Innovative Engineer Sentenced to Prison for Recycling Old Computers Instead of Trashing Them

By Jack Burns

Eric Lundgren, an innovative computer engineer, may have to spend 15 months in prison for saving the environment and recycling computers.

Even though Lundgren has a successful computer recycling business, the thought of throwing away or destroying so many PCs was unsettling. So he hatched a plan to copy and sell to refurbishers PCs with Microsoft restore discs. However, when the company learned what he was doing, they tried to put him in prison.

Piracy is a crime and affects the bottom line profits of video game manufacturers, Hollywood films, and software companies like Microsoft. But a Microsoft restore disc is included when someone buys a computer and is available as a free download when someone can prove their product key for Windows belongs to them.

But for people who buy a second-hand computer, if the product key to the copy of Windows does not belong to them (registered with Microsoft) the computer is worthless and must be thrown away.

Equally disturbing to Lundgren was the fact the free restore discs, included with a computer’s purchase, often get lost by the owner, thrown away by a company, or simply misplaced. That easily comprehensible act of negligence made Lundgren’s job of wiping a computer’s hard drive and giving it a fresh installation of Windows nearly impossible. Only with a fresh reinstallation of the operating system could the computer be sold in good faith to a new user.

That fact bothered Lundgren, who daily destroyed perfectly good computers all because their product key was missing and/or they weren’t registered with Microsoft. So he and his business partner went to China and located a manufacturer who would create and ship back to the US some 28,000 “Microsoft Windows restore discs.”

He intended to sell them to other computer recyclers and not to the general public for $25 each. Remember, Microsoft gives the product away, but proving ownership of the operating system is difficult if not impossible to do, especially if the product’s key code is invalid or not registered to the new buyer.

Even though Lundgren never sold a copy of the “restore” disc, it’s manufacture bypassed Microsoft altogether and allowed for recyclers to quickly offer for sale quality computers that still had a lot of life left in their systems. Lundgren lost in court and was at the moment of surrendering to the prison industrial complex to serve out his 15-month sentence when his case was accepted at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The original judge in the case, Senior U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley, seemed to realize Lundgren’s actions were taken more as an attempt to save the environment and be socially responsible with computer trash. He noted Lundgren’s long history of taking care of the environment as well as others. According to the LA Times, Hurley was troubled by the verdict he was forced to apply:

“This case is especially difficult,” Hurley told Lundgren at his sentencing last May, “because of who you are today and in terms of who you have become.” The judge received evidence of Lundgren’s recycling company, IT Asset Partners; his projects to clean up e-waste in Ghana and China; and a 2016 initiative in which Lundgren’s company repaired and donated more than 14,000 cellphones and $100,000 to the Cell Phones for Soldiers organization to benefit U.S. soldiers deployed overseas.

Lundgren described what he believes is the motivation for his prosecution. He told reporters:

In essence, I got in the way of Microsoft’s profits, so they pushed this into federal court on false pretense,” Lundgren said. He said McGloin “testified that a free restore CD was worth the same price as a new Windows operating system with a license. … 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. … 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.”

As it stands, people who buy computers which do not have a working copy of Microsoft Windows installed will have to pay Microsoft for a new copy, an action which usually costs more than the value of the old computer. Doing so is pointless.

In fact, a person should just go ahead and purchase a new computer at a big box retailer, instead of paying the same price for an old, used computer.

This is precisely the problem Lundgren attempted to solve. Even though the software is free at the time of the original sale and free for download, the mega-company will prosecute anyone who attempts to profit from their free downloads. Lundgren will likely do prison time if the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals does not rule in his favor.

Jack Burns is an educator, journalist, investigative reporter, and advocate of natural medicine. This article first appeared at The Free Thought Project.

Image credit: David Sprague

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26 Comments on "Innovative Engineer Sentenced to Prison for Recycling Old Computers Instead of Trashing Them"

  1. Because Linux is no longer available…..? Nothing would be sweeter than introducing thousands of new users to a better, faster, easier to use, more secure FREE operating system, allowing them to be free of expensive inefficient microsoft bloatware for ever. But alas….

    • Here here. Ubuntu, Mint, and many other flavors are available for nothing. I have 2 machines running Ubuntu and 1 running Win 7 Ultimate. If it wasn’t for the fact I play games, I would use Ubuntu (or some other version) exclusively.

    • Running Debian here on my wife’s computer. Been running Debian/Ubuntu for over a decade. Her computer at the moment dual boots the GNU Linux and Microsoft Windows XP (I think is what she has on it). She too has a Debian partition for her own use. If I may avoid using Windows I will do so.

      She has a laptop for me that is currently running Mac OS X. Might get ambitious later and try to put Debian on it, not really keen to try to recall using the Mac OS after nearly three decades. Besides Mac X OS seems a variant of some kind of *nix with only Mac ‘window dressings’.

      She works in a thrift store that sometimes gets computers donated. We at times try getting folks to take free re-purposed Linux computers. Other times someone might want Windows. We’ll decline due to all the legal hassle of it, or we will use whatever copy of install software they have legally. We don’t like Windows but she has to use it some for a few different programs she cannot find in Linux to suit her needs.

      Yes, I agree that Linux is the better choice.

      • lightingstrikesthrice | February 20, 2018 at 10:13 am | Reply

        I am computer illiterate apparently. Never heard of Debian nor Ubuntu before. I will check them out though, When I get my next computer, If I can stay away from Microsoft and Apple, I will do so.

        • [ https://wwwDOTdebianDOTorg/ ] There’s Debian for you. Oh by the way, some group known as N.A.S.A happens to use Debian to help do odd stuff. *chuckles* [ https://wwwDOTubuntuDOTcom/ ] Is Ubuntu, it was and kind of remains Debian based. You’ve got two main big Linux camps, GNU and Enterprise. GNU seems to holed up with Debian while Enterprise has taken a keen to Red Hat based distributions. I’m using the term enterprise here in the context of big business, even small business, a business venture or enterprise. Although, Red Hat does include GNU based Linux, as all Linux is GNU termed. That’s what lets it remain Open Source.

          Replace the DOTS with actual periods or dots in the web addresses. I think the site admin software is hard coded to zap web addresses in comments.

    • Linux it’s good, but better and easier to use, well, simply isn’t true, that’s just a biased opinion. Once Linux can run all my games I’ll switch, but for now, for the PC-based game player, we’re stuck with Windows

      • Not everyone is a gamer. Linux is great for an operating system. Your preferences don’t concern me or most other people.

        • I was simply stating an opinion, not trying to butt hurt you. As a basic OS Linux is just fine and have used a couple of different distros in the past, so I’m not against Linux. Would use it exclusively if it was more gamer friendly is all I was getting at. Indeed, these things DO concern most people since most PCs use Windows and not Linux, so, once again, you are not correct.

  2. Well eventually people will just get jack of all these tyrannical computer companies BS & just stop buying!
    I hope that day comes soon. No computers… no surveilance!

    • People are already stopping in buying Windows based computers. Trouble being many got Windows based systems before knowing any better, or the marketing does a snow job. What little I’ve seen of promotional material on the ‘new’ Windows seems to me a Mac OS X clone job, it resides over a *nix kernel. That kernel is similar to Windows/DOS, which is what holds everything together. I know though that Microsoft’s ‘kernel’ is and nearly always has been compromised. It also includes back doors for Microsoft in order that they can allegedly ‘help’ you and do ‘bug fixes’ and so on. Funny how they hide their code in compressed and encrypted executable files. In Linux most if not all coding comes in clear text.

      • lightingstrikesthrice | February 20, 2018 at 10:18 am | Reply

        I wouldn’t say allegedly. I would say factually. Microsoft, Mac, Apple, so on and so forth, got huge because they played the kakistocracy’s games. Surveillance and spying and info gathering. I’m going in a different direction for my next computer purchase. I like your comments Ben.

        • Glad to point you in a different direction. I’m sure you’ll attend due diligence in your own researching the operating systems mentioned here. Linux in general takes a little bit of thought. You need to think you’re on a journey to learn what does what. There’s plenty of documentation included with Linux itself and software for it.

          Do not be upset if some gives you an RTFM response to a question. We’ve all been recipients of such responses. RTFM — Read The F-ing Manual, it simply means that you do look at terminal briefly and type in man cal for example. That will show you the instructions manual for the calendar program. Most distributions have a basic console/terminal calendar program as a standard include.

          You can even read Man pages in web browsers once you look online a bit to see how. 😉 🙂 Plenty of documentation, free advice, scripts, help online too. When asking around online be smart in doing so. Yes, there’s a protocol.


          That will explain the protocol well. It’s worth the effort to learn using Linux. As has been stated, Linux is not really a gaming platform. A lot has happened and keeps happening to nudge into offering gaming but progress is slow going. Still all in Linux imho, suits for every day use.

          • lightingstrikesthrice | February 21, 2018 at 8:35 am |

            Excellent and thank you. I will check out that link you provided today. I’m not a gamer so no worries on that front. Just research, reading/writing, watching vids, documentaries, movies, podcasts, listen to talk radio/pod casts online. I don’t create content, videos and what not so I don’t need extra software for that.

  3. why the hell doesn’t he put LINUX on them? Free and Open Source – not to mention better to use and no connection with evil bstards like Gates.

    • Because people don’t want to use Terminal and a whole load of other steps to download and install stuff. It’s linux’s fault for not making it easier.

      • Linux has come a long way obviously since you last used it. There are multiple graphical user interfaces, Gnome, KDE, LXDE, XFCE, OpenBox, Black Box, Fluxbox to name but a few. Yes, there are even graphical installation ‘wizards’ that help guide you through a half hour install. You get a basic system then can use graphical package/software management to find software in the distribution’s pools. This software is secure, Open Source (meaning you’re free to use it to do what it’s meant, or to alter the code to make it do something else). Linux has become very user friendly, granted it may take a bit to learn some basics, as though Windows doesn’t take that?

        • Well the last one I tried was Cinnamon 17 I think….it was better but still it was not as user friendly as Windows. And believe me I’d like to see everybody leave Windows.

  4. lightingstrikesthrice | February 20, 2018 at 10:38 am | Reply

    Hopefully the appeal goes in his favor, as it should since the corporation lied, and it gets thrown out to set THAT president. I never thought of this before, but president and pres(pronounced as a Z) is spelled the same. Bet that’s not a random event. Any thoughts on this?

    • War is a Phoenician word that meant literally, ‘get more cattle’. Some suggest a lot of the Corporate UNITED STATES OF AMERICA uses a form of Dog Latin which borrows from the Phoenician in how words are spelled, think of this, wizards cast spells and words are spelled. I’m sure there’s a reason for every season and how words often align. That noted, if I ponder such things too long I recall bits of Aristotle’s eight different books on metaphysics. At such a point my brain scurries off to find a comfy wool blanket to wrap itself away in.

      All eight of those books were different. The differences were slight yet even so, one didn’t know most of all eight was rubbish until one read them all, noting the differences. The sum could have been reduced to one book easily enough. Hm, excuse me I need to tend to some yaks. 🙂

      • lightingstrikesthrice | February 21, 2018 at 8:30 am | Reply

        lol, I concur with thinking about this too much and the brain needs a nice blankie to wrap and comfort itself in. The play of words, yes indeed. I like your mentioning of spells and spelling. Using a holly wand or using Holly Wood. People are ruled and we use a ruler for measurement.Government is to govern, to control, ment comes from the Latin word mentos which is mind; control-minds. Interesting about the Phoenicians, and the word for war. Just think, the Greeks and Romans learned much from the Phoenician peoples. I learned quite a bit from researching into etymology.

        • “Just think, the Greeks and Romans learned much from the Phoenician
          peoples. I learned quite a bit from researching into etymology.”

          At one point too the Greeks took control of Egypt. I’m sure this further aided that aspect of society with more advancing in the understanding of mathematics. That would further Pythagoras’ philosophy of ‘all is number, number is all’.

          Alphabets & symbols for spoken words can be transposed as numbers too. Sir Bacon gifted us with the binary ciphering which he proposed would use a structure of A,B,A,B. In computing we know this as 101011001010 for example, off and on electrical pulses.

          Such an understanding thus will then offer insight into neural linguistics and programing of minds. 😉 🙂 Now, we can see exactly how the ‘magicians’ manipulate the whole of society as to attain near complete control, also so called ‘dominance’ a state of dominion or rule. Think about church pastors, especially consider the deep South Baptist preachers that roll off the love of the Christ as easily as the brimstone of Hell and it’s punishments for ‘sin’.

          Those preachers learn of hypnosis and so use it to further the control of the Church over society. That can be either be seen as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depending upon one’s perspective and discretion, we’ve ‘freedom of will’ after all. 😉 Who’s will though do we actually have freedom of though, our own or what some preacher has internalized in us? Now, you might catch on to the ‘programing’ the C.I.A uses with tell lie vision (television).

          I concur etymology proves a very interesting study and helps to great extent to learn further and further the ‘meaning’ behind a lot. Then we also need to consider what I’ve dubbed the ‘bean’ theory which states succinctly that all of this ‘theory’ is nothing but a pile of beans. 😉 🙂 😀 *grinning and chuckling*

          Ah, excuse me. I must attend to that life bit for a spell. Difficult at times being a half broken down Appalachian ‘country boy’. I know what I know, it doesn’t though offer much help beyond the knowing. Sometimes that’s enough other times, it can be a boon of frustration. For example in WV there’s a requirement that police officers have an IQ of only 90 or lower. Much as an IQ of 130 on average could place me in MENSA, it doesn’t fare well noting it over qualifies me for much work I could possibly do. So yes, beans it can be.

          • lightingstrikesthrice | February 23, 2018 at 6:28 am |

            I must say, a kindred spirit researcher(truth seeker?) you are. “Now, you might catch on to the ‘programming’ the CIA uses with tell lie vision; 1) There is a video on you tube where people have slowed down the old ‘signing off’ video the networks used to end the days ‘programming’ with. When slowed down, subliminal messaging could be seen in words going across the screen. I take it, that is where the idea of the movie They Live come from. 2) I use the moniker Tell Lie Vision as well. And indeed, they ain’t callin’ it programming fer nothin’. 🙂 I”m an old broke and broken down Illinios country boy myself. I have read the stories of the required IQ(joke that is, huh?) for being a police officer. Just a few points higher than politicians and other ‘useful idiots’ the kakistocracy seeks. The Koch brothers(pronounced Cock, I find THAT pronounced) admitted their role was finding low level corporate lawyers and the like for federal/state judge appointments, school board members and city officials. For a laugh, or I did anyways, check out clips of David Allen on you tube. MENSA? Have to update on that alphabet Ben. I like your bean theory *chuckling*. The frustration is, trying to inform others of information one has gleaned. That, if applying for work, pretending complete and utter ignorance and feigning compliance. Oh, funny how Alexander founded that great library, then the continued Western Empire now moved on to Rome, destroyed it along with the rest of the remaining active temples in Greece and Egypt. Perhaps Alexander started to awaken to the truths of Imperialism, garnered empathy and for that…*finger across throat*. Yes, numbers, mathematics are a language all to itself. After all, its all symbols.

          • “I must say, a kindred spirit researcher(truth seeker?) you are.”

            Been giving that a bit of thought. Truth however lofty the objective
            kind might seem, can also be wasted. Reading some Terry Pratchett I
            also stumble over a line where a character states causes are a dime a
            dozen on any street corner, therefore don’t merit the dying for they are
            so often granted. At one time, I might have liked Truth. It offers us
            knowledge and that can be power, yes indeed. Truth can even liberate us.

            Wisdom is the application of knowledge in the appropriate measure/s.
            There’s the dead horse so stumbled over. What is appropriate and who
            confirms that? If it’s left to me, well, my humility disperses it away
            and from realizing that I’m but a speck of the dust of cosmic dust. Can
            I pass along such a thing as a nuclear warhead labeled Truth?

            Truth is I do a lot of hiding, even from myself and I’m now owning up to
            that. Oh sure, I do so for many a good reason. All the externals though
            are nothing but excuses when stripped down naked. What frightens? The
            actual knowing. I think you’ll understand.

            You have a good one, too. Need to get the day started here, not that
            I’ve not been up for a while. *sigh*

          • lightingstrikesthrice | June 15, 2018 at 4:42 am |

            I do. The scariest part is, what we do know, a lot of it, is assumption, discernment, informed decisions. Not actual proof. I believe the answers are both simple and complex, depending. I know I am sick of the ‘rat race’, the insane incorporated world in which we live(yet don’t really get to be ALIVE), controlled by a kakistocracy. I like to think you have been well since your message. Peace.

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