Microsoft does it, again.
May 11, 2000 8:25 AM   Subscribe

Microsoft does it, again.
The company you love to hate is at it again, this time attacking Slashdot users. Does MS really not get it this bad? I can't belive it...
ps. The Slashdot server seems to be slashdotted itself.
posted by jedrek (24 comments total)
Jedrek, you may want to post more context next time, since it seems that Microsoft is probably in the right on this one.

For others: Microsoft has requested that Slashdot remove the text of actual trademarked material of theirs from the Slashdot servers. According to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, this is the first step that an owner of a trademark must do in order to protect that trademark; likewise, Slashdot must remove the material, or face federal sanctions.

Instead, though, Slashdot has responded by saying that they feel that it would be a violation of the expectations of their users to remove the postings. (Their argument may possibly be free speech; I can't remember the argument exactly, and now Slashdot seems to be down, or just painfully unresponsive.)

I agree with the responses of someone down in the thread that you point to -- why is it OK for Slashdot to violate the DMCA, but not OK for me to violate the GPL? It seems like a remarkable double-standard -- situational ethics rears its ugly head again.
posted by delfuego at 8:51 AM on May 11, 2000

Oops, I think that I meant copyrighted in the last post; typos suck.
posted by delfuego at 8:52 AM on May 11, 2000

Although slashdot's apparently bogged down, Kuro5hin has a copy of the C&D sent by MS posted by one of it's readers.

It looks as though MS has been quite tactful in their C&D. They're obviously midly clueful of the site they're dealing with.

From what I've seen, there's no reason that copyrighted information should be taken down.
posted by cCranium at 10:01 AM on May 11, 2000

spell-o. Make that fouth-from-the-end word should be "shouldn't"
posted by cCranium at 10:01 AM on May 11, 2000

[ what... Microsoft scares us so much we forget how to type? :-) (note: 12 typos corrected before posting) ]

In the context of the thread in which the excerpts in question were posted, I fail to see how this incident could be construed as anything *other* than editorial use of an excerpt, which has always been protected by the Copyright Act(s), and I have no reason to believe that DMCA changes it.

The *problem* here, and the nail in MS' coffin with 'Da Judge, is this: people have been quoting sections of copyrighted Microsoft documentation on the net for *years*... to help other people find the proper part of TFM to R. MS never had a problem with that, *because it had a positive effect on them*.

This has a *negative* effect on them (exposing their attempt to hijack Kerberos), and therefore, they're jumping all over it.

[ goes; reads postings ]

Aw, shit.

Which moron actually posted the full text of the file?

No, /. *doesn't* have a leg to stand on; they have to pull it. Now, all the crap about *trade secrets* is red herring; you have to have a *signed contract* to enforce trade secret protection, and one it's out, it's *out*; everyone is off the hook except the leaker. But, no; I have to agree at this point, that was *not* the way to force their hands.

Andover, much as I hate to say this, is gonna lose this one; this was even illegal pre-DMCA.
posted by baylink at 10:16 AM on May 11, 2000

It's an unfortunate copyright violation.

The one straw /. & Andover have left to stand on is the (poorly paraphrased from Roblimo's response; follow the same link as above) "We offer a place for independant thought and communication to happen; just like you do with Hotmail"

Unfortunately, it's a pretty thin and ratty straw, since Hotmail communication is (arguably :-) private, rather than in a public forum.

I wonder what would've happened if the poster had posted in, say, 4 messages, each quoting a quarter of the message... They wouldn't have the entire document in one spot then, and the laws that enable an entity to quote sections for editorial purposes (is that fair use?) may hold up.

Like someone at Kuro5hin said, a fight is needed, but this is the wrong one.
posted by cCranium at 10:22 AM on May 11, 2000

In case you can't get to Slashdot (it appears to be up, more or less, as usual) CNet has an summary up about the issue.
posted by Electric Elf at 10:56 AM on May 11, 2000

There's a nasty little twist, too: as once /. pulls the posts which include the entire document (which they simply have to, since there's no question of it being "fair use"), then it can't hope to claim "common carrier" status in the future.

But it was always going to happen with slashdot: undermined by the leaden intellects of the -1 posters.
posted by holgate at 10:56 AM on May 11, 2000

Read the discussion at Slashdot, even some of the posts +4 posts are ridiculous. It's the same frequent problem with Slashdot, strong (undereducated) opinions are voiced. A lot of posters really want to fight MS on this one (big surprise). But as for the full-text quotings, I don't think they stand a chance. If MS was after the links, well then /. would have a case.
posted by fil! at 11:47 AM on May 11, 2000

I have to say I was pretty much on microsoft's side on this (an unsual feeling!), but Andrew Leonard's column on the issue does raise some interesting issues I hadn't realized. It's worth a read.
posted by icathing at 12:26 PM on May 11, 2000

Well, now.

This was *bound* to happen, though. And when a community can't police itself, it only invites others to police it for them.

posted by solistrato at 12:36 PM on May 11, 2000

One comment.

Nick? I don't think that pulling these postings will prejudice /.'s protection from attacks based on editorial control. That was the underpinning of Cubby and Stratton-Oakmont, and it's not pertinent here: Andover won't be exercising 'editorial control'; they won't be exercising any control at all. The *law* will.

So I don't think it will get them in any trouble on that front; thank ghod.
posted by baylink at 12:48 PM on May 11, 2000

icathing, there aren't any new issues raised in the Salon article you pointed to; instead, it just tries to paint being mad about how Microsoft has handled their kerberos implemetation as a possible justification for posting an entire copyrighted document. This is ludicrous. People can't break the law just because they disagree with something someone did -- yes, Microsoft did something nasty by taking a public standard and adding their own extensions to it, and yes, they promised to open it and haven't really done it yet, but being pissed about what Microsoft did isn't a legal justification for posting an entire copyrighted document.

As I pointed to on my weblog today, most interesting to me is that there's another thread on Slashdot today about copyright, but in this case, it doesn't involve Microsoft. Of course, this means that everyone is siding with the law (it's a question of who owns copyright on HTML code when it's written while employed for someone), instead of letting rabid anti-Microsoft feelings create magical, irrational justifications for illegal acts.
posted by delfuego at 1:06 PM on May 11, 2000

fil! wrote: >>Read the discussion at Slashdot, even some of the posts +4 posts are ridiculous. It's the same frequent problem with Slashdot, strong (undereducated) opinions are voiced. <<

Another reason why more and more I'm turning to sites like MetaFilter and Advogato for good discussions and ideas, while relying on Slashdot only for the occasional funky link. The noise level over there is just too darn high. At first glance, it may look like signal, but naah, in the end, it's just noise. :)
posted by Calebos at 1:14 PM on May 11, 2000

That Salon article just got me more on the side of Microsoft, to be perfectly honest.

I'm a big fan of Open Source, but if they want to change the world of business, they have to do it legally; change the laws. They can't just post a copyrighted document, say "We believe in Open Source, so we're opening this to the public," which the article implies they did, and not expect legal retribution.

I don't agree with the article, in the above sense. Whomever the poster's reasons for doing it were either A) "Screw Microsoft! HA-HA!" (which I think is less likely -- may be that idealistic streak, but oh well) or B) "Rather than making everyone go find it, I'll just put it here, where we're talking about it," which is pretty much the mindset of every poster of every blog or newsgroup, or mailing list or any other form of online-based mass communication.

It pisses me off that the /. primaries are making this their Great Big Battle Against Evil, and despite the above-mentioned idealistic streak, the cynicist in me can't help but think CmdrTaco and his ilk sparked this off thinking "Now our net-infamy is CERTAIN to be long-lived!"
posted by cCranium at 1:25 PM on May 11, 2000

That's what unfettered groupthink and adoration will do, though. "Bwah, bwah, we hate Microsoft, open source, bwah." This isn't about open source; this is about being a big baby.

And that Salon article REALLY pissed me off. You could see the check sliding from Malda to Salon...yeesh.
posted by solistrato at 1:52 PM on May 11, 2000

Didn't Salon invest in some open-source company? I think it was one of the Linux distributors, but I could be wrong.
posted by Calebos at 2:02 PM on May 11, 2000

Webloggers might want to take another look at that C&D from Microsoft: they *ARE* after the links as well as the reposting of copyrighted material. Microsoft's list of things that they want removed includes: "In addition, some comments include links to unauthorized reproductions of the Specification, and some comments contain instructions on how to circumvent the End User License Agreement that is presented as part of the download for accessing the Specification. "

This is pretty much exactly what we've seen in the LDS case and in the DeCss case: the big folks with big lawyers want to make it illegal to link to content they don't want on the web, not just to carry that content yourself. Do you want to live in that world?
posted by LarkMike at 2:22 PM on May 11, 2000

I think the point here is not that Microsoft wants Slashdot to remove comments containing the copyrighted material itself from their server, it's that Microsoft also wants Slashdot to remove comments containing links to the copyrighted material and even comments telling how to circumvent the copy protection.

While Slashdot should have to remove the material itself from the server (since it's an obvious copyright violation), but if they're having them remove posts with links to the material, well.. metafilter's in trouble, cause I just linked to the same material.

I think a good parallel can be made here between this and the MPAA's dealings with 2600 over their links to websites containing the DeCSS code. 2600 originally had the code on their website, but the MPAA got an injunction forcing them to remove it.. so 2600 just linked to a bunch of sites that had it, instead.

Sorry for the long-windedness; not bad for my first post :P
posted by zempf at 2:25 PM on May 11, 2000

Related to this, do a web search for the phrase "Microsoft Confidential." It turns up beauties like the ActiveMovie SDK, which says "Information in this document is Microsoft Confidential."

If I can find it on AltaVista, how Microsoft Confidential can it be?
posted by tregoweth at 3:38 PM on May 11, 2000

Wasn't Kevin Spacey in Microsoft Confidential? I loved that one!
posted by dhartung at 5:04 PM on May 11, 2000


Submitted for your approval:

Did anyone check the IP address on that AC posting of the full text, to see if it started with 131.107...

and does this whole thread have anything to do with the sudden appearance of in my log's hit logs?
posted by baylink at 8:19 PM on May 11, 2000

If Malda et al were to remove the comment with the full text, and fight for the links, the quoted material, etc., I'd be completely behind them, because the points raised by LarkMike and zempf are true, MS's C&D asks for too much.

But the fact of the matter is that /. and Andover are publishing the entire material in the one post, and that's just plain illegal.

There are laws that suck, but when you live in a country like the United States, or Canada (like myself) or any other Democratic country, the way to change laws is to fight within the system, not to flagrantly break them and then say "We were right all along."

At the same time as thinking this is flagrantly wrong, I can't help but hold some grudging respect for the /. gang. Holding out for your convictions and beliefs, despite the rest of the world thinking you're doing it wrong, has a nice, honourable ring to it.

(And please don't anyone ask me if I respect Hitler for holding out for his beliefs of genocide and culling of humanity, despite the rest of the world's beliefs. There's a vast difference between wanting to open source code, and wanting to 'cleanse the planet.')
posted by cCranium at 6:29 AM on May 12, 2000

According to the latest word from Tired, the Slashdotters may simply be seeking legal counsel before taking any action, which seems prudent. They also seem to have spent a few hours yesterday dealing with a major DOS attack. Just because they haven't done anything yet, doesn't mean they're not going to do it. Personally, I side with the "kill the posts, keep the links" crowd.
posted by harmful at 7:27 AM on May 12, 2000

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