Microsoft v. Eric Lundgren Case

Now, here’s the deal. Several people have tweeted at me over the last few days about the lawsuit surrounding this guy. He’s an entrepreneur who has been convicted of software piracy. He made copies of operating system restore discs--software distributed online free of cost--in a self-described attempt to divert old PCs from landfills. Which, in my opinion, is a truly noble goal.

However, there are a couple things that I find irksome about this, and some of my opinions may prove to be unpopular… but hear me out.

First of all, Lundgren and his business partner did do something that is technically illegal. The discs that they manufactured in China had the PC manufacturer’s logo on them. That’s obviously a stupid idea… like, why would do that? It doesn’t seem to make any sense.

Second, the reporting on this story is terrible. People seem to be taking sides and it’s mostly with him. Yes, Microsoft is a litigious bully. Did they lie to the government about the value of these discs? According to what I’ve read, they did… but I’ve also read things that stated the software on these discs might have been cracked. So, who knows?

Plus, the liberal use of the term “Free Software” in the reporting on this is problematic. The software in question, Microsoft’s Windows 7 and the myriad of binary drivers included along with it are proprietary and closed source, meaning they are the exact OPPOSITE of Free Software. What they mean by the use of these terms is “available free of charge.” And yeah, that is true. You can download a copy of this software for free from the manufacturer’s website.

But the facts seem to be: they mimicked the layout and branding of the official discs which seems super shady to me, and the fact that the guy can’t seem to keep his story straight makes me pretty suspicious of his motivations.

Now this story has become somewhat of a warcry for my fellow ‘Right to Repair’ revolutionaries. And guys, I am completely on your side. But this Lundgren character is probably not the horse you want to back. This all seems a bit too shady to me.

I’m gonna end this with a call to real arms; if you truly believe in extending the life of old hardware and you want to help the environment, Linux is really the only way to go. It’s free software; truly free software. Meaning it can be redistributed without fear of legal reprisal.

It also isn’t defective by design; the OS doesn’t stop working if your license key is invalid (since there are NO license keys). And finally, modern versions of the Linux kernel still work on old systems. Meanwhile, modern versions of Windows are likely to have performance issues; leaving you with two options: run the newer version of Windows and waste power, or us the older, insecure versions of Windows that could be compromised and used to mine bitcoin or join a botnet… and thus wasting power.

So Linux is truly the only way to go.