DIY device tinkerer iFixit weighs in on 15-month jail term for PC recycler

Calls on Microsoft to play nice with repairers

DIY repair outfit iFixit has weighed in on the fate of PC reseller Eric Lundgren, who is due to spend up to 15 months in the clink following copyright infringement charges.

iFixit is no stranger to repair and recycling legal issues, being a vocal supporter of Right to Repair legislation.

"We tried to broker a peace before this got out of hand," said Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit.com, in reference to the case, before remarking: "I've never seen tactics like those used by Microsoft in this case."

Lundgren was sentenced on two charges, which he copped to in 2017, for attempting to distribute copies of Microsoft Windows operating system restore discs without permission.

Although the charges against the PC recycler stemmed from software copyright issues, iFixit cited the case as "an example of Microsoft resisting repair".

iFixit went on to highlight what is, in its eyes, Redmond's unfortunate track record when it comes to repairability. A recent teardown of Microsoft's Surface laptop left the team at iFixit giving it an impossible-to-repair rating of 0 out of 10.

Microsoft told El Reg at the time of Lundgren's sentencing: "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."

iFixit, for its part, has claimed that Microsoft is one of the biggest offenders of warranty-void-if-removed stickers to prevent consumers opening up hardware. The Seattle Windows maker got a ticking off from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) yesterday for its trouble.

iFixit and fellow repair enthusiasts the US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) have said that the situation is an example of companies pushing consumers to consign old devices to landfill in order to buy new ones.

"What we should be doing instead is reusing more, repairing more, and recycling the rest – ideas that Eric Lundgren has been pioneering," said Nathan Proctor, director of PIRG's Right to Repair campaign, before asking people to sign up to a petition calling on Microsoft to "come to the table" and pledge to work with repair advocates rather than unleashing the lawyers.

We have asked Microsoft to comment. It pointed us to its statements released last week, in which it noted that it had "cut back substantially on the number and types of piracy cases that we bring" and also pointed out that it did not bring the case against Lundgren. ®

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