Russian Principal Found Guilty For Buying School PCs With Unauthorized Copies Of Microsoft Software

from the how-dare-you-want-them-to-learn dept

Earlier this year, the lawsuit against a Russian high school head teacher received international attention when Mikhail Gorbachev asked Microsoft to intervene and Vladimir Putin called the case "utter nonsense." The teacher had been arrested after it was discovered that his school was using computers that had unauthorized versions of Microsoft software installed. However, the guy says he just bought the computers with the software pre-installed and had no idea that the software was unauthorized. Eventually, the court tossed out the case as insignificant, but charges were reinstated a month later. Now, the court has found the guy guilty. While they're not sending him off to a Siberian prison (an option, apparently), they did fine him more than half his monthly salary. He plans to appeal. In the meantime, it's this type of story that highlights why the BSA's bogus crackdown on unauthorized software is so pointless -- especially in areas where software companies can actually benefit greatly from unauthorized copies. Even if you assume that the teacher knew the software was unauthorized, he's getting kids hooked on it, making it more likely that they would later go out and buy copies of the software for themselves. All this case has really done is encourage Russian (and other) schools to look elsewhere for their software, which seems a lot more likely to harm Microsoft. It seems that no one involved in agencies like the RIAA, MPAA or BSA ever bother to think about the long-term consequences of their short-term strategy.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Soap, May 7th, 2007 @ 12:49pm

    Schools should use free software

    Schools should avoid proprietary software whenever possible and use free software instead both as a matter of principle and practicality.

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

  2. identicon
    Buzz, May 7th, 2007 @ 1:05pm

    Oh my...

    And people wonder why I stick with Linux these days...

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

  3. identicon
    rEdEyEz, May 7th, 2007 @ 1:07pm

    Gates Foundation

    This seems like a good PR opportunity for a "non-profit" charitable

    I wonder what their stance is on educational philantropy?

    (Is kleptomania a national Russian pandemic? They've been stealing our technology now, for what, over 60 years...)

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

  4. identicon
    William McGainas, May 7th, 2007 @ 1:09pm

    Never seen a US school sued

    It now makes sense why a majority of US schools buy Apple machines, well, er, direct.

    "If you're serious about software you make your own hardware." -Steve Jobs MacWorld Keynote 2007

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

  5. identicon
    IronChef, May 7th, 2007 @ 1:14pm


    Here's the information I think you're looking for. You'll be sorrily dissappointed though- B&MGF is only looking at expanding the US education system. 005.pdf

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

  6. identicon
    bobvilla, May 7th, 2007 @ 1:43pm

    Re: Never seen a US school sued

    "It now makes sense why a majority of US schools buy Apple machines"

    While true in 1989 I seriously doubt its still true, do you have a link to back up your assertion? I would very much like to see it.

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

  7. identicon
    IAMSloshed, May 7th, 2007 @ 2:00pm

    Illegal is illegal... open is open... proprietary

    The bottom line is, know what your options are. Use open if you don't have what it costs to buy the software to begin with, and buy proprietary if you can afford it. Nuff said.

    Yep, Apple is in most grade/high schools... but not because it's free, it was put in place by Apple's Marketing and that's partly to increase market share; regardless, there is a cost that some entity decided to absorb even if it were Apple themselves. Which nullifies another argument that the users will grow up buying the product they learned from - it that were the case, there would be more Apple OS than Windows.

    I should not be allowed to come into any of your houses and and take for free anything I need (desire or want) because my children can't afford it - or because I can't afford it - IT'S ILLEGAL to do so. I should either earn to get it, or get the alternative that I can afford.

    Can you say the same thing about schools if suddenly they wish to use SAP and Oracle to educate people and run their administration - buy systems/packages from someone they don't know whether if the hardware/software is illegal under the cloak that it is for "educational use" only? Come on. If you don't like capitalism, you have an option - create or develop your own resources and no one will stop you.

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

  8. identicon
    Shohat, May 7th, 2007 @ 2:08pm

    This is what a normal lawsuit/fine looks like

    Half a month salary is a normal fine (doesn't matter now guilty or not). And I bet the expenses didn't kill him either, and nobody asked for mad compensation.
    For instance, a big court process vs the Scientology cult cost around 6000EU to the defendant in Europe. No reason to cost more.
    Nothing is worth a million . Broken spine and permanent vegetable condition is not worth a million in compensation. US has a realy sick compensation/fine system.

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

  9. identicon
    like duh!, May 7th, 2007 @ 2:13pm


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

  10. identicon
    Norman, May 7th, 2007 @ 2:25pm

    Re: Gates Foundation

    LOL!!! What technology did they steal? They have been too poor to keep up with our technology which is part of the reason why the USSR finally failed. In fact they do much more with lower tech than we do with our high tech. We tend to throw gobs of money to come up with a high tech solution which had a lower tech soultion which was just as effective. For example let's look at the answer to writing in a low gravity env. We spent millions to come up with a pen that can write in zero g. What did the russians do? They used a freaking pencil! Funny eh?

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

  11. identicon
    Norman, May 7th, 2007 @ 2:32pm

    Re: Never seen a US school sued

    LOL!!! Join us back in the now my friend. Most schools dumped apple computers YEARS ago (early 90's) for PC clones. If Jobs was serious about making money he'd release the hardware lock his comapny enforces and start developing for a wider range of hardware. There is a very good reason the Apple OS is a nich technology. Lunix will become a mainstream OS long before OSX ever will.

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

  12. identicon
    IAMSloshed, May 7th, 2007 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Re: Never seen a US school sued

    hahaha... couldn't have said it better myself! Amen!

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

  13. identicon
    That Guy, May 7th, 2007 @ 2:47pm

    Reminds me of the time...

    that Microsoft went out and was suing charities that were using donated corporate PC's that still had existing window's licenses that MS said shouldn't have transferred to the new end user due to corporate upgrades ordered by the donating corporation.

    So my question is this? Why wasn't the distributor of the computers charged? I can understand why Microsoft feels someone should be accountable, but it just seems that the ultimate fault is with the distributor. Even if the school teacher had asked for bootleg software, the supplier had to make the willing choice to install it.

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

  14. identicon
    IAMSloshed, May 7th, 2007 @ 2:59pm

    Re: Reminds me of the time...

    Not any different from who gets audited by the IRS and who doesn't. Caveat emptor... if you get sued, you get sued but you certainly can't be found guilty if you're not to begin with.

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

  15. identicon
    zcat, May 7th, 2007 @ 3:23pm

    zero gravity pen myth

    fischer(sp) invented the pressurized 'zero gravity' pen on their own initiative, no government money was involved. Before that both space agencies used pencils.

    There's also a serious danger with using a pencil in space.. fragments of graphite may break off and potentially short out critical electronics that are keeping the craft in orbit and the crew alive. That's a bad thing.

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

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2007 @ 4:02pm

    Re: Never seen a US school sued

    Not at all an accurate statement.
    I sell hardware into the education market. There are a handful of schools that are entirely Apple, but most are a mixed environment of Apple and PC. More often than not the PC being the higher percentage of the environment. Apple is too expensive for most schools/districts.

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

  17. identicon
    William McGainas, May 7th, 2007 @ 10:58pm

    Maybe the school district my kids go to is one of those Pro-Apple areas.

    Have another beer... It will take the edge off.

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

  18. identicon
    Matthew Rigdon, May 8th, 2007 @ 1:58am

    Do as I say, not as I do

    So let me follow your "argument". Teacher buys pirated software. He gets the kids hooked on pirated software. So the kids are going to go out and buy legitimate copies of it later? Cause kids always do what authority figures tell them to do, even when it's the opposite of their actions, I guess.

    I guess all those kids who start smoking do it because they like it, even though their parents repeatedly told them between puffs "Never get hooked on this kid."

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

  19. identicon
    Shaun, May 8th, 2007 @ 3:34am

    Re: Do as I say, not as I do

    No he went out and bought some computers which had windows installed on them. What he didn't know was that they were pirated copies. The supplier of the computers was the one who committed the crime, he just used what he bought. Not his fault that he didn't know enough to know that the pre-installed software wasn't legit.

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

  20. identicon
    IAMSloshed, May 8th, 2007 @ 7:56am

    Re: Re: Do as I say, not as I do

    unfortunately, it is his fault that he didn't know enough to know that the pre-installed software wasn't legit - ignorance of the law isn't a defense.

    the onus remains with the owner - responsibility to make sure what he buys are legitimate is his, not the seller's. now, that doesn't indemnify the seller from his own crimes of misrepresentation, theft and everything else that go with it. so in the eyes of the law, they are both responsible. it is up to the prosecutor whether he should charge one or both.

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

  21. identicon
    Jeremy, May 9th, 2007 @ 2:18am

    Ever been to Russia???

    In every city I've been to in Russia, pirated software is sold on every block at a stand; at every market; at every subway station; at every bus-stop.

    It is literally every where. Why? Because the population can't afford it. Microsoft Windows sells for 30 rubles. Less than a dollar. Plus, a Russian school-teacher makes less than $150 a month salary.

    That's a lot of money for the teacher from his point of view, though. I don't see how Microsoft is going to benefit by the $75 a month fine off of him, though.

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

  22. identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, May 9th, 2007 @ 8:18am

    Ignorance a defence

    The distinction some people need to make is hard to explain, so I will use the analogous case of recieving stolen goods. If you were to buy good you knew or suspected were stolen, but did not know it was illegal to do so, that would be no defence under teh law. OTOH, if you were to buy something that you knew little about from a secondhand dealer, and to the best of your knowledge the goods were legitimate, then you would not be punished, of at least not so severely punished as you would have been had you known the goods were stolen. Of course, you would likely loose the money you spent on the purchase of those goods, much as you would with pirated software.

    This is one situation where an analogy between so-called "IP" and physical goods does hold up.

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

  23. identicon
    Ezight, Nov 13th, 2007 @ 3:56am

    Bootleg Windows

    Why use such an insecure operatinf system that records every frickin thing you do,

    Try theese OS's they are open source plus they run RIGHT FROM THE CD---NO HARD DRIVE EVEN REQUIRED!!!!.

    Slax Linux
    Puppy Linux
    D@m small linux

    Many many others too....Most secure since they boot right from the CD and have opera and mozilla firefox allready installed.

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

  24. identicon
    Sam, May 12th, 2008 @ 11:32pm

    Computers seized

    Iwent with Puppy linux on one of my older machines-It really flies.
    It seems to not get viruses either ir spyware

    Usually windows boxes slow down after awhile while the NIX boxes keep going for years?
    Free too.
    I will kepp 1 microsoft box around-won't be upgrading to vista since its such a bloat like the hindenberg.
    The rest of my machine will be Nix varients.

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

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