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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