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Teacher Avoids Getting Sent to Siberia For Piracy 252

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the off-the-hook dept.
Piracy Support Line writes "Russian principal Alexander Ponosov will not be visiting Siberia any time soon, at least not for the allegedly illegal Microsoft software that were preloaded on the computers they bought and Microsoft supported the reseller's story. Although Bill Gates rejected Mikhail Gorbachev's personal appeal for mercy on behalf of the teacher, the judge was kinder. Judge Elvira Mosheva decided to dismiss the case because 'Microsoft's financial damage is too insignificant for a criminal investigation.'"
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Teacher Avoids Getting Sent to Siberia For Piracy

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  • by pembo13 (770295)
    Good. Guy deserves something for the trouble he went through.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Send him some ubuntu discs
  • Let me... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Let me be the first to say "In Soviet Russia..."
  • What did you expect? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Friday February 16, 2007 @12:35AM (#18034834)
    Lemee see....

    1: Administrator buys what he thinks is a legit copy. It isnt.
    2: Gorbachev AND Gates are tossing words around. Erm, HOLY SHIT. Big names in each corner.
    3: Russia already has warned any researcher in coming to the USA (dmitri skylarov vs adobe)
    4: Do we trust a US company or open source that anybody can review? China already supports Red Flag Linux.
    5: Putin came out in defense of the administrator. What he says, goes.

    Need we say more? The cards are stacked against MS. They back off, and then they go "soft" on copyright violations, but they are the big bullies if they do go ahead.
    • by Max Littlemore (1001285) on Friday February 16, 2007 @12:48AM (#18034928)

      Need we say more? The cards are stacked against MS. They back off, and then they go "soft" on copyright violations, but they are the big bullies if they do go ahead.

      Microsoft didn't go soft on anyone. They weren't suing, it was a criminal matter (ie state vs. defendant) and whether or not Microsoft approved was almost irrelevant. Again. this had little if anything to do with Microsoft.

      They did miss a golden opportunity for good PR by speaking out about it, but in the end the decision came down to the judge. It wasn't Microsoft's place to go soft or hard or otherwise.

      • Wait, it wasn't M$'s puppet organisation, the local BSA who sued the poor guy in the first place?
        • Nope, it wasn't even the BSA, it was the Russian state suing this guy all along. It was a criminal, not a civil case.

          Gorbachev just used this case to get some free publicity as some kind of Defender Of The Russian People, but his letter to Bill Gates was as irrelevant as it could possibly get for this case. There were no charges that MS could _possibly_ drop, since MS (or BSA) had not pressed any charges against him to start with. It's that simple.

          The only moment I know of when MS was in any way even contac
    • Oh please (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Moraelin (679338) on Friday February 16, 2007 @05:45AM (#18036292) Journal
      Disclaimer: actually I'm not against MS, nor against F/OSS, I don't think either programs are that bad... but some of the arguments there come out as bull in this particular case. Sorry.

      3: Russia already has warned any researcher in coming to the USA (dmitri skylarov vs adobe)


      Which is irrelevant to this case too. We're not talking some security researcher who disclosed a security vulnerability, nor even cracked some DRM, but about someone who allegedly pirated some programs. I'm willing to bet that there was exactly zero research involved.

      4: Do we trust a US company or open source that anybody can review? China already supports Red Flag Linux.


      Sorry, but... Here I'll call outright bullshit. Sorry, this is _not_ about "let's use F/OSS instead of closed source", it's about using pirated closed source programs. If they wanted to support F/OSS, they could have done so, but no, they wanted to keep using Windows for free. There's a freakin' huge difference there.

      And spare me the emotional parts about trust, please. So they can trust closed source if it's pirated? Does Windows become more open if you use a pirated serial number? Does Office save its files in a less proprietary format just because it's on a CD-R? WTF?

      There _are_ good arguments for trusting F/OSS instead of closed source programs and proprietary formats. That senator from IIRC Peru made a damn good case for example. But this case isn't it. It's plain and simple about pirating closed source programs. If you will, it's exactly the _opposite_: these guys decided that they can trust MS and closed source all right, they just don't want to pay.

      Step out of the "yay, they stuck it to MS" mentality a little, and you may see that there's little to celebrate. There would have been ways to make a pro-OSS or anti-closed-source point, but that was not what happened here. They just gave a vote of confidence to MS, if anything. Price being equal (free as in beer, even if by virtue of being stolen beer) they just decided they'd rather use Windows.

      And, without going into your other points in detail, for the people of Russia I see even less to celebrate in this mockery of justice. It just shows that the whole country, including prominent figures like Gorbachev and (scarily enough) their president Putin, just can't wrap their head around such notions as "rule of the law". They're still stuck in the soviet era mentality, where "justice" is something based on scapegoats, favoritism, nepotism and rich powerful guys punishing the little guys they don't like. E.g., Gorbachev just showed that he has no freakin' clue what's the difference between a criminal case and Bill Gates persecuting a poor teacher.

      If that's the kind of politicians and mentality that Russia still has, then I feel genuinely sorry for those people.
      • If they wanted to support F/OSS, they could have done so, but no, they wanted to keep using Windows for free.

        This guy is a school administrator, not a tech. He probably doesn't know what "software" is; he bought a computer. It's like you bought a refrigerator, and six months later, someone tells you that the freon inside the compressor is violating someone's intellectual property rights (but don't worry, you won't need a refrigerator in Siberia).

        I doubt that he knows about F/OSS, and he probably didn

      • by rifter (147452)

        Gorbachev just showed that he has no freakin' clue what's the difference between a criminal case and Bill Gates persecuting a poor teacher.

        Bottom line: If Microsoft had declared his license valid, or said that he did not cause financial damage, there would have been no cause for prosecution in the first place. As it is, the judge decided that regardless of the fact Microsoft clearly did feel threatened and required their pound of flesh and pint of blood to wash it down, they had not been damaged here, at

    • by rifter (147452) on Friday February 16, 2007 @09:08AM (#18037204) Homepage

      5: Putin came out in defense of the administrator. What he says, goes.

      So a guy who gasses his own people, murders journalists, fixes elections and tries to kill the guy who won when it didn't work ... is more merciful, reasonable, and just than Bill Gates. Damn. You would think this would be a wake up call for Bill Gates.

  • Odd... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bendodge (998616) <bendodge@bsgpro g r ammers.com> on Friday February 16, 2007 @12:36AM (#18034844) Homepage Journal
    The financial damage was too insignificant? That's a rather strange reason to dismiss a case, as it violates the letter of the law. It's not a bad idea, except that is has a massive potential for abuse.

    It's just sad that court costs are so high, and you can't sue for anywhere close to the actual damage.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Normally a small damage amount is not grounds for bringing a CRIMINAL case against a person. Rather, the matter would have to be pursued via CIVIL law. And that would mean Microsoft would have to sue the person directly, not get the state to go after them.

      Microsoft has subverted the laws of the world and made minor acts of copyright infringement into criminal acts. This way Microsoft gets the taxpayer to fund a massive witch hunt against people, mostly good, who have done little wrong. And in the great sche
    • Re:Odd... (Score:5, Informative)

      by kfg (145172) on Friday February 16, 2007 @01:34AM (#18035188)
      That's a rather strange reason to dismiss a case, as it violates the letter of the law.

      If this were a theft you would be correct. It is not. It's a copyright violation; where intent to distribute/a dollar threshold determines whether the case is criminal or merely a civil matter.

      What the judge is saying is that based on the evidence it is unlikely that a crime has actually been commited by the accused and thus it is not worth putting the governement to the time and expense of an investigation to support a criminal proceeding.

      Bear in mind that the prosecution had, at the time of the hearing, dropped the accusation that he had himself "pirated" the software and instead he was merely accused of using it for a week.

      Making this sort of judgement is part of the job of judge; and why we call them "judges."

      KFG
    • Re:Odd... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by brpr (826904) on Friday February 16, 2007 @01:35AM (#18035194)

      The financial damage was too insignificant? That's a rather strange reason to dismiss a case, as it violates the letter of the law.

      No it doesn't. Whatever the law says, in criminal cases the prosecutor always has to decide whether or not a prosecution is in the public interest. If the damage caused by the defendant is not significant, then it probably isn't.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The financial damage was too insignificant? That's a rather strange reason to dismiss a case...

      ... but what an enlightened precedent it would make.

      Reminds me of someone my mum knew who was caught growing marijuana in their backyard for personal use. He pleaded guilty and then kept appealing the sentence on the grounds that the punishment should not out weigh the crime, that what he did was a victimless crime, etc. What started out as a hefty jail sentence ended up in the Federal Court (Australia) with the

    • by jonbryce (703250)
      In many countries, only commercial copyright violation is a criminal offence. Non commercial violations, such as giving a CDr to a friend are a civil matter.

      If it the same in Russia, then it makes perfect sense that it was dismissed because the financial damage was too insignificant.
    • '' The financial damage was too insignificant? That's a rather strange reason to dismiss a case, as it violates the letter of the law. ''

      It's a perfectly good reason to dismiss a case. The financial damage was too little for the company who was damaged (Microsoft) to press charges. This is like someone stealing ten dollars from me, the police finds out somehow, and I as the victim can't even bother to press charges. Should a judge waste time on that case?
  • by The Bungi (221687) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Friday February 16, 2007 @12:39AM (#18034868) Homepage
    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/1700AP_APFN _Russia_Piracy_Microsoft_CORRECTIVE.html [nwsource.com]

    Nice FUD job though. Gotta get those ad impressions going.

    • by cbiffle (211614)
      All the submitter said was that Microsoft refused Gorbachev's offer. This is probably a little harsh -- all they did was not accept it, technically -- but the correction you link to is about some "settlement" they said Microsoft offered.

      Unrelated.
    • Sure, M$ has nothing to do with the global advance of draconian "intellectual property" law. Nobody has been threatening other contries with trade embargo of the sort usually reserved for wars. No, nothing to do with Bill Gates and M$, they are the good guys trying to eduspam your children about how to buy fine Office software and what a dirty bad pirate you are if you don't buy a M$ OS with each and every computer sold. Oh noes, M$ would never launch any action against a school. [salon.com]

      Their solution, to neve

      • by The Bungi (221687)
        hi twitter [slashdot.org]. Using your sockpuppet account tonight? Just as you'd thought you'd been robbed of another fine opportunity to blabber on about "M$", you just can't help yourself, can you?

        Oh noes

        We've had this conversation before [slashdot.org] twitter. You're still full of it.

        • That's a great conversation you pointed to.

          I love the link to http://www.manhattan.k12.ca.us/legal/latimes/lausd 1.html [k12.ca.us] which now returns a M$ 404, but still can be found at the archive.org wayback machine. Here's some of the really cool stuff M$ did to L.A. through the BSA back in 1998!

          For years, Microsoft Corp. and other industry giants have tried to persuade public schools that computers belong in classrooms alongside textbooks and teachers. Now the same firms are targeting the Los Angeles Unified Sc

          • by The Bungi (221687)
            Great stuff! I just love the way you defend M$'s extortion of public schools.

            Awwww. Well, when you're done FUD'ing and exercising your creative selective quoting, I'd like to see lots of stories about "M$" suing schools. Something that happened this decade will do nicely. After you provide us with some, a few links to the other companies that make up the BSA would be nice as well. Yes? Don't use so many weasel phrases though. It just makes you look dumber than you are.

            BTW - I love how you highlighted th

      • I should read more carefully. Not only is M$ responsible for crappy IP laws elsewhere, they actually helped to prosecute this one.

        Last week, Microsoft executive Olga Dergunova defended the reseller [microsoft-watch.com] that provided the computers.

        Then you follow that link and find:

        Gorbachev's appeal directly to Gates made sense, in part because Microsoft owns the software and only licenses it to customers. In the CNews interview Dergunova affirmed that "Microsoft is the plaintiff in this case; its intellectual property ri

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by The Bungi (221687)
          Read closely flocktard, they "defended" the "prosecution" simply by stating that whatever came on those computers initially was legal. Microsoft was NOT involved in any lawsuits or prosecution. None.

          It's OK if you get your panties in a bunch when you see these stories. Really. But wearing down your #4 key to do your hilarious "M$" thing and trying to desperately spin your "OMFG IS TEH EVILZ" bull is just not going to work. Save it for when you actually have a point to make. Microsoft does plenty of bad th

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by billgates (75865)
            I fail to understand why you youngsters always defend Microsoft. Perhaps you haven't been around long to have seen all the alternatives to Microsoft's junk. Yes they are evil. Yes they are American. To a lot of people in the rest of the world (you know, where the dragons are), that is a particularly bad combination at the moment.
    • by S3D (745318)

      Nice FUD job though. Gotta get those ad impressions going.

      Not according to the russian sources. All of them are mentioning Microsoft employee Alexandr Potapov involved in the case. For example:
      http://lenta.ru/news/2007/02/13/noexcuse/ [lenta.ru]
      "Microsoft representative Alexandr Potapov suggested settlement if the defendant apologized"
      Of casue it's possible Alexandr Potapov doing it by his own initiative. In that case it's possible Microsoft will disown him.

  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Friday February 16, 2007 @12:40AM (#18034878)

    Microsoft could have handled this differently and spun the whole thing to their advantage. This could have been a "Genuine Advantage" moment. "See? Make sure your pre-installed software comes with the original disks and software keys! We'll let you off the hook, but all you out there please learn from Mr. Ponosov's predicament and deal only with reputable certified Microsoft resellers" or some such.

    But instead they turned the other cheek, and a teacher almost was sentenced to prison in Siberia over something as simple as missing software keys. And a Russian judge showed more compassion and understanding of the matter than Bill Gates. Those are the facts, and they do not look good. This is, and rightfully should be, a PR nightmare for Microsoft.

    A shame really. The Gates Foundation gives away piles of cash for humanitarian goals, but events like this let you know where that money is really coming from. And what people behind it are really like. Business first, before anything else, always.

    • ---Microsoft could have handled this differently and spun the whole thing to their advantage. This could have been a "Genuine Advantage" moment. "See? Make sure your pre-installed software comes with the original disks and software keys! We'll let you off the hook, but all you out there please learn from Mr. Ponosov's predicament and deal only with reputable certified Microsoft resellers" or some such.

      But what indicates legitimate software? When we deal with 2nd and 3rd world countries, we see lots of count
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        ... If you're in the USA, Gates makes a lot of tax revenue, and keeps the govt happy. Now, what's happening software-wise in all those versions of Windows? The key: Do you trust your computer systems running a foreign countries OS? ...

        Wishful thinking there. MS is just as big a tax dodger [sfgate.com] in the US as it is in Europe. Just because you pay your taxes and your company pays it's taxes doesn't mean that either Big Bill or his company do so.

        ... The key: Do you trust your computer systems running a foreign countries OS? ...

        It gets even simpler. You can't trust any closed source code [acm.org]. Now, there is still some quality stuff out there that MS hasn't run out of business or bought out, but the bottom line is regardless of whether it's from the MS movement or from a normal company, if you don't have access to the c

    • The Gates Foundation gives away piles of cash for humanitarian goals

      But there's a hidden side to that. How many people know that although the foundation gives money for vaccines, Gates owns large amounts of the very same pharmaceutical companies favored by the foundation. So the money goes out - Gates gets tax benefits and PR glory - and then the money comes in to his companies. I'd say, nice plan if you can afford it. He always was, is, and will be a rotten SOB. I hope the Russians give him a humanitar

      • Yup! Just goes to show that Bill Gates should NOT be giving away his money. Philanthropy is evil, the filthy rich should keep their money to themselves. It is far better that people die of a disease than the be tainted with vaccines paid for with impure motives.
  • by Aussie (10167) on Friday February 16, 2007 @12:52AM (#18034954) Journal

    Russian President Vladimir Putin said: "Catching someone just because he bought a computer and threatening him with prison - that's crap."
    Link [news.com.au]
    • I wonder if anyone knows where the original version of that can be found. You know, translations can be very tricky...
  • by Wes Janson (606363) on Friday February 16, 2007 @12:53AM (#18034960) Journal
    In soviet russia, courts treat you justly!
  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Friday February 16, 2007 @12:59AM (#18034992)
    seriously.. we have to go to a former communist nation to get rulings the US should have?
    • I believe the RIAA cases are civil (?) and this one was a criminal case - big difference.

    • seriously.. we have to go to a former communist nation to get rulings the US should have?

      Why not? Insofar as a communist nation would have nothing to offer (which I doubt), they aren't any more, as you said yourself. For the rest of the world it is funny to see how Americans invariably think of themselves as the best, a golden standard, and are usually surprised when things are managed better, or at least equally well in other countries.

      Bearing in mind the US foureign policy... actually it is not funny

  • by Kris_J (10111) * on Friday February 16, 2007 @01:02AM (#18035016) Journal

    "The Connecticut substitute school teacher who exposed 11 and 12-year-old students to porn in the classroom -- unintentionally, she says, because of malware on an infected PC -- may now go to jail. If her claims are true, she'll be the first American ever jailed for having had the misfortune of being forced to use a buggy school computer, with incompetent or nonexistent tech support from that school's administration despite repeated requests for help." -- Teacher faces jail time over "accidental porn" in classroom. [boingboing.net]
  • by darkonc (47285) <stephen_samuel&bcgreen,com> on Friday February 16, 2007 @01:03AM (#18035018) Homepage Journal
    Anybody have a stack of Edubuntu disks that start up using Russian that they can send to this guy?
  • by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Friday February 16, 2007 @01:17AM (#18035096) Homepage Journal
    >> Teacher Avoids Getting Sent to Siberia For Piracy

    Clearly they are not teaching the three "Arrrrr!"s in school these days.
  • They both cease to be able to identify with their citizens-customers, because they both view them as a form of indentured citizen who owes his existance to the overseer.
    • Wall Street thinks the failure is due to crappy software [google.com]. In part, the author asserts:

      Microsoft's stock has been on a record tear -- downward. One more down day and we would have been tied at nine for the longest tumble in the company's 20-year trading history. ... investors are increasingly skittish about Microsoft's Vista. Late, horsepower-hungry, missing some promised features and getting indifferent reviews, the product is nowhere near the buzzmaker of its predecessors, Windows 95 and Windows XP. An

    • In case you haven't noticed monarchies continue to thrive and are actually doing quite well. In fact the Kingdom of Norway was rated #1 by the UN's annual Human Development Index (a measure of life expectancy, literacy, education, and standard of living) [wikipedia.org]. The US was number 8. Of the top 20 countries, 9 are monarchies - plus Canada, Australia and New Zealand have the British Queen as head of state. But I guess you meant the absolute form of monarchy?
  • I'm from a country near Russia and we use piracy software everywhere. Companies have no licence for M$ software... I had very big problems with closed source software and now i use GPL software only, because it's better. I'm so indifferent about intellectual property :P "humans knowledge belong to the humans"
    • by gr8dude (832945)
      Well, you seem to be missing a point - GPL software is also the result of somebody's intellectual work. Saying "I'm indifferent" is not a nice thing to do.
  • "Although Bill Gates rejected Mikhail Gorbachev's personal appeal for mercy on behalf of the teacher..."

    I haven't been following the story since the last Slashdot article, but did Bill Gates reject the personal appeal, or did Microsoft? Huge difference. I can't find any source indicating what exactly happened from their side.
    • '' I haven't been following the story since the last Slashdot article, but did Bill Gates reject the personal appeal, or did Microsoft? Huge difference. I can't find any source indicating what exactly happened from their side. ''

      There is nothing either Microsoft or Bill Gates could reject.

      Russian police decided to go after someone for an alleged crime. Microsoft didn't. Bill Gates didn't. Nothing they could do.

      It now looks as if this was a case where the Russian police wasn't happy with the law, so they de
  • Ummm, spin much? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by acidrain69 (632468) on Friday February 16, 2007 @08:47AM (#18037076) Journal
    Come on, I hate microsoft as much as the next /.er, but Bill Gates did not REJECT anything. He is not a cop. He is not a judge. It isn't up to him to innocence or guilt or drop charges in Russia.
  • Right, to Siberia, where the bears walk on the streets socializing with bearded men. /sarcasm

    Seriously, why is it so difficult not to give up to the desire to use easy journalistic tricks, such as stereotypes for the comic effect. Not that I am offended as a former Russian citizen, but... give me a break. This is like "Soviet Russia" joke - outdated, tasteless and plain vanilla stupid.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      Right, to Siberia, where the bears walk on the streets socializing with bearded men.

      No, that's San Francisco.

  • by mgpeter (132079) on Friday February 16, 2007 @03:37PM (#18042662) Homepage
    This story scares me ! I am an network administrator for a few places including a school. I have been struggling to keep unlicensed software off of our computer network - unfortunately some teachers take it upon themselves to install software, say Microsoft Office, because they cannot waste the 5 minutes it takes to get used to OpenOffice.org.

    I have given them lots of software options on their computer: All computers dual boot Windows XP (licensed!) and SLED10. All computers have lots of Free Software to do just about any task and most programs are very easy to learn. Unfortunately we have a few programs the teachers have to run that require Administrator rights, this opens the door for them to install any software. I have had to remove quite a few programs: MS Office, Adobe software, Hallmark Card software, etc.

    If I am the Network Admin, under U.S. Law, am I LEGALLY responsible if the school comes up having unlicensed software installed during an Audit ??

    I have had this discussion with the Superintendent and he is seriously requiring all our Vendors to have their programs run under Linux within 2 years (as if they actually would care to lose us as a customer), which would allow us to destory the Windows partitions on all of our computers. Needless to say, I have a feeling within the next year or so I will have to become a WINE expert.

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