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Russian teacher wins software licensing case

Alexander Ponosov is celebrating after a court threw out claims that he deliberately used unlicensed Microsoft software in a Russian school
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

The case against a Russian schoolteacher who was accused of using unlicensed software in the classroom has been thrown out, following international attention and an intervention from former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

On Thursday, a Russian court rejected the case against Alexander Ponosov, labelling it "trivial", according to the Associated Press. Ponosov told AP that he was "off to drink champagne" following the decision.

Ponosov was accused of using unlicensed versions of Windows operating system and Microsoft Office on 12 PCs. But he insisted that he had bought the computers with the software already installed, and had no idea there might be a problem.

Under Russia's intellectual property laws, Ponosov could have been sentenced to five years imprisonment if found guilty. The prosecution, though, had been seeking a fine of 3,000 rubles (£58.50), and claimed that Microsoft had suffered 267,000 rubles of damage.

The case was brought by Russian authorities but brought criticism against Microsoft, which is pushing for tougher action against software "pirates" globally. Microsoft has denied being involved in the case.

As reported last week, Gorbachev wrote a letter to Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, arguing that Ponosov who is from a remote village in the Urals, should be shown mercy because he did not know he was committing a crime.

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