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Russian teacher wins software licensing case

Calling case "trivial," court throws out claims that teacher deliberately used unlicensed Microsoft software in a Russian school.

The case against a Russian schoolteacher accused of using unlicensed software in the classroom has been thrown out, following international attention and an intervention from former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

On Thursday, a Russian court rejected the case against Alexander Ponosov, labeling it "trivial," according to the Associated Press. Ponosov told the AP that he was "off to drink champagne" following the decision.

Ponosov was accused of using unlicensed versions of the Windows operating system and Microsoft Office on 12 PCs. But he insisted he had bought the computers with the software already installed, and had no idea there might be a problem.

Under Russia's intellectual-property laws, Ponosov could have been sentenced to five years imprisonment if found guilty. The prosecution, though, had been seeking a fine of $114 (3,000 rubles), and claimed that Microsoft had suffered $10,181 in damages.

The case was brought by Russian authorities but sparked criticism against Microsoft, which is pushing for tougher action against software "pirates" globally. Microsoft has denied being involved in the case.

As reported last week, Gorbachev wrote a letter to Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, arguing that Ponosov, who is from a remote village in the Urals, should be shown mercy because he did not know he was committing a crime.

Graeme Wearden of ZDNet UK reported from London.