E-Waste Recycler Sentenced To Over A Year In Prison For Fixing Old PC’s and Selling Them

in #news3 years ago


Computer technician and E-waste recycler Eric Lundgren is going to  prison for 15 months for selling restore disks for computers, which  would extend their longevity and allow them to be resold to new users. A  federal appeals court in Miami rejected the appeal in his case this  week, upholding a federal district judge’s ruling that Lundgren violated  Microsoft’s copyright by selling the disks. 

Although these restore disks come free with every computer, there is a  licence key that is tied to the first buyer, which makes it effectively  impossible to restore these computers for private sale, that is, unless  you want to pay Microsoft for an entirely new licence, at which point  most people would just choose to buy a new computer. 

I am going to prison, and I’ve accepted it. What I’m not  okay with is people not understanding why I’m going to prison.  Hopefully, my story can shine some light on the e-waste epidemic we have  in the United States, how wasteful we are. At what point do people  stand up and say something? I didn’t say something, I just did it,” Lundgren told the Washington Post on Monday. 

By keeping computers out of landfills for just a few more years,  Lundgren was really doing great work for both the environment and people  with lower incomes who cannot afford to go out and buy new computers.  

Even the judge expressed remorse during the sentencing, but still  decided to send him to prison for 15 months anyway. 

“This is a difficult sentencing because I credit everything you  are telling me, you are a very remarkable person. This case is  especially difficult, because of who you are today and in terms of who  you have become,” Senior U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley told him in court last year

Initially, Microsoft was open about the fact that Lundgren was being  prosecuted because his operation negatively impacted their revenue  stream. Microsoft lawyer Bonnie MacNaughton wrote in a statement to the  judge that “These sales of counterfeit operating systems displaced Microsoft’s potential sales of genuine operating systems.”  

However, since the case has gotten so much media attention and many  are seeing Lundgren as a hero, Microsoft has changed their tune and are  saying that this is a measure that was taken to protect people from  malware. In a statement this week, Microsoft went on the defensive about the prosecution: 

“Microsoft actively supports efforts to address  e-waste and has worked with responsible e-recyclers to recycle more than  11 million kilograms of e-waste since 2006. Unlike most e-recyclers,  Mr. Lundgren sought out counterfeit software which he disguised as  legitimate and sold to other refurbishers. This counterfeit software  exposes people who purchase recycled PCs to malware and other forms of  cybercrime, which puts their security at risk and ultimately hurts the  market for recycled products.”

Lundgren, on the other hand, says that he is going to jail because  his plan to reduce e-waste and help the environment got in the way of  Microsoft’s business model. 

In essence, I got in the way of Microsoft’s profits, so they pushed this into federal court on false pretense,” Lundgren said.  

“This was false and inaccurate testimony provided by Microsoft in an  attempt to set a precedent that will scare away future recyclers and  refurbishers from reusing computers without first paying Microsoft again  for another license.” Lundgren concluded that ultimately, “Anyone successfully  extending the life cycle of computers or diverting these computers from  landfills for reuse in society is essentially standing in the way of  Microsoft’s profits.” 

The court gave Lundgren a few weeks to make his business transition  arrangements before he will surrender to police custody, but he was  warned that if he created too much media attention he would be taken in  immediately. 

“I was told if I got loud in the media, they’d come pick me up. If you want to take my liberty, I’m going to get loud,” Lundgren said. 

Each year, 20 to 50 million tons of e-waste is generated worldwide,  and while it only represents 2 percent of the solid waste stream, it  accounts for 70 percent of the hazardous waste that is in landfills, according to the EPA. Extending the lives of computers by giving people an easy way to buy them used would put a significant dent in this problem. 


My name is John Vibes and I am an author and researcher who organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference. I write for numerous alternative media websites, including The Free Thought Project @tftproject and The Mind Unleashed. In addition to my first book, Alchemy of the Timeless Renaissance, I have also co-authored three books with Derrick Broze @dbroze : The Conscious Resistance: Reflections on Anarchy and Spirituality, Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion and Manifesto of the Free Humans

I just won a 3-year-long battle with cancer, and will be working to help others through my experience, if you wish to contribute to my medical bills, consider subscribing to my podcast on Patreon. 


That PR pile of cow manure from Microsloth really makes me upset.

Their actions contradict those words.
Microsloth is the number one creator or e-waste.

Forcing people to upgrade operating systems. Often in direct disregard of the users preferences. Which ends up bricking their system, or making it so slow as to be unusable.

The register fiasco is still going strong. Forcing product creep, and slowing down winders over time. So that people believe that they need a new computer.

Further, the Eric Lundgren couldn't have purchased new licenses. They aren't sold. You can't buy a copy of Windows XP. And you can't load a copy of Winders 10 on these old computers either. So, Microsloth is lying. And their lies run deep.

What we have run into is Microsloth saying, you can't sell your computer, because it doesn't belong to you. Oh sure, you can have the metal box, and the motherboard. But, everything that makes it a computer, it does not belong to you.

John Deer tractors, iPhones, all the new cars, they are not yours. You have only licensed these products. Further, you are not even the master controller of these systems. You are way down at the bottom of the list of who has control over YOUR devices.

Switch to Linux. It is actually easier to install then winders now.
Learn how to use Linux. It will be the best spent time in your life.
Cut Microsloth out of your life, they really are that evil.

Microsoft likes to have it both ways. Is your license a COA sticker attached to the hardware that is no longer valid if you change hardware, or is it a transferable license that belongs to an owner that can be used on whichever single PC you like. They can't have it both ways.

Agree that Linux is a much better option for recycled hardware. Takes any risk of infringing licensing away. Also provides an upgrade path and better security than using an outdated OS like XP.

Linux Mint is still one of the best and most complete options for reasonably spec'd equipment. Also linked Mageia when I had a play with it a while back. Tails is the way to go it you want to keep a low profile. Puppy Linux is a solid option for lower spec'd PC's. For something that runs Windows binaries, ReactOS is a really interesting project.

They are also so many others, and DistroWatch is a great resource to explore.

You forgot free open-source software like GIMP and LibreOffice. That alone is a reason to switch from license gougers like microslop!

You're right, I should have mentioned Libre Office. Excellent alternative to MS Office. I did think of it, but as it's standard in Mint I just left it out.

One project that I didn't think of at the time, but do rate highly and actively use is LibreElec. Just enough OS to run Kodi, and does it very nicely indeed !

Cool. I hadn't heard about LibreElec. I'm gonna check it out.

My exact thoughts on the subject. Linux is free and works just fine. Today's versions and variations of Linux are... Fun and easy to do.

Indeed, too bad he choose to pirate copyrighted software instead of just installing Linux. It was a real asshole move how they launched the virus known as Windows 10 to destroy systems running on XP but not illegal. I miss XP too.

Typical copyright horses**t, they sell you a product then claim they still own it. Luckily I live in a part of the world where courts have a modicum of common sense.


Great post and enlightening for me. I have always been someone who has had a hard time throwing away old computers when I can restore them and throw on an old version of Windows. Now I suppose I will be entertaining the idea of throwing on Linux. I even have nearly broken laptops that overheat from factory defects that I feel terrible throwing away (Dell XPS15) because it cost me over $1,500 with a “HD” screen option and NVIDIA graphics (that overheated the motherboard). In any case I don’t sell anything but feel the same about putting them in landfills. I always try to at least reuse hard drives and if possible optical drives until failure. I also have a box full of older Pentium chips and GPU’s and cases but anyway this is a terrible thing Microsoft has done. I understand the precedent being set that people should not make money selling computers with pirated software and I guess I agree fundamentally but there should be a line. The line should be that people are allowed to use software on older PC’s that are no longer being supported by the company so for example Windows XP. Microsoft is not spending any money towards it nor selling any new products with it so it should be emulator territory. No harm no foul. But it does raise the question of, can we simply use a free Linux distro and turn the e-waste issue into a Windows OS and Apple OS duopoly issue. Chrome OS is similar to Linux so maybe that is where we all need to be heading. F Bill Gates and his lawyers. The richest guy for the past 20 years almost and he is complaining about landfill PCs and a guy who spent a ton of time fixing up computers for people that can’t afford the Surface Pro 4. Good for him and the 15 months just made you a star in my eyes so keep fighting the good fight! He will get a lot of fan mail and likely be released early because of the PR. I mean seriously, Microsoft putting a citizen in jail for over a year of their natural life for fixing old PCs that were headed to the trash heap? Shame on them!!!

Wow! This is ridiculous.
Although, I know it is possible to be the only person in a courtroom that is absolutely correct and still be charged guilty.

Lundgren should have given them copies of Linux Mint; it usually works better than Windows and it's free. Silly Microsoft is punishing Lundgren for keeping the masses addicted to their flawed Operating System; talk about shooting yourself in the foot over a few bucks.

We've all lost our marbles in this World. Money over conscience and common sense. Even the judge is crazy

Fuck this guy, he is a bootlegging pirate stealing from those who own the rights to the software. If he was making money selling bootleg pirated copies of your book how would you feel?

i give away my books for free because i don't believe in intellectual property


Any man who has principle over personal gain will always get an Upvote from me, even if I personally would disagree. That is VIRTUOUS!

So if someone else was selling them for profit you wouldn't mind?

If someone could convince people to buy my free product then hats off to them.

yeah it wouldnt make sense for them to do that but if they did i guess

i had a publisher rip me off and he still sells my books, but i went around him, changed the title and sold it for less

I would never use the courts for something like that

I guess I better warn my computer guy... he does the same thing!

Microshaft became the dominant OS vendor through careful lies. Gates was definitely a hard working coder, but DOS and Windows were essentially stolen IP, from DRDOS and Mac software.

He made his copies of their products dominate the field by making them easy to crack and simultaneously pontificating against copying. Hackers at the time were aware of his duplicity, and gleefully cracked and used Microshaft products.

Many of them, being computer gurus, worked for big companies as consultants, and their personal software ecosystems were based on cracked Microshaft products. When they were tapped to direct the software purchases of big companies, they based their decisions on what they were familiar with, and used: Windows.

Microshaft is a result of hacking, cracking, and reverse psychology. This poor guy is just being sacrificed as a form of Microshaft continuing that business model. He is an ad for Microshaft. His fate is intended to produce more hackers cracking Microshaft software, and thus being driven to promote it to their clients in the business world.

Linux FTW!

They're only a dominant OS, because of underhand biz tactics, not because ppl actively choose windos.

Yep. That's what I said. Only I used more words.

Brevity is the soul of wit.

Does that license cover the disk or the garbage system on it? If he had removed Microsoft from it would he still be in breach of the license? Whenever I purchase a computer I demand to have the disk wiped clean before I accept it. Problem is most retailers force you to pay that portion of the price for that system as well.

He got in trouble for making copies of copyrighted software. Sounds like any other bootlegger.

Getting kidnapped and put in a cage for repairing and repurposing material is bull shit. We do not live in the land of the free and home of the brave. We live in a tyrannical and order-following sociopathic society. We need to wake up

he got put in a cage for stealing and piracy. If you were an author and someone started selling bootleg copies of your book you wouldn't want to prosecute them for stealing from you?

Yet the hardware shipped with the OS, most right minded people consider it paid for at that point. It's just a legal loophole that should not be legal. If you have ever bought a PC with Windows on it and sold (or possibly even given it away) it second hand you are technically guilty of the same so called crime. If I was an author and someone sold my book second hand I wouldn't have any cause to prosecute, yet the likes of Microsoft claim the right to charge again. I know of at least one case in the EU where the courts made the correct decision and sent the corporation in question home with their tails between their legs.


" If you have ever bought a PC with Windows on it and sold (or possibly even given it away) it second hand you are technically guilty of the same so called crime."

Nope, only if you make a pirated boot disk for it. That's where he made himself into a criminal.
This guy was not reselling used books, he was printing his own copies and selling them, see how that is different and wrong?

From the article above - "Although these restore disks come free with every computer, there is a license key that is tied to the first buyer, which makes it effectively impossible to restore these computers for private sale, that is, unless you want to pay Microsoft for an entirely new license, at which point most people would just choose to buy a new computer."

Now I am assuming the OP is accurate here, I have neither the time nor inclination to check this but I have worked in the industry for many years and come across all manner of unreasonable clauses in license agreements and have installed Windows XP more times than I care to remember. The most likely scenario, if he was sourcing the computers from individuals and small businesses (larger businesses tend to use a different licensing model) is this.

The disks come with the PC, they are useless without the license key, which is usually stuck to the PC case or behind the battery on a laptop, this sticker is the proof that Windows was paid for. Now it is likely he was using a copy of the disk itself as many people will have lost it by the time they scrap their computer but so long as the original license is still physically stuck to the box, I don't see the problem. In fact it is common to use a different disk to do the install because newer ones ship with the service packs and it saves time patching, the license key on the sticker still works though. If you actually read the license agreement Microsoft claim this license is fixed to both the hardware & the person buying it, so technically if you make a significant hardware upgrade or give the thing away, you are breaking this agreement. According to the article we are commenting on, this was microsoft's core argument.

The story above strongly implies that scenario, regardless" If you have ever bought a PC with Windows on it and sold (or possibly even given it away) it second hand you are technically guilty of the same so called crime." If you have done that you are guilty of piracy in Microsoft's eyes, it is that black and white to them.

As I have said elsewhere, this is perfectly legal in the EU, here you have a right to sell on software that you purchased and no longer use, despite the fine print foisted on you by the corporations often saying otherwise.


In fact these days, there is rarely even a disk to copy, it's all online.

"it is likely he was using a copy"
there's where he got himself in trouble, and he was selling these computers after right?
That's a little different from reselling one computer.
Since it's all online he could have easily purchased the licenses, although I don't know how it's possible to run XP anymore.

Note Microsoft didn't send out private thugs to attack the guy, nor are they paying for his imprisonment.
This is corporatism. Big business using the state to oppress the little guy.
Lose the state, and Microsoft might still come for you, but you'll be free to defend yourself and they'll have to pay for it.

I also have reason to believe that Windows 10 has been optimized to be NSA compliant. Any information that exists on a windows machine has to be assumed to be public information.

Microsoft is completely to blame for their own business practices. They market protection schemes in the form of updates that are themselves malware. Then they force updates against the will of users. As a software dev with over 20 years experience, I've since come to the conclusion that I will not write software anymore that just targets that OS.

I agree with that, I think that they have def been working with the government to make their products more accesable to them.

Well that's a pisser. Recycling old pcs vs. they end up in a landfill or on a barge to China where useful parts are stripped then the boards are burned polluting the air. There needs to be a legal cost effective way for guys like him to e-recycle.

E-waste contain non biodegradae plastics and toxic metals and are therefore should be handled and treated as hazardous waste. I hope this grows awareness for serious problems in e-waste.

As of now, in thr philippines it is being piled up untreated, even with poor storage conditions. The numbers are adding up.

Thank u for this post. Upvoted and followed. Im loooking forward for more

So even if you don't replace anything in a computer and donate it to the local mission store you are violating Microsofts copyright polices?

I helped many friend's with reviving old pc's i found on the city dump .
I knew it wasn't legal but only did it as charity for whom could not afford a decent pc .
One day the city dump did not longer allow the taking of pc's or parts from there yard . followed by a overflow of old revived pc's on the local marketplace site , asking real money for crap , those marketplace accounts where al managed by City dump workers .

If one gives me a car for free without the key , i will dismantle the lock .
I will use it instead of trash and waste it .
Same for computers to me ;-)

Fuck micro$oft use Linux.

He should get jail time for resurrecting that many Micro$oft systems; regardless of copyright restrictions. 😎