to Gates' early days when he complained bitterly when he pre-sold a basic interpreter for the Altair and after missing his delivery date by over a year, some hobbyists grabbed a copy as-is, fixed the remaining bugs in a day or two, and distributed it to everyone who had pre-paid. Interestingly, since he used an emulator on a Harvard mainframe while he was enrolled there, the copyright (if any) would have actually belonged to the university anyway. This do as we say, not as we do attitude prevails at MS top this day.

    • (Score: 2) by theluggage on Tuesday February 20 2018, @07:16PM (1 child)

      by theluggage (1797) on Tuesday February 20 2018, @07:16PM (#640779)

      You seem to be confusing the law with morality. Trouble is, morality is subjective and the law is expected to be provable and enforceable (whether it is or not is another matter) as well as covering the "what if everybody else did that?" angle.

      Back in those days, I'm not sure it had even been established that computer code was covered by copyright. That's pretty much settled now. You may also have been required to register copyright in the US back then to be protected (the US only adopted the Berne Convention standards including automatic copyright relatively recently).

      However, by modern standards, those hobbyists would have no right to take the law into their own hands and distribute the fixed code, however much you might cheer for them. The University would only have a claim if Gates had entered into a contract to give them copyright on anything he produced on their equipment (...which is quite possible, but not in evidence). Given the number of books etc. written by academics using University resources, that would be a dangerous thread to pull on. NB: do you think your university or college should own everything you wrote/produced while you were studying there? (these days its quite possible that you did sign a document saying that).

      • (Score: 2) by sjames on Tuesday February 20 2018, @11:59PM

        by sjames (2882) on Tuesday February 20 2018, @11:59PM (#640940) Journal

        I'm not at all confused. My last posting was questioning MS in general, though there is legal question if you can tie a licence to person, machine, and installation disk all at the same time.

        At the time of the hobbiest incident, the ability to copyright software at all was very much questioned. But just in case it was, Harvard (like most universities) claimed ownership of anything created using it's resources. Either way, Bill wouldn't have won that one in court. Even today, there would be a few interesting questions for the courts since the hobbyists paid for a licence and might otherwise allege that Gate's taking their money and then not delivering was a case of fraud.