Russian Schools to Switch to Linux After Microsoft Piracy Case (MosNews)
Posted Feb 7, 2007 23:58 UTC (Wed) by theraphim
Parent article: Russian Schools to Switch to Linux After Microsoft Piracy Case (MosNews)
Let me briefly explain what is actually happened here.
As you may heard, there is a strong movement to join Russia into the WTO. During this campaign the infamous 4-letter (RIAA, MPAA) and 3-letter (BSA) entities created much hype about IP rights and so on.
That said, to not upset our heads of state, office of public prosecutor at the last year started pseudorandomly checking various organisations - commercial or not - on this subject. They are looking for the pirated software, especially, Microsoft one (because it is the most widespread AND because they don't know anything else ever exist).
After they find something, they need to estimate the "damages" caused by unlicensed usage. If the total sum is over 50000 roubles, then we have criminal liability here (otherwise it's only civil liability).
So, let's proceed to our particular case.
The case consists of 660 pages, most of them are useless paperwork. Only 60 pages are significant, but all that pages are literally crap.
Expert examination, in which we don't know the expert name. We only know that he is "Microsoft Certified".
First question to the expert is ridiculous: "Is this software pirated?" With no doubt expert answer is "Yes". and the second question is to estimate the "damages". What expert did:
a) take the higher microsoft price
b) look at file timestamps (of windows and office exes/dlls) and determine USD/RUR exchange rate at that time
c) count software multiple times (for example, once for the MS Office, and also for the Outlook)
d) summarize and multiply
It is obvious that by using this "method" of calculation we'll get huge "damage" and we'll definitely have criminal case. Also, 1st question is outside the competence of the technical expert. Court decides, based on evidece collected by prosecutors.
Going further. As any sane person will notice - license purity is determined not by examining file placement on local disk, but by checking the documents - proof of purchases etc. These 12 computers were shipped to the schol with windows preinstalled, and the headmaster has nothing to do with them because all related paperwork stays in the department of the education (who actually manages ALL money spending in all schools in their district). But, prosecutors never did anything in that department. They spent much time in that school, interrogated many witnesses, but never actually did any _investigation_.
From January to November of 2006 there was 6960 criminal cases of this type. Rumors are that courts are strongly biased to resolving them as guilty. Given that most of them are trumped-up in such manner as this particular case, and counting my own experience when this method (to send the authorities) are used to extort bribes or eliminate the competitors, we don't have really friendly environment here :) However, what is good in this particular case - that we do have press coverage, and, given that prosecutors are acting very dumb and will stick to their line, they made a lot of work to explain how dangerous Microsoft software is.
It's Linux advocates' job - to catch the moment and step in with the safe solution.
The above is only brief overview and conclusion, but if anyone interested in specifics - I will try to answer any questions.
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