A famous e-waste recycling advocate in the United States named Eric Lundgren was sentenced to 15 months in prison and fined $ 50,000 in early April. The reason? He manufactured and sold Windows repair discs.
These discs are usually offered by Microsoft itself when selling a license for the operating system. From there, a user can reinstall the software on the PC if there is a problem in the machine that forces the user to format it.
After formatting the PC, just insert the restore disk and reinstall Windows. It only has one: the disk itself only works with computers that have the Windows license. It does not serve to install the system on a PC mounted from scratch, for example.
That is, the disk itself is worthless if the user does not have the Windows license key. It is so much that Microsoft itself offers to download this restoration unit for free on its official website to those who have the software license.
Even so, Microsoft itself served as a witness in the suit against Lundgren, accusing him of causing him a loss of $ 700,000. A Florida federal court has condemned the activist, who may still appeal to the Supreme Court.
The sale of catering discs is linked to Lundgren’s activism. He is the founder of the first complete e-waste recycling plant in the United States, processing 18,000 tons of waste per year and having customers like IBM and Motorola.
Lundgren started making Windows restore discs when he realized that a lot of people were dumping their PCs after losing the original discs. As many do not know that you can download Windows from the Microsoft website, they prefer to play the computer off and buy another.
The 33-year-old activist then made 28,000 home-made discs with restoration copies of Windows that would be sold at 25 cents each for technical assistance scattered throughout the US – which in turn would sell each disc to anyone who wanted to reinstall Windows on an old PC .
But before reaching the assists, the records went through an intermediary named Robert Wolff. In 2012, a charge on his name was seized. Wolff then offered Lundgren $ 3,400 to buy the records and stay with them when he could get them back from the hands of the government. According to the prosecution, this is the point where the “formation of a gang” of piracy is set up.
Microsoft does not help
In court, witnesses representing Microsoft testified that each disk was worth $ 25, the same as the company charges technical assistance for a legitimate Windows disk. The problem is that this $ 25 disk that Microsoft sells is a complete copy of Windows, including the license. Already the album sold by Lundgren does not come with the license, and so, according to him, is worthless.
According to the activist’s lawyer, although the discs are worthless, the price of 25 cents charged from the assistance was merely “a convenience factor associated with them.” That argument did not convince the judge who ruled the ruling, giving Microsoft reason.
“I do not think anyone in that court understood what a restoration record is,” Lundgren told the Washington Post. The activist says he is worried about setting a precedent for giants like Microsoft to use justice to hunt down people who are just trying to extend the life of their products.
“I’m going to jail and I’ve already accepted that,” he added. “I just do not settle for people not understanding why I’m going to jail. I hope my story throws light on the e-junk epidemic we have in the United States.”
The Verge notes that this whole story comes at a time when many US states are discussing the so-called “Right to Repair,” a bill that would make it easier for any citizen to fix their own electronics without interference from the manufacturer.
This includes an obligation for manufacturers to provide replacement parts and manuals for consumers and for small technical assistance. However, many technology companies, such as Microsoft and Apple, are against the bill, saying it could “compromise the safety of its consumers.”
Advocates for the Right to Repair, in turn, say that business resilience is due to the simple fact that their business model depends on a limited life cycle in electronics, calls it “programmed obsolescence.”