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Gorbachev Asks Gates to Intervene in Piracy Case 331

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the bit-exteme dept.
An anonymous reader writes to tell us that former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has asked Bill Gates to intervene in a software piracy case against the headmaster of a middle school. If convicted, Alexander Ponosov could face detention in a Siberian prison camp for his crime.
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Gorbachev Asks Gates to Intervene in Piracy Case

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  • by drewzhrodague (606182) <{drew} {at} {zhrodague.net}> on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:15PM (#17896246) Homepage Journal
    In Soviet Russia, Bill Gates hates YOU!

    I'm sorry, I had to.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by $RANDOMLUSER (804576)
      In Soviet Amerika, Bill Gates sends gulag to YOU!
    • This, Gates could not forgive.
    • by icyblackhandofdeath (1018880) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:18AM (#17900642)
      I lived in Russia for two year. The problem with this as I see it is that outside of Moscow/St. Petersburg it is nearly impossible to find a legitimate copy of Windows. I've never seen one anyway. The same goes for music and DVDs, I wouldn't have known where to go to get a legit copy of anything, but the pirated versions were EVERYWHERE. In Russia they can just assume that anyone with a computer has something illegal on it. I would imagine that many people don't even realize that they're using pirated software, they're just using the software that they bought from some vendor on the street, and that's what everyone else in the whole country is doing, so why shouldn't they? It's probably mostly the teens who are more connected with the rest of the world through the internet cafes that have a good understanding of what's pirated and what's not. A lot of the adults, especially the farther you get from the capitol, don't even understand what piracy is. Computers are not ubiquitous the way they are in America. Just my $.02, having lived in Russia.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Oh, a lot of people know they use pirated software. They just don't give a fuck. Mainly because legit copy of Windows costs more than many people's salary is (excepting Moscow - things are a bit different there). They can get an old PC for 1.5x that price, and a lot have to save for that for quite some time; why do you think they should be bothered to save a hundred bucks more to buy WinXP, especially if they can just as well go and buy it for $3?

        As for schools, they are so underfunded it's no surprise th

  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:16PM (#17896264) Journal

    I don't know, did this schoolmaster knowingly "pirate" his software? It's not clear to me from the article. Gorbachev argues the nuance he didn't know he was committing a crime. That to me sounds like splitting semantic hairs.

    That said, I believe if someone knowing commits an infraction, they should be able to sustain the punishment. But, I don't always agree with the punishment in light of the crime. The world of software piracy is especially troubling to me.

    It seems too much onus is put on the pirate and little on the accuser to carry the final outcome. I know if laws were enforced strictly I would have done some time -- I was once unpleasantly surprised to fire up Excel at a corporate computer to find my name and my license info plastered all over the screen... Someone had pirated my legitimate copy, but how to prove my innocence?

    I've heard if you want to change a bad law, enforce it strictly. Maybe a few cases like this could bring more light to the heavy-handed tactics against the little guys (don't know if this one of those cases, but it certainly has the signature).

    Unfortunately, I see the outcome of this as a huge PR win for Microsoft, and I think Gates may actually take the bait. This adds to his recent buildup of reputation as world benefactor. If he has Microsoft withdraw the complaint (or offers up some benevolent deal), Microsoft gets a PR coup. And, that would be a shame.

    • by SydShamino (547793) on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:25PM (#17896428)
      I don't know, did this schoolmaster knowingly "pirate" his software? It's not clear to me from the article. Gorbachev argues the nuance he didn't know he was committing a crime. That to me sounds like splitting semantic hairs.

      It's possible the schoolmaster assumed he could make unlimited copies of the software for non-profit, academic use only. If he works at a school that has to watch every penny in its budget (like 90% of schools in the world), and he makes barely enough to live on himself (like 90% of teachers in the world), he probably assumed Microsoft would not attempt to charge a price that he and his school would be unable to pay.

      Clearly Russian schools need a donation of 10,000 Kubuntu live CDs. This will provide them with well-needed coasters, and maybe a few schools would try it out and switch to legitimate software rather than risk having their teachers sent to Siberia.
      • Try 10M of Kubuntu.

        This presumes of course that there is enough hardware. There is not.

        The old koan that states that you can't satisfy hunger by looking at a picture of a fish applies here.

        This is actually part of the same campaign that's trying to make Gates, his foundations (and those cute pictures of Patty Stonecipher) all make us think nice things in the light of the disaster of Zune, Vista, and many other things Microsoft.

        Mod me down as flamebait, but I'm merely the oxygen, not the spark. Microsoft is
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        If he works at a school that has to watch every penny in its budget (like 90% of schools in the world), and he makes barely enough to live on himself (like 90% of teachers in the world)

        Horsehockey [opinionjournal.com]. Not saying Windows isn't overpriced (although there is now a version for developing countries), teachers, at least in the US, are paid better than most white collar workers.
      • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
        Clearly Russian schools need a donation of 10,000 Kubuntu live CDs. This will provide them with well-needed coasters, and maybe a few schools would try it out and switch to legitimate software rather than risk having their teachers sent to Siberia.

        Well, if MS had a smart policy, they'd donate their software to Russian, Chinese, and Indian schools on the same theory why the first hit of crack or meth is free - once they're hooked, you have a customer for life.

        -b.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      >Gorbachev argues the nuance he didn't know he was committing a crime. That to me sounds like splitting semantic hairs.

      Not really. The courts require Mens Rea [wikipedia.org] before they can convict. No Mens Rea, no culpability, no crime. This is a basic requirement and can't be avoided (unless Russian corts are very, very weird). A bit on the scale of "No body, no crime".

      Ignorance of the law actually is a defence when it can be proven the defedant truly could not have known something was either wrong or a crime. I
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by paeanblack (191171)
        Not really. The courts require Mens Rea [wikipedia.org] before they can convict. No Mens Rea, no culpability, no crime. This is a basic requirement and can't be avoided (unless Russian corts are very, very weird). A bit on the scale of "No body, no crime".

        That is false. Mens Rea does not apply in this case.
        http://www.lawteacher.net/Criminal/Principles/Stri ct%20Liability%20Lecture%201.htm [lawteacher.net]

        Infringing copyright is a strict-liability offence. The offender's state of mind is irrelevant in such offences. Well-
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by packeteer (566398)
      Russia has vastly different copyright laws than the USA. You cant just assume he knew it was illegal in Russia just becuase you know it is illegal in the USA. There are many things that are legal in Russia that people fullyy understand that we could hardly imagine as being legal. The fact that the teacher thought copying software for non-commercial education use is not hard for me to imagine.
    • How about a fair punishment, like not penalizing the students.

      If the headmaster was indeed knowingly at fault, charge the school full retail for the appropriate software and be done with it.

      Likely that the headmaster was only doing what was possible under his restrictive circumstances.

      I'll bet this convinces other headmasters to look for Linux mixmasters to load and run open source...real quickly.
    • by Gverig (691181) on Monday February 05, 2007 @07:08PM (#17897170)
      Original letter says that the teacher bought computer with pre-installed software and was not aware of its being illegitimate. Does not really mean that it's true although seems quite possible. For reference, this teacher's salary was probably well below $100/month (Perm is hardly a commerce center)... The letter also mentions that organization that sold said computers to the school is not being investigated.

      This is the Justice Russian Style
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by antiMStroll (664213)
      "I don't know, did this schoolmaster knowingly "pirate" his software? It's not clear to me from the article. Gorbachev argues the nuance he didn't know he was committing a crime. That to me sounds like splitting semantic hairs."

      How is this different than hard time for stealing a loaf a bread? We've finally allowed a belief in corporate BS-wrapped self-interest almost religious in magnitude to push back human rights to Hugo's time. Siberian prison for using software? What have we become? Incidentally, my

      • by yagu (721525) *

        "I don't know, did this schoolmaster knowingly "pirate" his software? It's not clear to me from the article. Gorbachev argues the nuance he didn't know he was committing a crime. That to me sounds like splitting semantic hairs."

        How is this different than hard time for stealing a loaf a bread? We've finally allowed a belief in corporate BS-wrapped self-interest almost religious in magnitude to push back human rights to Hugo's time. Siberian prison for using software? What have we become? Incidentally, my understnding is the Soviet system for IP was very much different than the West's. All of it was State owned. Implying that a back water school teacher was in some way acting in a 'nefarious' manner and knew the consequences of contravening fast changing WIPO statutes is almost beneath contempt.

        I agree completely... hence my comment about changing a really bad law (or system of law) by enforcing it strictly. Unfortunately I'm not sure I see that as any likely result for this case. (And, btw, careful about your historic references... does anyone today even know who Hugo is anymore? To the Victors... (I do, one of my faves actually.)

    • by QuickFox (311231)

      but how to prove my innocence?

      You don't have to prove your innocence. It's the prosecution that has to prove your guilt. If they can't, you're innocent.

      Everybody should know this, because it's a very important principle in all democracies. It's part of the principle of rule of law [wikipedia.org].

      In fact rule of law is so important that there's only a single exception among all the democratic countries. This exception is when the United States accuses you of terrorism. Then you become so extraordinarily scary that proof and rule of law no longer apply

  • Prison Camp (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:17PM (#17896282)
    Siberian Prison Camp is a little hard core for a Bootleg OS. Hope they don't catch me, they might try to genocide my ass or something.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by slim (1652)

      Siberian Prison Camp is a little hard core for a Bootleg OS. Hope they don't catch me, they might try to genocide my ass or something.

      The phrase "Siberian Prison camp" has some pretty heavy connotations. But the Stalin era ended decades ago.

      All we really know is:

      • It's a prison -- people are detained there
      • It's a camp -- whatever that means in this context?
      • It's in Siberia -- a vast and, in places, beautiful, area of land. Cold though. And traditionally somewhere enemies of the state were exiled even before the Russian revolution.

      So we don't really know how harsh this punishment will be. It could be anything from a couple of months in an ope

  • by bendodge (998616)
    The guy did something wrong, and deserves to be punished, but how in his wildest imagination can Gorbachev think Gates needs to be involved? When somebody steals something you don't call the item manufacturer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Last time I checked, software piracy is a copyright issue, not an issue of material theft. Microsoft is not the 'item manufacturer' in this case; they're the copyright holder. As such, Bill Gates is very relevant to this matter.

  • by RichMan (8097) on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:22PM (#17896372)
    Ok so how many north american students are ripping the authentication stickers off school owned Dell machines and keying the phone number to the BSA in as they read this.

    Reporting your teacher/principal to the BSA, priceless.
    • by PPGMD (679725)
      Wouldn't work, the school would be able to show that they purchased Windows with the machines by showing the Dell invoices. And even if they were found in non-compliance the BSA tells you how you were in non-compliance and asks you to fix it first.
      • by eln (21727)
        Maybe you won't be able to get your geometry teacher shipped off to Siberia, but you could tie the school up in useless paperwork for weeks or months while they scramble to prove their innocence. Not bad for 10 seconds' work.
        • Re:Inspired students (Score:4, Informative)

          by PPGMD (679725) on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:40PM (#17896686) Journal
          Not likely BSA audits are more painless then people think. One of my clients underwent a BSA audit, it wasn't nearly as painful as people claim, and they were in the exact situation described, no proof of OEM copy of Windows on hand, these were Windows 98 machines before the COA sticker became common place. They simply pulled up the paperwork to show that they purchased it with the computers, and it was all hunky dory.
          • Re:Inspired students (Score:5, Interesting)

            by numbski (515011) * <numbskiNO@SPAMhksilver.net> on Monday February 05, 2007 @07:11PM (#17897218) Homepage Journal
            You don't understand how much this annoys me. I wouldn't let the BSA in my front door, let alone comply with any "audit". They aren't a government agency, nor a legal authority. They aren't allowed on my property, under any situation, and I've made all of my staff aware of that fact. The answer to BSA, or "Business Software Alliance" is "Please leave our property or we will call the police. This facility runs Linux and Open Source Software." If they don't leave, call the police and have them removed.

            End of discussion.
            • by Max Littlemore (1001285) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @12:21AM (#17900244)

              I think you'd be making a BIG mistake taking that attitude.

              Instead of threatening them with police involvement, try inviting them politely in to a special waiting room with modern looking, yet incredibly uncomfortable, furniture and ask them to wait until your company's Microsoft Purchasing Officer is ready to answer their queries.

              When it's time to lock up and go home, tell them they are welcome to come again the next business day, or you can call them when you actually hire a Microsft Purchasing Officer if they'd prefer.

  • by Peter Trepan (572016) on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:22PM (#17896382)
    We wish to send convicted pirate to Siberia for cracking Windows Vista, but can not afford police. Please to apprehend him personally.
  • by gasmonso (929871) on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:24PM (#17896400) Homepage

    This isn't a case about Microsoft going after a teacher. The real issue here is the pressure that the US puts on countries that want to join the World Trade Organization. The hypocrisy here is ridiculous. Look at China and the rampant piracy there.

    But this leads to another issue and that is pricing. The cost of software is way out of reach for most of these countries. Piracy becomes the only alternative (besides open source of course).

    gasmonso
  • by User 956 (568564) on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:24PM (#17896410) Homepage
    If convicted, Alexander Ponosov could face detention in a Siberian prison camp for his crime.

    Imprisonment? I thought the russian government just poisoned everyone with Polonium 210 these days.
  • This is a criminal matter and not civil? What can bill gates do about it?
    • From the article:

      However, in this case we ask you to show mercy and withdraw your complaint against Alexander Ponosov

      Unless Gorbachev is confused, it would appear MS is taking legal action against the man. Pretty much suing for damages from the act of piracy, it would seem.

    • by vertinox (846076)
      What can bill gates do about it?

      Pay the customary $50 bribe to the police and the $100 bribe to the judge.
  • by StikyPad (445176) on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:26PM (#17896454) Homepage
    Mr. Gorbachev: Tear down that firewall.
  • wrong tree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:26PM (#17896456) Homepage Journal
    Talk about balking up the wrong tree.

    Mr. Gorbachev, with all due respect, you should have checked for Gates past [wikipedia.org] before making yourself ridiculous.
  • Microsoft's asking for RUR 266000, i.e. USD 8886 according to this. http://lenta.ru/story/ponosoff/ [lenta.ru]. An important nuance: it's a small village school, which would probably not have a budget for this. But I think in any case, they should use Linux.
  • I bet Alexander Ponosov wishes he'd pushed for Linux in the schools now.
  • by AftanGustur (7715) on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:30PM (#17896540) Homepage


    In an astonishing move, Mr. Gates has rejected the proposal! [iht.com]

    I wonder if Mr. Gates gets a stiffy by a brutal demonstration of his powers, by crushing the life of a simple teacher.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by DogDude (805747)
      I wonder if Mr. Gates gets a stiffy by a brutal demonstration of his powers, by crushing the life of a simple teacher.

      Did you read the article you posted? It's a CRIMINAL case, being brought by local law enforcement, not Bill Gates, you dolt. Besides, if MS did call up the local prosecutor to ask them to back down, then MS would be *flooded* with requests for amnesty from people all over the planet. I think that if anybody, Gorbachev is going a bit soft in the head. It was a ridiculous request.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AftanGustur (7715)

        Duhh, think a tiny bit and you'l see that this is actually a *political* case.

        Russia has been trying for years to join the WTO and the USA has been blocking it's attempts, mainly on the bases that it doesn't enforce US copyright (When a commercial entity can manipulate foreign policy in this way, there is a problem) and this copyright case in mainly to demonstrate the will of the Russian government to enforce copyright and the said case is seen as a test example.

        The sad thing is that the teacher, from

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Were he to call up the prosecutor and ask them not to go forward, it would be a clear statement that Russia is a banana republic. A rich guy can just make them fall over and do what he wants? Well, probably it's true, and Gorbachev obviously sees it that way.

      But the article you linked mentions that Putin has already said that prosecuting this guy is ridiculous. If Putin can use some pressure to stop the prosecution, it makes him look good. If you make Putin look good, the doors open even wider for you i
    • Gates has been whining about people "stealing" his software since the late 1970's. For him to come to the defense of an accused copyright infringer, even if that person was an innocent victim of counterfeiting, is simply politically impossible. To do so would sharply undermine Microsoft's poster-child status as the world's biggest "victim" of unsanctioned copying, and would make the intolerable suggestion that the position he's staunchly maintained for the last thirty years as a clear-cut black-and-white
    • by ja (14684)
      "To grab someone for buying a computer somewhere and start threatening him with prison is complete nonsense, simply ridiculous," Putin said. "The law recognizes the concept of someone who purchased the product in good faith."
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      This is the most shocking thing ive heard since someone told me that the sky was blue!
    • by writermike (57327)

      In an astonishing move, Mr. Gates has rejected the proposal! [iht.com]

      I wonder if Mr. Gates gets a stiffy by a brutal demonstration of his powers, by crushing the life of a simple teacher.

      Perhaps, but he _had to_ decline. And Gorbachev is the one to blame. Had he done it privately, perhaps MS would have done something. But in this public way, Gates can NOT accept. Yeah, it looks really, really shitty that he declined -- and I think it's really, really shitty -- but had Gates accepted, he would have looked soft on piracy at the very moment he's telling everyone he's not under any circumstances.

      Blame MS all you want for our having to deal with this B.S. in the first place, but Gorbachev conde

  • by edwardpickman (965122) on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:32PM (#17896564)
    This is more about "Russia" using pirated software than the teacher. The teacher is being made the scapegoat for the system. What he's really asking for is Microsoft to look the other way when Russia uses their unlicensed software to benefit the country. It's a sticky question and should be handled more from a marketing standpoint. The problem is just how big a market is Russia for legitimate copies of Microsoft software? If nearly all is pirated and the Russian government is using classrooms to promote it's use then it's benefitting Russia but not Microsoft should Microsoft stand by and let it happen? The teacher shouldn't be prosecuted no matter what because it's fairly obvious officials were aware he was using and I'm sure many are doing the same. The point ultimately is if Russia can't aford or is unwilling to pay for the software should they still have the rights to use it? Does it create an unfair advantage when they have workers learning to use software on pirate copies that will in turn work for a fraction of the cost of US and Europeon programmers? These type of practices put the west at a massive disadvantage. The company I work with wants to outsource our current joint venture to foreign programmers to save money. I'm against it but I got overruled. I'd rather see people paid properly for their work where ever they are but more and more companies will be taking advantage of cheap foreign programmers. Eventually to compete most will have no choice.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:34PM (#17896588)
    you are friend no? i like friend and you microsoft software. if you like i upload picture of my sister make sex to internet for you.

    i am use your software for free because we very poor in kazakhstan. if sue for pirate i have my hand cut off and not upload pictures of my sister make sex. i am very poor to buy software and only own 1 goat but if you like i upload picture of make sex with goat. you like huh?

    you friend,

    Borat Sagdiyev
    • by ettlz (639203)

      Dear "Borat",

      Following your offer to "upload picture of make sex with goat", please find attached a copy of hello.jpg. I trust this clarifies our position in this matter.

      Furthermore, I must caution you to stop sending these letters. We have fifty boxes in our office each claiming to contain one hundred autographed photos of Steve Jobs. We haven't the balls to open these things, but we're more than willing to pay for international postage.

      And, by the way, I think you've got the wrong guy. I'm Mr. Gate f

  • bunch of assholes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DaMattster (977781)
    Microsoft is nothing but one big bunch of assholes. How much money is enough? Go after the big fish. I reported a website selling downloads of Microsoft software and Microsoft did absolutely nothing. The website is still up! Instead, they want to fry a school teacher. What next, a minister or priest?
  • by gd23ka (324741)
    It would make more sense to petition the Russian Parole Board if they still have it.
    Microsoft for the moment has no expansion plans into humanitarianism.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      It would make more sense to petition the Russian Parole Board if they still have it.

      Or just collect to bribe the warden US$50k to allow the inmate to 'disappear'?

      -b.

  • Microsoft declined (Score:4, Informative)

    by HappyDrgn (142428) on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:38PM (#17896656) Homepage
    From another source, it would seem Microsoft is not interested in helping Gorbachev...

    "Microsoft on Monday rebuffed a public appeal by Mikhail Gorbachev for its chairman, Bill Gates, to intervene on behalf of a Russian school principal charged with software piracy." - http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/02/05/business/pi rate.php [iht.com]
  • by bigpat (158134) on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:42PM (#17896738)
    You get what you pay for, but you never know what virus you are going to get. Better to get it for free with a faithful and honest Ubuntu.

    Seriously, at some point when they start threatening you with being sent to prison in Siberia.... I think it is proving a bit too dangerous to be using Microsoft products. It just isn't remotely worth this type of bullshit.
  • Piracy == Gulag (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PachmanP (881352)
    Is it just me or is it ridiculous to jail people much less send them to the gulag for software piracy? Even agreeing that it's wrong, it shouldn't be something you do hard time for. Seriously folks...
    • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      Is it just me or is it ridiculous to jail people much less send them to the gulag for software piracy? Even agreeing that it's wrong, it shouldn't be something you do hard time for

      Well, this is Russia, which had the infamous Section 58 law up until 30 years ago or so. One of the subsections punished "counterrevolutionary thoughts" with either death or a long prison sentence (25 years in the camps IIRC).

      -b.

  • by turgid (580780) on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:44PM (#17896766) Journal

    Seriously, what is wrong with this guy?

    Nowadays we have Free and Open Source Software that is "free and in speech and beer", better quality, more flexible, more useful and more user-friendly than Microsoft's stuff.

    There is no excuse for helping yourself to Microsoft's software, other than ignorance and laziness, especially in education, where being a virus vector and consumer of Project documents are not primary concerns.

    Shout loud, let the world know.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      Seriously, what is wrong with this guy?

      If he is to be believed, nothing. He purchased these computers with Windows on them. He is a schoolteacher. Unless he is some sort of computing instructor, how do you expect him to know that he must have a holographic-thread-equipped certificate of authenticity for each computer?

      There is no excuse for helping yourself to Microsoft's software, other than ignorance and laziness, especially in education, where being a virus vector and consumer of Project documents are

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by zakezuke (229119)
      There is no excuse for helping yourself to Microsoft's software, other than ignorance and laziness, especially in education, where being a virus vector and consumer of Project documents are not primary concerns.

      From TFA, the guy bought machines with windows on them. That's a pretty good excuse. If you've seen the russian bootleg edition of windows you'd notice they look professional. I would say they look more professional than many PCs sold here... esp ones that don't include anything to sugest they cam
  • He didn't know (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cdrguru (88047) on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:44PM (#17896776) Homepage
    The primary problem here is "He didn't know he was committing a crime." If we would like the world outside the US and Western Europe to join the rest of the world anytime soon, people have to understand that even if there is no "physical object" it isn't correct to just copy it.

    Now, this particular case of enforcement might be a bit over the ability of the offender to pay. However, that is besides the point. The problem is that much of Russia probably doesn't understand. Or, if you pay attention to the Internet, much of Russia probably doesn't care, either.

    This isn't just about mega-corporations squeezing the last time from people. This is the whole concept of "intellectual property", rights, restrictions and licensing. These folks probably wouldn't know (or care) what the rules for GPL software are either. So this is not something that does not affect those hating the MPAA and RIAA. It affects anyone that creates something and does not release it completely without restriction to the public domain.

    GPL is a restricted and legally obligating license and does not fall under the idea of releasing something completely without restriction to the public domain. Creative Commons licensing is not (usually) the same as releasing to the public domain. BSD licensing is closer but still not the same as "without restriction" in the public domain.

    Without some education, these people that just don't know they are doing something wrong will continue and teach children to grow up and violate copyright, the GPL, Creative Commons and every other sort of license you can imagine. Is educating them by sending them to a prison came correct? Maybe not. But just writing it off isn't correct either.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      Without some education, these people that just don't know they are doing something wrong will continue and teach children to grow up and violate copyright, the GPL, Creative Commons and every other sort of license you can imagine. Is educating them by sending them to a prison came correct? Maybe not.

      MAYBE not? Uhm, definitely not. Maybe a fine or some community service may be appropriate. But taking the guy away from his family and pupils for years for a crime committed without mens rea - he had bought

    • He bought the computer with pirated Windows pre-installed. His claim not to know isn't based on not knowing piracy is wrong (what an amusingly arrogant point of view, "He's from a foreign country. They don't have modern things like copyright law in there.") It's based on not knowing that copy was pirated.
  • by Sargeant Slaughter (678631) on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:51PM (#17896900) Homepage
    Obviously Bill Gates has no control over the Russian judicial system. However, Gorbachev's appeal is more to show the connection between big business and governments around the world. While it may not do anything legally, it certainly paints M$ iin a bad light (and Putin). This is perhaps our only way of fighting powerful corporate interests. We call out the REAL culprits and hurt their image (and perhaps profits) with an expose. If we want to be successful we have to use the media to fight these companies and their desctructive practices. Of course M$ will try to distance themselves from the case.

    If this teacher has the backing of people like Gorbachev, I doubt he will spend any time in a gulag. I am a lot more concerned about the poeple who never make it into the headlines...
  • by akpoff (683177) on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:52PM (#17896922) Homepage
    "It's ridiculous to just arrest a chap for using computers," he said [bbc.co.uk].
  • Why is it that no one insisted on Russia being systematically "deSovietized" the way that the post-WWII Axis, Afghanistan and Iraq have been cleaned up? Why aren't the leaders who participated in the gulags, etc. hanging from gallows? Where are the human rights trials? The Soviet Union was as bad or worse in the number of its people that it murdered than the Nazi regime. In fact, despite the cries of "Fascism!" the Italian Fascists were certifiably peaceniks in the numbers they killed compared to either the
    • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      Why is it that no one insisted on Russia being systematically "deSovietized" the way that the post-WWII Axis, Afghanistan and Iraq have been cleaned up? Why aren't the leaders who participated in the gulags, etc. hanging from gallows? Where are the human rights trials?

      Russia collapsed from within (due, to some extent to external forces as well as anger at Soviet abuses and mismanagement i.e. Chornobyl). It was never invaded by a foreign power who could force the issue of trials. The worst abusers from t

  • by gilesjuk (604902) <[giles.jones] [at] [zen.co.uk]> on Monday February 05, 2007 @07:15PM (#17897274)
    This is a prime example of big business making out the damage that small scale piracy causes is as serious as murder, drug dealing and physical theft.

    Why are people sent to prison for copyright infringement? sure, it can cause lost sales, but the court case should be asked to prove if the accused would have purchased the product otherwise.

    When the copyright infringement is on a mass scale, ie. pirate copies duplicated in the thousands and sold, then yes these people have caused damage and should be punished.
  • by DarkOx (621550) on Monday February 05, 2007 @07:21PM (#17897366) Journal
    There are two major things wrong here.

    1. Nobody should do prison time for infriging on a copyright. At least not when said infrigment is not part of a for profit activity. Even if you are one of those people that thinks copyright infringment and theft are not different, we still don't lock people up for shop lifting unless they are repeat offenders. We demand they make restitution and perhaps perform some community service as penence. As I say all the time the crime is not 100 times worse just because a computer was somehow used.

    *yes this guy should be punished, just not so severly.

    2. The other group of people want to argue that boohoo he can't afford Windows and other proprietary software and neither can alot of people in less well off parts of the world therfore they should be entitled. Look I think software copyrights and patents are lame, but for now the law is the law. You might and in my opinion probably are morally justified in brakeing it, especially if its in the name of makeing a social statement but if you do then you have to face the concequences. This is not like food or medicine nobody *needs* Windows period. If someone is only licensing their software/media for money you have choices, pay for it, infringe on it and take your chances, make your own, do without, or find a FOSS replacement.

    *No we should not just let him off because he is the little guy getting screwed by big corporations and governments.
  • by delire (809063) on Monday February 05, 2007 @07:22PM (#17897378)
    Any education involving computers practically demands piracy as a function of learning these days. I doubt there's a graphic design course in the world whose course fees are more than the total cost of software students do their homework on, let alone film, architecture or engineering degrees. Whole desktop computers cost less than a Photoshop license these days.

    The root of the problem is that forced use of proprietary software in education will always lead to this 'theft', whether teacher, student or both. Most students and most schools are barely getting by.

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