Microsoft’s Goons Trigger Lawsuits

Around the world, M$ has turned to desperate measures to pump up revenue, goon squads are going around extorting money from users of their OS.
“One of the largest insurance companies in Guatemala has sued Microsoft over an unwarranted and extortion-like anti-piracy raid. With the help of local law enforcement Microsoft allegedly demanded an on the spot payment of $70,000 for the use of pirated software or the alternative of confiscating all of the company’s computers.”
see Microsoft Sued Over ‘Mafia-Like’ Anti-Piracy Raid | TorrentFreak

If malware and re-re-reboots weren’t enough to make businesses switch to FLOSS and GNU/Linux, such abuse under the guise of enforcing copyright or EULAs shows that non-Free software is a legal and financial liability.

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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27 Responses to Microsoft’s Goons Trigger Lawsuits

  1. bw says:

    I have only been in one school where anything like a licence was on the site and that licence was not even properly secured

    Have you ever been in a school that was raided by the BSA? Who do they bring with them in Canada? Mounties? I bet not.

  2. Ted says:

    “In the civilized world an audit between business partners codified through an EULA doesn’t require armed anybody…”

    My point is not that police were present (BTW, I actually AGREE that the BSA, especially the US side of it, are pointlessly and stupidly heavy-handed) but that it’s being specifically pointed out they they’re armed, as if that’s somehow out of the ordinary.

  3. bw wrote, “The BSA basically requires a violator to go back an pay for software as if they were acquiring it legally over the time period of the violations.”

    The BSA basically demands that users of M$’s software pay for that use multiple times if they cannot convince the BSA they have a licence. Of course, many do not have a licence because M$ never gave them one. M$ gave the OEM or someone else one but there may not be a written record at the site. I have only been in one school where anything like a licence was on the site and that licence was not even properly secured. The BSA does not accept a certificate of authenticity. They want invoices for a licence and a licence which many do not have.

  4. Ted, demonstrating colossal ignorance of the BSA wrote, “Actually having boxes, serial number inserts/stickers, and license certificates in your possession goes a long way too. To be blunt, if you’re scrabbling for invoices, the BSA have you bang to rights already.”

    The BSA does not accept those although a court may. In order to leverage their position the BSA insists on written licences which many do not have. If you read BSA’s bullshit advice, they tell you all kinds of stuff that has to be done but never state what is sufficient to get them off your back…

    e.g. “when someone else installs the purchased software, be sure that individual provides you with proof that the software is properly licensed.”

    Yep. That really nails it down. Is that sticker that certifies “genuine” enough? Nope. Of course the software is genuine but is the licence? You do have a written licence, eh? What about that click-through EULA? Where did it go?

    Of course, a court of law will accept an invoice etc. because those are legal documents proving that the supplier was paid for a licence but there never is proof that a licence was issued unless you chase down the OEM and spend lots of money getting an affidavit from them. Still, that does not preven BSA from demanding all kinds of things like your computers and double fines and …

  5. Ted wrote, “In the US and most of the Americas, aren’t the overwhelming majority of [police/sheriffs/marshals/federal agents] armed in the normal execution of their duties?”

    In the civilized world an audit between business partners codified through an EULA doesn’t require armed anybody…

  6. dougman says:

    Ted, the troll: your items listed, 1 & 2 are rather pointless, if you use Linux. You entirely missed the core point of my statement, you get a ‘F’ for today.

  7. Ted says:

    “Helped by law enforcement officials – some of them armed – they visit companies accused of using illegal software and demand compensation on the spot.”

    Why is a big deal made of “law enforcement officials” being armed?? In the US and most of the Americas, aren’t the overwhelming majority of [police/sheriffs/marshals/federal agents] armed in the normal execution of their duties?

  8. Ted says:

    @Dougman.

    If you’re going to keep recycling that post every time the BSA crops up, two things;

    1. Make sure your cite actually agrees with you.

    “Companies should keep dated invoices to ensure passing audits, but sometimes packing slips or other dated documentation will suffice. Additionally, many software resellers (e.g., ASAP Software, Software Spectrum and Softchoice) have online license management capabilities that can be used to demonstrate ownership.

    That does not read like an invoice is the only proof of valid licensing. Actually having boxes, serial number inserts/stickers, and license certificates in your possession goes a long way too. To be blunt, if you’re scrabbling for invoices, the BSA have you bang to rights already.

    2. Cite the BSA themselves, not a legal firm who recommend their *own* services defending poor innocents against the BSA on a website full of nasty scary things about the BSA.

  9. bw says:

    I found an article by Fox News that covers the bases

    I don’t think that the issue is whether or not a software vendor is justified in diligently protecting their rights, which is all that the cite describes. You had suggested that there was what would certainly be illegal practices employed wherein BSA activities were being described as strong-armed violations of due process. I cannot find any factual description of where such activities occurred and apparently neither can you.

    I personally think that the copyright laws are indeed abused by various corporations that use them outside the boundaries of fair and equitable justice, but catching a software pirate in the act is not one of those things. The BSA basically requires a violator to go back an pay for software as if they were acquiring it legally over the time period of the violations. In some cases that is a considerable period of time and a resulting large financial penalty. But they are within their rights and anyone who is trying to get away with using stuff without paying the market price is cheating, pure and simple, and deserves the consequences when they occur.

    How many here who brag of not needing Windows except rarely and then using virtualization are virtualizing a legal copy of Windows?

  10. dougman says:

    “They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”

    http://techrights.org/2013/06/24/raid-lawsuit/

  11. I found an article by Fox News that covers the bases. It ends with “It’s going to be a while, but eventually, we plan to get completely disengaged from those software vendors that participate in the BSA.”

    So, Ernie Ball was not alone in being disgusted with BSA/M$/Autodesk. More will use FLOSS and put the BSA out of the shakedown business.

  12. bw says:

    “armed marshals” sounds like police to me

    Sure does, but there is no corroboration of what Ball stated. Did Federal Marshals show up with the BSA? I doubt that very much. It is not their job to start with. Did some form of law enforcement show up at Ball’s place to serve a warrant on a civil action? If so, it would most likely have been a sheriff’s deputy in most US counties. That is a traditional job for a sheriff, even in city jurisdictions. The whole anecdote does not fit normal procedures in these cases. That is what is wrong with most of these things. The facts are misrepresented and then grossly distorted in the retelling. There is some sort of party game from bygone eras where in some story was to be whispered from person to person and the end result was always comically different than the starting message. Same thing here.

  13. bw wrote, “police or FBI did not show up.”

    “armed marshals” sounds like police to me.

  14. bw says:

    It does happen.

    For starters, Ball was not charged criminally and police or FBI did not show up. For another, there isn’t any corroboration as to how this all went down. The apparent facts are that the BSA got a warrant based on the Ball ex-employee’s evidence that Ball was cheating on licenses. Doubtless, Ball had ignored prior demands.

    Nothing all that terrible went down either. From Ball’s narrative:

    What happened after the auditors showed up?
    It was just negotiation between lawyers back and forth

    This was not a criminal matter.

  15. oiaohm says:

    bw go read your volume license agreements. You have agreed to allow an inspector of Microsoft choosing on to your property. No judge or sheriff required. If they have to do either that is instant breach contract so they are able to proceed as if all your volume license acquired software is unlicensed.

    So yes legal niceties for the BSA are done in advance. Microsoft is not the only one with clause in the software licensing allowing them to send Auditors of there choosing.

    Legal Contracts and Compliance (LCC) Audit is what the BSA audits are called. Refusing the contract requirement to allow Audit is breach.
    http://msftadvisors.com/blog/microsoft-licensing/microsoft-corporate-software-audits-rise-for-2013/

    Delaying Auditor to get legal rep is about it. Any more and you are really breaching your license anyhow.

    So yes BSA can just walk in and start demanding Invoices and other things. You agreed to it. They can ask you todo a SAM first. This also become evidence against you.

    Only when you get before judge and spend cost fighting BSA do you get to the point of having to play by the correct legal rules.

    Can BSA void your licenses from being able to activate without going to court answer is yes. Can they deactivate your licensed by Windows update yes they can.

    They don’t need guns to get he property back basically. They just turn you Windows and Office back to the trial forms.

    bw software that requires activation is the simplest thing to repo on earth. No guns no Court orders no Judges. You need to use those to undo a invalid repo.

  16. bw wrote, “it has never happened.”

    “one day I got a call that there were armed marshals at my door talking about software license compliance…I thought I was OK; I buy computers with licensed software. But my lawyer told me it could be pretty bad.”

    It does happen.

  17. bw says:

    Unlicensed software is criminal copyright violation and police do take that seriously.

    Hardly ever if it is just being used. If you are using unlicensed copies, it is almost always going to be a civil matter. Also, the police are not going to bother with copyright issues ever. That is a Federal thing and that is something for the FBI to handle. If you think that they are going to go hunting with the BSA, you are willing to believe most anything. But it has never happened.

    The best thing to do is to win a civil suit and get the judge to issue a writ of replevin and have the sheriff repo the goods involved. That will usually get the violator to settle on the spot.

  18. bw wrote, “In the US, you cannot get the guys with guns to accompany you to a repo effort unless you win a suit and get a writ of replevin from the judge and the sheriff is inclined to go along with you. The BSA cannot just waltz in and demand things without going through all the legal niceties.”

    Yes they can and they did. Unlicensed software is criminal copyright violation and police do take that seriously. The bullies then offer to “settle” for a huge sum and make the matter go away. Read the EULA. It sells souls to M$.

  19. dougman wrote, “The only legal document the BSA will accept …”

    Exactly. That’s one of top few reasons I was able to persuade schools to switch to GNU/Linux. They just could not prove proper licensing because many machines were donated and documentation could not be found and there were no installation media. Several machines had even lost their stickers, which aren’t on that list…

    Large school divisions have such a volume of machines that they literally have to hire one or more bodies with the task of accounting for all the software and hardware. It’s not enough to have bean-counters. They have to be fluent in the constantly-shifting jargon of M$. Instead school divisions can use GNU/Linux and have more and better hardware and software without such concerns.

    The worst situation I was in didn’t even have the sticker codes recorded anywhere and they were using this and that “home OEM” versions which required that from time to time. It took me days to create the database and the codes are untypable gibberish so I had to do it character by character, a total waste of time for an old guy like me. After all that work trying to be legit, I could not get a clear answer about how to back up the software and then there was the malware and the constant problem of slowing down and becoming unbootable. We went to GNU/Linux and it was like a weight lifted from my shoulders.

  20. bw says:

    This all sounds fishy to me. The anecdote here is about what happened in Guatemala and maybe they have some sort of legal structure that might support this sort of thing, but I doubt even that.

    In the US, you cannot get the guys with guns to accompany you to a repo effort unless you win a suit and get a writ of replevin from the judge and the sheriff is inclined to go along with you. The BSA cannot just waltz in and demand things without going through all the legal niceties.

    It is not up to the BSA to dictate what sorts of evidence it will accept. Maybe they want certain things to agree to not sue you, but until they do sue and a jury of your peers agrees with them, you do not owe a thing. If someone says that they bought something and has any kind of receipt for it, it is up to the plaintiff to prove a case that the software is bogus. That is why we have juries, don’t you know.

  21. oiaohm wrote, “Microsoft documentation on licensing management right up today still don’t mention the requirements for Invoices to be kept.”

    That uncertainty is a constant “welcome mat” for M$’s salesmen to make a call to sell more licences. Those guys are really helpful that way… (SARCASM)

  22. oiaohm says:

    Maou Sadao really recycled posts would not be required if you did not keep on using the same stupid arguments.

    There are major issues with what BSA accepts. Australia Fair trading has had to step in many times against the Australian end.

    “It’s not important that they had receipts for 98% of their software,”

    That is correct the 2 percent they don’t have receipts for or the 2 percent acquired in different ways to what likes BSA will attempt beat the crap out of them for.

    You can run all the license tracking you like if your invoices are not up to BSA standard. Yes I have had a few cases of software acquired out of petty cash. Yes the invoice was in the company. It was a cash invoice BSA attempted to refuse it here. Only way around it was ring fair trading here and after a few words from them magic back off. USA people don’t have that.

    Maou Sadao PS by the way Microsoft documentation on licensing management right up today still don’t mention the requirements for Invoices to be kept.

  23. Maou Sadao says:

    Yeah, yeah. Are you recycling posts now, dougman? What a waste of space and time. Go sell some more Hitman Pro subscriptions.

  24. dougman says:

    The only legal document the BSA will accept during a software audit, is the following:

    1. Invoice from the seller that sold you the software.
    2. Stating exactly the software details that was sold.
    3. With the exact company name on the invoice.

    http://www.bsadefense.com/resources/article_keep_accurate_invoices.asp

    What a total waste of time, just use Linux and don’t sweat the small stuff, go enjoy your day with a cuppa tea.

  25. Maou Sadao wrote, “These companies keep getting raided because they have failed to implement proper license management.”

    That is not valid grounds to raid anyone. There should be no need at all for goons for an audit nor threats of absconding with the equipment. M$ and it’s partners do not own the equipment and have no call on it. The triggers for the raids appear to be M$’s salesmen hoping to cover their quotas more than anything the customers have done.

  26. Maou Sadao says:

    Yawn! Another Mr. Pogson fairy tale. These companies keep getting raided because they have failed to implement proper license management. It’s not important that they had receipts for 98% of their software, but that they couldn’t prove that their software licenses were valid due to sloppy or non-existent license management.

    Oh well, they can always install Debian and be FREE if license management is too damn hard for them.

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