Parry & Thrust...
May 18, 2000 1:35 PM   Subscribe

Parry & Thrust... Slashdot.Org and Andover.Net have officially responded to the letter from Microsoft, and being Slashdot, have posted it for everyone to see.
posted by cCranium (18 comments total)
This is actually an exceptional letter. Whomever their lawyer is, [s]he's quite knowledgeable of where /. comes from, what their political stance is, etc.

While I still think they've got no legal ground whatsoever to stand on in regards to the one copyrighted post, it'll be interesting to see how the battle fairs, and if it raises any eyebrows offline.

posted by cCranium at 1:38 PM on May 18, 2000

Actually, the letter means absolutely nothing. It's a snotty reply, nothing more. It does nothing to address the nature of the complaint.

I love the cows/sheep that commented on it, though. Moo. Mooooooooo. Microsoft bad. Moooo.

Of course, most of the press will simply bash Microsoft. Microsoft bad. Mooooooo.
posted by solistrato at 1:47 PM on May 18, 2000

Actually, both letters seem to be standard lawyer hoo-ha. The both boil down to "here is a subsection of the law; you better comply" while carefully ignoring other (pertinent) sections of the law.
posted by plinth at 1:56 PM on May 18, 2000

Yeah; it's the laywer version of Fsck Off And Die.
posted by baylink at 2:03 PM on May 18, 2000

I have to disagree with all of you.

(I know, I know, I said I'd just shut up, but I'm a flagrant liar :-)

/.'s lawyer's letter is, obviously, a stalling technique, but it's a reasonably well-wrought one. The impression I got was basically a backhanded "Let's work getting this straightened out together" letter. The backhanded part being "Oh yeah, we're right, you're evil, so we're not backing down."

It's interesting. In numerous other threads here (tangerinegirl, digitadivas are the two that pop immediately to mind) there's discussion about fighting needless C&D orders, and ways of fighting them.

Here's a massively public site doing just that; and importantly, they're fighting on the big corporation's turf -- LawyerVille.

Regardless of whether or not I agree with this particular battle (I don't actually have to state my stance again, do I?) it's an important one, and there's a decent chance it'll have some decent ramifications in a number of different areas. Copyright infringment, free speech issues, proprietary knowledge, open standards, are but a few of the issues that are going to be touched upon.

If it's handled properly by /., it'll be less of an Open Source vx. The Evil Empire pissing contest, and more of a precedant-setting ordeal. Granted, the precedant this sets could work against what /. stands for if MS wins (that's assuming an actual court case ensues), but it's still important to follow.

I think the letter clearly states /.'s stance, and what angle they're going to battle from, and therefore is a good letter.

(and EVERYTHING lawyers do is filled with lawyer hoo-ha; it's the nature of the beast. :-)
posted by cCranium at 2:17 PM on May 18, 2000

This was brought up on the other day in an article about the feasibility of using intellectual property law to defend the various Open Source-ish licenses. It seems this is the tactic the Andover lawyers are taking: "you can't claim copyright on data that's already been public IP for some time". While MS certainly extended the protocol, the question of how much they can try and claim ownership of the extensions and documentation since it was derived from Open Source is, I believe, what the nature of the battle will be.

I think the point in the reply about customers have a right to know what they're buying is going waaaaayyy out on a limb... How much do you know about any new proprietary code? Sure, the ads say it works great, but the reality....
posted by katchomko at 2:59 PM on May 18, 2000

Plinth, you're wrong about one thing -- Slashdot isn't providing any subsection or citation of law to defend themselves.

Tell me something -- if I were to post the entirety of Stephen King's Riding the Bullet (the for-buy PDF e-book) on Slashdot, do you think that they would fight this hard when his published told them to take it down? They are quickly showing themselves to be childish anti-Microsofties, and showing that they are willing to cut off their nose to spite their face, as it were.

I reiterate -- the major power behind the GNU Public License is copyright law. (Thus, my copyright on my code means that you can't do anything that the terms of my release of the code -- the GPL -- prohibits.) By openly flaunting copyright law, Slashdot is doing a major disservice to the people for whom it has always been a major advocate. It's just embarrassing.
posted by delfuego at 3:12 PM on May 18, 2000

Not "flaunting", "flouting" .... Otherwise, huzzah, Jason. That's the irony I see here. "Copyright is good for me, because we are good in heart, bad for you, because you are a big nasty corporation."

That said, they do seem to be angling toward the "how can this be copyrighted in the first place" defense. But there's also an impassioned defense of their implementation of Kerberos posted in that thread, which I agree with.
posted by dhartung at 3:36 PM on May 18, 2000

It seems to me that there are two separate issues here:
  • Does Microsoft have the right to ask Slashdot to remove the copyrighted material posted in its entirety?
  • Is the CDMA's protection of trade secrets beyond the protections previously they were previously afforded hold up?
  • I think most people would agree that the answer to the first question is "yes," but what about the second? If someone violates contractual obligations and sends me a copy of the Secret Formula for Coke, I can post that on my website, but if it's Microsoft's embraced-and-extended Kerberos specs, I can't? Why is Microsoft's IP more important than Coke's?
    posted by snarkout at 3:36 PM on May 18, 2000

Crap. And I fail to close a list tag.
posted by snarkout at 3:37 PM on May 18, 2000

Just to follow up, MS said "you're in violation of copyright law, here's how." What they didn't say was "even if we haven't met the full requirements of the copyright and enforced it." /. said, "prove that you hold a valid copyright before you think about prosecuting. What they didn't say was "we did or did not violate copyright."
posted by plinth at 4:31 PM on May 18, 2000

I love metafilter
it's the one place where unbiased opinions are abound, and the first post phenomena doesn't exist
I must say I don't like slashdot, I never read the comments, but I don't take either sides in this debate. Firstly, microsoft is doing what the law says (which was posted awhile back), but I don't see the importance of the information. Slashdot I think just wants conflict, cmdrtaco and those other guys have become too corporate, conflict=hits.
But I regress, this isn't that big an ordeal, and slashdot shouldn't be making a big deal of it (posting it to their, uh, sheep to read). It's just inflaming it.
posted by starduck at 4:59 PM on May 18, 2000

no, plinth, slashdot (or their lawyer) didn't ever challenge Microsoft's right to copyright, instead focusing on their right to "proprietary protections" or "trade secret" protections, which is what I am saying is part of their effort to obfuscate what the real issue is in this dispute. The letter that they posted completely avoids the copyright issue. (Don't you think it's odd that the letter doesn't use the word "copyright" even once?)

They can claim all they want that Microsoft doesn't have the right to protect their Kerberos implementation if they are talking about protection from other people implementing it, or trade secret protection, or whatnot. That's fine, and that's probably a legitimate issue that should be determined. But they cannot claim that Microsoft doesn't have a right to the copyright on their documents -- that's a ridiculous contention, and if they really want to press it in court, they're gonna lose bigtime.

You know that notice at the bottom of every Slashdot page, the one that says that all comments are owned by their poster, and the rest are "© 1997-2000 Andover.Net"? What if I just posted an exact copy of the entire Slashdot website? Would they flip out? And then if I claimed that there was no trade secret there, would I win? Of course not... copyright law means that their site is theirs, and I'm not free to just do with it what I please.

(Oh, and Dan: thanks for pointing out my error. That's what heavy post-graduation drinking does to a man... :)
posted by delfuego at 7:58 PM on May 18, 2000

Last Post!!!
posted by baylink at 8:08 PM on May 18, 2000


I don't think would nail you on the trade secret bit. Everything about /. is completely open. :-)

(ha! beat you baylink!)
posted by cCranium at 8:30 PM on May 18, 2000


/.'s lawyer's letter is, obviously, a stalling technique

With the side-effect, surely, that by the time this gets to court, all the offending postings will have expired of their own accord, without the slashlads having to do anything.

posted by BobInce at 5:30 AM on May 19, 2000

I'm amazed no one thought to do this...
posted by baylink at 7:21 AM on May 19, 2000

unbiased opinion?

By the way, it is automatic termination with extreme prejudice for anyone who DOES a first post with the words "First Post" in it, right Matt?
posted by wendell at 9:14 AM on May 19, 2000

« Older Why Windows is not my Favorite Operating System.   |   Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments