Russia Realizes That Free Software Beats Sending Principals To Siberia For Piracy

from the good-job,-Microsoft dept

You may recall the story last year of a Russian school principal who was arrested for buying computers for his school that had counterfeit versions of Windows. Even though he had no idea that the software was not authorized, he was threatened with being sent to a Siberian prison (seriously), leading to some international outrage. Even Mikhail Gorbachev got involved, begging Microsoft to drop the case (unfortunately, Microsoft wasn't actually involved in the case and couldn't do anything). While the original case was dropped, many were surprised when the charges were refiled and the guy was found guilty. While he wasn't sentenced to a Siberian jail, he was fined over one-month's salary.

Of course, if Microsoft and the BSA thought that these sorts of moves would help deter piracy, they might want to adjust their thinking.

What happened instead, of course, was that many schools started looking into alternatives, such as Linux and other open source offerings, that came with a much lower likelihood of having them dragged into court and threatened with Siberian exile. And, the latest news (found via Slashdot) is that Russia has now made it official policy that all schools should use free software. If they want to use proprietary software, they can't use gov't funds to buy it.

It seems that all that "cracking down" on piracy worked wonders, huh? It sent the entire Russian school system directly into the hands of the competition. Good work.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Alex, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 9:29am

    Damn, I would love to see reaction of Microsoft now. 95% of Russian schools are government operated. If this is continue, Linux will be come a major platform. Good move Russia.

     

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  2.  
    icon
    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Oct 24th, 2008 @ 9:31am

    Copyright is Toxic

    The more dangerous copyright becomes the longer the barge poles people touch it with.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    JB, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 9:49am

    Re: Copyright is Toxic

    The more dangerous copyright becomes the longer the barge poles people touch it with.

    I must have missed something; was that supposed to be English? Perhaps it was supposed to read, "The more dangerous copyright becomes, the longer the barge poles people use to touch it become." Even here the wording is just wrong; I can't begin to imagine how it should be fixed. You are on your own.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    reed, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 9:55am

    Unstoppable movement

    Honestly if it wasn't for Microsoft's strong arm tactics I don't think open source would have ever taken off. Microsoft literally left those in the computer world with no choice but to pursue an entirely different course than they were on.

    Why? 'Cause Microsoft won't play nicely with anyone. Like Techdirt has pointed out, Microsoft prescribes to the big (pointy) stick methodology. They don't have partners, they have prisoners. You can never cooperate with them because they are just waiting to stab you in the back.

    I applaud Russia and ever other country that steps forward and says that computers are more than just Windows. They see a real future away from the proprietary world where everything is designed to squeeze that much more money out of the customer.

    Windows, however prevalent and useful, has been detrimental to the future of personal computers as a whole. The spam generated by "botted" and "zombied" Windows based computers costs almost $20 billion a year to fight alone.

    There is no excuse for the lack of security built into Windows. This is the true legacy of Microsoft. Through externalizing these costs they have managed to turn a profit, but at what cost to everyone else?

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 10:01am

    Slightly Confused

    I love to beat on Microsoft as much as the next guy, but you said in the article that Microsoft wasn't involved in the case...? If that's the case, then even if Microsoft's "cracking down" leads to the same place, this isn't really an example of that.

     

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  6.  
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    linus, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 10:12am

    sweet! super sweet!

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Alex, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 10:25am

    Microsoft was a part of big lobby group that pushed US government to push on Russia to crack down on piracy. Maybe in the case of the teacher they had nothing to do, but in the whole picture..... Hey, if you drop a small snowball on a top of the mountain and it causes an avalanche.... You still guilty, even if you didn't know of the consequences.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 10:29am

    RE: Slightly Confused

    Yea the end of this article made me go "buaaah?" as suddenly an insane line is drawn between two points. I personally would love to convert the office I work for all to open source programs so I don't have to worry about keeping track of licenses, keeping the software locked up, transferring licenses to other machines... All of this would be a non issue if I could copy and distribute without a care in the world! But no, I'm going to be one of the first logs in the fire if there is some licensing issue.

     

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  9.  
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    Steve R. (profile), Oct 24th, 2008 @ 10:34am

    Go Linux

    Where I work, we are getting hit with the yea olde budget short fall lamentations with the usual appeals to cut costs. The irony, we are getting an enterprise license from Microsoft for Office 2007. For 90% of us Open Office would work just fine. Its free!!!!

    Since Russia stimulated us to get our space program together, maybe our government can get stimulated to look at free software. Might help our budget deficient.

     

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  10.  
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    Steve R. (profile), Oct 24th, 2008 @ 10:37am

    Re: Go Linux

    Oops. I meant>> "budget deficit". But then we are deficient in solving this problem anyway.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 10:42am

    You know what this means right?

    yay for another world/cold war!
    you really think we have anything against russia except for the fact that they don't like our corporations as much as we do? oh pushing away microsoft means reports of russia attacking its own people or various regions unpromptedly - even if those people are terrorists (relatively speaking, of course, considering how broad the definition of the word is these days) or enemy nations, funded and armed by us, that prompted the violence

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Mark Shuttleworth, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 10:44am

    LEAKED-- Top Secret Leaked Windows 7 Demo

    Don't know how much credence to lend to this, although the video makes it pretty credible.

    If Windows 7 is indeed going to look like this, then we have an unstoppable proprietary operating system which could kill Linux.

    The Top Secret details revealed here.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Sheree, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 10:50am

    I was under the impression that, in the USA, where Microsoft resides, that copyright infringement was a civil matter.

    I'm not as versed in copyright politics as maybe I should be, but if Microsoft wasn't even involved in the case, what motivation (and under whose authori-tah) did the BSA have to go chasing after him?

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    AOC, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 11:00am

    at home

    if the russian kids use linux at school they probably will use it at home too, because that's the OS they´ll know best

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 11:02am

    i was in Romania last year, and even though the Internet cafe's were running winXP, none had MS Office but they were fully loaded with open office and other open source or free programs.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Simple Mind, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 11:05am

    never in USA

    Given the economic state of things this should also be the policy in USA (to mandate schools use free software). But Microsoft probably "owns" enough politicians that this will never happen. Corporations have too much influence on government decisions. The economic problems we have right now are a direct result of this. It isn't possible to solve problems when you are constantly kowtowing to special interests.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Gracey, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 11:11am

    If windows 7 looks like this...

    I don't care how windows looks. I care how it works.

    Fancy bells and whistles are useless to me.

    As for the Russians...if it's true the I applaud them.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Docrings, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 11:14am

    Here's the setup...

    1) Ubuntu Linux
    2) Open Office
    3) Firefox
    4) Thunderbird
    5) Azureus to share peer-to-peer educational software/books/etc.
    6) All the free Linux software at schoolforge.net/education-software

    Have fun, Comrades! We'll all benefit!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 11:20am

    Let me get this right, because maybe I'm missing something here.

    Mikhail Gorbachev begged Microsoft to drop the case, and the rights-owner, Microsoft, played ostrich and allowed the case to proceed? Nothing was done? Over a piracy case?

    Oh my.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Yogi, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 11:32am

    M$ prisoners

    "Microsoft prescribes to the big (pointy) stick methodology. They don't have partners, they have prisoners."

    That's a great line, Reed.

    Exactly how I feel. Sadly, sometimes the prisoners are entire countries, conquered without one shot fired!

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Cixelsid, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Re: Copyright is Toxic

    There was nothing wrong with that sentence.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Cixelsid, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 12:27pm

    Re: LEAKED-- Top Secret Leaked Windows 7 Demo

    Wtf? That video is a comparison between Vista and Ubuntu Beryl. Nothing to do with Windows 7.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Lonnie E. Holder, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 12:33pm

    Huh?

    I have to admit to puzzlement.

    o Claiming that Microsoft pressed Russia to improve enforcement and because of that this guy was convicted seems like guilt by association since Microsoft was not involved and even Gorbachev was unable to have any affect. Unless we have a better link between Microsoft and the teacher's arrest and conviction, Microsoft seems like a relatively innocent bystander.

    o Potential customers avoided a costly software alternative for an inexpensive (essentially free) software alternative; raspberries at Microsoft, told you so, etc. Competition works. Ain't it great? Instead of sitting here claiming that the sun has properly risen in the east, and claiming that is a validation of anything other than the principles of competition, why not encourage that kind of competition? As long as Microsoft has 90% of the market they are not going to feel threatened by open source software. Now, if the world suddenly stampeded to open source software and Microsoft found itself with a 10% share, perhaps Microsoft might learn a new business model.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Travis, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 12:44pm

    Re: M$ prisoners

    I c wut u did thar!

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Me, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re: Copyright is Toxic

    I had to read it twice to figure it out. In my opinion, though, the comma that you added after "becomes" was enough to clarify it. If you really want it 1800's-style grammatically correct, I think this MIGHT work:

    "The more dangerous copyright becomes, the longer the barge poles with which people touch it."

    I consider the blog response environment about two steps above phone texting, so if I can understand it, I don't quibble much over grammar.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 2:47pm

    Re: LEAKED-- Top Secret Leaked Windows 7 Demo

    Uh, yeah, the video CLEARLY states it's Vista's Aero interface compared to Linux's Beryl (now Compiz). Windows 7's interface will be a refresh of Aero. Early (legitimate) beta screenshots are already available, so this is pretty clear.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Oct 24th, 2008 @ 5:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Copyright is Toxic

    You can put the comma in if you want, but leave the words in the same order.

    When you're typing fast, sometimes the comma gets missed out... and you still miss first post. ;-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Kiba, Oct 24th, 2008 @ 8:28pm

    Re: Huh?

    Masnick is simply saying that pursuit of said "anti-piracy" measure is dumb and might lead to bad press. As such the company of said "pirated" software get the flak.

    Also, he is a blogger, not a venture capitalist. I doubt he have million of dollars to spend on startups. Even if he does, his money would better be invested in his company.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Ferris Bueller, Oct 25th, 2008 @ 1:11am

    Re: Re: LEAKED-- Top Secret Leaked Windows 7 Demo

    Uh, yeah, the video CLEARLY states it's Vista's Aero interface compared to Linux's Beryl (now Compiz). Windows 7's interface will be a refresh of Aero. Early (legitimate) beta screenshots are already available, so this is pretty clear.

    Really? Who is Mark Shuttleworth?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2008 @ 3:09am

    IP Blood on our hands

    I wonder if Mikhail Gorbachev's contemporary, let's say a sane, younger, more alive version of Ronald Regan called Microsoft with the same request Mikhail did, if it would have yielded the same outcome.

    Now, some people don't understand politics outside of the office, which is pure idiocy. "Oh let the BSA do it. We have our hands tied." they probably yelled. Seriously, who the fuck made these decisions? As acting Counsel for copyright holders, they need to be fired and hung.

    If the man who actually carried out the actions of Regan, who said "Tear down this wall" called me or anyone I worked for, I'd say "This guy tore down the Berlin Wall, Shit, this man deserves my undivided attention."


    The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
    I wouldn't be surprised if this inability to see outside of the walls of 98052 starts questions to the validity of US IP in the world's eyes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Dill Nates, Oct 25th, 2008 @ 6:16pm

    You are only warned once!

    I have detected that you are using the Linux EULA and/or the GPL.

    You must abide by the terms stipulated and “open source” your organization/websites to me.

    1. You have to provide the source code on request to any Linux-based technologies used *if* that technology is public facing.
    2. You have to provide and “open-source” any patches/modifications made to those technologies, regardless if that technology is used only internally or is public facing.
    3. You have to provide the raw source code and database data for all public facing websites running on those technologies.

    I now stipulate that you should provide me with all the above and also submit to my GNU/FOSS audit.

    Sincerely,
    Dill Nates

    P.S. If you don't comply you will be sorry!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anon, Oct 26th, 2008 @ 3:20am

    *APPLAUDS* Awesome. It's good to see those milk them of everything they've got types get what they deserve.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    mike allen, Oct 26th, 2008 @ 9:33am

    Re: Re: Copyright is Toxic

    who gives a toss it made sence to those of us with a brain.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Brut, Oct 26th, 2008 @ 10:19am

    Re:

    As long as Linux dont run all the games windows run, it wont become the major platform,

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    MS???, Oct 26th, 2008 @ 9:01pm

    Come on...

    Why should software be free? I mean people work HARD to develop this stuff and while there is the free alternative it is not as polished as propriety software. Also the free stuff is not generally supported. Say what you like, but most of the world is not stupid and they use MS stuff for good reason. In fact I bet most of the people criticising MS are doing so using MS software. Linux platforms have some advantages (and disadvantages) but they have not unified into a few basic systems and there are too many variants to choose from . As for security... MS stuff is pretty secure if its set up right just like linux systems are. The key is being set up RIGHT from the beginning and not allowing anybody root or admin rights.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Neverhood, Oct 27th, 2008 @ 7:56am

    Not bad

    Not a bad outcome at all... Geeks have tried to convert the general population for decades from using proprietary software, promising better and cheaper software.

    But I guess it's hard to beat the "You go to jail if you use proprietary software" argument.

    Congrats to the BSA.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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