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Gorbachev Asks Gates to Intervene in Piracy Case

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the bit-exteme dept.

The Courts 331

An anonymous reader writes to tell us that former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has asked Bill Gates to intervene in a software piracy case against the headmaster of a middle school. If convicted, Alexander Ponosov could face detention in a Siberian prison camp for his crime.

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In Soviet Russia... (5, Funny)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896246)

In Soviet Russia, Bill Gates hates YOU!

I'm sorry, I had to.

Re:In Soviet Russia... (2, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896356)

In Soviet Amerika, Bill Gates sends gulag to YOU!

Re:In Soviet Russia... (1)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896378)

In Soviet Amerika, Bill Gates sends gulag to YOU!

Hm, now wouldn't that be convenient...

Re:In Soviet Russia... (5, Funny)

ThatsNotFunny (775189) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896528)

Eh... i think i'll wait for Gulag SP2.

Re:In Soviet Russia... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17897136)

If you're going to be inside the gulag, wouldn't you want there to be more vulnerabilities??

Re:In Soviet Russia... (2, Funny)

sconeu (64226) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897116)

I believe that's Windows Vista.

The teacher was a Notes user.... (2, Funny)

LibertineR (591918) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896720)

This, Gates could not forgive.

do the crime, do the time? (4, Interesting)

yagu (721525) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896264)

I don't know, did this schoolmaster knowingly "pirate" his software? It's not clear to me from the article. Gorbachev argues the nuance he didn't know he was committing a crime. That to me sounds like splitting semantic hairs.

That said, I believe if someone knowing commits an infraction, they should be able to sustain the punishment. But, I don't always agree with the punishment in light of the crime. The world of software piracy is especially troubling to me.

It seems too much onus is put on the pirate and little on the accuser to carry the final outcome. I know if laws were enforced strictly I would have done some time -- I was once unpleasantly surprised to fire up Excel at a corporate computer to find my name and my license info plastered all over the screen... Someone had pirated my legitimate copy, but how to prove my innocence?

I've heard if you want to change a bad law, enforce it strictly. Maybe a few cases like this could bring more light to the heavy-handed tactics against the little guys (don't know if this one of those cases, but it certainly has the signature).

Unfortunately, I see the outcome of this as a huge PR win for Microsoft, and I think Gates may actually take the bait. This adds to his recent buildup of reputation as world benefactor. If he has Microsoft withdraw the complaint (or offers up some benevolent deal), Microsoft gets a PR coup. And, that would be a shame.

Re:do the crime, do the time? (1)

blowdart (31458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896376)

That said, I believe if someone knowing commits an infraction, they should be able to sustain the punishment

Why knowingly? Ignorance is not an excuse; you can be done for receiving stolen goods in the UK and simply claiming you did not know they were stolen is not a valid defence. Certainly this appears heavy handed because of the possible punishment, but that's not Microsoft's fault or problem.

Re:do the crime, do the time? (2, Interesting)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896554)

Ignorance is not an excuse; you can be done for receiving stolen goods in the UK and simply claiming you did not know they were stolen is not a valid defence.


Depends what crime. A lot of felonies in the US have language that states "... with malice aforthought ...".


-b.

Re:do the crime, do the time? (5, Interesting)

tchuladdiass (174342) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896704)

In some states in the US, there is a distinction between "ignorance of the law" and "ignorance of the facts". In your receiving stolen goods example, if a person had no reason to believe that the goods were stolen then there is no charge (althought the goods would still be forfieted). For example if you bought a plasma tv at Walmart that ended up in their supply chain via a crooked vendor then you wouldn't be charged with any felony. However, buying the same plasma tv out of the back of someones van for $50.00 could land you in hot water because a reasonable person should conclude that the merchandise was stolen property (the low price, the circumstances of purchase, etc).

So, if the same principle were to be applied, then this schoolmaster shouldn't have been charged since he aquired the equipment from a seemingly legitimate source. Of course, now we've blended UK, US, and Russian law all in one discussion.

Re:do the crime, do the time? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896834)

Why knowingly? Ignorance is not an excuse;

Why not? If someone clearly doesn't realise something is a crime, and there's no way for them to know, why treat them as though they are evil?

Certainly this appears heavy handed because of the possible punishment, but that's not Microsoft's fault or problem.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. Microsoft has the ability to solve this. They have little to gain from this guy going to prison.

Re:do the crime, do the time? (4, Insightful)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896428)

I don't know, did this schoolmaster knowingly "pirate" his software? It's not clear to me from the article. Gorbachev argues the nuance he didn't know he was committing a crime. That to me sounds like splitting semantic hairs.

It's possible the schoolmaster assumed he could make unlimited copies of the software for non-profit, academic use only. If he works at a school that has to watch every penny in its budget (like 90% of schools in the world), and he makes barely enough to live on himself (like 90% of teachers in the world), he probably assumed Microsoft would not attempt to charge a price that he and his school would be unable to pay.

Clearly Russian schools need a donation of 10,000 Kubuntu live CDs. This will provide them with well-needed coasters, and maybe a few schools would try it out and switch to legitimate software rather than risk having their teachers sent to Siberia.

10K of Kubuntu doesn't scratch the surface (2, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896696)

Try 10M of Kubuntu.

This presumes of course that there is enough hardware. There is not.

The old koan that states that you can't satisfy hunger by looking at a picture of a fish applies here.

This is actually part of the same campaign that's trying to make Gates, his foundations (and those cute pictures of Patty Stonecipher) all make us think nice things in the light of the disaster of Zune, Vista, and many other things Microsoft.

Mod me down as flamebait, but I'm merely the oxygen, not the spark. Microsoft is the fuel. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Re:do the crime, do the time? (1)

the_B0fh (208483) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896890)

Actually, in some countries, they have specific exemptions for schools/educational institutions.

Re:do the crime, do the time? (2, Insightful)

baldass_newbie (136609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897078)

If he works at a school that has to watch every penny in its budget (like 90% of schools in the world), and he makes barely enough to live on himself (like 90% of teachers in the world)

Horsehockey [opinionjournal.com] . Not saying Windows isn't overpriced (although there is now a version for developing countries), teachers, at least in the US, are paid better than most white collar workers.

Re:do the crime, do the time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17896448)

No, he didn't.

The school purchased computers from local wendor with Windows pre-installed.

The schoolmaster was chosen as scapegoat, simply because hi is the one "in charge"

Re:do the crime, do the time? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17896684)

>Gorbachev argues the nuance he didn't know he was committing a crime. That to me sounds like splitting semantic hairs.

Not really. The courts require Mens Rea [wikipedia.org] before they can convict. No Mens Rea, no culpability, no crime. This is a basic requirement and can't be avoided (unless Russian corts are very, very weird). A bit on the scale of "No body, no crime".

Ignorance of the law actually is a defence when it can be proven the defedant truly could not have known something was either wrong or a crime. It isn't a defence for things that are obviously wrong with or without law, like murder, but for something like taxes, which, if unpaid because someone had no knowledge it was required, it can be. An extremely difficult defence, though. Which is why having a well known person who was leader of the country, like Gorby, on your side is important.

(I'm assuming this isn't a tort case since jail time is involved.)

Re:do the crime, do the time? (2, Insightful)

packeteer (566398) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896962)

Russia has vastly different copyright laws than the USA. You cant just assume he knew it was illegal in Russia just becuase you know it is illegal in the USA. There are many things that are legal in Russia that people fullyy understand that we could hardly imagine as being legal. The fact that the teacher thought copying software for non-commercial education use is not hard for me to imagine.

Re:do the crime, do the time? (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897160)

How about a fair punishment, like not penalizing the students.

If the headmaster was indeed knowingly at fault, charge the school full retail for the appropriate software and be done with it.

Likely that the headmaster was only doing what was possible under his restrictive circumstances.

I'll bet this convinces other headmasters to look for Linux mixmasters to load and run open source...real quickly.

Re:do the crime, do the time? (4, Informative)

Gverig (691181) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897170)

Original letter says that the teacher bought computer with pre-installed software and was not aware of its being illegitimate. Does not really mean that it's true although seems quite possible. For reference, this teacher's salary was probably well below $100/month (Perm is hardly a commerce center)... The letter also mentions that organization that sold said computers to the school is not being investigated.

This is the Justice Russian Style

oh no! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17896276)

Whoa! Do those GULAGs still exist??? I thought they were done away with!

Re:oh no! (4, Funny)

ettlz (639203) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896940)

Whoa! Do those GULAGs still exist??? I thought they were done away with!

All those MP3 files didn't type their contents into those Russian redistribution sites by themselves, you know.

Prison Camp (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17896282)

Siberian Prison Camp is a little hard core for a Bootleg OS. Hope they don't catch me, they might try to genocide my ass or something.

Re:Prison Camp (1)

jsnipy (913480) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896346)

Maybe this will give the RIAA/MPAA the idea to start prison camps in the US. Did I say prison camp, I meant "Happy Camp".

Re:Prison Camp (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17896912)

"Reeducation Camp"

Where we make little Johnny and Sue into proper mindless consumers.. er.. morally upright citizens!

Rediculous solution (2, Insightful)

bendodge (998616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896360)

The guy did something wrong, and deserves to be punished, but how in his wildest imagination can Gorbachev think Gates needs to be involved? When somebody steals something you don't call the item manufacturer.

Re:Rediculous solution (2, Interesting)

Nicholas Evans (731773) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896466)

Last time I checked, software piracy is a copyright issue, not an issue of material theft. Microsoft is not the 'item manufacturer' in this case; they're the copyright holder. As such, Bill Gates is very relevant to this matter.

Re:Rediculous solution (1)

bendodge (998616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896524)

So sorry - I messed up. (See post below you.)

Re:Rediculous solution (1)

bendodge (998616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896480)

Please ignore my parent! (I wish I could remove the ability to submit without previewing...)

Re:Rediculous solution (1)

Kestrelflier (1057248) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896764)

There's a fashion these days for getting the perpetrator and victim to confront each other. And who's the victim if it isn't Bill Gates?

Re:Rediculous solution (1)

adamchou (993073) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897032)

albeit its against the law to pirate software.... but how can it be morally wrong to use pirated software to teach impoverished children in a manner that provides no financial gain? if anything, this would only bring more business to microsoft as these children grow older and enter the workplace because they spent their adolescent lives using microsoft software. i'm pretty certain most of the students here couldn't afford to buy all that expensive software when they were in college. now imagine living in a country like russia where it would probably take a months worth of wages to buy a full copy of windows xp. i whole heartedly support the idea of providing free software to students for educational purposes by any means possible... and i can't see how most of you don't.

Re:Rediculous solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17897156)

When somebody steals something you don't call the item manufacturer.

You are right. Why would an item manufacturer, who has sold you an item, retain any interest in what you do with that item you bought? Why does Microsoft have any interest in what this schoolmaster did with the item he bought from Microsoft?

Anyways, I think you know by now that Microsoft can drop this "criminal" infringement case by stating to the court that Microsoft has granted the schoolmaster "license" to have as many copies (of the item he bought) as he and his school have. Gates could fix this, in the particular case, but that will not fix the manner of law that makes copying a crime - a manner of law Gates has sought successfully to foist upon much of the world.

Inspired students (5, Funny)

RichMan (8097) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896372)

Ok so how many north american students are ripping the authentication stickers off school owned Dell machines and keying the phone number to the BSA in as they read this.

Reporting your teacher/principal to the BSA, priceless.

Re:Inspired students (1)

PPGMD (679725) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896490)

Wouldn't work, the school would be able to show that they purchased Windows with the machines by showing the Dell invoices. And even if they were found in non-compliance the BSA tells you how you were in non-compliance and asks you to fix it first.

Re:Inspired students (1)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896580)

Maybe you won't be able to get your geometry teacher shipped off to Siberia, but you could tie the school up in useless paperwork for weeks or months while they scramble to prove their innocence. Not bad for 10 seconds' work.

Re:Inspired students (3, Informative)

PPGMD (679725) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896686)

Not likely BSA audits are more painless then people think. One of my clients underwent a BSA audit, it wasn't nearly as painful as people claim, and they were in the exact situation described, no proof of OEM copy of Windows on hand, these were Windows 98 machines before the COA sticker became common place. They simply pulled up the paperwork to show that they purchased it with the computers, and it was all hunky dory.

Re:Inspired students (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17897154)

This is why my school issued computer is a MS Windows machine, that I only use to access the borked school apps, while everything else I do is on a Mac, with no MS software what so ever, and mostly OSS. If the BSA wants to make an issue of it, they can deal with the school lawyers.

Dear Bill Gates: (5, Funny)

Peter Trepan (572016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896382)

We wish to send convicted pirate to Siberia for cracking Windows Vista, but can not afford police. Please to apprehend him personally.

Tweeeeet!! Apostrophe abuse! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17896386)

I've come to expect a certain level of laxity with the editing around here. I demand you spell Gates like this: Gate's. Thank you.

Re:Tweeeeet!! Apostrophe abuse! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17897036)

Ills be thankings you fors pointings out da mistakens in me sentencing structures as a gift I have includeds somes various's punctuations. ,.,.,.,::;;()''""

Missing the bigger issue (4, Insightful)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896400)

This isn't a case about Microsoft going after a teacher. The real issue here is the pressure that the US puts on countries that want to join the World Trade Organization. The hypocrisy here is ridiculous. Look at China and the rampant piracy there.

But this leads to another issue and that is pricing. The cost of software is way out of reach for most of these countries. Piracy becomes the only alternative (besides open source of course).

gasmonso

Re:Missing the bigger issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17896750)

It seems to me the WTO issue is the bigger issue here. Russia wants to join, so they want to look 'good' to the increasingly corporate-controlled government of the USA. Crackdown on some lowly teacher doing what is done rampantly in the US, show the WTO you're tough on crime. Sure, the software may be overpriced for many budgets, but feeding the beast going under the guise of free-trade may not be the best way to get the software either. "Who can survive in today's economy (or buy and sell), except their country belongs to the WTO (has the mark of the beast)?" The WTO claims to be against human rights abuses. What about opressing the poor? What about the environment? What about national sovereignty? If Microsoft drops their case, Russia looks better because they're being tough on crime still, Microsoft looks more benevolent, and the WTO stays in the shadows. If Microsoft pursues the case, the WTO bullies Russia more.

Russia would do well to consider the advice given by Michael Chabon in "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay": "Forget about what you are escaping from. Reserve your anxiety for what you are escaping to."

Re:Missing the bigger issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17897074)

Having read more posts and more articles, I restate what I said earlier, with the same cowardice (I really just don't want to deal with yet another account and password).

If Bill Gates intervenes and gets Russia to stop prosecuting, Russia looks better because they're being tough on crime, and it was the external influence of Microsoft not Russia that allowed the defendant to go free. Microsoft looks more benevolent, and the WTO stays in the shadows. If Gates chooses to let Russia run its own affairs, the WTO can continue to bully Russia more if Russia doesn't send this poor chap to a winter wasteland "happy camp".

Re:Missing the bigger issue (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897166)

Far too much is made of foreign trade in discussing *any* country's activities. It typically hovers around 10% of GDP, which while not exactly insignificant, in no way contraindicates a nation surviving and prospering almost entirely on its own.

Re:Missing the bigger issue (1)

dario (9486) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896998)

The cost of software is way out of reach for most of these countries.
Pricing proprietary commercial software out of reach of a lot of young smart people is a good thing, IMHO. Easy availability of pirated DOS, Windows, compilers, etc. in Eastern Europe is why I only ran into Unix/Linux in college; something I wish happened a hell of a lot earlier.

imprisonment? (4, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896410)

If convicted, Alexander Ponosov could face detention in a Siberian prison camp for his crime.

Imprisonment? I thought the russian government just poisoned everyone with Polonium 210 these days.

Explain this to me (1, Insightful)

P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896442)

This is a criminal matter and not civil? What can bill gates do about it?

Re:Explain this to me (1)

matts-reign (824586) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896474)

If bill gates says "I gave that software to him; he didn't pirate it", he no longer committed a crime.

Re:Explain this to me (1)

droopycom (470921) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896864)

Yeah... and Bill Gates just commited perjury...cool... Send Bill to the Gulag !!!

Re:Explain this to me (1)

ObiWanStevobi (1030352) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896946)

From the article:

However, in this case we ask you to show mercy and withdraw your complaint against Alexander Ponosov

Unless Gorbachev is confused, it would appear MS is taking legal action against the man. Pretty much suing for damages from the act of piracy, it would seem.

Six Words from Bill (5, Funny)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896454)

Mr. Gorbachev: Tear down that firewall.

wrong tree (3, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896456)

Talk about balking up the wrong tree.

Mr. Gorbachev, with all due respect, you should have checked for Gates past [wikipedia.org] before making yourself ridiculous.

Dan Sokol is my hero (1)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896840)

As best I can tell from reading the link in parent post, he appears to be the first person on record to pirate MS software.

Re:Dan Sokol is my hero (1)

IflyRC (956454) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896898)

So you put criminals on a pedestal?

Important nuance: small village school (2, Interesting)

zpodcaster (951497) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896472)

Microsoft's asking for RUR 266000, i.e. USD 8886 according to this. http://lenta.ru/story/ponosoff/ [lenta.ru] . An important nuance: it's a small village school, which would probably not have a budget for this. But I think in any case, they should use Linux.

Re:Important nuance: small village school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17896694)

Perhaps using Linux is an affordable idea, but it is not ultimately practical, given that most software is not written for Linux, and there is not always an alternative program that can be used to replace a windows-environment program.

Re:Important nuance: small village school (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896930)

and there is not always an alternative program that can be used to replace a windows-environment program.

For education purposes there usually is. They'll probably want basic word processing and internet. And while StarOffice may not be the greatest office suite, it's more than adequate. Firefox is certainly a decent application.

Re:Important nuance: small village school (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897024)

And while StarOffice may not be the greatest office suite, it's more than adequate. Firefox is certainly a decent application.

How good is Cyrillic/Russian support in those applications? Not just for fonts, but menus and help screens...

-b.

A better idea: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17896498)

Send Bill Gates to a Siberian prison camp.

Someone should have taken that bastard out decades ago. ( not saying i was/am going too, just that it should have happened.. )

Total Cost Of Ownership (or theft) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17896502)

Add: Anal violation in a Siberian prison camp

Gorbachev (1)

reverseengineer (580922) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896510)

Perhaps the architect of glasnost should now push for "openness" in software as well?

To Linux with love. (2, Funny)

CHK6 (583097) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896518)

I bet Alexander Ponosov wishes he'd pushed for Linux in the schools now.

Gates just Declined (5, Informative)

AftanGustur (7715) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896540)


In an astonishing move, Mr. Gates has rejected the proposal! [iht.com]

I wonder if Mr. Gates gets a stiffy by a brutal demonstration of his powers, by crushing the life of a simple teacher.

Re:Gates just Declined (2, Interesting)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896786)

I wonder if Mr. Gates gets a stiffy by a brutal demonstration of his powers, by crushing the life of a simple teacher.

Did you read the article you posted? It's a CRIMINAL case, being brought by local law enforcement, not Bill Gates, you dolt. Besides, if MS did call up the local prosecutor to ask them to back down, then MS would be *flooded* with requests for amnesty from people all over the planet. I think that if anybody, Gorbachev is going a bit soft in the head. It was a ridiculous request.

Re:Gates just Declined (2, Insightful)

AftanGustur (7715) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897138)


Duhh, think a tiny bit and you'l see that this is actually a *political* case.

Russia has been trying for years to join the WTO and the USA has been blocking it's attempts, mainly on the bases that it doesn't enforce US copyright (When a commercial entity can manipulate foreign policy in this way, there is a problem) and this copyright case in mainly to demonstrate the will of the Russian government to enforce copyright and the said case is seen as a test example.

The sad thing is that the teacher, from a remote village, bought the computers pre-installed with windows so his claim that he didn't know that Windows was "pirated", seems perfectly plausible.

I think you will have to search hard among educated people before you find anyone that thinks the teacher should be sent to the Goulag in Siberia for this "crime".

Re:Gates just Declined (2, Interesting)

spiritraveller (641174) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896948)

Were he to call up the prosecutor and ask them not to go forward, it would be a clear statement that Russia is a banana republic. A rich guy can just make them fall over and do what he wants? Well, probably it's true, and Gorbachev obviously sees it that way.

But the article you linked mentions that Putin has already said that prosecuting this guy is ridiculous. If Putin can use some pressure to stop the prosecution, it makes him look good. If you make Putin look good, the doors open even wider for you in Russia.

Gates and MS are not dummies. This will end up working out quite well for them.

And This Astonishes You Because...? (2, Informative)

ewhac (5844) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897066)

Gates has been whining about people "stealing" his software since the late 1970's. For him to come to the defense of an accused copyright infringer, even if that person was an innocent victim of counterfeiting, is simply politically impossible. To do so would sharply undermine Microsoft's poster-child status as the world's biggest "victim" of unsanctioned copying, and would make the intolerable suggestion that the position he's staunchly maintained for the last thirty years as a clear-cut black-and-white issue is, in fact, considerably more nuanced than he's claimed.

Schwab

... but Putin steps forward (3, Informative)

ja (14684) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897100)

"To grab someone for buying a computer somewhere and start threatening him with prison is complete nonsense, simply ridiculous," Putin said. "The law recognizes the concept of someone who purchased the product in good faith."

Re:Gates just Declined (2, Funny)

hitmanWilly1337 (1034664) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897168)

This is the most shocking thing ive heard since someone told me that the sky was blue!

More the system than the individual (4, Interesting)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896564)

This is more about "Russia" using pirated software than the teacher. The teacher is being made the scapegoat for the system. What he's really asking for is Microsoft to look the other way when Russia uses their unlicensed software to benefit the country. It's a sticky question and should be handled more from a marketing standpoint. The problem is just how big a market is Russia for legitimate copies of Microsoft software? If nearly all is pirated and the Russian government is using classrooms to promote it's use then it's benefitting Russia but not Microsoft should Microsoft stand by and let it happen? The teacher shouldn't be prosecuted no matter what because it's fairly obvious officials were aware he was using and I'm sure many are doing the same. The point ultimately is if Russia can't aford or is unwilling to pay for the software should they still have the rights to use it? Does it create an unfair advantage when they have workers learning to use software on pirate copies that will in turn work for a fraction of the cost of US and Europeon programmers? These type of practices put the west at a massive disadvantage. The company I work with wants to outsource our current joint venture to foreign programmers to save money. I'm against it but I got overruled. I'd rather see people paid properly for their work where ever they are but more and more companies will be taking advantage of cheap foreign programmers. Eventually to compete most will have no choice.

Dear Mister Gate (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17896588)

you are friend no? i like friend and you microsoft software. if you like i upload picture of my sister make sex to internet for you.

i am use your software for free because we very poor in kazakhstan. if sue for pirate i have my hand cut off and not upload pictures of my sister make sex. i am very poor to buy software and only own 1 goat but if you like i upload picture of make sex with goat. you like huh?

you friend,

Borat Sagdiyev

bunch of assholes (2, Interesting)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896636)

Microsoft is nothing but one big bunch of assholes. How much money is enough? Go after the big fish. I reported a website selling downloads of Microsoft software and Microsoft did absolutely nothing. The website is still up! Instead, they want to fry a school teacher. What next, a minister or priest?

Don't petition Microsoft (2, Insightful)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896646)

It would make more sense to petition the Russian Parole Board if they still have it.
Microsoft for the moment has no expansion plans into humanitarianism.

Re:Don't petition Microsoft (2, Interesting)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897048)

It would make more sense to petition the Russian Parole Board if they still have it.

Or just collect to bribe the warden US$50k to allow the inmate to 'disappear'?

-b.

Microsoft declined (3, Informative)

HappyDrgn (142428) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896656)

From another source, it would seem Microsoft is not interested in helping Gorbachev...

"Microsoft on Monday rebuffed a public appeal by Mikhail Gorbachev for its chairman, Bill Gates, to intervene on behalf of a Russian school principal charged with software piracy." - http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/02/05/business/pi rate.php [iht.com]

Nice PR stunt (1)

ingo23 (848315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896712)

According to the Russian news sources, Microsoft withdrew the charges early in the process. Who actually installed pirated copies - nobody knows, the vendor denies it, but I would suspect that most likely the PCs were sold with the OS installed or it was installed by the vendor (unofficially, of course) shortly after delivery.

So, with all due respect to Mr. Gorbachev, he is talking to a wrong guy.

Using Windows is like having sex with a prostitute (4, Insightful)

bigpat (158134) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896738)

You get what you pay for, but you never know what virus you are going to get. Better to get it for free with a faithful and honest Ubuntu.

Seriously, at some point when they start threatening you with being sent to prison in Siberia.... I think it is proving a bit too dangerous to be using Microsoft products. It just isn't remotely worth this type of bullshit.

Piracy == Gulag (2, Insightful)

PachmanP (881352) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896752)

Is it just me or is it ridiculous to jail people much less send them to the gulag for software piracy? Even agreeing that it's wrong, it shouldn't be something you do hard time for. Seriously folks...

Re:Piracy == Gulag (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897092)

Is it just me or is it ridiculous to jail people much less send them to the gulag for software piracy? Even agreeing that it's wrong, it shouldn't be something you do hard time for

Well, this is Russia, which had the infamous Section 58 law up until 30 years ago or so. One of the subsections punished "counterrevolutionary thoughts" with either death or a long prison sentence (25 years in the camps IIRC).

-b.

What is wrong with people? (3, Insightful)

turgid (580780) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896766)

Seriously, what is wrong with this guy?

Nowadays we have Free and Open Source Software that is "free and in speech and beer", better quality, more flexible, more useful and more user-friendly than Microsoft's stuff.

There is no excuse for helping yourself to Microsoft's software, other than ignorance and laziness, especially in education, where being a virus vector and consumer of Project documents are not primary concerns.

Shout loud, let the world know.

He didn't know (2, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896776)

The primary problem here is "He didn't know he was committing a crime." If we would like the world outside the US and Western Europe to join the rest of the world anytime soon, people have to understand that even if there is no "physical object" it isn't correct to just copy it.

Now, this particular case of enforcement might be a bit over the ability of the offender to pay. However, that is besides the point. The problem is that much of Russia probably doesn't understand. Or, if you pay attention to the Internet, much of Russia probably doesn't care, either.

This isn't just about mega-corporations squeezing the last time from people. This is the whole concept of "intellectual property", rights, restrictions and licensing. These folks probably wouldn't know (or care) what the rules for GPL software are either. So this is not something that does not affect those hating the MPAA and RIAA. It affects anyone that creates something and does not release it completely without restriction to the public domain.

GPL is a restricted and legally obligating license and does not fall under the idea of releasing something completely without restriction to the public domain. Creative Commons licensing is not (usually) the same as releasing to the public domain. BSD licensing is closer but still not the same as "without restriction" in the public domain.

Without some education, these people that just don't know they are doing something wrong will continue and teach children to grow up and violate copyright, the GPL, Creative Commons and every other sort of license you can imagine. Is educating them by sending them to a prison came correct? Maybe not. But just writing it off isn't correct either.

Re:He didn't know (1)

tnhtnh (870708) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896882)

I tried the 'oh! I didnt know' excuse when i got caught in Amsterdam for doing some not-so-legal drugs. It didnt work - nor should his excuse in the aforementioned case above.

Re:He didn't know (2, Insightful)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17897164)

Without some education, these people that just don't know they are doing something wrong will continue and teach children to grow up and violate copyright, the GPL, Creative Commons and every other sort of license you can imagine. Is educating them by sending them to a prison came correct? Maybe not.

MAYBE not? Uhm, definitely not. Maybe a fine or some community service may be appropriate. But taking the guy away from his family and pupils for years for a crime committed without mens rea - he had bought the computers with pirated Windows already installed - is completely inappropriate. As a Pole whose family members died in Siberia during WW II, I find the whole thing reprehensible and disproportionate.

-b.

In Soviet Russia (1)

towsonu2003 (928663) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896832)

Ordinary people go after Microsoft...

[bitch] (0, Offtopic)

SilentOneNCW (943611) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896862)

I like how I bust my ass and write a paragraph long summary that actually explains the issues behind the case and what both Putin and Gorbachev have said about it, and it's still lounging in 'pending' while this one liner sits pretty on /. [/bitch]

Re:[bitch] (1)

eneville (745111) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896926)

I like how I bust my ass and write a paragraph long summary that actually explains the issues behind the case and what both Putin and Gorbachev have said about it, and it's still lounging in 'pending' while this one liner sits pretty on /.[/bitch]
/. editors are just lazy people. they only approve things that they think are interesting. how about you follow up here with the article you were waiting to get approved just so that i can read it.

just incase u missed it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17896868)

he is no longer a leader in the soviet union...

Appealing to the wrong place? Or not? (5, Insightful)

Sargeant Slaughter (678631) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896900)

Obviously Bill Gates has no control over the Russian judicial system. However, Gorbachev's appeal is more to show the connection between big business and governments around the world. While it may not do anything legally, it certainly paints M$ iin a bad light (and Putin). This is perhaps our only way of fighting powerful corporate interests. We call out the REAL culprits and hurt their image (and perhaps profits) with an expose. If we want to be successful we have to use the media to fight these companies and their desctructive practices. Of course M$ will try to distance themselves from the case.

If this teacher has the backing of people like Gorbachev, I doubt he will spend any time in a gulag. I am a lot more concerned about the poeple who never make it into the headlines...

Putin Running for President of PirateBay (2, Interesting)

akpoff (683177) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896922)

"It's ridiculous to just arrest a chap for using computers," he said [bbc.co.uk] .

In the West .. (1)

quiberon2 (986274) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896924)

In the West, this wouldn't be a crime. It would be a civil matter, and the remedy would be in equity; i.e. a judge would require the teacher (or his employer) to pay Microsoft whatever sum of money he deemed appropriate.

Then the teacher could go straight back to teaching, and pay off his debt at some suitable rate as determined by the judge.

Even in the US, Copyright Infringement is only criminal if you do something like unauthorised distribution of the latest Star Wars movie before its release to cinemas.

Re:The summary I submitted... (1)

SilentOneNCW (943611) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896976)

Except I actually put in a closing anchor... Damn you HTML!

Missing the biggest part of the picture (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#17896958)

Why is it that no one insisted on Russia being systematically "deSovietized" the way that the post-WWII Axis, Afghanistan and Iraq have been cleaned up? Why aren't the leaders who participated in the gulags, etc. hanging from gallows? Where are the human rights trials? The Soviet Union was as bad or worse in the number of its people that it murdered than the Nazi regime. In fact, despite the cries of "Fascism!" the Italian Fascists were certifiably peaceniks in the numbers they killed compared to either the Nazis or the Soviets. In many respects, the Soviet Union was one if not the worst regime in the 20th century.

Things like this are a left over from the Soviet era. If the Russian people were smart, they would learn to get over their bullshit nationalism and repudiate their "Soviet glory days" with a vengeance by hanging the Communists and abolishing all of the last traces of Communist rule from Russia.

The real issue, people, is that the Russian government has not fundamentally changed since the fall of the USSR. Why are people being sent to Siberia, especially for such a petty crime? I could understand violent crime, such as armed robbery, rape or murder, but simple theft or piracy?

appealing to corporation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17897022)

What kind of government do you have if you appeal to a corporation for help against imprisonment?

Or ... lets take the way-back machine.
The year is 1607.
Someone invents a new method of growing potatoes, that triples the yield.
A book is written on it.
The author of the book is dead, and/or only the Stationers monopoly have the legal and physical ability to copy the book.
But "pirates" copy the book, copy it and give it away to farmers who need the information.
The farmers use this information to increase the yield.
The Stationers crack down on those that are not paying the full tax on the book or idea.
The government arrests the poor farmers and imprisons them for the information crime.
An ex-government official appeals to the Stationers to go easy on the poor farmer.

The potato book is made-up. But the general situation ( then and now ), is not.

good night and good luck.

Not signatory to our copyright laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17897082)

I doubt that 10% of Russia's computers are running licensed copies of windows. This has to be a hoax.

Dear Bill, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17897106)

Your a real SHIT.

If Bush had done this.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17897128)

Imagine the reaction if George Bush were doing this.

Or even his father, Bush Sr.

CE0m (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17897130)

If I remain about ;bylaws A fact: FreeBSD Have the energy you. The tireless
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