Putin, Gorbachov question charging of teacher with software piracy

Monday, February 5, 2007

Correction — February 7, 2007
This article wrongly stated that Microsoft has "sued" and "decided to press charges" against Mr. Alexander Ponosov. In fact, Mr. Ponosov has been charged by Russian prosecutors. A Microsoft representative has told CBS News that the company has decided not to file a civil suit against Mr. Ponosov. The error is regretted.
Microsoft Windows XP logo.

Russian prosecutors have charged a school headmaster with using pirated copies of Microsoft software on school computers. The teacher, Mr. Alexander Ponosov, pleaded not guilty and claimed that he did not know that the purchased computers were loaded with pirated software.

The Russian president criticized the move against the teacher, saying it was "ridiculous" to arrest someone for using computers and that the distributors of pirated software should be targeted rather than users.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev also urged Microsoft to intercede in the case, asking Microsoft's mercy for the teacher and adding that the teacher, if convicted, may face "imprisonment in Siberian camps".

Mr. Gorbachov said that many people in Russia regard this scandalous case as trumped-up, launched on the initiative of Microsoft corporation to set a precedent.