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Richard Stallman Calls for Amazon Boycott

Roblimo posted more than 14 years ago | from the take-to-the-virtual-streets! dept.

The Internet 572

Ian Lance Taylor writes "Linux Today is reporting that Richard Stallman is calling for a boycott of Amazon because they are suing based on a software patent." RMS also says, "Amazon is not alone at fault in what is happening. The US Patent Office is to blame for having very low standards, and US courts are to blame for endorsing them."

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About damn time (1)

Jovock (99897) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467629)

I have but one word to say good. Its about damn time people start doing something about the stupid patents that are going around.

Exactly What We Need (2)

EricHeinz (34163) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467630)

I applaud Stallman for trying to start a boycott, and for not investing in VA. Although I have no problems with ESR become a millionaire, I think it is also important to have someone like Stallman who will spend every waking minute insuring that software is free and reliable.

Sounds Good (2)

lanner (107308) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467631)

Sounds good to me. The best thing that could come out of this though is some serious patent standards reform. You can only blame Amazon, Yahoo, or IBM so much for taking advantage of a system that is just asking for it.

isn't this a little extreme? (2)

ijx (66809) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467632)

okay, i'll admit, the basic premise of the boycott is somewhat understandable. they are suing over a software patent that should and will be a staple of ecommerce.

but also helps many smaller linux and open source sites generate some revenue with their affiliate program. the program may not be the best in the world, but it gives a little back to these often-overlooked and underpaid contributers.

RMS on a rampage (3)

Sylvestre (45097) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467633)

I hate software patents as much as the next person, but isn't RMS kinda on a rampage here? It's like anyone who makes money incurs the wrath of RMS these days.

This isn't to mention the squashing of software innovation that comes from RMS' activity. If I have an idea for some small software program that might make enough money to support me and a few other programs, if it's any good RMS will swoop in an destroy my company. Thanks, RMS.

organized lobby of patent office (1)

male (71469) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467634)

I think some sort of organized lobby, not protest, to the patent office; i dunno, something with political power should be created against them. It's an interesting legal question....

I just can't bear to part with my beloved amazon =) it did my xmas shopping!

Coincedence? (3)

Nimmy (5552) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467635)

RMS calls for boycott against Amazon -- Slashdot

ESR calls Fatwah against Mindcraft -- Suck Parody of Slashdot

I, for one, am amused!



Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1467636)

because they are suing based on a software patent. RMS also says, "Amazon is not alone at fault in what is happening. The US Patent Office is to blame for having very low standards, and US courts are to blame for endorsing them."

so, i think we should ban the us patent office and the us courts too. let us not use anything patented! let us not show up for court! we will bring america, inc. to its knees!

down with the man!

note that the copyrighted undistributable open source natalie portman and open source drew barrymore are not patented... just copyrighted and undistributable, so i don't count.

thank you.

Just say no (1)

mrbeaner (123122) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467637)

Why would you ever want to boycott? Amazon sells a good product, that I like to buy. I don't care if they have 5 year old slaves working in the background, they always get me the goods I want, hassel free, and on time. Isn't that what business is all about? Doing business?

Many Of Us Are Doing This (3)

waldoj (8229) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467638)

I think that RMS is really just making this official, more or less. I e-mailed Amazon about this one-click nonsense shortly after I heard it, and received, as I'd expected, nothing more than a form letter regarding my stated boycott.

I have not, of course, purchased anything from them since, and I actively encourage others to do the same. I know many of my fellow geeks are also boycotting, but I don't think that is really aware of how many people really are frustrated over this. Perhaps an 'official' boycott is what it will take.

USA standards really are low! (4)

ja (14684) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467639)


I am european, and I have often been amazed by the claims of american patents. There is no way that any of these claims will ever hold up in court! All you guys are doing is making a laugh of your selves in front of the global community.

Please put an end to this abuse of the US patent system

mvh // Jens M Andreasen

Re:About damn time (3)

Pentagram (40862) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467640)

Certainly can't argue about that. Why don't we ever have official, Slashdot-endorsed boycotts that we can all get behind? We always talk about it, but noone ever does anything *official*. There ought to be a proper /. petition, so we can send them about a gazillion emails showing them who's not going to be buying their books over Christmas.

I've been boycotting them since the news came out (2)

RickyRay (73033) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467641)

I immediately started buying any books from places like Barnes & Noble, and making sure any DVD's I buy are from or anybody else. More importantly, I emailed them to voice my complaint, and immediately got a personalized response (so yes, they are worried!).

will Amazon even be able to tell? (3)

trickfx (99466) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467642)

I applaud the effort, but will it make any sort of difference whatsoever? Realistically, only geeks would participate in a boycott called by RMS. Sure, our books are, in general, more expensive than the regular crop. It would have to hurt Amazon pretty badly to get them to even consider changing their policy, as the patent has to do with their 'one click' buying, and they must be making money hand over fist from impulse buyers. The patent office is to blame, as someone pointed out earlier, and they won't feel a thing. How far reaching is the 'one click' patent, does anyone know, does it cover more than just books. (especially as Amazon itself is not so limited)

I'm already boycotting AMZN... (1)

jayped (25281) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467643)

Software and business process patents, in their current form, are damaging to the industry.

I started boycotting Amazon the moment the preliminary injunction went into effect, even though my close personal friend works there. I do use their site to find books, read reviews, and help pick out gifts for friends, but when its time to buy, its over to B&N or FatBrain for the purchase.

The PTO must be reformed. We really need to start a real campaign for this. (Maybe starting with some sort of petition.)

I agree in principle, but not with these actions (4)

toastyman (23954) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467644)

I agree with most people here that patents are becoming overly silly. But, I don't think a boycott is going to be effective at all, except as a PR tool.

Even if the subject matter sought to be patented is not exactly shown by the prior art, and involves one or more differences over the most nearly similar thing already known, a patent may still be refused if the differences would be obvious. The subject matter sought to be patented must be sufficiently different from what has been used or described before that it may be said to be nonobvious to a person having ordinary skill in the area of technology related to the invention. - US PTO

All it's going to take is one decent lawsuit to get this patent revoked. Not only would this be considered 'obvious', I'm certain if we all tried we could find a mountain of prior art. (If it can be proven that this was done before, their patent is no good)

I really see nothing in their patent that's even remotely unique or novel. Take a look yourself here []

Calling for a boycott isn't going to affect Amazon's bottom line a bit. However, it may get some attention to how silly they're acting. This isn't going to change a single thing until a business or some kind of Web-Business-Association or someone actually tries to get this patent revoked.


I usually don't agree with him, but . . . (1)

fireproof (6438) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467645)

I think this time I have to say that I agree. I don't think that a boycott against Amazon should be organized because we don't like them . . . I do, and have used them in the past. I don't think that the boycott should be organized because they are suing because of the patent per se, but mostly because they are suing over a patent for something so ludicrous that it's funny.

"One Click Technology"? Give me a break. The Patent Office has let an idea that was basically good get so far out of control that it no longer serves its purpose. Somebody, anybody, needs to make some waves.

Oopsie (3)

poink (7454) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467646)

This just minutes after I spend a couple hundred dollars at Amazon. Whoops.

another good reason... (5)

defenestrators (52630) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467647)

I encourage everyone to vote with their dollar for the business that offends the least. It isn't difficult.

With Amazon, if you buy from them and select "Do not spam me", they will anyway. I boycotted them when they started sending me 'important information'.

So then I use Barnes&Noble, where I again clicked "Do not spam me". They recently sent me a 'holiday gift' for $5. So now I don't use BN. Merry Christmas.

I'm using FatBrain now, hopefully they won't screw up either.

Your dollar holds real power in the eyes of the suits. Use it, and if you convince a few people to join you, you lend your messages (email comments usually) real power.

And it's a no-brain and no-effort task with today's competition.


The other's have affiliate programs as well. (2)

slashkitty (21637) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467648)

There are other better affiliate programs out there. As I recall, [] had
a pretty good deal. And the computer books were often a better price then AMZN.

Re:USA standards really are low! (1)

trickfx (99466) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467649)

well, the injunction against Barnes and Noble was already issued, so some judge somewhere thinks that it will at least hold up in US courts.

Re:RMS on a rampage (3)

luge (4808) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467650)

Umm, only if it's not GPL. If you are purely GPL, and distribute only GPL software, then he is all in your favor. It's not about money- it's about code freedom. I know that is hard for some people to grasp, but it's really not that difficult- money and code are completely separate in his eyes, and as long as you do the right thing in the one sphere you can do whatever in the other.

Why not boycot REdhat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1467651)

Why doesnt redhat do something for the community and buy the LZW patent from unisys and save us all from crap.

Patent office to blame? (1)

the_tsi (19767) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467652)

No, Sue's to blame! Doesn't anyone read the credits?!


E-Boycotts work (2)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467653)

Etoys is apparently taking a beating over their browbeating of Hopefully likewise, Amazon.

Re:isn't this a little extreme? (1)

jmv (93421) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467654)

The fact that Amazone helps some Linux sites isn't an issue here. Bill Gates gives a lot of money to all kind of non profit organizations (not to mention the new MIT building). Does that mean the DOJ should drop all charges against Microsoft since, Bill's just a nice guy after all!

No (3)

Pentagram (40862) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467655)

I have to admit, there's some practices that Amazon engage in which I entirely support. They actively encourage deep linking (unlike a few companies we've been debating) and they've really embraced the idea of getting people to help them sell books in return for a share in the cash. And they give out some groovy free gifts (my post-it notes are even now proudly displayed on my desk :)

On the other hand, they spam, and they sue over damn stupid patents. What a schizophrenic company.

Come on Slashdotters, boycott them!

Patent Abuse (3)

miracle69 (34841) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467656)

When I first saw the article on /. that Amazon was suing B&N, I decided I would not purchase anything from them, and since then, I have visited B&N several times. I had never visited B&N prior to the lawsuit.

Now, I agree that this is patent abuse wholeheartedly. However, it does bring up a problem that we are likely to see more of - corporations grabbing commonly used techniques and "patenting" them. Would a way to prevent this be to defeat them at their own game?

What if something like the FSF existed that patented all software innovations and then released them under some sort of Public Patent License (PPL)? Could we beat the corporations at their own game?

Think about it. John Q. Programmer, Extrordanaire, makes a program called "ComputerWidgets" which, for purposes of this discussion, is GPLed. He then sends off to the PPL and informs them that he would like to patent this idea and release it to the public.

The same could be done with web-site setups and whatnot. After all, what is to stop another company from patenting dynamically served pages created in Perl? As ludicrous as this sounds, it's basically what Amazon has done with cookies.

Re:isn't this a little extreme? (1)

Skim123 (3322) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467657)

Barnes and Noble has their own referral program too.

i've seen other sites... (1)

motardo (74082) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467658)

that use one-click shopping, i don't get what's up's butt....oh well... -motardo

Re:RMS on a rampage (4)

kurowski (11243) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467659)

I don't think that RMS targets anyone who makes money. After all, he's asking people to boycott Amazon because of their stupid patent. RMS isn't saying "boycott amazon because they make money."

Not that I wouldn't understand if the man did go on a rampage. The last few weeks have seen more pimping of Free Software than ever before. The efforts of RMS have spawned a great model of software development, but dotcom overspeculation has touched that model in an ugly way.

Yeah, I'm happy to see the redhat people and the va linux people and and all those folks making a ton of money off their efforts. I like seeing people I respect being rewarded. But right now is when open source software and the business world are really getting to know each other, and this relationship is really starting off on the wrong foot.

I'd have preferred to see open source really take off after the market crashes. I'm in no rush for corporate america to adopt my favorite operating system. I don't really care who uses linux as long as I get to use it. I just hate to see free software become prematurely adopted by people who shouldn't be using it yet, and then seeing them left with a sour taste in their mouth.

OK, that's enough ranting and raving for me for now, I guess.'s Penguin Icon (3)

Mycroft-X (11435) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467660)

Now if this isn't a story that begs for that jihad-penguin icon I don't know what is...

I can picture RMS, sitting on his "Throne of Righteous Indignation" thinking..."Hmm...haven't done something wild and radical recently...let's boycott something for not being open source or using a proprietary idea!"

This article was written today. The amazon patent story ran about a month ago. It just seems like RMS is going from "GNU-Linux! GNU-Linux!" to "Ban all GIFs!" to "Boycott Amazon". Is this really an effective argument, or is he just an extreme platform junkie?


Re:RMS on a rampage (1)

HoserHead (599) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467661)

Just like he's destroyed Red Hat, VA Research, Corel, and Microsoft, right?

I'm sorry, but Richard's never said you should not have the choice to use proprietary software. He's simply said that he will not support, and in practice has hindered, any non-free software. But if you have a wonderful idea for a start-up that'll make millions, or even will just break even, the HMS RMS (oo, isn't that clever) isn't about to steam into port with cannons a-blazing, ready to take away your ability to innovate (whatever that is). He advocates Free Software. He's obviously not going to support you if you produce proprietary software. And he is going to support free alternatives to your proprietary package. But that doesn't mean you're going out of business because of rms. He simply doesn't wield the same power the large consumer base of the computing industry in his hand.

Alreday boycotting Amazon. They hiked DVD prices! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1467662)

Used to be regular 30% off, 40% for pre-order. Now all new DVDs are 20% off tops.

Fortunetely, on the 'net, it's ultra easy to shop elsewhere. For now I'll stick with or (or even if I'm desperate). If Amazon can't compete they'll go under. I guess the shareholders are finally starting to demand that Amazon start earning profit (for the first time ever). Way to lose customers! Click. Click. Bye bye Amazon!

Can you post that reply? (1)

Skim123 (3322) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467663)

Could you post that reply from Amazon (if you still have it). I'm interested in reading it. Thanks!

Re:Just say no (1)

MacBoy (30701) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467664)

The problem is not that they are doing legitamate business, but that they are trying to prevent other online companies from doing legitamate business!!

Amazon did not originate the ideas protected by their patent. They merely were the first ones to have the gall to try to patent them. And they got the damned patent!! (WTF?)

I will not be buying from Amazon this season... (1)

slashkitty (21637) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467665)

I am working on a website the could eventually be in competition w/ a portion of Amazon's site, and I really don't think we should be limited in our use of 'Cookies'.

Also, has a better delivery service in NYC. They deliver it within 24hrs via bike messenger! At no additional charge. (But I have to use two clicks to check out!!!)

Re:will Amazon even be able to tell? (1)

X (1235) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467666)

Boycott's are always more effective for the PR than economic impact.

so who's keeping score? (1)

kuma (98937) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467667)

let's not forget!

hmmm, maybe someone out there should be keeping a list? amazon, etoys... kuma

Re:E-Boycotts work (1)

Pentagram (40862) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467668)

But how do you know? I sent Etoys an email complaining and promising never to shop there again, but I never got a reply. I'd love to see if anyone's getting into trouble over their handling of the etoy thing.

Amazon alternatives (3)

jflynn (61543) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467669)

A handy list of alternatives to Amazon can be found here [] . There is an article on discussing this, but it's down right now.

I do not have a credit card, so I wouldn't purchase from them anyway, but I do use them to decide if it's time to pile in a bus and visit my bookstore. I suppose taking page impressions away is part of the deal, so I'll try elsewhere for now at least, been meaning to check out the others anyway.

I think the patent is quite silly, but I still wonder if a boycott action is useful here. How may other silly patents are being muscled right now, and should we boycott all products from any such company? Is Amazon the most evil company deserving our attention? If we take multinational corporate ties into account, that could get to be a *long* list of products.

Most telling, I wonder if Amazon would or could drop their suit as a result. If the result is a suit by the shareholders for negligence w.r. to their intellectual property they haven't gained much.

Perhaps our lobbying and action should directed be towards those making patent law, and overseeing the patent office instead. If a corporation has a legal means to expand its marketshare or create licensing profit it is almost required by current law to exploit it. Just reducing the length of software patents from decades to years would greatly improve the situation and it's mildly realistic to hope it could be done.

Preaching to the choir. (1)

spaceorb (125782) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467670)

I think most geeks already know about what Amazon is doing and are already avoiding their site. However, I think for this boycott to have any success, you will need the support of the common consumer. But I guarantee you, if you walked up to a random person and explained this to them, they would answer: "I'll buy wherever its cheap." Therefore, let us all send emails to Amazon stating that we will only purchase our books from, to which they will respond with "Oh."

Re:E-Boycotts work (1)

kurowski (11243) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467671)

Etoys is apparently taking a beating over their browbeating of

Do you have a source for that? I'd really love to pass that info around...

Re: will Amazon even be able to tell? (1)

fireproof (6438) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467672)

I agree with you . . . Amazon may never know the difference. But, I think it is the principle of the matter that is important here, not the supposed effects.

Who knows what may come of it? How many important movements in history have happened because someone was willing to take a stand on principle (or just take a stand) even though the possibility of success seemed slim?

Ignore him! (1)

drix (4602) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467673)

Stallman Schmallman. ESR is our leader now. He has $41 million dollars. Isn't that the litmus test for leadership? ;)


Anyone want a better plan? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1467674)

Instead of wasting time and effort on a boycott that will draw only a little publicity (just think of the headlines: People who are used to Free stuff boycott a company!) why don't we do something productive?

Here's my plan.. The idea of a FSF or similar group starting a fund to help free software developers fight (generally dumb) lawsuits has been thrown around. Why don't we take this a step further? Maybe a group of lawyers, hired by funds from the FSF and other organizations, going out and presenting cases to have these patents thrown out.

I'm sure the /. crowd wouldn't mind contributing either a little money or prior art research. It doesn't need to be too huge. And a group that's getting dozens of dumb patents revoked would draw a LOT of media buzz. Might even draw enough attention to warrant Patent reform.


Software Patents in Europe (1)

kaip (92449) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467675)

Maybe the cause is already lost in the new country, but for Europe there is still hope. :)

There are no software patents as such in EU (see [] ). However, the European Commission is apparently pushing for more software patents. You may want to tell your opinion to your MEP or to the people in charge [] , now while there is still time.

Re:I agree in principle, but not with these action (1)

jebbono (106201) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467676)

I don't think it's necessary at all to affect their bottom line to justifify taking on a boycott. If the PR generated is sufficient to achieve the goal of having amazon drop this ridiculous lawsuit (and possibly draw a little more attention to this ridiculous patent situation), then fine. PR Tool it is. jeb.

Damn right:Just say no (1)

Silicon_Knight (66140) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467677)

So, what you are essentially saying is you don't care if your product is manufactured in a third world country by poor 5 years old living off maggot-infested rice. Sure, a few kids got their fingers cut off, but I'd still be able to get my brand name sneakers for 5 bux less, right?

We as a consumer are a powerful voice. I am sorry that you feel that way about businesses, but very business should have a moral obligation to conduct their businesses ethncially. There's a difference between being a sucessful business, and being a monopony. Recently there was just a lot of legal ruckus about a software company over that...

What if one day, as a result of's lawsuits and whatnot, they dominate the online book business, and decided that, A) The industry doesn't really need innovations and B) prices can go up because no one else can compete with them?

I don't know about you, but I think the "One-click shopping patent" is stupid, and in return for's stupidity, I'm taking my business elsewhere.

-=- SiKnight

Why? (4)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1467678)

Could someone explain *WHY* everyone so worked up about this?

I've read the patent in question. It is more than a simple database credit-card lookup. Read it for yourself without spoutting out the usual mantra.

Secondly, Amazon is actually sueing someone here. This is DISTINCTLY different than playing bully demanding money for the patent rights (eg, LZW/GIF debate). If the courts determine that Amazon's patent is prior art or vague - then they lost the patent.

Thirdly, patents *DO* have a place. People need to make money off their inventions. You can't make a living by spending years perfecting some hardware or software, then have your next door neighbor look at it and say, "Dang, thats obvious - i guess i'll rip off that idea and make millions without worrying about recouping the development expense. Thanks neighbor!"

Now, if you disagree with the *LAW* of patents (duration of coverage, scope, etc) Then don't complain/boycott Amazon. Write your congressperson and explain, in a calm manner, the problems you perceive with patents in a rapidly advancing industry!


Re:will Amazon even be able to tell? (1)

dormouse (125078) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467679)

So, does that mean you should keep rolling right along with something, regardless of the fact it's wrong? History proves that isn't how justice is found... (remember Hilter, etc?)

Don't be a drone. Even if it might not change something like you hoped for, at least stand up for what you believe is right. What would it hurt to _not_ buy your books at Amazon? The books I'm interested in cost only a few dollars more at a real-life old-fashioned bookstore, and THEY don't claim that they invented the wheel!

What if your site is not in the US? (1)

jmv (93421) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467680)

What if your site is not in the US? I'm pretty sure there exists a place in the world where this stupit trick isn't patented. Can you simply put the web site there and be free to do what you like without being sued? BTW, AFAIK, IANAL.

what they are doing with the patent (1)

ironhorse (118782) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467681)

I can't blame Amazon for filing obvious patents in order to protect their own interests(if they don't somebody else will, then Amazon would be sued by a competitor). But what they are doing with the patent is clearly a sign that they are seeking a monopoly. They should be boycotted. And the U.S. Patent office needs more reform than campaign financing. But what is leading Amazon to these predatory tactics? Could the fact that it overvalued company that has no projected revenue in the near future? If Amazon doesn't can't protect its obvious patents there is nothing special about Amazon. That said, there is nothing special about Amazon. I don't buy anything from Amazon anyway, so all I have to do to boycott them is nothing

Just starting now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1467682)

Coooool ! I just have some shipping from Amazon I don't want anymore. I think I gonna add a nice "Boycott patent law suit" comment on the return form.

Practice what you preach, please... (3)

kurowski (11243) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467683)

RMS suggests: If you are the author of a book sold by Amazon, you can provide powerful help to this campaign by putting this text into the "author comment" about your book, on Amazon's web site.

But if you visit amazon and browse through books with his name on them, it seems that he hasn't done this himself. I'd respect his wishes here a bit more if he'd at least follow through on his own requests.

uhhh whats the point? (1)

toast0 (63707) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467684)

one click buying is _stupid_ anyhow
i personallhy don't care if its patented or if everybody can do it, because i wouldn't use it

it doesn't matter how they do what they do as long as it works, is on time, and is relatively inexpensive

i'm not buying stock in the company when i do business with them, i'm buying a book/cd/whatever

yes if they were abusing children by censoring stuff i would have a problem, but they're just doing what needs to be done in the curren state of the patent office

if they didn't patent it, the next person would, and the patent office would have granted a patent and then amazon would be getting sued off their ass

Getting complicated. (2)

Davorama (11731) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467685)

I gotta wonder just what Amazon is supposed to do. I don't like their inane patent either but if they didn't take it out then they'd just be held hostage by the next devious guy in line who didn't have enough scuples to say no. It's a cut-throat world out there this Xmas (and I leave Christ out purposely there) for all the .coms and alot of them aren't going to make it. Amazon saw that their business model could be patented. If they don't defend that patent then they lose it.

Unfortunately for Amazon, RMS is right too. Shopping there leaves a bad taste in my mouth now. so I'll be looking for a more astheticly pleasing place for my business. It's a shame though since it really is the fault of a screwed up patent system that encourages the behavior.

He doesn't like people doing their homework! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1467686)

To borrow from a speech by Hitler:

"I know it must have been hard, when we seized glory, and you had no reward, but you MUST GIVE IN TO THIS OVERWHELMING NEED TO OBEY!"'s Penguin Icon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1467687)

As said on the Simpsons:

A little bit from column A, a little bit from column B.

RMS is arrogant. To be kinder, you could call him outspoken. And he loves to be in attention. Burn all GIFs has been in his aresonal for years, and for good reason. GNU/Linux, I don't agree with. That just makes him sound spoiled. And Boycott Amazon is definitely not the best plan.

But hey, let him be popular. And loved, and despised.

Hrm. Concept of patents (3)

Robert S Gormley (24559) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467688)

"have been doing similar things" does not cut it in the world of patent law. I apply for a patent on something, I get a patent on that and that alone. The existense of credit cards does not invalidate Amazon's patent (other prior art may well do though).

This seems very vitriolic. Making inaccurate comparisons to try to back your argument is not a good idea generally.

I think too many people (not RMS alone) get caught up in spewing forth invective on the subject of intellectual property. "Information wants to be free" - said who? The information? (sorry, couldn't resist that one)

Sorry, but I refuse to boycott a company (or anyone) defending their investment, be it this or something else (assuming it's "valid"), by any means possible.

Read no further if you dislike flamebait: the same people who scream bloody murder (bad pun) about attempts to infringe upon their freedoms when someone is attacking their property (the supposed right to blow them into their next life) also seem to be ones screaming about companies retaliating against attacks against their property.

note: this isn't to say I agree with the patent Amazon has. It's dicy. If it's dicy, it'll hopefully lose. Valid patents and IP should be defended. Who appointed us judge and jury?

Re:USA standards really are low! (1)

jebbono (106201) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467689)

Personally, I'm amazed at how many europeans go out of their way to post on /. etc., about how ridiculous they think the US is. Making a laugh of ourselves in the global community? In my personal rankings of factors that influence my position on US legal, political, or other issues, I'd say that comes in just about dead last. jeb.

The why are Amazon suing? (2)

Dacta (24628) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467690)

If this patent truly is not novel, and not going to stand up in court, why are they suing Barnes & Noble over it?

I agree that they look like they are bound to lose, but lawyers aren't stupid (well...) so there must be some advantage they are getting out of it.

For all you legal people: What adavantage do Amazon get out of this case if they lose?

Re:I agree in principle, but not with these action (5)

itp (6424) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467691)

You make a number of good points, but I guess I disagree with you in principle. You're right, we probably won't have a significant effect on Amazon's bottom line. Large as we joke about the /. effect being, Amazon's client base dwarfs us. I don't think we should ignore the potential PR effect this could have, but I'm not counting on that, either.

I am proud, however, to say that I do things not because I think I will be in the majority, or because I think I will always win, but because I think they are right. I have personally been boycotting Amazon from the moment I heard about this. I'm just one man, and I'm sure Amazon doesn't even miss me, but none of that will make me change my mind. I believe what they are doing is wrong, and I am doing my part to make sure they know that.

Ben Franklin said "They that can give up liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." The words may not fit exactly, but I think the sentiment is right.

Ian Peters
itp at gnu dot org

Uh Oh... (1)

paleck (10298) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467692) may be next, I just ordered some DVDs and I only had to push one button.

Re:Agreed. (1)

Malcontent (40834) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467693)

Where you shop and how you spend your money is in many ways more important then how you vote. I started shopping at Amazon because as a protest against BN and their M$ like tactics against small bookstores. Now I shop at Powells.

Slashdot Affect (2)

Nessak (9218) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467694)

This is the time when we as community can use the power of slashdot and our collective voices.

Everyone who agrees with RMS (To some degree) should send a nice, well thought out, letter to Amazon explaining your problems with there recent actions. Lets face it, the slashdot affect is really powerful. A few people here and there complained to fox when the blocked non-windows people, but fox actually did something when all of us wrote letters all at once.

Keep in mind, these letters CAN NOT BE FLAMES! That would only make things worst. Instead they must be claim, polite and well thought out. If you could not tell, I strongly agree with RMS on this one. We can't let silly patents like this ruin everything people on the internet have enjoyed for so many years.

Sig free since 93'...

Re:isn't this a little extreme? (2)

psychonaut (65759) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467695)

but also helps many smaller linux and open source sites generate some revenue with their affiliate program.

Correction: helps generate some revenue with their affiliate programs. The programs are essentially advertising for Amazon. If Amazon really were altruistic, it would give money to smaller Linux and open source sites rather than pay them for advertising space.


Re:Patent Abuse (1)

jebbono (106201) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467696)

Unfortunately, this sort of effort would almost certainly require the use of the key and punctuation on a keyboard. IIRC, both were patented by IBM long ago, and they would certainly sue for infringement on this one. jeb.

If we are going to boycott AMZN let's do it right. (3)

ratsdliw (125847) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467697)

We should not just boycott but also boycott everything that amazon has invested in. That includes

Internet Movie Database ( ( (

And also boycott other business they are involved in. ( ( ( (

I don't know about you but some of these I can't live without. (I.e. Imdb)

Happy boycotting.

Re:I agree in principle, but not with these action (1)

Ian Lance Taylor (18693) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467698)

A boycott can make a difference for a company like Amazon. Amazon doesn't have anything special going for it over any other book selling site. You don't have to give anything up to not go there. You can even just look at the reviews on Amazon, and then pop somewhere else for the actual purchase.

As far as patents go, the courts are predisposed to trust the PTO. If you can show prior art, you can invalidate a patent. It's tough to invalidate based on obviousness. The courts presume that the PTO already considered obviousness. We know they didn't, but the court doesn't.

If you have prior art before September 1997, great. Send it to Barnes & Noble.

Re:I agree in principle, but not with these action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1467699)

But think of the dough that companies have to spend to defend themselves from these bogus lawsuits! In this case, at least it's a company who can afford it. What if they crushed a few dozen smaller companies first? Companies who were just getting off the ground and couldn't afford to defend themselves in a lawsuit. What really disgusts me is the fact that you have to pay to get your way in court. Justice should have nothing to do with money..

A rebuttal to Stallman Bashers (5)

sinator (7980) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467700)

Not ten minutes into the article's posting and I already see Stallman bashers calling the man crazy and/or outdated and/or stubborn for his Free Software crusade and actions.

Rather than rehash the old pro-Stallman arguments, which are basically naming his many accomplishments without justifying his beliefs, I'm going to pose his beliefs in the form of an ethical dilemma: Would you act differently than Stallman, given this dilemma?

Stallman acts on the belief that it is morally wrong to hold back information that was freely given to you. Namely, no idea is formed in a vacuum. Consciously, subconsciously, intentionally, unintentionally, the society around you bombards you with ideas to draw upon. Software engineers, for example, draw upon the ideas of friends, families, former educators, and in some cases mathematical concepts that have been in the idea pot since the Ancient Greeks.

It's patently (no pun intended) absurd to consider paying royalties to the Archimedes estate -- the idea just wouldn't hold water. (pun quite intended)

In other words, ideas aren't something which we have 100% control over. You can't will a good idea. Focus groups have proven this. You can will money and time into makeing a better environment for ideas to hit you, but the key here is that ideas come from the world around you.

If Microsoft were to acknowledge this, they would either have to pay The World a hefty royalty, or sue The World for patent infringement. And if we're all in jail, who will buy Microsoft products?

To all the Stallman bashers out there, consider this: do you consider your ideas to be truly, 100% yours? Every idea anyone has ever had has a basis either in another idea, or a social concept, or a form evident in nature. Now let's narrow the field down from the abstract of 'ideas' to 'software'. Most software performs a certain goal. The 'idea overlap' here is much greater in the world of software, because of common goals et al. It's not surprising that the originality of software comes not from the mind of the original but the sharing of information among many -- both because there are no truly original ideas and because the sharing is an extension of the above. That's why Open Source works. You hear something, you see something, and blend it in together with another random idea that hits you, and voila, instant 'idea'. Aren't you glad you don't have to pay royalties to everyone who helped you with the idea?

In economic terms, you can put it thusly: There is a scarcity of everything except desires. I guess you can consider an idea as a form of desire, namely a desire to make a thought tangible. That's great, thoughts are free and infinite, because ideas are born of ideas and interact with each other to make more ideas. Materials, however, are scarce. Here, then, is Stallman's consolation to the 'free idea' manifesto: ideas are free because they are infinite, and not sprung of one source; but implementations may be sold and owned by virtue of the fact that they are scarce.

In other words, you can't 'patent' selling CD's of Linux on it as original, because others do it or have the capability to do it. You can, however, charge money because not everyone can afford a CD press machine, or the time to burn all those CD's: that's scarcity in action.

But do the Stallman bashers feel ethically alright with charging money or defending ownership of something free and unlimited that comes not from one person, but from the interactions of an infinite number of outside and internal stimuli?

I'm rambling, so I better quit. Personally, I'm playing Devil's advocate; I feel you should be able to patent software *implementations* (i.e, actual binary form) because the TIME spent in R&D and the TIME spent coding is in itself scarce. But, the idea of software, i.e, specifications for software, or protocol types, or source, patenting compression algorithms etc, is free and the result of other ideas in an educational chain that spans the ages, and to sever the chain and claim it all came from your own mindspring is both hubris and ethically questionable.

Good. (2)

Millennium (2451) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467701)

I was already boycotting them for this reason, but now I at least know I'm not alone in this. Yes, RMS is known for being a little, and cometimes more than a little, extreme. But in this case I think he's justified. Mainly because I can't think of anything else constructive that'll even have a chance of solving this problem.

Moderate this man up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1467702)

Anyone remember when it all started with RMS calling for a boycott against Apple Computer? The man is living in a perpetual jihad, fighting a holy war against the evil capitalist world. The victims change, the principle stays the same.

Re:Why not boycot REdhat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1467703)

I don't think that's a good idea. It's like paying off terrorists. It just encourages more people to patent bullshit in hopes that someone will pay them for it one way or another. They must be squashed!

I wanna patent the lever... (1)

Lord_Sloth (101482) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467704)

I'll get a patent for "a device to amplify either force or movement by use of a beam (lever) turning around a point (fulcrum)" and sue anyone who uses one anywhere.

Re:Just say no (0)

Khalid (31037) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467705)

Just search for the books you want to buy in Amazon (I admit they they a damn nice service, and readers review) pick up the ISBN and then go buy in one of these gazillions online bookstores out there. You can even try the get the best deal. You will see that Amzon are far from beeing the best deal.


Norway: Patent on E-COMMERCE. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1467706)

There's a company in Norway that took out a patent on e-commerce in general the other day. It applied for it afted it had developed an old flight booking system in pre-web days, but are going about agressively with it now. Even large Norwegian companied have said they will probably have to cough up the royalties.

This is a global problem.

maybe we won't have to worry? (2)

Marvin_OScribbley (50553) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467707)

I did some digging and found this url:


Now normally I am a bit suspicious about people who advocate conspiracy theories and the like, but in this case the point of view advocated at the above site - namely that the patent office is under attack by legislation by congress - might be interesting to us geeks, specifically because if "they" are right, congress has actually passed a bill through the house which would get rid of some of our headaches over patents.

These guys don't want that, but we do, at least to some extent perhaps. Maybe this is worth looking into and supporting (instead of resisting, as the page at the URL suggests).

Re:Many Of Us Are Doing This (2)

ActionListener (104252) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467708)

We should not boycott Amazon, but instead be lobbying to have improvements made in the way in which patents are issued. Amazon never should have been allowed to get a patent for such an obvious idea in the first place. If the law is on their side (and it appears to be), then I really can't blame them. Note that this is different from less clear cut cases, where the company that is suing is not necessarily in the right (legally speaking), such as the eToys lawsuit ( 08&mode=thread).

Re:Patent Abuse (2)

jmv (93421) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467709)

It would be nice to have a Lawyer's advise on this. Patents are expensive, but what if you simply file a patent and drop it when it's accepted? I don't think any later patent for this idea would be accepted, so it would we the equivalent of the PPL. The other good point is that you only pay the fee for filing for a patent, not the other fees.

Re:USA standards really are low! (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1467710)

All you guys are doing is making a laugh of your selves in front of the global community.

Yea, but were making a fool of ourselves while having straight teeth...

Re:Hrm. Concept of patents (2)

jebbono (106201) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467711)

I believe that companies should defend their investments as well, but I also believe that if a company is doing something ridiculous that will inevitably hurt me, I should vote with my dollar and not give it to them. Amazon's patent is a joke! Part of the product I buy from amazon is the feeling I get from doing a transaction with them. If I feel negatively because of this ridiculous lawsuit, than I am getting less for my money. Further more, in situations like this, we were appointed judge and jury when we entered the book buying market with a fistful of dollars. Personally, I feel that we were all made judge and jury in computer technology patent issues after IBM set a team of lawyers, not scientists, working around the clock to simply gain patents to use in lawsuits against smaller companies and the patent office went along with it. They were granted thousands of patents on obvious, old technologies that they only brought up when threatened by smaller companies whose products depended on, say, the indent function. This technique was also adopted by Microsoft after IBM used it against them. When the patent office became unable to protect us from this nonsense on that fateful day, we became judge and jury. Who else is there? jeb.

While we're at it... (3)

vitaflo (20507) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467712)

Can I officially call a boycott of eToys as well? While I am totally against Amazon on their whole patent dispute, and have made my voice heard over there, I am even more outraged at eToys using their marketing muscle against As the owner of an independent design website, this could have been me (or anyone else). I think with ecommerce, its the first time in history that we can actually speak out against such corporate malpractice and finally DO something about it!

Will Slashdot participate in the boycott? (2)

Ian Lance Taylor (18693) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467713)

I just checked, and it looks like Slashdot will still put up links to Amazon.

Is Slashdot going to participate in the boycott by removing those links? Why or why not?

Not that I'm encouraging hasty action. Perhaps Amazon will back down on this, as they backed down (somewhat) on their hidden advertising.

Re:Hrm. Concept of patents (1)

ironhorse (118782) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467714)

Why does the fact that Amazon is defending their investment make what they are doing any more admirable? Aren't some things more important than investments? not to Amazon obviously. It may be obvious that the best way for Amazon to protect its investments is to enforce its dubious patent. Does that make it obvious that you or I should support Amazon? Of course not. The two issues are unrelated. There is nothing inherintly admirable about protecting and investments. Do you respect a pimp after he smacks around his bitch?

Patent is kind of reasonable (2)

alexhmit01 (104757) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467715)

Well, nobody was doing it, and their approach is novel. I have issues with software patents, but this one sounds legit. I mean, every other site had you fill out forms again each time, and their "one-click technology" was a real time-saver. Since then, everyone has copied it. I think that it was a new approach that they developed, and they are entitled to the patent royalties.

This isn't a patent on cookies. It is a patent on storing just enough information to find you in a database. While not technically novel, the combination of the database query and people's personal information is a new and novel approach.

I respect RMS for what he has done, but I don't share his views on intellectual property. People are free to give their work away. People are also free to profit from their ideas. The patent system rewards inventors. invented a way to bring convenience, and the patent is, in my opinion, legit.


Re:Good. (1)

Artie FM (87445) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467716)

I'm boycotting them as well. I'm trying to find some out of print books and even though I know amazon has the capability to find them I refuse to use that service.

So can anyone suggest a good link for used book searches?

So when does this get a topic heading/icon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1467717)

In the same vein as long topic names like "It's funny, laugh." we need a patents topic called "The US Patent Office Sucks Ass."


GeorgeH (5469) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467718)

Amazon recieved a preliminary injunction against Barnes & Noble (see previous article [] ). What this means is that they can't use "one-click shopping" until Amazon loses the suit. Right now is the busiest shopping time of the year, so if Amazon can cut into B&N's profits, then Amazon wins, regardless of who wins the suit.

The question is, do we want our money paying the paychecks of people who feel this is the best way to do business? Vote with your dollars.

Yup - visit (1)

father_guido (124189) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467719)

Amazon and EtoyS both SUCK!!!

Re:If we are going to boycott AMZN let's do it rig (1)

Nessak (9218) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467720)

There is something to say about *not* boycotting sites like imdb. Internet Movie Data Base was started as a "open" service for the people. We can send a good message to Amzn if we keep visiting imdb but not buying anything from the Amazon links (Or clicking them). Writting a letter explaining how you support open collections of information, but not silly patents will only help. If they notice they are still getting just as many hits, but half as many sales, they might see how people really are concerned with the actions of a site.

Just a thaught.

Re:Damn right:Just say no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1467721)

No, actually we still pay $130 for those sneakers that cost $2 to manufacture (nike). The point is, TV told me I have to buy it, so I'm buying it.

For those who can't leave without Amazon ! (5)

Khalid (31037) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467722)

I have already posted this in an other thread, but it's deeply netsted, Maybe it will go unoticed, so I dare to repost it.

Here is the trick just search for the books you want to buy in Amazon (I admit they they a damn nice service, and readers review) pick up the ISBN and then go buy search for the best deal in with the ISBN. You will see that Amazon are far from beeing the best deal.

Re:The why are Amazon suing? (1)

jetpack (22743) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467723)

As far as I can tell, patents like this are used to make the competition back off long enough for the company applying for the patent to gain marketshare. The patent itself is bogus and wont hold up in court, but it forces any other companies that might infringe on the patent to deal with the fact that they might get sued. It's really a business move, not a legal move.

I'm sure any business folks among us can give greater detail, but I believe that is the general idea behind this sort of patent application.

Re:I agree in principle, but not with these action (1)

cyoon (99971) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467724)

I agree -- people have a voice on the Internet and try to come up with marvelous things that will change the way we work. After all, isn't every individual given an e-mail address to hide behind? Yes, but like many other such boycott attempts, this isn't going to make a spit of difference. Remember the gasoline boycott for one day that some guy in Cali tried to start? Caught some media attention, but you're never going to achieve anything unless you strike directly at the wallets or the hearts of people. If Jeff Bezos was a child-porn fan or something, that would cause a stir. No one really cares about the suit against BN.

Will it matter? (2)

Felinoid (16872) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467725)

There are people who won't do busness with Amazon for diffrent reasons but it dosn't seem to phase Amazon.
A boycott dosn't effect a busness who isn't affrade of losing costummers.
the real problem isn't Amazons defending a software patent it is they were issued one in the first place.
Instead of protesting against Amazon the target should be the us patent office. Contact ellected officals and point out the patent office has been issuing a lot of strange patents lately including blantely patenting prior art and software patents.

Instead we should be asking congress to put a hold on all Internet patents and review the value of patenting things related to the Internet.

Re:Amazon alternatives (1)

DMuse (108888) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467726)

Here are more alternatives:
ISBN Price Shopping [] will retrieve prices for an ISBN from a dozen or so online stores.

Even though they are in Canada I would still recommend Indigo [] or Chapters [] . I found some books that were the same price in CAD as in USD. That makes for a 33% discount over the average American price, given the exchange rate. I've used Indigo and was quite pleased.

Mail Amazon! (1)

Lulu of the Lotus-Ea (3441) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467727)

This is a bit of a "me too" post... but I think it is important for everyone to get a sense of how important this issue is.

Like some other posters, I had already emailed Amazon letting them now that I would not do business with them until they stopped the patent nonsense. Prior to that I had done quite a bit of business... and I'm sure I was among the first 1% (or 0.01%) of their customers. Probably the note just got thrown away and ignored. But if they start seeing this message many times every day, it might start to sink in.

Re:While we're at it... (1)

cabbey (8697) | more than 14 years ago | (#1467728)

it's already happening... go take a look at the story awhile back about etoys and etoy, someone sugested it and a lot of people joined in. I would if I was actually shopping for toys.... This one on amazon though is certainly one I'll be joining; right after one last visit to rescue the list of ISBNs in my shoping cart.
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