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E-waste Recycler Eric Lundgren Could Face Prison Time for "Restore Discs"

The 33-year-old was convicted of conspiracy and copyright infringement, but a federal judge has stayed the sentencing.

Eric Lundgren, a 33-year-old recycler whose Los Angeles-based company processes more than 41 million pounds of e-waste each year, was convicted of conspiracy and copyright infringement after manufacturing 28,000 so called "DELL restore discs," which can restore the Windows operating system on DELL computers that already have a license for the system. A federal appeals court has granted an emergency stay of Lundgren's sentence, however, giving him another chance to explain his side of the story.

Lundgren claims that he created the discs to extend the usefulness of secondhand computers in order to keep more of them out of the trash, not to make any sort of profit. His case is currently in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Seattle Times has more information:

Lundgren said he thought electronics companies wanted the reuse of computers to be difficult so that consumers would buy new ones. “I started learning what planned obsolescence was,” he said, “and I realized companies make laptops that only lasted as long as the insurance would last. It infuriated me. That’s not what a healthy society should have.”

He thought that producing and distributing restore discs to computer refurbishers — saving them the hassle of downloading the software and burning new discs — would encourage more secondhand sales. In his view, the new owners were entitled to the software, and this just made it easier.

The government, and Microsoft, did not see it that way. Federal prosecutors in Florida obtained a 21-count indictment against Lundgren and his business partner, and Microsoft filed a letter seeking $420,000 in restitution for lost sales. Lundgren claims that the assistant U.S. Attorney on the case told him, “Microsoft wants your head on a platter and I’m going to give it to them.”

Read the full story here.

Correction: April 02, 2018
A previous version of this article failed to specify that Lundgren's sentence had been stayed and did not provide a description of DELL restore discs.
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