Folks who visit here comment that I should not be concerned with the morality of businesses like M$ because business is all about making money. Look where that view is going: M$ has promoted and achieved passage of a law in Washington state that allows M$ to sue any business selling non-software products in Washington state if the producer has used any of M$’s software without a licence.

It’s hard to get one’s mind around the enormity of this. WA has essentially appointed M$ as another level of government able to tax almost any business in WA…. This is not just about money. It is about fairness and equality under the law. The law explicitly excludes FLOSS businesses from doing what M$ will be allowed to do. M$ will no longer have to sell its software anywhere. It can allow it to be used illegally around the world and tax everyone in WA for that illegal use. M$ is trying to get similar laws passed in other states.

WA may be a pawn of M$ but other states are not, I suspect. I would bet that M$ tries to get the US federal government to pass a similar law.

It is beyond comprehension that any legislator would accept that copyright and patents are insufficient to protect software so M$ should be able to tax the fruits of the world instead of earning a living like every other business.

Think I am raving? Read Groklaw.

Read that article and tell me M$ is not evil. What is your definition of evil if that behaviour is not evil? If I were in charge I would ban the use of M$’s products and M$ doing any business in my jurisdiction. The world does not need M$ harming people and businesses everywhere just so M$ can keep making more money.

UPDATE The best comment I have read on this suggests the main idea is to tax every business that wishes to sell in the USA: buy licences from M$ so that you can prove you are OK to export to USA. That fits. That’s a variation on the old theme of every OEM needing to pay for a licence whether it was used or not. This even would pressure businesses that used FLOSS to buy licences from M$. see comment

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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26 Responses to Morality

  1. WA piracy bill pits Microsoft against tech giants

    This article on Engadget has links to the actual legislation in WA and OR.

    ie. WA and OR

  2. oldman says:

    “We’re not done talking about this latest horror story from Microsoft.”

    Can we get a URL to this alleged horrible law?

  3. I planted a Manitoba Maple, not nearly as sweet, about 15 years ago but I don’t live with it anymore. I’ll keep bugging the wife to move back there and get some sweetness.

  4. Richard Chapman says:

    It’s maple sugar season in the North East. You tap a Maple Sugar tree by drilling a 3/8 hole in it. Insert a special antibiotic pill and then hammer in the tap. You hang a bucket on the tap or attach a plastic hose (more common these days) and with the right weather you get a lot of sap. Once the season ends you remove the tap and the tree heals its self.

    What Microsoft is attempting to do is to permanently hammer a tap into nearly every business in the US. I suppose there’s no reason not to go after Europe too. I suspect the internal name for this project at Microsoft is called “Lamprey”. If they were to get their way, they could become as powerful as some of the larger governments in the World. They would essentially control all commerce where this law is passed. I’m not worried about that happening but I’m troubled by the damage they will cause in the attempt.

    Google? That’s another story for another time. We’re not done talking about this latest horror story from Microsoft.

  5. Copyright violation is not theft. The holder of the copyright still has it. There are civil and criminal penalties for violation of copyright but they are not the same as theft. It’s not piracy either. Your ideology seems to have tainted your ability to see this for what it is, the web working as intended.

  6. Mike Hunt says:

    Wow, just wow. Seriously Robert. Your ideology has tainted your ability to see this for what it is: theft.

    I really hope that for Manitoba’s sake (and for the rest of Canada’s sake) that no one hires you in any teaching capacity. You’re right up there with James Keegstra.

    Good luck on whatever is left of your sad and pathetic life.

  7. What monopoly? The owners of the books/copyrights can still publish or whatever. The owner of copyright can enter into an exclusive deal with a publisher or search engine if they wish. The judge wrote that that is OK. He just wanted the terms to be more flexible. I expect they will. In any negotiation, one usually asks for more than one expects so that one does not get short-changed. Copyright holders usually get very little value from books/whatever after the first few editions. They go “out of print” etc. Google Books is a great deal for many authours/publishers.

  8. Mike Hunt says:

    Why not? If copyright has expired or they have permission it’s OK.

    But that’s not what this case is about Robert. This case is about copyrights that haven’t expired and where there is no permission by the copyright holders.

    Google has attempted to strong arm everyone into accepted a few pennies thrown at them for exclusive rights to Google to be able to take their work, scan it, distribute it at their will, and be the only ones doing this. They’ve suggested that the copyright holders accept the deal and if they don’t, Google will just do it anyway.

    The US federal judge said no because it would give Google …. here’s the word you FOSS types love to use … a monopoly on hundreds of thousands of books.

    It’s illegal, unethical, and monopolistic.

  9. I’m not following you. Why don’t you provide some facts? Google has my permission to search my site, publish excerpts and help people find things. If I wanted to keep my stuff secret, I would encrypt it, deny read-permission, and/or require passwords or authentication keys. Google is doing the world a favour and they profit from advertising, no skin off my nose. Who is harmed by their business-model except M$ who wants a monopoly on everything including search?

  10. Why not? If copyright has expired or they have permission it’s OK.

    I guess this is about Google Books.
    “Three years ago, the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers and a handful of authors and publishers filed a class action lawsuit against Google Books.
    Today we’re delighted to announce that we’ve settled that lawsuit and will be working closely with these industry partners to bring even more of the world’s books online. Together we’ll accomplish far more than any of us could have individually, to the enduring benefit of authors, publishers, researchers and readers alike”

    There’s recent news on the matter:
    “OPINION: In the end, I conclude that the ASA is not fair, adequate, and reasonable. As the United States and other objectors have noted, may of the concerns raised in the objections would be ameliorated if the ASA were converted from an “opt-out” settlement to an “opt-in” settlement. I urge the parties to consider revising the ASA accordingly. The motion for final approval of the ASA is denied, without prejudice to renewal in the event the parties negotiate a revised settlement agreement.”

    So, Google has permission but not adequately in the court’s view. I expect this will be resolved to everyone’s benefit and the trolls can go home. see

    I searched Google Books for | knowledge “of an uncertain kind” | and found a book with restricted status. Here is the explanation:
    “Many of the books in Google Books come from authors and publishers who participate in our Partner Program. For these books, our partners decide how much of the book is browsable — anywhere from a few sample pages to the whole book. Some partners offer the entire book in a digital edition through Google eBooks, in which case you can purchase the book.

    For books that enter Google Books through the Library Project, what you see depends on the book’s copyright status. We respect copyright law and the tremendous creative effort authors put into their work. If the book is in the public domain and therefore out of copyright, you can page through the entire book and even download it and read it offline. But if the book is under copyright, and the publisher or author is not part of the Partner Program, we only show basic information about the book, similar to a card catalog, and, in some cases, a few snippets — sentences of your search terms in context. The aim of Google Books is to help you discover books and assist you with buying them or finding a copy at a local library. It’s like going to a bookstore and browsing — with a Google twist.”

  11. Mike Hunt says:

    And add to that “exclusive right” to this. That’s simple contempt for IP owners.

  12. Mike Hunt says:

    Is it not fair use to permit that?

    Scanning hundreds of thousands of entire books and then financially benefiting from that? Absolutely not.

  13. You beg the question. What copyright is Google stealing? Websites? They are on the web to be visited. Is it not fair use to permit that? Why else are their open websites like mine on the web?

  14. Mike Hunt says:

    The question is what copyright is Google violating?

    Copyright law Robert. Please tell me you understand copyright law. It protects someones Intellectual Property (IP) from being stolen like how Google is stealing from millions of copyright holders which include individuals and companies.

    So is this a case of you with your FOSS zealot glasses on and therefore denying that copyright should exist or are you not aware of copyright law?

  15. The question is what copyright is Google violating?

  16. Ivan says:

    Bobby, you are saying that you don’t have a problem with giving Google copyright for books that aren’t out of copyright yet, effectively ending copyright protections for the average person in favor of a corporation.

    If this is really so, why are you upset when companies “violate” the gpl? That is hypocritical of you.

    You either respect copyright in all of its forms, or you don’t. Which is it?

  17. Richard Chapman says:

    Microsoft is out of control NOW. When and if Google attempts to pass outrageous legislation such as Microsoft is doing now then we’ll talk about Google. Right now it’s Microsoft. Making fun with the word “evil” is a excuse for making Microsoft’s transgression sound cute. They are willing to impose a hardship on potentially every business in the United States. There’s nothing cute about that. And there’s nothing admirable about backing Microsoft up on this.

  18. Ray says:

    “I think Google is a wonderfully helpful outfit. What is evil about books? People who love old books love them to be digitized and searchable. That is a boon to mankind.”

    Just think Buzz.

  19. Dann says:

    From the same wiki page as I mentioned above:

    * In February 2010 posted a copy of Microsoft’s “Global Criminal Compliance Handbook”, which outlines procedures to take with law enforcement in regards to user information. Microsoft then issued a DMCA take-down notice to Cryptome’s hosting provider, Network Solutions. As a result, Cryptome was taken down. Several mirrors went up of the document and it has been distributed widely among the Internet along with similar documents from entities such as Facebook, PayPal, and Comcast. Microsoft has since withdrawn the take-down notice and Cryptome is back up.[35]

    I think Microsoft should worry about their own books before they start persuing Google on the matter.
    I’ve read this handbook btw.

  20. Dann says:

    Google cars can go anywhere the public roads go.
    Just like people can take pictures or videos wherever those same roads go.
    Look at the streissand effect:

    That photographer was not trespassing. Why should others be forced to abide by the passing fancy of those with money?

    We could rant about how Microsoft always thinks and acts as though it’s above the law. Google at least responds to takedown notices and blurs license plates, etc…
    They even blurred out a logo on my car even though it was not a privacy issue.

    Then there’s Microsoft, who copies Google’s search algorithms and pretends to be as good as them.
    Just grasping for straws there, Mike?

  21. I think Google is a wonderfully helpful outfit. What is evil about books? People who love old books love them to be digitized and searchable. That is a boon to mankind.

  22. Richard Chapman says:

    This may be a litmus test for our governments. Wherever that law passes, a new government is needed. I’m not talking new politicians, I’m talking a new kind of government. One that isn’t owned by the corporations. One that is hermetically sealed from their influence.

  23. Mike Hunt says:

    Blah blah blah Microsoft is ebil, blah blah.

    How about what Google attempted to do with books?

    Or Google with privacy?

    At least be consistent with your rants.

  24. It might not be a question of morality but sanity. How can M$ think they can get away with this or that if they do have some measure of success that it will harm the economy on which M$ depends?

  25. Richard Chapman says:

    Imagine a company like General Motors. How could they not possibly be using some product or service from a company that is using an illegal copy of Excel somewhere? This legislation is giving a blank check to Microsoft. Hollywood could not come up with a scenario scarier or more outrageous than what Microsoft has come up with. And the company using the pirated Microsoft product is not even affected. Yo! Acme Corp. Wanna make a few bucks? Microsoft is out of control.

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