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Censorship != Innovation 355

Posted by emmett
from the angry-young-man dept.
I've written a lot of stories for Slashdot, but until yesterday's Microsoft news, I've never been inspired to write an editorial. I wrote this for people who are coming to Slashdot for the first time from media outlets, but regular Slashdot readers and comment posters may enjoy it, as well. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Every time I see Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer on television, spouting the Microsoft party line about the 'freedom to innovate,' I can't help but think of Inigo Montoya in the movie the Princess Bride, saying "You keep using that word... I do not think it means what you think it means." It would be extremely easy to write an article on how most of Microsoft's innovation in the software industry is actually based on licensing issues and business models instead of technology. I won't be doing that this time.

My name is Emmett Plant. I write full-time for a website called Slashdot. I post news bits to the page throughout the day, and I also write features about interesting stuff. I tend not to editorialize, and I choose to show my bias in the stories I choose to write rather than to show bias in the reporting of news. An interesting thing about Slashdot is that we've got a system where people can comment on stories that we post or write. The most important thing about this system is that anyone can post a comment, either as a logged-in user, or as a user we call 'Anonymous Coward.' Based on how interesting the comments are, they get moderated to thresholds in the systems by logged-in users on a number scale system. So, while some really intelligent comment may go to a higher threshold, and a stupid comment may go to a lower threshold, the most important thing is that none of the comments ever get erased. If you're interested in reading everything that's been posted about a story, you can do so. The very basic idea is that if we don't impede on freedom of speech, a greater number of varying viewpoints can be expressed.

The system isn't perfect. We get trolls and miscreants tearing through the comments with comments about nude teenage movie stars, breakfast foods, and the scientific process of petrification. Based on the story, time of day, phase of the moon and the cost of tea in China, the signal-to-noise ratio in the comments fluctuates wildly. Still, we've created a system where intelligent people can say intelligent things in a free forum that tends to bring the cream to the top of the chaos.

Slashdot is viewed in the media as the place where the Open Source and Free Software communities meet and voice their opinions. This may be true, it may not. Nevertheless, we get a staggering amount of pageviews every day, and we're read by people all over the world at all hours of the day. Everyone who works on Slashdot is an Open Source enthusiast, so that bias is shown in the news we post and write everyday, but it doesn't stop there. If you go to a Star Trek convention, you'll find that most of the people there are Star Trek fans, but are also fans of The X-Files, Japanese animation, and computers in general. In the same vein, Slashdot readers are also interested in cutting-edge technology, digital content delivery, and the preservation of constitutional rights. In other words, we've got a lot to talk about, and we talk about it twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Some of our readers also meet online in IRC channels devoted to talking about Slashdot content on a number of different IRC networks.

Linux users are painted as the 'enemy' of Microsoft, although that's not necessarily the case. In my own experience, Linux users value freedom over bandwidth. For many people, Linux is an alternative to Microsoft's products not because of any vast performance difference, but because using Linux enables them to work in a world where their common system environment isn't controlled by a proprietary interest. While many Linux users take a vitriolic stance on Microsoft's monopolistic machinations in the industry, the argument really isn't a Microsoft vs. Linux issue. It's an issue of being able to choose a free and available development and operating platform over a closed-source, proprietary platform, and that means that Microsoft isn't the enemy. The biggest problem that Free Software enthusiasts need to overcome is the ideology and the processes behind the proprietary business model. Despite motions in the direction of the Open Source model, Sun Microsystems and Apple Computer are just as guilty as Microsoft in establishing a closed proprietary environment. Microsoft is just the most widespread 800-pound gorilla.

The problem with the proprietary software model is that it puts users and applications at odds with the interest that controls the common system environment, whether that platform is MacOS, Solaris, or Windows. This means that it will always be in the owner's best interest not to share it's best knowledge and research with the people writing software for the platform; Why should we let someone else make the money? We can do it ourselves. This is why Microsoft's 'Freedom to Innovate' campaign is hypocrisy at best, and the source of endless amusement in the Free Software community. Microsoft's finest innovations to date have been in their ruthless business dealings and monopolistic tendencies. Freedom to Innovate more money into their coffers, that is. The word 'innovation' used to have a pleasant, exciting connotation. It meant people were building things to make life better on this planet. Electricity. Running water. Solar-powered cars. Nanotechnology. Bulletin board systems that gave equal and free opportunity to everyone who wants to post, and a threshold system to bring the best posts to the top. You know, innovation. When smart people do smart things so everyone can benefit. That's 'innovation' in my book.

Yesterday, Andover.Net Editor-in-Chief Robin Miller posted a news bit to the front of Slashdot titled 'Microsoft Asks Slashdot To Remove Reader Comments.' Sit back and look at that title again. It makes Free Software champions and Open Source enthuasiasts see red, and it made this Slashdot Author seethe with intense anger. We offer an opportunity to give everyone in the world a chance to speak, and Microsoft wants us to pull reader comments off of our site, after Linux users and Open Source enthusiasts have been talking trash about Microsoft in our reader comments for that past two-and-a-half years. You bet. Microsoft is hoping to use a statement in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (which is now law) to stab back at Slashdot for a small number of postings about their Kerberos specification. You've got to be kidding me. Robin received the E-mail from the Microsoft attorney, and it was posted in its entirety, as well as Robin's response letter to Microsoft. When I left the the house yesterday morning, the story appeared to being well on its way to becoming the most popular Slashdot story of all time.

Where will we go from here? We'll wait. We've issued a letter back to Microsoft, and we're looking for ideas on how to deal with this in the best way possible. We're talking to lawyers, software gurus, business people, and Slashdot comment posters. We're talking to everyone. Please let us know what you think we should do.

People come to Slashdot and post on Slashdot because they know that Slashdot's comment system is the epitomy of the 'equal time' concept. They know we're Open Source zealots, and that we will never, ever back down. We're too smart for that. I'm hoping that Andover.Net takes this to court. Jeff 'Hemos' Bates told me that I would be flown to wherever the court case would take place. If I'm given the chance, I'll be on the stand, defending the rights of every Slashdot reader comment that has ever been moderated down, moderated up, stayed on topic, asked that I be fired, talked about my wife, or posted whatever was in their head at the time. It's a principle thing. Congress shall make no law.

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Censorship != Innovation

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  • Emmett wrote:
    They know we're Open Source zealots, and that we will never, ever back
    down. We're too smart for that.


    That's all I wanted to hear. You guys kick ass. :)

    -Waldo
  • by qsi (131140) on Friday May 12, 2000 @09:15AM (#1076505)
    I thought feature was rather unimpressive, and missing the point. Since it's aimed primarily at non-regular Slashdot readers, the title is likely to be incomprehensible to non-geeks. How many people know what != means?

    As for the feature, it does not address Microsoft's claims of copyright infringement in any detail, but is rather a generic argument for the Open Source credo of free speech & beer. I don't think this approach is particularly effective in this context; new visitors to this site (I would imagine) are more likely to be interested in why slashdot (if it chooses to fight in court) thinks Microsoft's claims are unfounded. (I also thought the exposition of Open Source principles of freedom was a bit weak, but that's another thread...)

    Given the law (DMCA) as it stands, it's more of a copyright issue than free speech. One might argue that the DMCA is wrong, immoral or unconstitutional, but it is on the basis of the DMCA that the court case will be fought, not high-minded priciples of free speech, unless you want to argue that the DMCA violates the First Amendment. In that case, the article should have made that point.

  • If this Micro$oft thing does go to court, things could get expensive. So lets start thinking Legal Defense Fund. Maybe this could work through FSF or ACLU. Or maybe it will have to be stand alone. But lets all start thinking about kicking in our pennies and dollars.


    And keep up the good work /. and kick posterior!

  • Very nicely written! Emmet makes some wonderful, thought out, and well expressed points. You should write editorials more often, because, it appears you have a knack for them.

    While this is a big Open Source issue, its also a big issue for everyone that isn't running M$'s OS. I'm a mac user and I realize that the closing and hiding of such protocols can totally prevent cross platform communication.

    One of my favorite sayings: You can kick a dog til he does one of two things, 1) roll over and die, or 2) get up and take your leg off. M$ has been kicking a lot of smaller, all but helpless dogs, but I think this time that they've made a mistake and kicked one of the baddest pit bulls ever.....heck why stop at the leg.

    Gig'em

  • by harvardian (140312) on Friday May 12, 2000 @09:18AM (#1076508)
    I dunno, Emmett, I think this is a hard call. The reason I think it's a hard call is that I really think Microsoft has a legitimate claim that if they copyright something, and somehow it's on your site in violation of that copyright, somebody has to be responsible to take it down. I mean, if somebody were to post on /. the text to a copyrighted screenplay, for example, then wouldn't it seem reasonable for them to ask you to take it off of your servers? The whole point of copyright law is that information is _not_ open source, no matter how much you may want it to be, unless the person who came up with the information explicitly makes it available. That said, I think you have the weight of US copyright law against you, and I don't think anything is going to change that law. Information will just never be by nature free and open because part of our market is that if you come up with an idea, you shouldn't have that idea stolen from you and made profitable by somebody else. And something else. The Open Source community doesn't do what they do because they have the weight of law behind them. Open Soruce is a choice, not anything worked into our economy. I like the car analogy that I read a while back, that people choose Open Source not because it's better but because they want to have the option of having ANYbody with skills service what they've bought. Car makers don't keep as a secret the inner workings of their cars, so we have the freedom to take our car wherever we want to get it serviced. If a car maker came along who welded the hood shut and said only they can service your car, then nobody would buy it because it's a bad deal. Even if the car were much better than others available, the option of having your car serviced ANYwhere jumps the worth of the car to more than make up for the difference in quality. So don't try to get the force of law behind you, guys. You're simlpy cannot force Microsoft to play by Open Source rules just as much as Microsoft cannot force us to play by proprietary rules. Our market is set up so that people who want to make something proprietary CAN and can keep it that way with the force of law. The idea of open sourcing is simply another (albeit in our opinions better) marketing model. It has no force of law in its favor. So if we're going to beat Microsoft, we're going to have to do it on their terms. We're going to have to let them keep their proprietariness and STILL manage to beat them. Which we will. But don't try and bend the law in your favor in the dispute. By posting Kerberos to the web, their code lost its trade secret status, but it's still copyrightable and its still theirs. I welcome anybody more informed than I to fix any misconceptions on copyright law I may have, but those were my $.02
  • a gladiator match in the Coliseum between the editors of Slashdot and Caesar Gates. ;^)

    Bravo, an excellent statement emmett!

  • by G27 Radio (78394) on Friday May 12, 2000 @09:21AM (#1076510)
    I swear there has to be a reason that Microsoft keeps pushing their luck like this. Honestly, consider this...Isn't it possible that they know that Windows is seriously losing ground--at least technology-wise and actually hope that the DOJ will "take Windows away." In Gates' recent article [time.com] on Time's website he's already positioning to place the blame on the DOJ for future Windows problems such as the Love Bug. He's going to keep doing what he's been doing then blame the DOJ and everyone else involved for the failure of Windows. It might not fool most readers of Slashdot, but people that don't follow technology closely might believe it. Just a thought...

    Another thought--what's the worst that will happen to Gates and Ballmer if the DOJ comes down as hard as they can on Microsoft? Will they go bankrupt? Will they go to jail? Or will they still have more money than they can possibly spend? They've got nothing to fear.

    numb

  • nothing like cutting right through the shit. there is not much i can say to top what you just did. however, Emmett Plant, you are not the only one willing to hop on a plane to support this cause. please keep us informed (i'm sure you will)
  • by Grant Elliott (132633) on Friday May 12, 2000 @09:23AM (#1076513)
    I'm just as against censorship as the next guy around here, but I think some of what Microsoft said was valid. Overall, censorship is not good, but neither is unauthorized use of someone else's property. I've got news for you: copying != innovation, either.

    It seems that the majority of what Microsoft complained about was the unauthorized reproduction of their materials. Quite frankly, this is illegal. It might not make much sense, since the materials are readily available to the public, but Microsoft does have the right to restrict access to them.

    This probably isn't a particularly popular view. However, I think the best way to avoid this type of thing is for Slashdot to set up their own limits on their own terms before someone else forces them to. Perhaps if Slashdot allows moderators to report comments containing illegal material and appoints someone to remove such material, we could avoid future conflicts.

    Slashdot should not be held responsible for users' comments. There is nothing wrong with posting an opinion that may upset people. However, I think Slashdot does have a responsibility to limit illegal abuse of the system, just as web hosting services cannot permit illegal content or spamming from their servers. Simply put, if Slashdot couldn't post it themselves, they should prevent users from posting it.

    Unfortunately, it's bound to happen eventually. Freedom on the internet is dying quickly. It has reached the point that a company can be hired to find out who you are given an internet alias. If Slashdot doesn't regulate its users more, someone else will, and it won't be pretty.

    It's just a suggestion, and I don't like it any more than you do...
  • First of all let me state that as of about two years ago I wasn't much of an open source advocate. I used computers and bought software but I didn't think of the alternatives that were available to me. One random conversation changed that when a friend of mine suggested that I visit Slashdot. From that day on I became much more involved in the world around me as it pertained to open source and free speech.

    I began by acquiring a copy of Slackware to try. And from there on my OS of choice has been Linux. Unfortunately I have to use Win9x/NT at work because the software that is essential to my profession is only win based (AutoCAD R14). But I have been trying to change that. I have been in touch with an AutoDesk employee, hoping to convince them to port Acad to Linux. I have also been in touch with publications in my field advocating Linux based Acad variants.

    But I digress. I wanted to give my thanks to the posters, editors, writers and the rest of the Slashdot society. If it hadn't been for this site my eyes may have been in blinders to this day. Slashdot had been a beacon in my life as well as in others I'm sure.

    I applaud you.
    And I thank you, for a place for those of us to learn as well as educate.




    flatrabbit,
    peripheral visionary
  • I think that this editorial does a smooth job of a New To Slashdot FAQ, times being what they are.

    Be prepared, however, to be quoted in the media as representative of the entire community (which you should know is a no-win situation). There are generally n+1 opinions on a given subject on Slashdot, where n is an arbirarily large number.

    Personally, I would have liked to see more ruminations on the legal situation. Certainly the Andover people have met with a lawyer and have a little insight into their position.

    Personally, I think the solution is simple. Fair use applies to copyrighted works, so make the publication of the code fit into fair use specifications, ie. for research or criticism. Give an equal fraction of the code to posters and have them repost the code with their comments attached. Then no single person has reposted the entire source and each individual portion is fair use. Leave it as an exercise for the reader to concatenate the posts; a trivial task but one that should easily evade any copyright issues.

    Then have someone deal with the "trade secret" issue and someone with the "licensed text" issue.

    This problem is easily one for the OS crowd: with many eyes, all legal technicalities become trivial.
  • Let me know what you think in the comments.

    Well, here's what I think. I think you guys had better start listening to your lawyers instead of Jon Katz and his teenage fan club. Both you and Roblimo have basically stated the position you plan to take, with no apparent knowledge of what the law actually is. You're going to paint yourselves into a situation where you'll have to choose between your site's future and its credibility.

    It's ironic -- the old Slashdot is being slowly strangled by the site's new identity as the center of a poorly thought-out, inconsistent ideology for socially inept, teenage Napster users who think they're heroes because they insist on their right to download porn in the library and to never have to pay for software or music. It would be funny if that mentality ended up killing Slashdot financially at the same time.
  • by Digital_Quartz (75366) on Friday May 12, 2000 @09:31AM (#1076519) Homepage
    Ok, first of all, we have Microsoft which takes an open source specification, modifies it in a few near-trivial ways, then claims it's their own copyrighted work. This is pretty classic "Microsoft innovation" for you, but let's put the fact that Microsoft doesn't actually own Kerberos aside.

    I don't know if Slashdot has already modified the story in question, but when *I* look back over the story at the articles MS claims contain actual copies of the specification, all I find is links to the specification. Also, it seems that all the timestamps in MS's letter are off by an hour (although this could just be a result of some crazy database porting to the new /. server?). So overall, MS's letter is grossly innacurate.

    There's about a dozen differnt ways slashdot can fight this.

    A link to a site should never be illegal. Microsoft doesn't own links (although maybe they'll copyright the 'A HREF="" COLOR=""' tag when they're done butchering kerberos, they have to be free to innovate after all). If Microsoft has problems with the content of a page, then they should go to that page to solve their problems, not pages which link to it. This is common sense, although I don't know if the law in the US upholds common sense anymore, so we'll have to see.

    It's arguable that Slashdot is only acting as a conduit for information. An ISP if you will. (Hey, wait a minute, where have I heard /that/ argument before?). That has some unpleasant conotations under the burdensome DMCA, but it's still worth looking into.

    Under fair use, copyrighted materials can be reproduced for commentary in an educational or journalistic environment, which Slashdot quallifies as IMHO (the latter, at any rate).

    I'm at work right now, so I'm gonna cut this off and get to my point; I originally thought that slashdot should remove portions of the document actually posted to the discussion groups, and leave the links etc... but the more I think about it, the more I realize how wrong this would be. I don't think the messages should be modified at all.

    If we're forced to change them, I think we should replace offending content with "***CENSORED BY MICROSOFT***" to express our disconent (I'd suggest a boycott, but I hardly think that'd be effective amongst slashdot readers, since I doubt many of us use MS's software except under extreme duress ;).
  • You should write editorials more often 8-). Especially liked the "We're Open Sorce zealots, and that we will never,ever back down" bit.

    We should try and spread the story as far as we can see; write letters to local + national papers, Senators, members of Congress, the DoJ, everywhere. The world should be shown that even as Microsoft is presenting a benign image to the court, saying "We'll be good. Please don't break us up", they're doing exactly the same thing that they're in court for!

    I hope Judge Jackson breaks them up with a large jackhammer...

  • by FreshView (139455) on Friday May 12, 2000 @09:34AM (#1076521) Homepage
    I wish I had moderator points still so I could moderate this up.

    This is exactly the situation, some of the things microsoft is attacking slashdot for are well within it's rights, especially the folks who posted the entire document, that is copyright infringement.

    However, some of the newer DMCA stuff (posting links, posting data about how to defeat EULA measures), that stuff should be fought to the Supreme Court. However, I bet if you removed the posts with the entire spec posted, Microsoft would drop the case.

  • The kerberos garbage here is simple:

    a) MS modifies <i>BSD licensed</i> program for their own proprietary use
    b) samba + kerberos programmers complain that they are stifling interoperability via embrace and extend. Even if they claim or are not attempting to in this case, they are
    c) that is their right
    d) people post copyrighted and protected via DMCA, whatever on slashdot. It is legally protected. It must be censored through either MS asking each person to allow slashdot to take their comments down, or slashdot doing that themself, as this is copyrighted and protected information posted here.
    e) slashdot whines, blah blah, MS plays the little angel, lying and saying that it is a red herring, a complete lie, whatever, completely ignoring the real issue at hand
    f) MS completely ignores the legitimate complaint from the Samba team; slashdot goes of on rants that are completely unrelated to this issue

    DISCLAIMER:

    I do not know what the formal or informal relationship was between MS and the kerberos team, so I do not know if they were not acting in good faith
  • by seebs (15766) on Friday May 12, 2000 @09:45AM (#1076528) Homepage
    I'm not sure it's really censorship to say "you may not reproduce my material without my permission". That's just *copyright*. They're not saying you can't have a given opinion...

    Now, when they get into saying you can't analyze their work, or discuss their license... That loses, and I think they already lost when they put a trade secret out on the web, because the "terms" of the license agreement make no sense when applied to non-proprietary entities.

    But still, be aware that they aren't demanding that people not say that Microsoft sucks. They aren't saying it's forbidden to speak against them, just that they think you can't post instructions for "defeating" the protections on their "trade secret". Now, in practice, I think it's a little late for them to realize that, and I think their targeting is a little broad... Hell, a lot broad... but it's not "censorship" the way it would be censorship if the letter had read:

    Please remove any posts which do not recognize Microsoft's glorious hegemony in the personal computing industry.
  • The emotion behind this editorial was earth-shaking. I'm truly mad at Microsoft. And that's a pretty big deal. Let me explain a little about who I am.

    I am a former MS whore. I loved the quality of Microsoft's products. I bought Office 97. I was a Visual Basic developer. I was a Win 9x/NT power user. I downloaded every update of IE that MS posted the minute they posted it.

    Lately I moved away from that position. I even wrote an article on my webpage about the whole thing. (It's at http://www.afn.org/~afn51445/microsoft.html if any of you want to check it out and give me comments.)

    I hated how Microsoft was bullying everyone. I hated how everytime I looked at their tactics I saw the pure rancor of Big Brother's face in some sort of Orwellian dream vision. I hated how Balmer had the gall to say that MS would never be broken up--even after his company has been ruled against by a court of law!

    Whoever posted that First Contact quote from Captain Picard in that last MS article was right. The line must be drawn here. No more.

    I just installed Red Hat Linux on my computer a few days ago because I just couldn't stand to let my machine be Windows only anymore. There have been some frustrations (if anyone knows how to get a Diamond Supra Express 336i PnP modem working, send me an e-mail), but I can already see a much more stable system than MS could produce. And more importantly, I feel better about myself. Finally, my software supports the freedom that I myself champion.

    Having said all that though, I really don't know what we could do here. I honestly hope that /. doesn't back down here. I'd love to see them stand up, but I can't help but wonder whether they would win in court. I think that the important thing is for *us*, the /. readers and people who don't like to see people pushed around, to stand up now. Personally, I think we (the readers) should mount a massive e-mail campaign against MS. How many of us come here everyday? How many of us are upset by this? A bunch, I'd bet. Now imagine if MS suddenly has their little Outlook inboxes crammed full of insightful intelligent e-mails from consumers. Like any business who depends on profits, they will back down.

    I'm going to send an e-mail right now. I'm begging everyone else to as well. This will only work if we all do it.

    Rusty
    fuzzcat@yahoo.com
    http://www.afn.org/~afn51445

    root@MyComp root# rm -r /mnt/c/windows

  • It would be funny if that mentality ended up killing Slashdot financially at the same time.

    Ridiculously inflammatory rhetoric aside (opposing censorware does not imply that I wish to view pornography in libraries, it simply means that I oppose censorship), I think you're not looking at the big picture.

    The financial existance of Slashdot, and even Andover.Net, is not nearly as important as preserving and extending the freedom that we, as individuals, deserve.

    If Slashdot goes out of business fighting for what it believes in, I will forever admire their commitment to liberty. If they compromise in order to extend their corporate life, I don't think I (and many people) will ever be able to forgive them.


    Michael Chisari
    mchisari@usa.net
  • by MenTaLguY (5483) on Friday May 12, 2000 @10:05AM (#1076538) Homepage

    Perhaps if Slashdot allows moderators to report comments containing illegal material and appoints someone to remove such material, we could avoid future conflicts...

    ...Slashdot should not be held responsible for users' comments.

    Unfortunately, the moment that Slashdot directly or indirectly removes a post due to content, Slashdot becomes responsible, both in conventional and legal terms, for all user-submitted content on the site.

    This is one of the primary reasons that the Slashdot editors have refused to remove posts in the past -- to do it voluntarily once (for any reason) means that they would be legally obligated to do so in the future (for any reason).

    I think it's also important to draw a distinction between legality and ethics here: what Microsoft has done is to effectively apropriate an academically developed public standard, developed in large part with public funds. Think about that a second. Is that very ethical?

    Ironically, due to the current state of law, what Microsoft has done is legal, and the public really has no direct legal recourse (the DOJ trial doesn't count, you can't add new charges after the verdict). Under these circumstances, while Slashdot readers posting the specification is unquestionably illegal, I have a very hard time convincing myself it was unethical.

    In the long view, I think that this is (deliberately or not) about changing unethical laws, not just challenging unethical practices.

    I just hope that the people posting the specifications really understand what civil disobedience is about -- they can be tracked down, and they should fully expect to be punished for breaking the law. As I understand it, under the DMCA, their circumvention of a copy-protection measure for any reason is a felony.

  • It doesn't matter who owns it, whether it is Microsoft, Linus, Red Hat, or whomever. The fact of the matter is that a piece of copyrighted material was posted to the board. And the owner, in this case Microsoft, has every right to ask and expect that it be taken down. It doesn't take the DMCA to make that copyright violation wrong.

    Let's say I posted the complete text to the latest Grisham novel. Would not the publishing company that distributed his work have the right to ask for the text to be removed? I would certainly think so. Its no different than Microsoft asking for their copyrighted Kerberos material to be removed.

    Now as for the links and the instructions, MS will just have to deal. I refuse to believe that those things are illegal or wrong. The courts have already stated that links are fine, and instructions are also acceptable. After all, there are books on the market as to how to be a hitman!

  • My debate teacher used to joke that if you couldn't come up with a decent rebuttal to an argument, you could always compare your opponent to Hitler. Here we go.

    In 1919, Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles. Its provisions included a break-up of the German "monopoly" on land, strict limitations on the size and capabilities of the German military, and economic restitution for damages caused during World War I. The German people were predictably dissatisfied with life under these terms, which led to the rise of a new government that chose to ignore the treaty. I can't help but imagine that if we were to ask Adolf Hitler what his motivation was, he would reply, "the freedom to innovate".

    Any other similarities between Microsoft and the Third Reich are completely coincidental. ;-)
  • by Tau Zero (75868) on Friday May 12, 2000 @10:07AM (#1076542) Journal
    The reason I think it's a hard call is that I really think Microsoft has a legitimate claim that if they copyright something, and somehow it's on your site in violation of that copyright, somebody has to be responsible to take it down.
    Six of one, half dozen of the other.

    On the one hand, Microsoft claims copyright on the text. On the other hand, Microsoft allowed everyone in the world to download it, making no attempt whatsoever to restrict access to people who had previously signed an NDA. The validity of the "click-through NDA" is doubtful, because the use of WinZip to open self-extracting archives (and bypass any trojan or virus in the extraction code) is a very well-known procedure; indeed, this is a feature of the format. Since there were no technical measures taken to prevent users from doing this, the anti-circumvention clause of the justly-maligned DMCA is not applicable.

    On to motive. Microsoft wants to restrict access to this information only to people who agree not to compete with Microsoft. In other words, to people who agree to give up their right to innovate and make products that do what Microsoft's do, but do it better, cheaper, or openly. And that, my friends, sucks the big one.

    Offtopic WRT the DDoS: if it ame from Microsoft or from their astroturfers, we've got a new simile.

    open-source advocates : Microsoft :: suppressive persons : Church of Scientology

    --
    This post made from 100% post-consumer recycled magnetic
  • According to the Judge in the DeCSS case, any device which can be used to circumvent copyprotection is illegal according to DMCA- even if circumventing copy protection is not it's primary use, right? Now we have Microsoft claiming that there were discussions about how to use winzip to bypass it's copy protections and view the content without agreeing to the license, right?

    So doesn't this put winzip in the same category as DeCSS- a tool which, despite it not being it's primary purpose, can be used to violate copy protections?
  • by messman (32358) on Friday May 12, 2000 @10:09AM (#1076544)
    While there are many different points of view among Slashdot readers, I think many readers would like to do something besides just passively read the story or whine. Slashdot needs many posts to because it is financed by advertising. However, there is a community leadership aspect of Slashdot that is not being taken care of properly. With Slashdot's readership, much more could be accomplished than it currently is if some guidance was provided on what to do.

    For example, I saw this post yesterday lost in the more than thousand replies to the Microsoft threat:

    1. Send an email to Mr Weston [mailto] with the following text:

      Dear Mr. Weston:

      I certainly do not appreciate Microsoft's attempt to use existing laws to censor unfavorable comments made in a public forum. From all the postings that Microsoft asked to be removed, there is only one which might have infringed Microsoft's copyrights. I believe Microsoft took advantage of just one post to try to suppress lawful and valid critique, and I am very unhappy about that kind of disrespect to the Constitution and the laws of this country. I would also like to warn you that you made some claims under penalty of perjury that are unmistakenly deceiving and suggest a retraction by Microsoft of some of those false claims.

      Sincerely,
      ....... your name here ......

    2. Email to the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice [mailto] with the following text:

      Dear Mr Klein:

      I would like to inform you of a new antitrust practice of Microsoft Corporation regarding its new Windows 2000 operating system.

      Microsoft Corporation has purposefully broken interoperability with preexisting secure networking standards in an attempt to grab the portion of the server market currently held by Unix (TM) and Linux operating systems. To this goal, Microsoft has implemented an extension to the widely used Kerberos protocol that is incompatible with all existing implementations and keeps the specifications as a trade secret.

      Recently, Microsoft made a restricted release of the specifications of their proprietary extension that requires the licensee to agree to use the information only for security auditing and not for implementing interoperable Unix protocols. However, when this information was leaked to the public Web forum known as Slashdot, Microsoft began an attempt to not only suppress possibly copyrighted information but also criticism and explanations of how the protocol works.

      It may be of your interest to investigate this new demonstration of antitrust behavior by Microsoft Corporation.

    3. Write your congressperson with the following text:

      Dear Mr/Ms ....

      I am writing you to inform you about some portions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that are clearly being used for a purpose that I am sure is not what Congress intended when it enacted it. I would like you to consider an amendment to this Act to clarify some points.

      In particular, Microsoft Corporation is attempting to use the DMCA to suppress free speech in the public Web forum known as Slashdot. While there was a leak of copyrighted information posted to that forum, Microsoft Corporation is using the DMCA to try to also suppress criticism and technical advice offered by some posters. While that technical advice might be unwelcome to Microsoft because it concerns proprietary protocols that Microsoft is unwilling to publicly discuss, this by no means is a copyright infringement, just a possibly unqualified opinion.

      I am sure the intention of the DMCA was to prevent and punish illegal acts on the Internet, and not to be used as a vehicle to suppress criticism or dissenting opinions.

      Thank you,

    4. Email the New York Times [mailto] with the following text:

      The new attempt of Microsoft Corporation to suppress public criticism and dissenting viewpoints in the forum Slashdot shows that Microsoft is continuing its monopolistic practice without regard to the current antitrust trial in which it is involved.

      It seems that a breakup of Microsoft Corporation is fully justified, given that in the current situation Microsoft is big enough to just ignore the United States government and judiciary and disrespect the United States Constitution.

      The new embrace and extend tactic is using proprietary extensions to a widely used secure networking protocol in order to grab the Unix server market. When the protocol was made public, thus allowing Unix and Linux servers to interoperate with Windows 2000 machines, Microsoft claimed copyright infringement and is attempting to erase the information (and with it also some criticism and technical explanations) by threatening with lawsuits. The basis of its claims is the new Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which was enacted to fight pirates, not to suppress freedom of the press. This outrageous demonstration of contempt must be stopped now.

  • I hope you're willing to be flown all over the country defending anyone who's violating a copyright, because in reality the situation is no different here. Sure, some of those posts were not offending. If Microsoft knew what was smart they'd withdraw their demand to have those posts taken down. But they have every right to demand the withdrawal of the ones that actually do violate the copyrights, and there are some that do.
  • I know I'm going to get flamed to a crisp for this, but here goes anyway:

    The concept of "property" is obsolete in the digital universe. "Property" survives by operation of scarcity and inconvenience. There is no scarcity or inconvenience here. Thus, "property" collapses, unable to sustain itself.

    Supporting argument: Try laying proprietary claim to the oxygen produced by the plants on your land.

    Now, it happens that I think the Open Source community is ethically compelled to remove the verbatim reposts of Microsoft's documents. I have a long-ish justification for this, but briefly: The GPL operates by stipulating the conditions under which you may make and distribute copies. While much of Microsoft's "license" is utter bullshit, they do stipulate the conditions under which copies may be made. If we are to insist on equal treatment for redistribution conditions applied to GPL'd works, then we are ethically compelled to observe conditions for redistribution on Microsoft's works, however strenuously we may disagree with them.

    In fact, the conspiracy theorist part of me wonders whether this was a deliberate ploy by Microsoft to torpedo the GPL and hijack Open Source works: "Well, you didn't obey our redistribution restrictions, so why should we obey yours?"

    We must needs tread carefully here...

    Schwab

  • What Microsoft did this time was a blatent abuse of the Trade Secret laws. These laws were made to protect from things like a Coca-Cola employee defecting to Pepsi with the secret recipe, they weren't meant to allow a company to snatch a free and open technology and make it they're own then pretend that they are being open about it by publishing their "trade secret" to the entire internet, but requiring that every one enter into a TS agreement with them. Thats just absurd! That's like Coke mailing the recipe out to everyone in the world and then saying that no one can use it.

    They also showed no interest in defending their trade secret since the EULA was just hacked into a self extracting zip file, and could be bypassed with WinZip (the defacto standard Zip utility on Windows). Their actions were arrogant and offensive to the Computer industry as a whole, and now they're running and hiding behind the DMCA.


    Conscience is the inner voice which warns us that someone may be looking.

  • What if someone posted the specs rot13-coded? Would that be considered copyright infrigement?
  • by Eric the .5b (49632) on Friday May 12, 2000 @10:17AM (#1076556)

    Normally, I'd agree with you. I'm a supporter of IP rights and don't buy the "information wants to be free" rhetoric (because, as a friend said, oxen want to be free, to, but it's smarter to yoke them both). And while I despise Microsoft, I often feel obliged to defend their actions where permissable (Microsoft is to the free market supporter as the KKK is to the free speech supporter). However, this action by Microsoft is absurd and abusive!

    The specifications Microsoft claimed were "trade secrets" were specifications that anyone with Windows on their machine were free to download. You can't claim something's a secret if you show it to anyone who asks! You didn't have to pay for them, you didn't have to meet any real requirements...You had to click an agreement.

    Now, while I am a huge supporter of contract rights (I even think shrink-wrap agreements should be legal, as long as you can read them before you are committed to the product), I don't buy that you can make people promise to not share or discuss information that you're willing to show to just about anyone who makes that promise. That's a logically void agreement.

    So, to hell with Microsoft in this instance. Slashdot should fight them.

  • by Bad Mojo (12210) on Friday May 12, 2000 @10:19AM (#1076561) Homepage
    I don't know. I tend to see Slashdot as a digital manifestation of the toothpaste tube analogy of free speech. Once you say something, it's out. You said it and you are responsible. You can't (easily) put the paste back into the tube. If that means MS sues some Slashdot posters for violating their EULA, that's fine. And if that means the penalties are worse for making their code available for all time in the anals of Slashdot, so be it. Slashdot is no different (in my eyes) than the air that carries my words from my mouth to the ears of those who are near me. Can MS sue the air? They can try, I'm certain.

    Free Speech is something we all say we want. Well, those people who posted the material that MS owns (supposedly) have got Free Speech and they used it. Good or bad, that's the extent of it. DMCA, Copyright law, EULAs all mean crap when applied to the air, so why should it mean anything to Slashdot? This is a good time, IMHO, to show people that the DMCA should not apply to forums of Free Speech in any circumstance.

    Now, take a deep breath of Slashdot. ;)

    Bad Mojo [rps.net]
  • They know we're Open Source zealots, and that we will never, ever back down. We're too smart for that.
    So smart that you will go down with the ship?
    So smart that you will vehemently defend the right for an AC to post copyrighted material, and not do anything about it?
    /. as a whole may well want to go up against DMCA, to prove that they too can be as much of a martyr as 2600, and to take on the evil empire, but this is not the time to stand. Why is there an issue here? A copyright violation has taken place, and regardless of the tools employed to request the removal of the document in question, law has been broken.
    This is not like providing a link to a tool(such as DeCSS or DivX), but providing the end product(Galaxy Quest/Metallica/Pam&Tommy). How long before warez, mp3z and pr0n appear in the hidden sids, uuencoded for anyone to download? Think carefully about the stand you are about to take here, the enemy might be attractive, and you may well want the opportunity to fight, but perhaps this is not the time. By striking now, you may lose a better opportunity to strike harder later on.
    Be careful, don't get into a fight for the sake of a fight. This may well set a precendent where posts have to be pulled, but how is this different from articles which magically appear and disappear, because an editor has decided they should be held, or assigning a login an automatic -2 karma?
    Again, if you want to be a martyr, fine, but don't do it just to be cool, do it for what you believe in, not for column inches.
  • by Anomalous Canard (137695) on Friday May 12, 2000 @10:27AM (#1076566)
    The reason I think it's a hard call is that I really think Microsoft has a legitimate claim that if they copyright something, and somehow it's on your site in violation of that copyright, somebody has to be responsible to take it down.

    There are three types of things that Microsoft is demanding be taken down.

    1. The posting of a complete copy of the document.

    2. The posting of portions of the document.

    3. The posting of links to the complete document.

    4. The posting of comments describing how to open the document without running it.

    #1 probably has to go and this is the point you've made. Slashdot can mark the single such post as -2 and it will disappear.

    The remaining items must stay. #2 because the quoting in in the context of commenting on it is arguably fair use, but since the guidelines for determining fair use are deliberately not clearly specified, they have to choose between erring on the side of caution and erring on the side of freedom. The DCMA forces them to make determinations that only a court can make.

    #3 must stay. A link is just a reference to another location. The contents of that location may or may not be infringing material. Slashdot has no comtrol over the other location and non-infringing material could be replaced with infringing material at any time. Microsoft needs to talk to the administrators of those sites.

    #4 must stay because the DCMA section 1201(b) is not constitutional. I joked a few weeks ago about Microsoft suing someone on Slashdot because they told how to deencrypt the copyrighted phrase "Netscape engineers are weenies!" which had been encrypted by writing it backwards. The EXE file used to distribute the document does not run on Linux and other Open Source OSs, but the means to extract the content does. If Microsoft has given people the right to download the document, they have given people the right to read it.

    The claims made by Microsoft are overbroad. The answer on three of them is clear.
    Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected
  • First, the DDOS attack. If it's traced to Microsoft HQ, or any affiliate, MS is dead meat. It doesn't matter if it was a hyper-loyal MS employee, "getting at the enemy" - the press won't see it that way. They will see electronic corporate warfare and the headline of the century.

    Second, the legality of the posts. Slashdot is a Common Carrier, and is NOT liable for the information on it, even if notified.

    Along with this is the question of how secret the information is. If it's on the Internet, it's not a trade secret, so that is not a valid defence. (As the poster is unlikely to have been on the server itself, it was carried by the Internet to get to it, and lost it's trade secret status PRIOR to being received by Slashdot.)

    Then there is the copyright status of the information. It's an interface, and interfaces CANNOT be copyright. (Apple vs Microsoft.)

    In conclusion, the licence itself is illegal, the posts may not be but Slashdot is not liable, and all precidents indicate that the posts -were- legal.

  • Any additions?

    Presenting the Microsoft Hall of Innovation
    ===================================

    Close Combat
    Popular game purchased from Atomic Games

    Flight Simulator
    Purchased from the Bruce Artwick Organisation

    Age of Empires
    Collabaration with Ensemble studios(Gopal R S)

    FrontPage
    Microsoft's HTML editor was purchased from Vermeer Technologies in 1996

    FoxPro
    This database application came along with Microsoft's purchase of Fox Software in 1986

    Internet Explorer
    Desperate to play catch-up in the fast-moving Internet world Microsoft licensed code from Spyglass Inc one ofthe two licensees of the
    original Mosaic code base in 1995 and called it MSIE Microsoft then proceeded to distribute MSIE for free denying Spyglass substantial royalties for their key contribution to the product

    MS-DOS
    The original Microsoft cash cow this CPM clone then called Q-DOS was purchased from the Seattle Computer Company in 1981 Microsoft then proceeded to thwart Seattle Computer's license rights to the product The tiny company sued Microsoft and prevailed in court

    Object Linking Environment OLE

    Microsoft settled a suit with Wang Labs over patent infringement code portions of OLE which is also the heart of Microsoft's ActiveX

    PowerPoint
    This presentation software package was renamed and re branded after Microsoft's purchase of Forethought Inc in 1987

    SQL Server
    This important database product is based on code purchased from Sybase in 1988

    Visual Basic
    Ruby the foundation for Microsoft's highly important Visual Basic product was purchased from Cooper Software in 1991

    Visual C
    Microsoft purchased the Lattice C code compiler which became Visual C Microsoft's software development environment

    Visual SourceSafe
    Purchased from OneTree Software Shortly after OneTree's SourceSafe was released Microsoft preannounced a similar application called Microsoft Delta which failed to sell Microsoft then purchased OneTree and renamed
    SourceSafe as Microsoft Visual SourceSafe

    Windows
    Technologies used in Windows multitasking came to Microsoft with their purchase of Dynamical Systems in 1986 Portions of the interface were licensed from Apple Computer also in 1986

    XENIX
    Microsoft's version of Unix was actually written under contract by the Santa Cruz Operation(SCO)

    The Intellimouse, which Goldtouch is now suing for patent violations over. Seems Goldtouch had a meeting with M$ and tried to sell them their ergonomic mouse technology. M$ didn't buy, but 6 months later released a mouse which looked remarkably simular...



    I just remembered this old Metallica song. . .
  • I think this is a hard call. The reason I think it's a hard call is that I really think Microsoft has a legitimate claim that if they copyright something, and somehow it's on your site in violation of that copyright, somebody has to be responsible to take it down.

    I'd agree with you, except that in this case I have to question the legitimacy of the licencing terms Microsoft is attempting to apply, since it's readily apparent to all that this is just part of a strategem to subvert the public Kerberos protocol. Considering that Microsoft is officially a monopolist, I think that makes the licence terms illegal, don't you? And that gives us not only the right, but the duty to violate them.
    --
  • In the origonal article contained the full document. That one should be removed. The rest were nothing but links or instructions. The one that did copy should be removed but the rest should stay.
    Molog

    So Linus, what are we doing tonight?

  • by Wah (30840)
    That said, I think you have the weight of US copyright law against you, and I don't think anything is going to change that law.

    tee-hee. Anything is a lot of stuff. Anything can change Everything. Particle Man beats Universe Man.

    Particle man could fight Universe man, but he'd get his ass kicked. With no help of joining forces, there's really no hope for Particle man. Pity him. [etext.org]

    E-mail me to join forces.
    --
  • Why does MS even need to invoke the DMCA here? It seems that they could just invoke the license agreement, and allege breach of contract or something.

    Microsoft has no contract with Slashdot.

    Microsoft does have the DCMA hammer with which to attempt to pound Slashdot, But as someone else said here, trying to censor the entire Internet is like trying to nail Jello to the wall.

    is slashdot gonna gun for the DMCA?

    I hope so.
    Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected
  • Copyright is a restriction on speech that we tolerate because we (or congress) believe that the limited monopoly to authors is a necessary incentive for creative work. When copyright no longer appears to be serving that function, because it's no longer limited in laws like the DMCA (or the Sonny Bono term extension), then we should be challenging it on First Amendment grounds.

    The objection to posting the entire spec is likely legitimate, but the objection to excerpts and Winxip instructions should be fought. The DMCA forbids us from reading an ostensibly published work if we don't comply with copyright-holder imposed "access control devices." It directly prevents us from speaking about those works.

    We should be fighting Microsoft's absurd attempt to claim trade secret status in a publicly available document. Like the DMCA, it completely contradicts the nature of "publication."


    -- visit Openlaw [harvard.edu] for more --

  • > According to the Judge in the DeCSS case, any
    > device which can be used to circumvent
    > copyprotection is illegal according to
    > DMCA- even if circumventing copy protection is
    > not it's primary use, right?
    So essentially every (de)compression utility for every operating system could potentially be used to cirvumvent some kind of copy protection, and therefor be illegal under the DMCA..

    Someone should copywrite a 5 line piece of nothing, then secure it with an EULA that excludes everyone, and make many different copies with many different compression schemes that are self extracting. Then, they should sue the makers of the compression schemes (in a group if possible) and force the law to strike down the DMCA, since we know nothing really gets done outside of trial.

  • I agree with this argument almost completely. Posting copywrited material is not just illegal, it's just plain wrong. It's Microsoft's stuff and they can do what they want with it. But the posts describing how to defeat the EULA should _NOT_ be removed, nor should links to the document be removed. Give them hell for suggesting those should be taken off.

    The only disagreement I have with the poster is the car analogy. It's great, but needs to be expanded on. For example, in my experience Honda's are incredibly reliable. As I recall, they even had a commercial at one time suggesting it would be okay to weld the hood shut because they rarely need maintainance. I would bet if Honda's started welding the hoods shut, _some_ people would still buy them. I won't generalize who would buy them, but I would also be willing to bet that there would be a strong correlation between buyers of closed Honda's and buyers of closed software. In their mind, if it works they will buy it. The only thing we question is whether they are in their right mind :) Some people just don't realize that there are better alternatives available. Some people think its normal to reboot their computer every night. Some people only use Microsoft Word to write two page letters to grandma. And that's okay. Last night I described Microsoft's latest security exploit involving reading cookies of your machine and my non-technical wife was ticked. She went as far as suggesting getting rid of Windows and running Linux. This small incident tells me that Open Source, Linux, GNU, etc. is working and that monopolistic, closed source, screw-the-user software is on its way out. It will take a while, but momentum is increasing one user at a time.

    I think may of us are often blinded by our own advocacy. When I read Emmett's final lines, "and Congress shall make no law," chills went up and down my spine. I love that phrase. There is a little "rural militia man" in all of us that makes us want to thumb our noses at govenment and Big Corporations. But when I recover my wits, I feel it's just plain wrong to post copyrighted material like Microsoft's screwed-up Kerberos spec, Metallica's "art", etc. I only say this because if I had some work that I valued and copyrighted, I'd be awfully mad if it ended up on some web site for the whole world to see without my permission. I also hope that if I had valuable information that could help a great many people, I'd have the strength to selfishly give it away like so many Open Source people have done.

    Just my opinion.

    -tim
  • You CAN'T beat them fair and square, because Microsoft bought the market, and you can't beat them in court, because they bought the law (DMCA, UTICA, etc.)

    I blame all of the idiots who didn't vote for McCain.

    I just remembered this old Metallica song. . .
  • It seems that the majority of what Microsoft complained about was the unauthorized reproduction of their materials.

    That's what they say they're complaining about, but if you look at the comments that the MS lawyer complained about you'll see that there was only one comment that had the actual text posted.

    There were others that linked to the text, but most of them just talked about how to get at the text without agreeing to the EULA. Too me that is trying to stifle ideas you don't agree with, otherwise known as censorship.

  • by finkployd (12902) on Friday May 12, 2000 @10:41AM (#1076588) Homepage
    Well, if you wanted to get the internet pissed at you, IE was a good start. ISS picked up the administrators, and your laughable attempts at security made us all livid. This is just the last straw with many of us.

    Let's recap, you take a public, standard security protocol (one I'm fond of no less) and make your own modifications to it. I'm not sure what on earth made you feel you had the authority to do that, considering that your Benny Hill-like attempts at security are already well documented. Any sysadmin that trusts MS modifications to an already proven technology needs to consider another line of work.

    Unless you just got into computer, you know that Microsoft's only motivation in this was to attempt to lock out other competing clients (I understand this isn't your first attempt at this trick, is it?), not to innovate. By the way, thank you for completly removing any meaning from that word. I know few people in the computer industry that can say "innovate" and keep a straight face thanks to you.

    Back to the current problem. You publish your undesired changes to this protocol in such a way that you think users would have to agree to a restrictive license to read it. This way you can destroy anyone who creates a solution compatible to yours, claiming they violated the agreement.

    Now (and here is the REALLY funny part), you place this 'restricted' information in a well documented, standard file format (zipped .EXE) that can be opened with any number of free unzip programs. If this doesn't frighten anyone away from your 'security' solutions, I don't know what will. This is the perfect example of how much people should trust you, if you can't even protect your own data.

    So the cat is out of the bag. Once again the collective intelligence of the internet is miles above you, and you are once again being laughed at for having no concept of security and losing a trade secret to boot. I can understand perfectly why litigation is your only option in this case, it's the only skill you company has left. The only "innovation" is coming from your lawyers these days.

    However, this is where you lose. There is nothing wrong with posting a perfectly legal, common, and (in the case of binaries on a windows machine), desirable method of opening a file. I'm sure the poster who posted the contents of the file opened it using winzip, completly unaware that there even was some kind of agreement. He probably just wanted to avoid executing a binary from a untrustworthy company (go ahead, try proving me wrong). Therefore, YOU HAVE NO CASE. No agreement was broken, none of this DMCA crap applies.

    The bottom line here is, your own legendary incompetance is to blame here. Attempting to attack a small news site is only fanning the flames that are burning your company to the ground.

    Slashdot crew, you have my complete support in this one. No NOT give up, make a stand against this monopolistic disgrace for a company.

    Finkployd

    Windows 2000: Designed for the Internet
    The Internet: Designed for UNIX

  • Here You go:

    http://www.apache.org/
    http://www.sendmail.org/
    http://www.isc.org/products/BIND/

    You can also check RCF's #1 through 2000+

    Most of the technology that makes the internet work, from email to DNS to HTTP began as (and still is) Open Source - I'd call that innovation.
  • Consider the important big picture to this.

    Kerberos is an important aspect of secure communications within the internet/intranets. To gain control over Kerberos drastically impacts competing operating systems.

    MicroSoft embraced Kerberos, only to make off with the standard and extend Kerberos in such a way to make it fully compatible with only other MicroSoft Windows machines. After being caught red-handed, they agreed to publish something they should have made available openly to begin with. Also consider that MicroSoft only did this because the Feds were watching, otherwise these extensions would have never left MicroSoft.

    MicroSoft then publishes these extensions, but under tight restrictions. The publishing is somewhat of a trick to make it appear that they published the info without really doing so.

    These preditory monopolistic actions are fuel to the fire for the case against MicroSoft. Hiding these actions behind their "legal rights" is all the more reason to resist against them.

    Sure Slashdot might loose and be forced to take down the postings, but the MicroSoft PR nightmare will live on during the entire time.

    It is interesting how the DMCA so quickly is used for exactly what everyone feared.
  • Ok, first of all, we have Microsoft which takes an open source specification, modifies it in a few near-trivial ways, then claims it's their own copyrighted work. This is pretty classic "Microsoft innovation" for you, but let's put the fact that Microsoft doesn't actually own Kerberos aside.

    Look again. Had Microsoft actually attempted to copyright the Kerberos spec, and not only their proprietary changes to the spec, Slashdot could laugh off the threat. You cannot copyright something that was not created by you.

    However, if you actually read the spec in question, you'll find that it only covers the format of their extension packets. Microsoft *did* create that, for reasons that I'm not even going to try to argue about. Consequently, they are within their rights to copyright it, although personally you and I both think it was stupid to do so.

    Furthermore, if Microsoft did not challenge Slashdot's reuse of the copyrighted material, they would have failed to defend their intellectual property. Unless I misunderstand the law (entirely possible) I believe that means they lose the right to consider it their own and subsequent legal challenges could place it in the public domain. If I'm correct there, then M$ had no choice other than to defend their copyright.

    -konstant
    Yes! We are all individuals! I'm not!
  • So far the only point in support of Microsoft has been that they have copyrighted the material, and such it actually *is* illegal to distribute it.

    But can that copyright hold? If, as other posters have pointed out, most of the material is already published by some other entity (original Kerberos specs), then how come Microsoft can claim copyright on it?

    If the copyright cna be shown to be faulty, MS has no case left. Better check with someone who knows the (US) law on these points.

    Another little legal detail: It may be that the click-through EULA has some legal validity in the US of A. But as long as it can be stipulated that the AC who posted the offending material did so from somewhere else, the EULA will probably not be worth the paper its printed on.

    Still, I hope MS will loose this case cleanly, and not to technical details like this. Keep up the spirit!

    Heikki Levanto

  • An example: If I copy The Stand word-for-word, and try to sell it, that's a copyright violation. If I rewrite it in my own words, but retain all of the plot, characterization, etc., that is not a copyright violation.

    If I write a book that uses the characters from Star Trek(TM), their lawyers would have me in court within 50 ns, even though I haven't copied the literal expression of their work.

  • Please, explain why the messages should be protected under the First Amendment. Explain why this isn't really a copyright issue.

    I quibble with the "bright line" distinction that this AC draws. Restricting a person from publishing certain materials on the ground that they are copyrighted can be, in certain circumstances, a violation of that person's First Amendment rights. The question is what those circumstances are. (Harper & Row v. Nation Enterprises, 471 U.S. 539 (1985) [findlaw.com] discusses this issue in some detail.)

    With respect to MS's complete description of their modified spec, however, this doesn't seem to be even a close case. Whether MS has protected their trade secret is irrelevant. I can still copyright my explanation of my grandmother's pound cake recipe even if everyone in the county knows the recipe.

  • If the company is broken up, BillyG can have stake in only one of the companies, and therefore will be FORCED to liquidate the remaining stock. Instant cash, and it wasn't his fault, it was the government that FORCED him to do it.

    I've used Windows 3.0, 3.1, 95, 98, NT 4.0, and 2000 extensively. OS/2 2.0-4.0 and Linux as well. 2000 is a mess. It uses as much (if not more) resources as NT 4.0 and has all the stability of 3.1, 95, and 98 (meaning it crashes rather easily.) The driver support in my opinion isn't even close to Linux anymore (at least on the PC's I've tested it on.) I just don't see any way that Microsoft could whip it into shape at this point. If they can get Windows split off into one company and everything else into another--which is what has been proposed--then they can ditch the burden that Windows is going to become. Think about it. It's the perfect excuse to completely drop all support for a product--yeah, the OS company will have to support it, but it won't have to be their problem anymore.

    In the meantime, while Windows is still profitable, Microsoft can appeal and tie things up in court. When Windows ceases to be profitable they can give up. "Not our fault, the DOJ was killing us, we surrender." Or they can intentionally fumble without surrendering so it even looks like they put up a good fight.

    Anyone remember the rumors about Microsoft researching porting Office to Linux? If there's any truth to them, that might explain it.

    I don't think anyone here can deny that Gates is pretty damn smart. I also hear he's a great poker player. Whatever the reason for him continuing to tweak the DOJ's nose, I'm sure it's not out of stupidity. That's what I'm trying to work out--what really is his plan here?

    BTW, the first time I mentioned this someone responded with the Brer Rabbit reference. Was that coincidence, or was that you?

    numb
  • I'm going to abuse my karma here, because a moderator has blatantly abused their power and marked the above post as Flamebait. My post will start life as a +2. Let's see where it ends up.

    Otter's post is one of the most insightful comments on this thread. The fact that the views may hurt your little "free-open-everything" feelings does not change the fact that what he says has value.

    As far as the old Slashdot being slowly strangled, I submit that the face is already blue and the tongue is swollen. The old Slashdot is dead. This has quickly become nothing more than a warez site with a radical political agenda. Pushing for better and more open solutions has taken a backseat to "Fight the man! Down with intellectual property! Gimmie what I want for free!"

    I'd like to see what happens when some of these brave anti-establishment freedom fighters start posting complete articles from 2600.org and redhat.com. Better yet, maybe Microsoft should do that. Let's see how big Slashdotters are on "Free Speech" when it affects someone on their side of the fence.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In other discussions users have commented on the alledged impending demise of USENET, citing sites such as this as a better, less noise environment in which to conduct public discussion.

    Alas, how quickly we forget the strengths of the distributed USENET news paradigm vs. the centralized, single-point-of-attack approach that all web-based discussion forums suffer from. Where is USENET? On some tens of thousands of servers worldwide. Where is slashdot? at http://slashdot.org. Which one is easier to bully?

    Even the Church of $cientology was unable to get the content of the copyrighted materials removed from USENET after it was posted. They did succeed in going after the original poster by forcing finet.fi to disclose his identity, but they were unable to get the material offline. As far as I recall, they didn't even try. Why? Because the distributed nature of the medium made it virtually impossible. Alas, unlike FREENET, USENET isn't persistent - articles expire all by themselves and are then discarded, with the exception of sites such as http://deja.com [slashdot.org], which suffer from the same vulnerabilities as slashdot.

    This is why distributed protocols and methods for accessing on-line information, such as USENET and the newly emerging FREENET [sourceforge.net] protocol, are absolutely vital to the future of the internet, if we wish it to remain a forum for free thought, expression, and exchange of information. FREENET is in particular important because it provides for a form of persistency which USENET does not.

    I do hope slashdot fights this and wins, but we need to be actively looking toward the future. I encourage anyone who can to download the latest version of freenet [sourceforge.net] and set up a node on their machine. This is one case where strength truly does reside in numbers.
  • 1. The microsoft material posted in the kerberos spec discussion IS copyrighted. So they appear to have a strong claim. But...

    2. Let me see: Microsoft "embraces" Kerberos. It adds proprietary extensions to Kerberos that "breaks" the protocol for inter-connectivity purposes. Developers and pundits complain (even in mainstream conservative IT publications like Interactive Week).

    A lot of people are eager to know the content of this "extension" to kerberos to maintain their software. So Microsoft makes the specs freely available on their site but with a funny NDA that make this extension to an open-source authentification scheme a "confidential trade secret".

    Is it me or was that a "bait" tactic used by Microsoft? To use an analogy, it's a bit like if a bank leaves his door open in a needy neighbourghood and tacks a funny EULA on the open door of the vault...

    It Microsoft again using its lawyers to dominate a market: in that case directory services and file-sharing services (Samba)?

  • Normally I sneer at comments with a "Go ahead, moderate me down." My impression is that contrarian opinions rarely get retaliated against. But what's up with this? I write something that I think is a lot more valuable than most of what's gotten me 4's and 5's in the past -- and I get tagged with a "Troll" and a "Flamebait"? For crying out loud, I've been a Slashdot addict since before there was a slashdot.org. I'm just trying to keep my favorite site from running itself into the ground without any apparent deliberation as to whether that's the appropriate move.

    And Freshview made what I thought was a terrific point in his third paragraph, and is now headed for hot grits land.

    Well, go ahead. Moderate down anything that causes you discomfort. If you don't have points, post about how some opinion you don't like is obviously the work of a Microsoft Astroturfer. Unfortunately, when you get in front of a judge, none of that's going to do Andover any more good than Microsoft's market share did for them.

    I'll even throw a +2 behind this! I've got karma to burn.
  • Microsoft is just the most widespread 800-pound gorilla.

    How dare you insult gorillas? They are nice beasts that mean no harm, not ruthless brutes that will attack anyone who stands in their way.

    -- Faré @ TUNES [tunes.org].org

  • One of my favorite sayings: You can kick a dog til he does one of two things, 1) roll over and die, or 2) get up and take your leg off. M$ has been kicking a lot of smaller, all but helpless dogs, but I think this time that they've made a mistake and kicked one of the baddest pit bulls ever.....heck why stop at the leg.

    Agreed. I remember Bill Gates say something about how he recognized that somebody, somewhere could invent a technology in thier garage that could completely change the face of computing, and usurp Microsofts hold on computing. In his manic attempts at victory, and zealous view that he knows what is best for the world, he has overlooked that attempting to fight the standards is his moira. Especially since it is being reinforced by a community of millions of free software users, who believe what they are doing is the right thing to do, not just the most profitable, and have an almost fanatical moral obligation to do so. It will be even more difficult to sway this force, as it's intangible and an everchanging entity. You can take on one of us, or bring a development team to court, but you can't stop the movement en toto. Microsoft thrived in a world of software in which freedom was irrelavent, and software was a luxury. Now it seems to me that the amount of quality software that is being produced that states in it's license that using it is a right, not a privalege, has become great enough to make the old way of doing things a little too much to swallow. I don't believe that selling software is inherently wrong, but I do believe that you have an obligation, ethically as well as legally to allow certain rights to your users. Microsoft, as do a slew of other companies do not get this, and this will be thier downfall.

    He undershot when he said it would be a technology that would be more revolutionary therefor profitable, it has now become matter of basic rights and thus human nature. A new view of computing rather than a new type of computing.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    First: I am not a lawyer (IANAL)

    Second: I have read the copyright laws. Both the original and the DMCA.

    I say the above because of the subject.

    The original copyright laws were created by people who were concerned with showing who owned ideas and their embodiment. The DMCA laws were created by people who were concerned with protecting the rights of companies. They are, as far as I can ascertain, meant to remove all rights of individuals when it comes to something which a company creates. Which makes them the greatest rape of the American people I have ever seen.

    No where, in the original copyright laws, did it ever say that an individual could not discuss something which was copyrighted. Nor did the original copyright laws say anything about not picking apart something which was copyrighted. For they were not meant to limit, reduce, or destroy any personal rights. These restrictions are only within the DMCA. For over two hundred years our country has operated under the concept of freedom. And that your freedoms end where mine begin. Which is to say - if you make something and sell it to me, then the item is mine to do with as I will. Not as you will. Thus, if I wanted to buy a gun and use it as a hammer - that's my business. Not yours.

    Now a different set of rules are being foistered off onto us by companies. Companies who determined that they could only enforce their wishes by changing the laws of the land. So only they win - and we lose. Such is the DMCA. But they are not the only culprits in this. Everyone who does not raise their voice and say "NO!" are just as guilty. For then you are saying "I am a cow. Prod me and I will do what you want." Instead of "I am a wolf. Prod me at your peril."

    Last, but not least, we all know - each and every one of us - that several companies within our country are stealing ideas from other companies, people, and foundations. That they murder other companies (also known as putting them out of business or bankrupting them) who were trying to make our lives better and that they do other things just as bad. And then they turn around and say that they haven't done anything to anyone. They lie - to us. Day after day after day. Even when their evil is held up to the light for all to see we condemn not the company which did the wrong but the person or organization who found them out. As if it is ok to do these things so long as we don't have to sully our hands with the knowledge or maybe - think about it? So are you a cow? So is everything ok so long as you get something to eat? A little TV? Some sex? A quick nap? Play a game or two? Or are you a wolf? Do you really want your rights upheld? And I mean your fundamental rights to do as you please. Because if you don't fight for your rights - you're going to lose them.

    The DMCA should be completely revoked and reworked so it falls within the scope of the original copyright laws. Laws which were never meant to hinder the free flowing of ideas - but simply to give credit where credit was due.

    You have no rights under the DMCA. Think about it. This is the corporation's first major attempt to take away your rights. Don't let them do so.

  • I think this editorial is misleading about the nature of slashdot moderation.

    Being a full-time professional C/C++ programmer for 13 years who is writing a book on politics and philosophy, I was very excited when I first discovered slashdot; however, I made two posts in the past that were insightful and interesting (otherwise I would not have posted them). They contained not one offensive word and were clearly on topic. However, one was moderated down as flamebait and the other as off topic. The only explanation could be that moderators simply disagreed with me.

    That kind of moderation means that slashdot readers like me who dare to veer from the party line will lose interest in slashdot for two reasons. One is because no one wants to waste time writing a post if no one else is going to read it, and the second reason is that many people don't feel like they're learning anything new when 98% of posts tout the party line and often do so with inflammatory language.

    The opposite is also true. I have seen posts that are very interesting get a 3, while a post that could not possibly be of interest to anyone except a publisher of an academic journal at MIT gets a 5!

    This post will probably be my last attempt to share insight on slashdot. If you guys don't want my kind here, then moderate away.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 12, 2000 @11:35AM (#1076645)
    The above post raises valid points, but it neglects to speculate WHY Emmett might choose NOT to include certain elements in his reply. Simply put, there is no reason whatsoever for Emmett to add to the content of Microsoft's suit!

    Thus, it would seem to be folly for him to discuss ways to circumvent the DMCA, since this may well be interpreted as yet another violation of the DMCA! (Is there such a thing a recursive law?)

    However, we posters are under no such restrictions (not yet, at least). So let's try to fill in some of the blanks Emmett so carefully (and necessairly) avoided.

    How about a look at just what the law might consider to be a legal or an illegal post?

    My own original thoughts, and my expressions of them, are clearly OK (they can even be copyrighted). When I lack the proper words, I can also freely use short quotes of the words of others to help express my thoughts, even if those quotes come from copyrighted works.

    However, I am not free to republish substantial portions of ANY copyrighted work verbatim! At the very least, I am required to express the information I wish to communicate in MY OWN WORDS. The IDEAS expressed within the copyrighted document are NOT protected by copyright. Only the EXPRESSION of them is protected, and using trivial modifications of copyrighted materials is still plagairism. I must create my OWN expression of the relevant ideas, using limited quotes only to illustrate the accuracy of my expression.

    I doubt very much Microsoft would have ANY problem (that would result in a suit, at least) with a post that did a point-by-point analysis of the Microsoft document, so long as the quotes were few, short and reasonable. (This may bring up EULA violation issues, but those are SEPARATE from the copyright issues, and are covered under very different law - probably UCITA.)

    So, what is Slashdot's role in all this as a publisher, as the host of this forum? What are their duties under the law, with respect to avoiding copyright infringement while at the same time preserving and encouraging free speech?

    Let's get more specific: No matter what Slashdot can or must do (still a very open issue), WHEN must they do it? Must they be "procactive" (which may lead to their being "over-reactive")? Or may they wait until a formal notice of copyright infringement is received (the current situation)? Or something in the middle?

    I'd say a bit of both, and certainly not the middle. Clearly, Slashdot needs to formulate a policy that defines the difference between a post containing the poster's own thoughts and the fair expression of those thoughts, from a post that contains a level of quoted copyrighted material that clearly infringes on the rights of the copyright holder (under current law, at least).

    No such Slashdot posting policy presently exists, and I'm not even sure it is possible to formulate a "perfect" instance of such a policy. But its complete absence is intolerable, at least in the sense that it leaves Slashdot wide open to being charged as being negligent (at best) or intentionally encouraging (conspiring) violation of the copyright law (at worst). The present "moderation" policy does not respond to ANY of the legal issues involved.

    So, some sort of clear policy is needed. Preferably one that pushes right up to the furthest limit of the law, to err toward the side of free speech, rather than live in fear of the copyright laws. In any event, a balance must be struck, the line drawn, and we should all be expected to observe it and abide by it.

    What does this mean to us, the Slashdot posters? Quite simply, we just have to take a moment longer and express ourselves clearly, and not take the shortcut of violating a copyright. We must NOT allow our laziness or illegal acts to impact Slashdot. It is OUR responsibility, but it is Slashdot that will be sued in court (though we could, in theory, be right there with them). After all, Slashdot is part of the VA Linux purchase of Andover, a deal with a value of ONE BILLION DOLLARS at the time it was announced! Those are some deep pockets, and Microsoft is just as willing to accept revenue from the courts as it is from the sales of its software and services.

    Now, back to the original question: What must or should Slashdot do with a post that has been PROVEN to violate copyright? For the moment, let's postpone the discussion of just HOW the determination of a copyright violation is made, and focus on the proper response. (I'm saving the decision process for last.)

    What should Slashdot do? Should they wait for the lawyers to drag it through the courts? Or can they do something up front that may mitigate the situation WITHOUT intentionally or accidentally violating the poster's rights? I'd say, yes, there is. And I'd use one of Microsoft's favorite words to define it: "Redacted". Microsoft's Encarta dictionary defines this wonderful word as follows: "redact 1. edit something: to edit or revise something in preparation for publication formerly classified documents that were redacted before release to protect still confidential material" In this case, it is fair to substitute the word "copyrighted" for "confidential" (to avoid the connotation of a military classification category).

    Yes, the post must be edited to remove ONLY the minimal amount of copyrighted material necessary to stay within a liberal interpretation of the relevant law. How much should be removed? For starters, I'd suggest leaving the first and last few words (so the context may be preserved, alowing those with access to the document to look it up for themselves), and replace the stuff in between with the following: "[REDACTED]". This inserted comment may probably include a LINK to an offsite instance of the document, since it seems LINKS to copyrighted material are not in and of themselves copyright violations. However, to stay clean, Slashdot editors should NOT actually insert any such link.

    Nor would it be appropriate for Slashdot to CREATE the "offsite instance" of the copyrighted document, but it would likely be provided by another poster as soon as the "[REDACTED]" word appears. So it would be VERY reasonable to expect that a followup to the post that had some of its content "[REDACTED]" would be immediately forthcoming. Slashdot obeys the law, and we posters take up the slack. That is to say, if a poster wants to violate copyright, it is their own personal responsibility to deal with the consequences, and it is NOT fair to expose Slashdot to the effects of such illegal and irresponsible behavior.

    But notice the net effect: Nothing has changed! No information has been realistically denied to readers by the Slashdot insertion of a "[REDACTED]" edit, so long as the posters are willing to "fill in the gap".

    To me, this only seems fair and just. If we want to enjoy Slashdot, we must personally (though anonymously, should we so chose) accept responsibility for our words. Allowing Slashdot to use the "[REDACTED]" policy should satisfy all parties involved, and keep things out of the courts. I do NOT believe Slashdot would then be under any compulsion to report the real identies of posters, or even assist law enforcement in any investigation. This would allow Slashdot to receive the full protection under the law enjoyed by all journalists. And still act as a responsible corporate citizen when it comes to supporting the law.

    No matter if you agree with my "[REDACTED]" idea or not, it certainly proves there may be at least one way to skin this cat that has no net effect on the quality or content of posts, and manages to keep Slashdot out of the courts.

    That leaves us with defining WHEN the edit must occur. Clearly, it should be done IMMEDIATELY after a "proper" determination of copyright violation has been made. Slashdot cannot make any such determination on their own, since I doubt they posess the resources to check the copyright of every post. As an open and public forum, it is not an unreasonable burden to expect copyright holders to protect their own interests, much as Microsoft's letter to Slashdot has done. In fact, this letter seems to be a very direct and simple expression of Microsoft's concerns, though it does seem to omit any way for Slashdot to perform at least minimal "due dilligence" to verify Microsoft's claim. I feel that verification is the key step in all this: Once a complaint is recieved, and its origin and authorship is verified, then the complainant must provide a simple method for Slashdot to be able to verify the basis for the claim. If it looks legit, then the redaction should be performed IMMEDIATELY. If there are open questions, as is the case with Microsoft's current letter, then NOTHING should be done until those issues are at least minimally addressed. Which again, seems to be the current situation.

    Bottom line? Slashdot appears to be doing all the right things, but maybe by accident or for the wrong reasons. I believe Slashdot must also do the following:

    1. Establish posting guidelines that explain the relevant copyright issues, and provide methods for avoiding them. (Please don't explain how to circumvent the law! Merely list the things that are NOT affected by the copyright policy. Things like links.)

    2. Establish the process by which suspected violations of copyright will be addressed. This, above all else, will be what makes it difficult or impossbile to take Slashdot to court.

    3. Place that process into action NOW!

    I suspect Microsoft will be more than willing to support this process, and will accept reasonable delays, so long as it is clearly on the fast track. They may ask a judge to look at the final policy, but that would be a Good Thing for the policy itself!

    Slashdot CANNOT and MUST NOT be the arbiter of what does or does not violate copyright. But when a copyright violation has been brought to Slashdot's attention in a way that explicitly defines the violation, and illustrates a basis for the copyright itself that can be simply and independently verified, then Slashdot MUST take prompt and effective (but minimal) action.

    The copyright holder must defend their own copyright (that's the law). Posters have rights to free speech (that's also the law). Slashdot must protect the latter by default, while being willing and able to promptly respond to the former.

    That puts the responsibility where it belongs: With us, the Slashdot posters.

    I think we're up to it, don't you?

    -BobC
    rcunning@acm.org
    (Sorry for being an AC, but I can't seem to remember ANY of my /. accounts!)
  • It's one thing I haven't heard yet in this whole M$ vs. /. fiasco.

    Comments are owned by the poster.

    Everyone was up in arms when /. reprinted people's comments in book form, for profit. Where are all those claimants now? Where are all the people who were so proud of being John Doe #whatever, in the DeCSS brew-ha-ha? Where are all the individuals, standing up for their words and rights, rearing to take on their oppressor?

    M$ should be contacting BlueUnderwear directly, not bothering Roblimo with worthless drivvel. :)

    And why doesn't M$ just outright BUY VA Linux Systems, and get this headache over with?
  • by blakestah (91866) <blakestah@gmail.com> on Friday May 12, 2000 @11:48AM (#1076652) Homepage
    It seems that the majority of what Microsoft complained about was the unauthorized reproduction of their materials. Quite frankly, this is illegal.

    You need to have a good conceptualization of copyright law. Copyrighted materials are not intellectual property - they are signs of authorship of original material. As with ALL copyrights, reverse engineering is never protected. Only patents protect against reverse engineering.

    Further, there is fair use. In judging fair use, one must consider
    1) Has the monetary value of the copyright been decreased by its use ?
    2) The nature of the use ie: are you making money from it ??
    3) The amount of copyrighted material used relative to the whole
    4) the nature of the copyrighted work itself

    Now, in this case, Microsoft was GIVING the material away FREELY from their website. There is no damage to the copyright value, and no money is being made from Slashdot carrying it. Since it was FREELY available to anyone, it can even be argued that carrying it in its entirety is a case of fair use.

    You do not own a copyright in the same way that you own a car. No one stole Microsoft's car. They reprinted their copyright - without damage to Microsoft or its copyright in so doing.

    Since copyright violations are civil cases and no damages could be named, there is no violation. This is very different from someone posting something like the Windows source code, which WOULD decrease its value.

    Microsoft is trying not only to prevent the carrying of their copyrighted material, but also to prevent carrying of people saying you can use WINZIP TO OPEN THE EXECUTABLE AND EXTRACT THE PDF WITHOUT AGREEING TO THE BOGUS AND WORTHLESS LICENSE AGREEMENT ANYWAY.

    You see, in the license agreement, Microsoft wants to forbid you from reverse engineering its protocol by your click through. In short, by use of its copyright, it wants to deprive you from the ability to reverse engineer copyrighted materials. Guess what - that makes a copyright into a patent that NEVER expires. There is absolutely no way that is legal. No sirree Bob.
  • First, let me just say I disagree. I could stop there, but in the interest of helping you understand why I disagree, I'll elaborate a little bit.

    It seems that the majority of what Microsoft complained about was the unauthorized reproduction of their materials. Quite frankly, this is illegal. It might not make much sense, since the materials are readily available to the public, but Microsoft does have the right to restrict access to them.

    Two points - maybe they're illegal, maybe they're not. Even if a law states that they are illegal, if that law doesn't follow the letter or spirit of the constitution, then that law is illegal. The constitution is the supreme law of the land. I'm getting damn tired of people using a narrow, brainwashed view of free speech. If you believe a law violates the constitution, don't follow it. I know - you say "Well, you should follow it, until it is proven that it is unconstitutional." Bullshit. The constitution is the supreme law of the land. Everything else is just details.

    This probably isn't a particularly popular view. However, I think the best way to avoid this type of thing is for Slashdot to set up their own limits on their own terms before someone else forces them to. Perhaps if Slashdot allows moderators to report comments containing illegal material and appoints someone to remove such material, we could avoid future conflicts.

    Are you saying we avoid standing up for our rights, because it might cause conflicts?

    Freedom on the internet is dying quickly

    Does that mean we are just supposed to let it die? I think exactly the opposite - fight hard until the trend moves the other way. Extend freewill to a point it's never been pushed. Make the planet a better place. And if you go down, go down screaming and spitting in their faces. Don't just say "Freedom is dying, so we better get out of the way."

    If Slashdot doesn't regulate its users more, someone else will, and it won't be pretty.

    Sometimes doing what you believe in isn't pretty. That's no reason not to do it. Nuf said.
  • First, I must begin saying that IANAL. However, based on the little knowledge that I do have, I can see that technically Microsoft's copyright is violated by the posting of the specification in comments.

    However, I think this is a true freedom of innovation case (that does involve free speech to a degree, especially concerning the posting of links) because of the fact that what is driving this entire issue is the fact that Microsoft took a public specification and tried to make it its own property.

    The future of Free Software and the GNU General Public License does depend on the outcome of this case in part because of the fact that Microsoft, by attaching a restrictive license to their "standard," attempts to keep information that can be reached publicly as a trade secret. The so-claimed "copyright" that Microsoft holds is on the so-called "standard" that they have created, and if this "standard" can be restricted, then the hopes of the Free Software community to develop interoperability diminish.

    What is really at stake here, and what should be at stake in the DVD DeCSS case, is the part of the DMCA that speaks of being able to go above copyrights for the purpose of interoperability. If /. has to remove even the standard, then Samba's hopes for being interoperable with Windows 2000 may largely fall, and if that is the case, then the consequences could reverberate throughout the Free Software community.
  • Being a subsidiary of Andover, and soon VA, they have money. I'd probably contribute anyway, to be able to say I helped trash the DMCA. If a law is wrong, you really have a moral duty to oppose it in all ways you can, up to and including breaking it.

    Hmm, slashdot has lawyers, and money. Now they need guns...
  • The concept of "property" will never be obsolete until we live in a Communist society where your thoughts and your work are owned by the State.

    Or until we live in a society with freewill, where nothing is owned by the state. I agree that if you claim something is yours, people should respect your desires enough to let you have it. But I also think the state should keep their dirty grubby nose out of it.

    With intellectual property, the only thing you are claiming is yours is the ability to make money off something. Greed law, pure and simple. I understand the fact that people want to make money off of their creations. But the issue here is respect and personal responsibility. If people respect you and your work enough, you will make a living from it regardless of whether the state has laws protecting you or goes somewhere and picks their butts.

    So maybe the concept of intellectual property is not obsolete. But the concept of intellectual property beyond the respect of the people is not only obsolete, it's history. Either because it should be that way, or because there's nobody that can stop it.
  • Our company recently sent this to Microsoft's "freedom to innovate" campaign.

    Sir,

    It is not only competitors who complain about Microsoft (Oliver Roll, Microsoft UK). There is a concerted campaign to obtain refunds for Windows licence owned but never used. When a consumer has no choice but to pay Microsoft a licence on every PC they buy regardless of whether they will use it, there is a problem with the operation of the free market.

    Your assertion (on Microsoft.com) that Micrsoft's dominance of the PC operating system market was achieved through growth rather than entrenched position is hardly credible. Had Microsoft not had the blessing of IBM the PC market would have been very different.

    Microsoft demands the freedom to innovate. They should be allowed this under the DoJ proposals. Given Microsoft's history of innovation, one has to ask why why they chose the word "innovate". Microsoft were late comers to the internet revolution, late comers to the GUI revolution, followers rather than leaders in the development of personal productivity software, web browsers, and web servers. Rather than create innovative products, Microsoft has a long tradition of either buying innovation (MS-DOS/QDOS, Hotmail, Internet Explorer/Mosaic) or copying it from competitors (Windows Media Player/Quick Time, the Windows GUI/MacOS, JScript/Javascript, Excel/Visicalc, Basic and Kerberos). If Microsoft were more open, they would demand the freedom to integrate, for this has been their greatest achievement.

    Our company is displeased with Microsoft's constant changing of "open standards", specifically HTML 4 and Java. Our development cycles are lengthened by having to adhere both to Microsoft's standards and open standards. Until Microsoft support open standards on all platforms, we will be boycotting Microsoft software of the server platform, the only place where we have a choice.

    No reply as yet.
  • FWIW, the link on #2 (in sending mail to the DoJ) is incorrect (it bounced on me).

    The correct link is antitrust@usdoj.gov [mailto]....

    My copies are already sent out...:)

    Just another computer geek....

  • Here is my automated response from M$oft:

    Thank you for contacting the legal department at Microsoft Corporation.
    This process is provided EXCLUSIVELY for notifying service providers, such as Microsoft.com, MSN.com, MSNBC.com and Hotmail that your copyrighted material may have been infringed. To make a complaint, please provide the information as outlined at ttp://www.microsoft.com/info/cpyrtinfrg.htm>.
    All other inquiries, including but not limited to, requests for technical assistance, reports of email abuse, and piracy reports will not receive a
    response. For Hotmail technical issues or reports of email abuse, send email to support@hotmail.com or
    abuse@hotmail.com , as appropriate. To report piracy, send email to piracy@microsoft.com or call 1-800-R-U-LEGIT.


    So... should I have emailed piracy@microsoft.com instead?
  • by G27 Radio (78394) on Friday May 12, 2000 @12:13PM (#1076670)
    Unfortunately, the moment that Slashdot directly or indirectly removes a post due to content, Slashdot becomes responsible, both in conventional and legal terms, for all user-submitted content on the site.

    This is one of the primary reasons that the Slashdot editors have refused to remove posts in the past -- to do it voluntarily once (for any reason) means that they would be legally obligated to do so in the future (for any reason).


    This is exactly my concern here. If they had to be required to check every single post, it would effectively kill Slashdot. Could you imagine the field day the trolls would have posting that over and over again if Slashdot is required to take it down? We'll see it reposted over and over just to cause Slashdot the trouble of going back and deleting it.

    Anyone, including people at Microsoft, then has the opportunity to make Slashdot useless by repeatedly posting that same copyrighted document over and over. Anonymous posting would have to go away. Each post would have to be checked over by an editor before it was posted to the discussion. Slashdot would never be the same and we'd all be back on Usenet.

    I'm sure the crew at Slashdot understands this. If all it were about was removing Microsoft's silly little document, I doubt that they'd mind. It's not as if it's not publicly available anyway from Microsoft's site.

    Basically I think Slashdot has been backed into a corner. They don't have a choice but to fight it. If I ran Microsoft and wanted to crush Slashdot I would have been the one that posted that article as an AC, then sicced my lawyers on them--assuming I'd resort to that kind of tactic.

    One other thing. There was only one post that could even be considered infringement. Microsoft's lawyers demanded that seven be removed. Forgetting common carrier status for a moment, would Slashdot have the right to deny Microsoft's demand in their entirety because parts (most of it in fact) aren't legitimate claims? Would it be different if the demand only asked for the removal of the infringing material and nothing more?

    numb
  • It's extremely easy to be sarcastically dismissive of your "argument", since it's evident you haven't given the issues much thought. Nevertheless, I'm feeling foolish today, so I'll give it a try:

    I do not understand how you could possibly think that the concept of intellectual property is obsolete in the digital age.

    Intellectual "property" needs to be fundamentally redesigned. Existing laws attempt to establish control over the artifacts of creativity. This is now a pointless exercise, since the device that lets you use digital artifacts also lets you copy them in any quantity. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone; computers have always been designed to do this. Thus, intellectual property laws need to be redesigned to accept this new reality.

    So the question is no longer, "How do we control copying artifacts?" The question is now, "How do we make a living off our creativity in a universe of infinite abundance?" This is a hard question, one I don't claim to have a complete answer to. Nevertheless, it is the core question, and it must be thought about.

    The concept of "property" will never be obsolete until we live in a Communist society where your thoughts and your work are owned by the State. I do not wish for that day to ever happen.

    Now you're just being mindlessly jingoistic. No one is suggesting the State own or control everything. There will always be a need to sculpt digital bits in new ways, and even in a universe of infinite abundance and copyability, an artisan will still own their reputation and their ability to sculpt those bits. You want a new sculpture? Pay the artisan for their time up front.

    BTW, your supporting argument is a crock of horse manure generating methane [ ... ]

    Slashdot post #191: Syntax error; missing argument.

    Schwab

  • Hey, guys,

    I just want to add or rehash a few points to/of this discussion.

    There is a very serious problem which Slashdot will face if it continues to pursue this. And that problem is simply this: a copyright holder has the right to restrict the copying of his works. Any copyright holder has this right -- it's the right to copy (or not). These laws are designed to protect the authors of various works, and the protection is as much extended to you and me as it is to Microsoft or any other author. This is something which seems to be completely misunderstood by various quarters of the Internet.

    I have seen in a few places much reaction and claims to "freedom of speech" when dealing with copyrighted works. While everyone is entitled to his opinion, and he has the right to express it, he does not have the right to take another's copyrighted work and publish it. Rant about Microsoft all you want. Microsoft deserves nothing less than tons of ranting (and quite a lot more). But the fact of law is simply that everyone needs to play by the rules. Fairness, not favortism, is the intent of the laws here.

    Those same copyright laws that protect Microsoft are the same ones that protect the open source copyleft. As the author of a work, you have the right to limit or allow distribution of that work in any (legal) way that you desire. It doesn't matter if the work is source code, an essay, a novel, a movie, a television show, an encyclopedia, or anything else that can be published. Nor does it matter what your opinion is of the author. If it's OK for the Open Source Movement (OSM) to violate copyright, then it's OK for Microsoft to ignore the GPL. Is that what you really want? The law is as applicable to Microsoft as it is to you and me. If Microsoft were to take some GPL'ed work, modify it, and redistribute it in binary form only, for a hefty fee, naturally, Microsoft would find itself faced with another lawsuit -- and probably quite quickly. We all know that someone, somewhere, is itching for such a fight against Microsoft, and I suspect that most copyleft holders would use the copyright laws to protect their own works. It is their legal right and moral responsibility (as open source advocates) to do so.

    As a community, the Open Source Movement can defeat Microsoft and the other Big Brothers of Computing. But it cannot be done by violating laws. Any time someone (in the OSM or anywhere else) violates the law, it encourages those making laws to make even tougher laws. Why do you think we have the DMCA? The Internet is far too often used by those who want to violate copyright laws to try to evade them through anonymity. And I suspect that a significant number of slashdotters do fall, or have fallen in the past, into this category.

    Fighting the DMCA, or trying to get it declared unconstitutional, simply will not work. Congress has the right to pass copyright laws -- it's in the US Constitution. Just because most of us don't have copyrightable works doesn't mean that we don't enjoy the protections that copyright laws provide. All we have to do is make something worthwhile and copyright it -- the protection is there for everyone, not just big business. And be aware that even unpublished works have copyright protection -- the author of a work is protected by copyright by virtue of his being the author; publication requires filing a copyright, but an unpublished work needn't be filed at all to enjoy copyright protection.

    It is important not to get caught up in this particular trap. This is not a fight that the OSM and/or Slashdot needs to pursue, because it is not that important in the grand scheme of things -- or, even, at all, really. The fact that Microsoft has a valid copyright claim on the document itself and has notified Slashdot of the violation is the only reason Slashdot needs to justify removing the copyrighted information (only). And now, with the DMCA, Slashdot has a legal responsibility to do so. Just pull the actual copyrighted material -- leave everything else alone -- and Slashdot will come out smelling like roses, legally.

    Regardless of your opinion of Microsoft (or the truth about Microsoft), respect the copyright laws -- at least, in public forums. Privately, of course, just don't get caught. *grin*

  • I think Microsoft is right to demand the removal of copyright material. And as other have said, Slashdot should have a policy in place for which posts they will refuse to serve.

    For example, if I posted a UUencoded copy of a Metallica MP3 song, would Slashdot allow that? What if I posted Stephen King's e-novel?

    Slashdot says that readers own their own posts, but this is not always true. If they post material owned by someone else without permission they are plagiarizing. If the New York Times published a Slashdot editorial verbatim without attribution, do you think they could get away with it by saying their articles are owned by their reporters? Nope.

    Chris Dolan
  • I couldn't have said it better - though I often try. Kick ass. Thanx.
  • Okay... it seems to me the fulcrum of opinion around here is shifting to the idea that the posting of the full M$-ifed Kerberos spec was an infringement and as for everything else, MS can just sit and spin.

    What am I missing here? If you're discussing how someone mangled the protocol, don't you have to look at the *entire* protocol to see what was changed and what wasn't?

    If you're also discussing shady terms for seeing this information, don't you need to see them (the terms) as well?

    With this line of thinking in mind, posting the entire spec *was* fair use.

    So I'll ask again? What the hell am I missing here that makes posting the entire spec a copyright breach?

    Anybody?

    -Pliny
  • by markt4 (84886) on Friday May 12, 2000 @12:40PM (#1076690)
    Let me put together a hypothetical that has close parallels to the situation under discussion here and see what you think.

    Say a university library has a public bulletin board. (The original, physical kind. Not a BBS.) Students, faculty, and members of the general public are allowed to stick messages of any kind on this bulletin board - for sale signs, tutoring advertisements, requests for rides home, poems, ... whatever.

    One day somebody sticks the photocopied pages of an article from the Microsoft Systems Journal onto that bulletin board. Did the person who stuck the photocopy up violate copyright laws? Possibly, perhaps even probably. Does the library then have an obligation to take the photocopy down? If so, why? The library did not make the copy. What has the library done wrong?

    Would the scenario be any different if the person had instead just tacked the original pages ripped out of the magazine to the board? Why?

    If someone stands outside the window of the Today show on Times Square and holds up a sign with the Microsoft Kerberos specification on it would NBC have any responsibility for the copyright violation? Would they have to erase all tapes of that show (or at least that segment)? What about all the people who recorded that show on the VCRs?

    Copyright laws face severe difficulties in this digital age (as we have seen time and time again). I would say it is time to have open debates on this subject in Congress, but given that virtually every member of Congress in the US is beholden to corporate money for helping them get elected I think I could predict where that debate would end up. What to do...
  • What license was Kerberos released under? Was it GPL? If not, this is an excellent reason NOT to release Open Source/Free Software under any other license. If it had been GPL'd, Microsoft would have NO leg to stand on here. They'd be legally forced to release the source code in thier propriatary extensions, and this whole unfortunate mess would never have taken place.

    USE THE GPL PEOPLE!

    Hey Rob, Thanks for that tarball!
  • Actually, much more attention is paid to letters that are different, especially if they are hand-written. Zillions of copies of identical letters are properly discounted as a campaign.


    ...phil
  • What have you ever said that is original? Our whole method of communication is built upon the words and ideas of others. Even the words themselves evolve upon themselves.

    You cannot limit free speech to a certain level of originality, because when it comes right down to it, there's no such thing.
  • Yup... there's +2 noise, but most moderators are more than willing to take the +2s down rather quickly... even if they aren't noise. [insert standard argument about how it should be 'Use +1 Bonus' instead of 'No Score +1 Bonus']

    All you need is to be above 25 karma, and it used to be (a long time ago) that M2 alone could get you close to 30 points... never heard of the >40 posts thing before...

    As for who gets moderator status, I only get it when I don't post for about four days in a row... but hey, I'll live. 5 points are so few...

    [posting with the bonus enabled to see if I can burn some karma]
  • I have never hated Microsoft more than I do today.

    Why? Exchange. That horrid piece of monolistic crap, Exchange.

    The MSCE nazis who run our exchange server refuse to open LDAP or POP3. So, No access from my Unix machine, no access from my Linux boot -- instead, I have to reboot into WinDOS just to read my fscking mail.

    People yap about HP having a Linux client that speaks exchange, but I don't think they do. At least, it's not obvious on the OpenMail webpage. What do I have to do? Get the entire OpenMail package and yank the client out? If there is a Linux client that speaks exchange, it should be much easier to get ahold of.

    Now, to pour salt in the would, the IT morons where I work have created a new payroll system. Guess what? It only works with IE5. Oh boy. Another great reason to reboot into WinDOS.

    I hate Microsoft.
  • Copyright is a restriction on speech that we tolerate because we (or congress) believe that the limited monopoly to authors is a necessary incentive for creative work. When copyright no longer appears to be serving that function, because it's no longer limited in laws like the DMCA (or the Sonny Bono term extension), then we should be challenging it on First Amendment grounds.

    A little point on this - though congresses copyright authority is in the constitution - when it was put there, the bill of rights wasn't there yet. So if they conflict, the bill of rights should take precedence.

    You'd have a hell of a time getting a judge to agree with you on this, because it's been ingrained into our society for the last 200 years. Judges generally aren't the type of people who will disagree with two hundred years of status quo.

    But it is an interesting thing to think about....
  • According to the Judge in the DeCSS case, any device which can be used to circumvent copyprotection is illegal according to DMCA- even if circumventing copy protection is not it's primary use, right?

    If that's the case, computers are illegal.
  • Perhaps I am unclear... where is this going to be published? I certainly hope it's not just going to stay on Slashdot; the description of what we do and who we are is too clear, cogent, and sympathetic to waste. This should certainly be submitted to a few more mainstream publications (assuming they'll accept something previously posted to a public forum). Just a few suggestions...

    1) Your description of the comments MS wants pulled is a _little_ biased. Many who read this will already know that they weren't just discussion, but actual code that may be protected by a federal law (albeit a somewhat dodgy one). Better to make that clear, or at least link to a more complete discussion.

    2) General audiences might not recognize "!=" I'd change it.

    3) Very strong ending. Classic, but not trite.

    You have my thanks, Emmett. You'll make a fine evalgelist.

    - Michael Cohn
  • Kerberos is a protocol specification, not software. Even if there was a GPL for protocols, it wouldn't prevent MS from releasing their own perverted versions of them and using their dominance to force them onto the market.
  • In fact, since they claimed 7 posts were infringing, under penalty of perjury, the whole thing is rendered null-and-void, since they have obviously committed perjury. Have you read the seven posts? At least one has nothing to do with their "copywritten trade secret. (How the hell can a trade secret be copywritten? It's two incompatable bits of laws)

    That's what I'm thinking. But are you sure? Does anyone know for sure? If so, then Microsoft will have to resubmit a letter demanding only that the actual violation be taken down.

    I think if that happens, then the common carrier status comes into play. If by removing the post Slashdot automatically loses their claim to common carrier status then they absolutely should not remove it. If that weren't a problem I'd say they definately should remove it.

    What I'm trying to figure out here is the best strategy for Slashdot to deal with this, and what Microsoft's strategy is going to be.

    One thing that I'm thinking Slashdot needs to get done is the NNTP gateway. Having everything all in one place leaves them open to attacks like these. You don't see Microsoft trying to sue deja.com or zippo.com for the zillions of copyright infringements available through their sites. Or any of the thousands of ISPs with Usenet (NNTP) servers for that matter.

    numb
  • Microsoft took a public specification and tried to make it its own property.

    if they had any clue, they would have just published the diffs to the standard spec and kept that part private or licensed.

    that way they would not have republished the kerb. spec with their added content and closed the whole spec.

    when you publish changes to someone's existing code, the intelligent and preferable way is to point to the standard doc (URLs, etc) and provide a patch file which is really just the differences between the "before" and "after".

    but they didn't do that. and for that, they should be punished. financially - which is the only way they seem to learn.

    --

  • What would be the legality of opening system hooks for easy mirroring of articles and the following discussion so that Slashdot could have dozens of mirrors around the world? Then any article that was forced to be removed from one server could blank it but include a link to the article on one of the mirrors. You could even set up a mirror system that'd automaticlly select a copy of the article that wasn't censored from the set of mirrors from whichever mirror was closest to the user. As long as the mirrors weren't legally owned by Slashdot or it's parent company I see no legal way they could be held responsible. It'd be a sort of saftey for Slashdot as users could still access any post no matter what happens to Slashdot legally, by natural disaster, corporate changes, etc.
  • Well, this was returned, but I am looking for some other way to send this to Microsoft just to let them know how I feel as a shareholder.

    Dear Mr. Weston:

    I am a Microsoft shareholder, and have been one for the last four years. I have been happy with the return on my investment, and have been unsympathetic with the frequently held argument that Microsoft's monopoly has had a negative impact on consumers.

    My viewpoint changed on May 2, when I first heard of Microsoft's attempts to hijack the public Kerberos networking standard, in an attempt to prevent interoperability between machines that use Windows 2000 and other machines. It now appears to me that Microsoft is using its dominant position to destroy the Kerberos standard, by "embracing and extending" with proprietary nonsense.

    I would like to hear why these kinds of shennanigans should be considered anything but harmful to consumers. I would also entertain explanations of how anything other than Microsoft's monopoly makes this sort of technological vandalism possible. In the absence of any response from Microsoft on these matters, I am forced to conclude that Microsoft is using its status as a monopoly to harm consumers.

    It is now clearer to me in retrospect that Microsoft's critics have been, for the most part, in the right. It is particularly troubling that this behavior continues even after it has been found to be illegal, as we await the penalty which will face Microsoft for its previous transgressions.

    I am therefore forced to conclude not only that Microsoft has engaged in illegal business practices in the past, but that the company is unreformable. Their inability to recognize the corrosive effect of their business practices on consumers and the U. S. software industry as a whole suggests that they are a company with no moral sense.

    In light of this conclusion, I find it is no longer possible for me to continue to own Microsoft shares. I intend to sell them next week.

    Yours sincerely, shilo

  • Hey Emmett

    Great editorial... it really does a good job explaining what's going on, as well as your stance on the issue. Is this going to be reprinted anywhere else?

    Man, I was really not very confident about Slashdot's future since Andover's buyout, but this issue has made me change my mind. Keep up the good work!
    --
  • Then we need a GPL for specifications, period. It WOULD prevent this, as it would force them to make thier changes public.

    Hey Rob, Thanks for that tarball!
  • This is just the last straw with many of us.

    Hear, hear. This applies to me exactly. Previously, I did not buy that MS was a monopoly, and I would publicly defend them on /. whenever someone said something untrue about them. I even (almost successfully) contradicted Jeremy Allison, the Samba guy, on a statement he made about SQL Server. I didn't have a bias toward or against MS, and I have to work with both NT and UNIX systems.

    I really wanted to see them work towards interoperability and standards compliance, and I thought they were going to move in that direction. I honestly thought we were going to start seeing a "kinder and gentler" Microsoft.

    Now I recognize them for the bastards that they are, and I'm not likely to spend any more money on their products for a very long time. It almost makes me sick to think of all the time I wasted learning VB and ASP. I am now looking for a way out, and I totally want to get away from the Microsoft platform. Hopefully I can do this without damaging my career as a web developer/programmer.

    Microsoft, you make me sick, and you have lost yourself a good customer. You have lost someone who used to like your products, and who used to recommend them to others. I'm guessing that from me alone, you will lose about $200,000 in both direct business and referals. Now multiply that with every other customer you've managed to alienate. I'm guessing for each of the 1,400 posters on yesterdays story, there are 100 more people that have read it.

    What I want to know is, even if you are right about your copyright of your bastardized open source "kerberos", how can you justify your actions, given the massive bad publicity you have generated for yourselves. This is the absolute lowest your public image has ever gone, and it will take something on the order of a public apology from Bill Gates to Rob Malda to fix it. I'm not holding my breath.

  • This would be my position.
    • If you filter in the least, the rules change and you become responsible for everything - that's obviously out of the question, it would end Slashdot.
    • Once it's posted on Slashdot it's "out". You can't put the genie back in the bottle. There is absolutely no point in removing it from Slashdot. What's more, it could be posted again, and again, faster than it could be removed.
    • From the second point, M$ should go after the poster(s), not Slashdot. If they're ACs then bad luck. If they're registered users, send them the nastygram.
  • Aren't trade secrets the only things protected from reverse engineering? It seems pretty pointless to reverse engineer something that's patented, because the full text of the patent is already available to anyone.

    A patent holder has the right to prevent anyone else from using the patent for 20 years. They can do this inconsistently - ie: RSA Data Securities allows Unix machines to use the RSA patent in SSH, but does not allow Windows and Mac machines to use it for free.

    You can work around a patent by using a different technology/method to accomplish the same goal. For example, you could make a waterproof fabric that did not use PTFE and a water soluble fiber in layers to work around the Gore Tex fabric. For chips, and especially the ROM BIOS of original IBM machines, the input/output relations were first fully described by people who knew the patent, and then were mimicked in different chips by Compaq engineers who did not know the patent. The result was that a different method was used.

    But I digress. The point is, that copyright does not protect against reverse engineering. Patents disclose claims and methods and allow the holder the right to indiscriminately refuse the combination of claims and methods to anyone else.

    Many software companies would like to use copyright as patents. Think of the enormous leverage that allows them !!!!! If any software code I write can be given patent level protection through copyright, then I am set for life.

    Copyright was never intended to provide that level of protection. And it never should. And the first time an EULA is seriously challenged, I predict software companies are in for a very rude awakening. I predict a judge will rule that such agreements can never be binding. Copyrights simply can never be afforded such a level of protection.

    As it says in US copyright law section 102b
    (b) In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.

    To think otherwise is to pervert copyright law, which extends through the lifetime of the copyright holder, into patent law, which is much stronger protection and lasts only 20 years.

  • I'd like to know who in congress voted for the DMCA, so I can vote against them this November.


    Your Working Boy,
  • If UCITA is made law, then how many organizations are going to want to take a chance on getting 'I Agree'd into indentured servitude? Since the EULAs would be given more force, fiduciary responsibility would mandate that they be clearly analyzed and their weight seriously measured in relation to corporate needs. I'm thinking unencumbered open/free software would start looking mighty nice.

    Sometimes people need a sharp shock to get them out of their bad habits.. Perhaps UCITA is the bazooka we've been waiting to have M$ and closed software companies point at their big toe..

    Just a little diabolical advocatin'..

    Your Working Boy,
  • All right, this is getting crazy. People, let's stop the bible thumping for a minute and think this issue out. I'm really pissed off right now, so I'm going to keep this brief and to the point.

    While it certainly was a pretty hostile move from Microsoft, and certainly not something that's going to win them friends among the hackers in the world, this email was a perfectly reasonable thing to send to slashdot. Let's everybody remember that in a medium like print, there is a spectrum that runs from free speech to plagarism and copyright violation.

    Perhaps I should start putting chapters of O'Reily books on slashdot as comments? Or maybe chapters of the Cryptonomicon? No? Why not? Because, the laws that govern us say that the text is held under copyright. The GPL which you hold so dear is based on just such principles. Thus, it should be amazingly obvious to anybody with even the smallest little brains, that Microsoft copyrights their Kerberos PAC Spec, and then you put it up as a Slashdot comment, you've violated their copyright.

    Period.

    You have crossed the line between free speech and copyright infringement. Remember the good old saying-- "Your right to swing your fist stops at the end of my nose."

    I wish I could go through and pick apart every line in the diatribe posted by emmet entitled "Censorship != Innovation". But it all stems from a single misconception-- what Microsoft is asking for is NOT censorship. It's a protection of their copyright.

    So please stop the name calling and mindless drivel.

    Please email me at j.doty@gte.net if you want to argue this in more detail.

  • Many people view the widespread dissemination of security software to be a *good* thing.

    Yes, it is. But as Ben Franklin once said,

    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

    Using the BSD license helped propagate security, with an achilles heel which undermined liberty, and now we're feeling the effects. We'll probably get around this, but I doubt this'll be the last time we see a useful piece of technology coopted in an incompatible fashion to poison the open software well...

    RMS must be having a right good chuckle right about now...

    Your Working Boy,
  • by emmett (131645) on Friday May 12, 2000 @04:14PM (#1076764) Homepage
    I wish I could go through and pick apart every line in the diatribe posted by emmet entitled "Censorship != Innovation". But it all stems from a single misconception-- what Microsoft is asking for is NOT censorship. It's a protection of their copyright.

    Like everyone else exercising this logic on this issue, you're just plain wrong. Here's something from their E-mail that they want pulled.

    Comments Containing Instructions on How to Bypass the End User License Agreement and Extract the Specification: "by myconid (my S conid@ P toge A the M r.net) on Tuesday May 02, @07:27PM EST (#362)" "by markb on Tuesday May 02, @05:47PM EST (#321)" "by Sami (respect.my@authorita-dot-net) on Tuesday May 02, @01:47PM EST (#19)" "by iCEBalM (icebalm@[NOSPAM]bigfoot.com) on Tuesday May 02, @01:52PM EST (#33)" "by Jonny Royale (moc.mocten.xi@notners) on Tuesday, May 02, @01:59PM EST (#51)" "by rcw-work (rcw@d.e.b.i.a.n.org.without.dots) on Tuesday, May 02, @07:12PM EST (#353)"

    You get that? They want us to pull instructions on cracking the thing open to get the specs out. I suppose if I post factory instructions for the mass production of AK-47's, I'll be a murderer, eh?

    What Microsoft is asking for is censorship. Looking at this from the copyright angle is something I did for a long time before I wrote my editorial. This is not a copyright issue, this is a censorship issue, and never the twain shall meet.

    Please email me at j.doty@gte.net if you want to argue this in more detail.

    If you weren't so completely wrong, I wouldn't be bothering to send the link to this comment to you in E-mail.

    --Emmett

If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, then a consensus forecast is a camel's behind. -- Edgar R. Fiedler

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