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posted by martyb on Monday August 05 2019, @10:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the evil-is-as-evil-does dept.

[Editor's note: We generally try to provide balanced coverage of a story. This interview is "straight from the horse's mouth" and is, therefore, going to contain the biases of the interviewee. Nonetheless, we thought the story interesting enough that we wanted to put it out to the community to discuss. --martyb]

Roy Schestowitz over at Techrights has an informal, follow-up interview with e-waste recycler Eric Lundgren about his ordeal with Microsoft. Lundgren spent time incarcerated as a result of his efforts to re-use old Wintel computers and keep them out of the landfill. He is now finally out of prison.

"The judge didn't understand the difference between a "Restore CD" and a "License"," he complained, "and Microsoft convinced the judge that the "Restore CD" was of equal value and functionality to a new MSFT OS w. new license! I was honestly dumbfounded.. I kept waiting for someone to get it in court .. Instead – The judge threw out all of my expert witness' testimony and only kept Microsoft's testimony.."

[...] Lundgren was sort of tricked if not blackmailed. It was the old trick of plea 'bargain' that was leveraged against him. "They threatened me with 47 Years in Prison," he told us. "So my only choice was to plea-bargain.. I told them I would ONLY plead guilty to "Restore CD Without License" but then Microsoft convinced the judge to value a Restore CD at the SAME VALUE as a Full Microsoft OS w. License!"

Earlier on SN:
Microsoft's Full Response to the Lundgren Counterfeiting Conviction (2018)
California Man Loses Appeal in Copyright Infringement Case (2018)
'E-Waste' Recycling Innovator Faces Prison for Trying to Extend Life Span of PCs (2018)

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bzipitidoo on Monday August 05 2019, @01:53PM (3 children)

    by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 05 2019, @01:53PM (#875942) Journal

    Prisons are overcrowded, but somehow they can always make room to punish initiative and activity that is in no way illegal, it is only embarrassing to the powerful.

    Frankly, I am a little scared. This kind of crap could happen to any geek. And I don't mean what Microsoft did, bad though that was, I mean the courts. How the heck does the justice system arrive at such mean, vindictive, damaging, and unfair verdicts so frequently? For instance, there's the terrorism that the MAFIAA engaged in. Potentially almost everyone is guilty of piracy.

    I fear these gross injustices are more possible now, with the right wingers busily filling every vacant court position with vicious partisan hacks who want to turn the clock back to the 1950s or even the 1850s. Their main concern appears to be putting women, brown peoples, agnostics and atheists and other such free thinkers, educators, and liberals and the liberal media under their thumbs. Geeks who aren't prominent in any of those other categories are a relatively minor target, often just collateral damage.

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by ElizabethGreene on Monday August 05 2019, @03:59PM (2 children)

    by ElizabethGreene (6748) on Monday August 05 2019, @03:59PM (#876048)

    they can always make room to punish initiative and activity that is in no way illegal

    Take one step back from that and see if this is really the case.

    This wasn't someone in their basement making sharpie-labeled DVD-R copies. He ran a commercial operation to print thousands of counterfeit discs, taking great care to make it as visually identical to the original as possible so it would get seized as counterfeit by customs, and selling it as if it was the real thing.

    This guy is a capital P Pirate, not someone banging together PCs from scrap in their basement.

    • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Monday August 05 2019, @07:28PM

      by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Monday August 05 2019, @07:28PM (#876144) Journal

      > see if this is really the case.

      An important question. Who is to be believed? MS or Lundgren? Or neither?

      I would not be surprised to hear that Mr. Lundgren put a toe over a line or two, but given MS's long history of monopolistic bullying, their many attempts to corrupt, co-opt, bury, or break standards-- you know, "embrace, extend, extinguish"-- I am inclined to take yet another story of MS turpitude at face value.

      As for Piracy, someday, in order to progress towards a kinder and gentler world, society is going to have to understand the basic facts of this matter, and stop accepting corporate and ownership class demonizing of mere copying as an unethical, illegal activity that will insure that artists and their children all starve. Copying is not stealing. Copying is copying. We need a new system to ensure creators are fairly paid, but which also allows us all to exercise our natural right to create and use copies. No more artificial scarcity. Public libraries should be allowed to fully digitize. It also should not be a "Mother may I" system of constantly having to hunt for permission from artists who may or may not be easily identified or contacted, or reasonable and cooperative.

    • (Score: 2) by sjames on Monday August 05 2019, @08:07PM

      by sjames (2882) on Monday August 05 2019, @08:07PM (#876160) Journal

      He did what he had to to keep customs from improperly seizing his perfectly legal product. That one needs to be taken up with customs. The same emails that suggest he was making an effort to make the disks look as much like the original disks as possible also support that he did so in response to customs seizing them otherwise.

      To show that he was a pirate, it would be necessary to show that he attempted to convince the buyer that he was reselling a Microsoft product.