back to article DIY device tinkerer iFixit weighs in on 15-month jail term for PC recycler

DIY repair outfit iFixit has weighed in on the fate of PC reseller Eric Lundgren, who is due to spend up to 15 months in the clink following copyright infringement charges. iFixit is no stranger to repair and recycling legal issues, being a vocal supporter of Right to Repair legislation. "We tried to broker a peace before …

  1. djstardust

    Just stop buying their shit

    And Apple's too.

    They'll get the message eventualy.

    Expensive tech should come with a minimum 5 year warranty too IMO

    1. Cowboy Bob

      Re: Just stop buying their shit

      The sale of goods act gives you an implicit 6 year warranty already on electronic goods here in the UK. Manufacturers can say what they like, but statutory rights always trump anything in any EULA

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just stop buying their shit

        >The sale of goods act

        This is no more, it has been replaced by Consumer Rights Act 2015.

        This is what MSE has to say on it for those that are unfamiliar with what has changed:

        https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/shopping/consumer-rights-refunds-exchange

        1. morgz84

          Re: Just stop buying their shit

          Not replaced, in addition to.

      2. BRYN

        Re: Just stop buying their shit

        No it doesnt.

      3. morgz84

        Re: Just stop buying their shit

        Not quite. In theory, you have legal recourse for up to six years before it becomes statute barred. After six months, the onus of proof that the goods are not of sufficient quality switches to the consumer.

    2. James 51 Silver badge

      Re: Just stop buying their shit

      That's what I did when I upgraded to ryzen. Bought new motherboard, RAM and 2400G, reused case, ssd, mouse, keyboard and monitor and then stuck ubuntu on it. But the vast majority of users aren't going to do that.

      1. 5p0ng3b0b
        Facepalm

        Re: Just stop buying their shit

        Dual boot with elementary os (ubuntu) or manjaro (arch) using rEFInd. Doesn't take long before you forget why and when you last booted into windows... until you boot into windows. Do I want to waste another hour or two waiting for that 4gb-ish borked update loop to fail again?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Just stop buying their shit

      This has nothing to do with the hardware, he was using counterfeit Windows recovery disks

      1. Zippy's Sausage Factory

        Re: Just stop buying their shit

        @Anonymous Coward

        This has nothing to do with the hardware, he was using counterfeit Windows recovery disks

        I thought he was using them with the original product keys though?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Just stop buying their shit

          He appeared to be going to extreme lengths to produce authentic looking counterfit disks (setting up a manufacturing line in line in China) - my impression was he was aiming to profit by selling disks to refurbishers at a lower cost than the $25 per machine that Microsoft currently charge.

        2. d3vy Silver badge

          Re: Just stop buying their shit

          "I thought he was using them with the original product keys though"

          Doesn't matter, you put a company logo on something it's counterfeit.

          I can't go and buy brake pads in China slap a Mercedes logo on them and sell them (or Ben give them away) what makes it different because it's software/MS

        3. JassMan Silver badge

          Re: Just stop buying their shit

          As I understood the original arguments, he was neithere selling the software nor was it counterfeit. He had downloaded the software from Microsoft themselves and had only facilitated the counterfeiting of the labels and packaging.

          "Unlike most e-recyclers, Mr Lundgren sought out counterfeit software which he disguised as legitimate and sold to other refurbishers. This counterfeit software exposes people who purchase recycled PCs to malware and other forms of cybercrime, which puts their security at risk and ultimately hurts the market for recycled products."

          Of course the software exposes users to malware and cybercrime, it's f**king Windows.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Just stop buying their shit

            Cue the "Linux is bullet proof and has never had to be patched in 50 years" crowd

        4. Calgary IT Guy
          FAIL

          Re: Just stop buying their shit

          The issue was that he had original looking recovery disks made in China. Silkscreened labels, etc. That is the counterfit claim. If he just wrote "Windows recovery" on a sharpie, there would have been no issue.

      2. Robert Heffernan

        Re: Just stop buying their shit

        He downloaded legitimate ISO images of installation media and had them manufactured into discs to give away with recycled machines to use with the machines legitimate OEM keys for those less fortunate people who can't afford an internet connection.

        Microsoft are bloody scumbags on this one

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: Just stop buying their shit

          He however *resold* the discs to other resellers to use.

          Even if that was just to defray his costs, the fact he *sold* them makes him a purveyor of fake goods (they were *not* printed by/for Microsoft, which makes them fake), even if they came off the official ISOs. The law is very clear.

          And yes, Microsoft didn't bring this lawsuit, the feds did. Microsoft was just tapped as witness for the prosecution.

          If he and his fellow resellers had clubbed together with costs and then had them printed, the whole thing would've been a bit more of a grey area, although the feds would've still made a case for copyright infringement and passing off.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Just stop buying their shit

            If he and his fellow resellers had clubbed together with costs and then had them printed, the whole thing would've been a bit more of a grey area, although the feds would've still made a case for copyright infringement and passing off.

            the only thing that breached copyright was the use of the logos.... if they had just used a plain disk without Microsoft of the DELL logo there would be nothing to answer in court.

        2. d3vy Silver badge

          Re: Just stop buying their shit

          "Microsoft are bloody scumbags on this one"

          Except:

          1. Microsoft didn't bring about the case it was US customs.

          2. There was nothing stopping him putting the iso on the pc and providing instructions for burning the disk (he could even supply a blank disk if required)

          3. He could have provided an actual restore disk for the machine rather than a generic windows CD.

          4. MS provide several FREE ways for resellers to get restore media to the end user Taht he could have used.

          What he did was order legitimate LOOKING disks from China to make his operation look more professional.. no other industry/company would allow you to brand your products with their logo and get away with it, why is this different?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Just stop buying their shit

            What he did was order legitimate LOOKING disks from China to make his operation look more professional.. no other industry/company would allow you to brand your products with their logo and get away with it, why is this different?

            its different because all he did was use a couple of logos which is just a civil matter for Microsoft to chase for unauthorised use. They claimed each disk deprived them of a sale of a windows licence, even though the computers already had a licence.

            he should not have used the respective logos...

            1. d3vy Silver badge

              Re: Just stop buying their shit

              "its different because all he did was use a couple of logos which is just a civil matter for Microsoft to chase for unauthorised use. They claimed each disk deprived them of a sale of a windows licence, even though the computers already had a licence"

              Nope, If you're not going to read the bloody articles I'm not going to engage with you.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Just stop buying their shit

            No other industry/company would allow manufacturers and vendors to ship defective by design products for decades and get away with it, why are things different when there's a computer in the picture?

            Does "Product Liability" mean anything these days?

      3. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ
        Pirate

        Re: Just stop buying their shit

        This has nothing to do with the hardware, he was using counterfeit Windows recovery disks,

        This has nothing to do with counterfeit recovery disks. its about copyright infringement on a logo.

        The software on the disks was and still is freely available to download at no cost. the problem was that he made the disks look like the originals that would have been distributed with the hardware. It had the Microsoft and Dell logos on them.

        If he just produced a plain disk with restore disk in a permanent marker on it then there would have been nothing to answer to in court.

        Microsoft outright lied in court and made out that it was counterfeit software and gave it a value of the software to that of a windows licence instead of a value of £0 for a freely available download. They said that a restore disk and a software licence is the same thing.

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Dominion

    Pedant Alert!

    " impossible-to-repair rating of 0 out of 10."

    Shurely that should be possible-to-repair rating ?

    1. Steve Button

      Re: Pedant Alert!

      Well no. It's a bit like saying someone got a shit score of 0 out of 10

      It's not a score of 0 of of 10, which is shit.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pedant Alert!

        It's not a double negative is it not. The answer is yes. I can also prove that black is white though best to avoid Zebra crossings.

    2. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Pedant Alert!

      No, the wording is correct:

      "a 'this is impossible to repair' rating of 0 out of 10" becomes "impossible-to-repair rating of 0 out of 10", which is grammatically correct. Sorry.

      Yours, the local grammar nazi.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Pedant Alert!

        > Yours, the local grammar nazi.

        Man, I'm tired of hearing from the alt-write...

      2. el kabong Silver badge

        Nazi, your grammar "needs fixed"

        On the "impossible-to-repair" scale it gets a 0 out of 10

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: Nazi, your grammar "needs fixed"

          uh oh, is this a job for an Oxford comma?

          1. GIRZiM

            Re: a job for an Oxford comma?

            If you find yourself in need of a so-called ‘Oxford comma’ it’s because you need to rephrase your poorly constructed sentence properly in the first place, not bodge it up with some half-arsed attempt to polish a turd.

            In fact, here’s a clue: S …E …MI … CO … LON!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The issues was never reselling the discs

    it was flogging them as genuine MS ones.

    The amount he was shifting he should been able to have become a MAR and do it all legit.

    https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/refurbishedpcs

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: The issues was never reselling the discs

      Exactly.

      I notice that iFixit also neglected to mention that you can punch in your Windows license number and download the ISO directly from Microsoft.

      The issue was his copying the DVDs and plastering Microsoft, Windows and AFAIK Dell logos on them.

      This case has absolutely nothing to do with recycling. It seems like iFixit is using any excuse to push their agenda.

      What does somebody infringing IP rights have to do with the recyclability of Microsoft products?

      I agree with iFixit, in general, about the state of modern products and their lack of reparability. I can remember in my childhood that we would grab a soldering iron and swap out defective components and that the family TV lasted over 20 years. Heck, my mother received a mixer when she married, it was still working 40 years later, and she used it regularly. The replacement only lasted about 3 years...

      But I think they are doing themselves a disservice in this case by blurring the facts to fit their own agenda.

      1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Re: The issues was never reselling the discs

        well said - have an upvote.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The issues was never reselling the discs

        " I can remember in my childhood that we would grab a soldering iron and swap out defective components"

        A soldering iron? You were lucky. We had to swap out defective components with a piece of hot coal plucked from fire and our TV is still going strong after half a century.

        1. d3vy Silver badge

          Re: The issues was never reselling the discs

          Coal?

          You don't know you're born. We had to run two sticks together on the PCB and hope that the solder gave out before our fingers!

          1. katrinab Silver badge

            Re: The issues was never reselling the discs

            Well we didn't have PCBs, we had a warehouse full of valves that had to be manually wired up for each program.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The issues was never reselling the discs

            @AC ...You were lucky...

            @d3vy ...You don't know you're born...

            The ghost of Marty Feldman will be after you for attempted misappropriation of wit from "The Four Yorkshire Men" sketch

            1. Androgynous Cow Herd

              Re: The issues was never reselling the discs

              Four Yorkshireman? You were lucky. The best we could do were two guys from South Jersey and a dyspeptic chihuahua

              1. GIRZiM
                Pint

                Re: two guys from South Jersey and a dyspeptic chihuahua

                A meta Four Yorkshiremen spin?

                Now that's genius!

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The issues was never reselling the discs

            You don't know you're born. We had to run two sticks together on the PCB and hope that the solder gave out before our fingers!

            YOU HAD SOLDER.....

            YOU DONT KNOW YOU WERE BORN.....

            we had to go down a tin mine and a lead mine.... then using a bit of broken glass focused it on the ore to extract the metal,,, and we had to use tree sap as flux !!!!

          4. Steven 1

            Re: The issues was never reselling the discs

            Sticks?

            You don't know you're born. We had to use the bottoms of broken milk bottles to focus the sun's rays to melt the solder!

      3. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: The issues was never reselling the discs

        What rights are infringed? The OEM makes the restore tools available to everyone for free. You download them and burn them onto DVD. If you have a product key and are using it with the right OEM computer they work, if you don't they don't.

        This case has absolutely nothing to do with recycling. It seems like iFixit is using any excuse to push their agenda.

        You refurbish a computer or get yours ready for sale - do you leave the data on there or reset to a clean install?

        You change the hard drive - you need a clean install.

        This is about your right to do stuff with your hardware, that includes reuse and second hand. There was no piracy. Nobody lost out.

        And MS, the disingenuous bastards, didn't bring the case but were called as a witness and told a pack of lies. The value of the freely available software is in the licence and the OEM computer, not the downloading of it and burning it onto DVD.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: The issues was never reselling the discs

          @Dan 55

          What rights are infringed? The OEM makes the restore tools available to everyone for free. You download them and burn them onto DVD. If you have a product key and are using it with the right OEM computer they work, if you don't they don't.

          Not quite. Yes, individuals can download and burn their own DVD. No problem.

          A "company" downloads it, burns it onto a DVD and puts labels on the DVD that make it look like an official Microsoft / Dell DVD and then sells it. Bad. They are infringing MS intellectual property and, under US law, Microsoft have to take action, if they know about it, or they lose the IP.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: The issues was never reselling the discs

            So what we have here is a case of someone putting the word Microsoft Windows or Dell on a DVD in the same font style that Microsoft or Dell use, is that right? And that's why this man should go to jail for 15 months.

            Are you really arguing that if one man refurbishing computers and supplying the restore DVD with it were not put away then MS would lose their IP worldwide? MS didn't even take action themselves against the man, they were just called as a witness. That's how scared of losing their IP they were.

            1. big_D Silver badge

              Re: The issues was never reselling the discs

              He was having the DVDs professionally printed, with proper MS, Windows and Dell logos and selling them to other refurbishers. That is counterfeit.

              Whether it is perfume, a pair of sneakers or a software DVD doesn't matter, it is illegal and he was profiting from it.

              The law is clear and Microsoft's hands are tied in such a case, the law is very specific.

              1. Dan 55 Silver badge

                Re: The issues was never reselling the discs

                The DVDs didn't work without the computer. What he was guilty of at most was selling Nike shoeboxes without the shoes inside.

                The law is clear and Microsoft's hands are tied in such a case, the law is very specific.

                No, the judge wasn't obliged to take heed of MS' $700,000 damages figure used to determine the severity of the crime and the sentence. For a start, the damage to MS and the OEMs was $0. Another witness argued as such.

                How Microsoft helped imprison a man for ‘counterfeiting’ software it gives away for free

                In fact an expert witness, Glenn Weadock, who had previously been involved in a 2001 government antitrust case against Microsoft, appeared in court to argue these very points.

                Weadock was asked what the value of the discs is without a license or COA. “Zero or near zero,” he said. The value is a “convenience factor,” he said, in that someone can use a pre-made disc instead of burning their own or having the manufacturer provide it.

            2. d3vy Silver badge

              Re: The issues was never reselling the discs

              "Are you really arguing that if one man refurbishing computers and supplying the restore DVD with it were not put away then MS would lose their IP worldwide?"

              Wasn't the shipment (one of many) a batch of around 10k disks?

              Hardly a guy fixing up a few pics for ebay...

        2. d3vy Silver badge

          Re: The issues was never reselling the discs

          @dan55

          No of course you would do a fresh install you can even provide recovery media.

          Whatyou can't do is write "Microsoft Recovery disk" on it and use their logos....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Two sides

    After reading the email evidence (https://blogs.microsoft.com/on-the-issues/2018/04/27/the-facts-about-a-recent-counterfeiting-case-brought-by-the-u-s-government/) I have no sympathy for Eric. I'm not sure why iFixit would want to support this guy who decieved the refurbishing community.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Two sides

      It seems utterly wrong for Kyle Wiens, CEO, to say "I've never seen tactics like those used by Microsoft in this case" when it wasn't a Microsoft driven prosecution, wasn't their case.

      There is plenty of legitimate criticism to level at Microsoft without making things up.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Two sides

        MS were called as a witness. Their testimony was economical with the truth.

    2. Rob D.

      Re: Two sides

      Seeing a neutral breakdown of the legal and moral issues would be interesting although I wouldn't necessarily assume that a Microsoft blog post on the issue is an unbiassed presentation of all the necessary material.

      IANAL, with which caveat, Lundgren produced a bunch of discs containing accurately reproduced, freely downloadable, publicly available content but faked the look of the discs trying to pass them off as genuine re-installation discs. Microsoft originally contended that they had suffered damage related to each being worth the price of a full copy of Windows ($8.3m). This was revised later to be the cost of the Windows license supplied to official refurb shops ($700K).

      The moral part of the argument is that Lundgren hadn't tried or pretended to supply the Windows license which is where the value actually lies. What he'd done was provide a convenient packaging of freely available content that was a) not an authorised copying and b) faked to look like a Dell re-install disc. But he appears to have been convicted of damaging Microsoft through the sale of counterfeit software even though the software has no value and it was a genuine (free) copy.

      Moral or not, he's probably only got himself to blame for landing in hot water - he produced the discs to support a refurb business, and produced faked content that looked like an official disc. Whether the punishment fits the crime, or whether Microsoft are interested less in justice and more in protecting their market revenue, are all largely irrelevant when you paint the target on your own forehead.

      1. d3vy Silver badge

        Re: Two sides

        "But he appears to have been convicted of damaging Microsoft through the sale of counterfeit software even though the software has no value and it was a genuine (free) copy."

        Yes and no... It's free to the end user but resellers are charged $25 for the media, there's no dispute that the machines were licenced the issue is he sold/gave away disks that had other companies logos on which he was not licenced to use.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Two sides

          It's free to the end user but resellers are charged $25 for the media

          not quite.... so i will correct it..

          It's free to the end user but resellers are charged $25 for the media and software licence key for each machine they make and sell.

  5. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
    Facepalm

    "This counterfeit software exposes people who purchase recycled PCs to malware and other forms of cybercrime"

    So it was identical to the genuine Microsoft product then?

  6. wolfetone Silver badge

    "This counterfeit software exposes people who purchase recycled PCs to malware and other forms of cybercrime, which puts their security at risk and ultimately hurts the market for recycled products."

    I'll think you find it's your shoddy code and software design that exposes people to malware and other cybercrime. Arsehole.

    1. cosmogoblin

      Yes, installing an operating system at all exposes your PC to malware and other forms of cybercrime. Although of course, some operating systems are worse than others Microsoft naming no names.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    deplorable

    that they use this case for self-promotion :/

    And don't tell me it's not the case, what EXACTLY did they do to help this guy?

  8. Gordon Pryra

    The chances are that Eric Lundgren just sent an official CD to the manufacturers in China and they made a perfect copy and sent them back.

    When I get stuff produced in China, often the results are spectacular, to the point where I don't even need to tell them everything I require. I am not talking about CD's but the points the same. They replicate, produce and send back to me in a couple of days what would take a local company weeks and money and results would be crap.

    So saying Lundgren was acting in some kind of nefarious manner is not fair unless you have access to the court transcripts and see that he actually intended to fool customers etc.

    iFixit have nothing to do with anything and unless they have some special legal powers granted them by the Government, I cant see how they could have brokered any peace.

    1. Lusty

      "So saying Lundgren was acting in some kind of nefarious manner is not fair unless you have access to the court transcripts and see that he actually intended to fool customers etc."

      We have (they're public) and he did.

      It's nice that you're contemplating this, but you don't need to because the professionals already have and the judge has told you the outcome. He was guilty as charged. There really isn't any debate at this point, just conjecture from people who have not bothered to read the case and evidence.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It's nice that you're contemplating this, but you don't need to because the professionals already have and the judge has told you the outcome.

        except the court was lied to regarding the value of the disks which should have been $0 except for the $700,000 Microsoft stated.

        Its the amount that dictated his sentence. If the court was given the correct value of loss to Microsoft then he would not have seen the inside of a prison.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "except the court was lied to regarding the value of the disks which should have been $0 except for the $700,000 Microsoft stated."

          No, the Microsoft supplied value is correct. You just failed to read what was said. The disks cost $25 each as sold by Microsoft, that's not in dispute at all it's a publically visible price. Microsoft would have been lying if they'd said the value was $0 because it wasn't. I'm unsure why that's so hard for people to understand; the company selling them stated the price they sell them for.

          Yes, the exact same image is downloadable for free. That's not what the case was about though, the case is about counterfeit disks being passed off as the originals which retail for $25 for PC refurbishment. He's guilty and he's a dick for trying to come accross as a nice guy and philanthropist. He's not, he's a pirate and deserved to be put in prison for a large scale counterfeit operation which he was profiting from.

  9. d3vy Silver badge

    The case wasn't raised by MS though... The last article said it was US Govt (customs) that brought the case because the disks were branded as original restore disks with MS branding.

    The whole issue is he pressed disks claiming to be authentic rather than just having a generic "restore disk" label

  10. steviebuk Silver badge

    Prison is to harsh but...

    ....he did copy free cds, which is fine, but then printed Dell labels on the CDs so they looked like the originals. There was no need for that. And if he really did charge others for the CDs then he's fucked up there as well. Should of just given Linux away. Probably would of saved hassle and prison.

    Microsoft still dicks though. As the saying goes "Microsoft, that was a dick move".

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Prison is to harsh but...

      He charged 25 cents which is the cost of a blank DVD.

    2. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: Prison is to harsh but...

      Microsoft has made dick moves but appears not here as they were just a witness.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Prison is to harsh but...

        Unfortunately testimony was a pack of lies:

        How Microsoft helped imprison a man for ‘counterfeiting’ software it gives away for free

        What Microsoft alleged, when it became clear that the data on the discs was worth precisely nothing without a license key, as evidenced by its own free distribution thereof, was that the discs Lundgren was selling were intended to short-circuit its official refurbishment program.

        That’s the official registered refurbisher program where a company might buy old laptops, wipe them and contact Microsoft saying “Hey, give us 12 Windows 7 Home licenses,” which are then provided for a deep discount — $20-40 each, down from the full retail price of hundreds. It encourages reuse of perfectly good hardware and keeps costs down, both of which are solid goals.

        Every disc Lundgren sold to refurbishers, Microsoft argued, caused $20-40 (times .75, the profit ratio) of lost OS sales because it would be used in place of the official licensing process. A simplified version of this ($25 times 28,000 units) was the basis for the $700,000 figure used in part to determine the severity of his crime and sentence.

        There are several things wrong with this assertion:

        Lundgren was not necessarily selling these discs to refurbishers for use in refurbishing computers — the discs would be perfectly useful to any Dell owner who walked in and wanted a recovery disc for their own purposes. The government case rests on an assumption that was not demonstrated by any testimony or evidence.

        The discs are not what Microsoft charges for. As already established, the disc and the data on it are provided for free. Anyone could download a copy and make their own, including refurbishers. Microsoft charges for a license to activate the software on the disc. The discs themselves are just an easy way to move data around. There’s no reason why refurbishers would not buy discs from Lundgren and order licenses from Microsoft.

        Dell computers (and most computers from dealers) come with a Certificate of Authenticity with a corresponding Windows product key. So if intentions are to be considered, fundamentally these discs were intended for sale to and use by authorized, licensed users of the OS.

        Furthermore, since many computers come with COAs, if the refurbishers decide to skip getting a new license use a given computer’s COA, that is not the fault of Lundgren, and could easily be accomplished with the free software Microsoft itself provides.

        That process — using the COA instead of buying a new license — is not permitted by Microsoft and is murky copyright-wise. But in this case the defendants say it was admitted by U.S. prosecutors that the COA “belongs” to the hardware, not the first buyer. The alternative is that, for example, if I sold a computer to a friend with Windows installed, he would be required to buy a new copy of Windows to install over the first, which is absurd.

        Naturally no actual damage was actually done. The damage is entirely theoretical and incorrect at that. A copy of Windows cannot be sold because it is freely provided; only a license key can be sold, and those sales are what Microsoft alleges were affected — but Lundgren neither had nor sold any license keys.

        1. Speltier

          Re: Prison is too harsh but...

          Yes, follow the money. While MS did not bring the suit, the valuation seems based on the revenue from the official MS refurbisher program. MS even provides special COA tags for authorized refurbisher PCs (I have one).

          You can resurrect old machines if one has an original COA (indeed, if the mobo fries out and is replaced you will need to resurrect the license even if the installation otherwise works fine). I suspect major processors of old PCs simply don't want to deal with peeling off COA stickers and keeping track of them as they fling parts around to make one running machine from 2 or 3 carcasses, it is cheaper to fork over 20-40 bucks/machine and avoid any issues. MS likes this revenue stream, because essentially they have already sold a license for a machine, now they squeeze more revenue from that old machine. Wow, have to love it.

          MS croc tears for that guy getting chewed up by the gears of corporate profit, but branding the disks with unauthorized logos was a major error. The 700K value was probably less than what his lawyers said it would cost to fight on to cut the inflated value down, so he capitulated.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Prison is too harsh but...

            But was he installing the same software as the COA?

            We have many machines with "pro" stickers on them supplied by DELL but we upgraded to Ultimate, so that's what we use.

            If I sold one of the machines it would not have the Ultimarte licence key as we have a licensing server.

            So where does it say he wasnt putting "Enterprise" disks on "home" OEM pc's?

            Also I doubt even the largest refurbisher needs 10,000 disks in the 5 year cycle it takes for the OS to be defunkt?

            Were the disks printed with Win 7, 8 or 10?

            All this is relevant

        2. Michael Habel Silver badge

          Re: Prison is to harsh but...

          How Microsoft helped imprison a man for ‘counterfeiting’ software it gives away for free

          Ahhhh but, it doesn't give it away for free now does it? That would presuppose that MicroSoft actaully had OEM Copies on its Website. When in reality it just hosts the Retail Copy, that will never accept a Dell, Lenovo, etc.. Licence Key, as the OEM Discs have a few more *.dat, and .xmrl (IIRC)*, Files on them that are used to decide if the BIOS has the correct SLP version or not.

          Having bought a used Dell I'm at a loss as to where to go on Dells Website to get so much as a download, much less be able to request a Recovery Disc of Win7 Prof, that came with it. Instead of the Windows X, I got it with. Drivers? Yeah those were simple enough to get a hold of. I had to go to Torrentbay and dig up some related Dell Recovery Disk just so as to pull those needed Files away, and deposit them into a "clean" MicroSoft Retail -> OEM Image.

          So please tell me all about where I can get a Second-hand Dell Recovery OS again?

          *Yes its a tad more complicated then just that, even if that IS about 90% of it.

    3. Lusty

      Re: Prison is to harsh but...

      "....he did copy free cds"

      No, he copied CDs which are sold for $25 each by Microsoft. He did this by downloading the free image and having thousands of CDs created and printed to look like those $25 CDs and then selling them for profit.

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Prison is to harsh but...

        No, learn to read. The "$25 each" CDs come with brand new OEM licenses. These did not.

  11. teknopaul Silver badge

    How about this for an idea. Anyone that caught trying to sell hardware of software with built-in obscolescence get built-in shorter term for copyright.

    Copyright is to protect authors so they _can_ sell their work. If they intend to not sell their works to try to force you to buy their new works then obsolete works should be automatically taken out of copyright.

    Something similar is true of trademarks, if you dont activily show you need them you loose them.

  12. Snowy Silver badge
    Coat

    Disc worthlless?

    Surely the disc where worth nothing without a valid OEM CD key?

  13. Nimby
    Boffin

    Copyright or Trademark?

    I think it would be interesting for an actual lawyer to weigh in here. To me there are three main questions.

    1. All that he did was have discs printed using the publicly available and free ISO. If a byte-to-byte comparison proves that it was legitimate software, FREE software, then to take the onus of having them printed, what law exactly is in violation to charge for a physical media representation of free software?

    2. Is this truly a violation of copyright law, is it actually a violation of trademark law for duplicating the label? Or both?

    3. If these discs had been provided for free, only directly with the PCs, and had used a simple generic label such as "Restore Disc", would any laws have been violated?

    1. Lusty

      Re: Copyright or Trademark?

      "I think it would be interesting for an actual lawyer to weigh in here."

      Lol they have done, so has an actual judge. Long story short HE WAS GUILTY. If you want the details, read the details in the many links provided, it really is pointless asking us to provide you the answers you have access to, and which have already been answered on this thread. You're clearly not open to the answers.

      Cheat sheet:

      -these disks are not free, they are $25 from MS

      -yes, the ISO is free to end users

      -No, this doesn't include the right to professionally make and print copies and sell them for profit

      -There is a risk that end users won't do a byte for byte compare, making this a security risk MS would be held accountable for

      -Red Hat will take your ass to the cleaners if you print their disks and sell them on eBay

      -Yes it's a violation of the law, hence the verdict by the judge

      -Yes giving them away is still illegal if you pretend they are official

      1. Nimby
        Thumb Down

        Re: Copyright or Trademark?

        "Lol they have done, so has an actual judge. Long story short HE WAS GUILTY. "

        The problem is that you give a short answer without looking at the actual long story. If you look into this case carefully, you find that he was not found guilty. He pled guilty. Which means that he admitted guilt of his own free will (as part of a deal) and therefore no actual legal process was involved in the determination of said guilt. As he is not a legal expert, I would not be willing to assume that his self-incrimination was technically accurate.

        Even his appeal was not to re-try the case to re-determine his guilt or innocence. His appear was only to shorten the terms of his sentencing. Which, again, does not actually judge guilt or innocence in any way. So there really is no official answer from any lawyer or judge as to whether he was truly guilty or not because Lundgren never forced the judicial system to decide this.

        The trafficking of counterfeit goods is clear to everyone, I think.

        The criminal copyright infringement however is much less clear. Yes, it involved software, which is copyrighted. But depending on the license (I would love to see a copy of) may have been allowed. And even if he violated the terms of the license, where does that fall legally speaking? Normally such violations only result in a whopping bill to compensate the offended IP holder.

        So legal details of this case remain in question. Which is why review by a legal expert would be interesting.

    2. 5p0ng3b0b

      Re: Copyright or Trademark?

      Free unless used for profit is normal for most software. These free downloads are subject to terms and conditions.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Right to repair, right to modify, right to resell

    These should be inalienable rights fore everyone who purchase a device: PC, electronic or household appliance.

  15. doublelayer Silver badge

    They are all wrong

    I've read a bit too much about the case and I now think everyone and everything about it has several wrong elements.

    Lundgren: What were you doing faking the disks to look like official microsoft or dell ones. I'm not saying leave them unlabeled, but it doesn't cost that much to change the label you put in the disk printer from "official dell/microsoft" to "windows restore disk for dell computers", and you could even get a free ad space for your business on it for people's support needs.

    Microsoft: What were you thinking when you made up a number for lost money, when you know full well that the disks themselves were free and the license keys were already present meaning that you don't lose money.

    Lundgren: If you're selling these at such a low price--essentially giving them away, why did you find it so necessary to have them have the labels on them? The recyclers are going to pay you the same amount, seeing as they're too lazy to burn their own copy. Surely you recognized that that would look sort of sketchy.

    Microsoft: Why did you feel that saying the cliche malware line would work? You know full well that they were identical copies. I'd have a lot of sympathy if you found someone faking disks but including a set of preinstalled malware or for that matter any unnoted software of any kind, but that's not what these were. I'd have sympathy if these were windows disks with pirated license keys on them. None of that was the case.

    Recyclers: Why did you buy these? Surely you know that they weren't official microsoft ones and also it doesn't cost much to write your own. I can't believe you didn't use the same suggestion I had earlier, to change the label to tell the users what was there and to refer them to you or someone who paid you, for support. Surely you could see that unofficial official install disks would be sort of sketchy?

    Microsoft: Given you have announced an interest in getting recycled computers in use and having people on windows 10, don't you think that convincing customs that there wasn't a real case, owing to the basically zero value of the disks, and discussing with the recyclers to help them end their problem (especially if you could get them installing windows 10) could be useful for both of you? Why is the not-going-to-court solution so unpleasing to so many people?

    IFixit: Can you see that this issue has nothing to do with the stuff you advocate? Microsoft and dell did not try to prevent people from using the machines, or even reinstalling windows on them. In fact, the data that they provided for free allowed people to erase and cleanly reinstall windows without buying anything or hopefully having to deal with any license management. Therefore, it was incredibly good of the companies given their usually terrible track record with repairs, as I would have expected such disks to be completely unavailable or to be well-hidden by the typical microsoft knowledge base web maze. No law or regulation or corporate policy prevented repairs in this case, and that's what we're going for. Go back to those laws that do exist and help us get rid of them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They are all wrong

      "I've read a bit too much about the case and I now think everyone and everything about it has several wrong elements."

      Could you perhaps help readers understand what the difference is, practically and legally, in this context between a manufacturer's restore disc, (as sometimes supplied, sometimes for an exorbitant cost, sometimes for a limited period) by a PC supplier, and a fresh install OS disc (as very rarely supplied with a new PC these days, and I know why), and the "restore" discs that led to this court case ?

      Could you help readers understand where a supplier's restore *partition* fits in this picture?

      It doesn't matter if the official answers make no sense, that just qualifies them to be filed in the same place as Devops articles.

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        Re: They are all wrong

        The OEM restore partition is usually nuked along with everything else on a machine used in a corporate enviroment.

        My view is that the machines being refurbished were EOL from a single corporate entity & needed to be loaded with the original system image as supplied by the OEM.

        On delivery I usually keep a selection of the supplied OEM restore media in corporate enviroments from each make\model of ordered machines, just on the off-chance that the OEM helldesk insists that it has their factory supplied image on it (Fortunately never had to, but its been close on occasion) when logging hardware support calls.

        I might if time permits even grab a copy of a whole machine complete with that system restore partition as an image.

        So our guy gets a ISO to use with the original COA, as a nice gesture gets it burned & printed up to sell\provide with machines, makes the error of using copyrighted trademarks. The shipment is nabbed by customs & bring in Microsoft etc etc that's the gist of it as I see understand it. I'm a little lost as to why he needs so many however.

        He would have been far better off creating a standard image to deploy to each of his machines types with one of several free cloning tools then providing the image & tool on a separate disc (Taking into account any T&C restrictions on those software tools). https://www.techrepublic.com/blog/five-apps/five-free-and-reliable-cloning-tools/

        Ultimately & unfortunately no good deed goes unpunished.

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: They are all wrong

      >Microsoft and dell did not try to prevent people from using the machines, or even reinstalling windows on them....

      I'd take that with a pinch of salt until proved otherwise. I've got an HP laptop that's lacks a genuine copy of Windows not because it doesn't have one -- it comes with one -- but because a reinstall failed to register the copy of Windows. Microsoft is no help. As for 'getting people onto Windows 10' they are not interested in supporting hardware that's over about 4 years old. Overall, I'm led to the conclusion that they're not interested in recycling.

      Fortunately the computer is normally used to run Linux. Faster to boot up, easier to work with....the only reason for keeping it dual boot is that I've paid for that copy of Windows (dammit!) so I'm getting my money's worth one way or another.

  16. martinusher Silver badge

    Microsoft (re)invents FUD

    >"This counterfeit software exposes people who purchase recycled PCs to malware and other forms of cybercrime"

    I wonder if they'll patent it as well?

  17. AZump

    What a bunch of idiots!

    This case had NOTHING to do with repair. It had EVERYTHING to do with PASSING DUPLICATED DISKS AS GENUINE. It's that GENUINE bit that got him sentenced. Maybe if he hand labeled the disks he wouldn't be in jail.

    Convict could have installed one of many flavors of Linux, or, just imaged the hard drives. In most cases, Windows Update provides good enough drivers for standard hardware.

    ...but no, he made 28,000 copies of software and had the disks screen printed to resemble the GENUINE disks.

    No excuse for this, and only a fool would defend the blatant copyright infringement.

  18. NBCanuck

    Seems pretty clear to me

    So say you owned software that you distributed

    1) free - via download from your official site

    2) for $10 for a physical "branded" CD (to cover costs: manufacture/print/distribution)

    In both of the above cases you controlled the content available from your "official" sources. If someone does the download they know the source. If they purchase a "branded" Cd, they know the source.

    Now someone comes along and downloads from the official site, then burns off a few CDs and hands them out to friends. The CDs are not direct from the official source so there is now an element of risk as to what is on the CD. Maybe the person added a few "extras" (accidentally or intentionally), but they certainly cannot hold you accountable for any malware on the CD that is not on your official version.

    Microsoft has contacts and deals in place to ensure that the company making its CDs are only loading approved content. If buddy has someone in China make the CD then who knows what else may be on there. By putting official MS and Dell logos on it they make it look as though these are from a trustworthy source. Not sure people would feel as secure using "Bob's computer recovery CD".

    Not saying that MS has the best reputation, but I can see why they would not want this. As several people have stated: it was the decision to "brand" this and pass it off an an official copy that was the issue.

  19. Michael Habel Silver badge

    One wonders...

    How hard would it have been to turm out a smallish hand-crafted Linux that would presumably have been preinstalled on sais Lappie, befor being turned out, with all the approprite Links to said Revovery Software being just about the first thing the Customer sees when they turn on their new'sed Devices, for the first time?

    For all the good of selling these things to People who have never heard of the Internet, let alone Electricity, or Indoor Plumbing. You know to give that lot yet another voice to the din, of noises seems somewhat laughable to me. What would such People even need a MicroSoft OS for anyway?

    For the real customers this cat is likely selling to, People to tight to drop the cash for a Macbook Pro, or somesuch Lenovo equivalent. And, don't care for what passes in these sub 500€ jobs. (Cheap creaking plastic). This guy proobably fills a gap. With hardware that is no longer serviceable, but is pleanty enough serviceable for what it is. Before the like of Spector, and Meltdown happend that is. Seems almost resonable. And such People almost certinly as placing the order to get One of these little dohickies from his Website. Will almost certinly also have some kind of access to the Web. and, by Proxy to the Windows 7 ISO. (If thats even still leagly avalible?), or the much more vaunted Windows X. as to why anyone would care to install the lattter is anyones guess?

    Must be that DirectX XII you hear so much about lately. But, I think this too is a non-starter with most of these Lappies that this cat was flogging. And, yeah I can kinda see the argument about hidden malware . Sure he seems like the trusty sort... At first!

  20. Michael Habel Silver badge

    Dirty little secret

    Windows OEM Keys are just One simple Google search away. And each One of them as valid as the last. In fact if you have a slient Recovery Disc, that can determine if you are licenced or not.. SLP checking. then the chances are better than good you are likely using one of those published Master OEM keys, already reguardless of whatever your COA says. So yeah I tend to smile a bit when I see People cover these Keys up like they were Retail Keys or something.

  21. jaffy2

    It's for recycling

    It's not the manufacturers making the hardware difficult to repair, its to improve and cut costs in the recycling. Screws that hold cases together have to be manually disassembled. Macs and Surfaces are glued together so they melt in an oven and the components can be quickly separated for recycling.

    However, it does mean that nothing can be repaired (even by the manufacturer) without damaging the glued components. I'm guessing someone has done a calculation that this is cheaper.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Environmental cost of Microsoft's testimony

    I make that 25,000 * 17kg per desktop, comes out at about 425,000 kg of reused, not recycled devices, or about 4% of what Microsoft has managed in 12 years. Just to put Microsoft's heroic efforts into context.

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