MS's most recent abuses of its customers are just the latest in a series of increasing restrictions. OEM's are no longer permitted to include full-capability Windows disks with new machines - instead, what you'll get is either a disk image on your hard drive or an image on a "recovery CD". The "recovery CD" must be crippled so that it won't run on any hardware except that specific machine.
So what you bought is either some extra bits on your hard drive (sure hope you didn't want to use the full capacity of the drive; sure hope your disk doesn't fail) or a nearly-useless CD which is solely capable of restoring your PC to its original state - you'll have to backup and restore all of your data, reinstall all other software, re-change all settings you've customized, etc., if you ever use that CD. But you're a Microsoft customer [motto: "Your time isn't worth a bucket of warm spit to us"], so get used to it.
If you did something foolish, like swap in a new hard drive, or a new motherboard, well, I'm sorry, but you've lost any ability to restore your Microsoft operating system. And naturally, of course, you won't be able to copy it to another computer - even if you delete it from the first one. You can't sell it, you can't lend it, hell, you can barely use it yourself. Office 2000 with its forced registration procedure is much the same, and we're now getting submissions about this from people who didn't catch stories last year about it. Office 2000 binds itself to your system with the registration in exactly the same way as the "Recovery" CDs must be bound by the OEM to the system they ship.
The main effect of this will be to eliminate the concept of "used software". Software vendors like this; they can sell more retail copies if there's no aftermarket.
Generally, copyrighted works are governed by what is known as the "first sale" doctrine. This means that once the copyright owner has sold the item the first time, they lose all control over it - it can be resold without limitation. This matter originally came up when a book publisher was trying to prevent Macy's from selling books at a discount price. Essentially, the publisher (Scribner and Sons, still in business today) had a nice scheme going where it set "minimum" prices for its books. In fact, the scheme is practically identical to the scheme that music publishers have going today, and that software publishers like Microsoft are now moving to.
A brief quote from one of the cases:
The appellant is the owner of the copyright upon 'The Castaway,' obtained on the 18th day of May, 1904, in conformity to the copyright statutes of the United States. Printed immediately below the copyright notice, on the page in the book following the title page, is inserted the following notice:
The price of this book at retail is $1 net. No dealer is licensed to sell it at a less price, and a sale at a less price will be treated as an infringement of the copyright.
The Bobbs-Merrill Company.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "That sounds just like a shrinkwrap license on software! Or it sounds like what the giants of the music industry [Sony, Time-Warner, MCA, Polygram, Bertelsmann and EMI Music] do with their 'Minimum Advertised Price' policies, which has resulted in a class-action suit and an ongoing FTC investigation!" Am I right?
So how did the Court look at this particular issue?
What does the statute mean in granting 'the sole right of vending the same?' Was it intended to create a right which would permit the holder of the copyright to fasten, by notice [210 U.S. 339, 350] in a book or upon one of the articles mentioned within the statute, a restriction upon the subsequent alienation [transfer of property] of the subject-matter of copyright after the owner had parted with the title to one who had acquired full dominion over it and had given a satisfactory price for it? It is not denied that one who has sold a copyrighted article, without restriction, has parted with all right to control the sale of it. The purchaser of a book, once sold by authority of the owner of the copyright, may sell it again, although he could not publish a new edition of it.
Software publishers have this in mind. So they don't actually "sell" anything at all. If you make a contract to license something, the terms can be anything that a court doesn't regard as "unconscionable" - whatever the other party demands. So in fact copyright has almost nothing to do with the "sale" of commercial software products - companies could just as easily license to you software written by, say, the Federal Government (which would be in the public domain) They don't need copyright at all, since the contract alone is sufficient to bind your permitted activities, if the courts say a binding contract has been created.
The idea here is to get away from copyright, because copyright has all those nasty exceptions carved out by the legal system such as the "first sale" doctrine. But if you license something rather than sell it... and if you can cripple it with technology so that regardless of what the law says, the product can't be resold... ahhh, then you're in business!
Why have courts permitted software licensing to usurp copyright? Why do book-title-page-licenses not bind you but back-of-a-software-box-licenses do? Why doesn't the purchase of a copyrighted piece of software entitle you to do just about anything with it except sell copies, just like the purchase of a book does? It's a long story, but basically, I think it's because the first cases to hit the court system looked a lot like standard corporate contract disputes rather than mass-market sales. Individuals have only started purchasing software at retail within the last ten years or so. And now that people have caught on that this is a Bad Thing, we get laws like UCITA, designed to expressly legitimize these sorts of licenses. Remember that UCITA applies to software-hardware combinations as well, so your next PC might have a license agreement applying to the hardware.
But back to what started this rant. Microsoft's licensing. Microsoft has wanted for some years to move to a rental system, where not only do you not actually purchase anything for them, you get to pay for nothing every year. (In fact, they delayed the announcement of it so it wouldn't overlap with the anti-trust decision - might look bad to be simultaneously losing an anti-trust suit and announcing how you were going to get millions of people to rent software from you.) That way they can extract truly maximal profits from their operating system - raise the rents when it seems appropriate, cut sweetheart rental deals with some companies and viciously expensive ones with others, depending on whether or not you testified for the DOJ...
Microsoft has a couple of goals here, you see. Getting shrinkwrap licenses validated by the legal system allows them to control pricing in much the same manner as Scribner and Sons' attempt at book-wrap licensing. And building protective technological measures into their software, such as the OEM system-lock for the operating system or Office 2000's single-system registration procedure, allows them to get around the first sale doctrine - you could sell the item, copyright law says you can, but you can't sell it, because the software won't work for anyone else.
At a minimum, you could donate it to a charity or school when you're no longer using it and get a tax break. But that Windows 2000 Recovery CD or an already-registered Office 2000 CD are just coasters. Microsoft, of course, can cheerfully continue to donate software licenses and take tax write-offs for the full retail price of the software, a strategy which saves them hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes every year at a cost to them of approximately zero. And don't you dare to try to circumvent those controls in order to exercise your legal right to resell the software - that's a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, I doubt you want to spend five years in prison.
In a non-monopoly marketplace, the fact these two products are worth a lot less to you than their predecessors would force a reduction in price. Instead, Microsoft raised the prices on both. Lawyers have considered the interplay of contract, copyright, and technological restrictions - here's a paper, here's another - but the time is long past for this issue to be considered by the public.
And that's why the threats of Adobe chairman Warnock are the last straw. Microsoft and all the other familiar names in commercial software have been increasing their restrictions for years. It doesn't have anything to do with piracy; we're
regardless of what the fictitious figures of the Business Software Alliance say about copyright infringement. Listen to what Warnock is saying: if only we evil customers didn't make copies of software, Microsoft wouldn't force computer manufacturers to cripple the Windows installed on their machines. Yeah, right. Tell me another one, John."...going to have a piece of music that will only play on one Walkman. [We're] going to have a piece of software that will only work on one machine. It will provide enormous inconvenience."
But Warnock is absolutely right: it's a failure of the general population that is responsible for this licensing mess we're in. The failure is: insufficient regulation of the software industry.
If you buy a car, you are almost certainly protected by state "lemon laws". They were enacted to prevent the abuses that were extremely common, and so you acquired certain minimum rights in the purchase transaction which cannot be waived: if the car breaks down all the time, you can return it and get a refund plus your expenses paid. No matter what the sales contract says. Similarly there are restrictions on just how small the fine print can be, how egregious the interest rate can be, etc. The laws have had a salutory effect on auto sales - dealers are much less likely to try to cheat customers, and manufacturers have incentives to build better-quality cars. It is, in fact, a win-win situation - even though auto manufacturers screamed that laws like these would put them out of business in a week.
We haven't got anything of the sort with software purchases. And like Adobe's chairman just told us, the race to the bottom - who can have the most restrictive licensing, who can gouge the customer the most - is in full swing. It took a long time to get lemon laws enacted across the country, many years of abuses and horror stories, many years of opposition by the automobile manufacturers doing exactly what the software manufacturers are doing now: dumping buckets of cash into Congress. Are we going to learn from our experiences of the past and put some restraints on these abusive restrictions? Are we going to makes software sales into sales, and make software companies stand behind their products? We are, no doubt about it; abuses like these will only be stood for so long. The question is only this: How long will we stand for it?
What do you mean I don't own my software?-- from http://www.adobe.com/aboutadobe/antipiracy/main.html
Adobe software is owned by Adobe. When you purchase software, you purchase a license to use the application. The use of the software must be in compliance with the End User License Agreement that is included with the software. Misuse of software is punishable by Federal Copyright Law.
We can fix that, Adobe.