back to article The e-waste warrior, 28,000 copied Windows restore discs, and a fight to stay out of jail

A California electronics recycler is fighting to stay out of jail after he admitted copying thousands of Windows reinstallation discs for use with refurbished PCs. As an e-waste warrior, Eric Lundgren wished to see discarded computers fixed up and reused rather than crammed into holes in the ground. To encourage people to …

Unhappy

Oh, come on

If the PCs in question did have valid licenses, what the heck are we even talking about? Who lost money because of what Eric Lundgren did? Well, mostly he himself, since blank disks are still not free.

What happened to common sense in courts...?

220
2

Re: Oh, come on

> "What happened to common sense in courts...?"

Lawyers happened. Instead of arguing over what the framework of the law contains, they'd rather argue over what colour the framework is.

109
3
Silver badge

Re: Oh, come on

This isn't about "common sense".. MS has deep pockets and for some reason, Lundgren's lawyers either didn't bring all this up about the licenses, etc. or failed to clearly explain it to the judge/jury at the first trial. And, let's not forget that it's about "law" and "lawyers" and not about common sense. If it were that simple, there never would have been any lawsuits for people falling off ladders or spilling a hot cup coffee from McDonald's on their lap as they drive off from the drive through.

28
11

The hot coffee story you know is basically a smear campaign by McDonald's legal team.

You should watch this if you want the true story.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PAzMMKIspPQ

28
4
Silver badge

@pip25 ... Re: Oh, come on

Wow.

The defense raises an interesting argument. I mean really compelling.

With respect to your comment, the judges are regular people and understand the law but will often make stupid decisions. (I know from first hand experience.) There is nothing magical and mystical about a judge.

In addition, its also who makes the more compelling argument in court. Keep in mind the guy pleaded guilty to copyright infringement. This was probably done to avoid the expense of a long trial.

At the same time... the appellate judge may still say no, depending on the argument raised by the prosecution, and then it would have to then be appealed at the state supreme court to hear these arguments.

Common sense is still common sense. To be fair, look around you. How many people do you see who make mistakes and ignore common sense?

I hope this guy gets off. But I'm sure there's more to the case than the compelling argument.

12
3
FAIL

Re: @pip25 ... Oh, come on

the guy pleaded guilty to copyright infringement.

He probably pleaded guilty, because otherwise he would probably run afoul of a whole bunch more allegations that, even if only a few stick, may have put him in jail for the rest of his life, this is the 'normal' plea bargaining strategy that prosecutors use in the US to secure a guilty plea.

Has nothing to do with justice. Everything to do with a completely corrupted legal system and some prosecutors who are happy to destroy anyone's life if it furthers there career.

119
2
Silver badge

Re: Oh, come on

The prosecutor was quite open about this, he said that "Microsoft wants his head on a platter".

Money makes the US legal system go round....there is a good chance he'll prevail on appeal, though.

57
1
Silver badge

Re: Oh, come on

You need a license to distribute windows with hardware.Microsoft does offers a cheap license for people who recycle PC. Most people have never seen a MS recycled PC COA but they do exist . They also sell discounted refurbished COA for PC that that have a previous COA sticker.

7
39
Silver badge
Unhappy

Re: Oh, come on

"What happened to common sense in courts"

you and I both know the answer. It was corrupted by activists, lawyers, and "the system" in general.

19
4
Anonymous Coward

Re: @pip25 ... Oh, come on

Watch Molly's game. Based on a true story and they go into the games the prosecution will play. In this case they didn't even want to prosecutor her. They just wanted to know who were in here poker games.

It is a slow movie but the points raised are interesting.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4209788/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

9
1
Silver badge

Re: Oh, come on

You need a license to distribute windows with hardware.

But that software had been paid for already? So if I would sell you my old laptop that has a valid Windows license key you cannot use that key? Not with the new versions, because those you merely rent.... Still, the key is tied to the machine (and has never been activated, I use Linux). I'm really interested in that, because I think that this would be ok under German law, judging from the 2nd hand software cases we had.

44
2

This post has been deleted by its author

Silver badge

Re: Oh, come on

Microsoft does offers a cheap license for people who recycle PC.

That's if the original licence key isn't available. In this case it is, it's in the BIOS.

35
1

This post has been deleted by its author

Silver badge

Re: Oh, come on

In addition, its also who makes the more compelling argument in court.

Actually, it's not. Very common misconception though, it's whomever persuades the majority of the Jury to find innocent or guilty.

And the jury can do whatever it damn well pleases, ignoring actual guilt or any arguments presented. This was firmly established in 1670 (Bushel's Case) where the jury refused to convict somebody who broke a law because they thought the law was unjust, and has been done repeatedly since.

16
2
WTF?

Re: Oh, come on

"What happened to common sense in courts...?"

It seems that in the USA common sense has been lost a very long time ago.

El Reg has published a myriad of examples by which we have been able to chuckle, laugh, grief ...

But make no mistake: this guy is up against MS and this weighs heavily.

Cheers,

16
2
Silver badge
Boffin

Re: Oh, come on

"Lawyers happened. Instead of arguing over what the framework of the law contains, they'd rather argue over what colour the framework is."

Alright, Mr. Wiseguy, if you're so clever, you tell us what colour it should be!

15
3
Silver badge

Re: Oh, come on @kain preacher

>You need a license to distribute windows with hardware.

The article seems to imply he was only selling the Recovery media and hence wasn't himself directly recycling systems - just providing the Recovery media to allow end users to recycle a system. Hence why MS seem to have taken a back seat in this case.

So this guys mistake seems to be the reproduction of OEM Recovery media without having appropriate agreements with OEMs and thus infringe the OEM copyright over their Recovery media.

Having had to deal with systems with Recycler COAs, I like what the guy was doing, as technically because systems with Recycler COAs no longer carry the OEM COA, you can't use the OEM Recovery media to restore the system, but as Recyclers don't usually supply recovery media...

10
0

Re: Oh, come on

What happened to common sense in courts...?

What we see here is letter of the law interpretation, instead of spirit of the law.

They prosecuted for what the law said, not what the law was trying to prevent.

I salute his efforts to reduce the landfill, I guess the restore disk will be Ubuntu next time.

9
0
Silver badge
Mushroom

Re: Oh, come on

Hang on. Microsoft will sell you a "discounted" COA for a PC that already has a COA ????

Why do you need to buy a second license for a machine that already has one!

25
1
Silver badge

Re: Oh, come on

MS on their own website says making copies of their software is legal. Only distributing "pirate" keys is infringement.

Why did the prosecution succeed if the disks have no keys and rely on key on PCs?

20
0
Silver badge

Re: Oh, come on

But that software had been paid for already? So if I would sell you my old laptop that has a valid Windows license key you cannot use that

Accord to MS not with out permission. It's fucked up. it's thing I thought should of been straighten out by the courts. looks like the courts agree with MS You can down vote me all you want I'm just saying what MS says. MS will make exceptions for charities but you have to ask permission first.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Oh, come on

"That's if the original licence key isn't available. In this case it is, it's in the BIOS." According to MS that does not count as you need the actual COA sticker.

4
1

Re: Oh, come on

To amplify Kain Preacher's remark:

Microsoft Refurbishers do indeed get a discount on the COA. However, there are restrictions. You must buy a minimum number at a time. You must buy a mnimum number each year. There is a maximum number you can use each month. These numbers, and the price of the stickers, vary from one type of refurbisher to another. There are standards: All the hardware must be in good working order; no missing drivers; the case must be cleaned up inside and out, etc.

The minimums are intended to rule out hobbyists who might do 1 machine every month or so. I suppose that means Lundgren's retail customers.

4
0

Re: Oh, come on

> What happened to common sense in courts...?

TLDR: Nothing, never has been there...

What is common sense? If you look at things considered common sense, you will find that they are not so common at all. There were times when it was common sense that the sun orbits earth .

This is the oldest problem in jurisdiction: Basically laws are the way to try to codify what is considered current common sense. But common sense is mostly common only in groups, not the whole society.

Laws will always reflect the common sense of the most powerful groups in the society. So if you do belong to other groups, having a different common sense, laws and jurisdiction can seem to be contradicting common sense, but they just contradict your own sense.

To be clear: I also think that the guy did nothing ethically wrong. But that is only common sense among people who now something about operating systems, licenses and the technical background.

And this group is quite small...

4
0

Re: Oh, come on

Why do you need to buy a second license for a machine that already has one?

You cannot re-activate Windows Vista or older; Windows 7 is dicey. In these cases, you must buy a Windows 10 license.

0
5
Silver badge

Re: Oh, come on

Alright, Mr. Wiseguy, if you're so clever, you tell us what colour it should be!

Go stick it up your nose!

5
1

Re: Oh, come on

Don't quote frameworks to me.

I chaired the sub-committee that convened to decide whether or not we should change the colour of the folder that framework is held in.

WE KEPT IT GREY.

9
0

Re: Oh, come on

"The prosecutor was quite open about this, he said that "Microsoft wants his head on a platter"."

That's an admission of guilt right there. The prosecutor is not working for Microsoft, he's working for the state.

If he's taking orders from Microsoft, he should be fired and prosecuted.

14
0
Devil

Re: Oh, come on

In my early days with frameworks, they were hammertone grey. Later, they became beige. These days, legal frameworks are indisputably green.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Oh, come on

>You cannot re-activate Windows Vista or older; Windows 7 is dicey.

Provided you can access the activation files you can transfer the activation from the old system to the rebuilt system, you don't need to reactivate. However, you do need to use both the correct version (Home/Pro/Enterprise) and licence variant (OEM/Retail/Volume) of Windows media.

I seem to remember the instructions I've used for an XP and W7 malware recovery came from a MS KB/Technet article. But it is much easier to simply drop in the relevant OEM's recovery media which not only handles the pre-activation for you but also instals the relevant (albeit old) drivers in the OEM's recommended sequence.

1
0
Facepalm

Re: Oh, come on

You have managed to completely miss the point, so presumably you have little experience of installing Windows, just like the court. Clearly the poor guy's lawyer did a very poor job.

1
0
Silver badge
Boffin

Re: @pip25 ... Oh, come on

Did you not read the next sentence?

This was probably done to avoid the expense of a long trial.

Yest M$ will sue you in to submission.

How many people have a spare 25-30K (USD) lying around to make a frivolous lawsuit go away?

That's just for starters.

If he went to court and was found guilty of copyright infringement, he could end up owing $$$$$$$$$$$$

Remember those cases where a woman pirated a bunch of music a few years back? (Maybe a decade ago? )

The legal system is what it is. Like I said in my post, I've seen bad judges, lousy lawyers where I ended up having to write $$$ to get the issue resolved. Heck, I'm still involved in a case where I'm going to lose money even if I win and I have little recourse to recoup those losses because it will cost me more than its worse and its a gamble.

Its not corruption. Its the system.

BTW, a neat trick... Lawyers will say whatever they want, even if its a lie. They'll merely say that they misspoke. Its only when its under oath that they won't lie if they suspect that they'll get caught.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Oh, come on

The courts never had a chance to weigh in on this... he pled guilty. That means there was no trial, no evidence presented, none of it. The question would be why he did this... what tricks the prosecutor used to badger an innocent victim into pleading guilty. They typically throw a fusillade of charges against the accused, then plead it down to just the one they wanted him on anyway, as if that were a concession to the accused.

Ever wonder why the US has the highest incarceration rate of any liberal western democracy? I don't. Land of the free, indeed.

5
0
Silver badge

Re: Oh, come on

According to MS that does not count as you need the actual COA sticker.

There's no COA sticker on Dells from Windows 8 onwards. You can go from 8 to 7 (I'm not using the word downgrade on purpose).

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Oh, come on

>But that software had been paid for already?

You are getting confused between what is actually on the PC and the Recovery media.

As a private individual you can legitimately sell your old laptop complete with its pre-existing Windows install, attached OEM COA along with the master set of recovery media either supplied with the system by the OEM or created by you from the Recovery partition for your own use, these rights have been granted to you by Microsoft under the EULA.

Whilst real information about this case is hard to come by, it seems the real issue is the reproduction and distribution rights for the Recovery Media. From what we know they burnt 28,000 copies of Windows recovery discs with the intent of distributing them with refurbished PCs. By burning 28,000 disks it is clear this isn't for "personal usage", this is for business/gain; particularly as their stated intent was to distribute the disks with refurbished PCs.

As an OEM or Small Systems Builder, I get to purchase Windows licences at a discount on the basis that I provide certain services and to enable me to deliver these services MS grant me certain rights. One of these rights enables me to use MS branding in certain ways, another legally incorporate MS products into my own branded Recovery Media and to reproduce and distribute said media.

So I suspect because the guys didn't have either an agreement with Dell or Microsoft, they didn't have their permission to reproduce and distribute their IP and hence they effectively produced 28,000 counterfeit disks. As is the case with say grey import/counterfeit Levi's (made in the same factory and totally identical to the real thing) this is a trading standards issue and hence all MS or anyone has to do is to inform trading standards, who will then prosecute the case, calling on you as a witness. If you have observed markets where stall holders are selling counterfeit movie DVD's, it is Trading Standards people supported by the police who did the searches and initiated prosecutions.

0
3
Bronze badge

Re: Oh, come on

No you CANNOT.

lets say for example you have a machine with win 7 that is fully licensed.

Then as PART OF A DISCOUNTED UPGRADE you get a win 10 license from that win 7

Then your company dumps/sells the OLD win7 machines to a recycler.

Then that re-cycler RE ENABLES the win 7 license.

YOU ARE in breach of the license terms, technically speaking when you upgrade software you are NOT supposed to sell the old version to someone else.

0
1

Re: @pip25 ... Oh, come on

Prosecutors have great discretion as to what charges the file for any particular crime. So one offender might get say a year in jail for a given crime, and another identical crime might be charged differently, and a lengthy sentence, in some cases, be mandatory.

As 90% of people that go to trial in US Federal courts are found guilty, one is almost forced to plead to something to avoid at least some prison time, even if not guilty. The government also has unlimited resources while defendants have to pay for an attorney with real money. Oh yeah, "if you can't afford an attorney, one will be provided for you." You get exactly what you pay for.

0
0
Silver badge

"Arguing that a copy of Windows is essentially useless without a product key, and that all of the recycled machines had their own valid keys.."

Some might argue a copy of windows is essentially useless even with a product key.

But on a serious note, i have burned copies of Windows 7 OEM DVDs for people before when i have fixed their PCs that only came with a 'recovery partition' to reinstall the OS. Which is useless if the hard drive is knackard. Without the COA and product key the disc is essentially a coaster.

64
2

This post has been deleted by its author

If you use standard OEM Windows media, rather than the vendor-supplied media, you will need to extract the product key from either the BIOS or previous install, so the software can be activated.

Alternatively looking at the Dell PC I am typing this on one can just read the key from the COA sticker on the case. The only Dell PC's that I have seen without a COA are either really really old or a server.

2
0

@jabuzz

The new Dell PCs coming in with Windows 7 installed (but are actually licensed for Windows 10, yuck!), don't have COA stickers anymore. They do have the Windows 7 key in the BIOS so if you use a Dell Windows 7 CD, it will install and auto-activate. But, there is no sticker anymore.

3
0
Gold badge

Ubuntu

Yup, should have been putting Ubuntu on them instead. Ran into this at years back... highers up are like "Sure you can put windows back on these machines", and we pointed out the license prohibited it (the enterprise agreement invalidated the individual licenses, and it was prohibited for us to automate the reinstall either way making it far too labor intensive at the volumes we were dealing with.) We ended up shipping them blank.

10
13
Anonymous Coward

Re: Ubuntu

I had the opposite when tasked to create a windows 8.1 unattended install for around 1200 PCs / laptops / tablets. The higher ups insisted that we needed to buy new licences for each device, the devices came with OEM licences, all Lenovo.

It took me a good few weeks but managed to get email confirmation from M$ confirming that so long as the imaged version was the identical OS version, including language, there will be no issue with licencing, the OEM licence stood.

12
0
Anonymous Coward

Linux Mint is free

Avoid Microsoft.

34
13
Silver badge

Re: Linux Mint is free

It makes no difference unless you build your own computer or purchase it from a handful of places that sell bootable computers without the Microsoft tax. Replacing Windows with Linux is still paying for Windows.

20
4
Silver badge
Linux

Re: Linux Mint is free

"Replacing Windows with Linux is still paying for Windows"

apparently NOT in this case, as including a 'recovery disk' was apparently a license violation. That sort of implies that the license key is no longer valid for the "junk" computer. But rather than just ship a machine that has no recovery disk, it would have been better (from a legal standpoint, especially) to put Linux on it and let people re-install windows later [using the key that's printed on the label] if they really wanted to.

So there ya go.

15
3
Silver badge

Re: Linux Mint is free

Linux Mint is free

Avoid Microsoft.

Every summer I install the latest version of Mint on an old laptop to see if its consumer ready yet. I'm not saying it isn't fast. I'm not saying it isn't stable. And I'm not saying it isn't good. But it isn't a consumer ready Windows replacement.

My plumber wouldn't be able to use it if I took away his Win 7 lappy and handed it back to him with Mint installed - I'd be taking support calls from him for the next 4+ years.

We find technology is usually simple and straightforward, but for the non-techies out there, it isn't. It's complicated, confusing, and difficult. And that's just email.

13
14
Silver badge

Re: t isn't a consumer ready Windows replacement.

I'd argue that for people used to windows XP, Vista and 7, that Windows 10 isn't consumer ready unless it's only for web browsing and store apps, in which case Android is better / cheaper.

Win 10 for traditional applications:

"It's complicated, confusing, and difficult."

I'm finding supporting users on Linux Mint + Mate desktop, properly setup, is less bothersome than Win7. Mostly I don't see them now.

18
3
Silver badge

Re: Linux Mint is free

As an experiment, while I was recovering his disk after Windows borked the MBR, I stuck a live disk of Mint on a USB drive in my Father's PC

He's not a techie, but was perfectly capable of finding Firefox, browsing the sites he wanted to go to, found the office suite labeled as such in the applications menu and wrote up a document there and then.

He then got his drive back again and hasn't touched Linux since, but I'm pretty sure he would be fine.

Most PC users, on any OS these days need the browser, email, an office suite, and maybe one or two applications suited to whatever their job is. As long as they know how to do those, day to day issues will be minimal.

I've found that most people are capable enough to look for the settings menu when they want to change a setting. It might be called something different, and in a different place, but most people know what they are looking for, and will recognise it when they do.

There are some users who would not be ok dealing with the change, but in my experience, these are the people who also struggle with Windows too, it's not like things have stayed exactly the same on the UI front from XP to Vista, 7, 8, 10...

Many people might say that Windows isn't exactly consumer ready yet either, I mean why is there still a control panel and a settings screen in Windows 10? Why are some things in one, and not the other, and vice versa?

Mint for example does have all its settings in one place. One could say from this that mint > Win 10 on being consumer ready o_O

It's not complicated, confusing and difficult. It's just different and has less exposure to the average person off the street.

23
2

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018