Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Microsoft To Issue Blanket License To NGOs

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the making-it-better dept.

Microsoft 255

itwbennett writes "Following a recent report that Russian police have used software copyright raids to seize computers of activist groups, Microsoft announced it will issue a blanket software license to nonprofit groups and journalist groups outside the US. The new blanket license should remove software piracy as an excuse for 'nefarious actions' by enforcement authorities, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith wrote. The new license 'cuts in one swoop the Gordian knot that otherwise is getting in the way of our desired handling of these legal issues,' he said. 'The law in Russia (and many other countries) requires that one must provide truthful information about the facts in response to a subpoena or other judicial process. With this new software license, we effectively change the factual situation at hand. Now our information will fully exonerate any qualifying [nonprofit], by showing that it has a valid license to our software.'"

cancel ×

255 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

and the qualifier is... (4, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566726)

And the qualifier is, of course, "qualifying." The article doesn't say who qualifies, and says that journalists and NGOs don't have to do anything to get the license, which means they don't find out that they don't qualify until they're in the same situation they're already facing, I guess.

Re:and the qualifier is... (5, Interesting)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566804)

And the qualifier is, of course, "qualifying." The article doesn't say who qualifies

The article does not, because it talks about a future event ("will issue a license"). I would imagine that the text of said license would go for over 40 pages (as usual) detailing out who qualifies for what.

Re:and the qualifier is... (0, Troll)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567004)

FTFA:

NGOs and organizations representing journalists will have to take no action to get the blanket license. Microsoft software running on their computers will be covered, Smith said.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, this is Slashdot and the parent has a sub 1,000,000 UID - I got it.

Ah fuck! (5, Funny)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567072)

I wish I could delete the above comment. I thought I was replying someone else here on Digg.

Weird shit has been happening to me since I started taking Ambien!

Re:Ah fuck! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33567428)

Mindfuck of the day!

Re:and the qualifier is... (3, Insightful)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567850)

That was a strangely non-evil thing for Microsoft to do. My world is shifting.

Re:and the qualifier is... (0, Flamebait)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566836)

Being on the State Department or EU terrorist list is probably going to keep a group for qualifying.

Here is a wiki of who is on whose list

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_designated_terrorist_organizations [wikipedia.org]

Re:and the qualifier is... (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567104)

I skimmed through that list, and all the ones that looked potentially innocent by name turned out to be legitimate terrorist or terrorist-supporting organizations. I won't say it's 100% perfect, but I didn't spot anyone on it that didn't deserve to be there. Besides, they won't bother using software license raids on, say, Aum Shinrikyo, the Islamic Army of Aden, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or the Ulster Freedom Fighters. They would just, y'know, raid them for being terrorist organizations. As far as I can see, that list is pretty much what it says: terrorist organizations.

Re:and the qualifier is... (2, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567148)

Right and by using something like that as the guide, then when Russia says Journalist X is a terrorist, M$ can say "no they aren't, they aren't on the State Department or Interpol's list."

I'm waiting for Wikileaks to make State's list

Re:and the qualifier is... (5, Interesting)

vux984 (928602) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566926)

And the qualifier is, of course, "qualifying." The article doesn't say who qualifies, and says that journalists and NGOs don't have to do anything to get the license, which means they don't find out that they don't qualify until they're in the same situation they're already facing, I guess.

This isn't the sort of situation where microsoft would be trying to weasel. More importantly, the way it worked from what I can tell, is that russian authorities needed Microsoft lawyers to essentially sign-off on the complaints against dissidents -- they'd indicate they had "reason to beleive" group-X was using priated software, and the MS-attack-lawyers would say 'raid away'.

This change is essentially instructions from Microsoft to its own legal counsel saying if its an NGO or Journalist etc then they have a license, and not to be party to police requests.

Strictly speaking they could instruct their lawyers to refuse to pursue cases against NGOs and so on without the license, but this 'grant of license' is:

a) good PR

b) makes it harder (impossible?) to for the police to build a software piracy case as long as the legal system isn't competely subverted. The Microsoft lawyer simply says "they are licensed" end of story. He doesn't have to say, something like "my client isn't interested in prosecuting a case against them". Its more thorough and complete this way. It changes from "they might be doing something wrong, but we don't care to find out" to "we are completely satisfied that they are licensed".

which means they don't find out that they don't qualify until they're in the same situation they're already facing, I guess.

As you can see they don't really need to "know they qualify". The protection is indirect - its really more a way to give microsoft's lawyers an out from having to cooperate with russian police against NGOs more than direct protection for the end user. At least that's how i read it.

Re:and the qualifier is... (4, Informative)

Peeteriz (821290) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567632)

Also, in the previous cases they don't really say "my client does not want to press the issues" - Russian government had started a criminal process, and as in most criminal process the 'victim' does not get a choice to stop the persecution, and granting a license after a request would not help either (as the violation occurred in the past, when the license was not there yet) - so if the prosecutors want to press charges, they have a valid case.

These same issues may apply to any other country where criminal penalties apply for copyright violations.

and the qualifier is... the F_CKING GOVERNMENT! (1, Redundant)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567138)

The local government decides what organization "qualifies" for exemption, as M$ must "obey local laws."
Wanna guess what organization will NOT be granted the exemption?

Re:and the qualifier is... the F_CKING GOVERNMENT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33567774)

So then you believe that copyright law is an offense that the government should have control over? What if I want to give something away that is copyrighted by me? The government should have the right to prosecute the people I give my copyrighted work to? Doesn't that mean that I don't really have control over my work anymore once it's copyrighted? Effectively, that just means that the government decides what my copyrighted work can be used for, not me, the owner of the copyright. It means if you copyright your work, it has an opposite effect. You no longer own it, but the government does. You'd be better off not even copyrighting something, and retaining the right to do whatever you wanted with it, under such a system. That's sort of the idea behind the ACTA travesty. It transfers control over copyright into government hands. Even if you couldn't give a toss if people "pirate" your IP, the government will throw the book at them regardless, without your permission or will to do so. That's utter madness! ACTA and any thing such as that will merely break copyright beyond recognition. It'll compeltely negate any reason to copyright your work, as you suddenly lose control over what can be done with it.

I'm not a big fan of Microsoft, but this little bit surprised me (looking for some good PR, is what I'm thinking). Do you really think the government has the right to prosecute someone for using a copyright with the full permission of the copyright holder? That's pretty bizzarre.

Re:and the qualifier is... (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567442)

And the qualifier is, of course, "qualifying." The article doesn't say who qualifies,

And it doesn't really matter, so long as you fill in the application form to tell them all about your organisation, tell MS whether it's worth having a sales rep call you, and educate yourself about Microsoft's offerings.

Maybe if you're a really big target segment and very likely to go open source, they'll shove exchange or something like that down your throat for free. You'll end up paying for all the basic functionality that Linux gives for free, one way or another.

Re:and the qualifier is... (-1, Offtopic)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567842)

How the hell is the parent off topic. Someone needs to give me some more mod points

wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33566728)

did microsoft just do something good? I must be high!

Excellent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33566734)

That means the Pirate Party UK can get free copies of Windows?
But journalists too.. as in all bloggers?

Re:Excellent (1)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567386)

Only if they're in Russia.

Re:Excellent (1)

Alphathon (1634555) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567704)

Only if they're in Russia.

Ummm, no

From the New Your Times article:

The policy could have repercussions beyond Russia because the company indicated that it would apply to other countries as well, though it did not identify them.

From the IT World article:

Microsoft announced it will issue a blanket software license to nonprofit groups and journalist groups outside the US

Since when does "outside the US" translate to "only if they're in Russia"?

While it may indeed only apply to Russia, there is at least implication that it does not and may apply to everywhere outside of the US.

No price or freedom (2, Insightful)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566736)

I'm not criticising this move. It's the start of the right thing to do. But lets not forget that although the price will be zeroed, the NGO's will still not be able to see what the software is doing, will still not be able to change the software.

NGO's should use free software.

Re:No price or freedom (4, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566862)

Most opposition NGOs in Russia are routinely harassed by the government while trying to expose many cases of corruption and widespread violation of human rights. Some (albeit, thankfully, very few so far) are imprisoned, others are beaten by thugs who are then conveniently never found by police.

The issue of "being able to change the software" simply doesn't enter into the picture - I mean, do you seriously think these folk have the time to submit kernel patches? For most of them, computer is just a tool to do what they think of as their civic duty, one among many other such tools.

Re:No price or freedom (2, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566872)

Not to mention increased protection from prying eyes. If I was criticizing a government known for harassing its opponents I sure as shit wouldn't be using something as insecure as Windows.

Re:No price or freedom (0, Flamebait)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566910)

Which is precisely the reason you're automatically considered a terrorist if you *don't* use it.

Re:No price or freedom (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567146)

You mean, like all Russian students [slashdot.org] ?

Re:No price or freedom (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33566924)

Not to mention increased protection from prying eyes. If I was criticizing a government known for harassing its opponents I sure as shit wouldn't be using something as insecure as Windows.

Good call. Because there's absolutely no way in hell that the Russian government has people who could hack backdoors into open source, compile it, and surreptitiously install it onto rooted Linux systems.

Re:No price or freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33567454)

I rebuild from source and review every line before using my computer!

Re:No price or freedom (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33567520)

Yes, but what compiler [wikipedia.org] did you use?

Re:No price or freedom (4, Interesting)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567542)

But did you build your OS via tapping bits onto the SATA bus with a paperclip? Otherwise you have no idea what your OS is putting in there. See Ken Thompson Reflections on Trusting Trust. [bell-labs.com]

Re:No price or freedom (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567674)

Good call. Because there's absolutely no way in hell that the Russian government has people who could hack backdoors into open source, compile it, and surreptitiously install it onto rooted Linux systems.

Um, if you have root then what is the point of compiling and surreptitiously installing compromised code on the machine, YOU ALREADY HAVE FUCKING ROOT! It's no different than Windows(other than the fact that its harder to actually root a linux box, rooting windows is pretty trivial). I can compile and install any fucking kernel extension I want to do pretty much whatever I want. Writing kernel extensions for Windows(which in most situations is pretty much like changing the kernel, at least from a hackers perspective) isn't really that much different than writing them for Linux. That had to be the stupidest counterargument I have ever heard, and obviously you understand very little about computers.

Re:No price or freedom (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567724)

"Um, if you have root then what is the point of compiling and surreptitiously installing compromised code on the machine, YOU ALREADY HAVE FUCKING ROOT!"

The key word is "surreptitiously", as in you don't want them to know they are rooted.

Re:No price or freedom (0, Troll)

Locutus (9039) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566912)

they should be using free software and with all the hoopla, there would be a big move to free software. Microsoft's move is not only gets them out of the publicity mess building but also curbs a very public discussion of moving off Microsoft software and onto free software. Well played Microsoft, well played.

LoB

No. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33566978)

THEY, should be using whatever THEY want, not what YOU want. Attitudes like yours are what start Crusades, jihads, and pogroms. Unlike the instigators of those events, you're probably too pussy to put your money where your fist is, so in the end YOU are harmless.

Re:No. (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567306)

Nope. Attitudes like ours is what started the American and French revolutions.

If you are being abused by the corporate aristocracy then perhaps it's time to overthrow the aristocracy.

You don't even have to believe in the whole "software freedom" thing to realize that the whole software license management thing is a huge burden and bother.

Being an accidental pirate as a corporation is much like being in violation of some obscure subtle law that most people (including actual cops) wouldn't recognize as a "federal offense".

Re:No. (3, Informative)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567770)

Nope. Attitudes like ours is what started the American and French revolutions.

The French Revolution rapidly degenerated. It got really, really stinky. The American Revolution wasn't really a revolution. More of an anti-colonial thing.

Re:No price or freedom (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566950)

I'm not criticising this move. It's the start of the right thing to do. But lets not forget that although the price will be zeroed, the NGO's will still not be able to see what the software is doing, will still not be able to change the software.

NGO's should use free software.

Considering what they have to go through, what MS might be doing under the covers is the least of their problems. And who says that they aren't already using F/OSS and the police are just using the piracy of MS software as an excuse?

Re:No price or freedom (2, Insightful)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567098)

I know this isn't you, but some people care about getting shit done and have no interest in dicking around in the guts of their software.

For most tasks, that includes me, and I've been a programmer since childhood.

And that probably goes double for NGOs (2, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567494)

NGOs are full of starry idealist types usually, but they are busy being idealistic about their given cause. Often it is something really important, like distributing food to starving people, or vaccinating against deadly, but preventable diseases or shit like that. They do not have time to get all starry eyed about your chosen cause as well, software freedom in this case. They can't go and spend the time to become programmers just so they can "see what the software is doing."

Linux users may not like to admit the fact but in an enterprise setting, Microsoft products get shit done. For some people, that is all that matters, in particular if what they are doing matters more.

Re:No price or freedom (1)

maugle (1369813) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567564)

It's not that they ever would dick around in the guts of their software, it's that they have the ability to if they ever really wanted/needed to. Say, if they suspected that something in the guts of the software was interfering with their ability to "get shit done" (a government backdoor, for example).

More freedom is better than less, even if it most people never need to be use it.

Re:No price or freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33567650)

i.e. the price for freedom is just too high. And that is okay. You don't need to justify it. Really. Some people, like me, don't give a shit about voting, because the time to put in the effort to know what is going on is too high, compared to the benefit you get out. Sure, you can tell me I NEED to vote, but screw them. Same difference.

Re:No price or freedom (1)

internettoughguy (1478741) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567758)

I know this isn't you, but some people care about getting shit done and have no interest in dicking around in the guts of their software.

For most tasks, that includes me, and I've been a programmer since childhood.

It's not an issue of "digging around the guts", it's simply that the software is more trustworthy, because the development process is transparent.

Re:No price or freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33567414)

They don't give a shit about looking at the internals, they just want their stuff to work. Fuck off.

Re:No price or freedom (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567510)

Maybe NGOs will start using free software when you stop using apostrophes to create plurals.

Re:No price or freedom (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567538)

But lets not forget that although the price will be zeroed, the NGO's will still not be able to see what the software is doing, will still not be able to change the software.

Maybe they don't want to. Maybe they don't need to.

Maybe the time and money isn't there.

Maybe it matters more that an NGO's staff and volunteers have the software they know how to use and are comfortable in using.

Maybe it's the the job that matters and not ideological purity or political correctness.

It's a trap (0, Offtopic)

wampus (1932) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566742)

Well, inb4 it's a trap anyway.

So let me get this straight... (3, Funny)

Pikoro (844299) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566746)

In soviet russia, software licenses you?

Re:So let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33566824)

In soviet russia, software licenses you?

In post-Soviet Russia, joke is older than you!

Re:So let me get this straight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33566890)

In soviet russia, software licenses you?

No. This is an entirely inaccurate portayal of the situation at hand.

Re:So let me get this straight... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33567142)

In Soviet Russia, Microsoft protects you from government.

It works for them... (0, Offtopic)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566752)

I suspect that come next quarter, Microsoft will happily re-interpret this as a massive increase in "sales" of it's Windows 7 licenses, thereby giving its marketing department (and shill squadrons) something to crow about.

It also gives them a means to crow about how they 'cracked down' on piracy, and etc.

(to top that off, I'm sure there's a massive tax write-off in there somewhere as well).

All in all, doing this looks like the best solution for 'em.

Re:It works for them... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33566822)

So, what you're saying is, this is a win-win scenario for both Microsoft and non-US NGOs. Don't they teach win-win being a wonderful thing at school?

Re:It works for them... (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566952)

So, what you're saying is, this is a win-win scenario for both Microsoft and non-US NGOs. Don't they teach win-win being a wonderful thing at school?

You are thinking of the elusive "win-win-win.....win"

Re:It works for them... (2, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567430)

MS gets a free sales bump to feel good organizations. Organizations get free software, the FSB gets to slide in all the quality malware they like.
Young campaigners are exposed to MS products telling their friends and family ... win win win for all. The CIA gets a longer list of front organizations and useful idiots to incubate for 'color revolutions'.

Thanks MS - First post I think! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33566766)

wow! Thanks MS for helping put another nail in OSX and Linux Desktop!

Re:Thanks MS - First post I think! (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566976)

I can't speak for the OS X people but this has precisely *ZERO* effect on Linux.

Yes, there are a few zealots wherever you go but most people use Linux because it does what they need an OS to do & a policy change from Microsoft isn't going to change that.

There is *NO* war between Linux & Windows but as long as there are people out there saying that Linux isn't ready for the desktop, then there will be some groups of developers trying to make it more suitable for those people.

Re:Thanks MS - First post I think! (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567186)

most people use Linux because it does what they need an OS to do

Very true. I find Windows to be the best (and most aesthetically appealing -- aero is some good stuff :P) environment for the majority of tasks that I do. For manipulating raw disk images though, the tools available for Windows pale in comparison to those on Linux. I keep that Ubuntu VM around for the inverse of the reasons that the Linux zealots keep the XP VM on their desktops ;-)

Re:Thanks MS - First post I think! (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567320)

I use Linux most of the time (my job even centres around it) but I quite like XP and have a few games and apps running on it that I either can't run or run well in Linux.

Both have their strengths & weaknesses, but neither are religious icons - just tools to get a job done.

This is great. (1, Insightful)

cfalcon (779563) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566810)

I'm really glad to see this.

hmm... (1)

Malenx (1453851) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566826)

This is one move I would never have suspected Microsoft to take. It will be interesting, but it only lasts until 2012. It's hard to believe they would extend it longer.

I wonder how many Russians are going to scramble for non-profit status.

Re:hmm... (4, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566886)

It will be interesting, but it only lasts until 2012. It's hard to believe they would extend it longer.

Apparently it's an interim measure while NGOs learn that they can take part in an existing program involving "donation" of software to non-profits. End result is effectively the same, as you get free licenses, but donations are to a specific org, whereas this is meant to be a blanket license to shield everyone from abuse right here and now.

Re:hmm... (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567046)

Of course, there's another way to look at this.

If current users of pirated MS software now have to register for a free software license that lasts until 2012, then in 2012 MS will be able to use those registration details to go back and ask them if they've now purchased a valid license for their software.

Not that I'm an MS fan but people who pirate software these days when there are usually very good legally free alternatives are hypocrites who deserve all they get.

Re:hmm... (1)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567272)

They won't have to register though, what will happen is they will simply say to that they are fully licensed until 2012.

In the meantime, they promote to said organizations through other channels the donation-based options for getting Microsoft software. That is, free (as in beer) software.

Re:hmm... (2, Insightful)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567364)

They won't have to register though, what will happen is they will simply say to that they are fully licensed until 2012.

Okay, point taken on that. But then a pirate user who suddenly becomes legal will probably start using things like Automatic Updates for the convenience, and then becomes visible, to a degree, to Microsoft.

FWIW, I'm mostly Linux guy so it doesn't bother me either way - but I know enough about MS to know they don't give anything away free without there being some alterior motive.

Re:hmm... (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567608)

I know enough about MS to know they don't give anything away free without there being some alterior motive.

It suffices to know how any major corporation behaves in that regard, MS is no different. They are, by definition, money-making machines.

And the "ulterior motive" - how about good PR; or damage control for existing bad PR (which, ultimately, reflects on sales)?

Coincidentally, it's why it's always worth pointing it out when such things happen. Reputation is also a resource, and corporations will spend money doing damage control when that resource is threatened. And, more often than not, said damage control means that money will be spent in such a way that will benefit the commons.

Re:hmm... (2, Interesting)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567782)

Not that I'm an MS fan but people who pirate software these days when there are usually very good legally free alternatives are hypocrites who deserve all they get.

What makes them hypocritical? To be hypocritical they'd have to start their own software company and loudly complain when other people pirated their product.

Tax breaks (0, Troll)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566830)

This is going to give MS some serious tax breaks because they can "donate" all the software they want because software is infinite.

And the TFA gets something wrong.

The blanket license for software builds on a software-donation program Microsoft already has, Smith said. While the company has donated US $390 million worth of software to NGOs in the past year, many nonprofits aren't aware of the program, he wrote. The new blanket license will last until 2012, and Microsoft hopes to move any interested NGOs to the existing software donation program by then, he said.

MS didn't donate anything and they shouldn't get tax breaks (like the likely will) for donating non-existent products. So in other words MS can do nothing and rack up massive tax deductions for doing something that doesn't leave them with anything less.

Re:Tax breaks (4, Informative)

blagder (234003) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567174)

I think you are misinterpreting that paragraph; and thus not giving Microsoft their due credit.

It is saying that Microsoft already does run a ‘donation’ program to NGOs that likely does allow them tax deductions at no cost. But that’s not what this is. By instantly creating a license that any NGO can use for free; they cannot claim a deduction. For a deduction, they would have to get the NGO/journalist to go through specific channels so that they could document the ‘donation’. And that of course if why they want to move people to their donation program.

This is talked about in a bit more detail in the Microsoft blog entry that announced it. I would expect this to make it a bit more difficult to get NGOs to use their donation program since the motivation for jumping through the hooks is less.

This is a fantastic program and Microsoft should be commended for it. Even on Slashdot.

Now, getting deductions for software (or other IP) donations in general is ridiculous and something that governments should reconsider. Any business deduction where they can control the value of the donation by their pricing is somewhat shady. But this license does not seem to be taking advantage of that.

What about here? (-1, Offtopic)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566834)

What about here at home in the U.S.? If Microsoft wants to protect NGO non-profit's from nefarious actions they should not be so hypocritical as to do it abroad only. There are plenty of dissident non-profit organizations in the U.S. that are subject to nefarious actions by law enforcement all of the time. There are pro-marijuana groups that may be doing nothing illegal in the limelight by producing leaflets and holding rallies that are subject to the scrutiny of law enforcement. In fact, it isn't a crime to dissent in the US. Ah, but once again, everything is profit and loss motivated. Microsoft would be concerned about losing its lucrative government contracts and some of its contracts with business that stands to lose money if certain dissident groups got their way.

Re:What about here? (4, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566902)

Can you cite evidence of any "dissident" groups in the US that have been busted for software piracy? This is a case of Microsoft trying to "do the right thing", they should be applauded for their efforts, not criticized.

Re:What about here? (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566906)

There are pro-marijuana groups that may be doing nothing illegal in the limelight by producing leaflets and holding rallies that are subject to the scrutiny of law enforcement.

That's probably an extreme example because I doubt any corporation would want any of their products associated with a pro-marijuana group as it would be bad for their image - branding is everything these days.

Re:What about here? (5, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566988)

So far as my limited understanding of US copyright law goes, the government cannot sue someone for copyright infringement on behalf of the rights owner; the latter actually has to initiate the process. In Russia (and a few other places), this is not the case - copyright infringement (even small-scale) is a criminal matter, and prosecuted as such by the state, with or without cooperation from the rights owner. This is what made possible the abuse in this particular case. It's actually hinted at in TFS:

The law in Russia (and many other countries) requires that one must provide truthful information about the facts in response to a subpoena or other judicial process. With this new software license, we effectively change the factual situation at hand.

The situation before was like this: say, Russian police gets a tip from "above" to harass a particular NGO. They raid the offices on some premise (it's not US, so there are many ways to legitimize such a raid) and confiscate a bunch of PCs. They then subpoena MS to testify whether software on those PCs, in which MS holds copyrights, is legitimately owned or copyright-infringing. Chances are high that at least a few boxes would have something unlicensed on them - and if they don't, you can always plant it there (rumor it is that it's precisely what they did in the case in question), so MS says "yes, some of that is not licensed". Police then takes it to state prosecutor which uses it as the grounds for the copyright infringement case.

The whole point of this blanket license is so that, if govt tries that trick again in the future, MS can say that all software in question is legally used, without even having to look at it. Hence there would be no grounds for a lawsuit.

Though something tells me that they'll just start looking for pirated Photoshop etc from now on.

Re:What about here? (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567292)

What about a non-profit organization, that just happens to to all the computer related operations of GM? Seems that there are a lot of ways for this to be abused.

Re:What about here? (1)

dynamo (6127) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567752)

Mod parent up, it's nowhere near flamebait. WTF!

Weird terminology (0, Flamebait)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566884)

Why do Slashdot articles sometimes use such weird terminology? Am I supposed to know what a "blanket software license" is? And a search on the internet has mainly articles with the title "Microsoft to Issue Blanket License" as result.

Re:Weird terminology (4, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566986)

Am I supposed to know what a "blanket software license" is?

If American English is your primary language, yes.
If not, know that here in America, we license our electric blanket software (the programs that tell a blanket when its getting too hot). Sure, some hip nerds install Linux on theirs so they can literally feel the system load, but most people just think of electric blankets as appliances.

Re:Weird terminology (1)

xenapan (1012909) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567000)

Microsoft just wants you to associate them with soft blankets.
They also want tax deductions from governments for setting up this blanket license (that no one will qualify for) e.g. Registered as a non-profit with microsoft AND recognized by the US government as ____ AND has less than 3 people in your organisation but more than 1! :p

Then they can say oh we donated 5 bajeeeellion dollars worth of software to nonprofits! (Except no one qualified for them.) Can I has tax reductions?

Re:Weird terminology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33567040)

Why do Slashdot articles sometimes use such weird terminology? Am I supposed to know what a "blanket software license" is?

"Blanket X" is a relatively common phrase in business, where the "blanket" means "covering (almost) everything". See blanket loan [wikipedia.org] and blanket order [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Weird terminology (1)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567506)

"Blanket license" is a pretty common term - it means that the license applies to everyone in the class, regardless of whether or not they have signed a specific agreement with Microsoft.

Linux and BSD ... (0, Offtopic)

Skapare (16644) | more than 4 years ago | (#33566960)

... need to do the same. Oh wait, they already have.

Re:Linux and BSD ... (4, Interesting)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567022)

The irony is that you can still end up in court for running Linux on PCs without "licenses", because the police don't understand it, and will only take those shiny holographic stickers as a proof that your software is "licensed". It's boneheaded, but some Russian Linux distribution companies have since started selling special stickers for Linux just for this purpose.

never trust Russians (1)

bball99 (232214) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567048)

ever!

Blanket License? (1)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567084)

I didn't realise you needed a license to own a blanket.

How does Linus feel about this?

Re:Blanket License? (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567172)

Penguins don't need blankets.

Nor do daemons.

Re:Blanket License? (2, Insightful)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567456)

No, no. The other [wikipedia.org] Linus.

Re:Blanket License? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33567196)

I imagine Linus doesn't support the use of blankets, as you can't arbitrarily modify them as you can with free and open-stitched quilts.

Microsoft treats non-profits very well (5, Informative)

dave562 (969951) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567158)

I used to work for a 501c3 non-profit and we got ridiculously good deals on Microsoft licensing. Everything from server licenses, to Office suite, Exchange and the whole Back Office line of products (SQL, Sharepoint, etc). I know that our Office licenses (for the Professional edition) were in the neighborhood of $30 a piece. That included a provision that allowed the users to have a copy of the program on their home computer as well.

Educational institutions too (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567432)

For instructional use, they give us software for free. We decided to just go and get their software assurance pack (more or less a site license for their software for any use) and it is extremely cheap on a yearly basis. Students get massive discounts, and the get to keep the license when they leave and use it for any purpose, including for profit.

MS and Adobe are actually two of the best companies for cutting educational institutions a break. Some of the engineering companies... Well they are assholes :P.

Re:Educational institutions too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33567544)

Isn't Google Apps free for education? I'd have to check again, it's been about a year.

Re:Microsoft treats non-profits very well (3, Informative)

slashbaby (261784) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567562)

Second this.

I work for the Canadian branch of an international NGO, and MS almost throws software at us - we recently were donated $50 000 MSRP of software from MS. We paid $2300 in "administration fees" - which pay for two years of Software Assurance, downloads, customer service, tech support, etc.

Most software companies are generous to registered NGOs.

We do use *nix for many things, most of our network infrastructure is *nix. It just makes sense. But for the users, who know Office and Windows, we can't justify the lost time and training in switching to a something else when there is next to no price benefit - our software cost per workstation is ~$50 every 4 years.

I do feel bad for being a MS propagation machine, but they do make it pretty darn easy.

So how does one qualify? (3, Interesting)

brianary (986309) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567194)

Which organizations? How will Microsoft define "journalist"? Will bloggers qualify? Does the journalist, the publication, and/or the group need to be outside the US?

Will they get a license key and support?

"Whatever the circumstances of the particular cases the New York Times described, we want to be clear that we unequivocally abhor any attempt to leverage intellectual property rights to stifle political advocacy or pursue improper personal gain."

So very naive. Do they think they are getting IP enforcement externalities for free?

Re:So how does one qualify? (1)

Steve Hamlin (29353) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567330)

You're going too far - MS doesn't need to define who is covered, and don't need to provide license keys or support, they simply need to be able to liberally grant requesting NGOs / any other person licenses when they are politically harassed using license non-compliance as a reason. If and only if volume becomes a problem do they need better processes & policies.

It's forgoing minimum incremental revenue in the pursuit of good corporate citizenship (apparently, and in this particular instance).

"So very naive. Do they think they are getting IP enforcement externalities for free?"

No, but they are solving / preventing one minor externality right now - so why complain that they haven't also solved all the world's IP problems? This was the right response to a specific set of circumstances.

Re:So how does one qualify? (1)

brianary (986309) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567582)

I'm not "going too far" in just trying to determine who this applies to!

I wasn't complaining that they haven't solved IP "problems". I was pointing out that they've made a deal with the devil to get tough, criminal enforcement.

NGOs should change to Linux (2, Insightful)

bdwoolman (561635) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567394)

I have argued that NGOs should change to Linux to avoid this very vulnerability. Some have even done so at my suggestion. I suspect at root that with this move Microsoft is parrying this very trend. And looking good while doing so. Of course NGOs should still use Linux for many reasons. Especially since much of the pirate software on their boxes is not MS and this still leaves them vulnerable. Most work done by NGOs can be accomplished by FOSS. Linux and NGOs are a natural fit.

Of course a bully needs only the weakest excuse so the official harassment will continue despite whatever OS or resources are used.

Rubber hoses (-1, Flamebait)

c (8461) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567462)

If you put Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith in a room with some of the local secret police thugs, I'm pretty confident that he'd have an affidavit signed in under five minutes indicating that any particular NGO or journalist doesn't meet the blanket license requirements on some technicality. Local Microsoft officials (i.e. those with local families) would best that time by at least four minutes.

Mighty nice of them (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567670)

Was that a pig i just saw fly by?

well that was odd (2, Informative)

phrostie (121428) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567712)

I may never have a reason to say this ever again so, well done!

Throwing local employees to the wolves? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33567718)

This is basically Microsoft US trying to out their non-US employees that are on the take, accepting bribes from Russian authorities, but without having to set a single foot in the sales territory itself. A foot that would likely be kidnapped, offered for ransom, and then delivered to Redmond in several plastic bags dripping with bodily fluids.

Outside the US (0, Flamebait)

dynamo (6127) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567728)

If this actually made any moral or political sense, they wouldn't restrict it to NGOs outside the US. But it's just a PR stunt, and clearly labelled as such by the narrowness of the change.

Let's all start an NGO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33567818)

Let's all start an NGO - thePirateBayUsers should qualify ;-)

(yes, I'm glad I live outside the US)

Did the thermostats in Hell just drop? (4, Insightful)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | more than 4 years ago | (#33567826)

Never thought I'd be posting this on Slashdot, but an unbelievable move for good by Microsoft. It's good to see them take a stand against repression. Now, I hope these same ethics get cemented in all their business processes.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?