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[dupe] Electronics-recycling innovator going to prison for trying extend computer lives (latimes.com)
68 points by thread_id 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 25 comments

Several recent discussions about this:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16924587 - 87 points/6 days ago/11 comments

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16921634 - 390 points/6 days ago/262 comments

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16940722 - 72 points/4 days ago/22 comments

Its quite clear to anyone with even an passing understanding of copyright and to anyone with even a basic moral compass that what this fraudster did was not illegal or right and he paid the price. A few techcrunch articles will not change this understanding.

This should be in the news and front page of every tech site.

Whenever I bring up the abusive legal behaviour of these big companies or how inherently flawed IP laws are, people either shrug it off or treat me as if I was wearing a tinfoil-hat.

Microsoft did not prosecute this or file suit - the US Justice Department did.

If you want Microsoft's take on this, they responded on their blog after the negative press:


Wow, that shines a new light on things. He's clearly defrauding customers by telling them that they're buying genuine Dell and Microsoft discs when they're not. I don't have any sympathy for him after reading that.

My thoughts exactly

I'm wondering if this is government overzealousness, not something Microsoft particularly cared about (aside from their lawyer perhaps carelessly chiming in). Government has a lot invested in this prosecution: they set up a sting, some prosecutor's reputation is probably on the line.

It very much reminds me of the Aarton Swartz case (whose life was destroyed by Carmen Ortiz).

Anyway, the article is light on details.



He went out of his way to create discs that would fool customers. He went out of his way to evade customs inspections, because he knew customs would seize the discs. He sold some of the discs for $3, some for $4, and some for $30-$40. He spent $80,000 creating the discs, and you don't do that for something that has no value.

I don't think he should be in prison for this, but it's clearly criminal behaviour.

I think the $80,000 was more a bad business decision than anything else. You can just buy these disks on eBay for $7 for Windows-7, $3 for Windows-XP.



In any case, jail time is the issue. If a large corporation was doing this, there would be a fine and no jail time.

Microsoft could have disavowed any claims. Said that the CDs were worth nothing. But they didn't, so they're just as much at fault as the prosecutors are.

Heh, maybe they still will once the press is bad enough.

Oh yeah, here we go:



Frank X. Shaw "Corporate Vice President, Communications, Microsoft" seems incompetent. This stance (not fully disavowing) is hurting his company much more than helping it. Aaron Swartz committed suicide. It's not a far stretch to think that this could happen here. Would that really help Microsoft?

Yes, that's lame bullshit from Microsoft.

But why did he print them with Dell labels?

Why did he spend tens of thousands of dollars creating discs that had no value?

The courts found that MS sell these discs for $25. They mulitplied that by the number of discs he sold. They did it that way, rather than using the price he sold them at, because he had done such a good job of forging them and the law then uses the value or the infringed, not infringing, item.

(I don't think he should be in prison for this).

Upon reflection, he made some mistakes.

But I really don't get why Microsoft didn't get that his business is about waste reduction, and cut him slack. And indeed, why Microsoft didn't just grant him a license for them. Or even, donate thousands of genuine restore disks to his business. It would have cost them virtually nothing. Almost certainly, less than they're paying PR flacks to explain it all away.

> Why did he spend tens of thousands of dollars creating discs that had no value?

I guess because he cares about encouraging reuse?

> The courts found that MS sell these discs for $25.

But according to the article, those $25 CDs come with licenses. And his didn't.

The court documents explain this.


> McGloin also testified about “certificate[s] of authenticity” (DE:145:45). A certificate of authenticity, or a “COA,” is a paper-based label that “contains security features, much like a bank note or [a] passport that is adhered to [stuck to] a device” (DE:145:45). During the conspiracy period, COAs typically contained a “product key” that could be used to activate the Microsoft OS software and verify the authenticity of the software license (DE:145:47). Importantly, however, an end user who purchased a computer with pre-loaded Microsoft OS software would not need the product key to activate the software (DE:145:47-48). This is because Microsoft allows devices sold by large OEMs like Dell to “bypass activation,”which means that an end user can start operating the computer without having to enter a product key (DE:145:48 (“COURT: So, if somebody bought a Dell laptop, and got it home, they plug it in and operate it? McGLOIN: Yes. COURT: And the end user does nothing else?McGLOIN: Correct. It gives the end user a nice experience, it works. THE COURT: It works.”)).

> What this creates, McGloin noted, is something called an “unconsumed” product key—i.e., a product key that goes unused, so to speak, because an end user never has had to enter it into the system, and hence Microsoft has not registered the use of that key as an “activation event” (DE:145:50-54). This “unconsumed” product key exists in “around 98 percent” of cases, McGloin testified, where the software was pre-installed by the OEM; there has not been a hardware failure; the end-user has not had to enter the product key; and Microsoft has not registered the use of that product key as an activation event (DE:145:50-54). In light of the vast number of unconsumed product keys,it is “very common,”McGloin explained, for computer refurbishers unlawfully to remove COAs with unconsumed product keys from one device and stick them on another device as away to grant a Microsoft software license impermissibly to an otherwise unlicensed device (DE:145:51). Indeed, there “is quite a large market for obtaining product keys from other devices and reselling them through a particular market, on Ebay or other means,” because they “[can] be used . . . in the refurbished market as a genuine license” (DE:145:81-82). And, as relevant here, these unconsumed product keys canbe used unlawfully to activate and use pirated versions of Microsoft OS Software like the Microsoft OS software contained on Lundgren’s counterfeit Reinstallation Disc

How does that relate to Lundgren's case? Did he somehow use unconsumed product keys? Or encourage computer refurbishers to switch COAs from one device to another?

I don't trust the court documents, in any case. Because it's based on opinions of biased experts.

The court documents explain Lundgren's points (these discs are free, they still require a licence) and the prosecution's points, and why the courts agreed with the prosecution.

Are you claiming that the court actually understood what he'd done? That's not what I get from the article.

Edit: See the top comments at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16921634 The court clearly didn't understand that he was providing restore disks, which would not work unless the user already had a license key.

Appalling. Anyone planning on buying Microsoft products or stick will hopefully pause and consider this case beforehand. Gsuite works nicely as an office replacement.

Since when do we send snake-oil salesmen to prison? There must be more to this story.

Selling a DVD for 0.25USD is hardly snake oil.

Perhaps you are confusing him with the official from Microsoft who testified that the discs were equivalent to the 25USD discs sold by Microsoft.

He wasn't selling the discs for $0.25. He was selling most of them for $3 or $4, and a small number of them for $30 and $40.

> I got in the way of their agenda," Lundgren said, "this profit model that's way more profitable than I could ever be.

Yeah, Microsoft "changed so much for the better".

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