back to article Microsoft sues Wisconsin man (again) for copyright infringement (again)

Microsoft is hoping the third time will be the charm in its efforts to shut down a man once again being accused of pirating its products. The Redmond giant has filed suit [PDF] in the US District Court in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, against Anthony Boldin for illegally selling product activation keys for its products. The complaint …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Two thoughts here - either the guy is stupid to keep doing this, or crime _does_ pay. Mind you, at least it's Microsoft, so no harm done there.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "or crime _does_ pay."

      The things MS has done in the past say 'yes'.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      either the guy is stupid to keep doing this

      Or his customers are stupid. People are paying for pirated activation keys when they are available all over the web for free?

      People must know that he is not a legitimate vendor, so they know they are breaking the law, yet they pay him?

      1. Adam JC

        They aren't pirated, they're legitimate keys that WILL activate, from Chinese educational institutions or MS internal use. Any key you find on the net won't activate and will give you problems..

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          [Any key you find on the net won't activate and will give you problems..]

          Not entirely true. Or so I'm *cough* told..

    3. WalterAlter

      The Marketplace of Ignorance

      This guy's gig was based on user ignorance. Any single/private user can Pirate Bay a FREE pre-cracked, ready to rumble Windows OS, from Win95 to Win 10 with all the latest updates and important comments on the torrent file's installation/functionality issues and comparisons with other hackers' releases. The Comments Section is what puts Pirate Bay above all the other torrent sites. There have been many cases where copyright holders have released poisoned torrents of their product or media to sabotage the torrent using community. PB's comments keep these files from being offered there and is the main reason why PB has been the prime target of the DRM jockeys.

  2. Hoe

    All to often the big internet based crimes do pay and people pay a portion of their earning back sometimes a huge portion and every now and again someone gets a crippling fine but that is about it. :/

    The fact he could pay back 1.13m shows he must have made more as surely he spend some over those years...maybe he has legit businesses I don't know but all to often the numbers show it does pay, very well at times.

    They don't get the punishment a drug dealer or a violent criminal does no matter how much they earn.

    That said, not sure it's worth it fore the 1 year inside but that was for tax fraud which is about the best way to guarantee prison time!

    Sad but true.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      "They don't get the punishment a drug dealer or a violent criminal does"

      But he's selling copies of Windows to unsuspecting customers. Some would say that's damaging more lives than a drug dealer.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nvidia / AMD overheating defective Graphics Chip Laptop Licences.

    If he'd been selling licences from the mass of defective Nvidia / AMD overheating graphics chips, from now defunct Windows 7 laptops, I'd have some sympathy. Its not as though Microsoft did anything altruistic with the ill-gained revenue.

  4. Zakhar


    So if the guy did get an 'internal key" and some key on the "supply chain", isn't there a serious security issue at M$?

    I though everything was perfectly secure in Redmond, I am disappointed it seems so easy to steal those keys...

    1. td97402

      Re: Security?

      The problem being that Microsoft only generates the license codes they farm out all of the printing and manufacturing. So lots of opportunities for theft. I read recently that a bunch of Office 2013 keys (they are printed on rolls of peel/stick labels a thousand at a time) were sent out for disposal but got hijacked on the way. Now being sold with phoney discs online.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Security?

      I have ~ 50 keys from my last job for Windows 7.

      The story is: a laptop comes from Lenovo, Dell, etc and is _STICKERED_ with a basic level Windows license which has been PAID at OEM rate to Microsoft. This license is NEVER used as it is immediately imaged by corporate IT with the corporate image which is different license since XP and is activated using the corporate key.

      If you copy the key off the sticker you can activate an image downloaded from MSFT. I needed to do some experiments with VMs using consumer builds in my previous job, so our IT guy just told me - copy yourself a few.

      IMHO, this cute extortion racket should have been terminated long ago - it is a form of fraud - you are being double-billed for goods you do not use. In any case, these are the keys which form 99% of the trade in activation keys. Microsoft has created that problem for itself, but it is so addicted to double-billing customers that it cannot get itself off that needle.

      1. Mark Simon

        Re: Security?

        Agreed. While Boldin is clearly doing something legally and morally wrong in what he knows is an illegitimate activity, the fact remains that Microsoft have been double-dipping on licenses for decades.

        If you buy a laptop or desktop with Windows pre-installed and don’t use use the license either because you’re already using an alternative license or you prefer to use an alternative operating system, Microsoft have no worries about keeping the money. And if you try to buy a machine without Windows, Microsoft punishes the reseller.

        1. Just Enough

          Re: Security?

          If you are buying a licence with the laptop, and again with a corporate licensing scheme, then it is you who are at fault, not Microsoft. It's not Microsoft who are "double-dipping", it's you who are "double-buying".

          Either don't license the laptop with a corporate licence, or don't buy laptops that are bundled with a licence. If your laptop supplier cannot sell you a laptop without a Microsoft licence, then shop elsewhere.

          1. phillupson

            Re: Security?

            Unfortunately not, VLK is an upgrade to the OEM license on the base unit, if the license sticker is missing from the physical box then the VLK isn't legal, so he isn't double buying. However, taking those keys and re-using them is also a breach of license terms, just because the number isn't typed in doesn't mean it's not used, technically. Although if you want a fun morning, call MS Licensing for advice, then hang up and call back with the exact same question, I do this for fun until I get the answer I want, then I note down the call reference and keep that as my ammo against the SAM audits :)

            1. Just Enough

              Re: Security?

              Years ago I once asked Microsoft to determine if our licensing plans would be all above board, and they pointedly and repeatedly would not be drawn into providing a definitive answer. Their approach was ; "Here is our byzantine licensing rules, pages of it. It's up to you to determine what you qualify for and how. We won't assist you in any specifics ... it'll be your fault if we audit you later and find you wanting."

          2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Security?

            > It's not Microsoft who are "double-dipping", it's you who are "double-buying".

            Again - wrong. You can't buy a laptop without Windows, but the version of Windows you get isn't the licensing type that we use internally. So we have no choice but to double-buy.

            And you really, really can't get properly supported laptops in bulk (either from the manufacturers themselves or resellers) without Windows. We tried - the only supplier who would charged more for the laptop sans Windows than with Windows..

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Security?

        Expect to be downvoted to oblivion for the content rather than the truth of this statement but here you go - your corporate managed IT license is actually an upgrade license that requires the OEM license on your laptop to be legally licensed, so not necessarily double billing.

        MS only sell full Desktop OS licenses via OEM, retail box or in very few cases, a legalization SKU for companies realizing they are mislicensed and need to rectify.

        Source - Know MS volume licensing very well.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Security?

          > your corporate managed IT license is actually an upgrade license that requires the OEM license on

          >your laptop to be legally licensed

          Not true (especially if you are on some form of enterprise licensing scheme). We too get hardware with Windows (largely because the big suppliers won't sell you the hardware without it because Microsoft won't let them) and immediately nuke them with our coprorate build. That build uses enterprise keys from our KMS which we get as part of our EA.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Security?

        "I have ~ 50 keys from my last job for Windows 7. The story is: a laptop comes from Lenovo, Dell, etc and is _STICKERED_ with a basic level Windows license which has been PAID at OEM rate to Microsoft. This license is NEVER used "

        Fixed with Windows 8 onwards. The license key is now directly tied to the hardware even if not activated.

        "this cute extortion racket should have been terminated long ago - it is a form of fraud - you are being double-billed for goods you do not use."

        Not true - the cost of the supplied OEM license is taken into account in Microsoft corporate licensing agreements...

      4. MrKrotos

        Re: Security?

        SO get a refund of the OEM OSs. Others do this including us.

      5. Grunchy Bronze badge

        Re: Security?

        Volands right hand:

        I bought Windows 7 pro licenses from a guy on Reddit for - real cheap. I don't know who, there seem to be many doing the same thing.

        I always wondered where those had come from. Thanks for letting me know! I feel much better about my purchase now.

      6. Hans 1

        Re: Security?

        @Voland's right hand

        Ok, no, I will try to stop laughing, because I have indeed heard this one too many times.

        STOP, if you buy laptops with MS software on them and then not use that software, you can simply return the "software" for a refund. 50*50 = $2500 bucks.

        Especially in the W7 era, today, this has somewhat changed, it is now only possible in Europe (Windows 10 EULA change, anybody ?), MS admits it is possible in Germany and no mention of the rest of the EU because, it so appears, German judges have bigger balls (and told MS to inform their German customers that they can request a refund).

        Germany, where I will get my next private laptop, because, well, to get the software refunded is easier than anywhere else ... I'll put enterprise-grade software on that thing, sir, not your ToyStoryFishyPricey poor excuse for a calculator OS, thanks!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft doing all they can

    to maintain their dominant position.

    If anyone is going to be ripped off in the software world, then it's going to be by Microsoft.

    After all they have a reputation to keep - can have just any Joe Blogs at it.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Uh oh

    Better check those MAK keys :o

  7. td97402

    Go Check eBay

    There are lots of "copies" of Office, Windows, etc. for sale on eBay. No original packaging, really badly forged discs and a plain paper license sticker. Sure they do activate but at some point MS could decide to deactivate the product as stolen or pirate.

    1. Phil W

      Re: Go Check eBay

      There are also a fair number of windows and office keys listed by those who aren't bright enough to blur or otherwise obscure them in their listing photos....

    2. Updraft102 Silver badge

      Re: Go Check eBay

      Not sure why you were downvoted for making a simple observation.

      There are sellers of "legitimate" product keys (I saw them for Windows 7 when I checked to see how they were selling some months ago) which will be sent to you via email after you pay them, with no disc or sticker at all. Seems legit!

      Many of these on eBay are posted as bulk auctions that show that dozens have been sold, and there are dozens of sellers, not to mention the dozens of "buy legit product keys" sites all over the web.

      At least in the case of Windows 7, it is an outgrowth of a demand for a product that MS no longer wishes to provide to them. MS, of course, hopes that if they can't (easily) get 7, they will give in and install the abominable Windows 10. With legitimate copies of Windows 7 becoming harder to find through known sources, it's natural that people will go to places like eBay, and it is a lot more difficult at times to tell a legit copy from a pirate copy.

      Even the presence of a well-made DVD and COA doesn't mean that the product is legit. There are well-made counterfeits too... back in the Windows 95 days, there were very sophisticated fakes of OEM Win95 all over the place, and they were hard to spot unless you had a known legit copy to compare it to. By themselves, the fakes looked quite real.

  8. Herby

    Maybe he can...

    Sell activation keys for Linux. I don't think he would get into much trouble doing that.

    Then again I could as well, but I'm too honest.

    1. Crazy Operations Guy

      Re: Maybe he can...

      Well, if you started pirating license for Red Hat, I wouldn't be too surprised if you found yourself in front of a judge in the not too distant future...

      1. hplasm

        Re: Maybe he can...

        Ah, but RedHat is turning into Windows Lite*, so that would be different.

        (* You know I was going to say SystemD** here, so I won't bother...)

        ** Or whatever. Pile of any other name...

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Maybe he can...

        > if you started pirating license for Red Hat,

        Strictly speaking, DedRat don't sell licences. They sell support contracts and you get the software thrown in with it (and the updates, access to phone zombies et. al.)

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Maybe he can...

      That would be like the amazing discounted admission tickets for the museums that people sell to gullible tourists in London.

      Special multi-entry 7-day admission pass covering the British Museum, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, V&A and a bonus National Gallery, only £20! Bargain for gullible tourists.

  9. James Loughner
    Paris Hilton


    Selling random numbers just $25 each

    Oh and by the way here is a link to a Windows download

  10. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Third timje lucky?

    Wouldn't they have more success trying him of theft rather than piracy? And I don't mean that ;piracy is theft' bullshit, but it sounds like the certificates are valid - albeit some aquired from questionable sources.

    1. Crazy Operations Guy

      Re: Third timje lucky?

      Technically that wouldn't be theft (at most they could charge him with "Willful possession of stolen goods" (since there is no proof that he himself stolen the license keys). Besides, Piracy is a civil matter which means they just have to provide a more compelling case than his lawyers; theft, being a criminal matter, would require them to show, well beyond a reasonable doubt, that the guy stole the keys and knowingly engaged in criminal activity. Besides, if he is sues, Microsoft gets money, if he is convicted of a crime, all that money goes to the state.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Third timje lucky?

        I would think software piracy would cover using software and not paying for a license. Theft would be taking money from a licensee that should go to the licensor. So the software can be pirated, the money can be stolen. Or is that fraud?

        Now I've confused myself and I wish I'd never started this comment.

  11. Medixstiff

    Funny how M$ stopped the TechNet program because they said "That's how most pirated software got their keys" - and not once did they respond to the question of "Why don't you just block keys when you find them"

    Oh no, everyone knows it's because MSDN with Office, Windows and Server is closer to something stupid like $10K versus the $600 AUD for the same TechNet subscription.

    I have no sympathy for them, after how they treated probably their best sales people (through word of mouth to family, friends, customers etc), the tech's that play with their product as part of their learning experience -because all too often outsourcers etc. don;t give a damn about certifying you unless there's something in it for them - so suffer M$.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      For at least a couple of decades Microsoft turned a blind eye unlicensed copies of its desktop products for the end users if they are domestic users. And it still does to some extent although the HUP allows people to have the stuff for next to nothing anyway and give MS a way of keeping track.

      The reason they let this happen was partly because it was impossible to control anyway, but also because they wanted it to become ubiquitous and de facto. That kind of worked, but now Microsoft can't get the cows back into the field. It's a problem of their own creation. If they go after home users too much, then they will push more toward Open Office.

  12. Anonymous South African Coward

    Boldin into the dragon's lair... :)

  13. Gde

    Hang on a second

    Isn't this the same company that spent a year just trying to give their software away (and making a lot of angry customers in the process)?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hang on a second

      "Isn't this the same company that spent a year just trying to give their software away"

      "Isn't this the same company that spent a year giving bait away"


      His error was not getting people lined up for the subscription model.

  14. SImon Hobson

    Is it just me ...

    But as I read it, Microsoft are claiming that he's selling codes which they themselves created - but are also claiming that he's lying when he says that they are authorised by Microsoft. Either MS did create them and they are genuine; or they didn't create them and they aren't.

    The fact that they were generated for a different purpose to what they are being sold for is a different matter - but it doesn't change the fact that these are, according to the article, genuine keys generated by Microsoft.

    And I'm with the other - a pox on MS for their deliberately opaque and confusing licensing system where a licence key for "Windows $version" apparently isn't a licence key for "Windows $version" if you have the audacity to want to install and run "Windows $version" from the wrong (and not in any way labelled as to the differences) "Windows $version" installer disk.

  15. Bucky 2

    Stealing from a thief is still stealing.

    Whether MS is doing bad things or not is irrelevant. And I'd argue piracy feeds the monopoly--not opposes it.

  16. Stevie


    Hmm, being repeatedly caught doing the same dumb illegal thing is ... the preamble to an Asperger's Defense.

  17. shanejoel

    Microsoft windows.....who cares? I guess 90% of the planet. If the guy had a brain he would sell his services to install linux to adults (not kiddie gamers) who just want a working machine. Its far faster and less hassle. Of course, a brain did not seem to come into play on this story.

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