In 2012, while living in China, longtime e-waste recycler Eric Lundgren manufactured 28,000 PC restore discs to be used in refurbished computers sold in the United States. The shipment of discs, exact copies of Dell-branded Microsoft Windows CDs, immediately raised suspicions with U.S. Customs officers, beginning a chain of events that would alter Lundgren’s life for the next seven years. VICE follows the prolific computer refurbisher as he’s sentenced to—and released from—federal prison.

Legal issues

While living in China from 2006 to 2011 one of his Source Captain projects was to manufacture “restore disks”, usually supplied by computer-makers as a way for users to restore Windows to a hard drive if it crashes.[19] The disks can be used only on a computer that already has a license for the Windows Operating System.

As COO of IT Asset Partners, Inc., Lundgren produced and shipped 28,000 restore discs to a broker in Florida in 2012. Their plan was to provide the discs to used-computer buyers who wouldn’t have to take the time to create the discs themselves.[20]

Lundgren was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison on February 28, 2017 for creating the restore disks in 2012 that violated a Microsoft copyright.[21][22][23] Lundgren pled guilty to criminal copyright infringement and conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods,[24][25] and in May, a judge for the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida sentenced him to the prison time, three years of supervised release, and a $50,000 fine.[26][27][28]

Following his sentencing, Lundgren stepped down as CEO of IT Asset Partners, Inc In June 2017.

In April 2018, a federal appeals court in Miami rejected his claim of the “restore disks” he made to extend the lives of computers had no financial value, instead ruled that he had infringed Microsoft’s products, valuing the restore disks at $700,000 based on the $25 value Microsoft charged refurbishers for each disk.[29][30] US Public Interest Research Group defended Lundgren, issuing a statement over his sentencing through its Right to Repair campaign.[31]