Free Minds & Free Markets

Do You Have a Right To Repair Your Phone? The Fight Between Big Tech and Consumers: New at Reason

Meet Eric Lundgren, who got 15 months in prison for selling pirated Microsoft software that the tech giant gives away for free.

Eric Lundgren, an e-waste entrepreneur who built the first electronic hybrid recycling center in the U.S., will begin a 15-month prison sentence this month after a six-year legal battle with the U.S. Department of Justice.

In 2012, Lundgren plead guilty to conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and criminal copyright infringement for copying and selling CDs for restoring the Windows operating system on broken PCs—CDs that Microsoft gives away for free.

So why did Lundgren's crime result in a jail sentence? The answer cuts to the heart of a major battle going on in the tech industry today: Companies are trying to preserve aspects of U.S. copyright law that give them enormous power over the products we own. Repair advocates say that in their quest to protect their intellectual property, manufacturers are trampling on our First Amendment rights.

Produced by Paul Detrick & Alexis Garcia. Camera by Detrick, Garcia, & Jim Epstein.

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