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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)


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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by hemocyanin on Monday August 05 2019, @02:29PM (8 children)

    by hemocyanin (186) on Monday August 05 2019, @02:29PM (#875976) Journal

    I think this comment to that article explained it most clearly, at least for me (assuming it is accurate):

    It’s very simple. Microsoft does NOT distribute the software for free to refurbishes. Their licensing requires that the refurbisher must have the original restore CD in order to refurbish the computer, and if they do not have it they must purchase a $25 refurbished license that allows them to freshly install a copy of windows. It also comes with a new certificate of authenticity. This has been their policy for many years (since at least 2011 when they seem to have instituted this licensing program). The reason why this guy was trying to counterfeit Dell restore disks was because Microsoft’s rules allow you to use the original license key if the original restore disk is in your possession. So that’s why he went through all the trouble of trying to fake the discs down to building molds to mimic genuine Dell CDs.

    He’s a straight up counterfeiter.

    A commentator upstream referenced two other emails MS posted in its response ( https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2018/04/27/the-facts-about-a-recent-counterfeiting-case-brought-by-the-u-s-government/ [microsoft.com] ) which I think that particular commenter had in mind:
    https://blogs.microsoft.com/uploads/prod/sites/5/2018/04/Email_image3.png [microsoft.com]
    https://blogs.microsoft.com/uploads/prod/sites/5/2018/04/Email_image5.png [microsoft.com]

    And here is where those emails came from: https://blogs.microsoft.com/wp-content/uploads/prod/sites/5/2018/04/2LUNDGREN6.pdf [microsoft.com]

    The email on page 26 looks particularly bad, reading in part: "I knew that would eventually come in... Customs can't tell the difference and therefore is not legally allowed to hold them. hehe"

    Email at page 58, in part: I have worked into my total "AirFreight" with parcel post which si not checked by Customs. Customs views this a waste of time to check ... Their ar tricks for bypassing customs with container's <L but currently this is how I get you these products without invoices past customs.

    Email at page 61, in part: As for SP3, The only unit that you got me was a burnt copy ... We need the actual OEM unit and tow or three of them... Can you find &send over to the same address in China?

    Anyway, I'm glad I don't use MS -- the licensing seems very complicated. At the same time, it does appear that Eric was working very hard to create exact, as in down to nearly invisible codes molded into the rim of cds, copies. That does sound like counterfeiting. If all he wanted to do was help out refurbishers, he could have just burned discs and marked them with a sharpie. No reason to go to all the effort to make extremely exact copied.

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  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday August 05 2019, @04:42PM (7 children)

    by c0lo (156) on Monday August 05 2019, @04:42PM (#876074) Journal

    It’s very simple. Microsoft does NOT distribute the software for free to refurbishes.

    But does distribute freely the recovery ISO-es from their own site, only it forbids the refurbishers to use it.
    Because, you see, to have a refurbisher saving a computer from becoming ewaste is secondary to MS profit. Can I rationally see it any other way?

    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by hemocyanin on Monday August 05 2019, @05:47PM (6 children)

      by hemocyanin (186) on Monday August 05 2019, @05:47PM (#876096) Journal

      That seems a reasonable interpretation to me and at the same time, seems sort of orthogonal to what Eric and Bob were doing which was trying to undercut MS by counterfeiting Dell recover discs. Eric and Bob's business model relied on MS' business model (which charged $25 for recover discs) in order to sell the counterfeit Dell recover discs at $4. Without MS, Eric and Bob's discs would be worthless and thus, they were playing in the same ballpark.

      I suspect the whole ewaste argument came up as an afterthought when the hammer came down, but to be clear, I have no evidence to back up that suspicion.

      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday August 05 2019, @10:12PM (5 children)

        by c0lo (156) on Monday August 05 2019, @10:12PM (#876204) Journal

        Without MS, Eric and Bob's discs would be worthless and thus, they were playing in the same ballpark.

        So, we've established both are prostitutes and we are haggling which one provides a net to society, eh?
        In my books:
        1. making a second-hand computer more accessible to the unlucky by lowering the price by $21 is still a good deed. And a refurbisher brings net benefit to society: collects, repairs and distributes second-hand computers at a lower total cost than all the buyers doing it one computer at a time;
        2. the actions of MS result in less second-hand computers being reused and contributing to waste. And MS is doing this exclusively for the bottom line.

        So, a prostitute as Eric may be, was I wrong in my original comment?

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
        • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Monday August 05 2019, @11:06PM (4 children)

          by hemocyanin (186) on Monday August 05 2019, @11:06PM (#876228) Journal

          The problem here is simply that prostitution is illegal, he got busted, and he's whining. Should prostitution of the type he performed be legalized? Probably yeah, but all in all, if you consider how draconian our legal system is, he got through it relatively well. If you look at the appellate court decision, the standard sentencing range for him would have been 37 to 46 months. For reasons not explained, he was sentenced to 15 months, substantially below the standard range.

          Anyway, perhaps when he gets out and comes up with some other scheme, he'll do some research into GPG. I even saw a gmail address in the affidavit regarding emails. Not smart.

          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday August 05 2019, @11:30PM (3 children)

            by c0lo (156) on Monday August 05 2019, @11:30PM (#876230) Journal

            The problem here is simply that prostitution is illegal, he got busted, and he's whining.

            When 'prostitution' == 'actions for the sake of money', I gotta say it's not illegal, otherwise MS would be in very hot waters.
            And I have no problem with him whinging, unfair is unfair even when is legal.

            Anyway, perhaps when he gets out and comes up with some other scheme, he'll do some research into GPG. I even saw a gmail address in the affidavit regarding emails. Not smart.

            I was hoping he'll learn how to recycle those computers by installing a Linux. That would be ideal, but any solution that reduces waste and increases reusing is a good thing for me.

            --
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
            • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Monday August 05 2019, @11:44PM (2 children)

              by hemocyanin (186) on Monday August 05 2019, @11:44PM (#876235) Journal

              If he really wanted to focus on ewaste recycling, and if he really wanted to benefit low income people, he would give free classes at the Goodwill 1x per month on the topic: "With linux you can do most of what you can do on Windows, but for free on cheap hardware. It's easy!"

              Aside from impoverished gamers, people really could get by on linux just fine. They don't know it though.

              • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday August 06 2019, @12:18AM (1 child)

                by c0lo (156) on Tuesday August 06 2019, @12:18AM (#876242) Journal

                Aside from impoverished gamers, people really could get by on linux just fine. They don't know it though.

                There is a learning curve to climb, though. Other desktop UI, maybe an occasional WiFi network that stops without explanation (to the uninitiated), how to exchange Word documents that look the same when opened in MSWord on a Windows missing the Liberation Sans font.
                True, it's not impossible, but if you work two jobs in gig-economy just to stay afloat, the amount of energy you can dedicate to learning is very low.

                ---
                Now, mate, my bottom line is:
                1. as a result of their action, MS didn't earn a cent but the society experienced a loss
                2. as imperfect human being as Eric may be, it is preferable for the society to have someone who carries the work of computer recycling than to have him imprisoned (i.e. don't let perfect be the enemy of good, you may end with nothing better and waiting forever for a perfection that never comes).

                Finally, if I was the judge, I would have sentenced him to install Linux on the recycled computers for the period of his sentence; be it only for the sake of seeing the face of the MS lawyers at the moment of reading the sentence. What do you reckon, would MS have appealed?

                --
                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
                • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Tuesday August 06 2019, @03:04AM

                  by hemocyanin (186) on Tuesday August 06 2019, @03:04AM (#876301) Journal

                  MS' lawyers would have insisted that he only install gentoo, from source.