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Censorship != Innovation

emmett posted more than 14 years ago | from the angry-young-man dept. 355

I've written a lot of stories for Slashdot, but until yesterday's Microsoft news, I've never been inspired to write an editorial. I wrote this for people who are coming to Slashdot for the first time from media outlets, but regular Slashdot readers and comment posters may enjoy it, as well. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Every time I see Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer on television, spouting the Microsoft party line about the 'freedom to innovate,' I can't help but think of Inigo Montoya in the movie the Princess Bride, saying "You keep using that word... I do not think it means what you think it means." It would be extremely easy to write an article on how most of Microsoft's innovation in the software industry is actually based on licensing issues and business models instead of technology. I won't be doing that this time.

My name is Emmett Plant. I write full-time for a website called Slashdot. I post news bits to the page throughout the day, and I also write features about interesting stuff. I tend not to editorialize, and I choose to show my bias in the stories I choose to write rather than to show bias in the reporting of news. An interesting thing about Slashdot is that we've got a system where people can comment on stories that we post or write. The most important thing about this system is that anyone can post a comment, either as a logged-in user, or as a user we call 'Anonymous Coward.' Based on how interesting the comments are, they get moderated to thresholds in the systems by logged-in users on a number scale system. So, while some really intelligent comment may go to a higher threshold, and a stupid comment may go to a lower threshold, the most important thing is that none of the comments ever get erased. If you're interested in reading everything that's been posted about a story, you can do so. The very basic idea is that if we don't impede on freedom of speech, a greater number of varying viewpoints can be expressed.

The system isn't perfect. We get trolls and miscreants tearing through the comments with comments about nude teenage movie stars, breakfast foods, and the scientific process of petrification. Based on the story, time of day, phase of the moon and the cost of tea in China, the signal-to-noise ratio in the comments fluctuates wildly. Still, we've created a system where intelligent people can say intelligent things in a free forum that tends to bring the cream to the top of the chaos.

Slashdot is viewed in the media as the place where the Open Source and Free Software communities meet and voice their opinions. This may be true, it may not. Nevertheless, we get a staggering amount of pageviews every day, and we're read by people all over the world at all hours of the day. Everyone who works on Slashdot is an Open Source enthusiast, so that bias is shown in the news we post and write everyday, but it doesn't stop there. If you go to a Star Trek convention, you'll find that most of the people there are Star Trek fans, but are also fans of The X-Files, Japanese animation, and computers in general. In the same vein, Slashdot readers are also interested in cutting-edge technology, digital content delivery, and the preservation of constitutional rights. In other words, we've got a lot to talk about, and we talk about it twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Some of our readers also meet online in IRC channels devoted to talking about Slashdot content on a number of different IRC networks.

Linux users are painted as the 'enemy' of Microsoft, although that's not necessarily the case. In my own experience, Linux users value freedom over bandwidth. For many people, Linux is an alternative to Microsoft's products not because of any vast performance difference, but because using Linux enables them to work in a world where their common system environment isn't controlled by a proprietary interest. While many Linux users take a vitriolic stance on Microsoft's monopolistic machinations in the industry, the argument really isn't a Microsoft vs. Linux issue. It's an issue of being able to choose a free and available development and operating platform over a closed-source, proprietary platform, and that means that Microsoft isn't the enemy. The biggest problem that Free Software enthusiasts need to overcome is the ideology and the processes behind the proprietary business model. Despite motions in the direction of the Open Source model, Sun Microsystems and Apple Computer are just as guilty as Microsoft in establishing a closed proprietary environment. Microsoft is just the most widespread 800-pound gorilla.

The problem with the proprietary software model is that it puts users and applications at odds with the interest that controls the common system environment, whether that platform is MacOS, Solaris, or Windows. This means that it will always be in the owner's best interest not to share it's best knowledge and research with the people writing software for the platform; Why should we let someone else make the money? We can do it ourselves. This is why Microsoft's 'Freedom to Innovate' campaign is hypocrisy at best, and the source of endless amusement in the Free Software community. Microsoft's finest innovations to date have been in their ruthless business dealings and monopolistic tendencies. Freedom to Innovate more money into their coffers, that is. The word 'innovation' used to have a pleasant, exciting connotation. It meant people were building things to make life better on this planet. Electricity. Running water. Solar-powered cars. Nanotechnology. Bulletin board systems that gave equal and free opportunity to everyone who wants to post, and a threshold system to bring the best posts to the top. You know, innovation. When smart people do smart things so everyone can benefit. That's 'innovation' in my book.

Yesterday, Andover.Net Editor-in-Chief Robin Miller posted a news bit to the front of Slashdot titled 'Microsoft Asks Slashdot To Remove Reader Comments.' Sit back and look at that title again. It makes Free Software champions and Open Source enthuasiasts see red, and it made this Slashdot Author seethe with intense anger. We offer an opportunity to give everyone in the world a chance to speak, and Microsoft wants us to pull reader comments off of our site, after Linux users and Open Source enthusiasts have been talking trash about Microsoft in our reader comments for that past two-and-a-half years. You bet. Microsoft is hoping to use a statement in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (which is now law) to stab back at Slashdot for a small number of postings about their Kerberos specification. You've got to be kidding me. Robin received the E-mail from the Microsoft attorney, and it was posted in its entirety, as well as Robin's response letter to Microsoft. When I left the the house yesterday morning, the story appeared to being well on its way to becoming the most popular Slashdot story of all time.

Where will we go from here? We'll wait. We've issued a letter back to Microsoft, and we're looking for ideas on how to deal with this in the best way possible. We're talking to lawyers, software gurus, business people, and Slashdot comment posters. We're talking to everyone. Please let us know what you think we should do.

People come to Slashdot and post on Slashdot because they know that Slashdot's comment system is the epitomy of the 'equal time' concept. They know we're Open Source zealots, and that we will never, ever back down. We're too smart for that. I'm hoping that Andover.Net takes this to court. Jeff 'Hemos' Bates told me that I would be flown to wherever the court case would take place. If I'm given the chance, I'll be on the stand, defending the rights of every Slashdot reader comment that has ever been moderated down, moderated up, stayed on topic, asked that I be fired, talked about my wife, or posted whatever was in their head at the time. It's a principle thing. Congress shall make no law.

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Keep the peace(es) (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1076502)

Emmett, thanks for your detailed post. Personally, I agree that M$ can go stew in their own juices. They have no one but themselves to blame for taking an open standard (Kerberos) and trying to turn it into another of their Pet Proprietary Protocols.

Hey! There it is! A new definition for PPP! ;-)

Those Magic Words (2)

waldoj (8229) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076503)

Emmett wrote:
They know we're Open Source zealots, and that we will never, ever back
down. We're too smart for that.

That's all I wanted to hear. You guys kick ass. :)


GOOD articles (1)

SMN (33356) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076504)

Yes - finally, a slashdot article with good _content_, not hype! Jon Katz could really use some lessons from this guy. . . and Emmet, write more editorials. And give your self a nice karma bonus, this is actually good stuff.

Missing the point (3)

qsi (131140) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076505)

I thought feature was rather unimpressive, and missing the point. Since it's aimed primarily at non-regular Slashdot readers, the title is likely to be incomprehensible to non-geeks. How many people know what != means?

As for the feature, it does not address Microsoft's claims of copyright infringement in any detail, but is rather a generic argument for the Open Source credo of free speech & beer. I don't think this approach is particularly effective in this context; new visitors to this site (I would imagine) are more likely to be interested in why slashdot (if it chooses to fight in court) thinks Microsoft's claims are unfounded. (I also thought the exposition of Open Source principles of freedom was a bit weak, but that's another thread...)

Given the law (DMCA) as it stands, it's more of a copyright issue than free speech. One might argue that the DMCA is wrong, immoral or unconstitutional, but it is on the basis of the DMCA that the court case will be fought, not high-minded priciples of free speech, unless you want to argue that the DMCA violates the First Amendment. In that case, the article should have made that point.

Be prepared to put our money where our mouths are. (2)

kenf (75431) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076506)

If this Micro$oft thing does go to court, things could get expensive. So lets start thinking Legal Defense Fund. Maybe this could work through FSF or ACLU. Or maybe it will have to be stand alone. But lets all start thinking about kicking in our pennies and dollars.

And keep up the good work /. and kick posterior!

Encore, encore! (2)

Loneaggie (148066) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076507)

Very nicely written! Emmet makes some wonderful, thought out, and well expressed points. You should write editorials more often, because, it appears you have a knack for them.

While this is a big Open Source issue, its also a big issue for everyone that isn't running M$'s OS. I'm a mac user and I realize that the closing and hiding of such protocols can totally prevent cross platform communication.

One of my favorite sayings: You can kick a dog til he does one of two things, 1) roll over and die, or 2) get up and take your leg off. M$ has been kicking a lot of smaller, all but helpless dogs, but I think this time that they've made a mistake and kicked one of the baddest pit bulls ever.....heck why stop at the leg.


Tough Call (5)

harvardian (140312) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076508)

I dunno, Emmett, I think this is a hard call. The reason I think it's a hard call is that I really think Microsoft has a legitimate claim that if they copyright something, and somehow it's on your site in violation of that copyright, somebody has to be responsible to take it down. I mean, if somebody were to post on /. the text to a copyrighted screenplay, for example, then wouldn't it seem reasonable for them to ask you to take it off of your servers? The whole point of copyright law is that information is _not_ open source, no matter how much you may want it to be, unless the person who came up with the information explicitly makes it available. That said, I think you have the weight of US copyright law against you, and I don't think anything is going to change that law. Information will just never be by nature free and open because part of our market is that if you come up with an idea, you shouldn't have that idea stolen from you and made profitable by somebody else. And something else. The Open Source community doesn't do what they do because they have the weight of law behind them. Open Soruce is a choice, not anything worked into our economy. I like the car analogy that I read a while back, that people choose Open Source not because it's better but because they want to have the option of having ANYbody with skills service what they've bought. Car makers don't keep as a secret the inner workings of their cars, so we have the freedom to take our car wherever we want to get it serviced. If a car maker came along who welded the hood shut and said only they can service your car, then nobody would buy it because it's a bad deal. Even if the car were much better than others available, the option of having your car serviced ANYwhere jumps the worth of the car to more than make up for the difference in quality. So don't try to get the force of law behind you, guys. You're simlpy cannot force Microsoft to play by Open Source rules just as much as Microsoft cannot force us to play by proprietary rules. Our market is set up so that people who want to make something proprietary CAN and can keep it that way with the force of law. The idea of open sourcing is simply another (albeit in our opinions better) marketing model. It has no force of law in its favor. So if we're going to beat Microsoft, we're going to have to do it on their terms. We're going to have to let them keep their proprietariness and STILL manage to beat them. Which we will. But don't try and bend the law in your favor in the dispute. By posting Kerberos to the web, their code lost its trade secret status, but it's still copyrightable and its still theirs. I welcome anybody more informed than I to fix any misconceptions on copyright law I may have, but those were my $.02

You know how this is going to all end... (2)

Digital Mage (124845) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076509)

a gladiator match in the Coliseum between the editors of Slashdot and Caesar Gates. ;^)

Bravo, an excellent statement emmett!

What the hell are they thinking? (3)

G27 Radio (78394) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076510)

I swear there has to be a reason that Microsoft keeps pushing their luck like this. Honestly, consider this...Isn't it possible that they know that Windows is seriously losing ground--at least technology-wise and actually hope that the DOJ will "take Windows away." In Gates' recent article [] on Time's website he's already positioning to place the blame on the DOJ for future Windows problems such as the Love Bug. He's going to keep doing what he's been doing then blame the DOJ and everyone else involved for the failure of Windows. It might not fool most readers of Slashdot, but people that don't follow technology closely might believe it. Just a thought...

Another thought--what's the worst that will happen to Gates and Ballmer if the DOJ comes down as hard as they can on Microsoft? Will they go bankrupt? Will they go to jail? Or will they still have more money than they can possibly spend? They've got nothing to fear.


nothing like cutting right through the shit. (2)

TheLamb (183217) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076511)

nothing like cutting right through the shit. there is not much i can say to top what you just did. however, Emmett Plant, you are not the only one willing to hop on a plane to support this cause. please keep us informed (i'm sure you will)

Microsoft *is* innovative! (1)

c=sixty4 (35259) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076512)

Well, you can't accuse Microsoft of not coming up with innovative ways of shooting themselves in the foot.

If the world was sensible, I'd look forward to having this tried in court - many of the requests to remove material are so obviously preposterous that Micros~1 ought to be laughed out of court. With the DeCSS / CyberPatrol / idiocy going on, I'm not so sure any more.

"You can bypass the click-though licence agreement on Microsoft's PAC specification by opening the file with WinZip instead of running the file". There. Have you violated the DMCA today?

A few thoughts (5)

Grant Elliott (132633) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076513)

I'm just as against censorship as the next guy around here, but I think some of what Microsoft said was valid. Overall, censorship is not good, but neither is unauthorized use of someone else's property. I've got news for you: copying != innovation, either.

It seems that the majority of what Microsoft complained about was the unauthorized reproduction of their materials. Quite frankly, this is illegal. It might not make much sense, since the materials are readily available to the public, but Microsoft does have the right to restrict access to them.

This probably isn't a particularly popular view. However, I think the best way to avoid this type of thing is for Slashdot to set up their own limits on their own terms before someone else forces them to. Perhaps if Slashdot allows moderators to report comments containing illegal material and appoints someone to remove such material, we could avoid future conflicts.

Slashdot should not be held responsible for users' comments. There is nothing wrong with posting an opinion that may upset people. However, I think Slashdot does have a responsibility to limit illegal abuse of the system, just as web hosting services cannot permit illegal content or spamming from their servers. Simply put, if Slashdot couldn't post it themselves, they should prevent users from posting it.

Unfortunately, it's bound to happen eventually. Freedom on the internet is dying quickly. It has reached the point that a company can be hired to find out who you are given an internet alias. If Slashdot doesn't regulate its users more, someone else will, and it won't be pretty.

It's just a suggestion, and I don't like it any more than you do...

My views (2)

flatrabbit (144870) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076514)

First of all let me state that as of about two years ago I wasn't much of an open source advocate. I used computers and bought software but I didn't think of the alternatives that were available to me. One random conversation changed that when a friend of mine suggested that I visit Slashdot. From that day on I became much more involved in the world around me as it pertained to open source and free speech.

I began by acquiring a copy of Slackware to try. And from there on my OS of choice has been Linux. Unfortunately I have to use Win9x/NT at work because the software that is essential to my profession is only win based (AutoCAD R14). But I have been trying to change that. I have been in touch with an AutoDesk employee, hoping to convince them to port Acad to Linux. I have also been in touch with publications in my field advocating Linux based Acad variants.

But I digress. I wanted to give my thanks to the posters, editors, writers and the rest of the Slashdot society. If it hadn't been for this site my eyes may have been in blinders to this day. Slashdot had been a beacon in my life as well as in others I'm sure.

I applaud you.
And I thank you, for a place for those of us to learn as well as educate.

peripheral visionary

Nice introduction (some OT) (2)

underwhelm (53409) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076515)

I think that this editorial does a smooth job of a New To Slashdot FAQ, times being what they are.

Be prepared, however, to be quoted in the media as representative of the entire community (which you should know is a no-win situation). There are generally n+1 opinions on a given subject on Slashdot, where n is an arbirarily large number.

Personally, I would have liked to see more ruminations on the legal situation. Certainly the Andover people have met with a lawyer and have a little insight into their position.

Personally, I think the solution is simple. Fair use applies to copyrighted works, so make the publication of the code fit into fair use specifications, ie. for research or criticism. Give an equal fraction of the code to posters and have them repost the code with their comments attached. Then no single person has reposted the entire source and each individual portion is fair use. Leave it as an exercise for the reader to concatenate the posts; a trivial task but one that should easily evade any copyright issues.

Then have someone deal with the "trade secret" issue and someone with the "licensed text" issue.

This problem is easily one for the OS crowd: with many eyes, all legal technicalities become trivial.

I am getting tired of all this Microsoft Flaming.. (1)

cOdEgUru (181536) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076516)

Well.. Emmett, that was certainly a good post. It was good reading, whether it was an intelligent article, I am not very sure. You see, I have been on both sides of the battle since it started and to be truthful I havent seen anyone losing..yet. And to be frank, I dont see any clear winner too. Well all are aware that Microsoft and other major corporations have no regard for the freedom that a User might want in choosing different solutions. And I am pretty sure, that Microsoft Software is one of the buggiest, but at the same time, thats not a rarity. I have seen Open source being buggy too.. but thats not the point. This world have two kinds of people, those who use computers for a living, and those who use computers as a way to enhance their living. 90% falls on the latter side. Now, these are not people who are zombies as Geeks portray them to be, they are just ordinary people who have been living out their lives, content with what they have and wouldnt use a computer unless theres a reason for it. They dont give a damn whether they are using Linux or Windows or Solaris, all they expect is results. 90% of the Worlds Business also follow suit. They dont care if its Microsoft Solutions they use or Open Source. If they get a good support for those solutions that they implement and then theres the critical "time to market" issue..and at the end of the day, if the Business is done, then they are all happy. However, not everyone is happy , especiall the Open Source enthusiasts. Now I admit that 60% of them are true intellects people who wont take a beating lying down. We are people who have seen and built better software than the ones forced upon them. And we dont take it lying back. So we stand up and yell for all the worlds attention. We tell them that these companies are milking us and we should start looking at better solutions which are necessarily free. But, does anything happen..I dont think so. Now all this analogy between Open Source and Rebels in the Star wars is quite amicable, but then again, people dont give a damn. You see, if Person "A" gets his job done, gets what he want, at the end of the day he is happy. He doesnt mind, if Windows crashes twice during the day. He wouldnt give a damn if Microsoft charges him more, as long as he is getting what he wants. But to think that he would use a complex solution as Linux or any other open source solutions, clearly better than the one he is using now, wont cut a niche with him. Microsoft is clearly guilty of taking the Kerberos spec and then changing it to their own needs. But did the people who developed the Spec, ever say that the Extensions had to be public or open ? They didnt, so they should learn to shut up instead. I am not saying that Microsoft is right in doing so, but lawfully, if what they did is right, then everyone else should shut up and let them be. They have enough problems in their hands to worry about now. Windows2000 may have 64,000 bugs, but for me, it hasnt crashed once in the last seven months I have been using it. I run Linux and Apache too ( But then again,we really dont give a damn whether Windows2000 is better than NT, do we ? We have Linux, so everyone else should be using Linux. Well.. I dont think thats gonna happen. Linux is powerful in its own realms. But, you cant forget the fact that these major corpns would come up with better solutions sometimes. Now, MS is right once in asking Slashdot to remove postings which include part of their Extensions to the Kerberos spec. After all its a copyright violation, no matter how you look at it. \. is responsible for the postings here. And if a wrong is done, then they are morally responsible to make it right. Well, I am sure that a lot of comments might pop up as a reply to my post. But thats what I like about Slashdot. This is one Discussion Group that I would never wanna leave, because I still believe that the people here are capable of more than flaming microsoft. Maybe we should just let them be and learn to move on. Theres so much more to computing than Microsoft.

why the DMCA? (1)

faqBastard (174444) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076517)

Why does MS even need to invoke the DMCA here? It seems that they could just invoke the license agreement, and allege breach of contract or something.

Also btw, is slashdot gonna gun for the DMCA? Maybe enlist the ACLU and try to have DMCA revoked as law?

Here's what I think (2)

Otter (3800) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076518)

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Well, here's what I think. I think you guys had better start listening to your lawyers instead of Jon Katz and his teenage fan club. Both you and Roblimo have basically stated the position you plan to take, with no apparent knowledge of what the law actually is. You're going to paint yourselves into a situation where you'll have to choose between your site's future and its credibility.

It's ironic -- the old Slashdot is being slowly strangled by the site's new identity as the center of a poorly thought-out, inconsistent ideology for socially inept, teenage Napster users who think they're heroes because they insist on their right to download porn in the library and to never have to pay for software or music. It would be funny if that mentality ended up killing Slashdot financially at the same time.

Microsoft and slashdot (5)

Digital_Quartz (75366) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076519)

Ok, first of all, we have Microsoft which takes an open source specification, modifies it in a few near-trivial ways, then claims it's their own copyrighted work. This is pretty classic "Microsoft innovation" for you, but let's put the fact that Microsoft doesn't actually own Kerberos aside.

I don't know if Slashdot has already modified the story in question, but when *I* look back over the story at the articles MS claims contain actual copies of the specification, all I find is links to the specification. Also, it seems that all the timestamps in MS's letter are off by an hour (although this could just be a result of some crazy database porting to the new /. server?). So overall, MS's letter is grossly innacurate.

There's about a dozen differnt ways slashdot can fight this.

A link to a site should never be illegal. Microsoft doesn't own links (although maybe they'll copyright the 'A HREF="" COLOR=""' tag when they're done butchering kerberos, they have to be free to innovate after all). If Microsoft has problems with the content of a page, then they should go to that page to solve their problems, not pages which link to it. This is common sense, although I don't know if the law in the US upholds common sense anymore, so we'll have to see.

It's arguable that Slashdot is only acting as a conduit for information. An ISP if you will. (Hey, wait a minute, where have I heard /that/ argument before?). That has some unpleasant conotations under the burdensome DMCA, but it's still worth looking into.

Under fair use, copyrighted materials can be reproduced for commentary in an educational or journalistic environment, which Slashdot quallifies as IMHO (the latter, at any rate).

I'm at work right now, so I'm gonna cut this off and get to my point; I originally thought that slashdot should remove portions of the document actually posted to the discussion groups, and leave the links etc... but the more I think about it, the more I realize how wrong this would be. I don't think the messages should be modified at all.

If we're forced to change them, I think we should replace offending content with "***CENSORED BY MICROSOFT***" to express our disconent (I'd suggest a boycott, but I hardly think that'd be effective amongst slashdot readers, since I doubt many of us use MS's software except under extreme duress ;).

Go Emmett! (2)

Ian Pointer (11337) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076520)

You should write editorials more often 8-). Especially liked the "We're Open Sorce zealots, and that we will never,ever back down" bit.

We should try and spread the story as far as we can see; write letters to local + national papers, Senators, members of Congress, the DoJ, everywhere. The world should be shown that even as Microsoft is presenting a benign image to the court, saying "We'll be good. Please don't break us up", they're doing exactly the same thing that they're in court for!

I hope Judge Jackson breaks them up with a large jackhammer...

Re:Tough Call (3)

FreshView (139455) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076521)

I wish I had moderator points still so I could moderate this up.

This is exactly the situation, some of the things microsoft is attacking slashdot for are well within it's rights, especially the folks who posted the entire document, that is copyright infringement.

However, some of the newer DMCA stuff (posting links, posting data about how to defeat EULA measures), that stuff should be fought to the Supreme Court. However, I bet if you removed the posts with the entire spec posted, Microsoft would drop the case.

M$, Ford and corporate honesty (1)

flybait (183234) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076522)

I caught this story this morning on the radio, here's a link [] to AP's version. The gist is that Ford passed out a 98-page book at it's annual shareholders meeting that, according to AP, "says sport utility vehicles are environmentally unfriendly, chug gas and can be a danger to drivers in smaller vehicles. The automaker also said its high-profit business in SUVs doesn't always jibe with its desire to be more environmentally responsible." They go on to say that they will continue to build SUVs, using that old corporate truism "[if Ford] limited its SUV sales in the name of environmental concerns, competitors would simply pick up more customers." However you may feel about Ford, SUVs and quality of life issues in general, I have to say that I'm a lot less annoyed by Ford's statements than by M$'s claims of "innovation."
[only 4hrs to get through to /., you boys appear to have pissed someone off]

It's the posters stupid!!! (1)

-ryan (115102) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076523)

I thought "The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. Slashdot is not responsible for what they say."?

In that respect /. has nothing to worry about and what M$ should really be trying to do is subpoena the personal information of the posters' in question. But we all know /. would never give that up. :-)


"Any way you look at it, all the information that a person accumulates in a lifetime is just a drop in the bucket."

word up (1)

jslag (21657) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076524)

Well-thought summary of this thing that is Slashdot. Very inspirational. Hype that I can believe in.
Way to represent.

Simple (2)

flibbertigibbet (181956) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076525)

The kerberos garbage here is simple:

a) MS modifies <i>BSD licensed</i> program for their own proprietary use
b) samba + kerberos programmers complain that they are stifling interoperability via embrace and extend. Even if they claim or are not attempting to in this case, they are
c) that is their right
d) people post copyrighted and protected via DMCA, whatever on slashdot. It is legally protected. It must be censored through either MS asking each person to allow slashdot to take their comments down, or slashdot doing that themself, as this is copyrighted and protected information posted here.
e) slashdot whines, blah blah, MS plays the little angel, lying and saying that it is a red herring, a complete lie, whatever, completely ignoring the real issue at hand
f) MS completely ignores the legitimate complaint from the Samba team; slashdot goes of on rants that are completely unrelated to this issue


I do not know what the formal or informal relationship was between MS and the kerberos team, so I do not know if they were not acting in good faith

/. (1)

Pentagram (40862) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076526)

The most annoying (and the best) part of /. is that the people who read it are so intelligent. My IQ has been measured as well into the top 1%, but that still means that there are thousands of people on /. who are cleverer than I am. This makes for some very interesting discussions, but it's a bit frustrating :)

Also, any subject I consider myself to have some expertise on is always bettered by someone else. If I quote a fact eg from an obscure book in a post, then usually someone else will expand upon it, tell me its history and point out a few exceptions to it. Sometimes it'll be the author. Its a great forum, but hard to get noticed, even if you deserve to be.

Copyrights (1)

waters (78738) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076527)

What would Slashdot do if someone posted the text to Jon Katz book "Geeks" (not just a chapter, the whole thing)? Would they remove those comments? What if he (Jon Katz) asked that they be removed?

I know that this is different than the Microsoft situation, but Slashdot is making this out to be a freedom of speech issue. I don't know that it is. I'm against Microsoft as much as anyone, but there sometimes seems to be a double standard here. Where do we draw the line for what can be posted? Or is there no line?


It's an interesting kind of "censorship" (3)

seebs (15766) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076528)

I'm not sure it's really censorship to say "you may not reproduce my material without my permission". That's just *copyright*. They're not saying you can't have a given opinion...

Now, when they get into saying you can't analyze their work, or discuss their license... That loses, and I think they already lost when they put a trade secret out on the web, because the "terms" of the license agreement make no sense when applied to non-proprietary entities.

But still, be aware that they aren't demanding that people not say that Microsoft sucks. They aren't saying it's forbidden to speak against them, just that they think you can't post instructions for "defeating" the protections on their "trade secret". Now, in practice, I think it's a little late for them to realize that, and I think their targeting is a little broad... Hell, a lot broad... but it's not "censorship" the way it would be censorship if the letter had read:

Please remove any posts which do not recognize Microsoft's glorious hegemony in the personal computing industry.

Re:What the hell are they thinking? (1)

freq (15128) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076529)

i don't think microsoft is so arrogant that they think andover is going to censor comments on slashdot. this is just a case of more lawyers justifying their existance again.

it really looks to me like the lawyer-bots are looking for stuff to do. They have to keep busy sending out threatening letters to people who are trying to impede their innovation. They probably do it in their spare time inbetween stalling the DOJ and whining about how their market dominance is being threatened.

Re:Encore, encore! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1076530)

I hate to agree with an aggie... but you're dead on. It's simplw probablity, eventually they will kick enough of us around that they'll bite off more than they can chew. When I first started hearing about this, I thought that, although I didn't want to admit it, MS was on fairly solid ground in thier claims. However, once I started reading more about WHAT they were complaining about (mainly the public publication of a public security interface), the more and more I think about how MS got off the ground. Ack friendly, then take thier ideas and, uh, 'innovate' (fondly refered to as assimilation). If MS pushes this, they are gonna find that the material that they are arguing protection for will be the subject of scruitiny and not readers post. Also the subject materail, the actauly changes, etc. Rough gound for MS, I think. Hook'em

Re:It's the posters stupid!!! (1)

FreshView (139455) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076531)

NO, if that were actually true, posters would be allowed to edit or erase their own comments.

Oh, and Jon Katz wouldn't be able to publish poster comments in his own book.

Excellent Points...I'm Torn (My Perspective) (2)

fuzzcat (182696) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076532)

The emotion behind this editorial was earth-shaking. I'm truly mad at Microsoft. And that's a pretty big deal. Let me explain a little about who I am.

I am a former MS whore. I loved the quality of Microsoft's products. I bought Office 97. I was a Visual Basic developer. I was a Win 9x/NT power user. I downloaded every update of IE that MS posted the minute they posted it.

Lately I moved away from that position. I even wrote an article on my webpage about the whole thing. (It's at if any of you want to check it out and give me comments.)

I hated how Microsoft was bullying everyone. I hated how everytime I looked at their tactics I saw the pure rancor of Big Brother's face in some sort of Orwellian dream vision. I hated how Balmer had the gall to say that MS would never be broken up--even after his company has been ruled against by a court of law!

Whoever posted that First Contact quote from Captain Picard in that last MS article was right. The line must be drawn here. No more.

I just installed Red Hat Linux on my computer a few days ago because I just couldn't stand to let my machine be Windows only anymore. There have been some frustrations (if anyone knows how to get a Diamond Supra Express 336i PnP modem working, send me an e-mail), but I can already see a much more stable system than MS could produce. And more importantly, I feel better about myself. Finally, my software supports the freedom that I myself champion.

Having said all that though, I really don't know what we could do here. I honestly hope that /. doesn't back down here. I'd love to see them stand up, but I can't help but wonder whether they would win in court. I think that the important thing is for *us*, the /. readers and people who don't like to see people pushed around, to stand up now. Personally, I think we (the readers) should mount a massive e-mail campaign against MS. How many of us come here everyday? How many of us are upset by this? A bunch, I'd bet. Now imagine if MS suddenly has their little Outlook inboxes crammed full of insightful intelligent e-mails from consumers. Like any business who depends on profits, they will back down.

I'm going to send an e-mail right now. I'm begging everyone else to as well. This will only work if we all do it.


root@MyComp root# rm -r /mnt/c/windows

Re:Here's what I think (2)

dominion (3153) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076533)

It would be funny if that mentality ended up killing Slashdot financially at the same time.

Ridiculously inflammatory rhetoric aside (opposing censorware does not imply that I wish to view pornography in libraries, it simply means that I oppose censorship), I think you're not looking at the big picture.

The financial existance of Slashdot, and even Andover.Net, is not nearly as important as preserving and extending the freedom that we, as individuals, deserve.

If Slashdot goes out of business fighting for what it believes in, I will forever admire their commitment to liberty. If they compromise in order to extend their corporate life, I don't think I (and many people) will ever be able to forgive them.

Michael Chisari

We can calculate the S/N Ratio!!?? (1)

stienman (51024) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076534)

Based on the story, time of day, phase of the moon and the cost of tea in China, the signal-to-noise ratio in the comments fluctuates wildly.

I'm really bothered by this statement. I mean, all this time we could have been calculating the S/N ratio based on information easily gathered from the internet, and we haven't been doing it? Just think of the time we could save if the title of the story had a little "39% S/N" next to it!!


A flea and a fly in a flue
Were imprisoned, so what could they do?
Said the flea, "Let us fly!"
Said the fly, "Let us flee!"
So they flew off through a flaw in the flue.

Here Here! (1)

Stoutlimb (143245) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076535)

Funny, I don't remember posting this, but for some reason the body of your text says word for word what I would have said. (Right down to ACADR14!)

Its good to see other professionals out there appreciating linux and pushing the industry towards more open standards. Proprietary standards affect all computing professionals, not only programmers and their likes.

The hardest thing to understand is the income "tax." - Albert Einstein

Keep things in perspective (1)

gus2000 (177737) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076536)

I appreciate the emotion with which the article was written, and I certainly agree with the general spirit of the message. However, being emotional about a subject is not generally enough to be right about a subject.

It looks like I will be reiterating the words of other posters but perhaps they need to be said many times, because too many people are still missing the point.

Microsoft's complaint is PARTLY VALID. They released a document that was subject to an agreement. The agreement was present in the packaging of the document as well as present in the document itself. This right to control the distribution of this document rest with Microsoft, for better or for worse. This document was posted publically on Slashdot, and Microsoft is exercising their legal right to reclaim control over their property that was illegitimately published.

There are two things to remember

1) I am not commenting on the validity of their request to remove articles containing links to the document. This is a separate matter whose legal validity is very questionable.

2) Some people have been portraying this as some sort of new battle, pretending that the presence of the internet somehow invalidates all previous concepts of copyright and private property. That is simply false thinking. If you want to change property laws then change them, but do not pretend that downloading something that you are not supposed to download is completely different than for example walking into a bookstore and shoplifting. The result is the same, even if the method is not.

So what is the answer? Remove the posts containing the document, and fight microsoft in court for the right to link to whatever story you like. There is already a precendent for that and microsoft would certainly back down. And if you think that you are right and MS is wrong, then I will begin transcribing Jon Katz's books and posting them here for everyone to read FOR FREE. I welcome this opportunity to test the freeness of the moderation system.

Please remember, microsoft has nothing to lose in this battle. At worst they pay legal costs and open up the specification. That kind of loss is pocket change compared to the big picture. Imagine what they have to win however! They have a chance to show the government, the courts, and business everywhere how "bad" free software people really are. And the worse they are, the more bizarre the copyright laws they can force through...

Live to fight another day....

just to clear things up... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1076537)

For you visitors who don't know:

The system isn't perfect. We get trolls and miscreants tearing through the comments with comments about nude teenage movie stars,

This would be Natalie Portman, preferably naked...

breakfast foods,

... the ever scrump-diddly-umptious hot grits

and the scientific process of petrification. ... and we often like it when Natalie Portman is petrified as well as stark naked.

Just didn't want to leave anyone out.

It's not that simple... (5)

MenTaLguY (5483) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076538)

Perhaps if Slashdot allows moderators to report comments containing illegal material and appoints someone to remove such material, we could avoid future conflicts...

...Slashdot should not be held responsible for users' comments.

Unfortunately, the moment that Slashdot directly or indirectly removes a post due to content, Slashdot becomes responsible, both in conventional and legal terms, for all user-submitted content on the site.

This is one of the primary reasons that the Slashdot editors have refused to remove posts in the past -- to do it voluntarily once (for any reason) means that they would be legally obligated to do so in the future (for any reason).

I think it's also important to draw a distinction between legality and ethics here: what Microsoft has done is to effectively apropriate an academically developed public standard, developed in large part with public funds. Think about that a second. Is that very ethical?

Ironically, due to the current state of law, what Microsoft has done is legal, and the public really has no direct legal recourse (the DOJ trial doesn't count, you can't add new charges after the verdict). Under these circumstances, while Slashdot readers posting the specification is unquestionably illegal, I have a very hard time convincing myself it was unethical.

In the long view, I think that this is (deliberately or not) about changing unethical laws, not just challenging unethical practices.

I just hope that the people posting the specifications really understand what civil disobedience is about -- they can be tracked down, and they should fully expect to be punished for breaking the law. As I understand it, under the DMCA, their circumvention of a copy-protection measure for any reason is a felony.

Slashdot is in the wrong (but in the right too) (2)

mr.nobody (113509) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076539)

It doesn't matter who owns it, whether it is Microsoft, Linus, Red Hat, or whomever. The fact of the matter is that a piece of copyrighted material was posted to the board. And the owner, in this case Microsoft, has every right to ask and expect that it be taken down. It doesn't take the DMCA to make that copyright violation wrong.

Let's say I posted the complete text to the latest Grisham novel. Would not the publishing company that distributed his work have the right to ask for the text to be removed? I would certainly think so. Its no different than Microsoft asking for their copyrighted Kerberos material to be removed.

Now as for the links and the instructions, MS will just have to deal. I refuse to believe that those things are illegal or wrong. The courts have already stated that links are fine, and instructions are also acceptable. After all, there are books on the market as to how to be a hitman!

Just a passing thought... (2)

kallisti777 (46059) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076540)

My debate teacher used to joke that if you couldn't come up with a decent rebuttal to an argument, you could always compare your opponent to Hitler. Here we go.

In 1919, Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles. Its provisions included a break-up of the German "monopoly" on land, strict limitations on the size and capabilities of the German military, and economic restitution for damages caused during World War I. The German people were predictably dissatisfied with life under these terms, which led to the rise of a new government that chose to ignore the treaty. I can't help but imagine that if we were to ask Adolf Hitler what his motivation was, he would reply, "the freedom to innovate".

Any other similarities between Microsoft and the Third Reich are completely coincidental. ;-)

Viva La Revolucion (1)

Rand Race (110288) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076541)

All of the opinions I have read supporting Microsoft almost invariably contain the line 'If you don't like the current (Enter bad statute of choice) laws, contact your congress member...'. Now, in theory that is correct although it ignores constitutional challenges through the courts. In practice, we don't have enough cash to buy enough congressmen (or judges) while Microsoft (the RIAA, the MPAA, etc.) does. We are more than capable of noting that the system is broken, yet we still want to believe that we can get something accomplished against the monied interests using the law. Wake up folks, the system is fucked and if we continue to blindly submit to it so are we. Sure it is against the law, so was the American Revolution, the Civil rights movement, and many labor strikes. When the law is wrong we have a moral imperitive to disobey that law. And if the system cannot recognize that the law is wrong we have an imperitive to remove that sytem. I for one am ready, let's go fuck some shit up.

Oh, BTW (my little piece of Civil Disobedience for the day), just use winzip to open up that piece of Microsoft shit they call a Kerberos standard and you can read the mofucker without agreeing to the liscense. In the same vein; since I use Be and .exe files are useless junk on my system, is using Zipomatic to open it so I can read it a violation of the DMCA (Interoperability of liscense agreements!?)?

"The tree of liberty must be periodically watered with the blood of patriots" -Benjamin Franklin

Flame on, I'm gone

Re:Tough Call (4)

Tau Zero (75868) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076542)

The reason I think it's a hard call is that I really think Microsoft has a legitimate claim that if they copyright something, and somehow it's on your site in violation of that copyright, somebody has to be responsible to take it down.
Six of one, half dozen of the other.

On the one hand, Microsoft claims copyright on the text. On the other hand, Microsoft allowed everyone in the world to download it, making no attempt whatsoever to restrict access to people who had previously signed an NDA. The validity of the "click-through NDA" is doubtful, because the use of WinZip to open self-extracting archives (and bypass any trojan or virus in the extraction code) is a very well-known procedure; indeed, this is a feature of the format. Since there were no technical measures taken to prevent users from doing this, the anti-circumvention clause of the justly-maligned DMCA is not applicable.

On to motive. Microsoft wants to restrict access to this information only to people who agree not to compete with Microsoft. In other words, to people who agree to give up their right to innovate and make products that do what Microsoft's do, but do it better, cheaper, or openly. And that, my friends, sucks the big one.

Offtopic WRT the DDoS: if it ame from Microsoft or from their astroturfers, we've got a new simile.

open-source advocates : Microsoft :: suppressive persons : Church of Scientology

This post made from 100% post-consumer recycled magnetic

A legal question (2)

bhurt (1081) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076543)

According to the Judge in the DeCSS case, any device which can be used to circumvent copyprotection is illegal according to DMCA- even if circumventing copy protection is not it's primary use, right? Now we have Microsoft claiming that there were discussions about how to use winzip to bypass it's copy protections and view the content without agreeing to the license, right?

So doesn't this put winzip in the same category as DeCSS- a tool which, despite it not being it's primary purpose, can be used to violate copy protections?

Get your readers actively involved (5)

messman (32358) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076544)

While there are many different points of view among Slashdot readers, I think many readers would like to do something besides just passively read the story or whine. Slashdot needs many posts to because it is financed by advertising. However, there is a community leadership aspect of Slashdot that is not being taken care of properly. With Slashdot's readership, much more could be accomplished than it currently is if some guidance was provided on what to do.

For example, I saw this post yesterday lost in the more than thousand replies to the Microsoft threat:

  1. Send an email to Mr Weston [mailto] with the following text:

    Dear Mr. Weston:

    I certainly do not appreciate Microsoft's attempt to use existing laws to censor unfavorable comments made in a public forum. From all the postings that Microsoft asked to be removed, there is only one which might have infringed Microsoft's copyrights. I believe Microsoft took advantage of just one post to try to suppress lawful and valid critique, and I am very unhappy about that kind of disrespect to the Constitution and the laws of this country. I would also like to warn you that you made some claims under penalty of perjury that are unmistakenly deceiving and suggest a retraction by Microsoft of some of those false claims.

    ....... your name here ......

  2. Email to the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice [mailto] with the following text:

    Dear Mr Klein:

    I would like to inform you of a new antitrust practice of Microsoft Corporation regarding its new Windows 2000 operating system.

    Microsoft Corporation has purposefully broken interoperability with preexisting secure networking standards in an attempt to grab the portion of the server market currently held by Unix (TM) and Linux operating systems. To this goal, Microsoft has implemented an extension to the widely used Kerberos protocol that is incompatible with all existing implementations and keeps the specifications as a trade secret.

    Recently, Microsoft made a restricted release of the specifications of their proprietary extension that requires the licensee to agree to use the information only for security auditing and not for implementing interoperable Unix protocols. However, when this information was leaked to the public Web forum known as Slashdot, Microsoft began an attempt to not only suppress possibly copyrighted information but also criticism and explanations of how the protocol works.

    It may be of your interest to investigate this new demonstration of antitrust behavior by Microsoft Corporation.

  3. Write your congressperson with the following text:

    Dear Mr/Ms ....

    I am writing you to inform you about some portions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that are clearly being used for a purpose that I am sure is not what Congress intended when it enacted it. I would like you to consider an amendment to this Act to clarify some points.

    In particular, Microsoft Corporation is attempting to use the DMCA to suppress free speech in the public Web forum known as Slashdot. While there was a leak of copyrighted information posted to that forum, Microsoft Corporation is using the DMCA to try to also suppress criticism and technical advice offered by some posters. While that technical advice might be unwelcome to Microsoft because it concerns proprietary protocols that Microsoft is unwilling to publicly discuss, this by no means is a copyright infringement, just a possibly unqualified opinion.

    I am sure the intention of the DMCA was to prevent and punish illegal acts on the Internet, and not to be used as a vehicle to suppress criticism or dissenting opinions.

    Thank you,

  4. Email the New York Times [mailto] with the following text:

    The new attempt of Microsoft Corporation to suppress public criticism and dissenting viewpoints in the forum Slashdot shows that Microsoft is continuing its monopolistic practice without regard to the current antitrust trial in which it is involved.

    It seems that a breakup of Microsoft Corporation is fully justified, given that in the current situation Microsoft is big enough to just ignore the United States government and judiciary and disrespect the United States Constitution.

    The new embrace and extend tactic is using proprietary extensions to a widely used secure networking protocol in order to grab the Unix server market. When the protocol was made public, thus allowing Unix and Linux servers to interoperate with Windows 2000 machines, Microsoft claimed copyright infringement and is attempting to erase the information (and with it also some criticism and technical explanations) by threatening with lawsuits. The basis of its claims is the new Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which was enacted to fight pirates, not to suppress freedom of the press. This outrageous demonstration of contempt must be stopped now.

Great, Emmett. (2)

medicthree (125112) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076545)

I hope you're willing to be flown all over the country defending anyone who's violating a copyright, because in reality the situation is no different here. Sure, some of those posts were not offending. If Microsoft knew what was smart they'd withdraw their demand to have those posts taken down. But they have every right to demand the withdrawal of the ones that actually do violate the copyrights, and there are some that do.

Apple, Sun, and DMCA (1)

rwade (131726) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076546)

First, the DMCA is not law yet, it takes effect in I think october this year.

Second, Apple and Sun are _not_ as bad as ms when it comes to proprietary stuff, darwin (apple), solaris being open sourced, shall I go on?

I'm sure there some good stuff in your post... (1)

Tower (37395) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076547)

but it's completely unreadable without any whitespace...

You do make some good points, but hey, as person "J", I tend to get very annoyed if my workstation slows down, much less crashes twice in a day. Nothing is more frustrating than tool-related lack of productivity (whether you are trying to be productive doing your real job, or something else).

The cost of the solution isn't the issue, and I'm not saying linux is the end-all of OS's (I use Linux and NT at home, and my NT box has only one blue screen in the last 15 months). Frustration is an issue, and some of are far less patient than others. Even if I 'get my job done and get what I want' at the end of the day, I will always note that I *could* have done a lot more if I didn't have to reboot my workstation / server / foobox a couple of times today. I'd be happy to get away from it, but not happy with the results.

A difference in personal standards. I actually expect something of myself, unlike many people in the corporate world, who seem to expect a lot from others and little from themselves.

Re:You know how this is going to all end... (1)

Tau Zero (75868) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076548)

You mean, like this? []

(See this link [] after Friday 12 May.)
This post made from 100% post-consumer recycled magnetic

Re:A few thoughts (2)

ewhac (5844) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076549)

I know I'm going to get flamed to a crisp for this, but here goes anyway:

The concept of "property" is obsolete in the digital universe. "Property" survives by operation of scarcity and inconvenience. There is no scarcity or inconvenience here. Thus, "property" collapses, unable to sustain itself.

Supporting argument: Try laying proprietary claim to the oxygen produced by the plants on your land.

Now, it happens that I think the Open Source community is ethically compelled to remove the verbatim reposts of Microsoft's documents. I have a long-ish justification for this, but briefly: The GPL operates by stipulating the conditions under which you may make and distribute copies. While much of Microsoft's "license" is utter bullshit, they do stipulate the conditions under which copies may be made. If we are to insist on equal treatment for redistribution conditions applied to GPL'd works, then we are ethically compelled to observe conditions for redistribution on Microsoft's works, however strenuously we may disagree with them.

In fact, the conspiracy theorist part of me wonders whether this was a deliberate ploy by Microsoft to torpedo the GPL and hijack Open Source works: "Well, you didn't obey our redistribution restrictions, so why should we obey yours?"

We must needs tread carefully here...


Re:It's an interesting kind of "censorship" (1)

Blue Lang (13117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076550)

Thank you for that post. The people who are all jumping up and down and yelling 'censorship' are victims of both their own tiny brains and Robin Miller's (probably) unintended manipulations.

Nothing about this has anything to do with censorship, people. It is sensationalist quasijournalism at its best, it is what lay at the core of /.'s appeal, it is someone yanking your little contrarian "I wanna be a rebel, too!" noserings and leading you around the room. It makes us all look equally stupid, moreso because other media outlets are on the bandwagon. Get on with your lives. This should be decided in M$'s favor, maybe it would temper some of your misguided enthusiasms, maybe it would get Roblimo fired.

Prolly not, tho, I'm sure this is driving a lot of clickie clickies.


Well done (1)

sparky (3778) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076551)

No offense to Katz, but this editorial is right on with the Slashdot crowd. Also, very well written. We need more Emmett editorials.

Re:Keep the peace(es) (1)

Platypii (132649) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076552)

Careful with the potential acronyms, MS might copyright them, and sue you for that comment!

Re:Tough Call (2)

Biff Cool (18858) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076553)

What Microsoft did this time was a blatent abuse of the Trade Secret laws. These laws were made to protect from things like a Coca-Cola employee defecting to Pepsi with the secret recipe, they weren't meant to allow a company to snatch a free and open technology and make it they're own then pretend that they are being open about it by publishing their "trade secret" to the entire internet, but requiring that every one enter into a TS agreement with them. Thats just absurd! That's like Coke mailing the recipe out to everyone in the world and then saying that no one can use it.

They also showed no interest in defending their trade secret since the EULA was just hacked into a self extracting zip file, and could be bypassed with WinZip (the defacto standard Zip utility on Windows). Their actions were arrogant and offensive to the Computer industry as a whole, and now they're running and hiding behind the DMCA.

Conscience is the inner voice which warns us that someone may be looking.

Innovation does not require free beer (1)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076554)

I make a point of carefully listening to points of view and really trying to understand them. I try to kindly point out errors in their thinking, and apply their criticisms to my own improvement. That said, sometimes it really appropriate to express the following reaction, which applies to this article:

Shut up you sniviling greedy twit. Face up: you simply don't have a right to M$'s intellectual property.

Look: Microsoft, as evil as we like to portray it, is innovative. Sure they may not always come up with the best stuff first, but they sure do take an idea and carry it out well enough that the majority of users select them. They're innovative with software AND with marketing. Methinks they've got the best (though bloated) word processor and spreadsheet on the market (THE top apps), their OS works just fine for nearly all computer users (yes, I hate Windoze as much as you do but that doesn't mean it doesn't do the job for most people), and while M$ should be punished for going too far in pushing their product M$ does not deserve eternal damnation for it. Innovation does NOT require that company A give their IP to company B on request without a mutually satisfactory contract and compensation.

As for censorship, what the %$#@ makes you think that M$ must give away their confidential/copyrighted, adventageous intellectual property? Yes, M$ asked /. to remove copyrighted material - so what? remove it! /. is the only group that CAN remove that information! The copyrighted material is NOT free beer, and when the OWNER of the IMPROPERLY published materials asks /. to remove it, /. should cooperate and not fly into a righteous snit equating copyrighted material with free beer. Shall AC post Katz's book chapters on /. for the public to read without compensating Katz? doing so is no different than AC posting M$'s book chapters on /. for the public to read without compensating M$.

As for the theory that the postings are the property of the ACs that write them and therefore M$'s argument is with them, explain why /. hasn't tried to compensate those writers whose postings are making part of the profit from Katz's latest book?

Freedom of speech (and innovation) does NOT mean that you have the right to use someone else's without compensation.

rot12 the specs? (2)

MainframeKiller (105858) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076555)

What if someone posted the specs rot13-coded? Would that be considered copyright infrigement?

Re:Tough Call (5)

Eric the .5b (49632) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076556)

Normally, I'd agree with you. I'm a supporter of IP rights and don't buy the "information wants to be free" rhetoric (because, as a friend said, oxen want to be free, to, but it's smarter to yoke them both). And while I despise Microsoft, I often feel obliged to defend their actions where permissable (Microsoft is to the free market supporter as the KKK is to the free speech supporter). However, this action by Microsoft is absurd and abusive!

The specifications Microsoft claimed were "trade secrets" were specifications that anyone with Windows on their machine were free to download. You can't claim something's a secret if you show it to anyone who asks! You didn't have to pay for them, you didn't have to meet any real requirements...You had to click an agreement.

Now, while I am a huge supporter of contract rights (I even think shrink-wrap agreements should be legal, as long as you can read them before you are committed to the product), I don't buy that you can make people promise to not share or discuss information that you're willing to show to just about anyone who makes that promise. That's a logically void agreement.

So, to hell with Microsoft in this instance. Slashdot should fight them.

Do remove the copyrighted material (1)

barries (15577) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076557)

Microsoft has the right to ask you to remove materials that they hold the copyright to from your site unless you have paid for the right to put them there. However, that does not mean you need to remove the comment: merely substitute a message like
Censored at the Request of Microsoft, Inc..

Please see the request and our response [] for more details.

in place of the removed materials. If you are also required to break links to others' pirated copies, a similar message would be appropriate. - Barrie

Re:GOOD articles (1)

Remote (140616) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076558)

Jon Katz could really use some lessons from this guy

I bet JonKatz is, even as I post, writing some article that is bad enough to turn an interesting event like this into a boring dull atempt at reflection.

Some Irony (1)

Blue Lang (13117) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076559)

Here's what really hurts:

At the heart of all of this is the BSD license. M$ changed some code and decided to redistribute it under a more restrictive license, as is their right.

So now everyone is pissed off, and wanting blood - but THINK for a minute - what you're really rebelling against is freedom - M$'s freedom to do as they wish with THEIR code, as defined by a license allowing FREEDOM. See?

If ya don't like it DONT USE IT. (Even if you do like it, don't use it, on principal.)

Every single person posting to this forum and bashing M$ while USING THEIR PRODUCTS should just shut the hell up. Vote with your wallet, not with your spare 5 minutes and a shout of 'me too!'


Re:/. (1)

SIGFPE (97527) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076560)

Why do you think it's interesting to discuss things with people who are good at identifying which squiggly figure follows in sequence from a bunch of other squiggly figures? Expertise is of course a different matter.

Re:Tough Call (3)

Bad Mojo (12210) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076561)

I don't know. I tend to see Slashdot as a digital manifestation of the toothpaste tube analogy of free speech. Once you say something, it's out. You said it and you are responsible. You can't (easily) put the paste back into the tube. If that means MS sues some Slashdot posters for violating their EULA, that's fine. And if that means the penalties are worse for making their code available for all time in the anals of Slashdot, so be it. Slashdot is no different (in my eyes) than the air that carries my words from my mouth to the ears of those who are near me. Can MS sue the air? They can try, I'm certain.

Free Speech is something we all say we want. Well, those people who posted the material that MS owns (supposedly) have got Free Speech and they used it. Good or bad, that's the extent of it. DMCA, Copyright law, EULAs all mean crap when applied to the air, so why should it mean anything to Slashdot? This is a good time, IMHO, to show people that the DMCA should not apply to forums of Free Speech in any circumstance.

Now, take a deep breath of Slashdot. ;)

Bad Mojo []

Jean Luc, Blow up the goddamn ship. (2)

stx23 (14942) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076562)

They know we're Open Source zealots, and that we will never, ever back down. We're too smart for that.
So smart that you will go down with the ship?
So smart that you will vehemently defend the right for an AC to post copyrighted material, and not do anything about it?
/. as a whole may well want to go up against DMCA, to prove that they too can be as much of a martyr as 2600, and to take on the evil empire, but this is not the time to stand. Why is there an issue here? A copyright violation has taken place, and regardless of the tools employed to request the removal of the document in question, law has been broken.
This is not like providing a link to a tool(such as DeCSS or DivX), but providing the end product(Galaxy Quest/Metallica/Pam&Tommy). How long before warez, mp3z and pr0n appear in the hidden sids, uuencoded for anyone to download? Think carefully about the stand you are about to take here, the enemy might be attractive, and you may well want the opportunity to fight, but perhaps this is not the time. By striking now, you may lose a better opportunity to strike harder later on.
Be careful, don't get into a fight for the sake of a fight. This may well set a precendent where posts have to be pulled, but how is this different from articles which magically appear and disappear, because an editor has decided they should be held, or assigning a login an automatic -2 karma?
Again, if you want to be a martyr, fine, but don't do it just to be cool, do it for what you believe in, not for column inches.

It's already there on the front page! (1)

Tower (37395) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076563)

If you have a comment limit set (i.e. browse all at/above Score:1)...
At the bottom off each story, you'll see:

128 of 256 comments -- there's a ~50% S/N

some of the science articles rank pretty well. I've seen:
146 comments -- close to 100% Signal

Assume everything at 0 and below is noise, and, while some of what is at 1 is noise, too, it's not a bad estimator - some of those posts at 0 aren't noise, but they don't always get modded up...

Works pretty well...

Re:A few thoughts (1)

AppyPappy (64817) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076564)

The nicest thing about Slashdot is you can set your threshhold above the noise. Unfortunately, that means I can never read my own posts.

The Internet has grown up. Because of that, it is expected to act like an adult. You have to respect copyrights now and lawyers have discovered the great untapped wealth that is the Internet. The carefree days of posting articles to alt.current-events.clinton.whitewater have come and gone. Even FreeRepublic is being sued for posting articles from websites. Who da thought that copying and pasting would one day be a crime?

But it's just so hard to feel sorry for those millionaires in Redmond.

Props and thoughts (1)

jnderr (178969) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076565)

I give my props to the ./ crew for holding your ground. While many would like to see M$ brought down, that seems like a difficult goal given M$ wealth and resources. However since the ruling on the DOJ case, M$ has started to weaken. If more groups stand up to M$, /. being one of them, perhaps we can all bring them down.

Good piece emmett, while others may think the editorial had little substance, I would disagree. If there was one thing I thought the piece imparted, it was the fervor and passion which /. rails against M$ and their attempt to censor /. and its posters. Here's a suggestion for Gates et. al, while you (Gates & Co.) are on the defensive, quit hiding behind you lawyers and have an honest intelligent discussion abut all of this, you just might learn something.

Perhaps what frustrates me most about this whole deal is that such a large segment of the PC userbase does not understand that there are alternatives to M$. And they do not understand what they are buying into we they are led like sheep to the slaughterhouse that is M$.

All those in favor Bleat like Sheep!

Re:There are Four Issues (5)

Anomalous Canard (137695) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076566)

The reason I think it's a hard call is that I really think Microsoft has a legitimate claim that if they copyright something, and somehow it's on your site in violation of that copyright, somebody has to be responsible to take it down.

There are three types of things that Microsoft is demanding be taken down.

1. The posting of a complete copy of the document.

2. The posting of portions of the document.

3. The posting of links to the complete document.

4. The posting of comments describing how to open the document without running it.

#1 probably has to go and this is the point you've made. Slashdot can mark the single such post as -2 and it will disappear.

The remaining items must stay. #2 because the quoting in in the context of commenting on it is arguably fair use, but since the guidelines for determining fair use are deliberately not clearly specified, they have to choose between erring on the side of caution and erring on the side of freedom. The DCMA forces them to make determinations that only a court can make.

#3 must stay. A link is just a reference to another location. The contents of that location may or may not be infringing material. Slashdot has no comtrol over the other location and non-infringing material could be replaced with infringing material at any time. Microsoft needs to talk to the administrators of those sites.

#4 must stay because the DCMA section 1201(b) is not constitutional. I joked a few weeks ago about Microsoft suing someone on Slashdot because they told how to deencrypt the copyrighted phrase "Netscape engineers are weenies!" which had been encrypted by writing it backwards. The EXE file used to distribute the document does not run on Linux and other Open Source OSs, but the means to extract the content does. If Microsoft has given people the right to download the document, they have given people the right to read it.

The claims made by Microsoft are overbroad. The answer on three of them is clear.
Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected

Some thoughts (2)

jd (1658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076567)

First, the DDOS attack. If it's traced to Microsoft HQ, or any affiliate, MS is dead meat. It doesn't matter if it was a hyper-loyal MS employee, "getting at the enemy" - the press won't see it that way. They will see electronic corporate warfare and the headline of the century.

Second, the legality of the posts. Slashdot is a Common Carrier, and is NOT liable for the information on it, even if notified.

Along with this is the question of how secret the information is. If it's on the Internet, it's not a trade secret, so that is not a valid defence. (As the poster is unlikely to have been on the server itself, it was carried by the Internet to get to it, and lost it's trade secret status PRIOR to being received by Slashdot.)

Then there is the copyright status of the information. It's an interface, and interfaces CANNOT be copyright. (Apple vs Microsoft.)

In conclusion, the licence itself is illegal, the posts may not be but Slashdot is not liable, and all precidents indicate that the posts -were- legal.

Copyright issue (1)

Hominy Chef (181046) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076568)

I hate to say it, but Microsoft does have a point about its copyrighted material.

The best result that I can see coming from this is a gaping hole where Microsoft's copyrighted text used to be, followed by a careful paraphrase of the trade secrets in the excised document. A link to this should be prominently displayed for a year or two on Slashdot's home page. Fair use quotes and links should definitely not be touched, and neither should the various posts which explain how various archive programs can bypass the security.

Maybe we can argue that WinZip is in the same category as DeCSS - and force Microsoft to remove it and all links to it!

Re:Tough Call (1)

mundungus (158407) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076569)

Why should Microsoft stop with suing Slashdot? I mean, Anonymous Coward first posted the copyrighted information (hereafter "obfuscatory ka-ka") in English, correct?

I would start with the teacher who provided tutelage, giving the individual the fundamentals of language, saying that the tools by which the value of the text was ascertained were granted by the instructor.

Secondly, I would punish the Internet for existing. If it had not been for this abominable resource, none of this would have been shared.

Thirdly, I would ("I" being Microsoft), beat the shit out of myself for having given fuel to the burgeoning cynics who are sick and tired of the monolythic, buggy and ugly OS known as Windows.

MICROSOFT! You had BETTER get cracking, you have a lot of work ahead of you.

FUN! []

BSD v GPL (1)

maker (124125) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076570)

Why was Kerberos not GPL'd?
Why did the dev team trust Microsoft?


bitch-slapping Microsoft (2)

jafac (1449) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076571)

Any additions?

Presenting the Microsoft Hall of Innovation

Close Combat
Popular game purchased from Atomic Games

Flight Simulator
Purchased from the Bruce Artwick Organisation

Age of Empires
Collabaration with Ensemble studios(Gopal R S)

Microsoft's HTML editor was purchased from Vermeer Technologies in 1996

This database application came along with Microsoft's purchase of Fox Software in 1986

Internet Explorer
Desperate to play catch-up in the fast-moving Internet world Microsoft licensed code from Spyglass Inc one ofthe two licensees of the
original Mosaic code base in 1995 and called it MSIE Microsoft then proceeded to distribute MSIE for free denying Spyglass substantial royalties for their key contribution to the product

The original Microsoft cash cow this CPM clone then called Q-DOS was purchased from the Seattle Computer Company in 1981 Microsoft then proceeded to thwart Seattle Computer's license rights to the product The tiny company sued Microsoft and prevailed in court

Object Linking Environment OLE

Microsoft settled a suit with Wang Labs over patent infringement code portions of OLE which is also the heart of Microsoft's ActiveX

This presentation software package was renamed and re branded after Microsoft's purchase of Forethought Inc in 1987

SQL Server
This important database product is based on code purchased from Sybase in 1988

Visual Basic
Ruby the foundation for Microsoft's highly important Visual Basic product was purchased from Cooper Software in 1991

Visual C
Microsoft purchased the Lattice C code compiler which became Visual C Microsoft's software development environment

Visual SourceSafe
Purchased from OneTree Software Shortly after OneTree's SourceSafe was released Microsoft preannounced a similar application called Microsoft Delta which failed to sell Microsoft then purchased OneTree and renamed
SourceSafe as Microsoft Visual SourceSafe

Technologies used in Windows multitasking came to Microsoft with their purchase of Dynamical Systems in 1986 Portions of the interface were licensed from Apple Computer also in 1986

Microsoft's version of Unix was actually written under contract by the Santa Cruz Operation(SCO)

The Intellimouse, which Goldtouch is now suing for patent violations over. Seems Goldtouch had a meeting with M$ and tried to sell them their ergonomic mouse technology. M$ didn't buy, but 6 months later released a mouse which looked remarkably simular...

I just remembered this old Metallica song. . .

Not in this case (2)

SurfsUp (11523) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076572)

I think this is a hard call. The reason I think it's a hard call is that I really think Microsoft has a legitimate claim that if they copyright something, and somehow it's on your site in violation of that copyright, somebody has to be responsible to take it down.

I'd agree with you, except that in this case I have to question the legitimacy of the licencing terms Microsoft is attempting to apply, since it's readily apparent to all that this is just part of a strategem to subvert the public Kerberos protocol. Considering that Microsoft is officially a monopolist, I think that makes the licence terms illegal, don't you? And that gives us not only the right, but the duty to violate them.

Re:Keep things in perspective (1)

SnakeStu (60546) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076573)

If you want to change property laws then change them, but do not pretend that downloading something that you are not supposed to download is completely different than for example walking into a bookstore and shoplifting. The result is the same, even if the method is not.

Not really -- your analogy is incorrect. Downloading something you're 'not supposed to' is on par with walking into a bookstore, carefully reading a book (so as to not damage it in any way), and returning it to the shelf in no worse condition than you found it. You can get arrested for shoplifting; you won't get arrested for reading a book in a bookstore. (You may get kicked out, but that's not anywhere near the same as being arrested.)

Production of a book incurs costs well beyond the original writing -- there are physical costs associated with everything from cutting down the tree to placing the finished book on the shelf. When you shoplift, you prevent those who incurred those costs from recovering them. None of this can be said for reading something online that should not have been posted there. That is part of why people believe (whether that belief is correct or not) that digital distribution fundamentally alters the whole notion of "ownership" of intellectual property.

Journy to Yandol []

Re:Microsoft Arrogance (1)

aclute (94263) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076574)

Where did you hear about this "require[ing] cars to have stickers showing local residency to drive in some neighborhoods near MS land" Got a link?

One bloody post... (2)

molog (110171) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076575)

In the origonal article contained the full document. That one should be removed. The rest were nothing but links or instructions. The one that did copy should be removed but the rest should stay.

So Linus, what are we doing tonight?

Easy Call (2)

Wah (30840) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076576)

That said, I think you have the weight of US copyright law against you, and I don't think anything is going to change that law.

tee-hee. Anything is a lot of stuff. Anything can change Everything. Particle Man beats Universe Man.

Particle man could fight Universe man, but he'd get his ass kicked. With no help of joining forces, there's really no hope for Particle man. Pity him. []

E-mail me to join forces.

Two items (1)

FascDot Killed My Pr (24021) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076577)

1) "...a free forum that tends to bring the cream to the top of the chaos." long as by "cream" you mean "most widely popular". And using that definition Windows is also the cream.

2) "I'm hoping that Andover.Net takes this to court."

Hoping? Hoping?? If there is even a smidgen of a chance that Andover and the /. Editorial Crew are split on this issue then all my fears about the Slashdot takeover(s) have come true. Even if Andover decided to do the right thing, the fact that the right answer wasn't obvious AND that Andover could veto Taco is evil itself. (yes, I meant to bold all of that)
Have Exchange users? Want to run Linux? Can't afford OpenMail?

If you are so smart [OT] (1)

DonkPunch (30957) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076578)

Why do people still cling to IQ scores as some sort of measure of their worth?

IQ testing has no basis in real science. "Intelligence" is a highly subjective matter and scoring well on an IQ test indicates nothing other than you scored well on an IQ test. If you take this as proof that you are smarter than the other 99% of the population, I feel sorry for you.

IQ testing belongs in the same category of pseudo-science as Myers-Briggs personality profiles and the Minnesota Multiphasic test. These tests are inevitably skewed by what their creators see as "extrovert", "normal", or "intelligent".

Furthermore, a high IQ score is no guarantee that you are acting on *correct* information. In the matter of Slashdot vs. Microsoft, IQ has very little to do with anything. This is a matter based on law and such intangibles as freedom of speech.

In fact, most articles on Slashdot are sensationalistic "What is is your opinion?" articles. The value of comments is more dependent on the commenter's information than on his/her "intelligence". The alleged high IQ scores of Slashdotters does not give them immunity from being misinformed or irrational.

More Slashdotters would do their arguments a favor by backing them with correct information rather than the flawed assumption they are right because they have a high IQs.

Here is a Slashdot paradox for their high-IQ readership to ponder:

"Comments are owned by the poster." Therefore, Slashdot is not responsible when AC or a user posts copyrighted information on the site.

How, then, is it permitted for Slashdot editors and Jon Katz to reproduce these same works in another copyrighted work (a book) without permission from the poster? The argument, "It's too difficult to do this," is hardly justification. If it's too hard to contact a work's legal copyright holder, the correct thing to do is simply not reproduce the work. I know this is beating a dead horse, but I still don't think Slashdot is being consistent here. Should it come to a lawsuit, this may very well be used against them.

Re:why the DMCA? (2)

Anomalous Canard (137695) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076579)

Why does MS even need to invoke the DMCA here? It seems that they could just invoke the license agreement, and allege breach of contract or something.

Microsoft has no contract with Slashdot.

Microsoft does have the DCMA hammer with which to attempt to pound Slashdot, But as someone else said here, trying to censor the entire Internet is like trying to nail Jello to the wall.

is slashdot gonna gun for the DMCA?

I hope so.
Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected

Re:Tough Call (1)

javatips (66293) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076580)

I suggest that all post that contain the full text of the offeding material to be replaced by a link to the Microsoft web page where the text can be downloaded.

Post where there is just part of the copyrighted material to explain a topic should stay there. The copyright law protect this kind of use.

By doing so, you will keep the substance of each post and conform to the law. Microsoft will have no choice but to back-off.

M$ is FUD and Slashdot is a FUD cleaner... (1)

heiho1 (63352) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076581)

The problem with Microsoft is very simple. They have a corporate mandate of "embrace and extend". This is a philosophy whereby a dominant technology is accepted by M$ into their system and is then extended with proprietary,
platform-specific hooks which prevent non-M$ users from interacting with previously standard technologies. They have employed this strategy with JavaScript, with Java, with TCI/IP[!], and now with Kerberos. This is detrimental to the goal of truly standardized software that is open and free for all. It prevents users of non-M$ systems from interacting with users of
M$ systems effectively and produces what Microsoft terms FUD [Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt].

FUD is the core of Microsoft's marketing strategy.

Once FUD is in place, M$ can point the finger at [Java,Netscape,Kerberos] and say "They did it." This is the reason Sun sued M$, the reason Netscape fell into AOL's greedy maw and now the reason Slashdot is going to kick M$'s ass over the Internet wide cryptographic standard known as Kerberos. It's not just the rebooting that pisses me off, it's the whole subversive system they have in place that's made my software development life suck balls for years. End
users are almost never aware of what really goes on behind the scenes. They just see the pretty windows and think everything's OK. Think about it this way...they deliberately make incompatible versions of simple file formats so that you are forced to upgrade simply to read [for example] an M$ Excel file. They are not producing value-added functionality, they are not making
a magic new Excel format that can do more things, they are rendering essentially the same file format incompatible by bloating it with
unpublished additions. Bloating being the key term.

They send mangled TCP/IP packets increasing network traffic exponentially by
forcing servers to re-transmit packets like there's no tomorrow. An NT network is often its own worst enemy. They can't make a scripting language that doesn't open your ass up to every script kiddie on the Net. ActiveX happens to be a really good way to make Internet viruses [now why wouldn't they wanted distributed software that works well...because then less people
would buy Office if they could just rent a Word program for an hour or two via the Web, pay 50 cents and be done with?].

I've watched so much expensive software fall to its knees like a crack ho in a back alley. Why? Because the systems were Java tied to M$. No other reason. And Java was NOT the problem. You can build stable systems in pure Java.

Caveat emptor.

but it is about free speech (2)

wendy (42400) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076582)

Copyright is a restriction on speech that we tolerate because we (or congress) believe that the limited monopoly to authors is a necessary incentive for creative work. When copyright no longer appears to be serving that function, because it's no longer limited in laws like the DMCA (or the Sonny Bono term extension), then we should be challenging it on First Amendment grounds.

The objection to posting the entire spec is likely legitimate, but the objection to excerpts and Winxip instructions should be fought. The DMCA forbids us from reading an ostensibly published work if we don't comply with copyright-holder imposed "access control devices." It directly prevents us from speaking about those works.

We should be fighting Microsoft's absurd attempt to claim trade secret status in a publicly available document. Like the DMCA, it completely contradicts the nature of "publication."

-- visit Openlaw [] for more --

So all (de)compression utils violate the DMCA? (2)

Unit3 (10444) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076583)

> According to the Judge in the DeCSS case, any
> device which can be used to circumvent
> copyprotection is illegal according to
> DMCA- even if circumventing copy protection is
> not it's primary use, right?
So essentially every (de)compression utility for every operating system could potentially be used to cirvumvent some kind of copy protection, and therefor be illegal under the DMCA..

Someone should copywrite a 5 line piece of nothing, then secure it with an EULA that excludes everyone, and make many different copies with many different compression schemes that are self extracting. Then, they should sue the makers of the compression schemes (in a group if possible) and force the law to strike down the DMCA, since we know nothing really gets done outside of trial.

Re:Tough Call (2)

tdrury (49462) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076584)

I agree with this argument almost completely. Posting copywrited material is not just illegal, it's just plain wrong. It's Microsoft's stuff and they can do what they want with it. But the posts describing how to defeat the EULA should _NOT_ be removed, nor should links to the document be removed. Give them hell for suggesting those should be taken off.

The only disagreement I have with the poster is the car analogy. It's great, but needs to be expanded on. For example, in my experience Honda's are incredibly reliable. As I recall, they even had a commercial at one time suggesting it would be okay to weld the hood shut because they rarely need maintainance. I would bet if Honda's started welding the hoods shut, _some_ people would still buy them. I won't generalize who would buy them, but I would also be willing to bet that there would be a strong correlation between buyers of closed Honda's and buyers of closed software. In their mind, if it works they will buy it. The only thing we question is whether they are in their right mind :) Some people just don't realize that there are better alternatives available. Some people think its normal to reboot their computer every night. Some people only use Microsoft Word to write two page letters to grandma. And that's okay. Last night I described Microsoft's latest security exploit involving reading cookies of your machine and my non-technical wife was ticked. She went as far as suggesting getting rid of Windows and running Linux. This small incident tells me that Open Source, Linux, GNU, etc. is working and that monopolistic, closed source, screw-the-user software is on its way out. It will take a while, but momentum is increasing one user at a time.

I think may of us are often blinded by our own advocacy. When I read Emmett's final lines, "and Congress shall make no law," chills went up and down my spine. I love that phrase. There is a little "rural militia man" in all of us that makes us want to thumb our noses at govenment and Big Corporations. But when I recover my wits, I feel it's just plain wrong to post copyrighted material like Microsoft's screwed-up Kerberos spec, Metallica's "art", etc. I only say this because if I had some work that I valued and copyrighted, I'd be awfully mad if it ended up on some web site for the whole world to see without my permission. I also hope that if I had valuable information that could help a great many people, I'd have the strength to selfishly give it away like so many Open Source people have done.

Just my opinion.


Re:Tough Call (2)

jafac (1449) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076585)

You CAN'T beat them fair and square, because Microsoft bought the market, and you can't beat them in court, because they bought the law (DMCA, UTICA, etc.)

I blame all of the idiots who didn't vote for McCain.

I just remembered this old Metallica song. . .

Re:A few thoughts (2)

crumley (12964) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076586)

It seems that the majority of what Microsoft complained about was the unauthorized reproduction of their materials.

That's what they say they're complaining about, but if you look at the comments that the MS lawyer complained about you'll see that there was only one comment that had the actual text posted.

There were others that linked to the text, but most of them just talked about how to get at the text without agreeing to the EULA. Too me that is trying to stifle ideas you don't agree with, otherwise known as censorship.

Re:It's not that simple... (1)

Remote (140616) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076587)

Unfortunately, the moment that Slashdot directly or indirectly removes a post due to content, Slashdot becomes responsible, both in conventional and legal terms, for all user-submitted content on the site.

Yes, yes, yes! Which reason, if I were one of the guys who posted the copyrighted stuff I would request/authorize /. to remove the posts, so as to make things easier.

Big mistake, Microsoft......BIG mistake (5)

finkployd (12902) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076588)

Well, if you wanted to get the internet pissed at you, IE was a good start. ISS picked up the administrators, and your laughable attempts at security made us all livid. This is just the last straw with many of us.

Let's recap, you take a public, standard security protocol (one I'm fond of no less) and make your own modifications to it. I'm not sure what on earth made you feel you had the authority to do that, considering that your Benny Hill-like attempts at security are already well documented. Any sysadmin that trusts MS modifications to an already proven technology needs to consider another line of work.

Unless you just got into computer, you know that Microsoft's only motivation in this was to attempt to lock out other competing clients (I understand this isn't your first attempt at this trick, is it?), not to innovate. By the way, thank you for completly removing any meaning from that word. I know few people in the computer industry that can say "innovate" and keep a straight face thanks to you.

Back to the current problem. You publish your undesired changes to this protocol in such a way that you think users would have to agree to a restrictive license to read it. This way you can destroy anyone who creates a solution compatible to yours, claiming they violated the agreement.

Now (and here is the REALLY funny part), you place this 'restricted' information in a well documented, standard file format (zipped .EXE) that can be opened with any number of free unzip programs. If this doesn't frighten anyone away from your 'security' solutions, I don't know what will. This is the perfect example of how much people should trust you, if you can't even protect your own data.

So the cat is out of the bag. Once again the collective intelligence of the internet is miles above you, and you are once again being laughed at for having no concept of security and losing a trade secret to boot. I can understand perfectly why litigation is your only option in this case, it's the only skill you company has left. The only "innovation" is coming from your lawyers these days.

However, this is where you lose. There is nothing wrong with posting a perfectly legal, common, and (in the case of binaries on a windows machine), desirable method of opening a file. I'm sure the poster who posted the contents of the file opened it using winzip, completly unaware that there even was some kind of agreement. He probably just wanted to avoid executing a binary from a untrustworthy company (go ahead, try proving me wrong). Therefore, YOU HAVE NO CASE. No agreement was broken, none of this DMCA crap applies.

The bottom line here is, your own legendary incompetance is to blame here. Attempting to attack a small news site is only fanning the flames that are burning your company to the ground.

Slashdot crew, you have my complete support in this one. No NOT give up, make a stand against this monopolistic disgrace for a company.


Windows 2000: Designed for the Internet
The Internet: Designed for UNIX

Re:Can someone point me towards some innovation... (2)

schon (31600) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076589)

Here You go:

You can also check RCF's #1 through 2000+

Most of the technology that makes the internet work, from email to DNS to HTTP began as (and still is) Open Source - I'd call that innovation.

Re:Tough Call (1)

KnobDicker (87104) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076590)

harvardian wrote...

Car makers don't keep as a secret the inner workings of their cars, so we have the freedom to take our car wherever we want to get it serviced. If a car maker came along who welded the hood shut and said only they can service your car, then nobody would buy it because it's a bad deal. Even if the car were much better than others available, the option of having your car serviced ANYwhere jumps the worth of the car to more than make up for the difference in quality.

Dude...I really wish this was a true analogy! I think I heard a Red Hat rep at a Linux convention in Amarillo last year lecture on this when describing the concepts of Open Source and Free Software.

Back in the day when I was putting myself thru college in the mid 80's before I discovered computing as a hobby (and now a vocation) I used to work in the auto parts (interesting huh?) arena both in the aftermarket and later for a dealer. Seems that auto technology became so advanced and warranties became so restrictive that *nobody* could work on a car anymore except a factory trained mechanic with special factory tools. I guess you technically could work on a modern car, but things seemed alot more "closed-source" than ever starting in the 80's. Makes me wonder if the whole "innovation" was an attempt by the manufacturers to keep cash rolling into the dealerships so that the common aftermarket mechanic, let alone end user/owner, would never have a shot at working on his auto under a shade tree again. Maybe that explains part of the hysteria for old muscle cars....not only are they collectible classics, but an average joe can work on them without proprietary factory training and propprietary factory tools...what better set of wheels for an open sourcer than a VW Beetle/Van or an old (pre 72) Mustang, Camaro, or Vette!

By posting Kerberos to the web, their code lost its trade secret status, but it's still copyrightable and its still theirs.

What would happen if nobody wanted M$'s implementation of Kerberos because it didn't embrace open standards? This already is reason enough to reject it in the geek community. Anyone recall the 80's when *nothing* hardly would interoperate? I say, let Microsoft's version of Kerberos fall flat on its face in the marketplace...already I'm sure many Europeans are worried about some NSA/Echelon backdoor in it and won't go for it because the hood's welded shut. No volume of marketing drivel can cover up the fact that closed source doesn't just keep money in the family, it also allows software manufacturers to hide shoddy workmanship behind a veil of "proprietary trade secrets." It reeks of bullshit as bad as government officials wrapping themselves in the flag and buttoning up in the name of "executive privelege" or "national security" -- it's an immediate tipoff they've got something to hide. Did M$ really innovate much into Kerberos? Probably not, though I admit I haven't read the bloody guts tell me they just want to establish themselves yet another differentiated niche in the marketplace, regardless of whether the technology is better than the open source alternative or not.

an out and out rant (1)

jxxx (88447) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076591)

The phrase "party line" brings images of Brave New World.
And maybe that's what we are facing. There's so much to keep up with.
Sometimes it's nice to sit back and be content.

I wonder if MS is innovating in the consortium model, except that they think they are big enough to form a group all by themselves. Remember the X11 R6.4 scare? That was with a history of $0 information. Companies like MS don't have any significant open minded background to work from.

Subject: Slashdot
A while ago, when I was more organized I was thinking about writing in to Ask Slashdot about the 'community'. At the time I thought it was really remarkable that such an open forum managed to stay coherent. I pondered the possibility of taking this reality into meat space. Even a little bit. Now I find myself of the opinion that things are coming apart. In far too many topics trolls make up the majority of visual space. Moderation seems to have taken a turn for the worse, marking posts because they are early. What is 'under-rated'? I love the idea, but Im not sure we can handle it at this point.

And the blame isn't 100% on the outside users. Things like software release announcements are getting a bit out of hand too. Something like the linux 2.2 release I can see. 2.2.15, that's pushing it. Is this slashdot, or fresh meat? Repeats of topics are silly too. I would be all for doing a search over the site before posting something new. Maybe when something resurfaces, a link to the previous discussion could be provided with updates.

time to take a breath and let the smoke clear

Before spouting off... (2)

xerx (63759) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076592)

Consider the important big picture to this.

Kerberos is an important aspect of secure communications within the internet/intranets. To gain control over Kerberos drastically impacts competing operating systems.

MicroSoft embraced Kerberos, only to make off with the standard and extend Kerberos in such a way to make it fully compatible with only other MicroSoft Windows machines. After being caught red-handed, they agreed to publish something they should have made available openly to begin with. Also consider that MicroSoft only did this because the Feds were watching, otherwise these extensions would have never left MicroSoft.

MicroSoft then publishes these extensions, but under tight restrictions. The publishing is somewhat of a trick to make it appear that they published the info without really doing so.

These preditory monopolistic actions are fuel to the fire for the case against MicroSoft. Hiding these actions behind their "legal rights" is all the more reason to resist against them.

Sure Slashdot might loose and be forced to take down the postings, but the MicroSoft PR nightmare will live on during the entire time.

It is interesting how the DMCA so quickly is used for exactly what everyone feared.

Protecting Intelectual Property != Censorship (1)

SpaceTaxi (170395) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076593)

Haven't your lawyers whipped you guys into shape yet?

In fact, I'm surprised Microsoft is being so nice to you all. Probably because of the public relations fallout they would face if they sued you.

In any case, the idea of knowingly facilitating the disemination of someone's intellectual property is far from free speech, its more like stealing. Disregarding someone's licensing agreement makes me wonder about the value being placed on "open source" license. Or should we just trash that too?

Not Bad (1)

Red Weasel (166333) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076594)

For a first time editorial that wasn't half bad.

Not nearly to the magnitude of a Katz rant and I for one appreciate it.

--Live Free or Die -- (M$ next add?)

*Sigh* There is no easy answer. (1)

fridgepimp (136338) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076595)

This issue NEEDS to be resolved in court. Whether or not Andover has the balls and $$$ to do this, I don't know. They might lose; but the precedent is important.

There are a number of issues at stake that I see, and none of them has an easy answer.

Let's begin with the issue of "Free Speech".

It would seem that the claims of censorship are a bit misguided. What is actually occuring is the protection of intellectual property. Now I REALIZE that a number of the posts listed in the MS e-mail seem to have nothing to do with any legitimate claim, which did puzzle me, but hear me out.

Microsoft, in what I believe was an effort to stiffle work on projects like SAMBA, released a document they claim is a "trade secret" which one must aggree to a boiler plate license in order to view. While this is underhanded, it's legal. This license included a stipulation that the licensee must make an attempt to protect the information at least as well as MS has. Clearly, this was not done by a number of folx, as the document was posted as a comment by a number of people.

Now, you say, they didn't aggree to the boiler-plate license, so they are not bound by it. And in fact, you are correct. They are not bound by it's restrictions, but NEITHER are the entitled to the privilidges that license allows them, which in this case, is the right to possess and read the document. Now, NO PERSON is entitled to the copyrighted material of Microsoft without a license. If you do not aggree to the license they provide, you are not legally entitled to read the document. So now we have a problem. If someone illegaly posts a document (without said license) and I read it, am I in violation of the law? I never new the license existed, and am therefore not bound by it, but am I entitled to its priviledges? I dunno.

Back to my original point about protecting intellectual property. As has been discussed on /. many times, one must protect their intellectual property and attempt to enforce any restrictions so that they may continue to enjoy protection by the law. When it was Linus, many were ready to jump to his defense. Remember, the law protects the IP of the moral and ammoral alike. I suspect, that if Microsoft were to let this go by the wayside, it could be later used in court to defend use of the specifications by SAMBA developers or others when creating compatible products. "Your honor, the plantiff allowed this document to be published widely on the WWW without ever attmepting to limit its distrobution; Even its distrobution without their EULA." There have been cases in which a failure to protect IP in this manner have resulted in the loss of the right to continue to protect it.

I sincerely believe that this is Microsoft's intent. I don't like their products or their tactics any more than the next guy, but this is getting out of hand. We all have personal biases about what is "Good(TM)" and what is "Bad(TM)". The law, however, has a different view. Legally, an attempt to circumvent an MS EULA is equivalent to an attempt to circumvent the GPL. The difference is that here at Slashdot the GPL is "Good(TM)" and MS is "Bad(TM)".

Please, lets all strive for more intellectual consistancy and less emotional bias--especially when we all decide to play lawyer. This needs a court case, and soon.


Re:A few thoughts (1)

samantha (68231) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076596)

You utterly miss the point. It was questionable in the extreme for Microsoft to take an open source standard like Kerberos and make proprietary changes that it then kept secret. When called on this Microsoft published the changes but tried to put license restrictions on anyone using the information! This is not a normal case of fair property or property rights even assuming for just a sec that such "intellectual property" should be property. So it strains credulity mighthily to say that Microsoft has been mistreated when folks bypass their misbegotten licensing gimmick to look at the information more directly and instruct others how to do the same.

Re:A few thoughts (1)

donutello (88309) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076597)

This has nothing to do with the expression of ideas or thoughts. The posts being objected to are nothing but a regurgitation of copyrighted material or links to copyrighted material. Asking for them to be removed is not censorship.

Notice that there was no request to remove the "Bill Gate$ $uck$ a$$!" posts.

slightly offtopic: fighting "embrace & extend" (1)

MattW (97290) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076598)

It occured to me: is there a reason when free/open source projects get started they can't trademark the name of their work? The right license would then prevent Microsoft from co-opting the name. Because, after all, I doubt anyone cares that M$ takes Kerberos and modifies it. Even if they want to make it inoperable with the kerberos standard, fine. But if you're going to break the standard, you should HAVE TO DROP THE NAME. Imagine Microsoft releasing "Microsoft Linux" (win95 with a penguin background). Would Linus stand for it? Or, more realistically, imagine them releasing "Microsoft Napster", with built in monitoring for copyrighted goods, autoreporting, and network non-interoperability. Would Napster let them co-opt the name?

What's in a name? With software anyone can take and change, I'd say quite a lot.

Re:Viva La Revolucion (1)

phee (29089) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076599)

"The tree of liberty must be periodically watered with the blood of patriots" -Benjamin Franklin

Not to be picky or anything, but that was actually Thomas Jefferson. And he was right... and so are you. When a law is wrong, it MUST be challenged and destroyed; that's why they saw fit to include a little thing known as "Jury Nullification" in the founding laws of this nation. Basically, it means that a jury can find a defendant fully and completely guilty of a violation of law, but refuse to punish him for it because they don't think that law should BE a law. And you will NEVER hear it mentioned in a court of law, on TV, or anywhere except in a few books and movies (and, now, a few websites). Try to guess why. That's right: if We, the Sheeple, knew about it, why, we'd be chopping down laws all over the place! Can't have THAT, now can they? Undermining their hard-fought-for and bought-with-lobbyists laws like that would take away some of Their power, now wouldn't it?

So what better forum to spread knowledge of its existence than right here on good old slashdot?






There. Now go do some research on the topic, and shudder with anger when you realize how you've been lied to all these years by judges and lawyers...

The Fully Informed Jury Association's website []
Read some more about it []
A list of books on the subject []
Even more []
More []

As you can see if you read the links above and fully understand them, the power of Jury Nullification is about the only power left to We the People. We don't have enormous wealth, we aren't in positions of political power, we don't have adequate representation in the legislative bodies of the government (meaning, of course, we can't be taxed either, but that's a whole 'nuther post), we don't have a stranglehold on any particular commodity or service (though think what would happen if we all suddenly configured our firewalls and BGP routers to stop letting packets through :)... Jury Nullification was GIVEN to us by the founding fathers because they knew in their wisdom that we would never have as much power as those who are so easily corrupted by it. It Is Our ONLY Weapon Against Them And Their Evil, People!! Do not let it fall by the wayside again. Tell everyone you know about it. Print out all the above webpages I linked to in 48-point Arial and paste them all up and down the streets of your cities. Don't Let THEM Win!!!

Thank you.

"The best weapon of a dictatorship is secrecy, but the best weapon of a democracy should be the weapon of openness."

Re:Microsoft and slashdot (2)

konstant (63560) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076600)

Ok, first of all, we have Microsoft which takes an open source specification, modifies it in a few near-trivial ways, then claims it's their own copyrighted work. This is pretty classic "Microsoft innovation" for you, but let's put the fact that Microsoft doesn't actually own Kerberos aside.

Look again. Had Microsoft actually attempted to copyright the Kerberos spec, and not only their proprietary changes to the spec, Slashdot could laugh off the threat. You cannot copyright something that was not created by you.

However, if you actually read the spec in question, you'll find that it only covers the format of their extension packets. Microsoft *did* create that, for reasons that I'm not even going to try to argue about. Consequently, they are within their rights to copyright it, although personally you and I both think it was stupid to do so.

Furthermore, if Microsoft did not challenge Slashdot's reuse of the copyrighted material, they would have failed to defend their intellectual property. Unless I misunderstand the law (entirely possible) I believe that means they lose the right to consider it their own and subsequent legal challenges could place it in the public domain. If I'm correct there, then M$ had no choice other than to defend their copyright.

Yes! We are all individuals! I'm not!

Actually, I agree (1)

Pentagram (40862) | more than 14 years ago | (#1076601)

IQ tests are a very poor test of intelligence, I admit. I joined Mensa for a while, but most of them were thicker than pigshit. The tests are very subjective, like finding the odd one out of a list; creativity is actually a penalty.

However, that wasn't the point I was making; basically that even if you are intelligent, the general /. readership are almost invariably more intelligent than you are.

And top-1% scores aren't much to boast about either: that means that (6 billion * 0.01 =) 60 million people in the world are more intelligent.

And I agree with the © thing as well. It's almost as if M$ were waiting for something like that to happen before threatening legal action...

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