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EBay Pulls MS Auctions, Neutralizes Complaints 338

melaniemad writes: "I haven't seen this story anywhere else but kuro5hin. Microsoft has set up a user account on eBay: They apparently use this account to shut down auctions of Microsoft software. This has resulted in a lot of negative feedback, which has been changed to 'neutral' by eBay. This does not coincide with their policy about removing feedback. But then, do the rules ever apply to Microsoft?" (read more...)

(Boy, a ten-day-old story. I need to start reading kuro5hin more often.)

Anyway, I know from experience that my chances of getting through to a real eBay person are approximately nil, especially on Memorial Day, so I'm not even going to try. Here are the questions I'd like to ask, and if some eBay staffer would like to answer them, feel free.

1. Regarding "VeRO," the Verified Rights Owner Program. Comments from sellers who have had their auctions yanked include:

  • "I own this software. It is mine to sell."
  • "Ended my perfectly legit sale."
  • "I was forced to buy it from Dell, I should be able to sell it."
  • "I have the right to sell the Windows 98 I BOUGHT.. this is BULL SHIT....."
  • "ended 2 of my legit auctions. won't respond to emails."
  • "Legit auction canceled."
  • "MS & Ebay Cancelled my perfectly legit auction."
  • "copyright violation - on unopened retail box!"

These are not spurious complaints; they come from over a hundred eBay sellers with positive feedback ratings like 40, 253, even 476! Clearly these people are not scammers, they are legitimate and frequent eBay sellers who know the rules and who feel angry that they've been ripped off.

It is already apparent that eBay is ending perfectly legal auctions of E-Meters based on illogical and unfounded claims of copyright violation from the Church of Scientology. So "Verified Rights" doesn't mean much.

Can anyone at eBay confirm that each and every software auction terminated by Microsoft was illegal? And if not, shouldn't VeRO be renamed the "Unverified Rights Owner Program"?

2. EBay claims that, upon receiving VeRO complaints, it "reviews the reported items and, unless there is an obvious error, ends the auction." Were any of Microsoft's reports so reviewed, or were the auctions just immediately terminated?

3. Where on Questionable Items: Software is it indicated that software, unopened in the box, purchased at retail, cannot be resold?

4. Has Microsoft invoked a particular law - UCITA would be an obvious guess - in terminating these auctions? Or has it pointed to its license agreements (which for many of these auctions, apparently, would not apply)?

5. EBay's page about removing feedback doesn't mention cancelling rating of feedback, which is obviously a very important part. Isn't that misleading?

6. What did Microsoft do to get this special favor done for them - neutralization of their negative feedback? Does eBay do this for all their VeRO program members, or just Microsoft?

Update, 25 minutes later: gehrehmee pointed out Microsoft's internet piracy webpage (the URL got chopped, but deserves to be seen). Scroll to the bottom to read (emphasis added):

Microsoft and eBay have initiated an aggressive program to stop auction sites that Microsoft believes may be distributing infringing product. Microsoft monitors all auction sites and conducts daily searches to identify auctions suspected of offering counterfeit or infringing software. The company notifies eBay of suspect auctions and asks them to terminate the auctions within 24 hours.

Phrases like "due process" and "guilty until proven innocent" are coming to mind.

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EBay Yanks MS Software Auctions, Neutralizes Complaints

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  • what the heck does "this is America" mean? people always say that before they make some argument that I find very unconvincing. Or they say, "I thought this was America" which is the prelude to a really unconvincing argument :)

    In this case the poster goes to a lot of trouble to point out a bunch of things that people are free to do, but he conveniently leaves out

    • slashdot and slashdotters are free to complain about whatever they want to, also
    which of course takes us full circle back to where we started before that post which would indicate that it was a NOP.
  • This reminds me of the articles in the Weekly World News were some raving "feminist" (made up, I pray) vehemently argues that "most rapes aren't reported, all men are rapists, let's lock up EVERY MAN for a full week each year as punishment for unreported rapes they commited."

    If someone knowingly sells counterfeit software in an auction, throw the book at them. Criminal prosecution, revocation of eBay account, etc. If they honestly acquired the counterfeit software, throw the book at the company that sold them the counterfeit software. (E.g., they got it with their Discount Dave's system - throw Dave in the slammer!)

    But DON'T punish people because they *might* be commiting a crime. And don't tempt the Gods by demanding punishment for people who *might* have commited a crime when you yourself have been convicted of a federal felony and are in the penalty phase of the trial!
  • Sorry-- I've been away; I'm catching up on back email right now. You did email me about it didn't you? :-)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 29, 2000 @08:55AM (#1040252)
    This guy is not selling the software, it's a scam - He will send you a two page document on how if you go to a Technet briefing or other function of M$ that they will hand over software. This was found to be false and Illegal by MS in a previous case. This document suggests Defrauding M$ by impersinating a high powered buyer for a large company as well.
  • Quoth the poster:
    From MS's side they also provide those OEM licenses at a discount in a lot of cases. Shitty yes, but it makes sense that they don't want those just floating around in the world when they can make much more money directly by selling the Retail boxes as the poster above said.
    It might make sense. That doesn't mean it's legal. The well-established principle of First Sale seems to come into play here...
  • by seebs ( 15766 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @07:18AM (#1040256) Homepage
    After they decided that email inviting you to visit their site more often was "administrative", and changed their privacy policy to make it look like everyone had asked to receive email, phone calls, and other contact, I don't think anyone should have expected better of them.

    eBay spams. eBay lies. eBay lies about spam, eBay lies about abuse in general.

    eBay does not accept complaints about usenet spam or junk email unless the complaints come from registered users - and you can't be registered without giving them, in their opinion, blanket permission to send any email they wish to describe as administrative.

    Even if you cancel your account, you may get additional email; I certainly did, as did a number of other people I know.

    In other words, no surprise; scum is scum.
  • ">Ebay is free to post or cancel from their site whatever action they want, despite their policy
    statements (which they are free to change anytime)."

    Not true. The Terms of Service is a contract. According to contract law, a party must explicitly agree to any modification of the origianl contract. eBay can not arbitrarily change its terms of service.

    When crdit cards change their interest rates, they send you a notice notifing you of the change. The notice states that your acceptence of the new terms is to continue to using your credit card. If you do not use the credit card after receiving the notice, you continue to pay the old interest rate.

    Many software and internet companies claim that they reserve the right to change the terms of service by merely changing the web page without explicitly notifing you. However, this has not been tested in court. I would think they will have a tough time selling this in court. It seems unreasonable to expect the user to read the terms of service everytime they log onto the network and try to figure out if any thing has changed since the last time.

  • Of all the "neutral" comments, I found none that were anything but neutral. However, there were "4 praise comments". Below are these comments. =)

    User: socketware (18) (not a registered user) Date: Dec-21-99 00:54:41 PST
    Praise: Got back to me after ending auction and set things right. Thanks for the help!

    User: bobbennett (8) Date: Apr-06-99 13:16:33 PST
    Praise: Microsoft pirates their own software, allowing full registration, & upgrades????

    User: kluessendorf (265) Date: Mar-25-99 10:26:20 PST
    Praise: Cancelled auction on legal retail Windows 98 upgrade with contacting me

    User: twinsoft (2748) Date: Mar-22-99 20:53:45 PST
    Praise: This is a COMPLAINT! They ended an auction for legal MS software, no explanatio

    From this, one can deduce that there were, infact, no positive comments on the action of Microsoft. Just wanted to set the record straight.

  • by Shadowlion ( 18254 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @10:28AM (#1040261) Homepage
    Of course, the question then becomes, "What happens if I disassemble/mix-and-match computer parts?" If I buy, for instance, a Dell computer, and then later on I put the monitor on a separate machine, remove the hard disk, take the RAM out for a third system, put the video and ethernet adapters in a new screwdriver machine I'm building...

    Where does my license for Windows go? With the processor? The monitor? The hard disk? The RAM? Can I install Windows on any of these machines, because there's at least a piece of the original that can be installed along with Windows?
  • True enough on most of your points. I did not mean to imply that the readers of /. have any apparent power, but they are very good at winnowing out negative stories concerning the actions of Microsoft. Therefore any such actions are very likely to come to light.

    As for piracy, sure, MS has every right to try to halt sales of pirated software, but where does it show that any effort has been made to ascertain that the software being sold is in fact pirated? In this you are correct, it is Ebay that is at fault here, since it appears they simply dumped any sales of MS software as soon as MS requested it.

    As for PR, I think MS does have to worry about it. Prior to the MS-DOJ trial, the average person viewed MS as the perfectly ethical giant of the software industry. Apparently many folks were shocked to hear that MS had been accused of questionable business practices and had even violated the law. I think they DO need to worry about public opinion - for the first time the media is now starting to publish articles which are highly critical of MS. The general public may not read /. but they do read ZDnet, Wired, CNN, etc. If MS starts looking less than snow-white to the average user, then other OS options might look more acceptable to those who would not otherwise consider them. Its a small point, but I don't think it should be callously dismissed.

    I realize this is a minor issue when compared to the points raised in the DOJ investigation, but MS using its might to restrict users abilities to sell legitimately purchased software on a legitimate exchange is surely indicative of the fact that it has not changed its modus operandi generally. This is the sort of action that I would expect to encounter where MS is concerned. This would seem to bode poorly for MS's ability to police itself were the courts to go with its suggested penalties in the monopoly case, no?

    As for your summary, I concede your point, this is probably nothing more than a big corporation trying to fight piracy, and if a few legitimate sales get killed, not giving a damn since it only means that users will have to purchase their software new from MS, and not second hand at a better price. While /. may not have a lot of power on its own (ie none effectively), it does have the power of opinion. More and more news agencies seem to be turning to /. to get the latest news on various issues. At least its appearing as a quoted source more often it seems. Ironic, given that /. in many instances feeds off of news on those same sites.

  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @07:24AM (#1040268)
    Depending on how they wrote their AUP, users might be able to sue for impersonation - they have modified what you said. Second, this doesn't suprise me as eBay is all about protecting its corporate ledger - anyone believing this is anything but a faceless corporation obviously hasn't had their morning coffee yet.

    Now, about potential remedies - first off there are dozens of eBay look-alikes out there. Yahoo springs to mind. Take your business elsewhere and let [mailto] know it. Also, I think it may be possible to trick eBay into tripping over itself: I say everyone takes their old copies of Windows 3.1 and puts them on sale. When MS comes around and tries to remove them, point them to the shrink-wrap license and let 'em know that it is perfectly legal to sell it. Oh, and then sue them, of course.

  • by Mr. Spock ( 25061 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @07:24AM (#1040269)
    I would guess that Ebay can't afford to inspect each and every M$ software auction to verify an unopened retail box, or original M$ media. In the interest of not being buried under 100 tons of M$ lawsuit for failing to inspect one illegitamate auction, Ebay is deciding to end all auctions that M$ complains about. It's not fair, but it may be the only choice they have.

    Ebay is a business. It's not financially sound for them to do anything besides what they are doing. Now is it right for M$ to put them in this position? Probably not. But somehow I don't see the government doing anything to stop them, and I don't see any private party with the required legal and financial backing to stop them.
  • If you look more closely at, you'll find that MSN does not run its own auctions; rather it is a partner in an auction network where listings appear on multiple sites. I don't think Microsoft would make enough money off of listing fees (if any) to make this a worthwhile strategy.
  • I remember when this all started. When Microsoft released Office 2000, they were ready to deal with eBay. Auctions started being canceled in the truck-loads.

    Microsoft realized that people had been selling full versions of their software on eBay at significantly reduced prices. These are those full versions of Windows and Office that say "For distribution with a new PC only." In other words, not for resale. Why not for resale to the public? Because Microsoft does not want you finding out that companies like Dell, HP, Compaq, and even little system assembly companies get massive discounts when they buy Microsoft software in bulk. When I say massive, I speak of 50% or more off.

    It is not just system assemblers that can get these discounts either. If you are a company and want to buy 100 copies of MS Office 2000, you can get full versions at those huge discounts. This is what people have been doing -- buying in bulk and then redistributing.

    They stamp, "not for resale," and make huge profits off of you and me.

    The end of it is that you either have to pay Microsoft an absurd price for their software in store, or buy a whole new PC. For those of us who assemble our own systems, this is not at all practical.

    I personally bought both my copies of MS Windows 95 "B", and Windows 98 SE from eBay type sellers, as well as MS Office 2000 Pro. At the time I bought it, MS Office Professional cost something like $750 in stores for the full version. The "Not for resale." version cost me $200. I simply had to buy it off of eBay from someone's website.

    Microsoft is keeping the market from setting the prices on their software.

    And my Debian linux disks for Sparc and i386, they cost me about 50 cents for each CD, and a little while of download time. Working at a tier one ISP with multiple OC-48s has its advantages. Unfortunately, linux cannot replace my Windows system for its gaming, USB device, and specific application purposes.
  • No idea, but I imagine these auction pulls piss off the buyers a lot more than a couple $20 copies of Win98. The Neumann u87, for example, routinely sells (when Neumann _allows_ them to, apparently) for over $1000 (each, not per pair) on eBay, and they cost about $1600 or so new, so this isn't a small investment by any means.

    I just checked eBay now, actually, and there are at least a half dozen pulled Neumann auctions.

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • by dirk ( 87083 )
    If you know the license is there, and you bypass it, that means it doesn't apply? So if I don't read the GPL I can do whatever I want to with the Linux Source, right? I never agreed to the license, so it must be true. Just because you bypass something, doesn't make it not exist. I can bypass a no trepassing sign and claim I didn't know about it, but it still exists, and still applies. Same goes for software licenses. Saying otherwise is just plain dumb.
  • by poet ( 8021 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @09:09AM (#1040279) Homepage
    Hello, I am in no way a M$ fan but it is important to remember that you do not OWN M$ software. You are licensed the software, a license in which they control. If they decide they don't want to let auctions happen they can. For example on the OEM License of Windows 95 it specifically states:

    Software Transfer.

    You may permanently transfer all of your rights under this EULA only as part of a sale or transfer of the COMPUTER, provided you retain no copies, you transfer all of the SOFTWARE product (including all component parts, the media and printed materials, any upgrades, this EULA and, if applicable, the Certificate(s) of Authenticity), and the recipient agrees to the terms of this EULA. If the SOFTWARE PRODUCT is an upgrade, any transfer must include all prioir versions of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT.

    Therefore if DELL makes you have the OEM version of Windows then you can not sell it without the Computer you bought from DELL. So's was not legitamate for example.

    It sucks but it is one of the reasons that Microsoft may be 2 or 3 companies in 18 months. Be happy.
  • Well, I got an ad. So I complained. They admitted that they were sending ads to people who hadn't asked for them. I complained more. They declared that actually, the message sent "by their marketing department" had been administrative, and said I could always cancel. I did, indeed, send my email to "" to refuse the new privacy policy (last October, they changed it, WITHOUT any real notification). They spammed me again later.

    They said they primarily target people who aren't visiting the site very often for marketing. But you might want to go see what your "permissions" page says; I know a lot of people who discovered that, during one of the recent changes, they'd been opted-back-in to email, even if they were previously opted out, and everyone I know who had an account to check was mysteriously "opted in" to telemarketing.
  • IMHO, America is now a Corporate State, in all but name. Sure, politicians do stupid things, but who is funding them? This is an example where one relatively small company has been pressured by a corporate giant to Obey The Master.

    IMHO, the US Govt needs to do one of two things. EITHER, it needs to impose Judge Jackson's rulings with an Executive Order, -OR- it needs to disband and declare Microsoft the new Government.

  • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @09:16AM (#1040291) Homepage
    So what? If someone buys a computer which comes with Windows preloaded, and never agrees to the license they are NOT bound by it. At this point, only standard copyright rules apply.

    They can resell it legally. Heck, they can even use it if they can manage to do so without being bound by the license. (a third-party program to finish the installation would work well here)

    The license only revokes rights that you automatically have. But buying the machine does not make you accept it. UCITA will change things (for the worse) which is why we have to fight it but no judge nowhere is going to rule that you're bound by a license by opening the box. It's offensive.
  • Don't bother with the FTC. Send spams like this to, and see how that goes. :)
  • errr... not exactly. A license is a contract, that is, something entered into by 2 parties.. In the absence of a license, you have certain rights, which are established by existing laws, such as the right to resell the copy of the work, but not the right to copy it, or prepare derivative works.

    Agreeing to the MS license you give away rights you would otherwise have. Agreeing to the GPL, you gain some additional rights you wouldn't normally have.

    Similarly, by default, you have no right to go on private property....

  • User: pocky220 (73) (not a registered user) Date: Mar-03-00 21:55:59 PST
    Neutral: I have the right to sell the Windows 98 I BOUGHT.. this is BULL SHIT............

    User: cellar (476) (not a registered user) Date: Mar-03-00 13:38:29 PST
    Neutral: Hmmm....Gulty to proven innocent? Microsoft is Un-American...Break them up...

    User: ni-dan (45) Date: Mar-02-00 04:54:11 PST

    User: boatman9 (223) Date: Feb-29-00 19:57:57 PST
    Neutral: End my legal auction. Hope Justice Dept. socks it to ya in the Anti-Trust Suit!

    User: booktrapper (41) Date: Feb-29-00 01:36:48 PST
    Neutral: Why can't you at least inquire about the item? You are only hurting yourselves..

    User: jlindsay (92) Date: Feb-24-00 18:20:12 PST
    Neutral: 268283455 another auction ended @ the hands of Micro$oft

    User: carydixon (29) Date: Feb-24-00 12:12:07 PST
    Neutral: I own this software. It is mine to sell. F- - ck you.

    User: dbx (19) Date: Feb-23-00 15:13:32 PST
    Neutral: Ended my perfectly legit sale.. This is-un american. Guilty.....NOT

    User: totaltickets (41) Date: Feb-23-00 13:30:44 PST

    User: bill.p (10) Date: Feb-21-00 18:03:41 PST
    Neutral: NEGATIVE: You have blocked legitimate sale of new software and slandered me

    User: mikeps (10) Date: Feb-17-00 20:26:11 PST
    Neutral: MS killed off my legitimate auction; no wonder so many hate Micro$oft & windoZe

    User: pronoblem (271) Date: Feb-16-00 16:04:28 PST
    Neutral: I was forced to buy it from Dell, I should be able to sell it.

    User: peter0175 (1) Date: Feb-15-00 22:18:55 PST
    Neutral: M.S. NAZI -- Ended a TOTAL legit auction. NEGATIVE COMMENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    User: kak268 (40) Date: Feb-15-00 22:08:37 PST
    Neutral: ended 2 of my legit auctions. won't respond to emails. you suck monkey balls MS!

    User: bruce2816 (103) Date: Feb-09-00 21:38:49 PST
    Neutral: Emailed my high bidder, told him copyright violation - on unopened retail box!

    User: biiin (private) Date: Feb-04-00 20:49:48 PST
    Neutral: Ebay was once cool till they became Microsoft B*tches.. Legit auction canceled.

    User: jt325i (98) Date: Feb-03-00 17:15:40 PST
    Neutral: 25240347Will respect wishes and not relist, however the product was legitimate.

    User: chrisandro (56) Date: Feb-02-00 05:03:14 PST
    Neutral: Anal Retentive Microsoft wants more money & people to pay retail !!!!!

    User: dhacker1 (253) Date: Jan-30-00 10:24:05 PST
    Neutral: NEGATIVE! MS & Ebay Cancelled my perfectly legit auction.

    User: pb3623 (11) Date: Jan-30-00 06:21:07 PST
    Neutral: Anyone want to buy my LEGITIMATE NT 4.0 CD, come to my garage sale.. plain wrong

    User: magnacomp (166) Date: Jan-26-00 03:02:48 PST
    Neutral: Assumed guilty until proven innocent? This is a blatant constitutional violation

    User: andy.888 (14) Date: Jan-17-00 15:00:37 PST
    Neutral: die microsoft you suck

    User: (0) Date: Jan-17-00 10:21:32 PST
    Neutral: Greedy 6asterds want you to pay retail! Anti-Trust - I think so!

    User: mchstech (18) Date: Jan-14-00 17:10:22 PST
    Neutral: Ended my Auction for a perfectly LEGAL copy of MS Publisher 98.

    User: recycledelectrons (58) Date: Jan-14-00 15:54:14 PST
    Neutral: email me ( about a class action suit for slander!

  • Ah yes, a building full of lawyers on one side, and a couple hundred users each with their own lawyer and case on the other.

    Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard case.

  • My point is this. Ultimately, the people in charge ARE beholden to the electorate. The only reason we appear to be powerless is because we believe we are. It is within the bounds of the constitution to rip apart the government aparatus and fix it. It is up to us to decide to do it.

    Remember, the reason a plutocracy works is because money equates to power and votes. As soon as that ceases to be the case, a plutocracy falls apart. Right now, a politician's success is largely based on the size of his campaign fund. But, that doesn't mean we HAVE to vote for him.

    Basically, we can either start a revolution within the system now or wait a few years, grab our guns, and do it the old fashioned way. Personally I'm not a big fan of death and destruction, so I'd rather just fix the current system (i.e. getting off our collective butts and doing something).


  • I have sold my Windows 2000 Professional on EBAY like a month and a half ago without any problems. I included the SERIAL# which is a white sticker on the top of any retail box. Some dude emailed me and asked me why his auction was cancelled and I asked him if he had that #. If you don't state it, I think your auction is pulled.
  • There are a number of different issues here. Standard disclaimers: IANAL, IAN American.

    1. Microsoft have a legitimate concern about software piracy. If someone installs Windows 98 on their computer and then sells the installation disk and opened box, then they have a legitimate claim to piracy. Auctions of opened boxes are suspect unless the seller can prove in some manner that no copies have been made, perhaps by some sort of sworn statement.
    2. Microsoft do not have a legitimate claim where an unopened retail box is being resold.
      • If the unopened product is Windows 98 or earlier, then the seller can claim that UTICA does not apply because the product was manufactured before UTICA came into force.
      • In any case, unless UTICA specifically defines "software" as including the box it came in, then the seller can also claim that UTICA does not apply.
      • Because they have not opened the box, they can prove that they have not accepted the licence agreement.
    3. By changing the feedback ratings, eBay is effectively changing the user content on their web site. By doing this - even ONCE - without a user request to do so, they forfeit any claims that they may make in the future that they are only common carriers, and that they do not control or modify content. It also sets a precedent on eBay where comments themselves are edited or deleted, if this is not occurring already. Thus, they may make themselves liable.

    What the aggrieved people should do now is file a complaint of some sort against eBay and Microsoft. They could either act separately and each file a complaint in a small claims court or tribunal, or join together for a class action against eBay and Microsoft. eBay does not have enough lawyers to fight a thousand simultaneous small claims suits. That's how you can win against a large corporation: you pull them to the ground with sheer force of numbers.

  • Well, "some time ago" doesn't preclude you having been hit by the last big change-over. Keep in mind, there *was* no telemarketing preference last year...

    The problems aren't quite universal, but the majority of people I know who use eBay have had similar experiences. I know about five or six people who complained to either TRUSTe or the BBB Online. (Which, given the deafening silence, tells you how sincere those agencies are.)
  • Plan for Microsoft's sinking:
    1- Put a LEGIT RETAIL copy of Microsoft Windows (tm) for sale.
    2- Put a price tag of 350 Billion dollars on it
    3- Have your wife / dog / so create a separate LEGIT account.
    4- Bid on the article.
    5- Wait until MS gets the sale cancelled because they claim you're a criminal, and that it's counterfeit software.
    6- Sue MS for 350 Billions + damages on loss of business due to slander / illegal monopolistic practices. (Remember, they want to be the ONLY ones selling Windows.)
    7- Donate 349.5 Billions to Gnu Foundation, EFF, Debian, and any other charities you care about.
    8- Better yet. Purchase Microsoft, open-source all of there product, and donate patents on what they have to public domain.
    9- Brush your teeths, go to bed.

    These opinions are mine, mine and only mine. If you want to quote me, please at least be decent enough to send me a copy of the article.
  • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @03:24PM (#1040318) Homepage Journal
    I say everyone takes their old copies of Windows 3.1 and puts them on sale.
    Just playing Devil's Advocate here, but if you bought a Win95 upgrade version, and a Win98 upgrade on that, etc then you aren't allowed to resell anything - all versions are still required as part of your licencing deal. Same with Office products. If you bought Word 2, upgraded to Word 6, upgraded to Office 97, upgraded to Office 2000 then you can only dispose of (or keep) all the software in the chain - you can't resell it. Mind you, if you bought (in this example) a full version Office 97, or your Office 2000 upgrade version is based on a bundled Works 2000 you got with a new PC, then you can pass your old licences on to someone else (although I haven't carefully read any recent licences - they probably try to prevent you from reselling the product since you don't appear to ever actually own software these days only rent it...).
  • What isn't legal is buying Microsoft Office, installing it on your computer, then selling the discs on eBay. Or ordering the Microsoft 98 upgrade, installing it, then selling it. Thats what they are trying to stop. Its not legal! Sure the software you are selling is a legit copy, but its not legal if its still installed on your computer when you sell it. Now if the package is unopened then they have no right to cancel the auction, but if your selling opened software, then there is no way to prove that you dont have to the program installed on your computer.
  • Pretty soon they're gonna ban sales on pentagrams, demon-summoning paraphenalia, and the Necronomicon ex Mortii.

    Is there anywhere on the web where it's still safe to sell Evil Things?

    I'm sure you know this, but since just a few weeks ago I was asked if my pentacle earring meant I worshiped Satan, let me point out that pentagrams aren't evil but are a spiritual symbol found in many traditions.

    Thank you, enjoy the show.

  • > They don't have to follow French laws

    So, all the French would need to do to get their way [] is to buy up some small company and have it trademark the Svastika...

  • by EyesOfNostradamus ( 75825 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @09:31AM (#1040332) Homepage
    > There is however one thing we CAN do. Boycot eBay. But that would also be a bit harsh, imho, because eBay too is simply caught between a rock and a hard place,

    Right, that would indeed be a little harsh, if eBay was a sentient individual. But in reality it is just a faceless corporation. Those corporations don't think in terms of morally wrong or right, but rather in terms of fiduciary responsibility to their shareholder and in terms of risk avoidance. Any action that would make shutting down the M$ auctions more risky would push them in the right direction. And a boycott is just such an action. Whether eBay acted on its own initiative or was pressured by Microsoft is irrelevant here.

    Remember: we are dealing with faceless, mechanical, non-sentient corporations here, not with individuals. You might object and point out that a company is just a collection of individuals. However, none of them will be harmed personnally: If eBay sinks, its employees will find good jobs elsewhere almost immediately, with the great job market that we have now. The CEO and other top executives have their golden parachutes. And the shareholders knew the risks they were taking (if they did their due diligence). After all, us penguinistas are not whining over Corel's share price decline either: we knew the risks and lost.

  • The company I work for has Mac OS site licenses... Microsoft could never get away with that, since their entire revunue model is to get people to buy their software any way they can

    Microsoft makes bundles of money with site licences. In fact, if you work at a company with more than 200 Microsoft software users, you'd be stupid to not have a site licence.

    In fact, it's rather stupifying that you'd think that Microsoft makes the kind of money they do off of retail/OEM sales. The key to Microsoft's business model is to sell site licences to large corporations.

    The scam is that they sell OEM copies of Windows, even for the 'corporate' PCs, and then they go back and sell the corporate purchasers a site licence for all of the copies of Windows they already own. (Well, they do get a different support phone number to call, but it's probably same idjots answering the phone.)
  • Another possible point is that Microsoft may have have a no resale clause in their EULA.

    This is irrelevant if the box has not been opened. IANAL, but I understand that EULA's cannot stand up in court if you have never opened the box and have never been given an opportunity to read them. Even if you have read the EULA, if you have disagreed with the EULA, have never installed the software and can prove it, the EULA may still be unenforceable in a court. If EULA's were on firm ground legally, then why did Microsoft find it necessary to lobby for UTICA?

    Oh, and one more thing on this: if Microsoft are asking eBay to pull Microsoft items that are being auctioned off the eBay website, and Microsoft have an auction website that allows users to sell Microsoft products (which they do: check out []), then are Microsoft guilty of anticompetitive behaviour yet again?

  • >Somebody had to start every religion at some point in time. Why should only the really old one's be protected? Just because they were invented a long time ago?

    The copyright has expired on the really old ones.
    Christianity: copyright expired
    Scientology: copyrighted (probably trademarked and patented too..)

  • Sadly....
  • It's certainly no surprise to me that something like this happened, but before you go crucifying eBay, think about the position they are in. Microsoft doesn't like this - so they threaten eBay with their buildings full of IP lawyers. eBay, threatened with a lawsuit which will certainly make it to court, simply takes the path of least resistance. Not Admirable, but practical. Not all companies have the resources to deal with high-pressure/publicity lawsuits.
  • by Danse ( 1026 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @11:28AM (#1040355)

    Somebody had to start every religion at some point in time. Why should only the really old one's be protected? Just because they were invented a long time ago? Hardly a good or fair reason.

  • eBay is fraudulently changing statements left by real people. Anyone who had their negative rating changed to neutral, or their neutral rating changed to positive should talk to a lawyer to see if eBay is liable for fraudulently misrepresenting user comments.
    I've been on eBay for almost four years. One of the comments about me was rerated to neutral when the vendor either turned evil or was hacked. But if eBay EVER changed what I had said about someone, I would be talking to the New York Times and a good lawyer. Those comments were NOT neutral. Whatever bribes or threats are being offered to eBay are not worth the hit eBay's reputation could take from this. You *MUST* trust your auctioneer if you don't know the vendor. When I buy something, I count on the vendor ratings. Now that I know eBay will fraudulently rearrange the ratings, then I can no longer trust anything I see there. Perhaps any other vendor can buy a better rating.

    Ratings must not be "bumped" just to please a customer. A ratings scheme that can be bought is worthless.

  • I'm generally a Microsoft supporter but this move makes no sense to me. Why cancel legit auctions? (I'd understand if these were cd-r copies of Microsoft products, but they appear legit?) It's dissapointing that Ebay took such a step and changed the feedback to neutral (Some were apparently even changed to positive) I'm disgusted by the actions of both companies.
  • >Ever read a software license agreement?

    Ah.. you mean the click-through one, which hasn't been clicked since it's still in a sealed box? The one that hasn't been agreed too?

  • by coyote-san ( 38515 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @09:38AM (#1040364)
    They better not ban my sale of demon-summoning paraphenalia - I'll sue for violation of my civil rights to peaceful exercise of my religion!

    Well, maybe the *demon-summoning paraphenalia will have to go - they do tend to get wild, although in a college town who can tell? - but the pentagram is entitled to precisely as much legal protection as the bibles. A quick check shows _2971_ items matching the search word "bible," so they can't claim that they ban all auctions of religious articles.

    But what happens when my girlfriend, a defrocked nun, attempts to sell her old paraphenalia? Is the mummified toe of a saint religious paraphenalia, or a mere human body part?

    (To be fair, eBay shows 247 items matching "pentagram", 335 items matching "satan", and a bit more seriously 908 items matching Wicca, 1349 matching Buddha, yet only 242 items matching Baptist. They haven't been totally taken over by the crazies, yet, but have clearly let specific controversies lead their policy decisions and are establishing bad precedences.)
  • by Vagatech ( 193069 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @07:28AM (#1040365) Homepage

    Not sure who's palm they greased for this but there treading on pretty thin ice. One of the few doctrens of U.S. copyright law that actualy works to protect a consumers rights is First Sale.

    As long as I include the entire package that I origanaly payed for I have the right too sell it to who ever I wish and the manufacturur has nothing to say about it. Be it a book, a CD or a piece of software (whatever there licence agreements say, they've been chucked out of court to many times to count) it is a protected right for me to transfer my licence to whom ever I wish without consulting the copyright holder or providing them with a royalty. They have rights to the profits from First Sale and nothing more.

  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @11:33AM (#1040368)
    you cut right to the heart of it:

    uSoft must feel threatened by the sale of its used software by private parties. I know of no other vendor that aggressively tries to bully normal people into not selling their used software. its sad and sick that uSoft has to have every last penny; deserved or not.

    I guess if you're the 500lb gorilla, you can buy your own way and make things fair. you listening to this, US courts???

    so in protest of this whole stinking matter, I hereby publicly announce and commit that I'll ONLY buy used uSoft software - if I ever have to buy that crap, at all.


  • ycotts []!

    And the best part is -- posts expire after 2 weeks, which is just enough for /.-ers to foget about all boycotts they decide to declare!
  • Old copy of Windows 3.1?

    Slow down big boy! I'm still using dosshell. It'l be a while before I get enough of that there RAM to run that kinda stuff.
  • Could someone post a copy of the `Warning signs' document from the
    above URL here. I can't read it, it's in RTF format.
  • Normal rules of free speech or various rights don't apply in general when dealing with companies. eBay is not obligated to deal in Microsoft products, even if they are completely legitimate.

    That's the problem in general with creating large, private entities: they are not subject to many of the laws and protections for individuals that we have achieved in civil society over the centuries.

    So, in the short term, this should be an inducement to use companies other than eBay for auctioning, not only because they won't list Microsoft or Scientology products, but because preserving a diversity of services is important in general. In the long term, we should work towards more legal requirements on private companies that perform important social and economic functions in our society; eBay is a free marketplace, and it ought to be subject to strict regulations that ensures that they perform that kind of function equitably and without favoring particular companies

  • Auction Sites

    Test purchases and other investigations have confirmed that a significant portion of the Microsoft software sold on auction sites is counterfeit or otherwise infringing product. Microsoft has recently begun to work cooperatively with auction sites to help ensure that the software available on their sites is legal.

    Microsoft and eBay have initiated an aggressive program to stop auction sites that Microsoft believes may be distributing infringing product. Microsoft monitors all auction sites and conducts daily searches to identify auctions suspected of offering counterfeit or infringing software. The company notifies eBay of suspect auctions and asks them to terminate the auctions within 24 hours. The vendors are urged to end their illegal actions, and the bidders are warned and pointed to information on software piracy. Although this program started with eBay, Microsoft has also begun similar programs with several other auction sites.

    Consumers should be familiar with the warning signs of illegal software and practice safe Internet shopping in order to avoid being victimized when acquiring software from Internet auction sites.
  • by bwt ( 68845 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @09:43AM (#1040377) Homepage
    But the OS (if you can call winders a OS) cds that come with most OEM systems say on the "for sale with a new pc only" now is selling those on ebay a violation of that clause? How binding is that clause? I agree that if it is binding etc. that it really sucks.

    The Supreme Court rejected such notices in 1908. The case is BOBBS-MERRILL CO. v. STRAUS, 210 U.S. 339 [](1908).
  • by Mike Schiraldi ( 18296 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @07:30AM (#1040378) Homepage Journal
    Man, at least when Microsoft came after Slashdot, they didn't ask for their karma to be reset.
  • by hypergeek ( 125182 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @11:36AM (#1040380)
    A friend of mine wore (and probably still does) a pentacle necklace, with the cup-and-dagger on the back (he calls it "the chalice and the phallus"; says it's a Wiccan symbol. He's pagan, but not Wiccan, although his g/f is.)

    He explained that the points of the star represent the points of the body, with the top one representing the head. If the pentagram is right-side up, as it usually is in neopagan displays, it means "mind over body." The Satanist's pentagram is upside down, representing "body over mind."

  • item=345155543
  • I've suggested similar ideas to this on previous Slashdot stories, but what the heck, I'll suggest it again.

    Everyone with a registered Ebay account should start demanding that Ebay shut down auctions. Pick those that involve software, books or something else that could vaguely involve 'intellectual property'. See what happens.

    The problem with this is that not everyone has the same amount of money as Microsoft has to spend on lawyers. So it might not work. But at least it would piss off the Ebay people ;->
  • Quote:

    We use your email address, your mailing address, and phone number to contact you regarding administrative notices, new product offerings, and communications relevant to your use of the Site. If you do not wish to receive these communications, you may have the ability to opt out on the preferences page.

    Reasonable I think. However, reading further states:

    As a general proposition, we do not sell or rent any personally identifiable information about you to any third party. The following describes some of the ways that your personally identifiable information may be disclosed. ....

    Reading the appendix, they'll happily give your home address etc to any member of their VeRO system. I'm not going to pass judgement, but it does make me more and more wary. The last quote also make me wonder... "As a general..." What about times when it isn't general?

  • this reminds me of a joke:

    "hey, did you hear that if play a copy of the win NT CD backwards, it contains devil worship and satanic mutterings?"

    "that's nothing! if you play it fowards, it installs NT!"


  • My personal favorite is email addresses of the /etc/aliases kind. I run my own email server, with my domain, so I can have all the accounts I want. Mail filters take care of the rest.

    Whenever I give out my address, I give out an alias. Giving it to They get If I discover that an email is spreading to other people, I know who not to trust. I can also easily cut them off.
  • by PopeAlien ( 164869 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @07:33AM (#1040402) Homepage Journal
    But hey- they just 'neutralized' the comments- that means they balanced them out right? I mean there must have been tons of positive user comments as well right?

    I like this bit from the Ebay User Agreement:
    Therefore, although we use industry standard practices to protect your privacy, we do not promise, and you should not expect, that your personally identifiable information or private communications will remain private .

    It's always nice to see reassurance that "industry standard" means that your personal info or private communication need not remain private.

    Even the RIAA is not going after people selling used or shrinkwrapped CD's.. Gah.
  • huh? is there a "license" to a microphone??

    this boggles...


  • What ever happened to "innocent until proven guilty"?

    Seems these potential sellers were deemed to be treading on Microsoft's precious toes, without any sort of investigation other than finding the software up for auction. Why doesn't Microsoft buy it, and if it's illegal, throw the offender in jail. Bonus is that it gets the legitimate copies off the street so hapless Microsoft users have to buy from a store (more $$$), or steal a copy, or.. get something else that does the job as well or better.

  • The problem with Boycotting something is that normally it takes a certain size to be measurable by the company being targeted, case in point the Amazon attempt here a few month back. Ebay is different. I would think that a fairly big portion of the Computer Section is populateded by slashdot readers or related geeks being either the buyers or sellers. If a significant portion of those boycotted eBay it might be felt quite fast. Second. Auctions houses has quite significant feedback mechanisms. Meaning the more sellers you have the more buyers you get etc. This works in reverse as well. A boycott that resulted in a migration to another auction site like Yahoo could possible result in eBay never regaining the clout in the computer equipment sector. The risk of that happening is probably enough for eBay to quickly cave in. Worth a try.
  • bwt [] posted this earlier:

    The Supreme Court rejected such notices in 1908. The case is BOBBS-MERRILL CO. v. STRAUS, 210 U.S. 339 [](1908).

  • by hypergeek ( 125182 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @07:37AM (#1040419)
    I think this is just part of a trend... certain things are too horrible to auction on the web. Consider that eBay recently halted auctions on:

    • Human Remains
    • Human Parts
    • Humans
    • Microsoft Products

    Pretty soon they're gonna ban sales on pentagrams, demon-summoning paraphenalia, and the Necronomicon ex Mortii.

    Is there anywhere on the web where it's still safe to sell Evil Things?

  • Well said. eBay is a neat concept but it's not surprising to hear that they are buckling under to MS.

    As for the spam - I've been using this notice to scare off spammers for a while now... I even use it at work in response to junk faxes:

    I deny to receive any non-subscribed commercial mass-mailings free, if such mailings are sent to me, I reserve the right to charge sender $500.

    Disputes of this fee may be resolved in court.

    "By US Code Title 47, Sec.227(a)(2)(B), a computer/modem/printer meets the definition of a telephone fax machine. By Sec.227(b)(1)(C), it is unlawful to send any unsolicited advertisement to such equipment. By Sec.227(b)(3)(C), a violation of the aforementioned Section is punishable by action to recover actual monetary loss, or $500, whichever is greater."

    Seems to me that someone could be collecting some money if eBay is misusing user info.

    Full legal text USC Title 47, Section 227 []

    Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-Mail []


    I'm not a lawyer, and I don't play one on TV.

  • I am purely amazed that at this juncture in the MS-DOJ trial proceedings that M$ would engage in such a negative way on such a public forum. I mean, its not like this would go unnoticed with the vigilant /. community on the prowl. You would think that if they had even half a wit between them, they would be pulling back into their shell a bit. I think they deserve to be broken up, if not closed completely.

    Its bad enough that Ebay completely violated its own policies and re-rated the user comments up a notch (apparently making some negative comments into positive ones in the process), but its worse that M$ can use Ebay to ban legitimate sales of M$ software.

    Mind you I have a copy of WinNT 4.0 on CD (totally legit) but I would not want to sell it to anyone - I would not want to inflict it on anyone. But then I have a conscience - I guess Microsoft does not...

  • Well, the thing is... if the auctions say "unopened retail box" AND "full version" or "upgrade" with "not OEM" then I don't see how they should be able to shut down the auction. If the seller is not being truthful about what they're selling then they will get negative feedback from the people they sold it to. I haven't looked at how these people worded their auctions, but I'd like to see if they were clear about what they were auctioning. This MS character could've thought that it was OEM if they didn't say specifically "NOT OEM" (and those are illegal to sell without hardware..)

    I wonder if they took down ALL MS software sales or JUST the ones that seemed like they COULD possibly be illegal. (because they weren't clear that it wasn't OEM)
  • Did it occur to anybody that an interested buyer just needs to look at e-mail addresses in msoft's feedback list [] and contact the people directly... I'm sure that by tomorrow everyone will have sold his ware. Especially after the publicity around this whole affair.
  • by SquadBoy ( 167263 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @07:40AM (#1040432) Homepage Journal
    Just one question and heavens knows I'm not trying to defend MicroShaft because if the answer to my question is no then I think it is just one more example of evil. But the OS (if you can call winders a OS) cds that come with most OEM systems say on the "for sale with a new pc only" now is selling those on ebay a violation of that clause? How binding is that clause? I agree that if it is binding etc. that it really sucks.
  • Seeing as I have the moral spine of Gumby, even after seeing this article and re-reading eBay's privacy policy, I will probably still use the service.

    BUT, for people like me, there is a nice way to get this info out and make other eBay users (with greater spines) to send a LOT of comments/complaints to eBay staff.

    Create an auction. Tag a little "Oh, by the way, check out what eBay has been doing to Microsoft software auctions at [] to the top/bottom of your auction.

    This should get quite a response. After say, 500 emails, the company *may* just have to look into the legality of its position before some of the more affluent eBay users decide to class action eBay before they can "neutralize" that.

  • as eBay most likely is doing this to avoid complications from MS.

    Which is why we should make sure they see complications because they are doing this. Corporations don't base their decisions on morality. They base them on risk and potential profits or loss. We just need to show them that their profits could suffer if they simply cave in to Microsoft's demands. That is what it takes to change their decision. They have to see the effect on their bottom line. The problem is organizing a large enough boycott to actually affect their bottom line.

  • More food for the DOJ cannons. Speak up! Contact them here: [mailto]

    The Tick - "Spoon!"
  • by sigwinch ( 115375 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @06:41PM (#1040440) Homepage

    The Supreme Court rejected such notices in 1908. The case is BOBBS-MERRILL CO. v. STRAUS, 210 U.S. 339(1908) [].

    (For people who didn't follow the link and read the decision...)

    "Fair use" is a part of copyright law that lets you make copies of works you posses for your own use. For instance, if I have a license to Windows 98, I can lawfully copy it onto my hard drive for use.

    Fair use has one restriction: keeping the copies after giving the original to another person is infringement. Specifically, it is the copies themself that infringe, not the original work, nor the transfer of the original.

    The other issue is "first sale". Copyright is a grant of monopoly, allowing the author to control how the work is published. And that's as far as the monopoly extends. Once a copy has been published, the author's only right is preventing further publication without their permission.

    That a sale might cause previously noninfringing "fair use" copies to become infringing is not a cause for restraining the sale, and the sale is not subject to remedies. It simply is not part of copyright law. Sale of a lawful original copy is always lawful. It is keeping the now-infringing copies that is unlawful, and the law provides remedies for that.

    In the Microsoft/eBay case, Microsoft has no cause for preventing the sale, due to the first sale doctrine. At most, when they know that copies were kept after the sale, there are other remedies that may be pursued. They are not acting out of any right or privilege of law, but out of greed.

    Microsoft is committing slander and libel, by making allegations of infringement with reckless disregard for truth. Their claims also create false advertising, because they original copyright works were not advertised as being "not for resale". Finally, preventing sales constitutes restraint of trade, which is generally illegal.

    And worst of all, they're doing it in collusion with another company. You'd think they would be more...uh...subtle, what with the Department of Justice breathing down their necks.

  • by um... Lucas ( 13147 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @07:42AM (#1040444) Journal
    Ebay has no need to verify that software is unopened. I've sold a few legal versions of MSFT software (Frontpage and VB 5.0 learning edition) and in both cases when people emailed asking about the legality of transfering my licenses, I refered them to this:

    License Transfer

    If you are seeking permission to donate or transfer software product,
    software licenses, or hardware loaded with Microsoft software to another
    party, you may do so without obtaining written permission provided you
    follow the terms and conditions of your End User License Agreement (EULA).
    All transfers of license, either through a sales transaction, donation, or
    gift must include all product documentation, product manuals, original disks
    and licenses. Further conditions of transfer may be included in your EULA.
    The individual or entity giving up their software and license(s) must
    understand that they are giving up all of their rights to the transferred
    software, including all rights to upgraded versions of the software.

    The specific text can be found at: [] soft.htm. It's about 3/4's
    of the way down the page under the heading "license transfer".

    Sorry about any funky line breaks in there. I just copied it from my email... so, unless they've changed that policy in the past month or so, it's always been perfectly legal to transfer/sell your license to someone else. They're (Microsoft... I don't blame eBay for wanting to steer itself out of Microsofts sights) just being major assholes/bullies for no good reason except they think they can wring a few more dollars from the world.
  • by Legion303 ( 97901 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @06:48PM (#1040445) Homepage
    Attention Sellers:

    The following information is provided to help you avoid selling a prohibited or potentially infringing software item. This information is provided for all software listings, and it in no way implies anything about the listing you are currently submitting.

    eBay Policy: CD-R and "beta" copies of software may not be listed on eBay unless you are the copyright owner of the software (and state that in your listing). Back-up copies of software may not be listed on eBay, regardless of the legality of your item. Sale of unauthorized copies of software probably is a copyright infringement. Under some circumstances, sale of OEM software (that comes with a computer) and "academic software" is a copyright infringement. Offering to sell infringing items may result in legal liability, the ending of your listing and/or suspension from eBay.


  • It's bad enough that eBay have rolled over to Microsoft and are assisting them in blocking a legal trade in second-user software.

    But what really infuriates me about this is that one specific account holder (Microsoft) can enjoy the privileges of a registered user without being subject to any penalties as a result of negative feedback because eBay have rigged the system to make them immune.

    I have posted a complaint to this effect in four of eBay's community feedback discussion groups in an attempt to incite a boycott. Things being as they are, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if these posts get pulled. I wouldn't be much more surprised if my account gets revoked. Like I'd care anyway.

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is not the first case. According to a posting to usenet eBay 19. May 2000 also canceled the aution of computer games (note: we are talking originals, not illegal copies), just search for 'OT: Eidos Cancelled my Auction at Ebay!!!' in with
  • I'm personally offended that you'd say I'm on the same level as eBay. Expect a libel suit if you're in the UK.
  • Granted it came with a system, but it was made by Microsoft.
    The questionable items:software [] page says "Anyone selling OEM software without the machine is potentially infringing upon the software company's copyright. Be wary of offers to buy software in jewel cases only with no other original packaging or manuals."
    It looks like it would be legal if it is a "real" version, like you say.
    Will they stop me?What do you think?
  • by mosch ( 204 )
    I do the same thing. It's amazing how much e-mail '' gets. And it's always fun to hear the spammers remarks when I invoice them. I've never gotten anybody to pay up, but I do occasionally go to the trouble of sicking a collection agency on 'em, if only for the entertainment value.

    Friends get accounts that are on a whitelist as 'always good', and then websites generally get some variation of '' (gee, I wonder what happens to that e-mail)
  • by Dark Phantasmo ( 136483 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @07:50AM (#1040473)
    if you go to you will find a lot of MS software for sale. Are they simply killing the auctions at eBay, in order to get people to use ms's auction site?
  • I just checked my contact preferences... it seems that yes, I do want to be telemarketed to. Odd considering, how much I despise telemarketers. Generally I don't even give out my voice # to anybody. I've discovered that fax machines are very effective for getting your name off of telemarketing call lists.
  • Microsoft is browbeating eBay into stopping the sale of legitimate merchandise which Microsoft doesn't want sold. (Not that eBay is blameless in this either.)

    Is this restraint of trade?
  • by mosch ( 204 )
    I was bidding on a pair of gold Neumann's the other day and the auction was pulled and i was given a notice about the VeRO. I'm still trying to figure out what was not legal about that.
  • by CMU_Nort ( 73700 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @07:53AM (#1040478) Homepage
    Okay slashdotters, who's gonna set up the "Boycott EBay" site. We seem to have a boycott page for every other significant Internet Company, so how about Ebay.

    On a related note, is there an index page somewhere which lists all of the current boycotts going on?

  • If it said it was an OEM Not-for-Resale copy... Yank


    If I buy a computer and it comes with software I don't want, why can't I sell it to someone who wants it?

    Assuming I'm selling the unopened (or as close as comes) package -- full documentation, discs, etc. -- and the software in question is deleted from the original machine, what exactly have I done wrong?

    I can understand if Microsoft and eBay want to combat software piracy. But MS has an obligation to properly investigate illegal copying of software -- otherwise they open themselves up to a slander suit by accusing someone of being a criminal with no evidence. (And these people can file a lawsuit; whether or not they can win is another story.)

    But then again, this is why the UCITA laws are so savory for software makers (and MS in particular); they want to stamp out the "first sale" doctrine and force people to only buy "authorized" copies directly from them or an "approved" reseller.

    (Yet another reason why I prefer dead-tree editions of books and comics and such, because it's only a matter of time before someone applies this to "traditional" text and/or images, if they're served in an online or "interactive" medium.)

    And, given a choice between potentially buggy software that I can't fix, sell or give away (proprietary software under UCITA) and potentially buggy software that I can fix, sell or give away (Free Software) I'm going to start opting for the latter. Hopefully others will start doing the same, if they aren't already.

    Think about it. Even if you are one of these /. zealots who believes software piracy is perfectly legit, they're still screwing over customers by selling something that cost them $5 in materials to make for $75.

    But you could apply that to "official" copies as well. I just bought a copy of Half-Life that consisted of nothing but a CD. Is a box, a jewel case and insert, and a disk really worth $40? The only difference between the two is that one is a legally-licensed copy of the software and one isn't.

    Hell even Linux is being missold on ebay. I see tons of people trying to auction off $5 Cheapbytes CD's for $20...

    Which is not illegal, according to the GPL (unless, of course, they're only distributing the binaries). There's nothing wrong with buying an item and selling it to someone else at a markup -- that's how traditional retail works, in case you haven't figured it out. I've bought stuff for my store on clearance at a fraction of its "actual" cost to me and sold it for full retail price. Am I a criminal?

    Now, if they're misrepresenting their product ("Official Red Hat Linux 6.2 for only 5$!") that's a different issue.

    Jay (=
  • Now you tell me where it says CD or CD-ROM.

    Right below the paragraph you quoted, there's a link to a further FAQ. I quote:

    • CD-R, short for Compact Disc-Recordable, is a type of disk that allows you to "write" or record onto the disk only once. When we use the term "CD-R," we are also referring to CD-RW disks, which is short for CD-ReWritable disk, a type of CD that enables you to "write" or record onto the disk multiple times. You can treat these types of disks like a floppy disk or hard disk, by writing data onto the disk once or multiple times.

    A CD you can write to only once? Sure sounds like a CD-ROM to me, unless I'm missing something very fundamental.
  • I mean, its not like this would go unnoticed with the vigilant /. community on the prowl.

    And what exactly are the extents to which the vigilant /. community's influence reaches? Slashdot's been misquoted in a couple of tech news stories and maybe one major publication. Most people who use eBay, I'd bet, don't read Slashdot.

    To MS, this isn't negative. They are 'defending' their copyright and property rights (although I think it's on rather shaky ground, their reasoning I mean). They have to do this sort of thing as part of maintaining their copyright. Microsoft would look a lot worse if they finally did manage to get a pirate into court and the pirate said, "But look, there was a lot of warezing going on right there on eBay and you did nothing."

    First off, Microsoft does not need good PR or bad PR. Everyone knows who they are. They have a de facto monopoly on Windows systems. Moving away from Windows is probably hardest the move to make in the computer industry, and big companies who buy the majority of Microsoft products are not going to look at this auction as anything more than what a business needs to do, so they're not going to lose any customers there. The people this pisses off are the Slashdot crowd, who most likely aren't buying Microsoft anyway, again no lost sales there. As for the DOJ case, Microsoft telling eBay that it's piracy is happening and they need to stop it is not anything like bundling and the other issues involved with the DOJ case. Klein is not going to point at eBay and say to the judge, "Look at what Microsoft just did, Jackson! That should show they're a monopoly!" Jackson would laugh at him.

    The real target here should be eBay, which has clearly violated its own stated policies. The issue here is not the fault of MS; it's that of eBay.

    To summarize, it's part of business, Slashdot is not powerful enough to change the entire world's viewpoint on Microsoft, focus on eBay.
  • by AcidMonkey ( 188562 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @07:56AM (#1040492)
    One quick reminder to the raving constitutional catch-phrase throwers:

    "Innocent until proven guilty" and "due process" are constraints placed on the U.S. government. More abstractly, they are ideals which America supposedly tends to like. However, private organizations aren't required to uphold these ideals.

    Unless MS goes through court to gets auctions taken down, auctioneers are only entitled to whatever scraps of fairness eBay decides to hand out.


  • FWIW, the relevant quote in Bobbs-Merrill v. Straus is as follows:
    In our view the copyright statutes, while protecting the owner of the copyright in his right to multiply and sell his production, do not create the right to impose, by notice, such as is disclosed in this case, a limitation at which the book shall be sold at retail by future purchasers, with whom there is no privity of contract.
  • by twjordan ( 88132 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @07:57AM (#1040501)
    It must exist, and it is probably the best job ever:

    Location: Redmond, Washington
    Title: Ebay Warrior
    Salary: 50-70K
    Benefits: Full
    Available: Immediately
    Description: Under the direction of the legal department at Microsoft Corporation, the job holder will use the popular auction site eBay all day looking for ways to screw with disgruntled Microsoft customers looking to unload their buggy software on unsuspecting old women and teenagers.

    Qualifications: The ideal candidate will have at least three months of previous unemployement, during which he or she attepted to run an at-home business selling garbage on auction sites. Lack of conscience and low self-esteem a plus. Candidates who are extremely unethical and bloodthirsty are encouraged to apply.

    Seriously, someone has to do it

  • by Wakko Warner ( 324 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @07:57AM (#1040504) Homepage Journal
    Neumann, maker of *very* expensive, *very* high-quality studio microphones, has gotten on the horn with eBay a number of times and had auctions pulled, claiming trademark and copyright infringements. Do a search on eBay for "Neumann", and, chances are, a lot of the links you click will say "this auction is no longer in our database".

    Apparently you're no longer allowed to sell things you've bought.

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • I want to know if the users who list the auctions get their listing fees back from eBay, as they are not breaking any of the rules of ebay by selling their legal software.

    He who knows not, and knows he knows not is a wise man
  • I sent eBay a polite note about this, and received the following response.

    On Wed, 31 May 2000 12:57:51 eBay Customer Support wrote:

    Thank you for taking the time to write us with your concern about our feedback policy. I will be happy to address your concerns. First the feedback for hasn't been altered and our policies haven't been changed for this member.

    About three months ago we changed our feedback policy. Before members could leave neutral comments to any other member at any time. Negative
    comments had to be transaction related, so when members were upset with another member even if it wasn't in regards to a transaction they had
    completed with that member they could leave neutral comments.

    To answer your first question the feedback wasn't altered from negative to neutral. All of the comments that are neutral were originally left as
    neutral comments.

    Many alternatives to curb misuse of the Feedback Forum while still maintaining a non-transactional feedback option were considered. However, the input that we received from the community was overwhelmingly in favor of linking every comment to an actual transaction on the site.

    Based on that, we decided to change the past system to make all feedback transaction related. I hope that this information helps explain why this
    member has so many neutral comments. If you have any other questions or concerns feel free to contact us.

    So that answers the question. The comments were neutral because that was the only option available to the people who posted the feedback.

  • by escalation746 ( 157609 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @08:01AM (#1040513) Homepage

    This is america, people.

    Um, no, it isn't.

    It's the Internet.

    If it happens to be America where you type then my condolences. All you can do is emigrate.

    Or do you have data that indicates that all halted E-Bay sales were by Americans on American soil?

  • eBay runs on Sun hardware. This was, I thought, a well-known fact.

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 29, 2000 @08:07AM (#1040536)
    OEM copies have never been legal to resell. They are distributed for use on a specific machine, and not transferrable. There are really three different versions of (for one example of a Microsoft product) Windows 95 (and, of course, aside from the fact that there are numerous releases also):

    OEM Copies- These are resold by hardware vendors with their machines. Many vendors, from Compaq and Dell down to the lowliest 'screwdriver shop' bundles these versions with their hardware to sell a complete system. Generally these sell for about $100 and have to be sold at the same time as a certain amount of hardware. I have a copy of the OEM license handy, and the current rule is that it needs to be sold along with at a minimum a motherboard or a hard drive.

    'Upgrade' copies- these are the retail boxed copies sold for a standard price of $89. These copies MUST go on a machine that already has an earlier version of Windows and/or replace a legitimate copy of Windows (usually 3.1 or 3.11) that isn't in use on another machine. Many people purchase this version because it's cheaper than a 'new computer' retail box. When this upgrade version is purchased, you can no longer legally use the version of Windows that it 'ugrades' on another machine. Likewise, if you buy a Windows 98 Upgrade copy, you can not then sell off the Windows 95 copy that it replaces, or install and use the Windows 95 on another machine.

    'New Computer Retail Box'- This is the most expensive way to purchase Windows 95. These copies sell off the same shelf as the Upgrade Retail box copies, for $189. These copies are intended for installation on a brand new computer, and do not require an upgrade path be in place to be legitimately licensed.

    It's refreshing to have the opportunity to talk about Microsoft licensing policies in an on-topic fashion on /. Usually we just talk endlessly about the GPL.

    I personally, to be an example, have licenses to run Microsoft OSes on three separate machines.

    1. I bought my Windows 3.0 'upgrade' copy back when 3.0 came out. To get the upgrade I had to present the title page from my Windows 1.0 users manual. That copy of Windows has now been upgraded from 3.0 to 3.1 and to Windows 95.

    2. I bought an additional copy of Windows 98 about a year ago. It's the $189 retail box copy, which has been 'patch' upgraded to Second Edition. I didn't buy the upgrade version, because I have Windows 95 downstairs in the lab running on the machine that talks to emulators, my EPROM programmer, etc. on the workbench. The 98 machine is upstairs in the living room, an entertainment (game) machine.

    3. I got in early on Windows NT by purchasing the first release (October 1992) of the Win32 SDK, which included a copy of Windows NT *very alpha*. I paid $30 for it and Microsoft shipped a second alpha release before shipping the 'final release' which included an NT 3.1 workstation license. That was upgraded to 3.51, to 4.0, and now to Windows 2000. Before Windows 2000 the upgrade paths for Windows 9x and NT were totally separate. With W2K Microsoft decided to allow people with Win 9x to upgrade to W2K, which is a significant cost savings over a full retail box copy.

    Anyhow, that's the low-down, coming from someone who ran Windows 2.1 and 3.0 on an 8088 machine with a Hercules graphic card for numerous years. I believe I got a 286 a while after 3.1 came out, and I remember how cool it was to finally have '386 Enhanced Mode' running when I got a 386DX/25 (motherboard new, CPU salvaged out of a defective Northgate 386 motherboard that I got for (only!) $100.)
  • by Accipiter ( 8228 ) on Monday May 29, 2000 @09:58AM (#1040571)
    Check this out:

    Head over to [].

    Enter 'Windows 98' in the search field.

    Browse the results.

    Here are a few of the ones I found:

    Microsoft Windows 98 Upgrade 2nd Edition Retail Box - $89.99

    Windows 98 Second Edition + Boot Disk - $15.00

    New Sealed Windows 98 Cd (Unregistered) - $32.00

    Those are on the first search page. Now All I searched for was 'Windows 98', who knows how many Windows 95, 3.1, or NTs are hidden in there.

    So we're not allowed to buy Microsoft software via auction websites.......unless it's MICROSOFT'S auction website? Fuck you, Microsoft.

    Chalk up more evidence for the DoJ.

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • "They have to do this sort of thing as part of maintaining their copyright."

    I feel compelled to mention that you don't have to maintain a copyright. You have to maintain a trademark, but a copyright you can let one group go and enforce on another group, ie even though the warez d00d might say that they let people on eBay go, that bears nothing in court. They could probably come back asking the d00d for specific auctions which were illegal and see what happens. Moral: No, they don't *have* to do this sort of thing to maintain their copyright.

    Of course, IANAL.

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI