Gorbachev in mercy plea to Gates

Former leader urges Bill Gates to stop teacher ending up in "Siberian prison camps".

    Gorbachev says Ponsonov was unaware he was committing a crime [GALLO/GETTY]

    He stands accused of violating Microsoft's intellectual property rules by using computers in his school that contained unlicensed copies of the firm's software.

    Ponsonov claims the 16 computers delivered to the school in August 2005 were supplied by the regional administration and that he had no idea they were unlicensed.

    Russia has faced much criticism for failing to protect intellectual property rights and has recently cracked down on piracy, attempting to clean up its image as it bids for membership of the World Trade Organisation.

    That campaign has now widened in scope to target end-users of pirated materials and Ponsonov could face five years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.

    The plight of Ponsonov has now attracted the support of Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union, who in his letter describes the headmaster as "a teacher, who has dedicated his life to the education of children and who receives a modest salary that does not bear comparison with the salaries of even regular staff in your company [Microsoft]".

    In the letter, posted on the website

    www.gorby.ru

    , Gorbachev says Ponsonov "is threatened with detention in Siberian prison camps".

    "We have great respect for the work of Microsoft's programmers ... and are in no way casting doubt on the principle of punishment for intellectual property violations. However, in this case we ask you to show mercy and withdraw your complaint against Alexander Ponosov," the letter read.

    "This noble step will be enthusiastically received by all those in Russia who use Microsoft products."

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    Interactive: Coding like a girl

    What obstacles do young women in technology have to overcome to achieve their dreams? Play this retro game to find out.

    Heron Gate mass eviction: 'We never expected this in Canada'

    Hundreds face mass eviction in Canada's capital

    About 150 homes in one of Ottawa's most diverse and affordable communities are expected to be torn down in coming months

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    I remember the day … I designed the Nigerian flag

    In 1959, a year before Nigeria's independence, a 23-year-old student helped colour the country's identity.