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New Blow for Microsoft in EU Row

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the smackdown-2.0 dept.

341

twitter writes "The BBC is reporting on a stinging rebuke to Microsoft and their last defensive move in the EU anti-trust trials. Boston district court judge Mark Wolf accused Microsoft of trying to 'circumvent and undermine' European Law by requesting Novell documents. The story reminds us that last month, a federal judge in California denied subpoenas of Oracle and Sun for the same reasons, that a New York judge is currently considering a request against IBM and that Microsoft will be appealing their March 2004 conviction next week and may face millions of dollars of fines a day. New complaints were made just two months ago."

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341 comments

Millions a day..... (1)

rufuseddy (781982) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154708)

I only make about 50.....

Fist (-1, Offtopic)

StarKruzr (74642) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154709)

Prost?

DAMMIT. (3, Interesting)

StarKruzr (74642) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154718)

So close.

Anyway. FTFA:

"Enforcing Microsoft's ... subpoena to Novell would circumvent and undermine the law of the European Community concerning how a litigant may obtain third-party documents," judge Wolf said in his 12-page decision.

Now that was a profoundly unexplained statement. Does anyone know why this is the case?

Re:DAMMIT. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15154743)

Your Semitic vagina coming home to roost, mein Freund.

Sieg (0, Offtopic)

StarKruzr (74642) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155123)

Heil-lo, my Teutonic nemesis. This shall not be the last time we cross swords.

And by "cross swords," I think you know what I mean. Oh yes.

DIE JUDEN UEBER ALLES

Re:DAMMIT. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15154760)

The way I understand it, it is like follows:

Microsoft approaches an American court and says, in essence: Please force company so-and-so (in this case Novell, in another case it was Sun and Oracle) to render a number of documents to us. Reason? Well, we are involved in a lawsuit in Europe, and these documents have been used there in some context or other, but it was ruled that we had no right to look at them.

The court then replies: So what? European courts have their own mechanisms. The only basis for your demand is that you don't like the outcome of those mechanisms and want an American court to interfere with the European proceedings. It would improper for us to grant you that wish.

I still don't get it (1, Insightful)

7of7 (956694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154712)

I know that Microsoft has a genuinely shady past in terms of business practices, but the "new charges" seem to be awfully weak to me. From TLFA "as well as the bundling of Windows Media Player and Windows Media Server with its desktop and server operating system respectively." Now I could be wrong, but last time I checked every OS comes with a Media Player. At some point you just have to wonder what the real point of these suits is if they're not going to call MS on its real bad business practices and will instead throw questionable charges at Microsoft. That's an awfully weak case IMHOP.

Re:I still don't get it (4, Informative)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154755)

Now I could be wrong, but last time I checked every OS comes with a Media Player.
Yeah, but unlike Windows, every other OS is not a monopoly! The rules about bundling are different for monopolies and non-monopolies, which is why it's illegal for Microsoft but legal for everyone else.

You're right that the charge is weak in isolation because it couldn't establish Microsoft as a monopoly by itself. However, it is useful in combination with all the other charges that have been levied against them, because it provides yet another example of the abuse that Microsoft has already been proven to engage in.

In other words, this charge says "not only have they formerly abused their monopoly (which has already been proven), but they're still doing it, willfully disregarding the previous ruling!"

Re:I still don't get it (2, Interesting)

7of7 (956694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154798)

The rules about bundling are different for monopolies and non-monopolies That seems very sketchy from a legal standpoint. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Microsof t#Government_anti-trust_suits/ [wikipedia.org] it appears that Microsoft originally was considered a monopoly for the sole reason that they had a large percentage of the desktop market. I fail to see how making Microsoft sell their OS piece by piece somehow decreases their ability to keep a monopoly. Furthermore, allowing other companies to engage in potentially monopolistic behavior simply because Microsoft has a monopoly seems just plain backwards. Perhaps the best end would be if the other shoe dropped and Microsoft were eventually split into a software and an OS company. At this point though, I fail to see how anything besides another company making a decent product, as Apple tries to do, and the FOSS movement is doing decent at with Linux/BSD/etc... would impact Microsoft's dominance in the operating system market.

Re:I still don't get it (4, Insightful)

shawb (16347) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154830)

The problem isn't so much that they are a monopoly, but they are using their monopoly in one market (OS) to leverage power over competitors in another market (media player.) Being a monopoly is not in and of itself a bad thing, but using the power that comes with being a monopoly to stifle competition is a very bad thing in a capitolistic market.

Re:I still don't get it (1, Insightful)

j_s_summers (783810) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154943)

What media player market? The last time I checked, Real Player and Quicktime were both FREE products. If you think that there's a media player market, then isn't also a text editor market? There are companies that sell text editors (notetab, textpad, etc). Should microsoft stop including notepad and wordpad with windows?

Re:I still don't get it (1)

Luctius (931144) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155109)

And if microsoft would include those free players, there would not be a problem. Instead they include only their product, and because of the experience of most users, they will never see the other players.

Re:I still don't get it (4, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154876)

Microsoft are using their desktop OS monopoly to bundle a free media player and leverage the use of their proprietary media codecs and DRM, which will lock customers into MS toolchains.

The EU can see this and wishes to stop it.

They can stop it because it is illegal to use monopoly powers in one area to extend that monopoly in other areas, ie media production and distribution.

Re:I still don't get it (0)

7of7 (956694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154898)

Microsoft are using their desktop OS monopoly to bundle a free media player and leverage the use of their proprietary media codecs and DRM, which will lock customers into MS toolchains.
I understand that to an extent except that the EU has demonstrated that with the exception of France, none of them are willing to take action against Apple for the same exact offense regarding iTunes and the iPod or OSX and Apple hardware.

Re:I still don't get it (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154948)

That's because Apple does not have a monopoly and is unable to wield their nonexistant monopoly in order to destroy the competition and to rip off the consumers.

Re:I still don't get it (0)

stubear (130454) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154844)

The problem is the courts are assuming that the mere presence of Windows Media Player being included with the OS is harming the market for media players without looking at the evidence. Real and Apple have both done, IMHO, irreparable harm to themselves without the aid of Microsoft. Real included all sorts of questionable "extras" and spy ware with their player as well as not bothering to improve the codec's they used, assuming their brand recognition would be enough. Guess what? Make a crappy product and your brand recognition will turn around and bite you in the ass.

Apple releases a poor port of their QuickTime player for Windows and assumes that's enough. Their goal is to keep users frustrated enough to jump ship and switch to OS X so QuickTime "simply works better". Guess what? Switching platforms is not an easy proposition if you have a lot of investments in Windows software, even cross-platform apps like Photoshop or Flash.

Where's the abuse from Microsoft? Have they made these players perform poorly on Windows? Have they made it difficult to install these apps? Does Windows Media Player hijack file formats without asking the user first? The answer to all of these is no. Microsoft's media player meet the needs of media distributors and this is why it's used widely on the internet, not because it's installed with Windows (you can actually uninstall it by the way, it's not linked to the OS in the same way IE is).

The biggest problem I have with the EU process is the secrecy allowed by the courts. Fair trials should, check that, MUST, be transparent and open. Far too many slashbots are willing to allow this as long as it destroys Microsoft and that's frightening.

Re:I still don't get it (4, Informative)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154920)

Where's the abuse from Microsoft? Have they made these players perform poorly on Windows? Have they made it difficult to install these apps? Does Windows Media Player hijack file formats without asking the user first? The answer to all of these is no.
Does Windows Media player by default record into a proprietary format only it can read? Does Windows Media Player push it's own brand of proprietary DRM? The answer to all of these is YES.

Re:I still don't get it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15154969)

You're not required to use it, bitch.

Re:I still don't get it (4, Interesting)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155002)

I am if I want to be able to watch Windows Media format videos, which is increasingly the case (most likely due to the influence Microsoft has gained through its Windows monopoly)!

In fact, I am now a second-class citizen, because I can't use some government services (i.e. downloadable audiobooks from the public library) due to the fact that they only support Windows Media DRM. Given that my taxes paid for that content, I ought to have a legal right to use it!

Re:I still don't get it (-1, Troll)

realmolo (574068) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154988)

Does Windows Media Player prevent you from using a *different* media player, with *different* codecs, that *can* be read by other players? No.

Seriously. The whole "Microsoft is a monopoly" thing is retarded. Yes, they did abuse their power with OEMs. Yes, the U.S. courts did basically declare them a "coercive monopoly".

But the fact remains that there is really nothing stopping anyone from NOT using Microsoft products. Everyone is free to choose whatever OS they want. Of course, most of the "good" applications only run on Windows. Is that MS's fault? No.

I think that the REAL motivation behind most of the lawsuits against MS that imply they abuse their "power" is sour grapes. Apple, Sun, IBM, even Be(!) all fucked up. They didn't do as good a job as MS in promoting their OSs and hardware. Especially Apple, who should've OWNED the entire market. They had ELEVEN YEARS (1984 - 1995) where their OS was superiour in every way to MSs. And they blew it. The same can be said for all the other OS vendors.

I don't know. I'm not saying MS isn't a little bit evil, but they are dominant because they did a better job than the other OS/application companies. Period.

Re:I still don't get it (4, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155041)

But the fact remains that there is really nothing stopping anyone from NOT using Microsoft products. Everyone is free to choose whatever OS they want. Of course, most of the "good" applications only run on Windows. Is that MS's fault? No.
Yes, it is Microsoft's fault because they used illegal business practices to get that monopoly. It is Microsoft's fault that I can't make use of the public library's downloadable media (which uses Windows Media DRM), despite the fact that it was paid for with my taxes! It is Microsoft's fault that I can't access most streaming video on the Internet because the companies providing it chose to use WMV, and did so as an effect of Microsoft's monopoly.

Re:I still don't get it (0)

realmolo (574068) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155062)

Wait. It's *Microsoft's* fault that the public library chose Microsoft's format for their downloadable media? Microsoft *forced* them to not use some other format, like plain-old MPEG? Or Quicktime? Or RealMedia? Or was it that those other formats aren't as *good*? Because they aren't. And, let's not forget that DRM is usually mandated by content creators, which means that so-called "open" formats are out of the question. Never mind that BOTH Quicktime and Real format were available LONG before Microsoft had anything similar. But they both fucked up, and Microsoft came out with a better product.

You're being ridiculous. You're using the same logic that is leading people to say that Apple has a "monopoly" with the iTunes music store and it's DRM scheme. No.

Re:I still don't get it (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155088)

It's *Microsoft's* fault that the public library chose Microsoft's format for their downloadable media?
Yes. It's only because Microsoft has a monopoly on operating systems that the library can get away with using a Windows-only technology, and disenfranchising all Linux and Mac OS users.

Re:I still don't get it (2, Interesting)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154986)

"Real and Apple have both done, IMHO, irreparable harm to themselves without the aid of Microsoft."

Both of whose players entered the market before Microsoft started bundling WMP. Why should we assume that no new/better media player would come along even if it didn't have to go up against MWP bundling?

Re:I still don't get it (5, Insightful)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155049)

Apple releases a poor port of their QuickTime player for Windows and assumes that's enough. Their goal is to keep users frustrated enough to jump ship and switch to OS X so QuickTime "simply works better". Guess what? Switching platforms is not an easy proposition if you have a lot of investments in Windows software, even cross-platform apps like Photoshop or Flash.

Ummm, wasn't it pointed out in the earlier trial that the poor port of Quicktime was because Apple ported it to the then published Microsoft media specs, whereas Microsoft's own media player used undocumented APIs? Wouldn't that qualify as the abuse you are looking for? Well, at least the courts thought so.

Where's the abuse from Microsoft? Have they made these players perform poorly on Windows? Have they made it difficult to install these apps? Does Windows Media Player hijack file formats without asking the user first? The answer to all of these is no. Microsoft's media player meet the needs of media distributors and this is why it's used widely on the internet, not because it's installed with Windows (you can actually uninstall it by the way, it's not linked to the OS in the same way IE is).

Has Microsoft made it difficult to install third party media players? Yes. You can't even fully uninstall Microsoft's media player, only make it so it's not the default, but the guts are still there. Does it hijack file formats without asking? Only after doing an update.

As for Microsof't media player meeting the needs of media distributors, thankyou, you just proved the monopoly case. The only reason it became popular is because prior to that there were several options. It was only after Microsoft bundled media player with their OS that it became widespread (prior to that, you could download it seperately). The only "need" it met was that media distributors new it was now installed on every windows pc and didn't have to worry about any other format. The fact that Microsoft controlled the OS is what allowed this to occur at the expense of other media formats and vendors. If Microsoft had bundled Quicktime with Windows, then it would have been the default. The difference being, that they didn't license Quicktime (or Real), the came out with their own product and by using their monopoly power took over the media market.

That is why, with the exception of DRM, there hasn't been any real innovation with Windows Media Player. There is no competition, so there is no reason innovate. And for the record, you cannot fully unninstall Windows Media Player. The core DLLs and hooks are still there.

Face it, there are better players than media player. There are better encoders and formats than media player. There are better interfaces than media player. The only thing that makes it the standard on windows is not that it meets media distributors or users needs, but that it is bundled with Windows.

Remember, long before the EU got involved, the US courts declared Microsoft an illegal monopoly. The remedies to the findings were challenged and later changed, but not the original ruling. The fact that the EU has come to the same conclusion shouldn't be a suprise. It's not "slashbots" or the courts who are destroying Microsoft. It's Microsoft collapsing under it's own weight.

Re:I still don't get it (-1, Flamebait)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154903)

Now I could be wrong, but last time I checked every OS comes with a Media Player.
Yeah, but unlike Windows, every other OS is not a monopoly!

Yea, I mean, Microsoft, come on, make Windows not monopoly and be done with it. I can't understand that Microsoft, insists that their OS be monopoly. What's the point!

Or how about this: who the hell decided it's a monopoly. An monopoly is when there are no competitors on the market either because there's law in place to forbid competition or because the monopolists owns all of a resource in an area and is therefore having a monopoly over it.

What exactly makes Microsoft monopolist? Nothing. Are there no other OS for computers and PC in particular. Are you not allowed to use them. Are people not allowed to produce and release OS for PC?

None of that. Just Windows has a very large market share, that has developer naturally in time. Therefore they have to scrap half of their features, including basics like a browser and a media player, while the other OS vendors don't have to.

Microsoft may be doing a lot of bullshit, but over here I call the bullshit squarely on the EU.

Re:I still don't get it (4, Informative)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154947)

Or how about this: who the hell decided it's a monopoly.
The US and EU judicial systems, that's who!
An monopoly is when there are no competitors on the market either because there's law in place to forbid competition or because the monopolists owns all of a resource in an area and is therefore having a monopoly over it.
First of all, a monopoly is when there are no [significant] competitors on the market for any reason. Second, you could consider that Microsoft owns all of the "resource" of application compatibility, and therefore has a monopoly over it.
What exactly makes Microsoft monopolist? Nothing.
Except court rulings, that is.
Are there no other OS for computers and PC in particular.
Not any that are 100% compatible with Windows, which defines what the "PC" is nowadays.
Are people not allowed to produce and release OS for PC?
Correct. Microsoft does not allow third-parties access to all the documentation required to reimplement all of Windows' APIs (especially reimplementing the bugs and unofficial ones).
Just Windows has a very large market share, that has developer naturally in time.
Windows marketshare did not "developer" naturally in time! It resulted from Bill Gates artfully screwing over IBM several times (putting MS-DOS on the PS/2 and sabotaging OS/2, for example) as well as using assorted unfair business practices to screw over other competitors (which is partly what the anti-trust case is about to begin with).

Re:I still don't get it (0)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154909)

Yeah, but unlike Windows, every other OS is not a monopoly!

Interesting sentence that shows how stupid this "Windows = Monopoly" stuff is.
Read it slowly and see if it makes any sense or is consistent even with itself.

Re:I still don't get it (1)

trewornan (608722) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154967)

I believe that should be Windows #8712 Monopoly

Re:I still don't get it (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154968)

How is it not self-consistent? Standard Oil was a monopoly regardless of the fact that other fuels (e.g. coal, wood) existed because none of the alternatives were perfect (or even somewhat adequate) substitutes. In the same way, Microsoft has a monopoly regardless of the fact that other OSs exist because none of the alternatives have 100% (or even close to it) compatibility with Windows applications, making them not adequate substitutes for Windows.

Re:I still don't get it (1)

dfgchgfxrjtdhgh.jjhv (951946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155015)

a monopoly is when a single firm controls a large enough proportion of the supply of a product or service to be able to set the price.

they don't need to control 100% of the supply to be a monopoly, it could be anything over about 25% (depending on the particular market).

so yes, it makes perfect sense.

other desktop operting systems exist, but windows has the vast majority of the market, which makes it a monopoly.

Re:I still don't get it (0)

Mr. Picklesworth (931427) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154917)

"Yeah, but unlike Windows, every other OS is not a monopoly!"

You contradicted yourself. If there are other OSs, Windows is not monopolizing.

If the EU gets there way, the base Windows package is going to be just the Windows kernel, with everything else (desktop, login screen, networking, file browser) released in a seperate package.

This will be great for people everywhere!
...Wait, I have a better idea. Forget this whole thing and switch to Linux. Maybe the lazy WLAN card manufacturers will follow suit.

Re:I still don't get it (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154981)

You contradicted yourself. If there are other OSs, Windows is not monopolizing.
Not really, because the monopoly I was referring to was not that of being an operating system, but being compatible with Windows.

Re:I still don't get it (0)

TheNetAvenger (624455) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154946)

Yeah, but unlike Windows, every other OS is not a monopoly! The rules about bundling are different for monopolies and non-monopolies, which is why it's illegal for Microsoft but legal for everyone else

No, and hmm, no...

This would be the opposite of what laws preventing monopolies are all about.

Also Microsoft NOR Windows were deemed a monopoly, MS was convicted of 'trying' to use monolopistic practices to make their OS a monopoly. They never said they succeeded.

Hence why I would bet you don't HAVE TO use Windows on your computer... Meaning they ARE NOT A MONOPOLY.

This is why secondary rules shouldn't be applied to Microsoft on this.

The EU is really messed up on this whole case, even people that work in the EU, have resigned over this, stating the EU was out of line. That is big news in the EU, and I have several friends that work in Brussels that state there is political motivation for 'trying to find a way' to hinder Microsoft.

Some countries have their pet OSes and projects, and these people would like to screw MS for the sake of the their country's software companies' success.

Look at the case, and look closely, the only thing they could actually get through was the bundling of Media Player? Wow, that is REALLY going to protect consumers, hence why consumers are NOT buying the N version of Windows.

There is a difference between limiting monopolistic type contracts (exclusive bundling, etc) and telling Microsoft to remove Media Player.

Even you, if you had to buy a copy of Windows, would you pay the same amount of money and not get Media Player? Sure it takes up 3mb on the Hard Drive, but seriously...

What will be next? Apple iTunes will become so popular that it will be the online music monopoly? It very well could happen, then every copy of OSX would have to ship without iTunes, and does that sound like consumer driven business or the competition, getting the govts to curtail the company doing the best?

Re:I still don't get it (2, Insightful)

dfgchgfxrjtdhgh.jjhv (951946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155031)

they were actually convicted of (ab)using their monopoly position in the desktop pc operating system market to gain market share in other markets.

Re:I still don't get it (2, Insightful)

trewornan (608722) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154781)

Well Al Capone had a shady past but the authorities couldn't prove much of what they knew so in the end they went for the weaker charge of tax evasion. Tax evasion was something they could prove and still a crime - that they would've liked to get him on many other things but couldn't is a side issue.

Go EU! If they can nail these bastards on any charges, good for them.

Re:I still don't get it (5, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154787)

At some point you just have to wonder what the real point of these suits is if they're not going to call MS on its real bad business practices and will instead throw questionable charges at Microsoft.
The definition of "real bad business practices" depends on what part of the world you're in.

http://tnr.com/p/docsub.mhtml?i=business&s=risen03 3004 [72.14.203.104]
In simplified terms, American antitrust, like much of our country's regulatory philosophy, aims to create a level playing field on which all companies, small or large, can compete; the focus is on protecting consumers through ensuring competitive markets.
...
  In Europe, antitrust laws focus less on consumer protection than on competitor protection; the ability of companies to compete, regardless of whether their existence helps consumers, is what's important. From the European perspective, a near-monopoly market share is almost always a bad thing; furthermore, even if a big company is playing by the rules, it has an obligation to make sure it doesn't crowd out smaller competitors.
Since Microsoft Windows has 9x% of the marketplace... pretty much anything MS bundles with Windows is going to limit competition in the marketplace.

And I don't think the Europeans are specifically hating on MS. I imagine that if Apple had 9x% of the market, the regulators would get on Apple's case over all the bundled apps in OSX.

Re:I still don't get it (1)

Jeff Hornby (211519) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154908)

But if, say, a French company had 9x% of the OS market, do you think that the EU would be quite so eager?

Re:I still don't get it (0, Flamebait)

darylb (10898) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154788)

The EU bureaucrats (a highly unelected and unaccountable bunch) don't like strong American companies on their turf. In their eyes it's basically another form of "American hegemony". They're busy doing the same kind of thing as they're doing to Microsoft to American-based credit card companies (see, for example, this article [playfuls.com] as well as Forbes [forbes.com] ), accusing them of making too much money, even though, with the exception of Visa, their margins are all running under 8%. Google's, by way of comparison, is like 25%.

So, the EU crowd runs around rattling sabers at American companies, demanding that the companies basically lie down and give away product or service to competitors, "levelling the playing field," or suggesting that there needs to be a properly "European" (an adjective that is a very recent invention in itself) counterpart to every American business. As if having a myriad of credit card companies or document formats or software platforms would really benefit consumers.

Microsoft shouldn't be judged solely because they're trying to be competitive in their markets. (How many Linux distros could be accused of bundling too much software?) Unless you're a communist (like some prominent figures in organizations with recursive acronyms), how can one demand that source code be given to competitors?

Mod parent up, it's NOT a troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15155124)

Parent makes good points. It's maybe not slashdot-PC, but it's not a troll.

Re:I still don't get it (3, Insightful)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154818)

Yes but not every media player comes with an OS.

When was the last time you were able to buy Windows Media Player in a store? How about online?

Aside from that, have you tried to remove it from the system lately? You can't. You can route around it and divert away buit it's as bundled into the kernel as Internet Exploder is.

Re:I still don't get it (1)

Zonnald (182951) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154958)

Because it's free?

Did I miss anything ? (1)

jfclavette (961511) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154717)

Where's the new development ?

Re:Did I miss anything ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15154751)

Where's the new development ?

No, this happened weeks ago. The Slashdot "editors" are too busy palying games to worry about tech issues...

No news is good news (3, Insightful)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154828)

Be happy. There's only one way this whole thing is going to end, and that's with the EU dropping or getting soft about the action against Microsoft. Some might say I'm being cynical, but does anyone seriously expect Microsoft to ever comply? The current fines don't seem to be enough, since Microsoft have chosen to just keep pretending they're fixing the problems instead of actually doing anything.

It might be next month, or it might be years from now, but the EU will eventually cave and give in to Microsoft.

Why not subpoena in Europe? (4, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154719)

"Enforcing Microsoft's ... subpoena to Novell would circumvent and undermine the law of the European Community concerning how a litigant may obtain third-party documents,"
So why isn't MS going through the proper legal channels in Europe?

Even if their subpoena gets denied in Europe, they can later use the denial as a grounds for appeal (again, in Europe).

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Re:Why not subpoena in Europe? (5, Informative)

utlemming (654269) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154801)

Quite simple: Microsoft can't get what they want in Europe. In Europe there are laws that prevent Microsoft from seeing third-party documents. What Microsoft is hoping is that it can get the documents in the United States when the EU specifically prohbits it. What is even more interesting is that Microsoft actually thinks that some Federal Judge is stupid enough to grant the request. If Microsoft was to get the documents I would wonder if Microsoft would be in trouble with the EU. I know if I was on the commission, I would punish Microsoft for such back-handed ways.

Re:Why not subpoena in Europe? (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154868)

MS does not have as many friends in high places over in EU-land. In the US, with the innumerable lobbyists and backroom deals MS has had a part in, they have a much higher chance of getting off without any serious penalties.

Re:Why not subpoena in Europe? (1, Troll)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154907)

Why should they. They own many more politicians here in the US.

Look MS doesn't care about anything other then their money. They will do anything and everything to win. They have no ethics, morals or any guiding principles other then "make more money". That's it, end of story.

Re:Why not subpoena in Europe? (0, Troll)

dfgchgfxrjtdhgh.jjhv (951946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154960)

just like every other company in existance.

Re:Why not subpoena in Europe? (2, Informative)

rm69990 (885744) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155010)

Opera? Mozilla Corporation? Canonical? May not be big companies, but companies none the less.

Re:Why not subpoena in Europe? (1)

dfgchgfxrjtdhgh.jjhv (951946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155051)

yes, they all exist to make as much money as possible, this the the primary aim of any company.

they just arent as good at it (yet) as micosoft is (or was).

Fines for Microsoft? Hah! (4, Funny)

Stiletto (12066) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154721)

"I did lose a million dollars last year. I expect to lose a million dollars this year. I expect to lose a million dollars next year. You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year, I'll have to close this place in...sixty years."

Re:Fines for Microsoft? Hah! (1)

paitre (32242) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154833)

It's that much per day. And then some.

Not even microsoft is going to be able to bleed millions of dollers PER DAY.
For starters, their investors will not stand for it. YOu wanna ses a shareholder revolt? If MS keeps this shit up, expect to see one.

Re:Fines for Microsoft? Hah! (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154910)

At a million dollars per year in sixy years MS will lose 60 million dollars. That's nothing. Bill Gates couch has more money between the cushions.

If they lost a million dollars a year they could go for 600 years. Remember they have a FuckTon (TM) amount of money.

Re:Fines for Microsoft? Hah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15154990)

Citizen Kane. A true classic.

Re:Fines for Microsoft? Hah! (3, Informative)

calculadoru (760076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155116)

I never thought I'd live to see the day when Citizen Kane is quoted on Slashdot, but there it was, and modded up, too.

There might be hope after all.

If only (1)

alucinor (849600) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154726)

If only then the EU could funnel that money right back into local software companies and the open source infrastructure they base their products on. Oh wait, they will -- after beaucracy fees, of course! And oh wait again ... a lot of those local software companies also base their products on Microsoft's infrastructure ... blarg, so complex!

It has to be important... (1)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154730)

When the BBC runs it like this.

Especially with that pic of Bill.

What I thought of when seeing that pic (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154748)

skeet skeet skeet

The EU justice system (-1, Flamebait)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154741)

The EU justice system does not allow a defendant the ability to defend themselves against anonymous charges and secret evidence. If you are innocent, you must prove your innocence. Microsoft finds itself backed into a corner in which they are bombarded by name-less competitors and the evidence against them is kept secret from them.

If you were on trial, would you want the assumption of innocence? You would most likely want to be able to question your accuser. You would also want a chance to refute evidence. You'd at least want a chance to see what evidence was being brought against you.

Under the EU system of justice, none of those rights are accorded to the defendant. Microsoft may be the world's worst company, but the EU's courts are not giving them a fair chance. Microsoft is simply doing what it must to protect itself legally. If it gets shut down by a judge, that's unfortunate and they'll have to do without those documents, but under a sane legal system, they'd already have those documents.

Re:The EU justice system (4, Insightful)

baywulf (214371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154763)

Whether the EU system of justice is fair or not, those are the tradeoffs of becoming a multinational corporation. Corporations have no loyalty to any particular country... they jump around mixing and matching whatever tax systems or legal obligations suit them the best. So why should we Americans give a damm what Microsoft's legal troubles are in the EU system.

Re:The EU justice system (4, Insightful)

alphasubzero949 (945598) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154814)

So why should we Americans give a damm what Microsoft's legal troubles are in the EU system.

For the same reasons we should be giving a damn about Microsoft in the first place. They're still a shady monopoly who got away with murder in the U.S. If MS can bully around the EU legal system, they have carte blanche to pretty much do whatever they damn well please.

Re:The EU justice system (2, Interesting)

kylef (196302) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154834)

Whether the EU system of justice is fair or not, those are the tradeoffs of becoming a multinational corporation.

Wait, so now a fair justice system is a tradeoff and not an expectation we place on any governmental organization?

So why should we Americans give a damm what Microsoft's legal troubles are in the EU system.

For that matter, why should we Americans give a damn about any injustice happening elsewhere in the world? Why don't we just seal up our borders and pretend the rest of the world doesn't exist?

Re:The EU justice system (4, Insightful)

trewornan (608722) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154982)

Why don't we just seal up our borders and pretend the rest of the world doesn't exist?

The rest of the world would be delighted if the US did exactly that.

Until (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15155102)

Until the next Hitler comes along.

Sooner than you might think, judging by the whole cartoon controversy. Europe is ripe for the picking.

Re:Until (1, Flamebait)

thona (556334) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155112)

Until the next Hitler comes along.

He is already here. His name is George W. Bush. Sieg Heil to all american friends of him.

Re:Until (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15155128)

And which nations is to blame for that situation?, now let me see who has been meddling in middle eastern politics, arming and funding tyrants and pissing many nations of with highly questionable foreign policies in that part of the world? If WWIII goes off you bastards better be their front and centre, and if you ask nicely other western nations may help you fight the mess you are causing.

Re:The EU justice system (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155017)

For that matter, why should we Americans give a damn about any injustice happening elsewhere in the world? Why don't we just seal up our borders and pretend the rest of the world doesn't exist?
Because some of us are such bigoted dumbasses [cc.org] that we can't resist shoving our fat asses where they don't belong, maybe?

Re:The EU justice system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15155096)

Cool and that would also probably avert WWIII.

Re:The EU justice system (0)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154888)

So why should we Americans give a damm what Microsoft's legal troubles are in the EU

You torched his ass dude, you torched his ass! Over here's America, we don't give a damn what that EU city is about and where the Europe island is. Who cares!

Take that terrorists!

Re:The EU justice system (4, Funny)

eclectro (227083) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154770)

If you were on trial, would you want the assumption of innocence?

Yes, but in Microsoft's case you can make the assumption of guilty and be right.

Choose your crappy system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15154795)

American courts convicted Microsoft of some fairly serious crimes. George W. and his cronies gave them a 'Get out of jail free' card.

Justice is a rare commodity anywhere in the world. Bah Humbug.

Re:The EU justice system (4, Interesting)

utlemming (654269) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154854)

Not a fair chance? By what standards? By the American constructs of justice, they might have been given the short end of the stick. But according to European constructs, they may have been given a fair shake. When Microsoft entered European markets, they accepted the implications of it. When you go over to another country you implicitly accept their constructs of justice and law. That is why the State Department won't step in and save you when screw up in another country. Arguing and asking that Microsoft be given a fair chance by American definitions is just like asking that someone who is in another country recieve an American trial even though the crime is committed in another country.

The real issue here is that American's view other constructs of justice and social laws as being backwards and wrong. Who is to say that guilty until proven innocent is anymore right or wrong than innocent until proven innocent. I don't agree with the European method, but I am an American.

It is extremely myopic to argue that Microsoft, albeit an American company should be allowed to operate in Europe and at the same time only have to use American laws. If Microsoft is Europe and selling in Europe then Microsoft should be subject to the laws of that nation, regardless of whether or not Americans consider those laws to be just. It is not up to Microsoft to change those laws, and trying to use backhanded methods to compell what they want is not right.

If the constructs of justice are so maligent and repugnant, than why don't the Europeans change them? If Microsoft doesn't like the laws, then Microsoft can withdraw. No one is holding Microsoft in Europe; they are choosing to stay in Europe. And when their behavior is not to the liking of the European Union, it is not the place of an American to say that the EU is not treating them fairly, especially when most Americans, including myself, do not understand how Europe handles such issues. The world does not revolve around America, and American's need to respect the laws of another country, even when we percieve them to be unfair by our standards.

Now I realize that everyone is going to flame me about China, Iran and other countries that violate human rights. But this post is not referring to human rights. That is a whole different story. This is just about the social constructs of justice.

Re:The EU justice system (5, Insightful)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154942)

IANAL...

But as far as I know, in a trial, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
When it comes to an appeal, you are presumed guilty until proven innocent.

It is the defendant's duty in an appeal to prove that the findings of fact and final judgement in the trial are wrong.

For Microsoft, the trial is already over. They have been found guilty. This is an appeal, they have to either subject themselves to remedies or prove their innocence.

Re:The EU justice system (1)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154918)

The EU justice system does not allow a defendant the ability to defend themselves against anonymous charges and secret evidence. If you are innocent, you must prove your innocence. Microsoft finds itself backed into a corner in which they are bombarded by name-less competitors and the evidence against them is kept secret from them.

Yep; Kafka knew of which he wrote.

But actually, I've read that while the European Commission does not provide due process in its rulings, one can appeal those rulings to a real court and get a real trial rather than edicts. (But I don't know how fair even that appeal trial is.)

Re:The EU justice system (2, Informative)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154919)

If by "sane legal system" you are refering to the so called US justice system I refer you to the IBM v SCO case.

Re:The EU justice system (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15154980)

All I can say is : Guantanamo.

If you were on trial, would you like to know what the charges were? Would you prefer the privilege of being presumed innocent? Would you like access to legal representation?

Americans no longer have the right to bitch about human rights or democracy (if they ever did); the sheer, galling hipocracy will merely encourage the rest of the world to hate them more.

Also, as other posters have mentioned, US law is utterly irrelevant outside of US juridiction. You can't pick and choose laws when it suits you, as has been done at Guantanamo.

wtf are you talking about? (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155032)

Are you seriously trying to argue that because America has gone and done something stupid like set up a black hole in Guantanamo that it somehow makes the EU's system of secret evidence and anonymous witnesses a good legal system? They're both bad!

I will be the first to admit that America is a hippocracy [davidsanderson.net] . Just ask the AMA [ama-assn.org] and the AHA [americanheart.org] . But that doesn't mean that the principles of fairness should be tossed aside when judging other legal systems.

Re:wtf are you talking about? (1)

GnuDiff (705847) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155050)

As noted before, EU legal system is not THAT different from US.

So "innocent until proven guilty" does hold for trials, as one would expect.
However, MS has been tried and found guilty.
Now they are appealing, and in appeals it is obviously "guilty unless proven innocent". I bet the same works in US.

Frankly, I am surprised at how much some people consider Europe to be different from US. If somebody told me that anywhere in US presumption of innocence does not hold in trials, I would be as surprised as if I heard it does not hold somewhere in EU. We are talking basic human rights here, almost.

This isn't a trial (3, Informative)

JanneM (7445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155086)

If you were on trial, would you want the assumption of innocence?

The trial is long over and MS lost. This is not a trial, but about whether MS is conforming to the judgement handed down or not.

unprecedented evile's stock markup FraUD henchmen (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15154758)

still having their way with US?

what a surprise? evile never sleeps, it's always afraid.

like corn passing through a bird's butt?

all they want is... everything. at what cost to US? not a pretty picture at all. quite infactdead from our viewpoint.

for many of US, the only way out is up.

don't forget, for each of the creators' innocents harmed (in any way) there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/US as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile will not be available after the big flash occurs.

'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi life0cidal glowbull warmongering execrable.

some of US should consider ourselves very fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate.

it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc....

as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis.

concern about the course of events that will occur should the corepirate nazi life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order.

'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Re:unprecedented evile's stock markup FraUD henchm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15154775)

Oops! Looks like you've been skipping your medications again. If you take them now, you may be rational by this time tomorrow. Or maybe not.

Monopolists (0, Troll)

Seriously, who (969215) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154786)

Seriously, who in their right mind would expect Microsoft to have any respect for the law by now, after everything they've done in the past? Sadly, this is just another example of Microsoft demonstrating their monopolistic powers, and it isn't very surprising.

:-D (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15154799)

I really like this idea. It's useful in all stories, and it doesn't limit you from generating karma. Hmm...

Old News? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15154808)

I was wondering how long it would take for someone to post news that's been on the BBC all fucking day.

Displace and distend (5, Insightful)

spisska (796395) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154859)

It's refreshing to see that Microsoft's legal strategy of 'displace and distend' is finally running out of gas. Stretching out and distorting legal proceedings through any and all means is exactly how they ended up convicted of but unpunished for abusing a monopoly position in the US. Europe, thankfully, is no such pushover.

It's also refreshing to see that US states (CA and MA) acknowledge that, not only do their state laws not apply to the EU, but that they as states are obliged to protect the legitimate interests of companies located in their states against corporate behaviour that has already been found to be criminal on both sides of the Atlantic.

Microsoft broke the law and has been twice convicted for it. They have, however, paid no price for doing so and have not changed their business habits whatsoever. They are still embracing and extending, they are still moving into new markets to undercut and squeeze out rivals with the help of their OS, and they are still treating market regulators as contemptible wretches who can be outlasted, outspent, and buried under the collective output of an extremely high-priced legal team.

Re:Displace and distend (1)

Phragmen-Lindelof (246056) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155057)

(I hate Microsoft but) this post made me think of Walmart.
They are still embracing and extending, they are still moving into new markets to undercut and squeeze out rivals with the help of their OS, and they are still treating market regulators as contemptible wretches who can be outlasted, outspent, and buried under the collective output of an extremely high-priced legal team.

Couldn't have happened to a nicer company (2, Funny)

surfdaddy (930829) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154879)

You'd think by now that they would realize that thier image is going down. Instead of being protective, why don't they put that effort into innovation? I don't think it's in their DNA.

Microsoft is sort of like General Motors - they stick with their old program, and wonder why they keep getting bludgeoned on the head time after time.

Heard recently in the Microsoft boardroom:

Gates: "Why does this keep happening to us? I give away billions and Europe treats us so badly."

Ballmer: "I haven't thrown any chairs lately. I even went to charm school"

Gates: "I've been the chief software architect for years now. You'd think they would trust me".

Ballmer: "Bill, it's for you. The Vista team. They're not going to meet their Q1 2007 deadline...."

Gates: "Oh s*#%".

Re:Couldn't have happened to a nicer company (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155023)

You'd think by now that they would realize that thier image is going down. Instead of being protective, why don't they put that effort into innovation? I don't think it's in their DNA.
There's a reason Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard Business rather than a computer science program somewhere!

The secret of Microsoft (-1, Troll)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154950)

Everybody knows Windows is a monopoly and that is bad. Why is it a monopoly?

  • Is there a law in place to forbid competition? No.
  • Is there competition, yes. Plenty of it.
  • Are you allowed to remove Windows and install another OS or dual-boot Windows and another OS? Yes.


So what is this phantom threat called "monopoly" then? Noone knows. But we know it's evil. And it has to go away, so I offer you a peace of mind today. Save the following as a .reg file and run it:

-------
Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Curr entVersion\Applets\FreeCell]
"monopoly"=0
-------

There we go. Your Windows is no longer a monopoly. Now can we stop with the silliness?

Re:The secret of Microsoft (1)

Decaff (42676) | more than 8 years ago | (#15154992)

Are you allowed to remove Windows and install another OS or dual-boot Windows and another OS? Yes.

Being pre-installed leads to inertia on the part of a customer, especially one who is not familiar with PCs. The PC vendor puts the work in to install Windows and ensure it works well on their hardware.

This obviously gives Windows an advantage over competing systems.

Re:The secret of Microsoft (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155020)

"Being pre-installed leads to inertia on the part of a customer, especially one who is not familiar with PCs. The PC vendor puts the work in to install Windows and ensure it works well on their hardware."

Ok so let's sum up what's bad:

  • The OS comes preinstalled on the computer by the hardware vendor
  • The OS itself bundles features such as a browser, media player and other essential applications which, due to lack of experience from the customers are strong "default" and remain in use just because they are available
  • The applications for the OS in question can't run on another OS, so we have a vendor lock-in, meaning if there are no ports of the apps to another OS, the customers are out of luck


Hey, you're right. Now I know why we have to sue Apple!

Re:The secret of Microsoft (1)

Decaff (42676) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155037)

Ok so let's sum up what's bad:

        * The OS comes preinstalled on the computer by the hardware vendor
        * The OS itself bundles features such as a browser, media player and other essential applications which, due to lack of experience from the customers are strong "default" and remain in use just because they are available
        * The applications for the OS in question can't run on another OS, so we have a vendor lock-in, meaning if there are no ports of the apps to another OS, the customers are out of luck


These things are not bad in principle. They are only bad if the OS in question is in a dominant position. In that case it would be potentially blocking competition in many areas.

Hey, you're right. Now I know why we have to sue Apple!

Apple is not subject to monopoly constraints because they don't have sufficient market presence. These things only matter legally if a company has a total or de-facto monopoly.

If Apple had 85% of the desktop computer market then yes, it probably would be time to review how they operated.

This is such an obvious point, I find it hard to understand why so many fail to see it.

Re:The secret of Microsoft (0)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155098)

"Apple is not subject to monopoly constraints because they don't have sufficient market presence."

OSX have 100% market share on the market of Apple computers, don't they.

Apparently law undertstanding is pretty flexible if you're willing to put it to a critical analysis. You can claim Windows has a dominant position on PC's, PC's is just a special case of a programmable electronic device, just like Apple Macintosh is a special case of a personal computer machine.

Windows isn't dominant on electronic devices that accept an OS as a whole, so from that point of view they are suddenly not a monopoly, just like you claim Apple isn't a monopoly since you look at the whole PC market and not just the Macintosh computers market.

----

Also you become a monopoly if you have a dominant position you say, what % is that share that makes it a dominant position? If Apple turns out successful in time, could you be really nice, please, and let them know at which % they should turn the policy up side down and immediately dismantle their OS in pieces.

Do you know what this reminds me of. The Analog Hole proposal. The same those Slashdot users that flame MS on being monopolistic and how this is so different from the position Linux and Apple is, were pointing out how ridiculous it is to have DRM on "consumer" devices" but no DRM on "professional" devices (so they can do their work).

And the problem was the same: if a professional device model gradually becomes affordable and popular, at what point it turns into a consumer device, which will, of course automatically mean the said device manifacturer is sued as hell for selling consumer devices without DRM.

So in the Shiny Tomorrow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15154998)

The decaying European economy will have a constant flow of money raised from taxes and penalties to Microsoft, and not only that.

We, Microsoft System Administrators, will have to extend our business practices, and while preparing CDs with customized Windows installation, exclude from them not only the Windows Media Player, Games and drivers for Extinct Devices, but also a hundreight new Fascinating Software like a bunch of media players, skins, games...

As for that infested hive called Microsoft... For that Axis of Evil... Well, you know, Good is going to kick Evil's ass, as always, the only question is how deeply.

Although this fight against the Microsoft is reminding me more the fighting of rats in the flank - neither the fight of Good versus Evil. I'm sorry if that hurts the feelings of admirers of .EUropean values, but Europe acts just like a prostitute in this case. For example, Microsoft is (forced?) to fund some projects like libraries, hardware and software for schools and libraries and so on. It's not a question of Microsoft's evilness, it's a question of Europe's price.

A Mindshare Monopoly - Not a Traditional Monopoly (2, Interesting)

GenKreton (884088) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155016)

Neal Stephenson stated it best in his essay (available free and legally on the web) The History of the Command line: Microsoft is not a traditional monopoly, and legally is not a monopoly at all if we follow strict adherance to the definition. It, however, does have a monopoly on the mindshare of the people. There is plenty of competition for MS, and much of it is arguably superior. The people just dont want to hear it, MS has won their minds. Of course one of the bigger results of this is driver companies focus and hardware support is done for them for free. But those are just imnplications which help hold the situation in place - economic intertia. Mindshare monopolies can be broken by seemingly inconsequential things.

I hate microsoft but I do hate to see them go down for things that aren't illegal really. Maybe if they were on trial for some other past deeds...

wow, (-1, Offtopic)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#15155060)

I'm amazed, almost 100 posts, and no cocaine jokes.

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