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Linguist Tweaks MS For Redefining "Genuine"

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the words-mean-exactly-what-i-want-them-to-mean dept.

346

crazybilly writes, "The Language Log, home blog for several professional linguists, posted a story a few days ago about how Microsoft is redefining the word 'genuine' (as in the 'Microsoft Genuine Software Initiative') in an attempt to increase public sympathy for their anti-piracy efforts. From the article: 'An unlicensed copy of Microsoft Windows is perfectly genuine. It has exactly the same functionality as a licensed copy and was made by the same company... I suspect that Microsoft is attempting to redefine "genuine" because it has had a hard time getting sympathy for its actual complaint, namely unlicensed distribution.'"

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346 comments

Genuine? (5, Interesting)

mkosmo (768069) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122336)

From Dictionary.com:
genuine
-adjective
1.possessing the claimed or attributed character, quality, or origin; not counterfeit; authentic; real: genuine sympathy; a genuine antique.
Thus, Microsoft I guess has some legitimacy in using the word Genuine. However the word leaves some room for pirated copies to qualify. Perhaps Microsoft shou ld have chosen a better word for their test? It seems unfair that a private com pany should be able to bend language to their will to mislead consumers... which should be illegal. On the other hand, "origin"... manufacturer? I think it su its well enough as-is. Otherwise the definition of "Genuine" will be as long as the MS EULA.

it's the future.... (4, Funny)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122354)

Thus, Microsoft I guess has some legitimacy in using the word Genuine.

Yeah, I think this guy is using an outdated version of the word. Like when people use the word "ask" instead of "ax", or "Christmas" instead of "X-Mas".

yeah, but I know what he needs; (1)

ickeicke (927264) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122642)

He needs some updates, or doesn't he have a Genuine copy of Windows?

Re:Genuine? (5, Insightful)

rackhamh (217889) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122360)

I'm surprised you didn't quote the second definition of "genuine" from Dictionary.com:

Not spurious or counterfeit; authentic.

And the definition of counterfeit?

To make a copy of, usually with the intent to defraud; forge:

Inasmuch as pirated copies of Windows are fraudulent copies, they are NOT genuine. It doesn't take a linguist to understand this. Just goes to show you that claiming authority in a given field doesn't make it so.

Re:Genuine? (3, Interesting)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122414)

I would also add that, since one of the commonly given(though not necessarily true) reasons the Business Software Alliance et. al. will tell you not to use illegal copies is that it might not be a *genuine* copy of the real thing, and thus not work properly. Thus, from MS's perspective, trying to make sure everyone using it has a licensed copy would constitute a "Genuine Software Initiative" in that they believe it will ensure people use the "genuine" version. So the linguist really is making a hissy-fit over nothing. I generally don't object to a usage unless I can think of *no* usage that would fit, or that usage causes confusion, rather than object the moment it doesn't fit the one I'm thinking of.

Re:Genuine? (1, Funny)

pdbaby (609052) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122522)

the linguist really is making a hissy-fit over nothing
I thought that was their job? *duck* Good bye karma.

Re:Genuine? (4, Insightful)

42Penguins (861511) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122463)

However, the word "counterfeit" was not defined in an age with computers and software that could be EXACTLY copied. A counterfeit Picasso is different, content-wise, from a real one. A "counterfeit" copy of Windows XP has the same content and MD5 hash as a "real" one.

Re:Genuine? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16122484)

> A counterfeit Picasso is different, content-wise, from a real one

While it's an interesting philosophical question to consider the idea of whether a perfect duplicate of a Picasso is in fact a Picasso, it does remain that Picasso still didn't paint it.

You might consider that a linguist might still be a dipshit, but just better at twisting words.

Sincerely,
Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote.

Re:Genuine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16122565)

However, the coders that coded the "Genuine" version of windows also coded the copied one. If Picasso made an exact copy of one of his paintings it would also be considered a Picasso.

Re:Genuine? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16122509)

If you steal the plates, paper, and inks that make 100 dollar bills and you roll off several thousand of them for yourself, are those bills genuine or counterfeit?

Process is every much as much part of geniuneness as material. At any rate, the certificate and license key that comes with an unauthorized copy of windows isn't genuine, no matter how you slice it.

Methinks the intellectual rigor of our cunning linguist friend doesn't quite meet Webster's second definition of genuine: Free from hypocrisy or pretense.

Re:Genuine? (4, Insightful)

rackhamh (217889) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122580)

I imagine the parent was modded down for the last sentence. It's too bad, because the second sentence was actually quite insightful. Counterfeiting is in the process. The resulting product may be physically IDENTICAL to the original on which it is based, but that doesn't make it any less counterfeit.

And the previous argument doesn't even take into account the second part of the definition of "counterfeit," which reads on intent -- namely, the intent to commit fraud.

Taking my chain of definitions one step further, what is fraud? According to the thesaurus, fraud is...

An act of cheating

Anyone care to argue that pirating software isn't cheating?

Re:Genuine? (2, Insightful)

E++99 (880734) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122675)

However, the word "counterfeit" was not defined in an age with computers and software that could be EXACTLY copied...A "counterfeit" copy of Windows XP has the same content and MD5 hash as a "real" one.
Yes, and a forged $100 bill using plates, paper stock and ink stolen from the US Treasury contains the exact same content as a genuine $100 bill. So what? The authorized "copies" are still genuine and the unauthorized copies are still not.

Re:Genuine? (3, Insightful)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122495)

If I copy Hamlet to a CD and give it to my friend, he is receiving a GENUINE Shakespearian play. No question about it. Since the English word "genuine" makes no distinctions based on public domain, if I burn a copy of the latest Harry Potter book and give it to my friend, he is still receiving a genuine Harry Potter novel. That's because the original is the *text* not the pages it is printed on. The original of Windows is *software*, not the CD it resides on.

Re:Genuine? (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122530)

So what about forged currency, such as the excellent fake US currency [wikipedia.org] North Korea is said to manufacture? So long as you can spend them, they are functionally equivalent to those printed in the US. So would you call them "genuine" bills as well?

Re:Genuine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16122605)

well, no, of course not.

In that case the artifact itself is what's important and not what is printed on it. I'm guessing you're not really as dim as your comment suggests.

Re:Genuine? (3, Insightful)

Vicissidude (878310) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122625)

The difference between the fake currency and the software copies is that an expert can determine whether a dollar is fake or not. That is because the fake currency actually comes from North Korea and not the US Mint. However, the software code of both Windows and that copy of Windows both come from Microsoft. Once installed, no expert would be able to tell the difference between the two copies because each is an exact duplicate.

Re:Genuine? (2, Insightful)

rackhamh (217889) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122669)

The difference between the fake currency and the software copies is that an expert can determine whether a dollar is fake or not.

Pure drivel. Do you think that if somebody were to produce an absolutely perfect replica of a U.S. Mint hundred dollar bill, the government would stop caring? Believe it or not, the government's reasons for pursuing counterfeiters are not aesthetic.

Re:Genuine? (1)

k98sven (324383) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122543)

Inasmuch as pirated copies of Windows are fraudulent copies, they are NOT genuine. It doesn't take a linguist to understand this.

Well, it seems the argument he's making is that somethign is not counterfeit/fake (and thus genuine) if it has certain properties:

An unlicensed copy of Microsoft Windows is perfectly genuine. It has exactly the same functionality as a licensed copy and was made by the same company. In contrast, if you buy a "Rorex" watch, it is not genuine because it is not made by the Rolex company and does not have the aesthetics, functionality, and resale value of a real Rolex.


This is in itself an ad-hoc redefinition, since the common usages of "counterfeit", "fake" and other antonyms to "genuine" are hardly that precise. The analogy is pretty bad too, IMHO. What's the resale value of a pirated copy of Windows? Not much, I assure you. Neither article can be sold legally in most countries anyway, so it's kind of a moot point.

A "Rorex" watch may very well have the same functionality as a Rolex, insomuch as they both tell the time correctly. Maybe the Rolex is a bit better. I for one would probably not notice the difference in that respect but I'd sure as hell notice if Microsoft was refusing me tech support and updates!

The author anticipated this argument though (or realized the fallacy later), and disqualifies it as not being an 'intrinsic property' of the software - making the definition even narrower. The remaining relevant part would be that it's a matter of aesthetics. Which is hardly a good criteria for deeming what's 'genuine' and what's not.

I'd think a more realistic definition of "genuine" would be "Something that is what it appears to be."

And in that respect, a commercially pirated copy of Windows anything but "genuine". (Note that MS is indeed referring to software that was sold here.) Whether it's "intrinsically" different or not is just irrelevant. If I buy "X", expect it to be "X", if I get "Y" I've been ripped off. If you are selling me "Y" under the guise of selling me "X", that's fraud. And if you've also made an effort to make "Y" resemble "X", then "Y" is a counterfeit and not genuine.

Unlike a commercial one, a copy you made from a friend or downloaded has at least no pretention of being 'genuine'. Although one might to say the same of the "Rorex" you bought for $10 at a street market in Phuket. ;)

Just goes to show you that claiming authority in a given field doesn't make it so.

Well, I wouldn't be too harsh. The author didn't explicity state he was giving some kind of professional opinion as a linguist (if he is one). As usual the Slashdot summary went for the more provocative and possibly misleading take on it.

That said, if the guy really is a linguist, I find the attitude rather strange. Most linguists I know are about as far from the "spelling/grammar/definition-Nazi" type of person as you can get. Since more than anyone, they're aware of how words, spelling and grammar constantly change over time, and embrace the fact that usage constitutes the definition of language. For example, my impression is that most linguists would be the last people to chastise someone for writing in "leet". They'd take it as an interesting shibboleth. But I wouldn't count on an English teacher being equally liberal. :)

Of course, even if he's a linguist, it should probably best just be taken at face value as yet another mindless anti-MS rant. Which is of course why it got picked up on Slashdot.

I'd love to see more stories related to actual linguistics though.

Re:Genuine? (4, Insightful)

Dirtside (91468) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122571)

Inasmuch as pirated copies of Windows are fraudulent copies, they are NOT genuine.

I disagree. Say I buy Windows XP, and then make a backup copy of the CD, so that should my original CD be destroyed, I still have a CD I can install from. Is that a genuine copy? There's no intent to defraud, and dictionary.com's definition of "counterfeit" (sense 3, the only noun sense that's not marked as "archaic" or "obsolete") is "an imitation intended to be passed off fraudulently or deceptively as genuine; forgery." A backup copy is quite definitely not intended to be passed off fraudulently or deceptively.

And it's also not a forgery. "Forgery", according to the esteemed dictionary.com, has a few senses which might apply. Sense 3 is "something, as a coin, a work of art, or a writing, produced by forgery." "Forgery" in that sentence refers to sense 2: "the production of a spurious work that is claimed to be genuine, as a coin, a painting, or the like." Does that sense apply? I'll be generous and assume that "or the like" could cover digital information such as software. Is a burned copy of a Windows XP CD a "spurious" copy? Since it's indistinguishable, and preserves (in an information theory sense) 100% of the information in the original, it can't reasonably be called a "spurious work"; it IS the original work, by definition.

Now imagine, six months later, I lend that backup copy I made to a friend so that he can install XP for free. He knows I bought XP, he knows I made a backup, and he's under no illusions that he has the legal right to install it. Now is it a counterfeit copy? If it is, then you're claiming that whether or not something is "genuine" can change depending on what someone does with it, irrespective of the nature of the object itself. A genuine Picasso can never become a counterfeit, even if I were to steal it from its owner and sell it to someone else. It's still a genuine Picasso.

But a copy of Windows that was previously "genuine" can suddenly become "counterfeit" merely because I give the copy to someone? I reject that on strictly linguistic grounds. And I'm not even a linguist.

The general problem is when people take metaphors that apply to physical objects and then try to apply them to the replication of information. The specific problem here is that MS touts "Windows Genuine Advantage" as if it's somehow advantageous to you to confirm that you have a "genuine" copy of Windows. It is not even remotely so; it is only to Microsoft's benefit.

Re:Genuine? (1)

senatorpjt (709879) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122650)

Speaking of which, how can you have a "genuine copy" of anything? Depending on how you look at it, it's a complete oxymoron, or means nothing, since anything that is copied is a genuine copy. The only thing that wouldn't be a genuine copy is an original, or something that wasn't a copy of it.

Re:Genuine? (1)

rackhamh (217889) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122702)

Now imagine, six months later, I lend that backup copy I made to a friend so that he can install XP for free. He knows I bought XP, he knows I made a backup, and he's under no illusions that he has the legal right to install it. Now is it a counterfeit copy? If it is, then you're claiming that whether or not something is "genuine" can change depending on what someone does with it, irrespective of the nature of the object itself.

YES. Congratulations, sir, you are a winner. Ironic, considering that you wrote this in jest.

While we've been arguing about the media on the disk, we should probably take it one step further and consider the INSTALLED copy of Windows. If you do not have a license for that copy, it is fraudulent, and therefore counterfeit. Looking back to your example, the CD that you made for yourself is legitimate (or may be, depending on the terms of the EULA). The copy that you transfer from that CD to your friend's computer is counterfeit, i.e., copied for a fraudulent purpose.

Re:Genuine? (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122617)

I'm surprised you didn't quote the second definition of "genuine" from Dictionary.com:... Inasmuch as pirated copies of Windows are fraudulent copies, they are NOT genuine.
So, your argument is, if a word has two dictionary definitions, and the way the word is used matches one, but not the other, the word is unacceptable.

This is an incredibly bad argument made in bad faith.. Your entire post, this post, and nearly every written and oral communication ever, fail that standard. You pre-ordained your conclusion and bent your argument to fit.

What's really scary is nobody seems to have called you on this point yet, and insisted on trying to debate your non-point.

Re:Genuine? (2, Insightful)

Pop69 (700500) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122402)

It seems unfair that a private company should be able to bend language to their will to mislead consumers


Where have you been ? It's called advertising and it isn't just private companies that do it. You'll find that political "spin doctors" are doing exactly the same thing.

Re:Genuine? (1)

XnavxeMiyyep (782119) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122668)

Just because they do it, doesn't mean that they SHOULD do it.

This is news (1)

telchine (719345) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122435)

Surely Microsoft is constantly redefining words.

My Windows Laptop is full of "useful", "productive", "time-saving" "software" but the bloody thing takes forever to do anything and don't get me started on the "undocumented features"!

Re:Genuine? (1)

randyflood (183756) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122453)

When someone makes an imperfect copy of something, how can it be called "Genuine"? I know some of you are thinking that the pirated copies of Microsoft Software and not imperfect copies. However, there is a whole industry that forges legitimate looking physical copies of Microsoft Software complete with forged holographic logos. It is hard to imagine that this falls under the definition of a geuine copy.

Re:Genuine? (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122493)

Oh c'mon, the linguist is just trying to think different.

Re:Genuine? (2, Informative)

Toby_Tyke (797359) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122561)

I agree, MS are more than justified in using the word "genuine". I don't really feel the need to jump through semantic hoops to defend the choice either. I know what they mean when they say genuine, and it's a hell of a lot easier than calling the service "Windows Copy Produced In Accordance With The Prevailing Copyright Laws In This Jurisdiction Advantage" (WCPIAWTPCLITJA for short. Trips off the tongue huh?).

On a slight side track, I really do despise these language conservatives. The meaning of words changes over time, and if enough people understand a word to mean something, then that is what it means. The compilers of the Oxford English Dictionary (I believe the equivalent reference work for you chaps in the Colonies is Websters) do not decide what a word means, they report what it means. Witness "google" becoming a verb.

On a different tangent entirely, and one somewhat more related to TFA, I think it would be instructive if people had a quick look at Bill Poser's web site [billposer.org] . I would like in particular to direct you the list of links at the bottom "The Beginning of the Free Software Movement ", "The Free Software Foundation ", "Groklaw [Everything about SCO's anti-Linux campaign]", "LinuxLinks", "Why You Shouldn't Send People (Including Me) Microsoft Word Documents" and "Treacherous Computing". Perhaps a more fitting headline for this story would have been "Free software Advocate Finds Tenuous Excuse To Bash MS".

Just a quick kalma protection disclaimer. I use Linux every day, it's my primary desktop OS on all my machines except the Wintendo, but if Paul Thurrot wrote an article complaining about the FSF using the wrong definition of any given word, there would be 300 posts calling him an MS shill before anyone got as far as reading the article. This article is just petty MS bashing, and nothing more.

Cunning linguist jokes (4, Funny)

XorNand (517466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122340)

The line for all the "cunning linguist" jokes starts right -----> here.

Re:Cunning linguist jokes (1)

drfrog (145882) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122358)

phwew, that takes a load off my mind

Re:Cunning linguist jokes (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122426)

Well, if the definition of "cunning linguist" includes the likes of folks like Carl Rove, then yes. It should come as no surprise that anyone who can define the terms of a discussion, controls the discussion. That's why words are important, kids.

"War on Terror" by itself is meaningless and mostly a non-sequitor, but it sounds a lot better than "Invade countries and overthrow rulers." Similarly, "stealing" is more effective than "copyright infringement". And "pro life" does have a nicer ring to it than "anti abortion". The folks who know this also know that most people are too uneducated, too lazy or too prone to going along with everyone else to question the terms of the discussion. Which is easier: using a spell-czecher or investing in a desktop edition of the OED and using your brain? Hell, who even notices? If Slashdot is any measure, sloppiness in thinking and (and by extension, sloppiness in writing) seems to tolerated, if not encouraged.

Admittedly, what Microsoft is doing is subtle enough that few, aside from a single linguist, would notice. Or complain. I think they've already won.

Re:Cunning linguist jokes (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122657)

Well, if the definition of "cunning linguist" includes the likes of folks like [K]arl Rove, then yes. It should come as no surprise that anyone who can define the terms of a discussion, controls the discussion.
Karl's really the repudiation of this semi-myth; he learned it from the Democrats, who learned it from the English professors, who got it from philosophers. (I'm not intending this as a political slam on the Democrats. Everybody tries to control the debate in every way they can think of, and that's not even limited to politicians. In a way, kudos to the Dems for realizing they could use it first.)

Karl proves you really can't control the debate that way, because as easily as you define the terms, somebody else can define some other terms right back at you.

The most recent interesting example I've seen comes from the right (and I give you this one even though I basically agree with the premise): "Gun control" sounds like a positive thing, how can you not want guns "controlled"? Now the new term gaining currency in response is "victim disarmament", building on the idea that only law-abiding people turn in their guns and only law-abiding people get disarmed by gun laws. I'm pretty sure that if that term manages to enter the public debate it's going to have a significant effect.

Orwell was semi-wrong, you can't control thoughts by controlling language, because language shifts, and if you make thoughts "unexpressable", the language will be strongly impelled to shift in exactly such a way that those thoughts are expressable; that's the whole point of language. (Which is why trying to outlaw racial slurs is basically pointless; outlaw the current crop and you'll just get a new generation, if the desire to express racial slurs remains.)

To Redefine "Genuine" (1)

Morosoph (693565) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122497)

...is somewhat disingenuous.

if *that* bugs him, (3, Funny)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122346)

If that bothers him, it sounds like he would have a field day with "Ginuwine" [wikipedia.org] . And shortly after, "Ludacris".

Re:if *that* bugs him, (1)

repruhsent (672799) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122365)

I run only Ginuwine Microsoft Windows.

Re:if *that* bugs him, (2, Funny)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122374)

I run only Ginuwine Microsoft Windows.

Of course, as was predicted by Nastradamus [wikipedia.org]

Re:if *that* bugs him, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16122400)

I wonder if these linguists could summon up the same outrage for other PC-speak. For example, "undocumented immigrants" for illegal aliens.

Re:if *that* bugs him, (4, Insightful)

jizmonkey (594430) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122628)

I wonder if these linguists could summon up the same outrage for other PC-speak. For example, "undocumented immigrants" for illegal aliens.

Boy, you win the irony award today. The term "illegal alien" is the loaded, non-technical word ("PC speak," as you say, is another loaded, non-technical word). The correct term is "EWI" or entered without inspection.

Now the term "undocumented immigrant" does not mean quite the same thing, because an immigrant is someone who intends to remain in the U.S, and EWI does not imply that the person intends to remain in the U.S. Additionally, there are people who enter under visas (or visa waivers), and then simply fail to leave when their time is up. These are not EWI, because they were inspected when they entered.

However, as a matter of practice, people who are here as tourists and for business trips do it the proper way, being inspected at the border. Thus "EWI" tends to imply "immigrant." And there are relatively few working-class people who take the trouble to get a visa, then overstay. Much simpler just to cross the border. Thus, it is accurate in practice to refer to EWI persons as "undocumented immigrants" and vice-versa.

Now, as for the "illegal alien" word, I would like you to conduct a simple exercise, since you seem to have picked up so much erudition from Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or whomever. I would like you to find me the statute in the U.S. Code which says that it is a crime for someone to enter EWI, or to overstay a visa. Go ahead, I can wait. Are you back yet?

The answer is, there is no such statute. Someone can be deported for not having authorization to be here (or the more modern term, "undergo removal proceedings"), however deportation proceedings are civil in nature, not criminal. They're not even a misdemeanor. (It is a crime, a felony in fact, to return to the US after being deported, but that's altogether different.)

So how's your driving? Do you ever exceed the speed limit? Do you coast through stop signs when you think nobody's around? Do you ever smoke weed? When you were a freshman in college, did you drink beer? I'm sure you do and did, because condescension and hypocrisy go hand in hand. My real question then, is whether you feel shame for being an "illegal driver" or an "illegal student" for having committed misdemeanors. I am equally sure you do not.

Re:if *that* bugs him, (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122603)

I dunno ... seems kinda "rediculous" to me.

Ludacris (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122707)

The worst thing about this artist is people think that is the proper way to spell ludicrous. I've had two students turn in papers where they spelled out "ludacris" when they meant "ludicrous." I'm sorry, but that's just ludicrous!

Stupid (1)

rm999 (775449) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122351)

"Genuine" Italian food has the same ingredients and taste as something made in my asian friend's mom's kitchen. That doesn't mean her cooking is genuine italian food.

Re:Stupid (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122384)

if she is making italian food, it's genuine whether or not she is italian

if it was something based on italian food but made differently or made with additional non-italian food in it then it would not be

Re:Stupid (1)

rm999 (775449) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122396)

No she is making italian food. According to your definition, the word genuine adds nothing to that first sentence.

Genuine *does* mean something!

Re:Stupid (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122420)

if she is making italian food, it's genuine whether or not she is italian


Wouldn't genuine Italian food be food that was made in Italy? Otherwise it's only Italian-style food...


(thus sayeth the pedant ;^))

Re:Stupid (1)

o2sd (1002888) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122508)

Wouldn't genuine Italian food be food that was made in Italy? Otherwise it's only Italian-style food...

Hmmm, what if the ingredients were imported into Italy from Spain and cooked by German ex-patriot?

Would it still be Italian food?

Or would it be German food cooked in Italy from Spanish ingredients?

Re:Stupid (1)

Al Dimond (792444) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122416)

Just to clarify, you're saying that in order for it to be "genuine" Italian food it has to be made in Italy, right? Meaning that a dude from Italy cooking a delicious lasagna in his kitchen in Canada wouldn't be making genuine Italian food either. But a dude from China making scrumptious blueberry pancakes in Sicily would be? Or as a French woman making Channa Masala in Torino?

Excuse me, I have to go eat something now.

What They're Trying to Say (1)

Yehooti (816574) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122357)

We know what they want to say but can anyone suggest, in a word, a better way?

Re:What They're Trying to Say (1)

rkcallaghan (858110) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122367)

Identical.

RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16122394)

genuine -> licensed
non-genuine -> unlicensed

Re:What They're Trying to Say (1)

Socguy (933973) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122452)

Licenced copy, Approved copy, Authorized copy...

Genuine... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16122373)

...a word so simple it could only be misunderstood by a person with a Ph.D in linguistics.

Pathetic.

Re:Genuine... (2)

Kaenneth (82978) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122485)

I'd call those linguists the worst examples of pedantic homosapiens, but I'm sure they'll claim they never touched that boy.

Riddle me this (0, Offtopic)

crazyjeremy (857410) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122382)

Many computers genuinely had XP SP1 on them at one time, then the license and original restore cd is lost. When it comes time for the standard 6 month reformat, should we genuinely feel guilt for loading a different CD "XP SP2 copy" of this same product just because we can't find the authenticity certificate?

Re:Riddle me this (2, Insightful)

CXI (46706) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122448)

Try it out with some other things to see if your logic makes sense:

- Well officer, I had a license to drive cars but you know I didn't keep track of it so why do you care if I use this one someone else gave me? I mean I had a license at one point!
- I had a ticket to get on this plane, but since I lost it I just made this one in photoshop. What do you mean you won't take it? I'll just take an empty seat!

This boils down to main issue of the digital revolution which is the pathological belief of a large number of individuals that if it's easy to copy then there is no harm in stealing it regardless of the resources put into creating it. Yes, open source yada yada but it's a different matter if something was created with resources and plans designed around free distribution compared to copying something that was created under a business model expecting a return on the investment. You can argue all you want about which model is better but that doesn't change the fact that if you copy something created by people expecting to get paid for it, you are stealing.

Wow, that went a little farther then I expected when I hit reply. :)

Re:Riddle me this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16122491)

- I had a ticket to get on this plane, but since I lost it I just made this one in photoshop. What do you mean you won't take it? I'll just take an empty seat!


A better analogy would be having a ticket, getting on a plane legitimately, and then halfway through the flight having the plane explode spontaneously, and then finding out that you have to buy the ticket again, cause the last plane exploded, and sorry, but you're gonna have to pay again.

Re:Riddle me this (1)

karmatic (776420) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122527)

In your example, what if the duplicate is indistinguishable from the original (which pirate copies often are, as far as the data goes).

I printed myself a boarding pass for one of my flights, and couldn't find it in the morning. I knew all of the information (flight #, seat, boarding group), so I took an earlier boarding pass and edited it (the mac doesn't have a printer, so I save things as .pdf files and print them from the PC).

They most certainly accepted it, and I got on the flight without issue. Was what I did legal? Probably not. The airline got their money, I paid for my ticket, and I got on the plane. Whether or not it was technically legal, was it wrong? Who was harmed by my actions - the airline? Society as a whole? Me?

Re:Riddle me this (1)

rackhamh (217889) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122597)

printed myself a boarding pass for one of my flights, and couldn't find it in the morning. I knew all of the information (flight #, seat, boarding group), so I took an earlier boarding pass and edited it (the mac doesn't have a printer, so I save things as .pdf files and print them from the PC).

Am I missing something? Every self-printed boarding pass I've ever used had a barcode on it. I sincerely doubt that you were able to forge that, especially since you were lacking the original.

Re:Riddle me this (1)

o2sd (1002888) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122532)

You can argue all you want about which model is better but that doesn't change the fact that if you copy something created by people expecting to get paid for it, you are stealing.

Technically speaking you are infringing copyright. If you were stealing, then that makes every single one of us a thief. Unless of course you've never sung Happy Birthday(c).

Oh, and BTW, that copy of my post you just made to your computer's memory, I expect to get paid for it you thief.

Re:Riddle me this (1)

michaelmoran (879981) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122542)

The problem is neither of those analogies fit very well in this case. If you lose your license you can get another made for under $20. This is the main difference. Most people aren't going to pay an additional $100-$200 dollars because they lost a piece of paper with a number on it. Im not sure how you deal with that for people who bought XP retail, but for OEM copies that came on the Machine it should be a 5-10 dollar charge to send them the number or cd since it would be easy to track by the computer's serial number. Also, printing the number on the case would probably go a long way to reducing people losing the number, however they may need a new copy of the media. Also, plane tickets can be tracked electronically. Some companies have kiosks where you can print out e-tickets at the terminal. As I said above, the biggest problem here is that people don't like paying for things twice. Especially when its not a "real"(as in physical) product. You aren't buying a cd or a copy of Windows(so says the respective companies) merely the "right" to listen or use it. Its a hard pill for someone to swallow if you tell them well you purchased it once, but another copy will cost you full price. This is ridiculous, since it doesn't cost full price for them to make another copy. In this brave new world of "intellectual property" where you pay money to receive a product, however, the product itself is intangible and what you actually hold in your hand is the medium which holds the product, its hard for most people to say if they lose the medium they should pay full price for the product. I think the cost of replacing the medium, but certainly not the cost of the product. You can't "use up" music or computer programs, however, you can use up the medium they are on, thus replacement price should only be the medium. Of course, that does directly affect the business model of companies who want the constant re-buying.

Re:Riddle me this (1)

Blastrogath (579992) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122583)

> You can argue all you want about which model is better but that doesn't change the fact that if you copy something created by people expecting to get paid for it, you are stealing.


It doesn't change "it", but "it" isn't true. Copyright violations aren't theft, they're copyright violation.


Theft \Theft\, n. [OE. thefte, AS. [thorn]i['e]f[eth]e, [thorn][=y]f[eth]e, [thorn]e['o]f[eth]e. See Thief.]

1. (Law) The act of stealing; specifically, the felonious taking and removing of personal property, with an intent to deprive the rightful owner of the same; larceny.

Note: To constitute theft there must be a taking without the owner's consent, and it must be unlawful or felonious; every part of the property stolen must be removed, however slightly, from its former position; and it must be, at least momentarily, in the complete possession of the thief. See Larceny, and the Note under Robbery.

2. The thing stolen. [R.]

If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, . . . he shall restore double. --Ex. xxii. 4.

Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)



You don't steal by copying because you don't move or posess the original, it's still right where it was before you copied it. You can argue all you want about if it's moral but that doesn't change the fact that if you copy something created by people expecting to get paid for it, you are not stealing.

stupid article plain and simple (4, Insightful)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122395)

A print of the mona lisa is the genuine article. It was still painted by the artist and it looks identical to the real thing! Anyone want to buy the genuine Mona Lisa off of me for $800,000,000?

The logic of the article is just flawed. Even assuming a counterfeit version has an authentic CD, serial numbers have to be unique if it's being used by lots of people this serial has been COPIED. An unauthorised copy = counterfeit.

Re:stupid article plain and simple (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122483)

No, the linguists have a legitimate point. It all depends on how you define "Windows". If you define it as a "valid license", as opposed to the software itself, then you would be correct. But most people do not define it that way. A genuine Windows CD, whether purchased in a shrink-wrapped box or from a suitcase on a corner in New York, is still genuine. Regardless of its legality.

Even a burned copy of a CD can be genuine! Consider a corporate site license which doesn't have a separate holographed CD for each desktop. Are you saying their Windows are not "genuine"?

The problem you are making is confusing the immaterial with the material. The Mona Lisa is a material object. Copies of the Mona Lisa are not Genuine. But software is immaterial data. Like all data and information, copies can indeed be genuine. In college I once received a copy of Hamlet on mimeographed pages. Yet it was still a genuine Shakespearian play!

Look up "genuine" in the dictionary. It does NOT mean "approved".

Marketing (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122399)

Does anyone outside of a marketing organization use the word "Genuine"? Let the marketeers bastardize it any way they want.

Re:Marketing (1)

HatchedEggs (1002127) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122534)

Mistah Mistah, would you like to buy one of these genuine Rolex's from me?

*sigh* (1, Insightful)

CXI (46706) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122403)

This "expert" in language fails to make the technical distinction between the license for a product and the product itself. The counterfeit license is definitely not genuine and was not "made (or sold) by the same company" to the end user. It gets to the root of all of the problems with digital products. People do not understand the implications of a creation that can be duplicated at will with little effort, and how or even if to control it.

Furthermore, must we have such useless ego-stroaking stories on slashdot? "On look! Some blog dissed Microsoft! Quick, post it on slashdot!" *sigh*

Re: *Sigh* ..People do not understand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16122490)

Like hell people do not understand. The Free Software people *GENUINELY* understand *EXACTLY* how digital media can be reproduced easily with essentially zero effort! "The Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith is *RIPPED TO SHREADS* because of it! Its been discussed over and over. Some blather that Free Software is communist. Others blather that its capitalist. RUBBISH ALL! The Wealth of Nations defined what capitalist is. Marx defined what communist is. Free Software is neither. Take Adam Smiths model, and rip every notion of SCARCITY out, and you will get free software. One developer can get returns on investment (in software only) of several million percent! Communism was a land of diminishing returns (100 people make 120 pieces of a good, each gets 1.2, but with free software, 100 people collaborate on a project with each contributing 1% each, and everyone gets 100% (so 1% input gives 100% output *FOR EACH PERSON*). Communism was never like this. And this zero scarcity model works with film, books, software, design drawings, pictures and any other human creation that can be reproduced (for now on a computer) at zero or very little cost or effort. The Free Software world understands *EXACTLY*, and so does microsoft.

We need legal clarification (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122407)

Obviously the answer would be to pass a law that specifically states that computer programs cannot be copyrighted.

Re:We need legal clarification (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122506)

I'm all for that! It would stop people from suing over GPL violations!

Re:We need legal clarification (1)

rackhamh (217889) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122608)

So... some people copy copyrighted software, so no software should be copyrighted?

Some people steal cars, too -- should cars be illegal?

Actually, you know what? Some people kill other people. We should make people illegal too, so they can't be killed.

This story is so stupid... (4, Funny)

Shimmer (3036) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122410)

I'm tempted to subscribe to Slashdot for a day just so I can demand my money back in outrage.

Nice! I love it! (1)

CXI (46706) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122454)

Brilliant!

Re:This story is so stupid... (2)

Andronoid (816502) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122544)

yep...regardless of dictionary definition issues this is a bit like trying to trying to argue "Burger King" is trying to redefine the word "King." I mean come on they're not really the King of burgers?

Nice Try, But No (5, Informative)

Effugas (2378) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122415)

A couple years ago, we saw the first "pre-infected" Windows CDs show up on peer to peer networks...they had extra keys added to the cert store, so essentially attackers could come in remotely and securely authenticate against pirated builds of Windows. Apparently, this has become much more common, with many builds on P2P networks going so far as to be pre-infected with malware.

On the flip side, some of the pirated DVDs floating around out there are well known for just being very fast and easy to install on random hardware; especially for system builders, going from nothing to a completely installed Windows system with XPSP2 and Office in twenty minutes is a big deal even if the system is ultimately shipped with legitimate licenses.

Ultimately though we're talking about the use of the word Genuine. Sinec there's a tangible and measureable difference between the legitimate builds (less likely to be pre-0wned, more likely to be easy to install) vs. the pirated editions, I'd say there's a hat to hang the "genuine" phrase on, at least from a linguistic perspective.

He picked the wrong word (5, Insightful)

futuresheep (531366) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122436)

I would think that the way they've redefined the word "Advantage", as in "Windows Genuine Advantage" would be a bigger worry.

But that's just me...

This is actually correct (4, Insightful)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122443)

They are fighting against counterfeit copies of Windows, so their use of the word is correct in a literal sense. This is not redefining a term. It sucks though, because they make it impossible (or difficult at least) for Linux users to download patches to take to client sites.

If you want to discuss redefining terms, how about discussing Microsoft's definition of downtime vs. the rest of the industry's definition of that term.

Re:This is actually correct (1)

Dirtside (91468) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122516)

They are fighting against counterfeit copies of Windows, so their use of the word is correct in a literal sense.

Except that a "counterfeit" copy of Windows is identical in every conceivable way to a "genuine" copy. Whether a copy is "counterfeit," according to Microsoft, depends entirely and ONLY on whether you paid Microsoft what they charge for a copy. In all other respects, they're indistinguishable. That's why it's a linguistic clusterfuck.

Re:This is actually correct (1)

rackhamh (217889) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122585)

Except that a "counterfeit" copy of Windows is identical in every conceivable way to a "genuine" copy.

No it isn't. The physical medium wasn't prepared by Microsoft or one of its legitimate manufacturing partners.

Having a fake hundred dollar bill that's identical right down to the fiber doesn't make it any less counterfeit.

Re:This is actually correct (1)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122665)

No it isn't. The physical medium wasn't prepared by Microsoft or one of its legitimate manufacturing partners.

But the physical medium is not what makes Microsoft Windows, the medium is essentially just packaging for the software. Microsoft Windows is the same product whether it comes on a CD, a DVD, a download, a disk image pushed over a network, etc.

Having a fake hundred dollar bill that's identical right down to the fiber doesn't make it any less counterfeit.

No, but having a real $100 bill that is legally not supposed to exist (ie, it was heavily worn and exchanged by a bank for a new bill, after which it was supposed to be destroyed) does not make it less genuine. It is illegal, but not counterfeit.

If someone made a Windows clone from scratch that coincidentally was the exact same code as the Microsoft version, it would be counterfeit. But nobody is claiming someone recoded Windows in a counterfeit version, they are claiming that pirates distribute the actual software created by Microsoft. It is genuine Microsoft Windows in counterfeit packaging.

Re:This is actually correct (1)

rackhamh (217889) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122679)

But the physical medium is not what makes Microsoft Windows

You're missing the point. We're not arguing whether it's Windows on the CD, we're arguing whether it's a GENUINE copy of Windows.

No, but having a real $100 bill that is legally not supposed to exist (ie, it was heavily worn and exchanged by a bank for a new bill, after which it was supposed to be destroyed) does not make it less genuine. It is illegal, but not counterfeit.

Pointless analogy, since the copies of Windows that we're talking about ARE copies, not original Microsoft-produced Windows CDs that are not supposed to exist. Again, you have to consider the SOURCE of the CD to determine whether it's a counterfeit.

If someone made a Windows clone from scratch that coincidentally was the exact same code as the Microsoft version, it would be counterfeit. But nobody is claiming someone recoded Windows in a counterfeit version, they are claiming that pirates distribute the actual software created by Microsoft. It is genuine Microsoft Windows in counterfeit packaging.

Moot in view of the above.

Re:This is actually correct (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122694)

Actually, in many cases a "pirated" copy of MS software was prepared by Microsoft. One of the kinds of pirating that Microsoft is concerned with is one in which a single, legitimate, Microsoft-produced CD is used to install MS Windows on a bunch of machines. Only one license has been purchased but multiple machines have been set up, so Microsoft loses money. Another scenario with which they are concerned is one in which CDs intended to be used only by OEMs are sold at a discount to end users. Here again, the media are absolutely genuine - the problem for Microsoft is that they are sold in a way that violates the licensing conditions. So, it may be that "counterfeited" software is not burned onto CDs by Microsoft, but much "pirated" software is.

Microsoft response: (1)

lewp (95638) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122446)

Oh yeah? C'mere a minute!

Semantics shemantics - there IS a "WGA" here (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122447)

A pirated copy genuinely does not come with the same support from the publisher that a properly licensed copy does. It's that simple.

Re:Semantics shemantics - there IS a "WGA" here (1)

Fantasio (800086) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122614)

Well....Considering the support you get from Microsoft, that does not make a big difference

Pardon the Pun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16122464)

Clearly the linguist who wrote that article was not being genuine.

It's not sympathy they're after (2, Insightful)

HairyCanary (688865) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122466)

It's fear. Whether or not the word "genuine" is being used for its dictionary definition is not really relevant. They want to use terminology ("genuine", "advantage") that communicates to Joe User that a pirated copy of Windows may contain malware, spyware, etc. You have no idea what it has, so you better not install it on your computer. Pay us $$$ so you can be sure you are getting safe software. (and of course, that last bit is a whole 'nother discussion).

It's the same as many companies... (1)

aniceyoungman (898635) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122472)

...with their new-fangled marketing magic and creative use of language. One example that comes to mind is the Foxwood's Casino's "The wonder of it all" campain. Now, I'm no linguist, but I don't think the pure, unadulterated term "wonder" has anything to do with sipping dixie cup sized drinks while mindlessly pushing video slot buttons for 14 straight hours.

KDawson is Zonk's daddy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16122494)

KDawson is Zonk's daddy.

Linguistic interpretation (1)

HatchedEggs (1002127) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122518)

While I can understand that there is a slightly dubious use of the word "genuine" with MS, I don't believe its as big a deal as all that. For the most part it does fit given definitions. However, every day we twist language to our own use in an attempt to communicate. MS adding a bit of branding is their attempt to fulfill a dual function. One is marketing, and the other is to attach an every day term to validate our purchasing software instead of pirating it.

That said, every marketing campaign aimed at branding a word or term is bound to devalue it linguistically.

what the linguist ought to object to . . . (2, Insightful)

eamonjohnson (839848) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122535)

The linguist ought to object first to using an article without a noun. From the automatic update tool:
The Windows Genuine Advantage Notification tool notifies you if your copy of Windows is not genuine. If your system is found to be a non-genuine, the tool will help you obtain a licensed copy of Windows.

Re:what the linguist ought to object to . . . (1)

Watson Ladd (955755) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122697)

Just one letter error is to boring to point out.

Come on. (4, Insightful)

1310nm (687270) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122555)

This is genuinely a word-mincing exercise to discredit Microsoft. Is this really suitable as /. news?

Re:Come on. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16122666)

Make MS look bad?

News? no. /. News? yes.

~janus zeal

get a life already (0, Redundant)

dodgedodge (166122) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122567)

my dictionary defines "genuine" as "not counterfeit".

there are some real idiots out there.

It's quite funny... (1)

HatchedEggs (1002127) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122577)

I've never seen /.ers back up Microsoft so much before until these pompous linguists came along.

Bloody word jockies!

On the internet... (0, Flamebait)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122613)

That's known as being a grammar nazi. You have nothing constructive to contribute, all you're there for is to correct somebody else for something that's ultimately worthless.

Rorex (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122620)

As long as the watch is clearly marked as a "Rorex", it's perfectly genuine.

If the watch is a "Rorex" but has been relabeled as a "Rolex", then it's not genuine.

This guy needs to spend some more time on his examples.

LK

NOW you notice? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122626)

I already wondered when "trustworthy" changed its meaning to the opposite.

a matter of understanding more than symantics (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122635)

One needs to remember that microsoft is not selling you the software, it is selling you the license. The software just comes with it, and the license makes it legal to use the software. So in effect, it is not the software that is genuine, but it is the license. And you cannot deny that there is less hassel and better support from microsoft if you have a "genuine" windows license for your windows software.

I think MS has it right.. This time. (1)

elgee (308600) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122639)

I really don't care if they use the word genuine or if they even tweak the definition. I don't think they did, however.

MS gives us plenty of "genuine" annoyances. Stick to complaining about those.

Microsoft's Warning (4, Interesting)

slowbad (714725) | more than 7 years ago | (#16122701)

(and) prevent "the latest harmful and unwanted software from running on your computer"


Every week, Windows Defender repeats the above pledge. There are two problems here:

I am not sure that Microsoft's definition of unwanted software is the same of mine; I *am* sure that my definition of unwanted software includes things that Microsoft is doing that are not in my interests.

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