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Microsoft Sues Brazilian Official for Defamation 401

The Importance of writes "Larry Lessig is reporting that Microsoft is threatening a defamation lawsuit against Sergio Amadeu, President of the National Institute of Information Technology (ITI) of Brazil, for comments he has made about Microsoft's business practices, "accusing the company of a 'drug-dealer practice' for offering the operational system Windows to some governments and city administration for digital inclusion programs. 'This is a trojan horse, a form of securing critical mass to continue constraining the country'." Additionally, "To Amadeu, this will be a decisive year to win the 'strategy of fear, uncertainty and doubt', as he classifies the business model of Microsoft." Microsoft's complaint claims that this is "an excess in freedom of speech and freedom of thought, by means of the dissemination of information." Read a translation of the complaint [PDF] and the original article, "The Penguin Advances [PDF]." Lessig notes that this may be defamation in Brazil, but would not be considered defamation in the United States."
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Microsoft Sues Brazilian Official for Defamation

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  • by jpellino ( 202698 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @06:28AM (#9471628)
    "...for offering the operational system Windows..."

    Calling windows "operational" HAS to be a crime somewhere.
    • Heh (Score:5, Funny)

      by Moth7 ( 699815 ) <mike.brownbillNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday June 19, 2004 @07:22AM (#9471768) Journal
      Better mod this one down before the editors get "sued" :-)
    • Calling windows "operational" HAS to be a crime...

      I find windows very useful when I want to do anything remotely graphical in nature (and I use a WIMP GUI much more than a CLI).

      Maybe you were joking but people who say windows are evil still live in the Dark Ages; RL (and, indeed, the WWW) is graphical, not text-based, (thank god!), therefore there are many times when you want (especially when displaying pictures) a GUI. Before I get flamed, I do not want to get rid of CLIs as they have their uses and m

      • RL is Graphical? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Moth7 ( 699815 )
        Then what am I doing studying from textbooks and writing essays? Real life may be graphical, but a wide range of employment is text based. The key is an even balance to the two, especially if the system is to be used in both settings.
      • "paradigm". good buzz word. talk like that and you could be a PHB some day!
  • by mOoZik ( 698544 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @06:31AM (#9471633) Homepage
    Suing and threatening to sue ARE NOT equal!

    • by TVC15 ( 518429 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @06:44AM (#9471662)
      >Suing and threatening to sue ARE NOT equal!

      Just like announcing a product and actually releasing one.
      It's just a vaporware lawsuit. ;-)
    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @06:50AM (#9471675) Journal
      Suing and threatening to sue ARE NOT equal!
      MS threatening to sue is equal to them using more FUD to their advantage, hoping mr. Amadeu will shut up and that other MS opponents will decide to lay low. All this for the cost of a few hour's worth of paralegal work.

      However, I don't think MS would have any problem with actually sueing mr. Amadeu if he continues to spread his 'lies'... even if their case looks weak. They might desist though, if such a lawsuit would turn into a publicity nightmare: "We cheerfully crush the ones that oppose us!"
      • by unoengborg ( 209251 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @09:58AM (#9472294) Homepage
        Actually, I think MS will have a large problem suing mr Amadeu. They can afford the lawyers and the best judge money can buy, but they can't afford the press coverage such a lasuit would generate. Many people share the views of mr Amadeu and would probably be on his side, and become even more hostile to Microsoft.

        Even if Microsoft manages to buy some of the press, there is a significant risk that some website like groklaw may emerge and start digging up annoying facts on Microsoft and its business practices.

        The question is will Microsoft be smart enough to realize this.

    • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @07:02AM (#9471706) Homepage
      Suing and threatening to sue ARE NOT equal!

      Well, opening the PDF document I see:

      To the Honorable Judge of Law of Law from the Criminal Court of the District of Barueri, State of Sao Paulo.
      blah blah blah...
      "drug dealer practice" offends the most crucial foundations of the rules typifying the felony of defamation, provided at article 21 of the Federal Statute 525-/67
      blah blah blah...
      Plaintiff demands that the Defendant
      blah blah blah...

      I dunno, looks like they are suing to me. Actually the "felony" part makes it look more like a criminal charges than a lawsuit, but I don't know Brazilian law.

      They then go on to a list of questions they are demanding that defendant to answer. To summarize, "Please explain how Microsoft is like a drug dealer!" Oh, the answers are gonna be a real treat! Be sure to tune in tomorrow kids! Same bat-time! Same bat-channel!

      -
    • by anshil ( 302405 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @07:11AM (#9471735) Homepage
      Is "threatening to sue" not blackmailling and thus illegal? I don't know for sure, but remember it is actually illegal in the US...

      I.e. "threatening to fire somebody" is illegal in the EU. You may just do it or leave it, but it is explicit illegal to put it under any condition..

      • I don't know about the US, but in the UK, and I believe most other countries, you _must_ threaten to sue before doing so. It's usually called "issuing a notice of intent to commence procedings" or some other such name, but really it just says "pay us some reasonable compensation for this now, or we'll sue you."
      • Actually...

        I.e. "threatening to fire somebody" is illegal in the EU. You may just do it or leave it, but it is explicit illegal to put it under any condition..

        Do you have a source for that? I was under the impression that it was actually hard to fire somebody _without_ threatening them first (e.g., issuing a warning phrased like "if you do this again we'll fire you" or similar) under EU regulations.
    • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @08:11AM (#9471904) Homepage
      Threatening to sue? Wouldn't that fall under the FEAR part of "Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt" which is clearly part of the Microsoft M.O.?
    • Hi,
      I had translated the official answer of Sergio Amadeu to the press regarding this issue. While there is no proccess, Amadeu received an offical judicial notification asking for an apologize in 48 hours. The original note [cipsga.org.br] is on the site of the CIPSGA, a local NGO commited to free software. There are other related news on CIPSGA site [cipsga.org.br] as well, including a microsoft answer [cipsga.org.br] (I will not loose my time translating that - use the fish [altavista.com]).

      Notice to the Press- Sérgio Amadeu
      In attention to the national and international press demand, which supports the brazillian government in this moment without precedent in History, in which the director of an important puclic institution in this country sufferes personally the action of those interested in keeping an hegemonic model, write, after hearing my lawyers, state that the justice act enacted against me is, in itself, so unexpected and outrageous, that it doesn't deserve an answer.

      On the other hand, I'd like to state that the contraction of software preserving the values of freedom and opennes fis, for the Brazilan Governent, a question linked to the very core of the democratic principles. And why a long and painfull path has passed for we to get at the current status of democraticy on this Country, we shall stand firm in our fight.

      If democracy is a value filled with ideologies, it is never an insgnificant factor. If democracy is a dream, it is a dream from which this Country will nerver wake again.

      The future is free.

      SÉRGIO AMADEU DA SILVEIRA
      Diretor-Presidente
      Instituto Nacional de Tecnologia da Informação

  • Right on (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mkro ( 644055 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @06:33AM (#9471639)
    and saying "Linux is a cancer" [com.com] is just an objective observation.
    • Re:Right on (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Kent Recal ( 714863 )
      If MS sue'd this brazilian guy and succeeded wouldn't that create legal ground for RedHat (or some other linux company) to sue MS over the cancer statement?
    • Re:Right on (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) * <richardprice@gmail3.14159.com minus pi> on Saturday June 19, 2004 @08:31AM (#9471960)
      Balmer saying linux is a cancer is attacking the product, not the owners/developers of the product. This Brazilian saying MS is ussing drug dealer like tactics in selling Windows is directly attacking the owners/developers of the product and not the product itself. That my friend is the difference between marketing and defamation.
      • Re:Right on (Score:3, Interesting)

        by KnacTheMife ( 779539 )
        accept Bill G admitted using "drug dealer like tactics in selling Windows" in the past...

        "Although about 3 million computers get sold every year in China, but people don't pay for the software," he said. "Someday they will, though. As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade."

        from:

        http://news.com.com/2100-1023-212942.html?legac y =c net

        I've read that it was also quoted in Fort
      • That my friend is the difference between marketing and defamation.

        Yes, but we tend anthropomorpihize OSes. For example, Tux, the BSD daemon, clippy, that little XP doggie, ad nauseum, have very human qualities.

        I say, these entities deserve every bit as much protection as any human, because attacking them results in the same hurt feelings by OS users as the family of a defamed human would feel.

        I saw an episode of Iron Chef recently where the translated captions called it the "Piglet Battle", but the anno

  • Question 6 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Space cowboy ( 13680 ) * on Saturday June 19, 2004 @06:35AM (#9471642) Journal

    It looks to me as though the only real question MS can expect a favourable ruling on is question 6: 'Is there any logical connection and/or intention from the Defendant in tipifying (sic) the behavior of the Plaintiff as "drug dealer practice" with the subsequent expression made in the interview of "fear strategy"? '

    Pretty much all of the other "questions" have fairly easy-to-respond to answers which will reflect badly on MS business practices, ie: the low-cost-of-entry and high-cost-of-maintenance, buy in haste, repent at leisure type. I don't think there's any relationship between this overall strategy and the FUD one though, they're just 2 distinct dodgy business practices that MS use [grin]

    Simon.
    • Re:Question 6 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SlamMan ( 221834 ) <squigit@gmailAAA.com minus threevowels> on Saturday June 19, 2004 @07:01AM (#9471705)
      Sure there is. "The first one is free, then they're hooked." By pushing out desktop's and servers at low prices, it makes it hard to get away from them later.
      • Yeah, like how those damn hippies pushing THEIR 'free' stuff is hard to get away from... oh, wait... nevermind.
        • Re:Question 6 (Score:4, Interesting)

          by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @07:18AM (#9471756) Journal
          Yes, but the thing is -- once you use GNU/Linux, you don't *want* to use other stuff -- but that's okay, because you can download all the GNU/Linux you want for free and will always be able to do so.

          Microsoft tries very hard to get product lock-in at a customer, then extracts more money than the initial purchase appears to be.
          • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @08:42AM (#9472009)
            Yes, but the thing is -- once you use GNU/Linux, you don't *want* to use other stuff -- but that's okay, because you can download all the GNU/Linux you want for free and will always be able to do so.

            You are absolutely right, and here is the key difference between GNU and Microsoft:

            With Microsoft, you have customer lock-in that actively discourages and often prevents a customer from chosing another system they would otherwise prefer. Evidence of this abounds in virtually every medium one might consider, from the opinion pages of Chicago newspapers to court filings in assorted lawsuits against Microsoft brought by companies and governments large and small, to the pages of the World Wide Web. Customer lock-in is real, destructive, and most importantly to a democratic government: non-democratic (ie choice is removed).

            GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, and other free software do not lock anyone in. Indeed, many free applications have been ported to Microsoft's inferior platform because people wanted to run the software and needed to keep running windows (quite probably due to customer lock-in).

            The difference? With GNU/Linux you have the choice, even the choice to chose bondage to a large American corporate entity (read: run Windows). With Microsoft, you have no such choice: you are locked quite firmly in regardless of your other desires...with the only possible way out to dump Microsoft products completely.

            The wisdom of such a choice is incontravertable, whether one is considering software quality, security, stability, or freedom, but that doesn't mean one has the ability to make such a choice, of one's data is already beholden to the behemoth. Even more so, now that Microsoft appears to be taking the $CO path more directly these days ("no customer, and especially no ex-customer, is safe").
      • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @07:27AM (#9471779)
        Considering that windows comes pre-installed in most PCs, many people believe it to be "free", in the no-pay sense. It's like including a stone of crack in the school enrollment fee.
  • Code-name (Score:5, Funny)

    by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @06:39AM (#9471651) Homepage
    I hereby designate Microsoft's lawsuit Operation Footbullet.

    P.S.
    Maybe Brazil will even fix the broken law.

    -
    • Re:Code-name (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fdisk3hs ( 513270 )
      Oh, ahh, my side. Sniff. I cried laughing. Damn funny.

      Seriously, this seems like a great way to piss off the southern hemisphere. And while we're at it, let's throw some diesel on the fire! Duh. "Let's see if we can rile 'em up a little bit. He's pissed off now alright, Crikey!".

      Dah Fuhrer doesn't let you switch to Linux and then talk about why it's so much better? Are your paperz not in orrderr?

      I suppose Microsoft is against free speech as well as software now? You should buy a shrink-wrapped l
  • by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @06:39AM (#9471652)
    Really, if someone calls you on your business practices because they're considered nasty... is the best reaction to threaten them?

    To be fair, I don't think MS could win this particular battle - almost any business would be willing to deep discount (or offer for free) the first wave of their product to land a long term contract...
    • by Amiga Lover ( 708890 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @07:09AM (#9471731)
      Really, if someone calls you on your business practices because they're considered nasty... is the best reaction to threaten them?

      As SCO have taught us - if they're customers or potential customers, the best business practice is to sue them. I think the logic is that if they're too scared to speak out about you, then that's one step towards buying product from you. isn't it?

      1. Sue customers.
      2. ???
      3. Profit.
      • Isn't it...

        1. Sue customers.
        2. Make it known you can't win lawsuits.
        3. Short your own stock.
        4. Profit.

        But that sounds like a pump & dump scheme, which I seem to recall hearing is illegal, and no company would EVER think of breaking the law in the name of profit....
  • by Queuetue ( 156269 ) <queuetue.gmail@com> on Saturday June 19, 2004 @06:42AM (#9471658) Homepage
    I don't have time right now to read a lot of legalese, but from the article post:

    Microsoft's complaint claims that this is "an excess in freedom of speech and freedom of thought, by means of the dissemination of information."

    Strange that they didn't argue it was untrue. :)
    • by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @06:55AM (#9471692)
      Thats probably because they are doing what any other company would be prepared to do, offer an initial reduction to gain a contract. The problem here are the emotive terms used by Amadeu, which franky are more damaging than helpful. The language he used make him look like a deluded conspiracy theorist rather than somone presenting a rational fact based argument. Rattling on in this manner is ultimately pointless. Amadeu would have been better off presenting considered comments, pointing to OSS success stories and highlighting how there is a better alternative to Microsoft. Tyring to paint Microsoft as 'drug dealers' for engaging in standard business practise just makes it look like he has nothing to back his arguments up and therefore no point.
  • So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by worfgzr ( 789595 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @06:43AM (#9471660) Homepage
    If I say that Microsoft's is akin to those of the Maifa, that there licensing schemes are more like the fifdom taxation scheme of Ole England, and that their very existence threatens innovation and the advancement of technology, would I get sued too? I guess I'd have to say those things in a public forum, and be in the position to influence thebuing decisions on thousands, if not millions of people. Kinda like /. . Bring it own Bill! Vern Seward
    • Yeah, IF you say it. But then again, you didn't say them right? You just speculated, IF...
      • Microsoft's practices are akin to those of the Mafia.
      • Their licensing schemes are more like the fifdom taxation scheme of Olde England (I'm Welsh so I guess I can agree with that).
      • Their very existence threatens innovation and the advancement of technology.

      I guess I'm saying these things in a public forum, and am in the position to influence the buying decisions of thousands (hey wait...people who read /. make buying decisions [& based on /. comments]?...ummm).

    • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @08:49AM (#9472036)
      If I say that Microsoft's is akin to those of the Maifa, that there licensing schemes are more like the fifdom taxation scheme of Ole England, and that their very existence threatens innovation and the advancement of technology, would I get sued too? I guess I'd have to say those things in a public forum, and be in the position to influence thebuing decisions on thousands, if not millions of people. Kinda like /.

      If you are in the United States you are safe (not from being sued, but from losing). Truth is an absolute defense, regardless of how damaging it may be. And every word you wrote is true.

      Caveate: the truth used to set you free, pre-Bush/Chaney/Rumsfeld/Rice. These days, all bets are off, domestic or foreign.
    • Re:So.... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by goldmeer ( 65554 )

      If I say that Microsoft's is akin to those of the Maifa,

      I recommend against that!!!
      You don't want to make the mafia look bad.
      Accidents happen to those that make 'The Family' look bad. Look, I like you, and might be in a position to talk to those that may have been offended by your indiscretion.
      I will go out on a limb for you.
      There will come a time that I will ask you to go out on a limb for me. I trust that the favor will be returned in kind at that time. Look you are smart, but sometimes you need t

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 19, 2004 @06:44AM (#9471661)
    for those who are PDF challenged, please if you are an author and content is worth more than presentation, use text/html if its published on the internet

    The Complaint

    PINHEIRO NETO LAW FIRM
    To the Honorable Judge of Law from the Criminal Court of the District of Barueri, State of
    Sao Paulo.

    MICROSOFT INFORMATICA LTDA, a company duly incorporated and existing
    according to the laws of Brazil, with its headquarters at the City of Sao Paulo, at Avenida das

    Nacoes Unidas 12901, Torre Norte, 27 th floor, enrolled under the taxpayers list under
    number 60.316.817/ 0001-03, by means of its legal representative (Document number 01) and
    undersigned lawyers, respectfully files before this court and against SERGIO AMADEU
    DA SILVEIRA, Brazilian citizen, President of the National Institute of Information
    Technology (ITI), with headquarters at SCN Quadra 04 Bloco B Pétala D, room 1102,
    Edificio Centro Empresarial Varig, CEP 70710-500, Brasilia, DF, the following

    DEMAND FOR EXPLANATION
    on the grounds of Article 25 of the Federal Statute 5,250 of February 1967 -"The Press
    Law", for the reasons and motives explained below:

    I-On the exclusive jurisdiction of this Honorable Court to Receive, Process and Decide the
    Present Demand for Explanation

    1. Under the express provisions of article 42 of the Press Law, which is mandatory, the
    jurisdiction to receive, process and decide the Demand for Explanation is that of the place
    where the newspaper or periodical, in this case, the place where the magazine Carta Capital,
    was printed. Said magazine published the article which the Plaintiff deems as incriminated.
    See below:

    Article 42 Ð "The place of the violation, for determining Territorial Jurisdiction, will
    be that where the newspaper or the periodical was printed, and that of the place where
    the studio of the permitted or conceded radio station is located, as well as the main
    place of business of the news agency.
    Sole Paragraph Ð Press Crimes are subject to the provisions of article 85 of the
    Criminal Procedure Code.

    2. The precedents of our Courts are uncontroversial in ratifying the provisions of the Especial
    Law, according to the following decisions listed in the law reviews: JUTACRIM 68/ 181; 67/
    225; 78/ 412; RT 555/ 343; 559/ 379; 556/ 315; 578/ 361; 656/ 269; 603/ 365 etc.

    3. According to the administrative information of the abovementioned magazine, it is printed
    at Avenida Marcos Penteado Ulhoa Rodrigues, 700, Santana de Parnaiba/ SP, Plural Editora e 1
    1 Page 2 3
    Grafica, in the district of Barueri.
    4. For this reason, this Court must process and decide the present Demand for Explanation.
    II -On the Facts
    5. On March 17, 2004, the Magazine Carta Capital published under the title "The Penguin
    Advances" a jornalistic article about the growing of private companies which would start to
    adopt free software, and about the intention of the federal government to launch an
    advertising campaign in favor of this type of software.

    6. In this jornalistic article, Mr. Sergio Amadeu, Defendant herein, in the exercise of his
    public duties of President of the National Institute of Information Technology (ITI), aiming at
    disseminating free software among Ministries, State owned companies and governmental
    bodies, made aggressive declarations lacking any kind of technical foundation about the use
    of the software developed by Microsoft, Plaintiff herein.

    III. On the References and Comments made to the Plaintiff company by the Defendant, from
    which one can infer Defamation

    7. With purposes still to be clarified, the Defendant, at the condition of President of ITI, gave
    an intervitew to the magazine Carta Capital, in which he makes reference and imputations of
    offensive nature to the Plaintiff, using phrases and expressions from which defamation is
    inferred, under the terms of the article 21 of Statute 5.250/ 67, as fo
    • 5-What does the expression proferred by the Defendant "strategy of fear, uncertainty, and doubt" referred in the article mean?

      Microsoft asking what's FUD ? Priceless !

  • who's next? (Score:4, Informative)

    by dncsky1530 ( 711564 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @06:47AM (#9471668) Homepage
    this reminds me of a tom lehrer song where different countries want 'the bomb'
    Now with Microsoft they have waged 'war' with china, the EU, netherlands, Canada, and who's next?
    A google news search [google.com] turns up over 120 people / companies Microsoft has sued.
    So who's next, It may even be you! if the RIAA can do it why not our beloved M$
  • A Clarification (Score:5, Informative)

    by ewe2 ( 47163 ) <ewetoo AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday June 19, 2004 @06:51AM (#9471677) Homepage Journal

    In this inadvertently hilarious google translation [google.com] Microsoft Brazil says they were only asking for an explaination and were misreported. First noted by Alistair Burt [lessig.org] on the Lessig blog [lessig.org].

    • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @07:14AM (#9471744)
      IANAL, but when a lawyer in Brazil wants to prosecute someone for libel, s/h/it must ask first for an "explanation". The accused is then given a chance to say "I was misunderstood, sorry about that", before being actually found guilty and sent to jail. There are different levels of libel and difamation. "Calúnia" is saying something that can be proved to be false about someone. "Injúria" is saying something that may be true, but is derogatory in some way. For instance, if I said "Slashdot editors don't read their own front page", this is patently true, but is offensive, so it would be a felony in Brazil.
      • To quote from the translation:

        We are not processing nobody, and the order of explanations is not related to a personal question.

        They're putting a nice spin for us on a definite threat to Sergio Amadeu. This is odd, considering the kinds of things they've been screaming at the Brazilian government lately.

  • by bl8n8r ( 649187 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @06:52AM (#9471681)
    Drug dealing goes like this:

    - give away a product
    - build a dependancy
    - begin charging for the product
    - introduce new "stronger" product

    Q) How is that like anything Microsoft has ever done?
    A) Microsoft has never cut their product with corn starch (that we know of).
  • by SilveRo_kun ( 741555 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @06:55AM (#9471691) Homepage Journal
    ....when he reads "The Penguin Advances" PDF linked in this article.

    "In order to avoid that someone would appropriate the improvements to make a closed version, Torvalds has created a special use license that forbids the original code or any subsequent modification made upon it to be closed"

  • by squarooticus ( 5092 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @06:58AM (#9471698) Homepage
    In the United States, truth is an absolute defense against charges of slander or libel. This is one of the many immensely logical precepts of our legal system that most of us on Slashdot (including myself, I know) take for granted just as we criticize other aspects of the same system. Let's have a round of applause for the US in this matter, and then go right back to criticism. :)

    Cheers,
    Kyle
  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @07:05AM (#9471716)
    I recently commented [slashdot.org] on how the Roman Church has used effectively the over-zealous Brazilian laws on libel and difamation to fight any churches that make inroads on what they consider their home turf. Now it seems that Redmond is taking some clues from Rome.
    • Redmond is taking some clues from Rome

      In some ways, yes.

      But the FSFE (Free Software Foundation Europe) claim that the BSA (Business software Alliance) (aka Microsoft's hitmen) asked [item 6] [fsfeurope.org] the FSFE for help to combat the Italian governments latest crazily stringent proposed copyright laws (which require formal permission from the government before copying anything in digital form even if one has a "copyright" license or even if one holds the "copyright"--from what I can tell).

  • thought crime? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 19, 2004 @07:08AM (#9471722)
    "an excess in freedom of thought"

    That doesn't sound any alarms with anyone else? Are they trying to say this is literally a *thought crime*?

    Holy crap.

  • This is another marketing scheme by Microsoft employees to get Microsoft in the news and on Slashdot.

    I certainly would never have known that a government official in Brazil compared Microsoft marketing people to "drug-dealers", if it weren't repeated in the quiet privacy of a Slashdot story.

    Without a lawsuit, most Brazilians would never have heard what the official said. Now millions of Brazilians will know. What will be their reaction? Consider this. Less than two months after the September 11, 2001 bombing of the World Trade Center, at the costume parties celebrating the Brazilian equivalent of Halloween, many Brazilians came as Osama bin Laden [theglobeandmail.com]. Brazilians and people from other countries [hauntedbay.com] think that the U.S. government is arrogant and out of control. Since 3 movies and 35 books published in the U.S. say this too [futurepower.org], it can be said that the feeling is strong. Microsoft's legal action will be seen as more arrogance from the United States, probably.

    My guess is that it is likely that this new move by Microsoft will only help sell Bill Gates Halloween masks. It certainly won't help sell Microsoft products.
  • Obviously (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anita Coney ( 648748 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @07:22AM (#9471766) Homepage
    Truth is not a defense to defamation in Brazil.

    • Re:Obviously (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mangu ( 126918 )
      Truth is not a defense to defamation in Brazil.

      It's not. A few years ago, Ruy Castro, a Brazilian writer, wrote a biography on Garrincha, a popular soccer player who died in 1983. In the book, based on interviews with Garrincha's former wives and girlfriends, he stated that Garrincha had a 28 cm long penis. Garrincha's daughters sued to stop the book from being published. In the end it was published, not based on any right to freedom of speech, but because the judge considered that stating that someone ha

  • by orin ( 113079 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @07:28AM (#9471786)
    Stuff that you'd get away with saying in the USA, you can get sued for in most other countries. US firms have picked up on this and are a lot more litigious about such things outside the US. So are American celebrities, reprint tabloid stuff outside the US at your peril. It might be safe to call a certain actor's sexuality into question in the US, but do it in Australia or the UK and you'll wind up in court. Neither country has a "right" to free speech (except for politicians protected by parliamentry privilige, who really don't want to share that privilige with their critics).

    Funny thing about defamation law. You don't have to prove that you're reputation has been damaged. It is accepted that this is almost impossible to reliably prove (it isn't like Slashdot Karma). Hence the law assumes that, because you've gone to court over it, your reputation must have been damaged. Also plaintiffs do not have to pay defendant's legal bills in most countries, hence defamation is a good way for rich plaintiffs to get the little guy, because the little guy, even if what he said was true, will still have to pay sizable legal bills.
    • by Jadrano ( 641713 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @08:14AM (#9471913)
      Neither country has a "right" to free speech (except for politicians protected by parliamentry privilige, who really don't want to share that privilige with their critics).

      I wouldn't say that there is no right to free speech altogether - generally, in democratic countries outside the US, generally you can advocate any kind of political ideas, but there are limitations for factual claims about concrete people and companies. (In the US, you can sue for damage compensation afterwards, as well, but in many countries, you can ban claims to stop the damage).

      I think it is difficult to say what is better, both kinds of regulations have their advantages and disadvantages. Of course, any limitation of freedom of speech is regrettable, but on the other hand, it can also be important to have the possibility to stop unfair practises that consist in spreading unsubstanciated claims to harm competitors. A good example is SCO: In Germany, they are not allowed to spread allegations about the alleged copyright and licence infringement of Linux because they could not show anything to substanciate them, they had to remove these claims from their German website.
  • by wossName ( 24185 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @07:29AM (#9471789)
    I think it's just hilarious that Microsoft seems to believe there are limits to the freedom of thought. Especially when it comes to incredibly important matters like their business model.
  • Amadeu's response... (Score:5, Informative)

    by KLizard ( 212532 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @07:35AM (#9471801) Homepage
    Its on Spectras WebLog [propus.com.br] :

    "Sergio Amadeu, himself, have posted a short note about Microsoft's move. It's in portuguese, of course, but here is the translation into english:

    'In special response to national and international enquiries from the press, that have been supportive with the brazilian government in this unprecedented moment in which the president of an important public institution in this country suffers personally the action of those interested in keeping an hegemonic model, I come forward, after listening to my lawyers and federal solicitors, to say that the judicial provocation imposed against me is, by its own, so unusual and improper that it does not deserve any answer.

    In the other hand, I'd like to register that the purchase of software that preserves the values of openness and freedom is, for the brazilian government, a subject unavoidably connected to the democratic principle. And for it have been a long and painful path to reach our current democratic developmental stage in this country, we will not walk out our fight.

    If democracy is a value full of ideology, it will never be an insignificant value. If democracy is a dream, it's the one dream this country will never wake up from.

    The future is free.

    Thanks you all for the support. '

  • by Granos ( 746051 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @07:37AM (#9471808)
    Microsoft's complaint claims that this is "an excess in freedom of speech and freedom of thought, by means of the dissemination of information."

    Holy context Batman. I love how the submitter is so blatantly trying to get everyone riled up with that quote (oh no, thought crime!), when in fact that quote is actually just a direct translation of Article 12 of the Brazilian Press Law. (Microsoft is directly quoting the law when they use it in the complaint).
    • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @09:13AM (#9472113)
      I love how the submitter is so blatantly trying to get everyone riled up with that quote (oh no, thought crime!), when in fact that quote is actually just a direct translation of Article 12 of the Brazilian Press Law.

      So, the fact that brazilian law has written into it the notion of thought crimes means Microsoft's attempt to apply the definition of thought crime to its critics in a court of law an effort to declare their critics' spoken thoughts crimes doesn't represent Microsoft's stance on the issue?

      Come on, spare us the Microsoft spin. Those who exploit and enforce unjust laws are no less unjust or evil themselves simply because the law itself exists and is on the books. Just ask anyone who spent the time as the wrong ethnicity at the wrong time in Iran, Iraq, Cambodia, Serbia, Spain, France, Germany, the United States, or several dozen other places.

      The filing is in fact very revealing of Microsoft's mentality on the matter ... were it not, they never would have filed the case in the manner in which they did. Their quotation of that particularly noxious clause in the law underscores their take on their critic's criticisms.
      • Brazilian law defines the existence of thought crimes (probably dating back to the military junta there).
      • Microsoft wants any criticism of its cartel-like behavior and marketing strategies to be branded a thought crime under Brazilian law.

      This, irrespective of the truth of the assertions being made, that their ploy does indeed bear remarkable similiarity to the marketing methods of the drug cartels.
  • Drug dealers are going to sue Sergio Amadeu for defamation.
  • by dyfet ( 154716 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @07:55AM (#9471862) Homepage
    They clearly sued the wrong person over publishing an article comparing their business practices to drug dealers since after all, we have this prior statement published in the July 20th 1998 edition of Fortune "Although about three million computers get sold every year in China, people don't pay for the software. Someday they will, though. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll someday figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade." from Mr. Gates.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 19, 2004 @08:09AM (#9471898)
    Can't wait for the drug dealer association to sue him for defamation for comparing them with Micosoft ;)
  • by poohsuntzu ( 753886 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @08:10AM (#9471899) Homepage
    Correct me if I am wrong, but a few years ago Bill stepped down as CEO and became a top chairman of Microsoft? Of course he still has plenty of sway in it, but I distincly remember service and Public Relations taking a downhill fall not long after this happened.

    I guess what I am trying to say, is has anyone else noticed this as well? After the CEO switch Microsoft decided to start dumping on its customers and users in a way previously unheard of in the software industry. With Microsoft allegedly funding SCO and now this, it makes me wonder what is going on behind the curtains of Microsoft. Bill was a cool guy on a personal level. A great coder, even if he has some sneaky buisness practices. But I could never -ever- see him stooping the these recent lows.
  • by zogger ( 617870 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @08:14AM (#9471915) Homepage Journal
    This is illegal in brazil? There's no difference between an analogy and a statement of (alleged) fact? Pretty strange methinks. So you can't have an opinion, even if it's based on data that can be verified, and use an analogy to describe your opinion. Seems like normal conversations might get a scosh weird then, how can you discuss various things there without going to court every other day?
  • by Matheus Villela ( 784960 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @08:15AM (#9471917)
    Here nearly everyone uses pirated copies of Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office in Home PCs.

    Microsoft complains with piracy to make us Windows dependent, the price of a OEM copy of Windows costs more than most of the people here uses to live for one month.

    For us doesn't make any sense to pay for a OEM copy witch we will not have assistance, and almost all "normal"(non-geek) will need to pay for assistance when a virus infect windows, most of them pays for geek neighbours to reinstall a copy of pirated windows when this happens.

    Of course in companies in Brazil most windows copies aren't pirated, this is the market they wants, companies and government computers.

    But i'm quite happy that now we have a law here that says that open source will be always the first choice in govern departments, this is making the Microsoft President of Brazil going crazy, all declarations i've seen from him sens desperate actions.

    I'm using Linux for 1 year, i still have winXP but for 8 months i didn't used it for more than 1 hour for week, i feel nice to stopped using pirated software, when people here understand that piracy isn't normal things will be better. Government actions to make Microsoft stop to learn our people to use pirated copies would be nice too.

    Sorry my bad english, aspell doesn't work for everything :(
  • Petition (Score:4, Informative)

    by lintux ( 125434 ) <slashdot@[ ]mer.gaast.net ['wil' in gap]> on Saturday June 19, 2004 @08:21AM (#9471933) Homepage
    There's Yet Another PetitionOnline [petitiononline.com] for this story.
  • wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShadowRage ( 678728 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @08:55AM (#9472064) Homepage Journal
    didnt know you could get sued for stating the obvious these days.

    or getting sued over pointing out the truth.

    wait, yes I did, that's right everyone sues someone else to hush them up or to ruin their life or to a little more cash here and there..

    the man in brazil is correct bout m$, they are like a drug dealer, they spread their product, and lock in customers, and stifle all competition and innovation using unfair and illegal methods.

    In this case, innovation could be compared to someone cleaning up a community, which would be a hazard for a drug dealer, so the drug dealer gets friends to kill who ever tries to make the area better and make it work for them again, so their business model isnt threatened,such as how manycompanies and linux try to make innovations and bette ralternatives to windows, microsoft goes at the mand makest he market hostile for them and plays unfair because they believe they shouldnt have competition.

    Unfair and illegal methods could be compared to dealer killing off anyone who sells another kind of drug, in "their territory" or those who dare offer a way for people to stop using a drug the dealer sells.
    (such as them using lies and propagnda, lawsuits, slander, copyrights, etc to attack linux and all opposing forces.)

    So the man is correct, and he could so use that in court, too bad he doesnt read /.
    but I imagine him and his attornies already thought of how to back that.
    But he is correct, and he pointed out ag ood anology that describes microsoft. and it pisses them off because it's going to threaten their dominance and status among another 3rd world nation that they want to con for all its worth.
  • by dcavanaugh ( 248349 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @09:49AM (#9472254) Homepage
    Amadeu wasn't rignt about their business practices.
  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @10:24AM (#9472386) Journal
    I wonder what would prompt MS to sue down there for what is a realtively tame statement considering their own slanderous statements and "studies"? If it is easier to sue against lies, perhaps the Linux community should consider doing a law suit against MS for many of their statements AND their studies. They would then have to prove it in court. I wonder how IDC/Gartner/etc would handle being sued as well?
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @10:57AM (#9472548) Homepage
    From Software Livre Brasil [softwarelivre.org], via Bablefish:
    • It gave in the Land: Microsoft clarifies asked for of explanation the director of the ITI

      Editoria: Governments
      18/Jun/2004 - 09:44

      The Microsoft emitted a note today where he clarifies the episode of the explanation order that the company made Sergio Amadeu of the Silveira, president of the National Institute of Technology of Information (ITI). In interview to the magazine Capital Letter in the March month, Amadeu said that the company used "tactics of the gratuitous dealers" when supplying softwares programs of digital inclusion, what it would be a way to accustom the users.

      The explanation order generated rumors of that the Microsoft would be processing managing of the ITI. It reads to follow the complete one of the note of the Microsoft, signed for Rinaldo Zangirolami, General Director of Legal and Corporative Subjects of the Microsoft Brazil:

      Note of clarification

      "we are not processing nobody, and the order of explanations is not related to a personal question.

      The Microsoft continues engaged with a respectful and opened dialogue with the government, customers and the industry to address the necessities of the Brazilian economy and the community.

      The Microsoft is present in the country has 14 years more than. Our commitment with the country is of long stated period. By means of ours 10,000 partners, 45,000 jobs are generated in Brazil and more than R$ 1 billion is collected in taxes annually.

      Rinaldo General Managing Zangirolami of Legal and Corporative Subjects Microsoft Brazil"

      Source: Land Computer science

    Now we need to hear what Amadeu has to say.
  • Muzzles (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Ape With No Name ( 213531 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @11:13AM (#9472647) Homepage
    Interesting that M$ would use the laws of a country that allows politicos to bring charges to muzzle dissent. A lot of Americans thing Brazil is some sort of paradise. It is a nightmare of despair wrought by American neoconservative-backed strongarm politics. Yeah, you can check out the hot pussy in Rio, but you should see a favela.
  • by D4C5CE ( 578304 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @01:18PM (#9473316)
    Astounding how such news breaks on this very day that marks the anniversary of a historic event [abcgallery.com] when another country in a nearby place in Latin America tried to show how imperialism often backfires (even quite literally) on its proponents.
    No one would wish for Brazilian politicians to resort to firing squads (where an army of penguins -and lawyers- [tipatat.com] will do), but this strange coincidence should serve as a surefire warning for emperors [cc.jyu.fi] of any kind not to defy their companies' destiny by forcing products and business models down someone's throat where entire countries reject them:
    "You're not welcome here" is a message loud and clear...
  • by Zhe Mappel ( 607548 ) on Saturday June 19, 2004 @04:31PM (#9474365)
    Few would disagree that Microsoft's bullying should be dealt with severely by world governments. Until now, Microsoft's luxury of operating outside the free market--enjoying the teflon-coated privileges that accrue to a hyper-monopoly--has stymied international hopes of restoring capitalist fundamentals to the information sector.

    One potential answer, as China and others are pursuing, is complete dissociation from Windows software. Even so, that process is hindered by Microsoft's wanton economic power, and, as the case of Amadeu today points up, breaking up is hard to do when one is stalked by a jilted billionaire.

    No: the answer is obvious. Nations seeking freedom from Microsoft should classify it as an enemy combatant.

    Let us not be heard to use the "T" word; there's no need for exaggerration. As a monopolist enjoying state sanction, Microsoft is closer in its modus operandi to the closed-market model of communism than to the religious and ethnically-motivated jarring violence of terrorism. Its goal is not destabilization but the reverse: entrenchment of its interests at the expense of society and governments. Whereas terrorists seek to spread panic and fear, Microsoft seeks to retrofit the old Soviet model to the 21st century, attaching the suction pods of hopelessness and stasis through total, umbilical dependence. In that sense it and terrorism both contravene the striving, evolutionary essence of capitalism. Both raise their middle finger at freedom.

    Declaring Microsoft an enemy combatant would have multiple benefits. As a baseline, the corporation would be stripped of all legal rights, including manufacture, distribution, marketing and, of course, speech, assembly, and due process. Economic gains would be realized swiftly through massive competitive opportunities, while under-capitalized island resort real estate markets would rapidly absorb displaced Microsoft millionaires; certain senior Microsoft executives might need to be sheltered for a certain period at Guantanamo Bay, but only as a preventative courtesy.

    As Americans have learned since 2000 in our exciting transformation into a post-democratic society, rights are a matter of perspective: they begin and end arbitrarily, entirely subject to the whim of leaders. Why should the nations of the world, arrayed against Microsoft in what could be called the War on Error, any longer suffer Redmond to dictate the cost, performance or security of their information systems? Why remain under the thumb when all that is required is a shift in semantic nomenclature?

    Amadeu, meanwhile, should be given the Nobel Peace Prize.

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