Russian court dismisses piracy case as "trivial"

By EDRi · February 28, 2007

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

A Russian court has dismissed a penal case against a Russian teacher,
Alexander Ponosov, that bought computers for its school with unauthorized
Microsoft programs. The case become well-known when the former Soviet
president Gorbachev made a public appeal to Bill Gates, asking to intervene
in this case.

Ponosov was charged in a penal case by the Russian prosecutors of copyright
law violations, considering that it had caused damages of 7 600 euros. The
maximum sentence forseen by the Russian copyright law for this major
violation is five-year inprisonment. The Russian teacher (but also
principal) of a small town in the Ural Mountains was found to have bought 12
computers with unauthorized Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office.

The case become notorious in Russia and worldwide when Gorbachev’s
foundation made a open letter to Bill Gates asking him to intervene in this
case :
“A teacher, who has dedicated his life to the education of children and who
receives a modest salary that does not bear comparison with the salaries of
even regular staff in your company, is threatened with detention in Siberian
prison camps.”

The case was condemned also by Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, that
said : “To grab someone for buying a computer somewhere and start
threatening him with prison is complete nonsense, simply ridiculous. The law
recognizes the concept of someone who purchased the product in good faith.”

However, Microsoft refused to intervene in this case and stated that they
were sure that the Russian courts would “make a fair decision. Mr Ponosov’s
case is a criminal case and as such was initiated and investigated by the
public prosecutor’s office.”

The Vereshchaginsky District Court dismissed the case on 15 February
2007 due to the “insignificant degree of the damage” caused to Microsoft,
considering it as “trivial”. However, the state prosecutors said they might
appeal the decision since the term “insignificant degree of damage” does not
exist in the Russian Criminal Code. Also, Posonov wanted an appeal since he
was not found not guilty.

Russia is still listed by BSA in the top 10 of worst offending countries for
counterfeit software. The Russian authorities admit they have
a problem, but also put part of the blame on the large software vendors for
their restrictive and expensive licensing policies. The Russian deputy IT
minister, Dmitry Milovantsev, pointed to the Microsoft policy of not
allowing partners to sell computers without copies of Windows pre-installed
in Russia.

Court smack down for Russian piracy epic (15.02.2007)

Russia attacks Microsoft licensing costs (19.02.2007),1000000308,39285968,00.htm

Ponosov case to be reopened ? (26.02.2007)