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theos.com Dispute Ended 135

philc writes "The dispute over the theos.com domain appears to have ended...happily, for Mr. De Raadt.". Look down the page for the term slashdot.org. Update: 03/27 02:16 by S : In related news, UM_Maverick writes "Illiad over at User Friendly says that he received a certified letter confirming that the threats from the "death star" are authentic. He has been advised not to reveal details yet, though... "
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theos.com Dispute Ended

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  • by vpp ( 14878 )
    good to see the suits not winning for a change. Unless a person brought the name just to make money off a copmany then its his/hers, the sooner the suits get used to it the better.
  • this is truely an amazing feat that could ONLY have been accomplished with the community uniting as one, finally the people are running things the way the people want to run things. there's something really philosophical and true to meaning that's to be said but for the likes of me I can't think of anything to say...

    Although, aren't crashing servers, voice mail systems going down, and people receiving threats perhaps a little too harsh?!??!

    The dispute it over, but how it got there is pretty frightening..


  • Thats something thats kind of been bothering me.

    While I'll agree its not nice what Theos software was trying to do, is it really ethical to unleash a slashdot effect over it?
    I mean such a thing can cause down time, possibly totally fsck up a system and many people think its a good thing.

    hmm, wonder if its possible to sue someone for cause a /. to happen...

  • by DrBoom ( 243523 ) on Friday March 26, 1999 @07:18PM (#1960527) Homepage
    This is yet another example of the old rule from the original Dungeons & Dragons: The Angry Villager Rule, which was no doubt inspired by the Frankenstein monster's demise at the hands of a mob of P.O.'d serfs. "Global Village" is a much-abused buzzphrase/metaphor, but we are beginning to see the truth in it. How does this relate to D&D? Under the rule it didn't matter how powerful your characters were, the villagers always win.

    /. is certainly a village, and plenty of its residents are definitely angry. The fate of nations could hang on how Rob chooses to use such awesome power....

    (Congratulations to Theo de Raadt, btw; I for one was happy to help pound that Web server into oblivion.)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is simply the internet acting as an organism
    to defend itself. This is a very healthy reaction.

    This is good.
  • I totally agree with the last post...
    if the bastards want to skrew with people they better have the server to back it up. =P~

    I'm really glad of this turn out, i use OpenBSD and wouldnt want some scummy corperation messing with it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm glad to see a company listening to the masses, although I was surprised to them give up so easily. I checked the US Patent Office's database [uspto.gov] and Theos Software filed for the trademark on the word 'THEOS' way back in 1987, and given that recent ruling on the umbro.com name dispute, they probably would have had a solid legal case to take that domain name.
  • I for one sent emails to the effect of "You are wrong and here's why". That's the sort of thing that tells them they're making a mistake.

    Sending threats makes us no better than them.
  • I always scratch my head and wonder after an election "Did that vote *really* matter?"

    For Theo I voted with pine.
    I mailed the CEO my 2-Bytes (called him silly)
    and I'm not left scratching my head this time.
    I think I underestimated the number of ./'ers.

    Theo sounds like a cool guy and I'm glad he can
    keep his domain.

    I would NOT have mailed the software company in
    order to be a part of it's recent temporary difficulties. (There's a sys-admin there pulling
    his hair out right now 4 sure!)
  • by mcdade ( 89483 )
    This is so true. It's about time that people who built the internet and truely contribute get a fair deal. Those of us who were around and using it almost a decade ago have seen the changes, suits trying to take over domain names, cybersquaters, companies thinking they own it and vice-presidents thinking they built it. What gives them any right? The sad part is the only person/people who prosper are these law firms taking money to battle those bad internet people :) sad.. bout time we all banded together and showed them who really controls the networks
  • Posted by robho:

    It is nice to see this - very nice.
    The 'net, and /. are both very powerful entities.
  • Probably harsher than could be desired, but at least the voicemail thing was probably just unanticipated load, and likely the mail/web downage also. A consequence, in part, of the amount of attention (and derision) you draw in such a case.

    That said, it's entirely possible that those so inclined will attack servers belonging to those who bring offense (the hacker luggage thing of late comes to mind). Perhaps a consequence of public exposure, but not a matter of liability except that between the crasher and crashee.

    Recalling previous allegations of "threats," Theos Software's attorney may have been sensationalizing for effect -- to a corporate attorney, the prospect of a boycott or negative publicity is a "threat," whereas it doesn't seem so to most of the rest of us. "Drop this stupid litigation or no one I influence will ever buy your multi-user OS again" is the sort of thing I could entirely condone (and have done, though not on this matter).

    The thing I liked about this dispute was that a corporation was held publicly accountable for its behavior, and was defeated on those grounds. That happens far too little in the US, where corporate power pretty much drives things.

    (did the os/server environment used by theos-software ever come to light, BTW?)

  • by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <bruce@perens.com> on Friday March 26, 1999 @07:41PM (#1960538) Homepage Journal
    People, overwhelming them with polite protest is fine. Threats and attacks on their systems are out of bounds. Not that I know that system attacks or threats actually happened, but if I found out about that, I'd be the first to call the cops.


    Bruce Perens

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yes they might have had a solid legal case, and that is why they have tried what they did in the first place. However they would have created so much bad blood amount the community they are trying to target with their product, that it wouldn't have been worth it to them, because they would have tarnished their reputation, and would have to spend yera to gain goodwill, which they might garnish by simply not pursuing it any further.

    One other thing is that according to trademark law you loose your trademark if you do not defend it against misuse, and waiting three years to take any action would have qualified as such, and the judge could then strip the trademark completely, because it wasn't defended properly (ie. the company had not expended any efford to defend it.) so they might have purely on pragmatic grounds not to risk it, since by not pursuing the matter they didn't give anyone to make this kind of an ruling. (Sometimes leaving things be is better, then fighting them, especially if the risk of loosing, and the punishment in such case could be that damaging.) I have pointed this in my e-mail to them as I am sure did lot of other people knowlegeable of trademark law, so they just took the suggestions and ran with them....if they managed to get them before the mail server went down, but since I didn't get the mail back I assume it got through in time. :>>--
  • by slew ( 2918 ) on Friday March 26, 1999 @07:44PM (#1960540)
    Although I'm only speculating, I imagine that the law firm involved sort-of figured that they were
    representing a "big-company" and that they would have no trouble using standard "lawyer-talk" to
    intimidate someone to get their way.

    Ironically, /.-ers sort-of figured that they were representing a "bigger-entity" and they would have
    no trouble using the /. effect to intimidate someone to get their way.

    Although the /.-ers got their way, if this happens often enough, you know what they will say...

    "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely"

    This is analogous to the investigative reporters on TV. Someone buys a ford-pinto, it blows up.
    No-one seems to care, so this person calls an investigative reporter, who tries to get the
    story which is that there is a safety problem. Big television story and the safety problem with
    the ford-pinto is corrected.

    Now, there are 1000's of investigative reporters. Someone buys a suzuki-samarai, it tips over
    No-one seems to care, so this person calls and investigative reporter, who is too lazy to get
    the facts. Big television story, but the car doesn't tip over. So what, fake the tip-over
    for the camera, no-one will care right?
  • Although, aren't crashing servers, voice mail systems going down, and people receiving threats perhaps a little too harsh?!??!

    The dispute it over, but how it got there is pretty frightening.

    The point is worth considering, but in this case I disagree.

    I have little sympathy for Theos Software. I believe their own bullying approach towards Mr. de Raadt was harsher than the treatment they received in return. They were thoroughly arrogant, unapologetically so. They sic'ed their lawyers on their less-powerful victim, and hoped that he would simply roll over and do whatever they asked, no matter how unreasonable. I would like to bankrupt anyone who acts this way, because they surely will again-- it's how they live their life.

    Big deal, they got a day of crashed servers. Nowhere near the stress Mr. de Raadt felt from the legal threat (if you've ever been threatened legally, you know what I mean). In simple tit-for-tat, they deserve more than what they got.

    I don't know what the "threats" were. Physical threats I'm against. But considering it's a lawyer talking, "threats" could be as simple as "I'm telling my friends never to buy Theos Software." The word "threats" by itself is too vague to put weight on, no matter how ominous it sounds.


  • Keep in mind that our community even if we have helped in this case which is wonderful and should not be downgraded we still have a lot to deal with. Rite now we still have the User Freindly/Segfault thing which is turning out to be real so far (still no name). There will undoubtedly be more of these David vs. Goliath type things coming up. We being David have not taken the same route as David throwing a small stone but instead we have taken a large rock and started to have it roll. We have now launch this boulder and launched it into the air and we are high on out egos and we need to make shore that we come back down before we fly over something. There may also be time when we hit something to big and there will need to be a backup plan.

    I like the idea that was posed earlier about a group of lawyers or something
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yes I have to agree poiting out their mistakes, and the repercussions of their continued folly, and a better way to deal with the situation is surely more effective then threats would be. I am fairly sure it was the volume of level headed mail from level headed people suggesting level headed solutions that got them to withdraw, and not the foolish, and childish threats, which would have been just ignored if it wasn't for the civil part. (However on the net flames, and threats seem unavoidable, and everything that gets anyones attention will inevitable result in few. And there isn't much we can do about that, except to write enough normal responses, so that these are lost in the volume, and perceived as the noise/static they are.) :>>--
  • 1000 emails? Wow.. I know I sent one.. but... that's amazing.

    Voice Mail..? The /. effect not only can take out web servers, but voice mail too?

    It seems like every domain dispute Rob sticks on slashdot, ends up being able to ke their domain name... I'm glad we use our power for good.. =)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Apparently more then a few slashdoters voted with their e-mail, and gave them their 2-bytes worth, and it was enough to change their mind. When I send the e-mail I didn't think about crashing any servers, but simply wanted to let them know what I think, and what should they do. I would be very disapointed if I spend ten minutes writting a letter only to serve as a load increaser on a server, because that simply would be a waste of time, and I am not for that. Besides they should have more robust mail server, and this would not have happened, only the adresse would be overwhellmed with a deluge of letters.

    This reminds me of the recent attempt to put into effect the attrocious privacy reducing banking rules called "know your customers", but the federal government was forced to change their plans, and retrack the rules, since they got deluged with hundreds of thousands of protesting e-mails before the comment period was even over, and they announced they will not be implementing them. (Of course they will try to slip them in a few years down the road, but by then we will know the power of e-mail, and we shall not let it happen...lets hope anyway.) These incidents clearly illustrate that in many ways e-mail is more influential then actual voting, because it is much easier, and immediate, and one doesn't have to wait for elections, and the perpetrator cannot hope to slip something by long before elections hoping that people will forget, because e-mail has immediate, and tangible results. :>>--
  • Bruce,

    I happen to agree, crashing someones system is well out of order. By order of numbers, the influence that Slashdot readers could pull would be more than enough to scare any company. 75 000 people saying "I will influence as many people as I can not to buy your software", is enough to scare any company. In the end all it took was a link to their site.

  • Ok, thats mail servers and web servers, now voice mail servers... whats next?

    How about we flood the post office and see if we can shut it down =P
  • What OS was theos-software.com running? It's down right now so queso can't tell. :)
  • Obviously these lawyers don't know anything about the hacker culture. To think Theo would just sign those papers and hand over the domain without making an issue about it is naieve.
  • I would not consider "I'm not going to do business with you" a threat.

    Consider my posting "preventative maintainance" - I have absolutely no evidence that anything untoward happened, but I want people to know how I feel for next time.



  • Makes you wonder what'll happen in the next year and half with the presidential election...

    I can see it now, the winner making his thanks speech, "I'd like to thank God, my family, and Slashdot for their overwhelming support..."
  • Nathan,

    I have to make my feelings clear for next time. If my influence may keep someone from being hurt in the future, I must use it.



  • Most of the USPS will be unharmed because the system is run like a beowulf cluster. Little post offices all over the country collect a very small amount of mail destined for some lawyer/company's office. Not until it all arrives at the post office of the lawyer/company would it get bogged down. Even then, how much would 75,000 envelopes weigh? The could probably fit in a mail truck or two. So it's not like they're bogged down to the point of collapsing.

    On the other hand, I could see the post master general on another stamp hike, "Due to the proliferation of companies demanding domains from individuals, and Slashdot.org, we will not have to increase postage rates for the next 10 years."
  • by jcostom ( 14735 ) on Friday March 26, 1999 @09:18PM (#1960565) Homepage
    It's certainly good to see this come to pass. Good for Theo! Recently, several valid domain names have come under pressure, due to similarities to companies. I'm thinking of Tony Sanders recent dispute with a shoe company called Mondial. Tony is a nice guy who works at BSDI, and for a long time hosted the high-volume inet-access mailing list on his domain, earth.com. Mondial somehow was awared a trademark for selling shoes with the name "Earth". They decided to try to steal Tony's domain.

    Also, consider Chris Van Allen's site [pokey.org]. Chris is the young son of Dave Van Allen, who runs a Philadelphia area ISP. The kid's been called "pokey" since birth. The Prema Toy company, of "Gumby and Pokey" fame tried to swipe his comain name as well.

    Now add Theo to the pile of stories. I'm glad to say that in all three cases, the bastards didn't win, and good prevailed. Perhaps this is part of a new trend that will serve to better teach companies how to get along on the 'net.

  • PalmStation [palmstation.com] recently got a few e-mails and a letter from 3com, similar to this, about using the word "Palm". Apparently, it's very misguided by 3com, but no matter which company is trying to pull what, it's protected, either by federal laws, the Consitutional Ammendments, court rulings, or internal rules and regulations.


  • I think what this comes down to is just a smallish software company, probably running software/hardware designed for small loads, running into an unseen problem. I do not have any privileged knowledge about what exactly brought that poor sysadmin's servers down, but I suspect it was just several thousand thinking netizens wanting to help. More than likely, the threats were isolated, and not the thrust of the whole. I agree with Theo. This is a victory to savor for all the people that want to believe that you can make a difference. You can. :-)
  • In my opinion, I think it depends on whether the server/voice mail crashed under the load or if someone deliberately crashed it. If it crashed under the load, that's their problem. It just proves how many people are behind Theo's cause. I think it would be wrong to crash it deliberately as that will associate something negative with slashdot readers.
  • They're both followups to the same story...
  • to use the slashdot effect as a means of intimidation and blackmail is a Bad Thing. its the stuff of Union Thugs.

    it should be noted that internet-mediated rage never happens to speculators who camp on 1000s of domain names in hopes of selling out to a megacorporation or a politician.

    it might be more neighborly for inflammatory events to be hotlinked to a "this situation sucks" site that would be configured to withstand slashdotting.

    this would let all the polite, "you're silly" emails to CEOs and "you suck" emails to lawyers to be compiled and submitted to the guilty parties without becoming a denial of service attack and bringing down their servers. it could be accompanied with a nice cover letter explaining the facts of life, internet-PR-wise.

    but it sure feels good to hear about the angry villagers taking down intimidating pond-scum.
  • From the sounds of it, this is a large hi-tech company that's suing them (who else do Segfault and UF paraody? ;-). That being he case, it's a given that lots of their employees read one or both. Now, given that most tech workers have the freedom to choose where they work, how many people do you think will want to leave said company once they realize what it's been doing? I mean, would you want to work for a company that was so uncool?
  • There's only two entities that have ever been called the "Evil Empire" and one of them broke up into several republics in the early 90's.
  • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Friday March 26, 1999 @09:49PM (#1960576) Homepage
    I'm so pissed off right now I can't even concentrate on this paper I'm supposed to be writing. Sure, it's not due 'till Monday, but it's got to be thirty frickin' pages long and I'm on (checking) page 2.

    Illiad: Have those [deleted] mother[deleters] bring it on. Nobody messes with User Friendly; it's too damn keen. We'll see how seriously the /. effect can take down a voicemail/email system when a really popular site is threatened...

    Seriously though, this sounds pretty MS. It's a little known fact that the "Gates-Borg" icon that Rob uses for MS stories is actually from a T-shirt that some guy in CA put together and was forced to stop making after threats from MS's lawyers. It's a clear-cut case of parody, but they know they can bully them around because most people can't afford the lawyers. I hate corporations with money to burn.

    Is there a way to countersue against frivelous lawsuits such as this one and come away with punitive damages? If so, I'd like to see how a jury decides to punish a company that has $20 billion in cash on-hand....


  • You don't sue a white blood cell for attacking a virus. IMHO this is the same thing. They invade our territory and we fight back in anyway we can. If they are going to pull a stupid stunt like this they better be prepared for the lashing they will take. If they truely believe in their cause they will continue w/ their actions, if not they will end their attacks. These type of people should be treated for the viruses that they are. I say FIGHT ON SLASHDOT IMMUE SYSTEM!!!

    (I'm running on about 30 seconds of sleep w/ a nasty cold)
  • Who'd notice?
  • Posted by Wayne Steele:

    User Friendly, Seg Fault, and Be Dope all got the same letter. Picking on Microsoft is the primary thing in common between all three sites.
  • The Internet has really reached a sad state of affairs when larg companies and their ilk (who were on the fringes of the e-community only a few years ago) are now pushing the buttons and pulling the strings. Image that /. had not been involved in this case; would the dispute have been resolved in this way? It's likely that, after considering the expense and hassle of battling Theos Software, Theo would have simply relented. Of course, I'm happy that he didn't (in the several days of the dispute), but worry that 'little people' have become involved in similar situations hundreds of times in the past few years and experience not-so-successful results.
    The villagers did, in this case, knock the enemy on its ass, but this may be the exception. We need an entity more thoughtful than NSI to quickly and effectively resolve these disputes. NSI wasn't bad when .com was still shiny and new, but we need soething new. Now!

    --Andrew Grossman
  • I finally know now where the some of the comics on the door of the computer lab are from.

    Companies don't like bad press, but I don't see the harm in what he did. I have seen worse than those. I mean, there is a limit to what is a complaint. Comics strips are supposed to make fun of stuff. That is the nature of a joke. Dilbert makes fun of management, Calvin and Hobbes was about a strange childhood.

    This must have prior decisions, and those will probably guide what happens to User Friendly. If he has made fun of everyone equally, then he should not have a problem. Of course, you never know. If it is Microsoft, he could bring a suit against them for misleading the public in their publications. Just a mean thought.
  • Actually I don't think that they would have had a legal leg to stand on. The way I understand trademark law is that if a trademark conflicts with your name that trademark doesn't apply to you. Ie. a company could trademark the word "matt" but I could still use it in any way I wished. Theo is de Raadt's name, theos is a very obvious extention of his name (theo's), therefor trademark law does not apply. If anyone has any legal knowledge and would like to confirm what I said (or point out that I'm an idiot) please do.
  • One or two might leave over it, but only because they're already sick of the lack of sunlight in Seattle. MS is the biggest game in town over there, and it's a fairly cushy gig if you're not a permatemp. Nice offices, lots of toys and treats.

    Nice sentiment, tho.
  • by Robert S Gormley ( 24559 ) <robert@seabreeze.asn.au> on Friday March 26, 1999 @10:42PM (#1960588) Homepage
    This is absolutely pathetic. Some people here seem to be gloating over the fact that they are damaging other people's property. "Woohoo, how bout we slashdot these babies!"? Childish and immature are the two words that come to mind. Those who use IRC here complain about the 'good ol days' where there wasn't packetmonkeys / scriptkiddies to worry about constantly, and how immature they are to DoS a server for their own ends. But those same people seem to have no compunctions in doing it if it suits their cause.

    Like it or not, it's a business world, and businesses are always going to be in dispute. That does not mean that people go out and deliberately attack servers, employees (voicemail etc) because they don't believe in something. The elitist, arrogant responses here only go to prove that point. "You're in my world now", "It's biology baby, we're gonna fight to keep you out" is the most appalling attitude I have ever heard. The `net isn't a community for those who think that they are somehow more elite powerful, on useless benchmarks such as "I was here a long time ago, play the way I do" etc etc.

    I don't know that it'd be possible to sue slashdot, but there is such thing as incitement. I have absolutely no doubt, much as I *hate* to say it that some people did threaten/carry out on attacking servers maliciously, and yet others emailed their opinions. The attitude that "Well, they better have their mail servers ready if they're going to pull this kind of stunt" is not valid. What are some people smoking?

    For the record, I don't agree with what they did. But they did go about it reasonably the right way - I do remember a case of one large company (possibly MS, but not definitively) actually trying to submit domain-cancel forms on 'behalf' of a domain they didn't like, much to the owners surprise, when he got an automated email from InterNIC asking him to 'confirm his submission to cancel his domain'.

    The point is, this is not our domain. Others have *AS MUCH* right to use it as we. Live with it, and don't act like playground bullies if you don't like things.

  • -------
    This is analogous to the investigative reporters on TV. Someone buys a ford-pinto, it blows up.
    No-one seems to care, so this person calls an investigative reporter, who tries to get the
    story which is that there is a safety problem. Big television story and the safety problem with
    the ford-pinto is corrected.

    Just a minor point re: the pintos...
    As I understand it, two separate accidents involving the Pinto happened in rapid succession in the Elkhart, IN area. Ford acts like nothing major was wrong. Elkhart attorney Mike Cosentino files suit against Ford on behalf of victims... and launches a rather long career based on that one lawsuit.

    A better example of investigative reporters screwing things up would be the DC-10 falling engine incidents. Wonderful airplane, unfortunate reputation.

    The most publicized case of Falling Engine syndrome was later traced to maintenance crews taking shortcuts in reattaching the engine...
  • I never realise he was a commercial, for profit entity. If it's his personal domain, shouldn't it be something else?
  • I remember a huge barrage of flame when people were being told by NSI to register .net and .org as well as .com - howls of protest, "but but but, they're not!"

    "They can't do that!" but yet, last I checked Theos was a singular person, Theos software a commercial entity, now who has more right to a .COMmercial domain?

    Hypocrisy here is stunning, sometimes.

  • by dria ( 9758 ) on Friday March 26, 1999 @11:02PM (#1960592)
    The problem is, I think, that what we affectionately refer to as "the slashdot effect" can actually be interpreted as a denial of service attack by those who aren't prepared for it.

    I wholly agree that threats and intentional damage/attacks are absolutely out of bounds, and I think that the vast majority of slashdotters out there also agree. We, as a community, whether we like it or not, are coming under much closer scrutiny than ever before. The more exposure Linux and the OSS/FSF movement get in the media, the more people are going to be wandering in trying to find out what's going on.

    What's going on is us. This whole thing that has been created isn't just about software. The Free/Open Source software movement isn't just about technology and innovation: this is a social movement that encompasses the realms of philosophy, politics, society, technology, the 'new media', and economics.

    "Outsiders" are slowly (so slowly) starting to get over their terror of "those darned hackers" and the techonologies we know and love. They are beginning (much more quickly) to be exposed to the whacky wonderful unexpected strangeness that is the OSS/FSF movement.

    (I do have a point...gimme a sec)

    My point is this: the more popular Linux becomes, the more accomodating we're going to have to be to outsiders. The poor guys at the other end of this slashdot effect probably have no clue that the sudden spikes in traffic weren't based in the malicious intent of a bunch of "hackers" (incorrect usage of the word here, of course).

    What we see as a sort of funny tendency for slashdot traffic to overload and crash servers, others are going to see as a malicious computer attack by an uncountable number of crackers.

    I don't know what we can do about this. Probably nothing. People will continue to have their sites linked to from slashdot, and people will continue to experience the sudden and disconcerting results of the slashdot effect.

    But...to offset these effects, maybe we should start trying to be a little less confrontational in other ways. Now, I'm not saying that we should ease up on our critiques of various Large Corporations, but if it's just a little guy who doesn't really know any better...maybe we should cut him/her a bit of slack to start.

    The OSS movement isn't the small little grassroots movement it was a couple of years ago. It has become rather a tidal wave, really...a tidal wave of people with a stunning amount of enthusiasm and passion. We're not the littlest of the little guys anymore, and as a community we should start to think quite seriously about the overall impact that this community has "out there". Not just in the "we're finally starting to win" sense, but also in the "are we doing harm to others?" sense and whether that harm is acceptable, be it intentional or not.

    Erm...or mebbe I'm just full of hot air :) It's late, it's Friday, and I've had way too much caffeine.

    - deb
  • Not that we don't all know it's M$
  • If a whole bunch of people each individually mail or phone one polite and sincere protest, that is their right. Yes, the volume alone may be enough to make someone's life difficult, but that is the risk they run. Protests are supposed to be in your face. Indirect methods are not effective.

    However, if I said or meant "everybody write them an email to bring down their server", that would be wrong.



  • If it is MS, I just can't fathom the stupidity of this stunt. Even if you only have three functioning brain cells, that's two more than you'll need to figure out that this is a rather dumb thing to do. I can't see how news of MS getting uptight and suing people for saying naughty things about MS, is good PR. Especially now.

    I guess that MS has finally decided to write off the ABB crowd (anything but Bill), because no way in heck they can possibly think that this development will win them converts over from the other side.

    NEWS FLASH - White House lawyers have confirmed recent rumors that President Clinton has filed a defamation lawsuit against the producers of the "Mad-TV" TV show, and actor Wil Sasso. The lawsuit claims that the show has made numerous slanderous comments about Mr. Clinton, repeatedly hinting that Mr. Clinton is a sex-starved womanizer who regularly cheats on his wife.

    In related news, there are unsubstantiated rumors about the Cat Lovers of America and the World Society (CLAWS) getting ready to file their own defamation lawsuit against the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film company, claiming MGM has unfairly maligned the feline species in their "Tom And Jerry" cartoons. A CLAWS spokesman declined to comment on the rumor.

  • by jsm ( 5728 ) <james@jmarshall.com> on Friday March 26, 1999 @11:47PM (#1960598) Homepage
    I disagree with many, many points in this post. A sampling:

    Like it or not, it's a business world.

    Not everything in this world is about business (e.g. the Internet, pre-1995). I don't value businesses much at all, and I wish they'd stop trying to control my world. We don't need 'em as much as they think. Same with litigious people.

    "It's biology baby, we're gonna fight to keep you out" is the most appalling attitude I have ever heard.

    I actually think the analogy of an organism defending itself is very accurate and insightful. The Internet has grown because of a certain culture and set of values, since long before it was ever commercial. It only got as far as it did because of this culture and set of values, which is now responding to an invading force that would cause problems if left unchecked. It's not the people we're keeping out, it's the attitude.

    Old-timers are very welcoming to newcomers, but the newcomers have got to understand how not to screw things up. They need to respect what's been there before-- by this I mean respect for the ecosystem, not respect for their elders. If not, the ecosystem will break as surely as our real-world ecosystem is breaking. Old-timers know how the system holds together, and are worth listening to.

    I don't agree with what they did. But they did go about it reasonably the right way...

    I completely disagree with this. I have a hard time seeing how you can think there was anything "right" about it. They were about as hostile as can be. And talk about arrogant! As Mr. de Raadt says, if they had asked nicely up front, he would have gladly given them a link on his front page. But they didn't even give diplomacy a chance, they came out with guns firing.

    Others have *AS MUCH* right to use it as we. Live with it, and don't act like playground bullies if you don't like things.

    This is the crux of our argument. We have as much right to use it as they do. And Mr. de Raadt had the domain name first. Theos Software was the one acting like the bully, thinking they could get away with it. All we did was make them stop beating up on Mr. de Raadt. They caused him a lot more problems than we caused them.


  • Some people here seem to be gloating over the fact that they are damaging other people's property. "Woohoo, how bout we slashdot these babies!"?

    Uh, sir? Causing an a computer system to fail under load doesn't actually damage it. If a crash were damage to property, Netscape Communicator would be illegal, now, wouldn't it?

    Let's not get hysterical.

  • Isn't crashing a server over [simplified] differing views, the "people's" version of a kneejerk lawsuit?

    Do the "people" have to resort to gut-level reactions MBAs are so adept at?

    Just wondering.

  • But they *aren't* misleading the public. They're leading the public in the right direction!
  • I couldn't resist. Anyhow, it seems that the best protection for a domain name is to go out there and get a patent. I wish I would take my own advice... I have a domain name that is very 'intuitive' that somebody would like to steal one day... but I've had it since '95. :)
  • At first it looked like only the long rants got high scores, but I'm glad short and sweet comments like this get high ones too.
  • Interesting ports on zeus.theos.com (
    Port State Protocol Service
    25 open tcp smtp
    53 open tcp domain
    80 open tcp http
    113 open tcp auth
    2049 filtered tcp nfs

    TCP Sequence Prediction: Class=random positive increments
    Difficulty=26484 (Worthy challenge)
    No OS matches for host (see http://www.insecure.org/cgi-bin/nmap-submit.cgi).

    Translation: It doesn't know.
  • I missed that one since I was giving my talk in a different session at the same time. Oh well.
  • I wasn't paying attention, and I posted a reply to the wrong story. Sorry folks...
  • RE: Big corporation "You-Know-Who" takes legal against UserFriendly (a comic strip no less!)

    What needs to be created is a legal fund for those people who are being harrassed and intimidated by lawyers armed with the endless amount of money supplied by big corporations.

    Slashdot readers and the rest of the Internet community should unite against this clear and present danger to our right to free speech.

    Who else is willing to contribute?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You can bet that it was his lawyers advice, and even though it is completely ridiculous it sometimes pays to follow your lawyers advice, even though sometimes it such a transparent BS, that it can be ignored. I would venture that they will first try to get a retraction or something, so the lawyer doesn't want to antagonize them. If they got some bad publicity because of it they might feel the need to go ahead as a vindication for it. This is a completely useless ploy, since we all know who it is behind it. Wink, wink. So we should just wait and see, and if it becomes necessary mount a campaing like the one for theos.com. We shouldn't let the get away with anything that is for sure. :>>--

    BTW sorry for a spelling error or two if they are present, but I keep sugesting that rob implements a spelling feature, so we do not have to discuss spelling since it is silly, and most are just typos made because the posts are written posthaste within a browser.
  • I'm an individual like Theo, and I have a .COM related to my name. I use it for a business I run all by myself. If Theo decided to reserve a domain for future business activities, he has as much right as an individual as would a business with 2 people, or 1000 people.

    "Perens", by the way, is latin for "Traveling". It's a pretty generic word. Yet, in my chutzpah I grabbed it all for myself, along with the .net and .org . Somehow, I can still sleep nights knowing that :-)


  • I would agree
  • Point noted in that regard.

    I should have a standard disclaimer about my methods for stimulating debate, should they get read as flame! ;-)

    Business, sure... if he were doing that, why not? But I just think sometimes people (in general, not just here) like to apply rules selectively. But that's everyone... including me! *g* :)

  • Okay, some points noted :)

    I'm generalising r.e. business, most things in the world revolve around money, and that makes most people act in certain ways.

    As for the organism analogy, fair enough :) I just disliked the 'gloat' attidude.

    There seem to be two schools of oldtimers... the ones who are willing to help... and those who mock.... :)

    As with the 'right way'... that is the way of business generally. I think they *approached* it the right way in some regards, but lost a lot of the human aspects, i.e. elementary human politeness. Ignoring all phone calls was rather immature of them.

    But anyway, standard disclaimer - I just like being controversial...I should note explicityly when my tongue is not even slightly in my cheek! :)

  • theos.com runs OpenBSD, like, duh.
  • Uh, sir? Causing an a computer system to fail under load doesn't actually damage it. If a crash were damage to property, Netscape Communicator would be illegal, now, wouldn't it?"

    Simple, I remember mocking Microsoft a few years ago for their explanation of WinNuke:

    "This attack does not do any actual damage to your data files. A reboot of the system will restore it to normal."

    Err, huh? :) What if it was an NT Server, without 500 users with open files. No damage? I think not.

    I think you can draw your own inference here.

  • San Diego Technical Books was selling the Bill/Borg T-shirts a year or two ago -- I had to have one! Great shirt, but most people don't know what the hell Bill is wearing. :)
  • I thought .org was for nonprofit organisations/entities, but NSI/InterNic seem to have forgot that rule, realising that companies are happy to register the other domains, and they are happy to pocket another $140(?) a year
  • cartoon. Feb 28,99. microwaving CDs. AOL makes an art form. NT crashed the microwave. I'm still laughing. (Microsoft does not appreciate unauthorized release of sensitive development information)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Theos.com says that before theos software contacted him the theos.com web site was EMPTY. (his own capitalization).

    Seems like asking for the domain was a perfectly reasonable thing for them to do.
  • It seems odd that theos-software.com crashed but theos.com didn't. I'd assume the two sites would get and equal number of visitors after the /. story.

    Does that mean people did more to theos-software.com than just browing the site. Hacking?

    On a related story, the UF thing seems a hoax designed to get UF some attention. I cannot see why they don't reveal who the threat came from.

  • Consider, John, that there are thousands of people reading these articles daily. If every one of them sent a message only once via email, the load on the servers would still be rather high. Do you really think that this was intentional DoS? /.ers have just as much of a right as any other to send email voicing their opinion, especially if the lawyers and the company provide a method for us to do that.
    How do stars who get tons of fan mail, or criminals who get tons of hate mail (before /., I mean snail mail) handle theirs? What makes Theos, Inc. any less responsible of their own mail system? One earns the mess they put themselves in. Do you expect people to hold back, not say anything, because the servers will crash? Certainly not--you can't shut people up like that.
    Just take a reality check before you criticize free speech.
  • to use the slashdot effect as a means of intimidation and blackmail is a Bad Thing.

    its the stuff of Union Thugs.

    Man, I gotta disagree most strongly here. Having some 75,000 angry geeks hammering on your email, web and voicemail servers is merely the online equivalent of a bunch of angry, vocal picketers on the public pavement outside your head office. Those servers have been opened to the public to give information and take feedback.

    Well they got their feedback. In spades!

  • Not necessarily.

    If you assume that the OS's used for www.theos.com and www.theos-software.com can handle equal loads (I don't know how THEOS and openbsd compare), you would expect a page like www.theos-software.com to crash the server more.

    If you didn't notice, the page on www.theos.com was a single page with no graphics, while www.theos-software.com was quite graphical. Theo's page may be able to handle hundreds of times more hits, all other things being equal.
  • Theos.com says that before theos software contacted him the theos.com web site was EMPTY. (his own capitalization).

    Seems like asking for the domain was a perfectly reasonable thing for them to do.

    But www.theos.com also says:

    Increasingly, the hosts in that domain have become more of an integral part of the OPENBSD project infrastructure.

    So maybe www.theos.com was unused, but other names are apparently being used. And Altavista has pages starting with http://www.theos.com/~deraadt/ dating back to last July anyway, so it wasn't totally unoccupied.

  • to tell the truth, i was rather disappointed. only a thousand? c'mon lurkers, be more active! i've heard around 30,000 people read slashdot on a regular basis - 1000 is only 1/30th.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    These references can explain what happened with the t-shirt upon
    which /.'s logo is based better than anything I could write up.

    Summary: Geek prints t-shirt. T-shirt is enormously popular.
    Lawyers representing famous Borg personality send threatening letter.
    Geek hasn't the financial wherewithal to fight them. No more T-shirt.


    The "Borg Gates" t-shirt! [yyz.com]
    Bill is Such a Bully [go.com]
    Australian Cybermalls News - February 1998 - Bully Billionaire Bops Borg-Boy [ausmall.com.au]

    As you might be able to tell, I researched this quite a bit at one
    time. Including email correspondence with the t-shirt's designer.
  • theo's a contractor to some degree i think. he gets some payments for porting openbsd, and generally seems rather entrepenurial. except spelled right.

    (hey rob, when're ya plugging in a spell checker? =-] )
  • #include
    (I'm not a lawyer but I play one on /.)

    If domains are property now this whole situations brings up a very interesting question. Many jurisdictions allow use of deadly force to defend your property. Now if someone is trying to hijack your domain name would you be able to use an internet equivalent of deadly force? Now I realise that this wouldn't apply here because Theos Software had lawyers and that, by some magic I will never understand, makes everything they do nice and legal. But what about if someone is trying to steal a domain name from you by some other method, say hacking your DNS server, or hacking InterNIC (with all the stuff that's been going on with them lately it wouldn't surprise me in the least), would you be able to "kill" them to defend your property. I really don't know what an internet version of death would be exactly, perhaps a crontab'd DoS or something else of that nature.

  • Posted by Bryan Lawson:

    Now if only the people could get rid of the government....
  • i can't seem to reply to the article? help?

    anyway, i just wanted to congratulate theo. it appears that in addition to openbsd kernel hacking, he can hack lawyers too.
  • The lawyers griped about this but little more. So, is posting letters (paper ones of email) without the other party stating an opinion beforehand,

    (1) Prohibited by law
    (2) Always in bad taste
    (3) Always explicitly permitted

    Same question, but if the letter/email already contains words to the effect that, "permission to reveal the contents of this letter/email to others is not given." Is publically posting the letter/email now

    (1) Prohibited by law
    (2) Always in bad taste
    (3) Always explicitly permitted

    The FCC, for example, prohibits you from divulging the contents of anything you might hear on a scanner (radio) without the parties' permission (bordcast and amateur radio excepted).
  • I'm a pretty regular reader of /., but I don't think I've ever seen anybody explicitly calling for folken to Slashdot a server.

    I think anybody thinking of a lawsuit over the Slashdot Effect would have a pretty difficult time proving that the Slashdot Effect was a coordinated effort on the part of any particular entity/organization. You can't sue an angry mob - just individuals who do unlawful things. Last time I checked, visiting a corporation's web page on the Internet was not unlawful - hell, it's why they put it there in the first place!

    Rather like (excuse the reference - they showed Star Trek 6 twice on Thursday) Capt. Kirk as captain being responsible for the actions of the members of his crew. If we were employees of a company or if we were servicemembers in a military unit, our employer/commanding officer might be held responsible. And I don't take orders from Rob! (After all, he sucks. :) )

    I agree with later posts. E-mails and visiting websites is not only a form of free speech; as such it's a valid form of protest. This doesn't mean that one person flooding a mailserver with thousands of spurious e-mails is OK - but thousands of individual users, each with a distinct opinion and reason, should be free to make reasonable efforts to communicate their displeasure to companies.

    We should not let the frailness of technology (ie, inability of mailservers to handle bazillions of emails) to hamper our rights to free speech. We're the masters here.

  • There were several issues, listed on theos.com, that would have shaken up their case. One of which is that if they bring this case to court they might lose there patent due to abandonment. I'm not sure if thats due to the 3 year span between him registering the domain and them filing a case against it, or other matters. Also it is out of field (he and theos software are not in the same corporate fields) since he has no field and theos software is obviously a software company..
  • Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that Illiad once mentioned on the User Friendly static page that a site mentioned in the UF Link of the Day had gone down due to the amount of traffic generated by the link.

    I have a friend with a well-visited site (no Slashdot or UF, but still getting about 80000 pageviews per week) who puts up links of the week. I've noticed that some of the sites she's listed have become "slashdotted" right after she puts the links up, but in a few hours the servers come right back up (in most cases.)

    Speaking of that, I noticed a mini-/. effect after my first post here. Just 300 more, but still-that's nice. I got the same effect after Yahoo fixed my link though.
  • There was an old Bloom County strip that made fun of the Death Star/AT&T connection. If you were a fan of Bloom County, you would know that many of the folks like to "play" Star Trek. IIRC, the strip talked about going against a big evil power in the universe. They bravely go forth until they see the enemy. "The Death Star!", which turned out to be the AT&T logo on a billboard.

    Breathed used to get sued a lot.

  • I knew right away after I read this article, and saw the position that theos-software was taking that they would not "win" here no matter how high-priced the lawyers. They could have asked me how to deal with the situation properly, like a normal human would have, I woulda told them, and It would have been better for all parties involved.

  • Check out the User Friendly Cartoon for Dec 13, 1998 [userfriendly.org] and you'll see the connection...

    Opinions are MINE, not my employer's -- Hedengren, in Finland.
  • If it is MS, I just can't fathom the stupidity of this stunt. Even if you only have three functioning brain cells, that's two more than you'll need to figure out that this is a rather dumb thing to do. I can't see how news of MS getting uptight and suing people for saying naughty things about MS, is good PR. Especially now.

    I guess that MS has finally decided to write off the ABB crowd (anything but Bill), because no way in heck they can possibly think that this development will win them converts over from the other side.

    Somehow I doubt it's us. If it is, I'll be very surprised.


  • Depends how it's done, I guess. It probably depends on whether it's an individual acting, or a company policy. (But of course, I'm no lawyer.)

    A boycott is not at all illegal, for example. (In fact, it's usually more effective than voting if you want to actually change the world.)
  • I'm guessing that the lawyer's suggestion was a gesture of non-aggressiveness. Illiad's lawyer probably figures that if this unnamed company stayed unnamed, the company's reputation would remain unscathed.

    It's similar to the oft-depicted hostage negotiation tactic of teling the armed man to "Just put the gun down."

    If Illiad had revealed the name to be, say, Microsoft, the Redmond's legal department would have, from a PR standpoint, less to gain from volunatrily ending their threats.

  • There are not enough or powerful enough words in any language on this planet that can describe the anger and hatred that I feel for this nameless company for thier attack on Illiad. If it is indeed the company (and I am hard pressed to think of who else it could be) then It's time has come to DIE. Time once was that I didn't want to see Microsoft die, or even be replaced by linux. I just wanted to see Linux compete with Windows in order to force Microsoft to improve thier product. Competition breeds innovation. Just look in the Linux community for proof. Admittidly the winner of "The Best GPL [Insert application type here]" award winner gets little more than bragging rights and the sensation of a job well done, but even that little reward breeds fierce competition and fiecer innovation. Now with all the @#$% that Microsoft has started, I just want it DEAD! I used to like Windows 95. When the Betas of it came out, we were impressed and thinking "Damn! This is the stuff". Now, I have to thank Billy boy for annoying me so much that I went looking for a better solution.
  • To be fair, I have only received these emails from other people, who have received them from 3com. I have received nothing directly from 3com ;)

  • Well, actually a domain name has more uses than to host web pages. Like FTP, Email, nntp &c &c
    Just because theres no web page DOES NOT mean the domain is unused.
  • You wouldn't happen to know the copyright status of the image, would you? If the author doesn't want to deal with the legal hassles maybe he could GPL it so that places like copyleft could distribute it if they wanted to. I might be interested in distributing it myself.
  • How soon 'til Rob's 35?

  • Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangster Of Love:

    Oh puh-leeze Bruce. That type of thinking is why the community is so fragmented now. This is the thinking of the slaves who would tell mas'a about the escape plans of the other slaves to curry favor.

    If we turn on each other over every little disagreement, the internet will be controlled by corporate CEOs and entertainment moguls instead of the hackers and techies who built it.


In English, every word can be verbed. Would that it were so in our programming languages.