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Russian teacher found guilty of Windows piracy in retrial

Evan Blass
05.07.07
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You may have thought that you saw last of Alexander Ponosov when Russian courts dropped those piracy charges against the headmaster / schoolteacher accused of purchasing PCs pre-loaded with illegal copies of Windows, but in a rather unexpected turn of events, a new trial partially initiated by the accused himself has resulted in a guilty verdict and 5,000 rouble ($194) fine. You'll recall that Ponosov claimed to be unaware that the sub-contractor-provided machines ran pirated software when he bought them -- a fact that prompted Mikael Gorbachev to unsuccessfully seek Bill Gates' intervention on the defendant's behalf -- and was so outraged at the charges that he joined prosecutors in filing an appeal after the case was dropped, in order to have his innocence put on record. Well that may not have been the best idea, with the court charging Ponosov (who plans to appeal) the equivalent of half-a-month's salary for what it said was a 266,000 rouble loss incurred by Microsoft -- which made sure to note that its "interest is not in prosecuting schools or teachers, it is in helping students develop the technology skills they need in the 21st century." Redmond's response to the verdict went on to clarify that "Mr. Ponosov's case was initiated by Russian authorities under Russian law. Microsoft neither initiated nor has any plans to bring any action against Mr. Ponosov." Well played, guys: make the Russians look like the bad guys here, even though it seems that the only people in the whole country who even cared about prosecuting this guy were a few activists hoping to get in good with the World Trade Organization.

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