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Editorial Your Rights Online

Copyrant 560

When you "purchase" software, what do you get? Increasingly, the answer is: nothing. Nothing tangible; no rights; and no resale value. This rant is spurred by Microsoft's changes to its distribution policy for all future editions of Windows. No longer will you receive a CD which is capable of installing the operating system with your new computer - Original Equipment Manufacturers are forbidden to ship you one, even though you just paid ~$100 for the software, and even though the change makes customers less than happy. Meanwhile, Adobe's chairman has the gall to tell us it's our own fault. I take a look at the future of software licensing.

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

"...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."
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.

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?
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.

-- from

We can fix that, Adobe.

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Comments Filter:
  • by tilly ( 7530 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:27PM (#1016776)
    I am a voting adult. I think that this is a great idea!

    Make something remotely like the above available as a petition and I will cheerfully sign it. A donation is not out of the question. My vote in the next federal election is already spoken for as long as it looks like Bush is likely to let Microsoft off the hook and Gore is neutral. (Heck, that could be seen as the best way I can see to vote for the above.)

    But leave it at an article here and nothing significant will happen. Nor do I have the time or energy to do any significant organizing.

    I doubt I am alone...

  • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:27PM (#1016777) Homepage Journal
    ...I just got hold of a real Win95c CD and installed whatever the hell I wanted on the damn PC. Buggered if I was going to use the Restore CD, which contained the image of a PC that had had Win 3.x installed then upgraded to Win95 (complete with only Win3.x drivers for everything).

    As far as I'm concered I bought a Win95 licence and I'll install it from the CD that shipped with the PC or any other Win95 CD I feel like installing it from.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:28PM (#1016778)

    Unfortunately this kind of thing has come around as a result of the blatent piracy that takes place across the entire computing world thanks to the "I'm not paying for that" mentality that seems to be the norm. Especially when the company is Microsoft, people seem to think that they have some kind of moral right to copy and distribute their products willy-nilly rather than give any more money to the "Evil Empire".

    This kind of attitude is prevalent on /. with their rampant disregard for copyright, IP and any other restrictions on what they can have - if you can't get something as "Free Software" then hey, do the next best thing and pirate it. It's all for the cause right?

    And this is from a demographic that is supposedly earning a lot more money than the rest of society. Does anyone else see the contradiction and indeed hyprocracy in this? You're all quite willing to take plenty of money from the large corporations you work for, but then all you do is bitch about your working hours and engage in criminal activities. Especially the sysadmins.

    Until this attitude of piracy being a good thing of course companies are going to try and impose additional restrictions on their software. Despite what the Stallman hardliners might think, people do deserve to make a living of off their work, and this kind of move is simply an attempt to do so. You've only got yourselves to blame.

  • by Vanders ( 110092 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:30PM (#1016779) Homepage
    OSS can be the answer to all of these problems of course. Thats the obvious answer. The problem is of course that

    a) The general software buying (Licensing, sorry) public have to be aware of the restrictions being placed on them by companies such as Microsoft

    b) The public have to be made aware of free and open source software as an alternative

    c) The alternative software has to offer the same or better features that the propriatry software (With it's restrictive licencse) offers

    I think a) is becoming clearer every day, as Micrsoft and the other softies extend these types of licencsing and software distribution. b) is also not as much a problem as it used to be, with more and more people aware of, if not actually using, open source software such as Linux and *BSD. c) is something that the Gnome & KDE teams are working very hard on (KOffice, for example).

    Now all we need to do is bring them all together, and shout about it.
  • by chris.bitmead ( 24598 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:31PM (#1016781)
    This makes me really angry. The problems of re-installing Windows is already one of my most major gripes with the OS. Last time I wanted to install Win NT guess what I had to do? I had to go back to DOS 5.0. Then upgrade to DOS 6.0 -> DOS 6.2 before using a Windows upgrade disk, then a Windows->NT upgrade. I can't even remember all the hoops I had to go through, but it took about a full day. It mightn't be so bad if Windows was not so easy to screw up so badly that a re-install becomes necessary.

    Not to mention that I change hardware from time to time. A new video card here, a new disk controller there. Sometimes these require an OS-reinstall.

    In the end though, I do have to laugh since my dependancy on all forms of Windows has now been reduced nearly to nothing because of Linux. We don't need Linux to kill MS, they are doing a good job all by themselves.
  • by Frodo ( 1221 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:31PM (#1016782) Homepage
    You know what? I just go to my good old CD-writer and make copies of Windows CDs for me and my friends. So much for piracy battle - now they not only encourage it (they always did - piracy is the only cause why Windows catched in low-income countries with huge markets, like Russia), they make it absolutely vital for business survival. You just *can't* be without windows disk - on every problem they advise you to reinstall.
  • by paulydavis ( 91113 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:37PM (#1016784)
    As long as we sit behind our computers and just bitch about these things and not take direct action of making public statements outside geek forums like slashdot we are all guilty of getting what we get. I was watching c-span tonight and I saw corporate interest after corporate interest represented but no one with an other prospective; the consumers perspective. This was a joint senate house committee on technology and economic policy. Were was the opposing view? We need to stand up and be counted. We need to demand access. Remind these bastards we Vote and all the corporate money in the world wont help them when we vote their collective asses out at the ballot box. We need to take it back.
  • IANAL, but it seems to me that what Microsoft (and others) are trying to do is get around yet another Federal (US) law that prohibits convicted felons from making monetary profits from their crimes. Admittedly this law was enacted to keep people from selling their life stories or memoirs to movie studios for ridiculous sums (actually, any sum). But since Microsoft has now been convicted of a felony (violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, if I'm not mistaken, is defined as a felony), and they have modified their EULA to basically force the consumer to rent instead of buy the license to the OS, application, middleware or whatever, doesn't that mean they're attempting to profit from their crime?

    Just my two cents' worth...please be so kind as to donate the change to the EFF Blue Ribbon Campaign (shameless plug).

  • More and more I think the DOJ isn't needed in light of how MS, and others, are doing things on their own. Windows has a reputation, one that it well deserves, be it from clueless users or shoddy software, of breaking and needing reinstall to fix problems. Sure shipping a recovery only disk or a crippled install disk isn't all bad by itself, but I'll bet ya the full uncrippled retail version of windows rises from this decision. In a similiar vein, the DMCA will die on it's own when people think it's too restrictive. and say "We want to own out software and not have it shut down remotly because of trivial things."
    People are a powerful force when pushed too far, and will fix problems on their own at that point. I, for one, think that when the time is right people in general will do something that's good for them. If what's done is good in the long run is a totally seperate rant, but I guess I'm just saying "Let it be" and let companies/people who screw themselves over get what they desereve.

    bash: ispell: command not found
  • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:41PM (#1016791)
    Your arguement sets an extremely dangerous precedent. "So many people copy software that you all must suffer this to prevent it"

    Reminds me of the comic 200AD, and in particular, the Dark Judges. On their world, the "Judges" (read: combined police officer, judge and, if they saw fit, executioner) realised that all crime was committed by the living, and so outlawed life.

    Effectively, MS and others have decided that all piracy is committed by people that own full install CDs, and so are attempting to prevent such ownership.

    Sure, a lot of people do pirate software. But an awful lot don't - why should they be made to suffer this, when they are guilty of no cirme?

    This must be stopped before it gains acceptance.

    Companies must be reminded that when we buy something, we own it, completely and utterly.

    Copyright law already prevents me from lawfully copying software. What's the next step, license everything and ban all removable, recordable media?


  • Some OEMs have been only shipping "recovery" cds with their computers since I got my first computer way back in 1996. (It was an IBM p-166 (no mmx)). It took me, with absolutely no computer experence at all, a month to realize that this was nothing but an attempt to control the user, at his own excessive inconvience. IBM's rescue disk only let you completely wipe the harddrive, so it was "no working sound" (stupid mwave, anyone remember those? "i can't listen to music, i'm downloading") or lose all my files that couldn't be backed up on floppys. IBM tech support people were mean to me. And I'll admit that this recovery disk prompted me to my very first act of digital "piracy"... installing windows95b from a buddy's disk. Heh. Microsoft, see what you've made me become?!

    Just another reason to appreciate open source software i guess...
  • by emac ( 43771 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:46PM (#1016795)
    Install your software while extremely drunk.
    Videotape yourself for future proof.

    IANAL, but I believe that you can't legally enter into a contract while under the influence. So click "I agree" all you want! (If you can get the mouse into position)

    Alternatively, you could have a minor install the software, since they can't enter into contracts either. Or something like that. :)

    I suppose the evil lawyers have probably created a way around this, but at the very least it could liven up the workplace for those who install software for a living!
  • Very nice piece, Michael. Allow me to chime in with my own editorial [] on the subject.

    Just one nit: "Ordinary people" have been purchasing software over the counter for well over twenty years, not ten. I can still remember seeing Brøderbund's "Apple Panic" hanging on a peg in ComputerLand.

    Think what you will of Jerry Pournelle, the fact is that, in the early 1980's, he was one of the best known and most respected commentators on the computer industry. When he first encountered shrinkwrap "licenses", he minced no words in proclaiming such documents absolute bullshit. (This is a guy who writes for a living, so he knows what copyright lets him do.) So, for the last twenty years, it's been no secret to the software publishers that these so-called "contracts" are not taken seriously by anyone.

    Unfortunately, there are a few stumbling blocks standing in the way of a sane resolution to this issue. The first is that, according to the Uniform Commercial Code, software is not a "good" and therefore is not subject to the normal rules applying to retail sales. The second is that, sadly, there are several court decisions that have allowed these "contracts" to stand. Check out [] for more details than you can stomach.

    The publishers have all their ducks lined up in a row (lawyers, warped court decisions spanning 20 years, bought-and-paid-for politicians), so I fear the only way to fix this is via a massive PR campaign. Direct people to this and other advocacy sites. Tell your friends, especially those who aren't computer literate. You'll have litle trouble convincing them this is nonsense. In fact, I daresay the only people you'll get an argument out of are software lawyers.

    In the meantime, if you find yourself saddled with a machine absent a proper installation CD, return it to the place of purchase and complain loudly. Sadly, it's the only club we have to wield right now, so let's make the most of it.


  • He also forgot to outline:

    1) M$ done nothing wrong, they're just doing business
    2) failed to mention freedom and innovation
    3) M$ has done so much good!

    You give him a C, I give him a JScript.

  • Get stoned. Makes the license incredibly funny too.

  • by jetson123 ( 13128 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:51PM (#1016801)
    Making software even harder to install and content even harder to use means even more opportunity for free software and free content.

    The only thing we have to be vigilant about is that the distribution channels themselves remain open for open source and open content.

    Audio indicates the risks of what can happen: MP3 media, MP3 players, and digital audio recorders have been deliberately crippled for the commercial interests of the record industry. Just doesn't just restrict sharing of copyrighted content under fair use provisions, it also limits access to the market of the very people who operate outside the major record labels. By making recording and distribution more painful and costly, the record industry inhibits low cost and free recordings.

    So, as a user, I don't worry about this kind of nonsense--it will merely spur the development of cheaper or free alternatives. I do worry when these people go out and try to restrict the distribution of information in general because that keeps new competitors out of the market and has far reaching consequences for a free society in general.

  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:53PM (#1016804) Homepage

    This recovery CD apparently restores the whole original state, including the partitioning. If that is so, you will not be able to repartition and reinstall Windows (and then add Linux and/or BSD), because it will restore your original partitioning, which gives Windows the whole disk again.

    IMHO, this is a Microsoft tactic intended to keep people from giving Linux or BSD a try. It's all part of the campaign of trying to lock people and businesses in and not let them discover any way out. I knew they would try to pull things to lock out other operating systems, and do so in a way that looks like they are doing something else. This appears to be the start of that effort.

  • First of all, I didn't pay for any microsoft product, and I've run 95, 98, NT, and a few others. Why? Because I only use them for other people, so other people provide them to me so I can do what they ask. But will I pay for products? Just ask the makers of Onmiremote and numerous palmOS apps. They've got my money, because I *wanted* them and they made a good product. In the case of the "Evil Empire", they don't provide me with both what I want and a good product, but they usually have one or the other. So I'll buy from people who meet both of those criteria, and I'd give a long list of apps if I actually felt I needed to, to prove my point.

    You're right, piracy happens. But people on /. are the minority, and if some of them pirate software, I'm sure it's nowhere near as many as your neighbor Frank who gives a copy of Office 2000 to his friend Joe because joe wanted it. So please don't blame a small online group that they're at fault, when the problem is a whole lot bigger and probably a whole lot more widespread in a group that can't really be easily addressed.

    bash: ispell: command not found
  • by augustm ( 147506 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @10:56PM (#1016807)
    I have bought exactly one piece of software from Adobe. Some years back I decided to get Illustrator for Unix. After all postscript is nice, this seemed to be an honest firm, good products.

    I went away and installed the software (this is in France). When I launched the software I found that it needed licensing keys. Oh dear yet more time lost. However all the contact information in the box (Email and UK telephone numbers) was out of date. No way to get a reply. I spent hours phoning though to the US to try and track down the European licensing center. I took me 10 DAYS to license the software.

    Three months later I received a letter from the Adobe law office saying: We see that you have Adobe software in an Educational institute. We reserve the right to come and search your machine at any moment for potential violations of the license. Your acceptance of your software license implies our right to examine all machines and backup media in your possession.

    They can't even answer the phone to give out a license number, but they have time to send the bailiffs in to personally read everything on my machine...

    Thus work US software houses in Europe

  • I learned the uselessness of Window's system CDs last year. The computer I got at the beginning of college was a 386, with Windows 3.1. After Windows95 came out, there began to be more and more programs that I couln't use on 3.1, and Windows95 was not going to run on my machine (I might have upgraded to a 486 by then, but it was still too slow). I did the sensible thing, and switched to linux. Last year I bought a new Dell laptop. Since it has a DVD, it seemed that using Windows98 was inescapable. I got my laptop in the mail with Windows98 SE preinstalled. Being used to linux, which I had installed myself more than once on several computers, I was used to pretty much knowing what was on my computer, and a pre-installed operating system gave me the willies. I thought "I have the OS CD, why don't I just reinstall?" Well, I gave it a shot, but it wouldn't install. I had no idea what I was doing wrong, so I called tech support. It turns out, at least according to Dell tech support, that Windows98 does not run on laptops. Dell has to make quite a few changes to Windows to get it to work with their computers (which of course they couldn't distribute if they wanted to). While I haven't made a coaster out of my OS CD yet, It would be more effectivr that way. As in the article, I restored a compressed image from a section of my hard drive (which i was suprised to find I had). This is my only option for reinstalling Windows. So really, this current change is just more 'including everyone' than 'a brand new bad thing'. Flathead
  • I've been a Computer Geek since the age of 12 , and before I shifted my use of computers to Linux ( thank God I did it ! ), I estimate I installed Win95 and Win98 about 200 times !!
    My (world?) record for a ( desperately needed ) reinstall on one day is 42 times. This was when I bought a Compag Presario , and wanted to install a "better" windows than the one Compaq supplied. I ran in a little problems and the count quickly ran up the 42 times mentioned above !
    Compaq supplies a OEM Windows CD =AND= a "recovery disk" that installs a Windows and all the added Compaq drivers and stuff. And to install a standard windows on a Compaq was overkill back then.

    Now to get to the point : since I have installed windows again and again due to OS crashes that are mainly windows faults/bugs , the prospect of not HAVING a CD that came with my PC to do those 10 re-installations per month is simply idiotic !!

    And they think that users will refrain from experimenting with Linux ?
    (we all know this isn't an anti-piracy policy:)
    I guess that the ones who don't have to pay for their software will, but those who DO have to pay for the software won't in time !

    Consider these two choices :
    One - a PC with Windows pre-installed , no CD and thus NO ADDED VALUE ...
    Two - a PC with Linux pre-installed ( or not ) and 3 CD's ; one with the OS , one with 450+ Free applications ranging from Office suits to Web Applications , Games , Graphic Software etc, one with the sources etc, and all that for a price that is LESS THAN the equivalent windows pc with absolute NOTHING but a ( crashable ) OS.
    And with the Linux CD's you can install them on all your other ( legacy ? ) Computers for free.

    What would you want to pay for ? Option 1 or 2 ? I say : let them force this upon the public and Linux will eventually get a boost in sales , accompanied with the right marketing.
    As a consumer I always buy the product that gets me the best value for my buck ! And I think this is a Consumer Rule and not an Exception !
    Piracy will get a boost as well, because the demand for a better solution to install a windows will be served by the pirates ( and for free ! )

    So hooray microsoft ! Keep up the good work ! Because I DO NOT CARE ! ( I use Linux :) If others will continue to be ripped of , it's their choice , not mine ...
    What do you guys think ?

    Grand Moff Tarkin ,
  • I expect that this is merely the first step towards "rectifying" that.

    We are moving towards the day when broad band access is common enough to make the prospect of selling software for download over the internet a reality.

    It probably wouldn't be too hard to put some sort of mechanism in place whereby the install program can only be run on the machine on which it was downloaded.

    Sure, there would almost certainly be ways to circumvent this (which would, of course, be illegal), but that's not the point. The point is that the average end user would be unable to do anything about it, and would be forced to buy a new copy of the software whenever they upgraded their machine, regardless of whether or not they wiped it from the first machine. Depending on how the "protection" was implemented, merely upgrading the wrong part of the machine may force a similar repurchase.

    Paranoid, unworkable filghts of fantasy? Perhaps. But I bet the software companies would love it.

    I'm not advocating some sort of right to freely distribute software; merely the right to use a product that I have bought in whatever way I choose, short of infringing some law. (ie distributing illegal copies of software, or using a gun to commit murder)

    "One licence per machine" is fair enough; "one licence per install" would not be, but this is how I see the outcome of this being, if we're not careful.

    To quote John E. Warnock from one of the linked articles, "You're going to have a piece of music that will only play on one Walkman. You're going to have a piece of software that will only work on one machine."

    That would be just plain wrong.


  • by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:07PM (#1016812) Homepage Journal

    The loss to industry due to unsanctioned copying is... Zero! That's right! Zilch! Nada! Zip!

    My methodology for arriving at this figure is every bit as valid as that used by the SPA/BSA to arrive at their figures. Both methodologies attempt to measure events (sales) that didn't happen. Since this is impossible, it hardly matters what fancy formulae you use to justify it. So you can, like the SPA/BSA, pull any number out of your ass and claim that as your loss.

    Gimme a fscking break.

    Have another example: To combat unsanctioned copying, Unreal Tournament uses a form a copy protection that checks for the presence of the CD in the drive. This technique is easily hackable, and w4r3zed copies exist. However, Quake-3 uses a central server-based authentication system based on the CD key you have to type in when you install the game. When you try to play on the net, it sends your key to (note: may not be actual server name), which then grants you permission to use your property. id's system is foolproof and unhackable, since they alone maintain the database of valid keys.

    So, if they SPA/BSA's propoganda is correct, Quake-3 should be selling a fsckload more units than Unreal Tournament, since Q3's copy protection is foolproof, right? We can even measure it fairly easily, since they came out at roughly the same time.

    Check the sales figures, pal. They're about even.

    The propoganda does not bear even the slightest scrutiny. Unsanctioned copying is not, and never has been, a credible threat to software sales. Get over it.


  • by orpheus ( 14534 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:12PM (#1016815)
    I see that this has been going on for many weeks. I suppose Microsoft has seen the writing on the (The 'no install CD for MS; article is dated a week after Judge Jackson's preliminary decree, which resulted in yesterday's Final Decree)

    I shouldn't be surprised. As I said in a post in another article [], there will be some serious market forces driving MS-OS and MS-AP apart, due to their differing nature, and the OS portion is going to get the short end of the stick.

    Since most of the the biggest microcomputer OSs (aside from MS) have a hardware company behind them (Apple, Sun, SGI, etc), we forget that, for all its importance, an OS is simply not a high ticket item without packaged hardware, and it's bought infrequently. Buying each version since DOS 3 cost maybe $20-30 a year, and most of that would have gone to retailers, packaging, etc. instead of MS's profit column. Let's face it, it's peanuts.

    MS milked their OS advantage to fatten their real cash cow: the apps. That's not to say that they didn't make money on the OS, but that wasn't what made them a powerhouse. Price MS-Office against Windows 98, and you'll see why MS-OS needs a new revenue stream.

    So what will it be? They can milk licensing and partnering in exchange for a peek at their hidden APIs could be good for a quick infusion, but it's a one-shot. They'll need to offer favorable terms to developers for all future OS's or they won't get enough app support to compel immediate upgrades. Damn OS's live too long! Win95a still runs fine.

    Sure, they'll still have new computer sales, but the installed base is their major advantage. Hardware, OS, and apps all bloated each other in a vicious cycle. But all that 'stranded hardware' has some real power left in it. And now there may be competitors who can make use of that power (like Linux) and erode MS's installed base from behind. The consumer desktop needs power for games -- and not much else. We have the equivalent of last decade's supercomputers on our desks now. DO we really need that to write letters, surf, and do our taxes?

    MS-OS lost their Apps, most of their Enterprise stuff, MSN.NET, MSNBC, MS hardware (input devices, etc.) and now they are stuck with the central piece that made it all tick... and nothing to make tick. The 2001/2 could be a very lean year.

    Further, it'll be harder to buy companies and technologies now that stock swaps won't be quite as appealing. All the guys the used to bully have grown up, and though there's a lot of tech funny money around, MS-OS won't have the liquidity it once had.

    I foresaw this back at the beginnning of the DoJ business, but I guess I never really believed it until now. Wow. The OS *isn't* the power. Who ever got *giga-rich* off an OS alone, except Gates -- and he did it by fighting dirty.
  • by Hardware_Bob ( 31326 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:12PM (#1016816)
    This is what microsoft wants.

    Microsoft have an unofficial policy: "If they're going to pirate something, we'd rather they pirate our stuff"

    It's simple. If 60% of people buy microsoft, and 20% of people pirate it, that's 80% market penetration, and can be leveraged to force competitors out of the market etc (see DOJ case)

    This is related to the recent ask slashdot piece talking about leasing/hiring everything and nothing being permanent. It's very scary to see the way things have gone and even scarier to see where they may go

  • by Grab ( 126025 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:12PM (#1016817) Homepage
    Bootlegging can only survive in an environment where the goods concerned are unreasonably expensive or difficult to get hold of. And too much software (esp. Microsoft) falls into the first category. Music's suffering the same problem. Software also has the extra problem that it may not be worth the money if it crashes frequently and is riddled with bugs (spare a thought for the poor early adopters of NT).

    If MS software were reasonably priced - say £10 for a Win98 CD - then I'd be perfectly prepared to spend out on it, and so would many other ppl.

    You're quite right though, we have developed a rampant disregard for copyright, IP, etc. We go by something more fundamental called "common sense", bcos we're currently years ahead of the lawmakers. If lawyers can say, "Oh, you don't own that copy of the software, you're just licensing it and we can take it back off you if we want" (which is what many license agreements amount to), then that violates common sense. Would you accept Penguin going into your house and taking all your paperbacks away, if you lent a book to a friend? And note that authors and publishing companies seem to have no problem making a living within the copyright laws. In fact, the UK publishing companies have set up a price-fixing cartel which should be investigated sometime soon, but the price isn't fixed _too_ high, so there's not too many complaints. CD prices are fixed higher, so there are complaints. And MS prices are fixed highest of all, and there's outright revolution!

    I don't deny that ppl should make a living off their work, but there's a difference between 'making a living' and 'chiseling them for all the money we can get, cos we're a monopoly'. It's that kind of attitude that's got MS into their present situation (see news reports today).

  • I have a friend that owned a Compaq, which has been using "Recovery" CD's for years now. Last year he put in a SoundBlaster Live & a NIC into the computer. When he had to "Recover" his computer a few months later, the recovery wouldn't work. After wasting a day of his time, he had to call Compaq, who informed him that he had to take the SBLive and NIC out so the recovery can proceed.

    This is absolutely insane. Software manufacturers "claim" that software help us make things happen (Create graphics, etc.) - this is anything but that.

    Using the standard piracy excuse to further their own pocket-filling goals is nothing new; I'm actually surprised that nobody pointed out the fact that their piracy problems originate in the warehouses that mass-produce copies of software. They're going after the wrong group. >=( This only pushes _more_ people to get pirated copies of their software.

    At this point I'm highly doubtful that the BSA has anything of value but to further the goals of its members, and their goal isn't going after piracy where it hurts - it's going after our wallets.

    I'm surprised that we haven't heard from any consumer groups about this - yet.

  • by Rob Kaper ( 5960 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:16PM (#1016821) Homepage
    OSS can be the answer to all of these problems of course.

    Not so naieve, please. If you look at the big picture, you'll see the OSS movement will be screwed by the UCITA.

    No shrink-wrapped license? Too bad, all liability is for the programmer. Unless we fight the UCITA (among other problems), we might be in serious legal trouble for every little bug. After all, we cannot waiver liability like shrink-wrapped software can.

    You think there is something wrong with current licensing models? There is a lot more wrong with a law that will legally recognize these and at the same time make all others such as the GPL void.

    And you won't even be able to complain about it because they can forbid that in their license and the UCITA would actually grant them that right.

    Now all we need to do is bring them all together, and shout about it.

    I'll suport you 100% on that. This is getting far beyond software licenses though. Democracy, freedom.. we're living in a "pecuniacracy", where money seems to be in control and not the people.

    I wonder if we could sue our government for malpractice if they actually allow all this. They are here to represent _our_ needs, right?

  • by ksheff ( 2406 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:26PM (#1016831) Homepage

    Stallman and the FSF have sold their software to raise funds. Heck If you want to buy some GNU software go to [] and splurge away.

    Now, I'm sure that a lot of software that's used on college campuses has been pirated. Most of it was when I was in college a decade ago, so I doubt it's only gotten worse. At the time, the reasoning was "The software companies are cultivating future users who will pay for the software once they become employed. The students don't have the money to pay for it anyway, so it's not like they are losing a sale". A employed computer professional burning copies of Office 2K for his friends and family is another story. They certainly can pay for it and are robbing the company from a sale. There is no excuse for that.

    Not everyone is a thief, so why should the majority be penalized because of the actions of a few? I've actually paid for shareware titles that I didn't have to. I occasionally buy boxed versions of software that I have legally downloaded for free just for the additional documentation (WordPerfect for example). The software publishers went through this phase in the 80s too and discovered that they lost customers because their anti-piracy efforts didn't stop the pirates, but did stop legitimate users from practicing prudent data recovery procedures. I can only see this hurting the OEMs and the software publishers. IMHO, it's pure greed.

    I may certainly have as much disdain for M$ as the average slashdotter, so I don't buy from them. The rare occasions where I have, the software moves from machine to machine, where the old machine is stripped and the parts used for something else. If I can't move the software like that in the future, I won't buy it. Especially with the consumer audio/video equipment. I don't know how many CD players or VCRs that I've gone though over the years. Having to buy a different copy of a song/video because the existing player broke (or is at the house instead of the office) would be insane. BS tactics like this only drive me and people I talk to towards the Free Software community (and good old fashioned redistributable paper books).

  • If you look at the big picture, you'll see the OSS movement will be screwed by the UCITA

    Ah, now i'm not actually aware of the changes that the UCITA will impose in the US, because i'm in Britian. By the sounds of it, someone needs to go to Washington and beat a few politicians about the head with a GPL until they promise to stop pandering to the Mega-Global-Corp. interests, and start representing their electorate.

    I just pray something as bogus as the UCITA doesn't make it onto British lawbooks.
  • I know I'm not going to be the only or the first person to mention that moves like this can be a big boon to free software. Not neccesarily free as in beer, but RMS free as in speech software. This is exactly the type of abuse that Stallman has been preaching about for years. When you think about it free software isn't such a radical concecpt, it's simply extending rights that come naturualy with physical goods to software. When I buy a car I can pop the hood and do whatever I want, when I've gotten all the use I can out of that car I can sell it to someone else etc...

    Ok so people are going to start to realize that they no longer have any rights whatsoever when they buy from MS, Adobe and whoever else begins raping customers in this fashion. IT professionals will of course be the first to realize this and will also be in a position to do something about it. IT managers who happen to be Linux advocates will have one more piece of ammunition to use when preaching to management about the benefits of implementing Linux wherever possible. No longer will our arguments be purely technical and philosophical, concepts management often fails to understand, now we can really talk about the bottem line and not just in terms of purchase price, but liscencing that so limits the maintainability of company assests (computers) as to make them nearly useless. Well that's an argument I believe most managers will listen to. Maybe VALinux will see a bump in their desktop orders because of this ;->

    Seriously though, the best way to stop this kind of corporate behavoir is to vote with your wallet, or department budget as the case may be. When purchacing new systems from an OEM make it a point to go over the new MS liscense details with management and explain how following the liscense to to the letter of the law would make even minor disaster recovery very costly in terms of downtime, and then suggest that it may be worth the time and effort for your company/department to switch OS's and retrain the staff. Have a plan with potentional training issues and cost estimates available, give them a demo of Linux running on your workstation (we've all smuggeled linux onto all of our desktops at work already, right?) create/convert some docs ect... Then let managment make a decision, many will probably bite the bullet and deal with being analy raped by big bill, after all staff retraining is a bitch, no matter what the result at least it was a good oppurtunity to responsibly advocate linux to management, and a few of us may get lucky and actually convince management to switch.

    As free software keeps getting freindlier and as bloated^H^H^H^H^H^H feature rich as commercial software; and commercial software liscense agreements get worse and worse, it's going to be easier for us to get Linux and other Free Software products in trough the front door, where it belongs.

    Just my opinion, I could be wrong

  • Recovery CDs mean that a motherboard upgrade, or a change in key peripherals in a machine (say, new drive controllers or video cards introduced after the burn image's creation) will make a system recovery nigh impossible without buying entirely new licenses for the OS and for any apps bundled and tied into the recovery CD. Not so awful if you're using an "appliance"-style machine that has no swappable parts, like an iPaq. Very awful if you're using systems with standard ATX-style cases and motherboards.

    It also means that a machine that's getting an OS version upgrade would need to be "recovered"--with the entire hard drive wiped--in order to end up with a reasonably clean, OS-rot-free install of the new OS version. As it is, it's already more cost effective in many cases to start fresh with a new full version of the latest OS when "recovering" a machine that's been upgraded from its original OS. That you cannot install an "upgrade" version from scratch by simply keying in the sequence of past OS license keys is part of the same greed. Microsoft clearly has long wanted it to be such a burden to "restore" a system that's been upgraded that customers would simply buy a new, full license to the latest OS rather than go through a multiple-step install.

    Adobe, Macromedia and other companies with tedious, finicky license systems, are no doubt jealous. Their users would rebel if their installation schemes were quite this drastic. Ironically, their software is widely pirated by kids who can't afford it but want to learn it--and then go on to take jobs where they demand a copy. Has it ever occurred to them that the reason so many 22-year-old graphic designers are so passionate about--and competent in--Adobe's apps is that many have been using Adobe software since they were 14 years old?

    For anything but a monopoly product like Windows or MS Office, "piracy" often benefits software vendors. This is why Oracle offers freely-downloadable, unrestricted copies of its core product line, as well as unrestricted CDs. Students, startups, developers and the curious can learn Oracle and the Oracle toolset, build a massive application, and test it on a pile of machines without paying a cent. But once they've gotten that far, at least in a country with enforcable copyright laws, they'll call in the Oracle reps and pay the $400,000 they owe before deploying.

    No, this move to across-the-board recovery CDs only, which used to be the hallmark of low-end hardware vendors like Packard Bell, isn't about stopping piracy. It's about making system recovery and clean upgrades so difficult that more customers will opt to buy full versions of new OS releases for machines that already have a "license" because making use of that existing "copy" is too burdensome. Why sell upgrades to Win98, Win2K and Office for $90/$200/$240 when you can channel them into paying $200/$300/460 for convenience every time an upgrade is rolled out?
  • This is only valid if you can only run linux from a separate partition. This is not true. UMSDOS (Unixoid filesystem running on top of FAT) has been availible for a long time, I used it when first trying Slack2 back in '95. Loopback devices are currently the most favoured method

    (WTF is 'Invalid Form Key!' and why do I keep getting it?!)
  • > Not so naieve, please. If you look at the big picture, you'll see the OSS movement will be screwed by the UCITA.
    Please don't forget the UCITA is an USA law which only apply in USA territories.

    If USA people get trouble because of UCITA whereas the rest of the world enjoy active and prolific Free Software computing, well, maybe your congressmen's neurons will jump to the conclusion that UCITA is bad and should be dropped. I hope so for you. But for now, even if the FSF is based in USA, Free Software is sufficiently well spread to survive without the benevolence of US laws...

    > No shrink-wrapped license? Too bad, all liability is for the programmer.

  • Its not just the consumers, which this article focuses on, who have troubles with this new MS policy. The re-sellers also get a very nice "reward" for helping MS to reach the position they are in now by supplying MS products with the sold computers.

    And things can get even worse. In the article I read about a recovery CD. Did it occur to you that some of those qrd's can also run on 1 single computer and nothing else? In other words; I payed for the license to use the software but the vendor also dictates me as to where I can use this software. Call this freedom to do what I want to do? And this isn't even the bottom; I have examples where people didn't even got a recovery CD at all. Windows was copied onto the harddisk (c:\windows\options) and all further driver installations were completed from this directory.

    Perhaps you are also wondering what will happen when there is an hardware crash and for some reason Windows needs to be re-installed? I think that this is the worst part. Being a (small) reseller of some consumer products (it isn't core business but we sell laptops and peripherals next to our normal business) this whole development scares me. We are actually being forced into a situation where we can't profile ourselfs to the full extent...

    Without any attention to use this as a "commercial"; we focus ourselfs on system administration and believe me; it is very good for my business if a customer has some problem with his hard/soft -ware and when we deliver our products we can fix those as well. The result; client happy, knowing we can provide fast and quick solutions.

    For example; some time ago we met someone who had small problems with his network. We checked it out and it turned out that he had no license for Windows NT. Since he wanted to expand we sold him the licence he needed and installed, before he actually had the licenses, some other workstations and in a single day (not 8 hours :)) the customer was very happy and could do even more then before.

    And now I fear the future... This customer bought some more hardware from us with the knowledge that if he has a problem we can be very quick in solving it if need be. The truth has changed; when he has some software problem there is no way for us to fix this quickly since we can't grab his CD anymore to do a re-install if needed. We are not allowed to back up his pre-installed software (besides; we don't have the capacity to keep copies of *every* oem we deliver. Talking about working hours here). So basicly; the best thing we can do in situations like that is to take the machine back and send it back to our supplier. Customer unhappy because he can't use his machine for a while, we unhappy because we can't deliver the services we used to and MS very happy I guess because there is more money flowing towards their greedy little hands.

    Fortunatly most customers understand this and won't blaim us. And these very same customers now also see through this lie of MS that 'they want the best for their customers' (I had a laugh after experiencing this shit and seeing billy boy talk about how bad it was that the US goverment finally took some action.

    The good news... Knowing our reputation some of our customers are now also willing to give the Linux OS a try as a fileserver (for starters) and thinking about letting it grow to more specific and more critical tasks as well. So in a way MS makes his own big anti-commercial allthough this heavily depends on the re-seller. We won't put up with this shit and are also filing complains (as if this works :)) and are looking at other ways to acomplish things. But the rest? I would not be surprised if most resellers don't give a damn. For us our business still is a passion, for most it is just money.

    ...If microsoft only were an European company.

  • See my Windows CD page [].

    I originally did it so I could see how Win98 runs in VMware.

  • by orpheus ( 14534 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:42PM (#1016843)
    This is the Death Knell, boys and girls.

    I heard it when Apple went from the Velcro-back "we want you to poke around" Apple II+ to the "if you so much as open the case, you void the warranty" Mac (the one where you couldn't install a HDD until Apple introduced their own 'authrized HDD. Their market share plummeted, in favor of the 'commodity hardware' Wintel PC.

    I heard it in the copy-protected games of the early 80's. When did you last see one of those?

    I heard it from Lotus, once the 1000 lb gorilla of spreadsheets and business apps.

    I heard it from IBM when they went MicroChannel with the PS/2 (a technical advance, in many ways, but with a "lock-in the consumer" mentality)

    Some companies heard it themselves and spared themselves.

    Even newbies were deserting AOL until they dropped their proprietary "we own this user" tricks one by one, and allowed free (as in speech) access to the internet, and third party apps. If AOL had tried to keep the squeeze on their users, and tie them to 'preferred vendors', they wouldn't have bought Time-Warner, they wouldn't even be able to buy time.

    I have discussed the market forces that will drive MS-OS and MS-AP [] in another thread, as well as MS-OS's desperate need for new revenue streams []. Check them out, if you haven't seen them. It all ties together.

    Like a funeral shroud.
  • There are several reasons I see behind this:

    1) Draconian licensing agreements provide the software giants the legal protection they need to further their bottom line. Ideally, firms like Microsoft would like to charge you a fee every time you boot windows (BSOD as a profit booster?). The more powers they are allowed to take, the more they can selectively prosecute ANYONE they feel violates their interests.

    2) Increased piracy, both on commercial and private levels, allows companies to create more outrageous damage estimates and thereby justify raising prices, gaining more legislative powers, and spreading general FUD.

    3) Fair Use and First Sale doctrines scare copyright owners to death. Anything they can do to limit the legal rights of consumers creates a security blanket of sorts for top executives. What better way to combat a court case relating to Fair Use than create a smokescreen with licenses and evil digital pirates and billions of dollars of losses?

    Large software companies like Microsoft will keep looting the cookie jar of legislative powers until someone smacks the back of their hand. Hopefully such scolding is within the immediate future...

  • by (void*) ( 113680 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:47PM (#1016849)
    Andy Warnock says that "[we are] 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."

    Well, yes. On his machine, since he will, with that attitude, become the one sole owner and one sole licencee of his software.

  • This is so true. This is also a big wakeup call to all those people who think Microsoft's schemes won't work. Compaq has been doing it for years with their Presario [] (and other such) series. I had the misfortune of screwing up the system on one such machine. Zilch. I could do nothing with it. No drivers to download and fix the problem. No manuals. A regular Win95 CD install wouldn't fix the problem either. I had to use their "QuickRestore" CD, which of course wiped out all data and restored the system to its birth. Part of the reason why no external solution would work was because they had their own custom motherboard and hid all the BIOS secrets in a separate disk partition. Sheesh.

    Observation is the essence of art.

  • by Effugas ( 2378 ) on Wednesday June 07, 2000 @11:51PM (#1016855) Homepage
    I must say, I'm beginning to see an interesting pattern here. Bizarre? Yes. This is maybe the oddest explanation I've come up with in some time, but it's about the only thing I've seen that makes sense.

    There's a normal syllogism that often seems to go with stories about Microsoft on Slashdot:

    Microsoft does bad things.
    Microsoft did this.
    Therefore, this is bad.

    The strange thing's usually valid. Microsoft has a very strong penchant for abusing the market(both the consumer, and if you believe what's been said about their stock manipulation, Wall Street too), and it's this tendancy which Slashdot has a tendancy to report upon.

    Now, here's what gets really strange: Microsoft has been executing breathlessly aggressive schemes for market domination while being directly under the thumb of the US Government, whose ire was finally raised by the horde of very well connected companies that Microsoft abused. (I'm actually beginning to realize IBM being forced to buy Windows 95 off the street was a bigger deal, government-wise, than Compaq losing the right to sell Windows 98 for a day.) Neither the Kerberos scam, the SOAP harassment(which ended up with IBM open sourcing their implementation), nor this ultimate example of product bundling had any right to happen right now. Six months ago? Even then, maybe. But not now.

    Microsoft does bad things.
    Microsoft did this.
    Therefore, this is bad.

    Microsoft's sins are widely publicized as bad.
    Microsoft can select its sins.
    Therefore, Microsoft can select that which is widely publicized as bad.

    That's a position of power. It's Machiavellian beyond belief, but it's a definite position of power.

    The most rational explanation for Microsoft's behavior has generally been that they wanted to goad Judge Jackson into implementing an overly harsh penalty--and bragging about it. Indeed, they may have succeeded in that, as Jackson commented the penalty was more severe than that which would have been ("justly") reached by arbitration. So, we've already got a theory that argues Microsoft is intentionally erring so as to exploit Jackson's emotions(exploits didn't begin with Winnuke!).

    Ah! But what errors to make? That, my friends, is where things get interesting. Any thoughts? I've got a few, but I've said enough for the moment ;-)

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
  • No shrink-wrapped license? Too bad, all liability is for the programmer. Unless we fight the UCITA (among other problems), we might be in serious legal trouble for every little bug. After all, we cannot waiver liability like shrink-wrapped software can.

    Nonsense. There's no magic in cellophane. The liability waiver can exist in any license, even if (*gasp*) the user knows about it in advance!

    From the GPL:



  • Since many of these abuses are perpetrated under the guise of "freedom of contract", why not change the rules on what constitutes a valid contract or license?

    Here are some possibilities:

    All contracts and licenses must be written out by hand, by an employee of the company who is authorized to bind the company to a contract.

    All contracts and licenses must be signed in duplicate, by the purchaser and the vendor, with one copy returned to the purchaser, before any goods change hands.

    All contracts and licenses must be signed in blood, by the purchaser and the vendor, before any goods change hands. (There is a precedent for this one, you know, the other Prince of Darkness.)

  • Well, I'm Dutch, so I am not (yet) directly affected either. But I trust European politicians will screw up with the same elegancy as USA ones do.

    Besides, politicians don't have any power. They are just the medium, the power is with the huge companies with big money. Or at least it is moving towards them at an incredible rate.

    The basic problem is that law isn't keeping up with reality. I think every society or culture has had this problem and I also think they always will. At the certain point a border is crossed and there's a civil war or revolution, new declarations of rights.. which will slowly become out-of-date resulting in new conflicts.

    It's nothing new, it has been happening to civilizations for ages. But it still sucks to be living at a point where it seems like we're nearing the point where freedom is in danger.

  • Stop yelling.


    They copied the approach of their tentative witness for the tentative Blah that Judge Jackson did not allow. This approach is (C) Compaq. Big Q has been doing this for god knows how long. A few hundred megs of the disk on all Q laptops and many desktops is and has been a Q-only Win install for more than 2 years. It is simply an INNOVATION. The well known type of one.

  • Nonsense. There's no magic in cellophane.

    You don't seem to understand the impact of the UCITA. It is a law proposal that will exactly do that: put the magic in cellophane.

    Short version of UCITA: The developer has FULL liability unless waivered by a shrink-wrapped license.

    You're right, at the moment. But with the UCITA in action, your no warranty clause in the GPL would be overruled by law. Underestimating this is exactly the danger we're facing!

  • I want to believe that these inconveniences would drive MIS departments worldwide to migrate toward non-proprietary solutions for their enterprises. Your friendly IT director may not care about the high cost of Windows-- that's the accounting department's problem--- Wasted time and effort are another story, right?

    I offer a more cynical prediction. Aforementioned friendly IT director will love the new licensing scheme because it provides a good excuse for restricting what hardware they need to support.

    "No, I can't give you more RAM, a faster modem, or a 3-button mouse. The copy of Windows we licensed for you only works with your current configuration."



  • by Effugas ( 2378 ) on Thursday June 08, 2000 @12:15AM (#1016878) Homepage
    Software cannot be claimed to come with a machine if no independent package of that software ships with it.

    If software doesn't install, the package is incomplete. If the package is incomplete, advertising for that software is fraudulent. Last I checked, fraud was a crime which, among other things, invalidated most contracts. Since the EULA likely describes capabilities which Microsoft would have fraudulently removed from the software, such EULA could arguably be rendered null and void.

    The fact that installer-castrated operating systems are inherently more risky to remove(since you suddenly need to wipe out more than just the operating system Microsoft sold you to reinstall what you've already purchased!) actually makes this the most intriguing form of product bundling we've seen yet from Microsoft: They're actually bundling Windows now with the data that you create with it. If you try to remove Windows, and ever wish to return, you will now lose all the documents, the email, the graphics, the Internet will lose everything.

    Windows thus becomes bundled with your own data. It's brilliantly devious, really.

    It's also doomed to fail. Coming from somebody who spent two years repairing Windows systems(c:\windows\options\cabs is a lifesaver, incidentally), let me personally state that Win9x systems do not need Linux's help to fall over, die, and require reinstallation. If such reinstallation could not be done without either losing everything or moving the hard drive into another machine for disk-to-disk copying(what, you think you're going to go into Windows and backup to another machine on the network, when Windows now refuses to boot?), Microsoft would probably face a mass revolt from the thousands of MCSE's they trained quite well to do just that very thing.

    Revolting MCSEs happen to be a disturbingly dangerous demographic for Microsoft. The Win2K uprising was actually surprisingly bloody.

    Hmmm. This is getting fun to watch. Tech soap is always classic.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
  • I remember when i got my IBM Craptiva (ooh - did i just violate UCITA?) I got a windows disk with it. Then i come to find out that in order for the disk to work, it verifies that the bios from the box i was using is the same as the one registered on the disk. FUUUUUUUUUUCK THAT!!!!

    I don't think there's any way that this can be legal. When you buy a compact disk, you're not just purchasing a "license" to listen to the music, you're buying that piece of music. It's yours. If software licensing changes this...then all those used CD stores are fucked as well, in addition to, of course, the used software stores. (even computer renaisance?).

    Basically...consumers are quickly being driven to one of three choices. 1)Blatantly break the law. 2)Vote with your pocket books, or 3) Put up with it.

    I myself plan to do both 1 and 2. I'm just afraid the average computer user isn't going to realize they got bitch-slapped by companies like Adobe and MICROS~1 untill it's too late.

    After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network
  • This whole thing is kind of like buying a computer from the large computer companies, e.g. Compaq. Wanna new mobo? Sorry, NLX form factor. Want to put a new CD-ROM in? Can't, drive bays aren't industry compliant. So what's a user to do but buy a new Compaq?

    Now if you want a new or upgraded OS, you'll have to buy a new box too.

    Don't think the hardware companies don't have an interest here as well. They like 'recovery' CDs which lock you into their hardware as much as they do buying Windows wholesale and charging more for it. Why do you think they won't give refunds?

  • I just thought of something, inspired by the devil incarinate himself. Since this seems to be the future of propietory software, I figure, why not instead of having to SELL my soul to the devil, I can (while retaining full copyright, trademark rights and everything other prexisting right over it) sell him a LICENSE for the use of my soul. Now, I leave the exact details of this license to the reader, but im sure you can all come up with some nifty EULA's (or DSULA (Devil Soul Usage License Agreements). Email me some ;)
  • You just *can't* be without windows disk - on every problem they advise you to reinstall.

    Then this advice is surely going to be the nail test to check whether a user has purched a real license.

    MS hotline: "Okay -- you can solve this by reinstalling Windows"
    Caller: "Fine. Thank you."
    Cops: "Hey, we've got just the address of a suspect who can reinstall his Windows without any hassle. So let's take his house by storm and confiscate all his piracy copies. Hit him with all might and main of the law!"

    So you should better train your answers this way:
    MS hotline: "Okay -- you can solve this by reinstalling Windows"
    Caller: "Urgh. I have really important data on the other partition of my hard disk and I've only got this recovery CD which will erase all my data partitions!"
    MS hotline: "Be glad that I can't agitate the cops as you seem to have a valid licence to use Windows. Gosh. Now go away and never bother me with silly questions again!"

  • by ESarge ( 140214 ) on Thursday June 08, 2000 @12:46AM (#1016900)
    Won't work in New Zealand law - I know next to nothing of US law but it probably follows the same principles.


    Contracts made while severely under the influence of alcohol are voidable. This means that when you get sober you can void it. Or you can decide to ratify it. Gibbons v Wright (1954) 91 CLR 423 is the authority for this.

    Voiding the contract appears to be ab initio i.e. they give you back your money - you give them back the software and everything is returned to the start (Hermann v Charlesworth [1905] 2 KB 123.).

    In NZ minor's contracts are covered by the Minors Contracts Act 1969. It's statute not common law so doesn't hold in the US but the principle is that people over 20 are of full age. People 18 and 19 (and employment contracts) can have a contract enforced against them unless the terms are 'harsh or unconscionable' or the 'consideration is so inadequate as to be unconscionable'. People under 18 can't have contracts enforced against them unless it's 'fair and reasonable'. This means looking at the whole circumstances.

    However NZ has fairly strict consumer legislation - it includes statutory guarantees of quality and other good stuff - and you can't contract out of it unless it's for business purposes (and even then it's difficult).

    It would be interesting to see what would happen if somebody brought an action under this legislation.

  • You seem to suffer from the common corporate post-Reaganomics delusion that companies are entitled to make money, that they somehow have a right to make profits. But that isn't true. You see, corporations exist and are granted certain rights, akin to the rights of an individual, based on a body of legislation and case law going back to the last century. But at any time those rights could be taken away through legislative or judicial action, because a corporation is a fictitious person and not a real one. We granted companies certain rights because it was expediant to do so, and good for the consumer--it offered more incentive for companies to expand and innovate.

    But if companies cease to serve the needs of consumers, corporate rights can be taken away as easily as they were granted. That's why the "no media" policy which is becoming attractive to software makers won't last long if the voters of the U.S. launch a major campaign to have legislation introduced which would outlaw the practice. You see, a corporation has no inherent right to sell me a license to use software, without including the installation media. In fact, a corporation has no inherent right to exist at all--they exist merely because their existence is generally beneficial to consumers, not vice versa.

    I want Microsoft and Adobe to continue fucking consumers in the ass, because the more they do so, the more likely it is that courts will overturn UCITA and similar legislation, and the more likely it is that laws will be passed to require media to be provided and prices to be fair. The corporations may have considerable sway and lobbying ability on Capitol Hill, but they don't have the one thing we consumers have: votes. Enough voters will start complaining that their computers say "Insert Windows Install Media" and yet their OEM says Microsoft told them not to provide media, that laws will be passed and assurances made. Microsoft has no inherent rights to do as it pleases. Meanwhile, more and more people will be forced to download ISO images of real Windows installation media, and that's a good thing because, I repeat, Microsoft has no inherent rights to keep those media to itself. It has only the rights that we, as a society, have granted it, and those rights can be taken away. Those rights are in fact fictitious rights since a corporation is a fictitious person under the law.

    I in fact support piracy of software from big corporations like Microsoft and Adobe, though not from small-time operations. Why? People have real rights, and corporations have legal-fiction rights, and big corporations have been abusing their rights as of late. Abuse it and lose it. Microsoft has no inherent right to charge me $89 for a simple upgrade (Win98) to a piece of software I paid a lot of money for in the first place (Win95 A), so I burnt a copy of a friend's CD. Did I take money from the mouths of hungry programmers? No, Microsoft is not a hungry programmer, it is a powerful multinational corporation which has been so abusive of its rights as to suffer the ultimate in corporate punishments: break-up under anti-trust laws. It employs programmers, none of whom will have to go hungry because I helped myself to a copy of a Win98 upgrade CD. I wouldn't have bought the CD anyway, because I honestly can't afford it--I spend on average about $100 a week inclusive of food, so I wasn't going to buy that CD ever. Did my illicit copy of that CD harm anyone, then? No.

    Some people would say, "But that doesn't matter, because it's not your property, it belongs to someone else and you have no right to take it." I had more right to take it than M$ had to withold it, because I am a real person and Microsoft is a fictitious entity; I have natural rights, but M$ has only un-natural ones created in the last century not for the purpose of benefitting companies, but for the purpose of benefitting consumers. And now that Microsoft has seen fit to try to strangle consumers once again, I feel entitled to upgrade to Win2K for free. I think I'll go to USENET and find an ISO image. And do you know who I'll be hurting? No one. Microsoft has abused its power to force competitors out and force prices up--prices on hardware have fallen tenfold in recent years, while performance has met or exceeded Moore's Law, and yet software prices have remained high yet software has hardly improved. I wasn't lying when I said that Win98 was a mere upgrade to Win95, and we all know it. Likewise, years ago in the college lab I used a PowerMac 7200 running Adobe Photoshop 3.0, and yet the newest version of Photoshop is at least as expensive and doesn't have much more useful functionality. The largest software companies are price-gouging, and since they have no right to do that I *do* have the right to neutralize their gouging.

    The same goes for music. Up until 60 years ago, musicians didn't make money from album sales--and today most still don't since record companies gouge, and blame it on middlemen who in fact are usually owned by the self-same record company. Musicians made money by holding concerts. Then along came record companies, who capitalized on new technologies to create an industry where once there was nothing. See, the recording industry isn't about music--that's what concerts are about. The recording industry is about selling recordings of music which, while nice to listen to in your home, don't compare at all to a real live concert experience. Therefore, no matter what happens to the record companies, musicians will still be able to make money off concerts just as they always have. The recording industry has no inherent rights to sell me something which, until the selfsame recording industry had laws passed to prevent it, I could have gotten for myself by attending a concert and bringing a recording device. Screw that. The recording industry has engaged in unlawful price-fixing for years, as the results of federal actions against them have recently proven, and since I have several hundred CDs on my shelf which I was unlawfully forced to pay a price-fixed premium for, I am damn well entitled to have a gig or two of mp3 files I got from USENET and Napster. Not to mention that, again, a corporation has no inherent right to be able to sell me something which, were it not for the meddling of the very same industry, I could get for free whenever I go to a concert--and I go to more concerts now that I don't buy CDs. Once we reduce the recording industry to little more than a streamlined distribution channel to sell cheap CDs and a scouting industry for new musicians, instead of a corporate price-fixing monstrosity with more rights than the consumers have, musicians will by-and-large be much happier and will make a larger share in the profits. I reiterate that such industries have the right to exist only insofar as they can benefit the consumer, and right now the recording industry is choking the consumer with unlawful cartel pricing structures and, dare I say it, too damn many NSYNC pre-packaged culture-killing mind-numbing artificial groups designed to exploit stupid teenagers and turn them into mindless buying drones.

    In summation, fuck the price-gouging corporations which have ceased their purpose of serving us and have instead started usurping our rights and raping our asses whenever they get the chance just to make a few dollars more. Bill Gates and the chairman of Sony can lick my asshole, because they have no right to get into my wallet by taking away my rights to a fair and non-cartel/monopoly pricing structure.

    Legal Disclaimer: I lied about having any pirated software and mp3s. I own only licensed software and licensed music. :-)
  • Ironically, this is a typical Microsoft move - a seemingly simple change that "improves the experience for our customers", but is shortsighted, stupid, inconvenient, and is just an abuse of monopoly power that pisses everybody off. Wasn't there a lawsuit recently about this kind of thing?

    For years, Windows has needed the system CD for just about any change made to the system (your mouse has moved - please insert the disk "Windows 95" in Drive D:). They have changed that somewhat - by putting all the install files into a directory on the machine (on a Win9x PC, typically c:\windows\options\cabs), and setting the Registry's installation path to scan that directory for all files. It still doesn't work perfectly, but it was an improvement - virtually all large OEM's do this.

    From that, only providing the OS itself on a recovery CD was an obvious step. They also now put a sticker with the OS install key on the side of each PC under this arrangement. Theoretically, this all makes sense to do - because the OS itself is stashed on the hard drive, and any "going to the CD" is eliminated by design. In theory, the only thing you'd need a CD for would be a total reinstall, and thusly having the whole recovery process automated off a boot CD would therefore be a Good Thing - especially for the less sophisticated home user. If you are buying an OS upgrade at some point you'd get a CD then, only when you needed it.

    But we know it's bullshit. Microsoft is mainly guilty of not thinking this through and pissing people off at a really inopportune time for them. There are scenarios where the OS CD might, in fact, be needed (playing with a different OS, finding an obscure driver file that otherwise just takes up space, booting the Win2K Recovery Console, trying to boot clean to fix a virus - Windows has some problems with them, I've heard), and the only way to get a CD now is either by copying it form someone who has one, buying a shrink-wrapped copy or, if you are a corporate user like us on one of their licensing plans (Open, Select, or Enterprise) you can get the media for next to nothing. As a Select (applications) and Enterprise (OS) customer, I get a huge box with a master copy of literally _everything_ they make. From that, I can duplicate to my hearts' contect and install galore, but I do need to track and pay for my licenses. When I was an Open customer previously, licenses and media were sold separate; I'd buy whatever combination I needed. And the media was cheap - barely above the cost of packaging and duplication for any given product.

    So this doesn't really hurt the corporate user. We have plenty of ways to deal with it, and I rarely have any use for the CD that comes with a system, anyway. We just download the appropriate pre-configured NT Workstation image for a department onto each PC when it arrives with Ghost and blow away whatever was on it in the first place. This does hurt the home/hobbyist user, the small business user (who doesn't necessarily benefit from the licensing programs), and the large OEM (who has to abide by this) as well. Ultimately, this will probably help sales at the small white box companies, since they still get to distribute CD's (for now, at least), since the user categories above may have no other easy recourse for getting media easily.

    The funny thing here is that piracy is the biggest competition Microsoft has for market share. Microsoft dominates the market, and I suspect there's more pirated Microsoft software than Linux and MacOS combined. It obviously has had a huge impact on their profits, though... (/sarcasm)

    - -Josh Turiel
  • This makes me trease the following things even more:

    1: DSL Lines
    2: My burner
    3: #cracks on EFNet

    I drove them to this? Fine then. I'll just make disc images with cracks pre-applied and giggle when I think about all the money that these companies spend trying to stop me.

    Perhaps if companies like Microsoft and Adobe, who have established monopolies in their respective fields, didn't greatly overcharge for their products (Why is a Photoshop "liscense" so expensive? Because it is the standard, and it is the product that most third party plugins work with.), perhaps consumers would be more willing to pay for them.

    But I'll be damned before I pay over a hundred bucks for a buggy OS with a shitty web browser built in, and be expected to PAY for upgrades that are essentially just patches (Win 98 and 98SE) just to make it work right!
  • by dirk ( 87083 ) <> on Thursday June 08, 2000 @01:15AM (#1016914) Homepage
    Before everyone screams, maybe we should see what these "Recovery CDs" can contain. We ordered a system from Dell a few months ago with Windows 2000 Professional on it. It came with what I assume is a "Recovery CD" instead of the full software. The only difference is that it checks to see if the system is a Dell system before it will let you install. And yes, it kept my boss from pirating it and installing it on other (non-Dell) systems. If that is the only restriction on "Recovery CDs" then there isn't a problem.
  • I recently replaced my machine. I let them put Win98 on it for convenience's sake, but asked my friend with the Red Hat CD to burn me a copy. Sadly, said CD is still sitting on my desk because I haven't had the two to three free days I desire to install and fine-tune the OS. (Hopefully, my local LUG will do an install-fest sometime this summer.) Had I waited a month more to purchase, I could have gotten that same version of RH pre-installed and not have to put up with the occasional bluescreen.

    I can guarantee you my next machine will be pre-installed Linux (or maybe BSD --- they might be offering that by the time I can afford a new computer). It's getting easier and easier to obtain a working and vaguely secure Linux box. As enough people feel the pain of the Recovery CD, they may notice that their OEM will now sell them a different OS. Few people are willing to monkey with it on their own, but if those nice young men will sell it all set up and running, they might take the chance.
  • BeOS would make a neat user-friendly OS, it is VERY easy to install (easier that Win2K), fast, clean, easy to configure. It only needs more support from apps makers and hardware vendors.
  • by Masem ( 1171 ) on Thursday June 08, 2000 @01:24AM (#1016919)
    What if you build up your system from scratch, no OEM involved?

    I'm guessing that you have to plunk down the $170-$200 full retail price for the non-OEM, full install, non-upgrade CD, as you have been able to do in the past, but the article doesn't say that.

  • The thing I'm paying for when I buy a computer with windows on it is windows95, as it is advertised. not some subset that only works on a specific set of hardware. At least the ads I saw all said Windows 95/98 and never mentioned omissions in the software delivered.

  • by orpheus ( 14534 ) on Thursday June 08, 2000 @01:35AM (#1016924)
    You don't seem to understand the impact of the UCITA. It is a law proposal that will exactly do that: put the magic in cellophane.

    Short version of UCITA: The developer has FULL liability unless waivered by a shrink-wrapped license.

    You're right, at the moment. But with the UCITA in action, your no warranty clause in the GPL would be overruled by law. Underestimating this is exactly the danger we're facing!

    I've often heard that view espoused, however, I do not see any language in UCITA, or its predecessors CITA and UCC Article 2B that specify "shrink-wrap". That term does not appear in UCITA The terms I do see apply equally to all mass market licenses, whether they are read pre- or post-sale, shrink-wrapped or not, etc. (with one exception, below)

    UCITA does 'firm up' some standards that were previously ambiguous or inconsistently interpreted. These include reaffirming a few principles of implied warranty, and weakening others. They also include reaffirming the inpplicability of outrageous terms in licenses. This has been interpreted variously as saying 'full waivers may be void' and 'full waivers are affirmed'. Whichever interpretations wins out, will apply equally to all mass market licenses.
    The only clause I have seen that differentiates SWL from GPL is the refund clause for SWL which allows a right of refund, with or without cause, if the license was not available until after purchase. Some have taken to mean that SWL products are *only* liable for refund (a claim that is difficult to support in the light of the whole law: either Section 809 and similar sections may properly be waived by a SWL and GPL; or they are both equally unconscionable and void. I cannot read the refund clause as a privileged state of limited liability)

    However, I am eager to learn. Here's the UCITA text in a variety of formats [], and 48 legal articles commenting on the law []. Please quote the appropriate text supporting your claim. Otherwise I may suspect you accused me of not understanding UCITA, when I've done my homework and you haven't.

    I despise UCITA, but I feel that ignorant babbling serves our cause very poorly.

    BTW, I think is an interesting and site, but their slideshow is ambiguously worded on the SWL disclaimer. If you re-read it, you will find that it says the offensive disclaimers are allowed in 'shrink-wrap' (terms hidden until after purchase) licenses but NOT that such disclaimer can ONLY be exercised by an undisclosed license.

    IANAL. I just invested time and effort before I made my comments. I trust you did, too, and that I will be reading a response soon
  • Those who go about reinventing Unix will be doomed to do so, poorly. (Author unknown)

    Looks like another in a long line of attempts to introduce Unix style into Microsoft's world. (Remember those license keys you had/have to get from the company you bought Unix software for?) Unfortunately, most users aren't used to "host-based" licensing and all the hassles within. (Like being required to call the vendor when you change the location of the software, or something trivial). Microsoft would love the renting its software per year, but since there is no concept of a 'hostid' in the PC world, they've reimplemented it poorly by refusing to give out media to the customers. At least with 'hostid's, you had the media. :)

    It's too bad Intel was beaten into submission with their "hostid" concept by privacy groups, since that would have been the most effective way to lock the software down.

    It's also a shame that the absolutely retarded idea of locking software through copy protection is once again rearing it's ugly head. Perhaps this alone will kill off Microsoft better than any market breakup. Back when Lotus was bolting their software to the point where legitimate usage was more difficult than it should be, Microsoft didn't have copy protection, and was then in a position to capitalize on it. Perhaps these new 'draconian' practices will allow smaller, less concerned companies to thrive.

  • > If Linux meets all your needs, why even give those evil capitalist pigs a second thought? Is the Man screwing you over (in which case I have to wonder why you don't just go 100% Linux, since it's so wonderful)

    Many of us have to work with windows while running linux at home. Not much choice then...

  • I would disagree, bootlegging will continue because there will always be people who want to pay less or nothing for a product which others think is reasonable.

    If MS charged 10pounds for win 98 cd this would probably be at a huge loss to the company.

    I recently went out and bought a number of games I wanted for about 30-35pounds each. I would have loved to have paid less, but I was willing to pay the price. Why, because I wanted the products and realise that they are being produced in a commercial environment which has huge prosuction and distribution costs.

    Also people complain about cd costs. I recently went to a friends gig and picked up two cds of her work which were 5 pounds for 3 tracks??? Why, because she had to record and produce them herself, although she didn't need to pay for recording time due to her job she still had to put a lot of time and effort into them.

    I like the concept of licencing, it works in a coporate environment. In many ways it isn't pretinant to the home market, but this is small compared to companies. Liscencing means that we can track software and it's usage and we can upgrade regulary without having to go through the trials of selling old software to try to recoup costs...

    Anyway, nuff said...

  • You don't seem to understand the impact of the UCITA. It is a law proposal that will exactly do that: put the magic in cellophane.

    I think you've misunderstood the original comment. The point (I think) was that there is no reason the licence has to be hidden behind cellophane to be valid. If BigCorp tells me that they disclaim all warrenty only after I bought it, and UCITA makes that valid, then surely GPLSoftwareCompany can tell people that beforehand? If UCITA makes one valid, why does it not make the other valid?

    "There's no magic in hiding the license behind cellophane, rather than stating it up front" what I think what was meant.

    Or does UCITA make one valid, butnot the other? When was the last time someone went to a software company, and said "your software crashed", and got a refund, anyway? People had enough trouble trying to give back MS software - something which the licence specifically states that you can do.

  • by Amphigory ( 2375 ) on Thursday June 08, 2000 @01:51AM (#1016937) Homepage
    Even if I thought that MS had the right to do this, there are many better ways to do it.

    Visualize a license key scheme, wherein you are given a MD5 hash key that matches the hardware in the system. Change the hardware, you have to call MS and get a new key. Having to call the vendor tends to put a BIG damper on illegal software use.

    I have said for a long time that the only reason MS is so successful is that most people don't have to pay for Windows directly. I mean, if you pay for a product directly, you get really cranky when it doesn't work. On the other hand, if you got a copy from your cousin Fred, you will probably not complain nearly as much. Microsoft is maing a huge mistake here, and if they don't back down I think this could cost them the market.

    My current theory: this is all an evil plot to make Linux be reinstalled every time Windows has to be. These OS recover CD's tend to wipe out EVERYTHING, including foreign partitions.


  • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Thursday June 08, 2000 @02:08AM (#1016946)
    Okay, I'm not going to start a flame war over this, although that seems to be what you want.

    Your examples (apart from the R rated movies one) are all to do with limiting behaviour and actions that can endanger other people.

    People aren't allowed to drive really fast because, no matter how good a driver you are, nor how good your car, you cannot be sure that it will not suffer some sort of mechanical failure. Say you're driving down the road at 100mph, and, for some reason (debris in the road, faulty tyre, whatever), your tyre blows out. Still think you'll be in complete control of your vehicle? I doubt it.

    The airport example is completely facetious. The airport is private property; its owners have every right to say that you're not allowed to park your car anywhere they don't want you to park it. In the case of bought software, the software is my property, not that of the company that sold it to me.

    You are right about the guns example, it would have been a much better one to use. However, as I live in the UK, it's pretty much a non-issue; very few people legally own guns here, so it tends not to occur to me.

    Yes, you may well be getting the OEM version of the OS at a discounted price, but you are still paying for it. I don't know about the situation in the States, but here in the UK, it is almost impossible to find a PC retailer that will offer to sell you a machine without Windows. The "reinstall CD" option is bad, because that forces you to backup all your data should you ever need to reinstall the OS. If the reason that you need to reinstall is because it's trashed to the point that you can't even boot your machine, what are you supposed to do? Most people (in my experience) don't backup their data regularly, or have access to another machine to put the drive into to get at it (or the technical expertise required). Whether that's a failing of the users or not is an argument for another thread.

    I don't really understand why you mention Office 2000, as I certainly didn't; and you critise my logic and arguments? (I'll ignore the implication that I've been using illegal registration codes and software, as being beneath contempt :-) )

    It saddens me to see that you cannot believe that I really am just "lookin' out for all us poor suffering commercial software users". The fact that I, too, buy and use commercial software is immaterial; I do care about people other than myself. I am dismayed to see that you, apparently, do not.


  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Thursday June 08, 2000 @02:15AM (#1016950) Homepage Journal
    Simple question: what happens the next time a Viral Beginners Script program decides to go after c:\windows\options and modify the files therein? How do you re-install your system when the install image has been comprimised?
  • We need to make sure any poor saps who are stuck with such a system are aware of things like Workspot [] and Linux4Windows [] (see your friendly neighborhood Mandrake distribution for details), then.
  • Why do they limit fines for corporate violations of law? For people, it makes a bit of sense (but only a bit) because the majority of people earn the same order of magnitude of money. But there are corporations with four orders of magnitude difference in their financial position.

    In 1890, $10M was a real chunk o'change. In 2000, for a Fortune 500 company, it's chickenfeed. For a Fortune 500 company convicted of antitrust violations and thus full of cash, it's fly food.

    The next time Congress puts a maximum penalty clause into a law, they should consider making it a self-adjusting number based on the defendant, such as a percentage of profit or a percentage of gross. That is, make big and little companies hurt equally for equal crimes.

  • Interestingly enough, this turned into a big problem for Id when someone figured out how to fake the keys. People who bought legit copies found themselve unable to play because their 'unique number' was already in use? SWo did this clever scheme stop piracy? NO - NOT AT ALL. Did it inconvience alot of legitimate customers? YES. So much so that I believe future patches to Quake3 disabled this brain-damaged serial number check.
  • There have been a lot of reply to the original message and several issues raised, I'd like to say my bit if I may. It's amazed me how long it's taken people to realise this issue. It's been going on for months.

    I'm a builder for an OEM company in New Zealand. NZ'ers were the lucky reciepiants of the version of office 2000 which HAD to be registered. It asks you 50 times (I'm told) then will cease to work. We were used as test subjects to see if it would work for the rest of the world. That sucked.

    But the real issue seems to be people complaining about not getting a cd with Windows. BUY A VERSION THAT HAS ONE, DAMMIT!!!. OEM distributors DO sell them. Over here they cost about $20 more, and I think it's well worth spending the extra $$. When the no-cd version came out the price of the OS dropped so you can either buy the cheaper one and get no cd or pay the original price and get a cd.

    great so that's sorted. btw it all came into effect with the launch of win2000.

    Also on the non cd versions of the operating system we have to stick and annoying sticker on the side of the case that has the serial number on it so you can complete the installation (as is required by MS and proper OEM installation)

    The sticker if scored to make it very difficult to peal off. (come this way from MS)

    Now a point to all those people that complain about having to reinstall windows every 5 min. If you did it right the first time and used good quality components and the proper static precautions where used when the system was built you wouldn't have to reinstall all the time. I've done it twice since 98SE came out, and that was because I believed that it would be a good idea to do it after changing the motherboard to a completely different type.

    And a word to the linux users, recompling the kernal is the same as reinstalling windows, and I know many Linux users that do that now and again. :)

    Now I said my bit, it's my first ever post and there will be many spelling mistakes and I'll get flamed by lots of people (if anyone bothers to read it at all). But, this is my viewpoint and I'll stick by what I've said

    Cheerz - TBG
  • One word: Prohibition.

    Governments can remain very stupid for very long.

  • If you bought InDesign 1.0, the bugfix "upgrade" would have cost you $99 - even though they called it version 1.5.

    I know of several cases where people bought site licenses for 1.0 just a couple of days before Adobe announced 1.5. No word from them to hold off a bit because the new improved version was coming.

    Sounds like another case of "enormous inconvenience" Mr Warnock.

  • Ahhh...this must be Microsoft's Zero Administration effort. So ka.
  • I'm supposing what MS wants to do away with is the grey market in OEM install CDs. For licensing purposes at work, we keep the ones we get with new machines, and we're starting to run out of space to keep them (empty CD-R spindle packs help). But I know that these are popular items to resell at swap meets, Ebay, etc, particularly when they're new-install CDs of releases never made to the public, like Win95{B,C}. It doesn't help that they often come in system boxes shrinkwrapped in a package not unlike discount software packages at retailers.

    If you think that MS won't make a full-install OS CD, you're kidding yourself. The screwdriver shops, corporations, et al that have a legitimate reason to do a zillion and one OS installs will get full-install CDs, and these will rapidly make their way into everyone's hands, albeit perhaps as CD-Rs (which is more typical end-user piracy) which are more problematic to sell as legitimate items at swap meets, etc.

  • Your acceptance of the contract, under the current scheme of things, is supposedly the sole reason you are allowed to use the software. That it happens to get accidentally installed on your hard drive without a license does not clear you to use it; indeed, if you do, that's piracy under the law. Acceptance of contract (bidirectionally implies) ability to use product. You can't have one without the other... and that's the whole problem.

    I think you meant it as a joke, but I've seen the replies take it seriously.

  • When Open Sourcerers develop a scriptable, extensible app that does what FrameMaker and PageMaker do, I'll finally be able to say adieu to Bill G and John W forever. And life will be good.

  • Speaking of re-installing...

    I needed to use some windows software last week. (Photoshop -- yes, I'm aware of the Gimp, and Premiere)

    I had Redhat on my 8 gig drive, on a 6 gig partition, and an EMPTY 2 gig partition.

    So, I popped in the Windows98 CD (a real CD, none of that Recovery crap) to install Windows.

    Boots of the CD fine, goes into a 'checking hardware screen', everything looks fine. Go into Windows, once it's installed, and notice that, somehow, there's 8 gigs allocated to windows.

    Turns out Windows AUTOMATICALLY RE-PARTITIONED my hard drive on install.

    Needless to say, I'm still miffed.
  • We don't need laws to protect the consumer. We need to get rid of the laws that assault the consumer. These are two entirely different things.

    Consumers do pretty well at protecting themselves from government or business. Consumers have problems when government and business don't gang up on them.

  • I heard it from IBM when they went MicroChannel with the PS/2 (a technical advance, in many ways, but with a "lock-in the consumer" mentality)

    Intel did manage to make the Slot 1 socket on motherboards proprietary so that no one else could make a processor to fit in the slot. Then they went to work pressuring motherboard manufactures not to make non-Slot 1 motherboards. This was to place hurdles in the path of other manufacturers, AMD mostly and their Athlon processor. And Intel's Pentiums are still selling like crazy.

    I'm not saying this invalidates your points though. Just thought I'd point and a contrasting scenario. In fact, I have some hope that you are right about the Death Knell.

  • by Kefaa ( 76147 ) on Thursday June 08, 2000 @03:03AM (#1016980)

    If you recall a story got "out" last year about a "working document" whereby Microsoft would begin charging yearly usage fees.

    At the time it was dismissed, but other providers thought it would be the way software would have to be produced in order to protect the consumer form illegal and faulty software.

    Well folks, wake up and smell the java, here is the next step. Once you do not have the software to install, then you cannot make an argument that you own anything. If you do not own it, then I am providing a "usage" license. If it is a usage license, it is not "forever".

    This is not a Microsoft issue, it is a software issue. MS just provided the place we could observe it. When the projected rush to the next release does not occur (i.e. Windows 2000), what can the company do? They cannot force you to buy an upgrade or new release, today.

    This will not be a problem in the future, when I can explain that next year's license is 3 times this years, because you are getting a new release. You do not need it? Sorry, we do not license old versions, and you have 15 days left before your current license expires. Have a nice day.
  • The Devil is smarter than that. He'll only buy a license if he can figure out a way to defeat you in court and make it a full sale. Otherwise, he's got a lot of suppliers who will just sell theirs to him...
  • by HalloFlippy ( 91240 ) on Thursday June 08, 2000 @03:06AM (#1016982) Homepage Journal
    It's ironic to me that, on the one hand, shrink-wrap license vendors are hiding behind copyright when it comes to piracy, yet, on the other, they sell us a 'license' so we as the all-impotent consumer have no rights under copyright law to use it as we want.
  • Your "no problems here" speech actually illustrated the big problem that everyone's complaining about: you're stuck getting an appliance rather than a computer and OS. The non-Dell (This-Machine) restriction clearly indicates that you're not free to do use the OS in whatever way you need to - though you pay for it.

    And no, you don't have a "recovery CD". It's a dell-specific copy of the OS... a "recovery CD" would only be able to auto-format and auto-reinstall.
  • The version of UCITA that passed in Maryland had a clause added that shields free software from liability claims. This extends to all software that has a free *license* even if that software is part of a package that is sold shrink-wrapped in stores.

    So relax already. Maryland is the only state where UCITA is actually law (it doesn't go into effect in Virginia until it is "studied" for a year) and most of the worst UCITA clauses were taken out of the version of the bill that actually passed and was signed by Gov. Parris "I hate working people" Glendenning.

    The liability shield for free software is similar to the "good samaritan" law we have that frees doctors from the risk of malpractice lawsuits if they render medical aid at crash scenes or in other emergencies, and indeed was modeled on it.

    - Robin

  • I would much rather have software companies protect their products with contracts and copy protection than use government force to do it. If I could trade the current system for one with few, if any, sofware patents, copyrights with shorter terms, and no laws against reverse engineering (except for patents), I would gladly suffer software which is bound to particular hardware, or copy protection dongles which have to be plugged into the parallel port. There would always be alternatives. It's not until government starts interfering that alternatives dry up.
  • by / ( 33804 ) on Thursday June 08, 2000 @03:25AM (#1016993)
    Win95a still runs fine

    Surely you mean "Win95a still runs as well as it ever did", which is not to say it does or ever has run well.

    Wouldn't you know it, but the Win95 network at work went down at precisely 4:30pm EST yesterday. It must have been mourning Jackson's break-up decision.
  • I also installed Windows 98 after Linux. However, I read all the FAQ's that indicated that Windows 9x must be installed on the FIRST partition on the FIRST available drive.

    Oh, and that OEMSETUP program you get from booting from the CD will assume that all you want is Windows.

    I hate to tell you to RTFM after the fact, but, well...
  • Two Words:

    DriveImage Professional.

    (or one word: Ghost)

    I WILL have a disaster-recovery-copy of my OS, whether MS likes it or not...

    (BTW, Disasters, by MS standards, should include installing applications, and powering off at the 'Waiting for Windows to Shutdown' screen!)
  • I have nothing against paying for *good* software. Nor do I have anything against free (as in speech or beer, I don't care) software. The now defunct PC Accelerator had a great piece on the price of software wherein Mike Saloman (sp?) said he felt game prices were way too high, but when one considers how many pirated copies of each game there are out there, the prices may seem justified. Software companies don't want to make less money but still make a profit on new releases; when they work to produce a better product than the previous version, they expect more profit. That's the nature of the beast.

    The important thing to remember here is that I am talking about *good* software. I don't generally consider Windows to be good software. Anything that I imediately have to patch after installing is not good software. Anything that is constantly plagued by security holes, trojans, bugs, etc. is not good software.

    On the pay side, I think companies that produce good software deserve the right to choose whether that software will be free, open sourced or not. If they can't do that, then where's the freedom? Adobe makes some good software. I wish they would port some of it to Linux (more than just Acrobat reader), but again, that's their choice.

    People may bitch and moan about stupid M$ moves like this one, but less than a third will ever do anything about it, and insinuating that it's close to a third of the people bitching is probably a l. They either expect the government to fix it *cough-mistake-cough*, expect other people to protest, or simply make do as one more right slides away. Personally, I think if people have a problem with the still-developing UI in Linux, they should go to a Mac. Certainly a more stable OS.
  • by zantispam ( 78764 ) on Thursday June 08, 2000 @04:16AM (#1017030)
    "I WILL have a disaster-recovery-copy of my OS, whether MS likes it or not..."

    How often will you back up? Daily? Weekly? Whenever there's new data on the drive?

    What if you have to support several {hundred|thousand} users. Back all of then up at night? (Something like that would require massive amounts of disk space. Hrmmm...MS may have just given a nifty nich market to the likes of Sun or Compaq...)

    For home power users, backing up the image daily is one thing. For home `honey, how do I get to my email' users, backups are things you do in a car.

    <comment type="me too" src="AOL">
    I think that the age of general computer ignorance is about to end. I think it has to, considering just how many people will be devastated by this. It's one thing to have Win9x crash - the general populace is used to that. However, when we (the geeks) get to explain to general users that the reason why all of their email, documents, and pictures of their grandkids are gone (forever, never getting them back) is because of the way Microsoft does business, they will think long and hard about actually reinstalling MS-OS again.


    Here's my [] copy of DeCSS. Where's yours?
  • by root ( 1428 ) on Thursday June 08, 2000 @04:54AM (#1017058) Homepage
    Just think if the lending library did not yet exist; if the only way to read books was to go and buy them.

    Now suppose that Benjamin Franklin was alive today and just now proposed the idea that large buildings be constructed with taxpayer dollars and more of those tax dollars be used to purchase books and magazines (copyrighted material) so that the public can come anytime and read these materials freely.

    The print publishers would FLY INTO A RAGE and call Franklin every dirty name they could think of from "thief" to "crook" to, yes, even "pirate" who is "opposed to people profitting from their hard work" and "taking the food out of baby's mouths bacause writers won't be able to support their families anymore".

    Of course, today, Franklin would have proposed that libraries included software, video, and audio, and indeed, all copyrighted works. Indeed many public libraries today do lend VHS and CDs.

    And it wasn't just for the purpose of education and betterment of the public. Most books were an entertainment medium in the 18th century as much as movies are today. So don't isolate Franklin's idea as having only altruistic motives.

    And who would say that closing all libraries would be a GOOD idea? Very few I'll wager. Why should it be any different when it comes to CDs/movies/software than it is with books/mags?

    And oh yes, despite the existance of libraries, (gasp!) people still make money and can even (choke!) earn a living as writers and publishers. Well imagine that. Free access to copyrighted books and magazines didn't kill the industry after all. In fact, it expanded it. Just like VHS rentals resulted in Hollywood making more money today from home video sales than it ever did or ever will from theatrical ticket sales.

    Ever rent a movie, video game, book, or magazine. Then you too are as much a pirate and thief an yo label others to be.

    Let he who is without sin...

  • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Thursday June 08, 2000 @05:02AM (#1017071) Homepage
    I've stated this twice on slashdot already, and I'll state it again, its not a point to be missed: 3-4 supreme court justices are expected to be appointed this term - that makes the election worth *far* more about freedom, and overriding commercial tyrrany, than economics or foreign policy. We can't afford to have Bush in office. I think gore's an idiot, and his economic policy a joke, but with this many supreme court justices being appointed, there's no way I won't vote for him. Bush is the type who would mandate censorware and give software companies the right to do anything they want, and you can expect anyone he appoints to do the same.

    Regardless of what you think of either party, though, *go out and vote for someone!* This is an important election. Give it your voice!

    - Rei

  • by AkkarAnadyr ( 164341 ) on Thursday June 08, 2000 @05:25AM (#1017087) Homepage

    Think of all those folks you may have known who share/borrow WinDisks for the drearily frequent reinstall rituals. Suddenly that doesn't work; who in their right mind assumes that they'll just go and start shelling out for EACH AND EVERY copy on EACH AND EVERY machine? Micros~1 gets a nawful lot of free tech support from those of us who take pity on Aunt Tillie and our drinking buddies and help them navigate Winders. Now all those altruists are going to buy an E-ticket for each session AND donate their time? Hah.

    Not before taking a gander at free ( as in beer )software - they've already had to learn a bit to start with, and the installs get easier all the time. I intend to start volunteering my Linux and OpenBSD skills around the neighborhood - I've done a whole *one* install of each ( lookit me admin! :) But that's enough. In a month, I'll know MTA's; in a few more, I'll know firewalling and networking. And a legion of AOLusers will just be stumbling out into the sunlight....

    "Remember, brethren, that no man's opinion is worth a sack of weed" - Brigham Young

  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Thursday June 08, 2000 @07:35AM (#1017163) Homepage
    To me, this looks like they're trying to make a user-intervention free computer while raking in the big bucks and violating our rights. Basically, the OS (if it could be called that) would be installed from the factory, with all the drivers intact. You wouldn't be able to update your drivers when a bug fix or a performance boost was instigated - you'd be locked into shoddy programmed drivers until you purchased something else from MS or the company that sold you the computer. We're not talking just shrink wrapped software, we're talking shrink wrapped computers as well.

    What are geeks supposed to do, then? MS obviously won't be able to release a non-bastardized version of the OS, because everyone and their brother would jump on the opportunity to copy the CD onto their own system, since their version was crippled by the vendor, and people will see it as the same product. Geeks who custom build systems won't be able to install MS products, because the OS doesn't come configured for the certain hardware they purchase, and it's impossible to install drivers.

    Can you imagine paying for computer software subscriptions like you do to a magazine, you ISP, or cable? That's insane. Systems will probably be completely proprietarized, so that the MS software can't be removed either, IMO. Who knows? Maybe they'll slap a ROM disk onto all new hard drives, where the OS will be hardwired. (How many times have YOU had to reinstall windows on a computer, due to crappy MS programming, or some other reason?)


  • by John Carmack ( 101025 ) on Thursday June 08, 2000 @09:04AM (#1017200)
    The "key generators" are all fakes. Some of them look like they work for a while because servers you have visited with a valid key keep a cache to let you in again.

    As far as we know, there are no real key generators. If there were, we would have much more significant support issues.

    We certainly will drop the CD-in-the-drive-for-single-player check in a future patch, that is our standard procedure after a game's primary sales are over.

    John Carmack
  • by bridgette ( 35800 ) on Thursday June 08, 2000 @10:21AM (#1017222)
    It would be cool if slashdot had a lawer submit regular articles, but you really ought to chill out a bit.

    The IANAL thing is *so* redundant since whenever a lawer posts an opinion they invarably preface it with "This is not to be construed as legal advice, if you need legal advice seek the council of a licenced attorney in your state ..."

    Even if he was a lawer, he might not be qualified, either due to a different specialization (i.e. tax law) or due to general ineptitude. Even when lawers are quoted in major news sources, their conflicts of interest are rarely discussed. So it's not like you ever have assurances that a legal discussion is knowledgeable and unbiased, unless (you know otherwise from the authors background).

    And Michael did link to many of the relevent documents so you can read up on the subject yourself. And let's not forget that the referenced articles (mostly from infoworld) are neither written by lawers or quoting lawers heavily. Why does Michael earn a special serving of your contempt? Come to think of it, I recall making a similar post recently. Ah-ha, I was responding to your rants about Michaels article on Doubleclick 28&threshold=2&commentsort=3&mode=nested &cid=58 If he pisses you off this much, you could refrain from reading his articles, you know.

    Personally, I think us "common folk" ought to discuss law more often. People need to be aware of thier rights and of the laws and how those laws affect them. If people tried to read and interpret the law on thier own, they would be less suceptable to illegal scams and dishonest/incompetant lawers.

    It's bad enough that you need a lawer for anything more than a parking ticket these days, now you need a lawer just to post a story on slashdot?

If you didn't have to work so hard, you'd have more time to be depressed.