1 - Removal of copyrighted material
Posting of copyrighted material is wrong. There is no reading of
the copyright laws of the USA that allows for the verbatum copying of
copyrighted material whether it be with a printing press, photo copier
or email. There is very little justification to the notion that
an editorial requires the entire contents of the document. So, the
initial posting was wrong and illegal and the poster may be liable for
The question still remains: shall slashdot remove the copyrighted
work? It is not a question of free-speech. Even the Evil Empire is
not "requesting" the removal of the comments, only the copyrighted
material. This is within the rights of the copyright holder.
Posting the material was both wrong and illegal (even if its
Micr$soft'$). Knowingly keeping the posting is still wrong, even if
the legality is in question. It seems to me that the slash dot people
are interested in doing what's right.
2 - Removal of links
A while back SlashDot posted an article on a similar subject. The
Mormon church sued to have links to copyrighted material removed from
a web site. The judge found in favor of the Church. From an article
in the New York times: ( search for "mormon" on SlashDot for a link to it)
Claiming that the Tanners were improperly pointing viewers to
sites that contained illegal copies of the handbook, lawyers
for the Mormon Church succeeded in getting Judge Campbell to
issue an expanded restraining order. This week, she also
issued a formal preliminary injunction, which prohibits the
Tanners from directly posting the contents of the handbook or
posting on their site "addresses to Web sites that defendants
know, or have reason to know, contain the material alleged to
infringe plaintiff's copyright."
This would seem to be along the same vein as the "request" made by His
Royal Gatesness. Having had it brought to SlashDot's attention, they
now "have reason to know".
In reaching her decision, Judge Campbell made two key
conclusions. First, she reasoned that anyone who went to a Web
site and viewed a pirated copy of the handbook was probably
engaging in direct copyright infringement, because that viewer's
browser automatically makes a local copy of the text.
This is an interesting definition of a "copy", yet it sets a legal
precedent that might effect SlashDot's case.
In addition, Judge Campbell reckoned that by posting the addresses
to the pirate sites after they were ordered to take down the handbook,
and by otherwise assisting people who wished to locate the pirate
sites, the Tanners were liable under a theory of contributory
copyright infringement. By their actions, the Tanners "actively
encouraged" browsers to directly infringe the church's copyright,
Judge Campbell wrote.
This argument could easily apply to SlashDot as well.
What makes Judge Campbell's 10-page opinion significant,
lawyers said, is that there are few other instances where a
court has ruled on the practice of knowingly linking to or
posting addresses for sites with infringing material.
Which should give me cause to reflect as the precedent this might set.
So, while I disagree with this judgement, it is also very applicable
(at least on the surface) to any case that SlashDot might be involved
in with respect to links to copyrighted material.
So should the links be removed? What would SlashDot gain by leaving
them up. They would get sued (probably) and then the court would
decide. Should the court decide against SlashDot, that would be a
victory for the Redmond Monopoly and a strengthening of the above
legal precedent. Should SlashDot prevail, it would bring the above
decision into question, which would be a good thing.
My suggestion: talk to a good lawyer and see what your chances are
(assuming you have the money for the legal battle).
3 - Links to instructions on How to Bypass the End User License
This seems the flimsiest "request" by the World's Richest Nerd.
Micro$oft does not own the copyright on these articles. I have not
read the DMCA but this sort of thing falls outside copyright and
should therefore be allow. Also, EULA are questionable. I do not
know if they have been challenged but they seem to go to far into
keeping people from "fair use" of the copyrighted work.
Again, consult your lawyer, but leave these up.