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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: 2) by hemocyanin on Monday August 05 2019, @08:48PM (3 children)

    by hemocyanin (186) on Monday August 05 2019, @08:48PM (#876181) Journal

    If it is a physical product then the answer is easy: the discs are lost and Eric was counterfeiting.

    If it is a license, then we need to know what the license says about transferability. It appears that there is a license that follows the physical discs as opposed to the purchaser, so that is at least somewhat lenient -- MS could if it wanted to, make the license follow a person/computer combo if it wanted to be the most draconian.

    Anyway, the issues people have is that MS is greedy. That's a surprise. /s The problem in this case is that Eric and his partner were looking to profit from MS' greed through counterfeiting Dell discs. That's not so laudable and contributes nothing to the world at all. In contrast, look at all the people who have worked on free software over the years -- they're heros for doing it and have made the world a better place.

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

    by sjames (2882) on Monday August 05 2019, @11:05PM (#876227) Journal

    I agree that Free Software and the people working on it are making the world a better place.

    $4 is not actually a huge ask for saving the trouble of downloading, burning, and labeling a disk. It seems the profit is coming from actual work done rather than from unjust copying. Back when burners were less common and most people were stuck with dial-up, that was about the going rate for a Linux CD and most considered it fair enough.

    • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Monday August 05 2019, @11:55PM (1 child)

      by hemocyanin (186) on Monday August 05 2019, @11:55PM (#876237) Journal

      It does seem to be a lot of effort for a low margin product, but Eric's situation is arguably different than burning and mailing a linux distro in two ways:

      1: He didn't do the work, he contracted the work to Chinese (likely near-slave labor) companies. His job was essentially quality control and arranging bulk shipping.
      2: A linux distro comes with a license that expressly permits -- perhaps even encourages -- people to share the work. MS' products aren't distributed that way.

      • (Score: 2) by sjames on Tuesday August 06 2019, @12:23AM

        by sjames (2882) on Tuesday August 06 2019, @12:23AM (#876245) Journal

        Most of the Linux CDs were contracted out for production as well. Very few were some guy in his basement (or an office) burning disks all day.

        MS has the same damned ISO on their site free to download. Their license enforcement is in entering the license key when you boot the disk. Eric made no effort to alter that enforcement.

        This is more like the guy offering free water suing the guy that sets up next to him offering paper cups for $0.05