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Teacher Avoids Getting Sent to Siberia For Piracy

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the off-the-hook dept.

Microsoft 252

Piracy Support Line writes "Russian principal Alexander Ponosov will not be visiting Siberia any time soon, at least not for the allegedly illegal Microsoft software that were preloaded on the computers they bought and Microsoft supported the reseller's story. Although Bill Gates rejected Mikhail Gorbachev's personal appeal for mercy on behalf of the teacher, the judge was kinder. Judge Elvira Mosheva decided to dismiss the case because 'Microsoft's financial damage is too insignificant for a criminal investigation.'"

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252 comments

Let me... (1)

hawkeye_82 (845771) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034800)

Let me be the first to say... "Ha Ha"

Thief got away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035028)

Did we export the American justice system too?

(or they just stole it)

Re:Thief got away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035458)

What is America Justice?. My Rights are stronger than yours?.

ramifications (4, Insightful)

badriram (699489) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035198)

Sure I know it is "haha" since Microsoft in the recieving end, but take the context put linux and gpl on one end, and you will realize that a court could rule that since no one is placed in a financial disadvantage people can abuse the gpl. When Microsoft gets screwed over by something it is just a matter of time before someone applies to opensource stuff.

From what I had read, the teacher was warned once, and he still continued using pirated software. Frankly he did break the law, he deserves a punishment, maybe not prison, but atleast slap on the wrist. People should be encouraged to follow licenses be in Sony's music license, microsoft's eula, or FSF's gpl.

Re:ramifications (4, Insightful)

the_womble (580291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035406)

The judge ruled that there was no criminal case.

This still means that a civil prosecution would be possible.

I have never heard of a criminal prosecution anywhere in the world for a GPL violation, have you? I do not think the authorities bother with criminal prosecutions on behalf of this commie open source stuff.

So the ruling makes it harder for proprietary software companies to sue, but makes no difference in enforcing open source licences.

Of course, MS is not likely to want to enforce its licences in Russia, any more than it does in most of Asia, so piracy is now OK. I would not be surprised if MS has been leaning on the Russian authorities to ensure that the teacher got off - which would explain why the serious charges were dropped by the prosecution. They can not openly say they are in favour of piracy, but the last thing they want is people switching to Linux to save money.

Re:ramifications (2, Interesting)

Pfhorrest (545131) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035418)

Full disclosure: I see no ethical justification for intellectual property laws at all. (Trademarks are close, but I think fraud laws should cover that).

Sure I know it is "haha" since Microsoft in the recieving end, but take the context put linux and gpl on one end, and you will realize that a court could rule that since no one is placed in a financial disadvantage people can abuse the gpl. When Microsoft gets screwed over by something it is just a matter of time before someone applies to opensource stuff.

So much the worse for GPL protections in Russia.

I've been thinking recently that this ought to be a general rule of law - not only that no act ought to be prohibited unless it causes or at least directly threatens harm to person or property (private or public), but that no one ought to be convicted of any such otherwise just prohibition unless it can be demonstrated that in that particular case, harm to person or property was actually caused or at least directly threatened. (I speak of "directly threatened" here in the sense that firing a gun at someone and missing them, or firing at random in a crowded public place and fortunately not hitting anyone, threatens harm; not in the sense of "oh someone could conceivably be hurt by this maybe", which would justify things like the RIAA's claims that they've lost oh-so-much money that they say they could have made but never actually had to begin with).

As an interesting side question, for someone with more knowledge of international copyright law than me... If someone in Russia did violate the GPL, and Russia said "who cares?", and the violators then released that software online, would its distribution in America be a crime? As in, if an American downloaded it and (say it's freeware but not Free-ware, so there's no Russian copyrights being violated) gave a copy to his friends... would he (the American) be breaking the GPL by (otherwise legitimately) distributing a work which (illegitimately) contains compiled GPL code with no source?

Re:ramifications (2, Interesting)

Reziac (43301) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035756)

"I've been thinking recently that this ought to be a general rule of law - not only that no act ought to be prohibited unless it causes or at least directly threatens harm..."

Occasionally voiced as "An it harm none, do as ye will."

I'm in total agreement with you.

The problem is there are always corner cases, and they lead to the inglorious tangle the law has become.

The local library has a copy of the California State Code from about 1910 -- it's a single middling-hefty hardback. Contrast that to the shelves upon shelves of current law, and marvel that we're not ALL in jail just for breathing.

As to the GPL -- there's a certain level of hypocrisy in saying "If you don't share it the way WE tell you to, then you can't share it at all."

Re:ramifications (1)

Monsuco (998964) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035424)

but take the context put linux and gpl on one end, and you will realize that a court could rule that since no one is placed in a financial disadvantage people can abuse the gpl.
If someone is violating the GPL, the judge could rule that there is no financial harm, but require the defendant to stop violating. That is fine with me.

Re:ramifications (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035774)

OR the judge could send him to Siberia. Same deal.

Once you start sending lawyers after people for violating your copyright, you are in the same moral boat as Bill Gates.

Re:ramifications (0, Troll)

Divebus (860563) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035628)

Well, how does it feel, Microsoft? Someone "innovates" a little of your "intellectual property" (stole it fair and square, actually) and the courts don't think it's worth prosecuting. "Ohhhh, no harm done..." Just a little tiny pin prick of what the rest of the planet's actual innovators have been putting up with from Microsoft (and the lenient courts) all these years.

Yes, I'm a bitter little troll so blast me a new one.

Different kinds of IP, bub (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 7 years ago | (#18036016)

Well, how does it feel, Microsoft? Someone "innovates" a little of your "intellectual property" (stole it fair and square, actually) and the courts don't think it's worth prosecuting. "Ohhhh, no harm done..." Just a little tiny pin prick of what the rest of the planet's actual innovators have been putting up with from Microsoft (and the lenient courts) all these years.


I'd see your point if he was tried for a patent violation, or any other kind of stealing an _idea_. But he pirated a product. It's the difference between copying the suspension idea for a Ferrari and breaking into a Ferrary for a joy ride. It's not even remotely the same thing.

Plus, MS until _very_ recently didn't even bother much with patents, and I still don't know of any case when they sued someone for patent infringements. And then mostly started patenting stuff when they got sued for blindingly obvious patents. So from an idea exchange point of view, MS practices what it preaches, so to speak. Or at least certainly doesn't bother preaching against it either.

And before someone comes up with some lame "haha, but MS never innovated anything so they couldn't sue" slogan, actually they did come with new (if not spectacular) stuff, and at any rate bought other companies which did. So, you know, even if those guys didn't work for MS at the time when they invented that stuff, MS now owns their IP anyway. Not saying that it makes MS the great innovator, but they do own some original IP, even if by buying it. That's what I'm saying. So if they did try to block everything infringing on that IP, you'd see a _lot_ of (frivolous) litigation coming from Redmond.

To put it into perspective, other companies have litigated for as little as your app _looking_ like theirs. There were lawsuits coming out of Lotus like crazy against everyone with the menus at the bottom for example. If MS were to try to do that, ooer, you'd see some serious lawsuits against every sod who made a xine-based player that looks like Windows Media Player. Or Mono? Ooer. That would be some litigation potential. If you think that .NET's not patentable because it's a Java clone, lemme remember that Sun got a patent as idiotic as the very idea of "a virtual machine with less than X opcodes" (where X was, I think 200 or so, so not even that challenging or innovative.) Yes, you heard that right: they didn't invent the VM, but got a patent on one with fewer opcodes than before anyway. Don't think that innovation or litigating over them is restricted only to great earth-shattering paradigm-shifting inventions, that's what I'm saying.

Basically if this guy had stolen an idea from MS, like, I don't know, making an Aero-like window manager for KDE or Gnome, probably MS couldn't care less. (I know Aero is the bad example and not original, but bear with me. Replace it with implementing DirectX 10 in Wine, or implementing some new protocol as a kernel driver, or whatever else instead, if it makes you feel any better.)

But he didn't, he just pirated Windows. Which, frankly, I'm hard pressed to see as some great "revenge of the innovators" act, in any form or shape.

Yes, I'm a bitter little troll so blast me a new one.


Well, at least you admit it. That's something ;)

Re:Different kinds of IP, bub (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 7 years ago | (#18036064)

He allegedly pirated a product. He has not been found guilty in a court of law.

Re:ramifications (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035770)

Were the guy use GPL software in place of Windows, he might even get some free support from OSS enthusiasts. It is not like he released modified GPL software without giving out the source. That kind of behaviour is usually performed by small startups who cannot afford coders nor morale.

Except he didn't (3, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035936)

Disclaimer: Now I'm _not_ a F/OSS zealot usually, and probably half the /. crowd would normally find me leaning towards the MS side. Heck, by /. standards I've even been accused of being a MS fanboy before, although God knows it's not hard to get called that here. But in this case I find it sad and counter-productive for F/OSS too.

Yes, _if_ he had used GPL software, all that would have happened. Except he didn't use OSS, he just went and pirated Windows instead. And the whole case just created a precedent for that too. There are millions of computers in Russia which could have a financial incentive to use some free (at least as in beer) software instead or some cheap local software. Now they'll keep using a pirated version of Windows instead. Congrats.

All piracy helps kill isn't the big software houses, but they help kill their small competitors. Piracy didn't kill MS Office, but it helped nearly kill Star Office and the horde of smaller options that used to exist. Sure, they missed 90% of the Office features that 90% of the population never needed, but they would have been plenty enough and cheap for writing a recipe or a CV in. If the option really were "do I get MS Office for a shitload of money, or Someone1234 Write for very little money, or KWrite for free", the second and third options would look a lot more viable. But when the option becomes "I can copy all them for free, so do I get MS Office or Someone1234 Write or KWrite", the choice also becomes "WTF, let's get MS Office then."

People don't all drive Ferraris, so some go buy a modest small car instead, because they can't pirate a car. So a lot more options exist. In the software world they pirate the big thing, and let the smaller budget options die.

Worse yet, the illusion of ubiquitousness helped kill competition even further past some point. Let's all pirate Office at home because that's what we use at work too. And let's then all install Office at work, because, wth, everyone already knows how to use their pirated copy at home.

And what do you think that does to F/OSS in Russia too? There could have been local distros, small local companies maybe customizing it for schools or offering cheap tech support/installations, etc. There could have been kids learning to use KDE or Gnome instead of XP's shitty Fischer Price interface (unless you disable the fluff), and maybe having a look at the code, in those schools. Now they'll all grow on pirated Windows software, and continue to not even understand the "use the free choice, if you can't afford the behemoth" idea. Probably not even understanding why and how it would help to contribute some code to the free choice. Why would you bother when you know everyone will just pirate Windows instead? Way to go.

Re:ramifications (-1)

Tom (822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035866)

People should be encouraged to follow licenses be in Sony's music license, microsoft's eula, or FSF's gpl.
Err, no? Totally absolutely not. Whoever modded that as "insightful", please hand back your breathing license.

People should be highly discouraged to follow stupid license that further restrict their right after they've already bought something. The whole "software license" crap rests on the legal construction that by installing from CD/DVD to disk (and in some countries by loading it into memory), you are creating a copy of the thing and thus need a special permit. Almost everyone a little more enlightened than that knows that that's total bullshit. But back when the first rulings of this kind were made, computers were a strange new technology and a little frightening, well and now it's case law.

Now for the GPL, that's a different animal. It doesn't take any rights you should have by buying the thing away (buying something and then not being able to use it unless you sign some paper would be considered insane in any other area!). The GPL grants you additional rights you would not normally have for something you bought.

Huge difference.

Let me... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18034826)

Let me be the first to say "In Soviet Russia..."

Re:Let me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035242)

In Soviet Russia, Microsoft pirates you.

Re:Let me... (1)

WwWonka (545303) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035484)

Wow! I'm truly shocked it took that many posts to get down to the first "In Russia..." joke reference!

Don't tell me that everyone else is side tracked wondering "is Anna Nicole's kid mine"!?

What did you expect? (4, Informative)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034834)

Lemee see....

1: Administrator buys what he thinks is a legit copy. It isnt.
2: Gorbachev AND Gates are tossing words around. Erm, HOLY SHIT. Big names in each corner.
3: Russia already has warned any researcher in coming to the USA (dmitri skylarov vs adobe)
4: Do we trust a US company or open source that anybody can review? China already supports Red Flag Linux.
5: Putin came out in defense of the administrator. What he says, goes.

Need we say more? The cards are stacked against MS. They back off, and then they go "soft" on copyright violations, but they are the big bullies if they do go ahead.

Re:What did you expect? (5, Insightful)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034928)

Need we say more? The cards are stacked against MS. They back off, and then they go "soft" on copyright violations, but they are the big bullies if they do go ahead.

Microsoft didn't go soft on anyone. They weren't suing, it was a criminal matter (ie state vs. defendant) and whether or not Microsoft approved was almost irrelevant. Again. this had little if anything to do with Microsoft.

They did miss a golden opportunity for good PR by speaking out about it, but in the end the decision came down to the judge. It wasn't Microsoft's place to go soft or hard or otherwise.

Re:What did you expect? (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035796)

Wait, it wasn't M$'s puppet organisation, the local BSA who sued the poor guy in the first place?

Odd... (3, Insightful)

bendodge (998616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034844)

The financial damage was too insignificant? That's a rather strange reason to dismiss a case, as it violates the letter of the law. It's not a bad idea, except that is has a massive potential for abuse.

It's just sad that court costs are so high, and you can't sue for anywhere close to the actual damage.

Re:Odd... (1)

Ninety-9 SE-L (1052214) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034902)

I'm glad he got off. I agree it's odd that was the reason for letting him off, but I believe the punishment he would suffer is larger than the crime committed. This is especially true since he probably didn't even know he was doing anything illegal. Bill Gates can shove it.

Re:Odd... (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035186)

He knew exactly what he was doing acording to the charge that was dismissed. They changed it from "installing pirated software" to "useing the software for a week after it was known to be pirated". This would require him knowing it wasn't legit.

The problem as I see it, Is that Microsoft made the claim it was pirated, the teacher claimed it was bought whith the computers, Microsoft investigates and stands behind the resaler who sold the computers and then the charge was moved to using the software after knowing it wasn't legit. From my point of view, either microsoft knew it came on the computer and continued pursuing this by the change in charges or the sofware was legit and the claim of it being counterfit was false but too far into the process to back out. It doesn't seem like Microsoft would go willingly to the change of the charge without there being some merit to it.

I'm thinking that this teacher was the sacrificial lamb who's entire purpose was to inform others about pirating Microsoft's software I Russia. They probably took these computers from an activation data base and decided it was high profile enough to make national news, decided to invalidate the installs claiming pirated software and didn't count on this teacher being worried about his honor and reputation. Once commited, they couldn't back down and once his story started making sence, they couldn't object to the changes in charges because it would likley open aspects of their validation to scrutiny and show this.

I'm also betting some public statment will be made but no appeal with the court will be made. This allows them to back out of it without anyone knowing different.

it is not "odd", but basic law (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035024)

Normally a small damage amount is not grounds for bringing a CRIMINAL case against a person. Rather, the matter would have to be pursued via CIVIL law. And that would mean Microsoft would have to sue the person directly, not get the state to go after them.

Microsoft has subverted the laws of the world and made minor acts of copyright infringement into criminal acts. This way Microsoft gets the taxpayer to fund a massive witch hunt against people, mostly good, who have done little wrong. And in the great scheme of things, minor copyright infringement is among the world's least important problems.

The way Microsoft has turned the government against the people is a good example of how rotten the company is -- and how Microsoft will stop at nothing to corrupt and destroy the world.

Re:it is not "odd", but basic law (5, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035106)

The way Microsoft has turned the government against the people is a good example of how rotten the company is . . .

Once again Microsoft fails to be the actual innovator; they're just ripping off Disney.

KFG

Re:it is not "odd", but basic law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035952)

Why oh why is there no "+5 ZING!"?

Re:Odd... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035170)

I think you (and the summary) did not understand the reason the case was dismissed, namely that there was not enough evidence against the suspect, AND there is no sufficient justification to conduct a criminal investigation to collect more evidence.

This is kind of like prosecuting a guy who may or may not spit onto a sidewalk: the cost of DNA fingerprinting, blood typing, forensic splatter modelling, would far outweigh the crime.

Re:Odd... (5, Informative)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035188)

That's a rather strange reason to dismiss a case, as it violates the letter of the law.

If this were a theft you would be correct. It is not. It's a copyright violation; where intent to distribute/a dollar threshold determines whether the case is criminal or merely a civil matter.

What the judge is saying is that based on the evidence it is unlikely that a crime has actually been commited by the accused and thus it is not worth putting the governement to the time and expense of an investigation to support a criminal proceeding.

Bear in mind that the prosecution had, at the time of the hearing, dropped the accusation that he had himself "pirated" the software and instead he was merely accused of using it for a week.

Making this sort of judgement is part of the job of judge; and why we call them "judges."

KFG

Re:Odd... (3, Insightful)

brpr (826904) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035194)

The financial damage was too insignificant? That's a rather strange reason to dismiss a case, as it violates the letter of the law.

No it doesn't. Whatever the law says, in criminal cases the prosecutor always has to decide whether or not a prosecution is in the public interest. If the damage caused by the defendant is not significant, then it probably isn't.

Re:Odd... (3, Interesting)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035312)

The financial damage was too insignificant? That's a rather strange reason to dismiss a case...

... but what an enlightened precedent it would make.

Reminds me of someone my mum knew who was caught growing marijuana in their backyard for personal use. He pleaded guilty and then kept appealing the sentence on the grounds that the punishment should not out weigh the crime, that what he did was a victimless crime, etc. What started out as a hefty jail sentence ended up in the Federal Court (Australia) with the judge basically offering him a small fine and asking if that was acceptable to him.

A similar precedent in IP law, where the punishment must be in proportion to the crime, would be wonderful.

Re:Odd... (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035974)

In many countries, only commercial copyright violation is a criminal offence. Non commercial violations, such as giving a CDr to a friend are a civil matter.

If it the same in Russia, then it makes perfect sense that it was dismissed because the financial damage was too insignificant.

I Heard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18034864)

Siberia is great this time of year...

Microsoft not involved (4, Informative)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034868)

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/1700AP_APFN _Russia_Piracy_Microsoft_CORRECTIVE.html [nwsource.com]

Nice FUD job though. Gotta get those ad impressions going.

Re:Microsoft not involved (1)

cbiffle (211614) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034964)

All the submitter said was that Microsoft refused Gorbachev's offer. This is probably a little harsh -- all they did was not accept it, technically -- but the correction you link to is about some "settlement" they said Microsoft offered.

Unrelated.

Re:Microsoft not involved (1)

dbdunn23 (1061588) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035026)

Although Bill Gates rejected Mikhail Gorbachev's personal appeal for mercy on behalf of the teacher, the judge was kinder

I love the blatant attempt to blame this on Microsoft. How exactly is Bill Gates supposed to influence the Russian legal system?

Re:Microsoft not involved (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035070)

He's not. If you'd been paying attention, the plea was for Gates to get MS to lay off their lawsuit.

Re:Microsoft not involved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035134)

" If you'd been paying attention, the plea was for Gates to get MS to lay off their lawsuit."

If you had been paying attention you would have seen there is NO LAWSUIT. MS was not involved in the case in any way shape or form. Hence MS was not able to intervene as it had nothing to do with them.

nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035274)

Microsoft has been one of the main instigators pushing for enforcing IP in russia through trade negotiations. This particular case was giving them a blackeye in public so they released a little PR stunt disclaimer "oh noes it wasn't us!", whch although technically true is pretty far into the bullshit class of normal corporate statements. To say they weren't involved at all is disingenuous-if MS didn't want their copyright enforced in russia, to "stop piracy of their valuable expensive product"-this case would never have been brought in the first place. They have been lobbying HARD for this in general terms, all over the planet. It is PRECISELY because MS, and the various media copyright folks, etc, have been pushing this and russia wants to look better to get into the WTO that the case was even brought. That and this poor schmuck was a lot easier to take on than the russian mob. It just blew up on them, a stunt that failed. they just picked some random schmoe out of the millions who use bootleg copies for a test case, but it backfired, and it was picked up so fast by the media that MS was looking petty and vindictive so of course they claimed "no interest". If they *really* had no interest, they could have just as easily issued a press release saying they will no longer be pushing for ANY piracy cases in russia, but they haven't, have they?

With that said, I have NO sympathy anymore for people who run windows anything, legit, pirate, doesn't matter. You go out of your way to run crapware from convicted skunks & crooks, inc.,-you get what you pay for or steal-crapware. Instant karma, suckers.

Re:nonsense (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035304)

Wouldn't microsoft or someone on microsoft's behalf make the intial claim that the software was pirated? Otherwise how would anyone know a crime has been commited? Surly losing a piece of paper (CPA) isn't grounds ofr a criminal prosecution?

Re:Microsoft not involved (4, Informative)

Rycross (836649) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035142)

Except according to the link, Microsoft had nothing to do with the lawsuit.

Microsoft has had no role the charges against Ponosov and had even turned down the opportunity of joining the lawsuit, company spokeswoman Olga Dergunova said in a statement.

"In general, we do not believe that a case of this kind warrants criminal prosecution, given the very small number of computers involved, and the fact that the computers were purchased for use by students," she said in the company's latest statement Monday.

Even Ponosov said he does not blame Microsoft for the prosecutors' attention.

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/1700AP_APFN _Russia_Piracy_Microsoft_CORRECTIVE.html/ [nwsource.com]

But Olga Dergunova, chairman of Microsoft Russia, said: "This case was initiated by Russian authorities under Russian law.

"We did have the option in this case to take up civil action, but decided last year not to do so."

Mr Ponosov told the BBC that Russian prosecutors had brought the case against him and he was unaware of any Microsoft claim against him.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6332441.stm/ [bbc.co.uk]

Gates couldn't lay off their lawsuit because they didn't have a lawsuit against the man.

Re:Microsoft not involved (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035278)

Microsoft had to make the complaint or someone had to on their behalf. Claiming that the software was pirated and that the company who sold the computers didn't sell the spofware in question with the computers is the entire evidence that the software was pirated. Microsoft was very involved with the case, If they denied either of those pieces of evidence, there wouldn't be a case against this teacher.

That being said, I'm wondering how the claim to being pirated software came about. I mean how does microsoft prove the claim that it was pirated? They are the ones who allowed the preinstalls with recovery partitions instead of actual install CDs, What if the COA was taken by a student or mail clerk before the teacher took posession of it? Russia might not have the inocent untill proven guilty but I would expect that clear evidence of a crime being commited would be a required before making a claim. Unless losing some paperwork is in itself a crime.

Re:Microsoft not involved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035766)

Why is Slashdot so full of Microsoft shills nowadays? There was a case involving Microsoft software. They could easily say "we know nothing of this, but in our opinion please back off or please wait whilst we check it out". They were not contacted by some random person by email. Mikhail Gorbachev; probably the most popular Russian in America (though possibly not Russia) made a personal appeal. Claiming that Microsoft wasn't involved / couldn't do anything is rediculous. The claim that someone could be sent to Siberia because of their software is something they should have immediately refuted. Nobody who uses Microsoft software should feel safe.

Re:Microsoft not involved (1)

VertigoAce (257771) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035178)

There was no lawsuit. The goal of the plea was for BillG to toss the guy free licenses to all of the software he was using so that the Russian government might drop its criminal investigation. Microsoft's stance on the issue was that while they obviously don't support piracy, they would rather spend their time going after companies that are selling illegal copies of Windows for profit (ie shady PC manufacturers) than pursue a case against someone who installed it on a few school computers for educational use.

No, not at all! (1)

Erris (531066) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035228)

Sure, M$ has nothing to do with the global advance of draconian "intellectual property" law. Nobody has been threatening other contries with trade embargo of the sort usually reserved for wars. No, nothing to do with Bill Gates and M$, they are the good guys trying to eduspam your children about how to buy fine Office software and what a dirty bad pirate you are if you don't buy a M$ OS with each and every computer sold. Oh noes, M$ would never launch any action against a school. [salon.com]

Their solution, to never buy another piece of commercial software, is fitting punishment for those who demanded the laws Russia now has. They will soon learn that the it was stupid to mess around with it to begin with.

Re:No, not at all! (1)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035314)

hi twitter [slashdot.org] . Using your sockpuppet account tonight? Just as you'd thought you'd been robbed of another fine opportunity to blabber on about "M$", you just can't help yourself, can you?

Oh noes

We've had this conversation before [slashdot.org] twitter. You're still full of it.

Thanks for the link. (1)

Erris (531066) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035540)

That's a great conversation you pointed to.

I love the link to http://www.manhattan.k12.ca.us/legal/latimes/lausd 1.html [k12.ca.us] which now returns a M$ 404, but still can be found at the archive.org wayback machine. Here's some of the really cool stuff M$ did to L.A. through the BSA back in 1998!

For years, Microsoft Corp. and other industry giants have tried to persuade public schools that computers belong in classrooms alongside textbooks and teachers. Now the same firms are targeting the Los Angeles Unified School District in a different way, seeking $300,000 over allegations that teachers and other employees have illegally copied software programs. ... The real cost of the proposal--which is still subject to school board approval--is the fact that the Los Angeles school district would be forced to spend nearly $5 million over the next three years to replace the unlicensed software that has found its way into classrooms. ...the settlement is one of about a dozen agreements negotiated over the past 10 years with school districts nationwide.

Great stuff! I just love the way you defend M$'s extortion of public schools. Want to tell me they deserved it? Got any more? How about some links to them suing Churches, Lighthouse for the Blind or Girl Scouts?

Re:Thanks for the link. (1)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035672)

Great stuff! I just love the way you defend M$'s extortion of public schools.

Awwww. Well, when you're done FUD'ing and exercising your creative selective quoting, I'd like to see lots of stories about "M$" suing schools. Something that happened this decade will do nicely. After you provide us with some, a few links to the other companies that make up the BSA would be nice as well. Yes? Don't use so many weasel phrases though. It just makes you look dumber than you are.

BTW - I love how you highlighted the "software that has found its way into classrooms" part. I really enjoy seeing people like you invalidate their own feeble arguments.

Ugh! They helped the prosecution. (1)

Erris (531066) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035400)

I should read more carefully. Not only is M$ responsible for crappy IP laws elsewhere, they actually helped to prosecute this one.

Last week, Microsoft executive Olga Dergunova defended the reseller [microsoft-watch.com] that provided the computers.

Then you follow that link and find:

Gorbachev's appeal directly to Gates made sense, in part because Microsoft owns the software and only licenses it to customers. In the CNews interview Dergunova affirmed that "Microsoft is the plaintiff in this case; its intellectual property rights have been violated."

Oh yeah, I wonder where the prosecution got the outrageous value of that coppied software at $10,000 instead of the $100 the judge eventually decided it was worth?

You can keep your M$ spin to yourself, Bungi, M$ created, prosecuted and is ultimately responsible for it. If you consider M$'s anti-competitive practices, it's even worse. M$ does everything in their power to make it hard to run anything but M$ so they can take your money, even if you happen to be a no budget teacher in the backwoods of the Ural mountains. Cases like this are the cost of non free software.

Re:Ugh! They helped the prosecution. (2, Insightful)

The Bungi (221687) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035432)

Read closely flocktard, they "defended" the "prosecution" simply by stating that whatever came on those computers initially was legal. Microsoft was NOT involved in any lawsuits or prosecution. None.

It's OK if you get your panties in a bunch when you see these stories. Really. But wearing down your #4 key to do your hilarious "M$" thing and trying to desperately spin your "OMFG IS TEH EVILZ" bull is just not going to work. Save it for when you actually have a point to make. Microsoft does plenty of bad things.

Thank$ for all the fi$h (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035720)

I have to $ay I'm alway$ excited about reading the$e in$ightful comment$ on $la$hdot. Thi$ i$ "where it i$" if one want$ to know what'$ happening with Micro$oft. From my parent'$ ba$ement in Wi$con$in, I $tab at them!

Thank$ Erri$

Dollar $ign Poem$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035790)

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It wa$n't our fir$t ki$$,
Nor' the day that we met;
But I realized $omething,
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With the $tar$ $hining brightly,
From high up above;
I'd one word to de$cribe it,
That word, i$ love.
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I think of it every time,
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Thi$ memory i$ mine,
But that moment wa$
OUR$.

Re:Microsoft not involved (1)

S3D (745318) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035614)

Nice FUD job though. Gotta get those ad impressions going.

Not according to the russian sources. All of them are mentioning Microsoft employee Alexandr Potapov involved in the case. For example:
http://lenta.ru/news/2007/02/13/noexcuse/ [lenta.ru]
"Microsoft representative Alexandr Potapov suggested settlement if the defendant apologized"
Of casue it's possible Alexandr Potapov doing it by his own initiative. In that case it's possible Microsoft will disown him.

MOD Parent UP (1)

iDope (916846) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035650)

Microsoft has had no role the charges against Ponosov and had even turned down the opportunity of joining the lawsuit, company spokeswoman Olga Dergunova said in a statement.

"In general, we do not believe that a case of this kind warrants criminal prosecution, given the very small number of computers involved, and the fact that the computers were purchased for use by students," she said in the company's latest statement Monday.

A missed PR opportunity for Microsoft (4, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034878)

Microsoft could have handled this differently and spun the whole thing to their advantage. This could have been a "Genuine Advantage" moment. "See? Make sure your pre-installed software comes with the original disks and software keys! We'll let you off the hook, but all you out there please learn from Mr. Ponosov's predicament and deal only with reputable certified Microsoft resellers" or some such.

But instead they turned the other cheek, and a teacher almost was sentenced to prison in Siberia over something as simple as missing software keys. And a Russian judge showed more compassion and understanding of the matter than Bill Gates. Those are the facts, and they do not look good. This is, and rightfully should be, a PR nightmare for Microsoft.

A shame really. The Gates Foundation gives away piles of cash for humanitarian goals, but events like this let you know where that money is really coming from. And what people behind it are really like. Business first, before anything else, always.

Re:A missed PR opportunity for Microsoft (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034940)

---Microsoft could have handled this differently and spun the whole thing to their advantage. This could have been a "Genuine Advantage" moment. "See? Make sure your pre-installed software comes with the original disks and software keys! We'll let you off the hook, but all you out there please learn from Mr. Ponosov's predicament and deal only with reputable certified Microsoft resellers" or some such.

But what indicates legitimate software? When we deal with 2nd and 3rd world countries, we see lots of counterfeit rings. Many of them do have the tech to duplicate all the holographics and "genuine" stuff. How do you tell if the CD is legit, or if the serial number is legit, or if your CoA is legit? And for that matter, what exactly is needed to "prove" that you are, indeed, running legit software?

---But instead they turned the other cheek, and a teacher almost was sentenced to prison in Siberia over something as simple as missing software keys. And a Russian judge showed more compassion and understanding of the matter than Bill Gates. Those are the facts, and they do not look good. This is, and rightfully should be, a PR nightmare for Microsoft.

This obviously is being played from the top (eg: Putin). This very issue deals with intellectual "property" and how it is respected in non-US countries. It also is a trust issue... If you're in the USA, Gates makes a lot of tax revenue, and keeps the govt happy. Now, what's happening software-wise in all those versions of Windows? The key: Do you trust your computer systems running a foreign countries OS?

---A shame really. The Gates Foundation gives away piles of cash for humanitarian goals, but events like this let you know where that money is really coming from. And what people behind it are really like. Business first, before anything else, always.

And those kids in Africa. We can _never_ forget those kids in Africa (yawn). But throw the "evul piraters" in prison.

Re:A missed PR opportunity for Microsoft (2, Insightful)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035872)

... If you're in the USA, Gates makes a lot of tax revenue, and keeps the govt happy. Now, what's happening software-wise in all those versions of Windows? The key: Do you trust your computer systems running a foreign countries OS? ...

Wishful thinking there. MS is just as big a tax dodger [sfgate.com] in the US as it is in Europe. Just because you pay your taxes and your company pays it's taxes doesn't mean that either Big Bill or his company do so.

... The key: Do you trust your computer systems running a foreign countries OS? ...

It gets even simpler. You can't trust any closed source code [acm.org] . Now, there is still some quality stuff out there that MS hasn't run out of business or bought out, but the bottom line is regardless of whether it's from the MS movement or from a normal company, if you don't have access to the code for the entire tool chain, it could contain just about anything.

However, you don't have to be technically oriented to know that MS presents a problem here. Just read the EULA for 2000 SP3, XP SP1, and 2003 and later. It says flat out that you grant admin rights to Big Bill or his designated representatives.

The bottom line is that the school and the teacher were asking for trouble when they risked it with MS Windows. MS has tried the same thing in many other school districts, sometimes with success and other times driving the whole district to more appropriate technology [k12ltsp.org] .

Re:A missed PR opportunity for Microsoft (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035122)

The Gates Foundation gives away piles of cash for humanitarian goals

But there's a hidden side to that. How many people know that although the foundation gives money for vaccines, Gates owns large amounts of the very same pharmaceutical companies favored by the foundation. So the money goes out - Gates gets tax benefits and PR glory - and then the money comes in to his companies. I'd say, nice plan if you can afford it. He always was, is, and will be a rotten SOB. I hope the Russians give him a humanitarian award, and invite him to Russia to collect it. And then find contraband in his luggage.

Re:A missed PR opportunity for Microsoft (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035736)

Yup! Just goes to show that Bill Gates should NOT be giving away his money. Philanthropy is evil, the filthy rich should keep their money to themselves. It is far better that people die of a disease than the be tainted with vaccines paid for with impure motives.

Russian name translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035232)

I suspect this is completely off-topic, but his name Ponosov literally means Diarrhea-man in Russian.

All I'm saying, Microsoft would not get any good PR out of a "Drarrhea-man"

Also, does anyone know how exactly he got caught? What I mean is, 90+% of Windows installs in Russia are pirated, so why this particular teacher has to get caught? A student ratted him out or something?

Re:A missed PR opportunity for Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035310)

But instead they turned the other cheek
I don't think that phrase means what you think...

Re:A missed PR opportunity for Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035410)

"IN-CON-CEIVABLE!"

DIARHEA! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18034936)

Ponosov = diarhea

Re:DIARHEA! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18034970)

l2stress, it's POnosov, not PonOsov.

I enjoyed Putins comment (4, Informative)

Aussie (10167) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034954)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said: "Catching someone just because he bought a computer and threatening him with prison - that's crap."
Link [news.com.au]

Shouldnt they be doing this with RIAA cases in US? (5, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18034992)

seriously.. we have to go to a former communist nation to get rulings the US should have?

Re:Shouldnt they be doing this with RIAA cases in (1)

Viceroy Potatohead (954845) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035216)

Freedom (or the illusion of it) causes complacency with a lot of people. Seriously, do you think Nixon (or even Reagan) could have gotten around one of the most important parts of the Geneva Convention on a technicality?

Re:Shouldnt they be doing this with RIAA cases in (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035808)

"Seriously, do you think Nixon (or even Reagan) could have gotten around one of the most important parts of the Geneva Convention on a technicality?",/i>

C'mon that's a trick question - censorship was a lot more effective back then.

Re:Shouldnt they be doing this with RIAA cases in (1)

dotoole (881696) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035466)

No you just have to go to a country where the branches of government are not in the pockets of the music industry. The economic model of that country is irrelevant.

Re:Shouldnt they be doing this with RIAA cases in (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035676)

It's kind of obvious -- they haven't yet internalized the idea that property rights (intellectual or material) trump all, and that a person who dares to violate the sanctity of a corporation's assets is a reprehensible person. Here in the west, we may not all actively profess that kind of beliefs, but even dissidents like slashdotters are aware that we're going against the wishes of our society when we claim copyright should be abolished.

No, but a teacher faces jail time due to malware. (5, Informative)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035016)

"The Connecticut substitute school teacher who exposed 11 and 12-year-old students to porn in the classroom -- unintentionally, she says, because of malware on an infected PC -- may now go to jail. If her claims are true, she'll be the first American ever jailed for having had the misfortune of being forced to use a buggy school computer, with incompetent or nonexistent tech support from that school's administration despite repeated requests for help." -- Teacher faces jail time over "accidental porn" in classroom. [boingboing.net]

Re:No, but a teacher faces jail time due to malwar (0, Flamebait)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035754)

"If her claims are true"? If? If!

I'll give you an "if". If she goes to jail over this, I'll pour hot grits down my pants. If she doesn't, you abase yourself before all of Slashdot and publicly state you're a fool for believing crap like this.

In the Meantime ... (3, Insightful)

darkonc (47285) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035018)

Anybody have a stack of Edubuntu disks that start up using Russian that they can send to this guy?

Keep them in the stone age... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035076)

Linux is for retards.

> It's been 3 minutes since you last successfully posted a comment

I'll use this time to go take a shit. I'll be thinking of slashdot.

Re:In the Meantime ... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035316)

Those disks would just slow down their education even more and do no good for these kids in the future of business.

Nice hobby though.

Re:In the Meantime ... (1)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035834)

I don't know about you but I learn more about how to do things right
when I get to do them my self. Take Linux and Windows. Linux shows you
how to do things right, and encourages you to try stuff on your own
Windows just shows you how bad it can get when you don't do things right.

Sorry I felt like running around wainting for the flames to eat me.....

-1, Offtopic (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035064)

No text.

..Avoids Getting Sent to Siberia ? He lives there! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035088)

This rises an interesting question. Where do they deport the inhabitants of Siberia when they are found guilty in a court of law? To Kiev, Leningrad or Odessa?. Maybe they are preemptively punished for the very fact of living in Siberia. They are already punished by their place of birth without commiting any crime. They accumulate 'punishment credit' for future and thus they and can commit any crime they wish without any further punishment (maybe with the exception of murder).

All natives of Siberia are born and live in prison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035128)

Siberia is the biggest prison in the world, like Australia in the early 18xx. This is a scary thought!. At least Australia is not a prison anymore but a nation (founded by criminals).
When will Siberia evolve from a prison into a nation, like Australia?

Piracy? In school? (5, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035096)

>> Teacher Avoids Getting Sent to Siberia For Piracy

Clearly they are not teaching the three "Arrrrr!"s in school these days.

Siberia for piracy? (1)

physicsphairy (720718) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035430)

It doesn't even make sense to send someone to Siberia for piracy. The place is bloody landlocked. Now Venice, that would be a good place to send someone for piracy.

Monopolies & Monarchies Fail (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035234)

They both cease to be able to identify with their citizens-customers, because they both view them as a form of indentured citizen who owes his existance to the overseer.

Their Failure has Arrived. (1)

Erris (531066) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035644)

Wall Street thinks the failure is due to crappy software [google.com] . In part, the author asserts:

Microsoft's stock has been on a record tear -- downward. One more down day and we would have been tied at nine for the longest tumble in the company's 20-year trading history. ... investors are increasingly skittish about Microsoft's Vista. Late, horsepower-hungry, missing some promised features and getting indifferent reviews, the product is nowhere near the buzzmaker of its predecessors, Windows 95 and Windows XP. Analysts and investors are worried that the product is too little and too late, so much so that Vista won't fuel the usual earnings-goosing upgrade cycle that such releases have in the past.

... Vista problems are just symptoms of a deeper Microsoft malaise. Monolithic software -- bits in a shrink-wrapped box -- is a dying business. It is being slayed by software sold as a service, by open source, and by ad-centric online software (i.e., Google).

Competitors now see Windows as a heavy weight around Microsoft's neck, one that keeps the company safely occupied on a treadmill far from their own businesses. That is why the best news for them in the last few days came when Microsoft began talking up a new version of Windows set for 2009. Yeah, go for it guys, knock yourselves out.

Powerful stuff from venture capitalist and CNBC analyst Paul Kedrosky.

And sure enough, sales are falling [microsoft-watch.com] now that the squirt of ultimate fanboy is over.

The non free software development model is over and the businesses that stick with it are too. It's about time.

Piracy is everywhere (2, Interesting)

linuxIsLife (1044762) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035846)

I'm from a country near Russia and we use piracy software everywhere. Companies have no licence for M$ software... I had very big problems with closed source software and now i use GPL software only, because it's better. I'm so indifferent about intellectual property :P "humans knowledge belong to the humans"

Re:Piracy is everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18035888)

generic troll statement is generic

Linux is not the solution....yet (1, Redundant)

nbucking (872813) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035870)

Until Linux is completely compatible with ALL DEVICES there is no way a school or corporation is going to use it as an independent OS. Some may say hey there are several devices out there that are cheap and compatible. But already having a device is cheaper than spending more to dispose of said device and replacing it. Windows is known for its compatibility. I have a machine with the latest distro of Ubuntu, and it cannot print or use my camera. These devices are the cheapest out there including a 20$ Lexmark and a 10$ web camera. Now I know that with all the money you spend on Windows software could go towards replacement of said printer or camera. But if you can pirate a version of Windows for free than you can pay your teachers better, get new books, buy paper and other supplies for your printers, building maintenance, etc. This is the most likely reason for the piracy of Windows. The solution for this is to have those who say let's send this school several copies of ubuntu to go and work with the device makers out there to make drivers. I noticed there are several drivers already out there, there just isn't complete support . So get out there and put your money where your mouth is!

This article is god awful (1)

Fallen Seraph (808728) | more than 7 years ago | (#18035946)

The author of this article should be embarassed for the travesty of a story he's published. I'm not a fan in any way, shape, or form of Microsoft, but this is outright lying.

From TFA: "Possibly bowing to public pressure, Microsoft offered a "peace agreement," which Ponosov, asserting his innocence, refused to accept, according to CNews."

That's interesting considering the fact that Microsoft is in no position to do any such thing. They're not suing him, the Russian government was. That, by definition, is the distinction between a criminal case and a civil case.

Allow me to explain the things the article blatantly ignored:
Russia is notorious for ignoring copyright law and is the second biggest producer of illegal software and entertainment; China being the biggest. In response to pressure from the Russian branch of the MPAA (yes, even in Russia they still use that acronym), and numerous other sources, the local government decided to prosecute the teacher. They had little to no support from the federal government, or from Microsoft. Putin personally called the lawsuit ridiculous, and Microsoft's stance was that they see no reason to sue him personally, and don't want to have anything to do with the lawsuit, but will cooperate with Russian authorities so that "this case resolved in an amicable manner, so that everyone can move forward and Mr. Ponosov can focus all of his attention on his students". For their full reply, see here: http://eng.cnews.ru/news/line/indexEn.shtml?2007/0 2/08/234864 [cnews.ru]

I'm amazed that the immediate response is "ZOMG, MICROSOFT IS SUING PEOPLE" when they're doing no such thing. Even if Microsoft came out and told them they wanted the case stopped, the prosecution has no obligation to do so since the fact that it's Microsoft is irrelevant. It's a violation of piracy law, the specific software pirated is purely academic. It's the local Russian government screwing up by trying to make an example of someone, making both the federal government, and Microsoft, look bad for something they have nothing to do with. They're jumping the gun on trying to enforce piracy laws and in doing so do everyone involved more harm than good (unless you consider anti-Microsoft sentiment a good thing, but that's another issue entirely).
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