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China Jails Four For Microsoft XP Piracy 164

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the imagine-what-they-do-if-you-make-a-silly-face dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "Chinese court has jailed four people for spreading their bootleg 'Tomato Garden' version of Microsoft's Windows XP program, in what the Xinhua news agency called the nation's biggest software piracy case. One of the four men Hong Lei, the creator of the downloadable 'Tomato Garden Windows XP' software, was jailed for three and a half years by a court in Suzhou in eastern China, Xinhua."
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China Jails Four For Microsoft XP Piracy

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  • Use Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dedazo (737510) on Friday August 21, 2009 @07:26PM (#29152045) Journal

    Seriously. I'm not one to loudly advocate using Linux on the desktop, but if it's a choice between jail and Linux... choose Linux. Use WINE if there's something you can't do without.

    (I was going to make a Soviet Russia/Communist China joke here but I decided not to)

    • Re:Use Linux (Score:5, Interesting)

      by wizardforce (1005805) on Friday August 21, 2009 @07:48PM (#29152213) Journal

      well said- MS may be hurting its self big time by cracking down on the pirates- its probably the easiest way they could have created an MS centric Chinese software market. Now people have a better reason to use FOSS based OSes than under a Chinese Windows pirating culture.

      • Re:Use Linux (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Friday August 21, 2009 @09:49PM (#29152887) Homepage Journal

        I am unsure how much MS wants this crackdown. I think the government wants to clean up the piracy, because they can see clearly how invasive and pervasive Windows is. Red Flag Linux is the official operating system of Red Flagged China.

        And, the crackdown WILL benefit China. No money being sent to the western Capitalist Pigs, for starters - not even for legal copies. People who are forced away from MS holding their hands (Hail, Clippy!) will be forced to learn how an operating system works - thereby creating more potential hackers to attack the Pentagon. China gains in their own security - there just aren't a lot of virus and trojan infections running on Linux.

        Gates is on record, favoring piracy of MS Products over legal acquisitions of *nix: http://articles.latimes.com/2006/apr/09/business/fi-micropiracy9 [latimes.com]

        • by westlake (615356)

          No money being sent to the western Capitalist Pigs, for starters - not even for legal copies. People who are forced away from MS holding their hands (Hail, Clippy!) will be forced to learn how an operating system works - thereby creating more potential hackers to attack the Pentagon

          Apple and Microsoft own 99% of the desktop precisely because users have no desire to poke about under the hood.

          That's not their job. That's not where the money is.

          The mechanic can make a living. But he isn't the one driving the

          • Perhaps I'll restate the case, from a more military perspective. China has it's "Assasin's Mace" program, which is meant to make them equal to, or superior to, the United States, militarily, economically, politically, and scientifically. Assymetric warfare.

            Red Flag Linux is a part of the mace. A small part, but an important part. While lazy westerners are busy relying on Microsoft to run their desktops, laptops, servers, and whatever else, China is moving ahead with Linux. The average Chinese will have

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by AmiMoJo (196126)

        I work in IT, and I can tell you that most people don't even know what an OS is. All they see is a computer that lets them type in Word or go on Facebook.

        The problem with trying to move people to Linux is always compatibility. It's much better than it used to be thanks to Open Office Word document support and a selection of good web browsers, but you still can't just go out and buy Photoshop or a game and expect it to work. I know there are free alternatives, but people are trained at work or college to use

    • Use WINE if there's something you can't do without.

      I can't do without Propellerheads Reason, you insensitive clod !

      • i know! seriously, as soon as reason can run under WINE i'm finally done with windows. it's honestly the only thing left.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by X0563511 (793323)

        But, it will run fine in virtualbox [virtualbox.org], using the asio4all [asio4all.com] driver inside the VM. FLStudio will too, for that matter - though the GUI takes a bit more CPU than it normally would.

        You still need a copy of windows however :/

    • by mqduck (232646)

      (I was going to make a Soviet Russia/Communist China joke here but I decided not to)

      Which would have been ironic, because China is here going all-out to demonstrate their dedication to capitalist (private) property.

    • Re:Use Linux (Score:5, Informative)

      by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Friday August 21, 2009 @10:03PM (#29152949)

      These aren't 4 random guys pirating Windows for their own use, so your suggestion to just use Linux isn't relevant. These assholes were trying to be 1337. From TFA:

      Hong "created the Tomato Garden version of the Windows XP," which crippled the program's authentication and certification barriers, said Xinhua, allowing users unrestricted access to the popular Microsoft software. Millions of Internet users then had free access to the software on a website, tomatolei.com, which made its earnings from advertisements on the site, it said.

      I think 3,5 years (and 2 years for 2 others) for maliciously ripping off someone else's work and distributing it is quite mild by China's standards. Hell with the current laws it might be mild by US standards.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by fyoder (857358)

        Hong "created the Tomato Garden version of the Windows XP," which crippled the program's authentication and certification barriers, said Xinhua, allowing users unrestricted access to the popular Microsoft software.

        Huh? Isn't crippling crippling like a double negative? In effect they uncrippled it allowing unrestricted access to the software, something that paying customers don't even get. I think they're on to something. Microsoft should take note.

        • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @07:42AM (#29154729)

          Huh? Isn't crippling crippling like a double negative? In effect they uncrippled it allowing unrestricted access to the software, something that paying customers don't even get. I think they're on to something. Microsoft should take note.

          Hah - you might want to remember the last guy who uncrippled the crippled. It's generally frowned upon by the powers that be.

          • Hah - you might want to remember the last guy who uncrippled the crippled. It's generally frowned upon by the powers that be.

            Most good things are.

    • I foresee linux with a toaster-ized windows VM being the mainstream ala this guy's blog post [wordpress.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by wampus (1932)

      What is this Linux you speak about? I've never heard of it before. Do you have a link or something?

    • Linux: No fines, No jail time!
  • Big nothing. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kuano (705538) on Friday August 21, 2009 @07:28PM (#29152067)
    So let me get this straight. The largest piracy case ever in the largest country in the world with the most piracy in the world included 4 people?
    • by LaskoVortex (1153471) on Friday August 21, 2009 @07:35PM (#29152133)

      So let me get this straight. The largest piracy case ever in the largest country in the world with the most piracy in the world included 4 people?

      Yes. It's a shame. My heart really goes out to Microsoft on this one. I mean, the amount of disillusionment they must be feeling right now must be unbearable. All those years of fighting for justice and trying to make a good product and this is what they get? It's like a slap in the face. A real shame. It's like China doesn't give a rat's ass whether Microsoft turns a profit in their country or not, or any other American software company. I tell you what, I'm not going to buy Chinese products any more if they are going to treat American software producers like this. What a farce!

      • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Friday August 21, 2009 @08:09PM (#29152321) Journal

        That's OK -- you'll likely be buying Chinese stuff anyway.

        I bought a new thermostat for my car today from the local big-chain auto parts store. A quality Stant unit, at a quality price. Printed on the box it said "Made in USA" in about six different languages, but on the thermostat itself, stamped right into the metal, were the words "Made in China."

        I'd have returned it, on this basis alone, but it was the only thermostat in stock in this town which would work with my old BMW, and I needed to get it fixed today.

        • by LaskoVortex (1153471) on Friday August 21, 2009 @08:20PM (#29152377)

          Printed on the box it said "Made in USA"

          They were talking about the box.

          • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

            by adolf (21054)

            Oh.

            • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

              by Migity (1199059)
              That's right. You're a proud owner of a box made in the US. Don't tell me you just went and threw it away?!
              • by adolf (21054)

                Sadly, the box is indeed gone. I did fire off some hatemail to Stant regarding the incident, however, though I don't expect a reply for a couple more days since I sent it late on a Friday.

                In it, I told them I was going to do a writeup on BMW thermostat replacement for a few online enthusiast forums, and I asked that they explain the situation so that I can address it fairly. Hopefully, that's enough to get them to explain the incongruity, and/or give me a new thermostat for my 1979 Firebird. ;)

          • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

            by BikeHelmet (1437881)

            Why is this modded funny?

          • by wisty (1335733)

            That's an achievement. Clothes are IRONED in China, then sent to Australia on racks. It's cheaper to send them in a bigger container, than to actually have somebody iron them in the store.

          • by bhiestand (157373)

            Printed on the box it said "Made in USA"

            They were talking about the box.

            Actually, the box itself was made of 60% American pulpwood, and it was assembled in Mexico.

        • by skeeto (1138903)
          Back in high school some army recruiters handed out cheapo little calculators with "US Army" across the top. On the back was a sticker that said "Made in China".
      • by SL Baur (19540)

        Yes. It's a shame. My heart really goes out to Microsoft on this one.

        Nice post and you deserve the +5 funny I see on it.

        When I worked at Turbolinux in 2000/2001 the hardest problem we had to solve in 6.5 was getting the retail price below the equivalent of US$10 in China (our secondary market).

        Vast wealth is accumulating in China but it's not spread out very much. Vast population doesn't mean much market if most of the population doesn't have much yuan to spend.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, but they were very large people...

    • I know right? China has, like, a BILLION PLUS PEOPLE! Surely they can make a better display by jailing a measly hundred thousand or so... I'm sure they have people picked out on rosters for the purpose... so what's holding them back? Windows 7 release candidates? Come ON!
    • Re:Big nothing. (Score:5, Informative)

      by PsychicX (866028) on Friday August 21, 2009 @08:20PM (#29152373)
      I don't think you quite understand. These people didn't go to some torrent site and download Windows. They took Windows XP, built an illicit distribution with the activation bits etc removed, and sent that around -- probably for money. IOW, they enabled millions of other people to run stolen copies of Windows XP, possibly without even realizing it (third rate vendors have a nasty habit of using these bootleg Windows copies on their machines).
      • Completely agree with this person. On top of that, China in my opinion has a terrible reputation for allowing these things to happen and turning a blind eye. Sentencing these people to a few years jail time signals to others that they can't be quite so blatant about their piracy anymore, as China is changing their stance on it.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by vintagepc (1388833)
          The exact same thing happens with DVDs. You'll have vendors selling them for the equivalent of about $1 US, and they are all bootleg- nary impossible to find an original DVD.
        • Re:Big nothing. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by SL Baur (19540) <steve@xemacs.org> on Saturday August 22, 2009 @12:09AM (#29153483) Homepage Journal

          On top of that, China in my opinion has a terrible reputation for allowing these things to happen and turning a blind eye.

          Hey, when per capita yearly income is in the US$100s, how much demand do think there is for Microsoft Windows (or anything else) at a substantial percentage of that?

          Sentencing these people to a few years jail time signals to others that they can't be quite so blatant about their piracy anymore, as China is changing their stance on it.

          It's a slap on the wrist and probably the result of some kind of deal.

          When I worked for Turbolinux in the early 2000s we sold to 3 markets - Japan, China and the US. In Japan we were #1 for awhile due to all the proprietary goodies we could attach to the system. China was #2 and US was #3. I don't think Turbo ever turned a profit in the US.

          I spent a week in 2001 in Beijing with the Chinese office as we were working on getting the price point below US$10 per retail sale. That's still rather expensive.

          • by ivucica (1001089)

            I know exactly how they feel. I'm Croatian, and I'm not buying software either (XP courtesy of MSDNAA, and I don't use VS except for studying purposes, only where C# is mandatory).

            But if $10 is a problem for an OS, cost of a machine is kind-of a problem as well. Do you have information how the Chinese people cope with machine costs?

            • by SL Baur (19540)

              But if $10 is a problem for an OS, cost of a machine is kind-of a problem as well. Do you have information how the Chinese people cope with machine costs?

              Sorry, no. I presume China is like most 3rd world nations - a tiny elite, tiny middle class and everyone else poor. The time that I was in Beijing was abnormal - it was about a week before the Olympic Committee came to award them with the most recent summer Olympics, and there were thousands of worker bees everywhere picking up garbage and stuff.

              I can only guess that we were trying to do better than Red Flag. Of course, Turbolinux was also making lots of mistakes then. They seem to be doing better now t

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        They took Windows XP, built an illicit distribution with the activation bits etc removed

        Sounds nicer than the copy most of the world pays for. Considering I've seen "Activation" shut down a small business who was using Windows 2003 legitimately before, I'd say it sounds a lot less like running your business on a minefield than with the usual copy of Windows...

      • by belmolis (702863)

        With all the trouble Microsoft has been having recently, they'd probably be smart to hire these guys.

      • third rate vendors have a nasty habit of using these bootleg Windows copies on their machines

        Why nasty?

        Independent distros of Windows are a lot better than the official releases.

        Try TinyXP, for example. It's compact, fast, doesn't report you activities to its masters, and has better default tools and settings than the MS version. What's to complain about?

  • interesting (Score:2, Informative)

    by wizardforce (1005805)

    I wondered why China would bother upholding the copyright of a foreign country now when CHina has a history of lax copyright enforcement in the past until the BSA got involved that is:

    In June last year, the Business Software Allianceâ"a business coalition campaigning against commercial piracyâ"complained to Chinese authorities, and Hong and his colleagues were arrested later in the year.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by lonefolf (1621311)
      Maybe their worried about upholding US copyrights because we make their firewall software...
      • either that or the BSA found a few of the higher ups in the govt. and decided to send them a fruit basket. BSA gives them a gift for nailing these guys for infringement, China gets to look more responsible in so far as copyright law and the population get one more reminder who is boss. it's a win for everyone but the Chinese people.

    • just to say that we do uphold them

    • by copponex (13876) on Friday August 21, 2009 @07:49PM (#29152227) Homepage

      Some of the big bosses in the party have a lot of industries that they run. They're probably realizing that:

      1) Intellectual Property and Copyright laws are becoming acceptable in most of the world

      2) Pretty soon they won't be just manufacturing things, they will be designing and selling Chinese ideas on foreign soil.

      Sorry, but hardly anyone America can compel anyone in China to do anything. They are in their second millennium of being a civilization. They are stockpiling oil, uranium, and millions of tons of other raw materials with all of the American dollars they have. They will be the major economy of the 21st Century, no matter what we do. They are probably looking into the future, and realizing they will have no legal pretext to sue or invade if we start pirating their technology, unless they start obeying the "law" now.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by wizardforce (1005805)

        realizing they will have no legal pretext to sue or invade if we start pirating their technology, unless they start obeying the "law" now.

        I didn't think China needed a legal reason to do whatever it wants outside of its borders... especially if it indeed does become the dominant economy on the planet... presumably that entails the strongest military and really if they wanted to invade some country at that point there probably wouldn't be much the world would do about it.

        • by copponex (13876) on Friday August 21, 2009 @08:08PM (#29152307) Homepage

          Colonial powers have always had some sort of excuse or pretext. It's not necessary for the victims of their empires - they usually know what's going on - it's so that their internal populations are on board with the operation.

          The "because we want to" method hasn't worked well since the 60s, and it never hurts to have a more believable excuse for sending a generation of children to fight and die in a foreign land.

          • as I understood it, China has control over the vast majority of media- would the population even need a reason more than whatever the govt told them? eg. they are taking our resources... why bother with copyright?

          • by mqduck (232646)

            You're right except for one part:

            [Pretext]'s not necessary for the victims of their empires - they usually know what's going on

            On the contrary, framing the invasion as just is nowhere more important than at the target of invasion. Do you think we hold elections and set up ostensibly sovereign governments in the places we invade for our own benefit?

            If the war goes well, there's no need to give more than some small token justification (if that) to the citizens of the invading nation, whose default attitude is to "support the troops".

            Third, of course, is justifying your invasion to the rest of the worl

          • No... "because we want to" has turned in to "because we can" with regards to the MAFIAA and RIAA. What they're doing is basically quasi-legal extortion, IMHO.
          • It's not necessary for the victims of their empires - they usually know what's going on

            Germany's expansion in the '30s would disagree with you there. Watch the film of the army being welcomed on the streets of countries that they were 'unifying' (and ignore the people who were busy fleeing while their neighbours were at the street parties).

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        They are in their second millennium of being a civilization.

        More like their third, at least. Chinese civilization certainly extends back past 1 BCE.

        • Chinese civilization can be said to have begun about 1500+ BCE, but, as always, it depends on the criteria. Early Chinese civilizations didn't use stone to the same extent as Mediterranean area early civilizations so the artifacts aren't as easy to come by. The problem I have with trying to think in terms of China's position over the near future is that I'm unsure to what extent China is a coalesced entity or a fiction. It's history is one of amalgamation by various warring peoples and even today there are
      • by Type44Q (1233630)
        "no legal pretext to... invade"

        That damn legal pretext thing again - constantly interfering with the plans of invading armies since... ?

      • They are in their second millennium of being a civilization.

        Second millennium? More like fifth or sixth.

        In lieu of a car analogy, I offer the following:

        Just imagine what things would be like in Egypt if the Egyptians still wrote with hieroglyphics and worshipped at temples dedicated to Ra and company... and that the Pharaohs had been overthrown only within the last century or so.

        Now substitute "China/Chinese" for "Egypt/Egyptian", "ideograms" for "hieroglyphics", "Shangdi" for "Ra and Co.", and "Chinese Emperors" for "Pharaohs".

        That's China.

        China is beyond "old"; it was already old when the Romans kicked out Tarquin the Proud.

        Most Westerners -- especially Americans, for whom "ancient" means "more than 250 years ago" -- simply do not get this.

        • I know parts of the civilization have been around for that long, but from what I remember, the first Unified China was in 200 BC or so.

  • Four guys pirating windows and that's their biggest case of piracy? Really? You could only find four guys doing that? I think your search method could use a little refining there, buddy...
    • how many does it take to run a website? p2p network? the number of people can be very small considering that electronic data can be copied cheaply and for all intents and purposes infinitely with little effort.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ubrgeek (679399)
      > I think your search method could use a little refining there
      Yeah, next time try Bing ;)
  • by jack2000 (1178961) on Friday August 21, 2009 @07:34PM (#29152115)
    This is actually a veggie mafia thing. See the Tomatoes were getting uppity and the Corn boss had them canned....
    • This is actually a veggie mafia thing. See the Tomatoes were getting uppity and the Corn boss had them canned....

      Veggie mafia conflicts always end badly. [pbfcomics.com]

  • In America, we PADLOCK our dumpsters, just to prevent such mischief
  • FCKGW?
  • Off the four men

    You mean "of", right? I know it's China, but do we really want to off them?

  • Windows XP? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Whew! Good thing they're starting to crack down on this copyright infringement. Wouldn't want it to cut into sales of this no-longer-available product.

  • by cffrost (885375)
    I suspect that China came down on these four not for distributing their counterfeit "Tomato Garden" version per se, but for their failure to supply the proper MSDN VLK "Corporate" Professional edition.
  • by Nicolas MONNET (4727) <nicoaltiva@gmail . c om> on Friday August 21, 2009 @08:34PM (#29152495) Journal

    I believe there is an error in the translation; the ideogram for "piracy" is very close to the one for "massive pile of stinking shit", and therefore, the headline should actually read: "China jails four for still Using IE6"

  • i see most of you dont understand why this is named the biggest case.it was not made by lots of people,but it was used by nearly all the nation.considered of its effect, it is the biggest one. --- for linux in China, thanks to the banks and the biggest IM company,on-line games and the p2p movie software, It is really hard for you to choose linux totally
  • Business feasibility (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stimpleton (732392) on Friday August 21, 2009 @08:48PM (#29152577)
    A friend of mine has been doing business as a foreign company in china for a few years.

    He is very matter of fact about it. You build into your budget, the kickback amounts.

    I have thought about this a bit, and the attutide is somewhat akin to the tipping/no tipping cultures. I spent time in the US and once I accepted tipping I saw it was a better system. Without kickbacks/bribes you just cannot operate as a foreign company. A kickback is almost regarded as a tip in China.
    • I used to live in Viet Nam, and things are pretty much the same way. I can't speak to the kickback issue personally, but WRT bribery, I can say that bribery fuels pretty much everything. Stopped by a traffic cop? A bribe will avoid a ticket.Not getting the service you need at a government office? A bribe will fix it.

      Sadly, getting proper care for my mother-in-law when she was in the hospital also involved bribing the nurses, so nothing is perfect, but by and large, bribery smooths over a lot of bumps there.

      • So if you're broke you're screwed?

        • by belmolis (702863)

          Yes. Of course, capitalist countries without a health care system manage this without bribes.

          • Yes. Of course, capitalist countries without a health care system manage this without bribes.

            If only we could have socialized government services so you don't need to bribe that cop or the local building inspector or the licensing clerk or the judge...

            • by adolf (21054)

              Oh, please. We deserve pay-through-the-nose private health care for everyone who manages to work hard enough -- we've earned it!

              Capitalism FTW!!!!1!!!, er sth.

              (I write this as I contemplate calling a surgeon about a half dozen or so lypomas [wikipedia.org] that have grown since the last time I had some excised. They're probably nothing, but there's a significant chance that they're a horrible cancer that will kill me in a hurry. So great it is, living as a tax-paying, insurance-card-holding American, that I must contemp

        • by tobiah (308208)
          +1 insightfunny
  • srsly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grrrl (110084) on Friday August 21, 2009 @10:31PM (#29153073)

    so making MONEY from setting up a business distributing copies of XP you altered intentionally and distribute to millions gets your 3 1/2 years but downloading a few songs for personal use gets you whacked with millions in damages which will cripple your life?

    • I'm not sure if you noticed, but the PRC and the USA are different countries with different legal systems. You will not get a huge fine for non-commercial infringement in China (if they did, everyone in the cities would be bankrupt). You will get different penalties for large-scale commercial infringement in the USA.
  • ...someone fell out of favor with the Communist Party of China. Perhaps they forgot to bribe someone?

  • I'm going to download this to find out what all this hubub is about. Anyone have a torrent?

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