Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Gorbachev Asks Bill Gates To Save Russian Teacher From Siberia After Students Use Unauthorized Copies Of Windows

from the and-what-would-you-do? dept

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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  1. identicon
    Enrico Suarve, 6 Feb 2007 @ 3:48am

    I smell a rat

    Gorbachev is a consumate politician and as such I respect him greatly but this sounds more like grandstanding for Russia to set precedents to me

    The teacher is from an area of russia that include Siberia so if he is being sent to prison its not unusual he would be sent there - end of that sensationalism

    Russian law is what is stating he should go to prison not Microsoft, if it is wrong that a person should go to prison for such a crime it is Russian law which should change. Again if the 'camps' are that bad that they are embarassing Russia, the Russian prison system should change

    Microsoft did not bring the charges (even the teacher states this) Russian prosecutors did

    I don't like the idea of the guy going to prison either and if the Russian courts have any sense of justice he should not based on the evidence so far presented, but basically this sounds to me like hyped up sensationalised attention grabbing from our Russian friends, to gain precedents and concessions in what they see as unfair treatment at the hands of the WTO and in recent allofmp3 developments

    I think they've been watching too many American politicians 'saving the kids' and picked the wrong example for how to engage in this type of dispute

    They need to call off their dogs and return to the table - the WTO is crappy but "sign here or the teacher gets it" is no way to go about changing it

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