Microsoft: Jailed e-waste recycler is actually a counterfeiter who 'misled people'

Microsoft counters suggestions it helped jail a hero of the e-waste recycling industry.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

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Microsoft says jailed e-waste recycler Eric Lundgren went to great lengths to mislead people and has defended its role in the case.

The company has posted a blog to counter criticism over its role in a US government piracy case against Lundgren. An appeals court last week upheld Lundgren's 15-month jail sentence for producing counterfeit Windows recovery discs in China that were to be sold very cheaply with refurbished Dell PCs in the US.

By some accounts Lundgren was an innovative champion of the industry who helped save millions of tons of e-waste from landfills and had fallen victim to bad copyright law and corporate greed.

But, according to Microsoft, Lundgren "went to great lengths to mislead people" with the aim of profiting from pirated software and ultimately brought this on himself by failing to stop after being warned by US Customs that what he was doing was illegal.

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Microsoft says the customs warning gave Lundgren a chance to stop the activity before he was prosecuted.

It's also posted emails from Lundgren showing that he was attempting to make the software look like the real thing and instructing his business partner to "play dumb" when contacted by customs officials because there would be no way to visually distinguish between his copies and official Microsoft software.

During the hearing, Microsoft's expert witness explained that refurbishing firms have four legitimate options for reinstalling Windows on a machine that's been wiped.

These include using the original recovery disc that came with the computer, buying Windows from a retail store, purchasing a commercial license, or joining Microsoft's Registered Refurbisher Program (RRP) through which genuine Windows can be purchased for $25 per refurbished device.

The program and price was the basis for the claim that Lundgren had infringed Microsoft's products to the value of $700,000 since he had created 28,000 discs.

"Lundgren traveled extensively in China to set up a production line and designed counterfeit molds for Microsoft software to unlawfully manufacture counterfeit discs in significant volumes," Microsoft said.

"The counterfeit discs obtained by Lundgren were sold to refurbishers in the US for his personal profit and Lundgren and his codefendant both pleaded guilty to federal felony crimes."

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