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Russian Still Faces Trial for Microsoft Piracy

A Russian school principal accused of installing pirated Microsoft software in school computers was ordered Tuesday to stand trial for a second time, in a case widely seen as a misguided attempt to crack down on software bootlegging.

The Perm regional court overturned a lower court's February ruling to end the prosecution of Alexander Ponosov, said court spokesman Anatoly Sobolev. The lower court had said the case was insignificant.

Ponosov a small-town school director in the Ural Mountain region of Perm, about 620 miles east of Moscow, had been charged with violating intellectual property rights by installing bootleg versions of the Windows operating system and Microsoft Office software. He insisted that the computers came with the software already installed.

Microsoft Corp. said it had nothing to do with the charges, and that the company declined to file a civil action against the teacher last year.

Both Russian and Western officials say Russia -- the biggest producer of pirated goods after China -- needs to be tougher on bootleggers of audio recordings, DVDs and software.

Violations of intellectual property law were cited as a major impediment to an agreement with the U.S. -- signed in November after years of wrangling -- paving the way for Russia to join the World Trade Organization.

But President Vladimir Putin has called Ponosov's trial "utter nonsense," saying manufacturers of pirated goods should be targeted, not consumers.

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