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

By John Vibes

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 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.

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.

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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.

John Vibes is an author and researcher who organizes a number of large events including the Free Your Mind Conference. He also has a publishing company where he offers a censorship free platform for both fiction and non-fiction writers. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. John just won a 3-year-long battle with cancer, and will be working to help others through his experience, if you wish to contribute to his treatments consider subscribing to his podcast to support . This article first appeared at The Free Thought Project.


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9 Comments on "E-Waste Recycler Sentenced To Over A Year In Prison For Fixing Old PCs and Selling Them"

  1. Todd Millions | April 26, 2018 at 12:50 pm | Reply

    Oh yah-Having a Microscam mail account for as many decades as they have existed-I of course have never encountered critical breaches and loss from their licenced malware! The backup loading was also professionally bolloxed more than once.
    Purely coincidence of course.
    I met Mr.Gates 6 months after he founded this Ponzi(socially). The worst of it is he is smart enough to know better and have a good grasp of consequences.
    Which has being shown over and over Not to slow him down one jot. GMO,nucs ,ect.
    Malice aforethought.

  2. Been telling people for over a decade to stop using Microsoft products and they always have a 1000 excuses to justify using it.
    Quit being so lazy and learn to use Linux – it’s free and 100% legal.

  3. This is what is known as the “anti-economy”. From the word “economy”, means to economize. To economize is to make efficient. Efficiency means, the absence of waste, which is what the article is about. That’s why those cars good on gas were called “economy cars”, because they were efficient and do not waste gas.

    So what we have is an anti-economy instead of an economy. This system is more wasteful than all other systems in human history. Planned obsolescence is the business model that Microsoft and others are using and is filling up land fields and creating ecological disaster. Planned obsolescence is to make products that are disposable and have to be replaced instead of having any option to repair and extend it’s life, thereby minimizing waste and pollution.

    So when you hear people talk about the economy, just know the etymology behind their BS. It’s word games. We don’t have any economy, it’s an anti-economy. This is going to end someday in a bad way. The earth does not have infinite resources. The oceans are full of miles wide floating plastic waste, just look it up.

  4. Rachel Flanagan | April 26, 2018 at 4:18 pm | Reply

    Only in America.
    Microsoft and the entire legal system
    is corrupt to the core.
    God bless Eric Lundgren and give him
    the strength to live through this tyrannical
    justice system.

  5. It’s never been easier to obtain and use Linux. Stop feeding the Microsoft / Apple duopoly, and things will change.

  6. “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price
    of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course
    others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” —
    Patrick Henry March 23, 1775

    “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.” — Rear
    Admiral Grace Hopper (US Navy, Retired) U.S. Navy’s Chips Ahoy magazine
    (July 1986)

    “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,” — Eric Lundgren
    April 26, 2018

    Concur with @Syllamo & @stratman, just use GNU Linux. Copy and spread
    the above three quotes. See if the voiceless silent majority can help someone
    get loud. Link back to the article here or at its original publication on
    The Free Thought Project. People need to be aware of facts.

    We can longer consent, also no longer consent by buying their products. Use
    money as the weapon they’ve taught us to use by their examples. Look up
    Economic Hit Men in any search engine that respects privacy. There you’ll
    begin to learn further of their examples.

  7. Psychic Warrior | April 27, 2018 at 5:53 am | Reply

    With the surge in robotics and AI; humans will be part of the landfill. You’re next!!

  8. Bill the eighth | April 27, 2018 at 1:16 pm | Reply

    Screw that scumbag judge!

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

    So, this corrupt clown in a black robe could not have given him a lesser sentence? He could not have suspended it? He could not have reduced it to time served or a fine? Spare me.

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