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Oracle To Pay US Almost $200M To Resolve False Claims Lawsuit

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the reverse-stimulus-package dept.

Oracle 114

coondoggie writes "In what it says is the largest False Claims Act settlement it has ever collected, the US General Services Administration will get $199.5 million plus interest from Oracle for 'failing to meet their contractual obligations.' According to the US Department of Justice, 'the settlement resolves allegations that, in contract negotiations and over the course of the contract's administration, Oracle knowingly failed to meet its contractual obligations to provide GSA with current, accurate and complete information about its commercial sales practices, including discounts offered to other customers, and that Oracle knowingly made false statements to GSA about its sales practices and discounts.'"

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114 comments

GPL: Intellectual Theft (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37633462)

Hello,

As a consultant for several large companies, I'd always done my work on
Windows. Recently however, a top online investment firm asked us to do
some work using Linux. The concept of having access to source code was
very appealing to us, as we'd be able to modify the kernel to meet our
exacting standards which we're unable to do with Microsoft's products.

Although we met several technical challenges along the way
(specifically, Linux's lack of Token Ring support and the fact that we
were unable to defrag its ext2 file system), all in all the process
went smoothly. Everyone was very pleased with Linux, and we were
considering using it for a great deal of future internal projects.

So you can imagine our surprise when we were informed by a lawyer that
we would be required to publish our source code for others to use. It
was brought to our attention that Linux is copyrighted under something
called the GPL, or the Gnu Protective License. Part of this license
states that any changes to the kernel are to be made freely available.
Unfortunately for us, this meant that the great deal of time and money
we spent "touching up" Linux to work for this investment firm would
now be available at no cost to our competitors.

Furthermore, after reviewing this GPL our lawyers advised us that any
products compiled with GPL'ed tools - such as gcc - would also have to
its source code released. This was simply unacceptable.

Although we had planned for no one outside of this company to ever
use, let alone see the source code, we were now put in a difficult
position. We could either give away our hard work, or come up with
another solution. Although it was tough to do, there really was no
option: We had to rewrite the code, from scratch, for Windows 2000.

I think the biggest thing keeping Linux from being truly competitive
with Microsoft is this GPL. Its draconian requirements virtually
guarantee that no business will ever be able to use it. After my
experience with Linux, I won't be recommending it to any of my
associates. I may reconsider if Linux switches its license to
something a little more fair, such as Microsoft's "Shared Source".
Until then its attempts to socialize the software market will insure
it remains only a bit player.

Thank you for your time.

Re:GPL: Intellectual Theft (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37633522)

You need to pay for better lawyers, oh asshat troll.

Re:GPL: Intellectual Theft (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37633530)

You need a better lawyer.

Re:GPL: Intellectual Theft (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37633536)

GPL only kicks in if you start distributing (e.g. selling) the software. If the software is only for you/client/whatever - it doesn't really matter. My advice - get a new lawyer, because this one sucks.

Re:GPL: Intellectual Theft (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633554)

I thought the "source or GTFO" nature of the GPL only applied if you distributed the software?

Keeping a private modified repo that you don't distribute, as you mentioned above, would not compell you to release the source, as far as I can tell.

Now, if you were delivering enterprise software as a product based on gpl code, you are totally boned.

Re:GPL: Intellectual Theft (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37637122)

You have it exactly. The only down side to the GPL is that if you sell the binary to just one person you have to give them the code, and they can give the code to everyone. That is a real down side, and if it affects your particular project it can be a good reason not to use the GPL.

Re:GPL: Intellectual Theft (0)

gshegosh (1587463) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633608)

So, to summarize: - your hard work is worth money and protection - linux developers hard work is not worth money nor protection - access to linux source code is appealing to you - access to your source code is theft Way to go, hypocrite.

Re:GPL: Intellectual Theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37633752)

Holy shit, did you fall hard for a truly ancient troll or what?!?!

Re:GPL: Intellectual Theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37634170)

Ha ha funny, at least seven years link [cnet.com] (see the comments), but maybe even older due to the 'token ring' mention

Re:GPL: Intellectual Theft (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37633622)

If you don't publish you dont need to publish. I suggest you remove these "lawyers", they clearly don't know anything. Now that I think you must be troll, nobody is this stupid.

Re:GPL: Intellectual Theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37633720)

Nice bit of FUD you have there... and how is this related to this post? Oh, right. It doesn't!

You can modify the Kernel and do everything else you stated under the GPL and don't need to release your changes publicly if it's for internal use only. It's only if you started selling the product outside that you would need to do so. The fact that you didn't know the kernel was even copyrighted under the GPL or what the GPL says before you supposedly started means that either your a grossly negligent or an idiot.

That said, my suggestion would be to hire a better lawyer... preferably one who can read.

You might also want to ask Steve Ballmer to give you some new talking points as the one's you've covered here for him are so blatantly not true they will only get you laughed at. For example, defragging ext2 is generally not necessary, because it was designed robustly and doesn't have inherent fragmentation problems that all of Microsoft's poorly designed filesystems do, however you can defrag it

Re:GPL: Intellectual Theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37633778)

GPL = General Public License not Gnu Protective License as you state.

you can learn more about GPL and how it help's people and company at http://www.gnu.org/licenses/licenses.html

and the FAQ is at http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html

Re:GPL: Intellectual Theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37633896)

I cant believe this ancient troll - cmon guys this was doing the round in 2001! - actually worked.

What next, Natalie Portman in hot grits?

Re:GPL: Intellectual Theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37633934)

You've had that same long chunk of text in your paste buffer for, what, about 12 years now?

I'm impressed.

Re:GPL: Intellectual Theft (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37634332)

Moron - you don't need to publish changes to the code, unless and until you PUBLISH those changes. You're doing inhouse stuff? Change away. Oh - you want to SELL the stuff you've altered? Well, then, yeah, you have to make the source code available to your customers. Oh, you say that's unacceptable? Tough noogies, little cretin.

Tell you what - why don't you go out and design your own kernel, and your own operating system? A really smart bunch of people like you claim to work with shouldn't even find that to be a challenge.

Oh, what's that you say? You're not smart people at all? You were only attempting to exploit other people's work? Oh - I see. You're really a bunch of losers. Well, I'm sorry to hear that. Maybe you should go into another line of work. Even losers can find work digging ditches and cleaning septic tanks. Good luck in your new careers!

Re:GPL: Intellectual Theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37634398)

Don't feed the trolls, moron. You've been here long enough to know better.

SDALKFJASDLKFJ!~!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37633464)

OMFG yay

If only they would think twice next time. (4, Insightful)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633500)

Sadly, this business practice indicates a financial incentive for oracle to lie to high profile clients in order to charge them extra.

If only other high profile clients would take heed of this and avoid oracle like plague, rather than thinking the practice will stop as a result of this settlement.

Business practices exist as the basis by which that company operates. Being shown to be a defrauder like this, shows that oracle relies on such practices, and are not likely to change.

(Quite frankly, given the sociopathic nature of oracle's ceo, I am not surprised by this development.)

Re:If only they would think twice next time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37633596)

But, but, but...

They have a new business model that they believe will
offset these earlier practices.

It's called

Sue Google!

Re:If only they would think twice next time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37633856)

But, but, but...

They have a new business model that they believe will
offset these earlier practices.

It's called

Sue Google!

Lose 200 milion $ over here, sue for 2 billion $ over there.
I guess from their perspective it makes sense.

Re:If only they would think twice next time. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37633716)

Don't read this... it is a curse...

In 2001, a little boy named Joey was lying on the bed in his room. Suddenly, he heard something land on the window ledge in his room.

When he looked up towards the window, he spotted a wizard puppet with a purple cape, round black eyes, a yellow star-shaped magical wand, a purple hat, and a white beard that covered its mouth. Joey realized that the wizard was staring directly at him, so he asked, "What do you want?"

The wizard replied, "Don't go in the living room." Joey nodded his head and told the wizard that he wouldn't whilst backing up towards the door leading to the living room. The wizard repeated what he said previously and told Joey not to go in the living room. Joey told him that he was just standing near the door. Then, Joey opened the door and ran out into the living room at incredible speed! He was sure that he could escape from the wizard!

It all proved futile, however, as the wizard was flying directly behind Joey. The wizard screamed, "I told you not to go in the living room!" Then, the wizard pointed his magical wand at Joey's bootyass and star-shaped glitter flew throughout the room. An enormous amount of tickle was inflicted upon Joey's bootyass. The wizard had casted a magical bootyass-tickling spell on Joey's bootyass!

Now that you have read this (even a single word of it), the wizard will cast the very same magical bootyass-tickling spell on your bootyass and inflict major amounts of tickle upon your bootyass! To prevent this from happening, post this curse as a comment three times.

Re:If only they would think twice next time. (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633750)

Larry ellison will blow cold clammy air on me then fuck me in the ass for daring to call him a sociopath?

Wow, and I thought he didn't care!

In other news:

Lol! Obvious troll is obvious!

Re:If only they would think twice next time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37633886)

Is this /b/? FUCK!

Re:If only they would think twice next time. (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633958)

I don't know, but the mere thought of larry ellison as a demented bootyass tickling sock puppet is quite funny in and of itself.

It perfectly explains the business relationships Oracle gets into.

Re:If only they would think twice next time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37633836)

This is why I will never do business with Oracle so long as I have the choice. Then again, part of the problem is that they try to make sure that the technical people do not have a choice and target their sales at non-technical management.

Re:If only they would think twice next time. (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 2 years ago | (#37636072)

Of course, even non-technical management should be able to understand how bad this is.

What did the govt write in the Oracle exit survey? (2)

Lexx Greatrex (1160847) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633526)

I recently uninstalled the last of my Oracle products. I posted the following reason on their exit survey:

"On several recent occasions, Oracle has unabashedly put greed before conscience in their treatment of their customers and others in our industry. Unfortunately for Oracle, such brazen and unconscionable behavior is a remnant of a past tolerant of such corporate narcissism. That time is at an end; and Oracle will wither and vanish into extinction as surely as other corporate dinosaurs unless it swiftly nurtures a culture of ethical conduct."

Re:What did the govt write in the Oracle exit surv (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37633650)

Resistance is futile, most of Oracle's significant clients are also "greedy corporate dinosaurs".

Oracle never cared about little players like you.

Re:What did the govt write in the Oracle exit surv (1)

etymxris (121288) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633892)

Oracle is unpopular in many shops. Being a dick to all your customers actually does turn them away, even the greedy amorphous customers known as corporations.

Oracle's main source of revenue in the past 10 or so years has been buying applications that many people are firmly committed to, like PeopleSoft and Weblogic, then jacking up the licensing and maintenance fees. Customers hate it when you do that.

That's the main driver that's pushing people away from their software. When Oracle buys a company, move away from that company's software as quickly as possible.

Re:What did the govt write in the Oracle exit surv (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37635306)

Well said. Larry is the *emperor* of bait-n-switch. I see Oracle customers doing everything in their power to gnaw their way free.

Re:What did the govt write in the Oracle exit surv (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37634848)

Resistance is futile, most of Oracle's significant clients are also "greedy corporate dinosaurs".

Oracle never cared about little players like you.

My 60000+ employee company is in the process of doing the same thing for the same reason. I have a friend involved in the decision-making process that's led to us replacing the Peoplesoft systems Oracle acquired. Oracle sent a team to try to negotiate terms that would keep our business - they were told we don't trust them and won't be doing any business with them in the future. They definitely cared to lose a mega-player like us.

Re:What did the govt write in the Oracle exit surv (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37633826)

I'm sure they read it.

Re:What did the govt write in the Oracle exit surv (1)

spongman (182339) | more than 2 years ago | (#37635814)

Nice.

One question, do you make a habit of saving your exit survey responses?

So cool... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633572)

When do I get my check? ...What, the government keeps the money?? And Oracle... raises their prices to compensate?? So as an Oracle customer, what did *I* do to deserve this?

Re:So cool... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633586)

If they failed to meet the obligation to you, then you should use them.

You're post is nonsense. Probably do to you trying to be clever about something you are ignorant of.

Re:So cool... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633610)

I'm sorry, I can't parse either of these sentences.

Re:So cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37637960)

meet the obligation -> meet their obligation
you should use them -> you should sue them
you're -> your
probably do to you -> probably due to you

These mistakes may be caused by a learning disability.

Re:So cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37633618)

Based on the high number of typos per word in your post, I surmise that you are either suffering from an earthquake or a stroke.

Re:So cool... (1)

jmrives (1019046) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633760)

If they failed to meet the obligation to you, then you should use them.

You're post is nonsense. Probably do to you trying to be clever about something you are ignorant of.

I guess we will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that English is not even your second language.

Re:So cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37634128)

Might work better if you set down the bong before trying to type, geekoid.

Re:So cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37634306)

If they failed to meet the obligation to you, then you should use them.

You're post is nonsense. Probably do to you trying to be clever about something you are ignorant of."

If they failed to meet their obligation, then you should sue them.

Your post is nonsense. Probably due to your trying to be clever about something about which you are ignorant.

HTH! HAND! BLNT!

Re:So cool... (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633592)

Maybe you shouldn't be an Oracle customer. I hear IBM is giving them a run for their money. Ellison is acting the asshole so I guess he had it coming anyway.

Re:So cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37633600)

Use Oracle?

Re:So cool... (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633602)

You accepted oracle as a supplier of mission critical software, thus putting your nads in their vise to squeeze until you cough up the dough?

Re:So cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37633606)

When do I get my check? ...What, the government keeps the money?? And Oracle... raises their prices to compensate?? So as an Oracle customer, what did *I* do to deserve this?

You brought it on yourself when you bought their products. And maybe your taxes won't go up so fast.

Re:So cool... (1)

Lexx Greatrex (1160847) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633678)

When do I get my check? ...What, the government keeps the money?? And Oracle... raises their prices to compensate??

Apart from the $40M that goes to the whistleblower Paul Frascella, the rest will defray the tax money already taken by Oracle on false grounds.

So as an Oracle customer, what did *I* do to deserve this?

You signed a contract with a corporation that shamelessly conducts illegal and immoral business practices.

Re:So cool... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37634280)

> You signed a contract with a corporation that shamelessly conducts illegal and immoral business practices.

You're absolutely right. Shame on me. Instead I will do business with a corporation that does *not* shamelessly conduct illegal and immoral business practices, ... um... it'll come to me... Hmm... Um,... uh... ok I got nuthin'.

You understand, right? I don't like Oracle any more than any of the other responders to this thread, but I fail to see how this penalty hurts Oracle. Wouldn't they just consider it part of overhead, and pass the cost to customers? Wouldn't they be fools not to?

Re:So cool... (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#37635166)

>Wouldn't they just consider it part of overhead, and pass the cost to customers? Wouldn't they be fools not to?

That you can even form this second question is indicative that you will get what you deserve. Oracle could be crushed to dust tomorrow and you'd just find a new beast to exploit you.

Re:So cool... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37635294)

You don't really know how business works, do you?

Re:So cool... (1)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37635600)

You don't really know how business works, do you?

Maybe he don't, but I do.

I used to work in the automobilistic industry as a consultant. It sucked a lot - I you'll not go into details, they're irrelevant.

I got pissed off, and gone to work on a entertainment industry. I probably got the biggest payment of my life, but it sucked even more - details are, too, irrelevant.

So I leaved again (I got fired, but I kinda asked for it), got a very bad time and come back to work as consultant again. This time, to a bank. You will laugh on me, but my time there was one of the best I ever had besides the money being not so good as the last job. But as consultant, I was not being able to negotiate a vacancy to spend with my son (he lives very far), so I gone from there too.

Well, now I'm working as contractor for a marketing little entrepreneurship. Guess what? It still sucks. The money is not bad, really, but dealing with clients idiosyncrasies and stupidities is a pain in the ass. Sometimes we have some little fights with boss or teammates (in small business, we sometimes became a little less professional than desirable) and others I end up working overnights eventually.

BUT....

I can negotiate my vacancies and I like pretty good 80% of what I do there. And some clients are really nice, I'm very proud of a job I did for the local division of Disney (YEAH!!).

So it sucks less, and I don't plan to leave if I have the choice.

I advise you to do what I did. If your job sucks bigtime, stop whining and LEAVE. If you can't, make arrangements so you can manage to leave in the near future.

But if your job doesn't sucks so much, stop whining the same way and learn to live with it.

Re:So cool... (1)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37635618)

MY GOD! X-(

I don't believe I noticed this just now! X-(

Where I wrote I you'll not go into details, please read I will not go into details.

Sorry my poor english.

Re:So cool... (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#37636312)

Yes, I do understand how business works. Business is the arbitrage of value. I'm in business and doing well by doing the right thing. There's lots to be had by doing the wrong thing, and always a crash after and I'm not into that. It's a simple thing: Do it right. Don't cheat. Don't lie. Don't even let the subject of your communication enter into some subjective belief that is untrue if you can correct it. Offer your best straight deal and if the customer is a sucker for frauds and you lose him he'll limp back one day more the wiser. Earn what you get and get what you earn. Take a fair margin and be happy with that. Respect your customer enough to give them the honest best answer in the field, disregarding all of the other side partner incentives that are fleeting. Don't be bribed to screw your customer. A bribe is a one-time thing, and a well-cared for customer is far more lucrative than a bribe could ever be. Know what the best answer is, without doubt.

No more, no less than the simple truth. I'm fortunate enough to have found a company I didn't have to teach these values to, and persuade them to let me work for them. Otherwise I'd have had to do some other useful thing with my life.

I've been on the downside of this when early on I designed a system that didn't have the promised properties and it cost more than a year of my pay to fix it - but it cost the customer nothing more because the company delivered the thing I promised. We lost money on that deal. I've learned since, and nobody had to school me - and nobody did. If I was the sort that needed to be led out behind the woodshed for discipline, I wouldn't have got on in the first place. It was a valuable lesson.

On the downstroke of the economy we did fine. Even as other failing companies were bidding less than cost we grew on the strength of our word. On the upstroke we grow even faster because people like the straight deal when they've got money to spend, and over time folks move up but they still know where to get a square deal. People don't want to spend all day on "value building" presentations - they just want to go to a trusted partner and say "How do I ...." and know that the answer they get is an honest answer.

And yes, I know that for your special case I might have said "sdakf dfakl; ewrq reqw ewrp" and it had as much meaning. You're not capable of understanding what I've written here. Both of us are playing to a wider audience, and I'm sad for the folk who listen to you. I've not said who I work for here, and I won't ever. I don't think that's appropriate for /., and I don't want my employer to be held accountable for my regular impolitick comments they're no party to - I've posted here longer than I've worked there. But good vendors can be had and the idea that everybody is out to screw over everybody else for maximum profit is the product of your corrupt soul. My world doesn't really work like that.

Re:So cool... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633684)

So as an Oracle customer, what did *I* do to deserve this?

Became an Oracle customer? Or was that a trick question?

Ok, so seriously... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37634328)

People people people why all the hate... enh, I'm sorry I can't say that with a straight face.

Ok so seriously, I understand what all of you are saying. So let's say Ellison says to his stockholders "We got hit with a $200M fine from the government for immoral practices, congress with kittens, and generally being a dick. I personally know I'm a dick, the government caught me red handed massaging my neck to orgasm, and so being as we are demonstrably guilty, I think this fine should come directly out of the company earnings, instead of our usual practice of considering fines to be overhead and raising prices to compensate."

He'd be out of power before he completed the sentence.

Re:So cool... (1)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37635480)

So as an Oracle customer, what did *I* do to deserve this?

You bought Oracle products, god damnit!

Of course you deserve that. And so do I deserve (the very, very few) times I spent nights trying to figure out that fscking configuration file that blowed up my apache VPS. ;-)

You have responsability on the choices you make!

Re:So cool... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37636276)

Easy cease to be an Oracle customer Simples*

whistleblower gets 40 million!! wow (4, Informative)

sanzibar (2043920) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633664)

"The DoJ also noted that the settlement resolves a lawsuit filed on behalf of the US government by former Oracle employee, Paul Frascella, who will receive $40 million as his share of the recovery in the case. Under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, private citizens can bring lawsuits on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery obtained by the government."

Re:whistleblower gets 40 million!! wow (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37634148)

Holy crap that's a lot of money!

On a completely unrelated note: does anyone know if Microsoft is hiring?

Re:whistleblower gets 40 million!! wow (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 2 years ago | (#37636044)

Wonder what the whistleblower will do with it.

Re:whistleblower gets 40 million!! wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37636524)

Go have a good life somewhere one would hope outta there quicker than a ferret down down a rabbit hole

Re:whistleblower gets 40 million!! wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37636848)

Buy another whistle of course, i think he has blown his current one to death.

Re:whistleblower gets 40 million!! wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37637920)

Probably blow ;p

why don't we extend this principle? (2)

t2t10 (1909766) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633666)

So, when selling to the government, Oracle is required to disclose discounts it gives to other customers. Which leaves me asking: why only the government? Seems to me markets would generally benefit from more transparency, both in terms of efficiency and legal compliance. What possible reason is there not to disclose terms of sales, discounts, etc. between any two companies? Why do we allow this information to remain proprietary? Conservatives and free market folks should be up in arms, since efficient markets require information.

And it wouldn't be hard to implement these days. If you are required to disclose a certain type of contract, you have to have done so when you conclude it in order for it to be legally enforceable.

Re:why don't we extend this principle? (1)

Lexx Greatrex (1160847) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633754)

So, when selling to the government, Oracle is required to disclose discounts it gives to other customers. Which leaves me asking: why only the government?

Any individual or entity could stipulate this as a contractual requirement.

Re:why don't we extend this principle? (1)

Thagg (9904) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633770)

The government often insists that they should get the best price, the greatest discount, that the supplier gives to anybody. It makes some sense, the government is often the largest customer -- I wouldn't be at all surprised if the US Federal Government was the largest single customer of Oracle.

The interesting part of this is that the sales department often uses this when people try to negotiate a lower price. "Sorry, we are required by law to not give you a lower price than we charge the government. It's out of our control, sorry."

Now, there are ways to get around this, covering the spectrum from legitimate to fraud and everywhere in between, but it's a ubiquitously used negotiating point.

Re:why don't we extend this principle? (5, Informative)

iroll (717924) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633782)

The government is the buyer, and they are making this disclosure a contractual requirement. If Oracle doesn't want to disclose their discounts, they don't have to sell to the government.

If you are a buyer, you can also demand that Oracle disclose their discounts to other customers. If oracle doesn't want to disclose their discounts, they don't have to sell to you.

But if they DO sign a contract with you, and they CLAIM that they gave you full disclosure, and they LIED to you, then you can SUE them. This is what the government is doing. There's no special law to implement, and there's no special treatment for the government.

Re:why don't we extend this principle? (1)

t2t10 (1909766) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633864)

First, this is not just a "contractual requirement"; government procurement is regulated by government regulations, not just contractual terms.

Second, your response is totally besides the point. My point was that widespread disclosure of contract terms would be a good thing. Do you disagree with that? On what grounds? What public interests are served by keeping contracts secret?

If you agree that it would be preferable to have contract terms public, then the question reduces to how to implement that. Most people negotiating with Oracle don't have the power to get those terms, so that's a non-starter.

If you want to put this into libertarian terms, then let me put it this way: Oracle and you can choose to disclose your agreement or not, but the public and the groups responsible for enforcing your contract (courts, police, etc.) can choose under what conditions to enforce your agreement, and they choose to do so only if you actually disclosed ahead of time. Simple, isn't it?

Re:why don't we extend this principle? (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#37635258)

First, this is not just a "contractual requirement"; government procurement is regulated by government regulations, not just contractual terms.

Yes, it is. The government's procurement policy is internal - it only applies to government employees. My company has procurement policies that it's officers are required to adhere to when making purchases for the business as well. The only difference here is that the government is a large enough customer that it can get away with dictating very onerous terms in its purchase agreements.

Second, your response is totally besides the point. My point was that widespread disclosure of contract terms would be a good thing. Do you disagree with that? On what grounds? What public interests are served by keeping contracts secret?

The same public interest that prevents me from nosing through all your bills and receipts. It's none of the public's damn business - just like the contract between you and your employer detailing how much money you earn.

Re:why don't we extend this principle? (1)

t2t10 (1909766) | more than 2 years ago | (#37635342)

The government's procurement policy is internal - it only applies to government employees.

Sorry, but the analogy falls flat. Government and private purchases are legally different.

The same public interest that prevents me from nosing through all your bills and receipts. It's none of the public's damn business - just like the contract between you and your employer detailing how much money you earn.

First of all, there are free, democratic nations where salary information is public, so even that wouldn't obviously incompatible with public interest. And in some states, financial information like home purchase prices are already disclosed publicly. Given that income taxes are government records, it could well be argued that they should be public. And for many kinds of employees, you can already find out salary information.

The analogy with bills and receipts also falls flat; I wasn't suggesting to let the government rifle through your private papers. I was suggesting that if you want a particular class of contract to be enforceable through a public court, you should have to make it public. In fact, we already have such classes of contracts, we might simply want to expand them. So, nobody is compelling you to publish anything, it's just that if you want a certain service, you need to publish.

Finally, even if you think that salary falls under a "right to privacy", there is a difference between privacy for human beings and privacy for corporations.

So, you haven't presented much of an argument so far other than "that's the way it has always been done".

Re:why don't we extend this principle? (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#37635394)

Sorry, but the analogy falls flat. Government and private purchases are legally different.

How? Are you going to actually make an argument, or simply reply with "no its not"?

The analogy with bills and receipts also falls flat; I wasn't suggesting to let the government rifle through your private papers. I was suggesting that if you want a particular class of contract to be enforceable through a public court, you should have to make it public

So you wish to withhold justice unless people comply with your demands to let government rifle through their private papers. That's not a particularly useful distinction.

Finally, even if you think that salary falls under a "right to privacy", there is a difference between privacy for human beings and privacy for corporations.

So a business run by one person wouldn't be required to divulge this (after all, he's a person!), but a business run as a corporation would (it's a corporation, and therefore eeeevil).

So, you haven't presented much of an argument so far other than "that's the way it has always been done".

And you haven't presented much of an argument so far other than "I want to know, so you should be compelled to tell me".

Re:why don't we extend this principle? (1)

Lisias (447563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37635710)

So, you haven't presented much of an argument so far other than "that's the way it has always been done".

And you haven't presented much of an argument so far other than "I want to know, so you should be compelled to tell me".

As a matter of fact, he did. If people enough stands for it, so it will be. It's what happens on a democracy.

Business should not be granted more rights than people have. The government should be by the people, and for the people - or we will end up in a monetary dictatorship....

Oh, wait....

Re:why don't we extend this principle? (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#37635886)

As a matter of fact, he did. If people enough stands for it, so it will be. It's what happens on a democracy.

So, given that this isn't happening, the current state of affairs is perfectly acceptable, and no argument is necessary. Sweet.

Re:why don't we extend this principle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37634950)

This whole "free market" thing works when information is "free".

You want successful market economy, you need mandatory info out. Without it, you get a clusterfuck.

Re:why don't we extend this principle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37634178)

I was actually saying this about the debit card charges. While they are...unpleasant, it's not like the money wasn't being bilked out of somebody already.

It was just not available to the public what they were being charged.

Now it is.

Re:why don't we extend this principle? (4, Insightful)

mbkennel (97636) | more than 2 years ago | (#37635062)

"Why do we allow this information to remain proprietary? Conservatives and free market folks should be up in arms, since efficient markets require information."

In practice, it's because most 'mainstream' people in the USA with any clout who describe themselves as conservatives & free markets (e.g. editorial line of the Wall Street Journal) are not actually true free marketers, instead they are class advocates for the wealthy and powerful.

Policies which get in the way of high profit margins for powerful corporations and people are disfavored, such as anti-trust regulations, or indeed any action to ensure true price-transparency and remove barriers to competitive substitution.

For instance, the Wall Street Journal editors strenuously argue against rigorous randomized controlled studies funded by Medicare which evaluate head-to-head effectiveness, risks, and cost of pharmaceuticals. Because such information in practice might result in lower pharmaceutical profitability and lower government spending.

This is how the _Economist_ differs from the _Wall Street Journal_: the first is an advocate for capitalism, the second is an advocate for wealth.

F_ck Oracle (3, Interesting)

TheGreatDonkey (779189) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633732)

At a previous employer, we were a moderately sized company with a significant Oracle DB back-end behind an online platform. While the relationship had been rather professional in the beginning, Oracle's sales tactics over the years have really taken a turn to the point of being beyond what I ever saw from Microsoft in the 90's. As an existing DB customer, we were looking for an SSO solution to the platform. Oracle has such a bundle, and in exchange for buying the solution, our VP negotiated for them to provide several weeks of consulting services to help implement. Months later, it was a disaster (its a hodgepodge of companies they have purchased over the years and nothing overly coherent) and so the org decided to completely abort and go in another direction. We agreed to part ways and let them keep the up front cost and first year of support, but come the end of our support year, asked to remove the recurring support option on our contract for this software we no longer used. The two sales folks in charge of our contract were afraid of looking like they lost an option, and decided to strong-arm and said that if we pushed to have this line item removed, they would increase the support costs of all the remaining items we continued to use beyond what we would pay if we just kept the line item. We were now forced to continue to pay for a completely separate SKU/product we were not using if we wished to maintain consistent terms on the Oracle DB we could not easily displace.

And if you want to see the shit they have been pulling with CPU's going multi-core and beyond over the past several years, look up the crap they pulled with HP when they tried to provide a BIOS option to lock a multicore CPU down to a single one to allow the server to remain Oracle compliant. Their explicit BIOS notes said as much at one point. Hint: F_ck Oracle again. You have no choice in this model of growing core density but to continue to pay more to Oracle, even if you hard-limit the cores down.

Re:F_ck Oracle (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633786)

That was the longest description of bundling I've ever read. It's a pretty common practice used by fast food chains, service providers, manufacturers, etc.

Re:F_ck Oracle (1)

etymxris (121288) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633916)

It's not bundling. The customer was threatened with having to pay more than they ever did before they even considered installing the SSO solution. It'd be like buying a combo meal, then getting an apple turn over, then deciding you don't want the apple turnover, then being charged more for the original combo meal.

Re:F_ck Oracle (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#37635152)

More like you buy a combo meal, then buy a turnover separately, but the turnover has a rat in it so you decide you don't want another one. They tell you if you don't buy it anyway, they'll make sure you can't eat at all for the next few weeks.

Re:F_ck Oracle (1)

jezwel (2451108) | more than 2 years ago | (#37634296)

Document the risk that your vendor is going to increase pricing and let your CEO/CFO work it out. Ensure you have multiple supported platforms where possible to play vendors off against each other. Yes you need talented staff and this may only work in larger companies; for mine we have Oracle, MS, and IBM database deployments - we spend enough that it can save $$$ by keeping vendors a bit more honest.

alternative (that I advocate where I can influence or choose) is opensource. Unfortunately It's going to take several years while we setup our backend systems to support specialist applications on o/s desktops.

Re:F_ck Oracle (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 2 years ago | (#37636002)

OK, this is going to read like a troll but I really want to know. I've never used OracleDB, though I've had a few customers who do. I've used others, including MySQL and Postrgres and some long dead. They're wonderful. They cluster nicely, they answer queries in predictable ways. You give 'em tuples, they give 'em back when you ask for them - and that's about it. MySQL and Postgres take advantage of modern tech like 12-core processors, 10Gbps Ethernet or Infiniband, PCIe attached, Fiber attached, SAS and SATA attached connections for networking and storage. They run nicely in a virtual machine. And they're free - as in if you want to install 10 instances on 10 servers each with 48 cores (soon 64) and 512GB RAM, knock yourself out. Those servers cost about $37K each, $45K if you populate them with 8x480GB OWC SSDs (and who wouldn't?), and a little more if you add some IODrives Duos, or some SAN into the mix. There are some crazy large and crazy fast options available now. And you can buy decent support from credible companies too. Oracle owns MySQL now and that's a red flag (though it's been forked), but Postgres is still out there and I understand it is quite the credible SQL implementation that doesn't quit working when you need to migrate it to the next generation of high-performance hardware because you haven't licensed it for that. You don't have to negotiate the licensing on these free things to move to the next level, as happens it seems each 18 months or so.

What would it cost, I wonder, to fully license Oracle's DB suite on that $450K cluster. Anybody know? For added points solve the problem in reverse: What's the scale of a fully licensed Oracle DB cluster you could buy with half a million dollars, hardware and software included, assuming a fairly standard 5-year service life and the usual redundancy requirements? And if the capabilities of the available servers doubled again in 18 months, as has been their wont these last two decades, what cost then?

OracleDB is a bog-standard SQL database server with the oddly distinguishing characteristic that its queries aren't quite the same as the others. I understand it's got some special management sizzle - that's non-portable. I'm old. I've been around so long I remember when SQL was a sketchy maybe competitor to COBOL. It seems to have caught on though. SQL was invented in the 1970's, became an ANSI standard in 1986 and ISO standard in 1987. It's been improved a few times - adding a few features, but that's basically it - SQL has been a solved problem for so long my legacy SQL code is old enough to buy alcohol in DC. Some of that legacy code is older than the mother of my grandson. Sure, there are new features and proprietary features. The new features are cool if they're standard. The proprietary features are just a violation of the basic principle of a common database language in the first place - using them is an egregious programming error on par with using GOTO which last I heard is considered harmful. I can understand issues about losing the source code for ancient apps written in C that are still useful - I've done that - hell, I lost my best dancing tree chainsort that way and I wish I had it back because it was elegant. But SQL code is written in text, exclusively. You can't lose the source code. Eventually this clinging to legacy code becomes a History Channel episode of Hoarders - the inability to let go of ancient garbage is a mental health issue.

What is there about OracleDB that makes people willing to put up with this nonsense and pay so much for it each year? I just don't get this "you have no choice" thing at all. At some point I would think it's just a better answer to buy some modern gear, hire some folk to un-Oracleize the code, migrate the data and move on. Certainly "if you buy it we're going to exploit your dependence on our product to milk you like the cash cow you are" can't be an appealing part of the ROI presentation.

I just don't get it. Maybe my inability to "get it" defines some deficiency in me. But I don't think so. SQL isn't even the sizzle now. It's all about Hadoop now, and Key Value Pair services like memcached. People are starting to build on Sergey Brin's MapReduce - which in my mind is right up there with yacc and lex as a distillation of a problem to its most primitive. SQL will be around for a long time yet - but so will ascii text format, and nobody's paying anybody for that. Certainly nobody's paying anybody licensing fees for permission to access their ascii text, right?

Help me out here. Reply parent and all observers: what is there about this that I'm not getting? Where is the corner I can't see around? Guide me back to the path because I'm seriously lost here.

Greek Mythology says ha ha (2)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | more than 2 years ago | (#37633766)

An Oracle salesperson lied? That has to be the first time. Oracle never lies.
They named themselves after a rather deceitful figure from Greek mythology so this is sort of funny to see them proven to be a bunch of lying turds.
Every time I have ever dealt with Oracle I was left with a foul taste in my mouth.

Want a good laugh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37634110)

Check out Larry's Open World Kenote:
http://www.oracle.com/openworld/live/on-demand/index.html
If you want a really good laugh go to the last 15-20 minutes when he's demo'ing the Oracle social network.
This guy has lost the plot if he thinks that anyone believes that Fusion apps is anything but a big fat pile of bloatware. Oh so it's GA now? where on their apps download page can I download Fusion Apps?
http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/indexes/downloads/index.html#apps

Re:Want a good laugh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37635348)

The only thing "open" about Larry is when he opens his wallet to put a new company in it. Oracle is the pinnacle of doublespeak - they name their conference/pep rally "openworld" to fool the uninformed "customer." It's a rare tech company that can routinely lie, cheat and steal as a business model and usually get away with it. Glad to see their nuts in a vise for a change.

not enough (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | more than 2 years ago | (#37634286)

unfortunately, in order to really make a lasting impression on companies that pull shit like this, you have to do real damage to them. make them pay 20% of their net worth and inform them it will be double that next time and they wont make the mistake of pulling that shit again. if that happened, everyone involved would likely get tossed to the wolves.

Re:not enough (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 2 years ago | (#37636102)

better would be a do not purchase order, all agencies prohibited from buying anything new from oracle and can only expand an oracle installation if it would be more than 50% more expensive to use a suitable alternative

Left holding the bag... (1)

Thad Zurich (1376269) | more than 2 years ago | (#37634578)

... are the agencies that overpaid Oracle, probably by (a lot) more than the amount of the settlement. The funds will be returned to the general revenue, and the government programs Oracle ripped off will never be reimbursed. That means Johnny doesn't have as many bullets to shoot at Al Qaeda, because the logistics chain is out the extra money they paid Oracle. It also means that contractor Jane got laid off, because the money to pay her went to Oracle instead.

It's more likely... (1)

billybob_jcv (967047) | more than 2 years ago | (#37635344)

...that the tens of thousands of people in the Oracle Sales organization have no idea what discounts are being given to all their customers. My dozen or more Oracle reps don't even know what each of them has sold me over the last 2 years. Oracle has the most dysfunctional and customer-unfriendly Sales organization in the industry. I don't want different Sales reps for Databases, ERP Apps, Hyperion, Middleware, Identity Management, etc, etc AND I don't want to be shifted around from an industry vertical account to a strategic account to a regional account to gawd knows where every 6 months. I want ONE Oracle sales rep! Is that so hard to comprehend??? Apparently, yes, it is...

Re:It's more likely... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37638512)

...that the tens of thousands of people in the Oracle Sales organization have no idea what discounts are being given to all their customers. My dozen or more Oracle reps don't even know what each of them has sold me over the last 2 years. Oracle has the most dysfunctional and customer-unfriendly Sales organization in the industry. I don't want different Sales reps for Databases, ERP Apps, Hyperion, Middleware, Identity Management, etc, etc AND I don't want to be shifted around from an industry vertical account to a strategic account to a regional account to gawd knows where every 6 months. I want ONE Oracle sales rep! Is that so hard to comprehend??? Apparently, yes, it is...

So why do you use them???

We kicked their ass out of our company. I don't put up with the shit you are talking about. Their are other companies with good products and good sales staffs.

Taxation by any other name (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#37637036)

They'll pass the price on to their locked-in customers, outsource another few divisions to Elbonia, or just find more ways to avoid paying corporate tax. Either way, it won't change their behaviour one whit: it's just the cost of doing business.

Sounds like... (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#37638146)

...somebody forgot to pay their protection money to some Congressional committee member. Defense, telecom, and other seasoned players know that this is part of the game. Oracle needs to put on their big-boy pants and step up to the plate if they want to play in this league.

so where is the contract information? (1)

jnowlan (618290) | more than 2 years ago | (#37638572)

Any way to see what the discounts, etc were that are part of this contract? Freedom of Information request?
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