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back to article American sent to the slammer for faking Windows certificates

On Wednesday, an American man was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for pirating copies of Microsoft's Windows operating system - and Redmond wants the world to know about it. After an FBI investigation and a trial in the US District Court for Northern Georgia, Justin Harrison is the first person sentenced under a new …

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Silver badge

Small punishment

So he made $226K and only has to pay a $25K fine? Riiiiiiight... so he spends 4 years in the clink, and comes out to a quarter mill he can retire on. Unless, of course, THAT money is confiscated as ill-gotten gains.

In this era of copyright hysteria, I'd have thought this guy would be doing 25 to life for infringement on this scale. While I am against the excesses of copyright generally, I have no sympathy for this guy. Nailing someone for downloading a torrent is tyranny and persecution, but putting someone away for SELLING copyrighted works is well deserved, and the bigger the penalty, the better.

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Anonymous Coward

Not much sympathy...

As someone who got ripped off for $100 on a fake copy of XP pro a few years ago, I can't muster much sympathy for the guy. Not that putting one more s#ithead in prison gives me my money back.

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Shweeet :)

KooL, but sentence should be one week per copy of pirated software sold, at the least. Still its kool.

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RE: Not much sympathy...

You can get your fake copy replaced for an original by M$.

http://www.microsoft.com/genuine/downloads/FAQ.aspx?displaylang=en#ID0E5IAC

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Er... Did the guy rape someone ?

4 years for just faking stuff? Ok, we must certainly fight counterfeiting and organized crime, but 4 years seems a bit excessive to me. Especially if it is his first time. Not that I have any sympathy for white-collar criminals, these should be nailed on the public place, but I'm not sure this guy is one of those.

The question is I wonder if the same would happen if someone would sell junk food with an "BIO inside" logo sticker? Would he got fined, and jailed, etc? What about a "Genuine OGM" brand? But I forgot, Bush just said that US has the best economy in the world. If only it was true...

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Not much sympathy

Sorry if this annoys you, its not ment to, but how could you think you could get hold of a genuine copy of XP pro for $100? Or did you believe it was second hand? (which I'd still be wary of if it's only $100)

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..a question..

if it was a fake disc but with a genuine COA, would that be legit? After all it's the COA that's the important part, the media is irrelevant surely?

Incidentally I noticed during the Vista launch that our local PC-World (where in the world?) despite sensibly locking all the Vista boxes in a cabinet, had left the COAs face up and on display. I imagine that a few discreet mobile 'phone camera shots provided a wealth of Vista COA codes for the black market (although i can imagine that the end users were rather disappointed with the over-hyped o/s itself.)

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Bronze badge

No symnpathy? How about a bigger crime

To those who think he got away lightly, just consider the likes of the Enron executives, the many other executives quietly benefitting from illegally backdated share option grants, the many companies raking in Iraqi "reconstruction" funds while doing nothing to help that country, all of whom have conducted much larger crimes and are busy getting away with it.

In America, it seems, the small guy gets sh@t on while the big guy swaggers about filling his boots with cash.

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Re: Small punishment

I think we can assume that he doesn't get to keep the $226K he made from selling the software. The $25K would be on top of that.

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4 years - $225k...?

So in the end, he has only made $50k per year - IF he serves his whole term, which is unlikely. Given the non-violent nature of his crime, odds are good he is out on parole in 12-18 months, maximum. That gives him a return of nearly $200k per year, which is now looking pretty good.

Where did I put that printing press and home holography kit....

Seriously, while I am glad that they are finally using punishments that matter (i.e., jail time rather than fines that are only a fraction of what can be made illegally), I wish they had a wee bit more teeth.

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He's an IP?

Ethan Horwitz is an intellectual property?

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Normally

I'm on the side of limiting length and application of copyright, but this seems to be "passing off" his stuff as genuine Microsoft produce, so not much sympathy here either.

I don't think 25-life as one earlier poster has suggested is appropriate, but I think his sentence is appropriate and I hope that profits from his venture are also recovered.

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Anonymous Coward

M$ Strikes Again

I have absolutely have no sympathy for this fellow for selling fake certificates as the real thing. He got sentenced to 48 months in jail which is probably what he deserved. But with the parole system being what it is, he will probably be out of jail long before his full sentence is served. Not exactly a deterrent.

My only concern about this matter is that the beneficiary of this court decision isn’t exactly as pure as the freshly fallen snow. While the Microsoft public relations machine is hard at work getting the word out concerning this matter, their lawyers are hard at work trying to figure out how to sue the free software community for supposed, but unproven copyright infringement. Sue people who are dedicated to provide an alternative to the status quo; the ramming of poorly written and overpriced bloatware down everyone’s throat. If Microsoft would develop better, more secure software, and sell it for a reasonable price, much of this piracy wouldn't be happening.

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Anonymous Coward

All the more reason to use genuinely 'free' software ...

Let me say that there is no way I condone any of this perp's actions. If the intellectual property belongs to some one or some company, then they should expect to get a return on it, if they so choose.

However, M$ banging on about how they're going to screw more money out of us puts me in mind of what legal alternatives I have to using their insecure and bug-ridden software, that probably costs a lot less as well.

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M$ = Monopolistic criminals

M$ have been convicted of criminal monopolistic trading practice is virtually every trading zone on Earth.

Who went to prison for these crimes?

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No parole

There's no parole in the Federal system. The best he can hope for is 4 months for good behavior. And the prosecutor has a significant say in where he goes, so you can probably bet he won't go to a Club Fed.

I'm willing to bet that MS takes him to court when he gets out. And Uncle Sugar will go after civil forfeiture. Add on his legal expenses and he'll be a pretty poor man.

Civil forfeiture: They can take your money, your house, your car, etc. If they can prove that you spent even one dollar of your ill-gotten gain on something like your house, the whole thing is their's.

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It wasnt Fake Stuff. It was real

I know of this case and of the guy personally. He was selling GENUINE MSoft Certificates of Authenticity. Something that was legal up until December 2004. Selling fake or counterfeit has always been illegal, this was not the case.

His business sold them in early 2005 after an undercover FBI agent instructed an employee to sell them to the FBI (After the company was no longer selling them). Thus, setting the guy up. He now gets to do 4 years in jail, forfeit ALL his assets, and is still being sued by Microsoft for 6 million dollars. 6 million in which he does not have and will never be able to pay back. So they will get a judgement and take every penny he makes while working at Burger King after his sentence.

Way to go! Put another hard working little guy in jail for the benefit of the richest company in the world...

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Joy

Continued from previous...

He is also being sued by Microsoft for 6 million. That of which he does not have and will be paying for the rest of his life IF he can even get a job after his time served. Fair? Not even close. Criminals whom punishments are less than 4 years in prison:

Murderers

rapists

child molesters

gang members

robbers

kidnappers

And you all think his sentence fits??

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Joy

You have NO IDEA...

And neither did the judge in this case. I for one, know the guy very personally. Well, all of his life. Let me just start by saying that the JUDGE and the FBI got it wrong. I was in the trial and witnessed first-hand the level of idiocy we have in the U.S judicial system and our U.S Government. Justin has been a hard-working citizen since the age of about 14 yrs old..never had he been in any trouble more severe than a speeding ticket. He's certainly never hurt anyone physically, never stolen, and has never even used a drug in his life! To set an example out of someone like Justin is extremely cruel and unjust. The judge in this case had NO CLUE as to what the normal workings are of an internet-based company. She had no clue what Windows xp Pro was or any other software mentioned. She did not even care to listen to Justins lawyer when he tried to explain that his sentence should be lessened (by loss estimate) because it should be based on the single value of a C.O.A.-not the full retail price of the software PACKAGE in which the C.O.A came. Either way, the FBI had no clue what they were dealing with, and the judge proved that she didnt as soon as well when she said, "It all sounds fishy to me" bc his company was run from his house. HELLO, its called an INTERNET BUSINESS. It's all over now and US citizens are now using their hard-earned dollars to keep a guy like justin in prison. The Gov should be saving jail cells for real criminals who pose a threat the others, not for someone like Justin who saw that people were basically getting robbed by Microsoft. If Microsoft didnt price gauge, there would have never been a black market for the software to begin with. This was a case of buying a box of candy, and selling it piece by piece...WATCH OUT, it's illegal.

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Anonymous Coward

Slammer

This would not be a problem if Americans would use Linux.

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Wouldn't be problem if Microsoft weren't so greedy

Answer me this then - why can't Microsoft just give Windows away. Let's face it - it's not like they don't make enough cash from Office, and all their development server and client products. And considering how full of bugs their new products generally seem to be, how the hell are they worth over £100?

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Be consistent

Fake certificates ? - what about those Spams from US "Colleges" that offer you fake degree or PhD certificates for payment of a wad of cash "to get the job you deserve" ?? A bit of attention here wouldn't go amiss.

The name McKeith springs to mind ...

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