Just days after having to stand idly by while the Romanian president talked up how unauthorized copies of Microsoft software helped build that country's IT industry, Bill Gates has another critical issue to decide concerning such "piracy." Over in Russia, Microsoft has apparently been pressing charges against a Russian school headteacher, Alexander Ponosov, who Microsoft accuses of running "pirated" software on school computers. According to current Russian law, if Ponosov is found guilty, he can be shipped off to Siberian prison camps -- just for helping some students get a leg up in learning to use one of the most commonly used pieces of software out there. Even worse, Ponosov says the computers came with the Microsoft software pre-loaded, so he had no idea they were unauthorized copies. Even former Soviet boss Mikhail Gorbachev is now begging Microsoft to drop the lawsuit. Apparently, current Russian leader Vladimir Putin has also asked that Microsoft reconsider. Of course, it's not entirely clear why Russian politicians don't change the law -- but it seems likely that it has something to do with the US government demanding stricter "intellectual property protections" to allow Russia into the WTO. Update: Microsoft has responded to the plea, saying they don't plan on changing a thing, and expect the lawsuit to continue.
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