Charges dropped in Russian Microsoft Piracy Case

Charges have been dropped against 40 year-old Alexander Ponosov, a Russian school principal who would have faced up to five years in prison after police seized 12 computers with more than US$10,000 in pirated Microsoft software from his school in the western Russian village of Vereschagino. Ponosov claims he bought the computers with the software preinstalled and has maintained his innocence. The charges were dropped Thursday for lack of evidence by a regional Russian court, according to Russian Information Agency Novosti, a state news agency. State prosecutors are quoted as saying they may appeal the decision within 10 days. Last week, former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev asked that Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates intervene in the matter saying that although Russian law allows for the prosecution of those who unknowingly use pirated software, the case against Ponosov was unwarranted. The former leader also made an emotional appeal, writing that Ponosov dedicated his life to teaching for a modest salary, which doesn't compare to those of Microsoft employees.

News source: InfoWorld

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I'm glad to see the charges dropped. I'm surprised that in Russia you can be charged for using pirated software if you do it unknowingly and it sounds like this was the case.

So, being that it was the Russian courts who dropped the charges, I wonder if Microsoft had anything to do with it?

Ponosov claims he bought the computers with the software preinstalled and has maintained his innocence. The charges were dropped Thursday for lack of evidence by a regional Russian court, according to Russian Information Agency Novosti, a state news agency.

This seems to imply that he was deliberately lying.

No, it's just an example of the "someone said you'd done something illegal, therefore you have done something illegal until either you prove you haven't or we find out there isn't any proof you have. Either way, you'll be arrested without evidence as we'll get around to that when we feel like it" attitude that is pervading "justice" systems throughout the world, not just Russia. For a company from "the land of the free" where you allegedly have a consitutional right of "innocent until proven guilty" to jump all over this guy, threaten to bankrupt him and ruin any chance of being able to do his job in the future (do Russian schools employ ex-jailbirds? Didn't think so) is disgusting.

chilliadus said,
He was not charged by Microsoft but by a Russian prosecutor.
Correct, MS did not drop any charges. A regional Russian court dropped the copyright violation charges. In fact, I don't think we've heard a peep out of Redmond about this case (not that we should've expected anything).

That's right. Microsoft Russia commented on the case after Gorbachev's letter to Bill Gates saying that it was a Russian prosecutor who brought the action against Ponosov, not Microsoft.

Is that $10,000 American money cost or the real cost of about $100 converted from the Russian Rubel equivelant? Of course, $10,000 sounds alot more for the press doesn't it

"If convicted, Ponosov would have faced a fine of up to 266,000 rubles (US$10,124) in addition to a possible prison term."
Not 400 USD, but real cost of $10,000 in rubles. It's a huge amount of money for Ponosov. His monthly salary is about $300.

To be honest haven't expected even for a second that Microsoft's CEO will drop the charges in this case. Well done Microsoft! Thumbs up for your reaction on this case! :angry:

They acted like he was a serial killer or murdered his family or something and none wanted to even talk with the guy. Just sent the troops (BSA or whatever) to do the dirty work for them. As if they donate stuff to poor just cos they have big harts. Come on, get real.. Expecting for something good to be done from Microsoft it's rather pointless. x)

Good news all around. I was looking forward to Microsoft dropping the charges more than anything, but I guess the end is all the same in this case.

#1 That would be a nice gesture and something I definitely could see happening. Hopefully Neowin keeps us informed.

#2 I do wonder where that connection comes from. Maybe it's mentioned in the first article and I missed it. Hmm...