Russian teacher fined in Microsoft piracy case

A court has fined Russian headmaster Alexander Ponosov 5,000 roubles (or $194.40) or half his monthly wage, for allowing pupils to use 12 computers with unlicensed copies of Microsoft Windows and Office software at his school. Ponosov, a headmaster in a remote school in the Perm region of the Ural mountains, did not pay the fine, saying he did not know the computers had fake licenses when they were delivered by a sub-contractor: "I consider myself not guilty and I will file an appeal. Someone is defending corporate interests, someone is interested in not finding me innocent as they think that if I am found innocent then others will think they can get away with breaching intellectual property rights."

Putin has described the case as "utter nonsense" and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev even asked Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates to intercede on the teacher's behalf. In February a local court threw out the case because it considered the losses to Microsoft to be insignificant but Ponosov appealed as he said he had not been found innocent. Prosecutors also appealed and the case was sent back to court. The judge found Ponosov had brought losses of 266,000 roubles on Microsoft.

The world's biggest software maker emphasized that it was the Russian authorities who started the proceedings: "Our interest is not in prosecuting schools or teachers, it is in helping students develop the technology skills they need in the 21st century. 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."

News source: Reuters

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15 Comments

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"5,000 roubles (or $194.40) or half his monthly wage"

Am I understanding this correctly... That works out to be only $4,665.60 per year??? Teachers around the area where I live make at least $30,000 per year. I use to go to a high school where the teachers made $60,000 up to $100,000 per year.

That is really messed up if it is true.

If you ask me Gates doesn't give a damn about this and sends BSA to do the dirty work and he pretends he cares about customers wrongfully accused of piracy. Screw this crap. The teacher should continue fighting in court about this, he is just a employee there, I honestly doubt he even bought the computers with the pirated software on them, someone should have done this, not him and they should go after the firm that sold them the computers with the pirated software on them, but nooo.. 'Mr. I Care' has other plans.

Gates should help the guy with his legal team, if only to say that "we care about our customers and will not wrongfully convict innocent people in the battle against piracy". GoodGreat PR.

Also, you cannot call Gates "sir" because he isnt a British citizen.

So will everyone that has installed pirated software they thought was legit also be fined?

I thought the whole idea of cutting piracy is to go after the pirateers that sell the apps.

I am sure you will find Sir Bill Gates paying the fine and also supplying the school with maybe 50 new computers, office software, windows software and a big loving hug.

Yeah that makes sense. Steal Windows then have Bill Gates fly down new computers with a hug.

I wonder what prize you have in mind for those who commit other crimes.

As the article said, Microsoft did not do this. They are not charging anyone with anything, it was Russia that is bringing the charges against him.

C_Guy said,
Yeah that makes sense. Steal Windows then have Bill Gates fly down new computers with a hug.

I wonder what prize you have in mind for those who commit other crimes.


It was a sarcastic comment

The School should not be charged, thats my oppinion because if they say that they were supplied the computers from someone else then im sure they have and microsoft should search out for the supplier and fine them. But again yeah maybe the School wanted to buy cheap computers and they didn't know it was pirate.

Someone caught using a pirate software is not enough evidence if that person says that i did not know it then this needs to be argued and needs more evidence seeking.

What's the bigger threat to Microsoft's business? Users of pirated software or the distributors? Its not rocket science who the real culprit is in this case, the people who supplied the pirated software to the school.

It like prostitution, as long as there is a demand there will be a supply. You can't have one without the other. As long as there is money for something, supplier will provide it. You go after both.

The sub-contractor excuse doesn't hold water in my book. Its too easy to point the finger and say "I didn't know." Well, too bad. If more cases like this are public then people will start demanding that their sub contractors prove the validity of what they are selling.

What's the bigger threat to Microsoft's business?
Note that this story has absolutely nothing to do with Microsoft or their business or their financial loss.

This story is about Russia. They want WTO. It's imperative for their existence. A case like this, one that gets major press - negative or otherwise - is the way Russia is trying to get the attention of the WTO in order to "prove" that they are cracking down on intellectual property rights violations.

As I have said before, Microsoft does not go after the individual. There is no upside to doing so. And Microsoft is only a small cog in the massive wheel that is pressuring Russia to get onboard against rampant piracy.