[linux-elitists] Microsoft prizes for rat finks

Don Marti dmarti@zgp.org
Sun Apr 29 22:05:40 PDT 2001

begin  Bulent Murtezaoglu quotation of Sun, Apr 29, 2001 at 05:16:29PM -0400:

> I think this is a very good thing.  Especially if the enforcement is 
> painful to the end user. 

The article specifically mentions the following language in one RFQ
that qualified for the "rat" award:

"The Company has a site license for most Microsoft software including
the Windows Operating Systems. The vendor will be responsible for
installing a Company image that includes the Windows Operating Systems
at no additional charge. Documentation providing proof of the Company's
site license will be provided upon award of the contract."

So basically somebody sold this company a site license, and they
evidently believed that it allowed them to have a certain number of
copies of certain software installed. But they didn't read the fine
print, or more likely didn't understand it. Maybe other site licenses
_do_ allow them to put a copy on a master drive, to duplicate a certain
number of copies for new computers.

For those of you who wonder why some people split hairs over software
licenses, now you know why. It's much easier to draw and defend a common
line such as the DFSG/OSD (even if it means shouting at people who are
almost on the line to get on the line), and have a commonly understood
set of user rights, than for thousands of software copyright holders and
software users to muddle out millions of little territories of who can
do what.

Nobody has tried to standardize licensing terms for proprietary
software, so proprietary software doesn't have a clearly drawn border
that everyone recognizes. It's just a bunch of little fiefdoms where
everyone sneaks out at night to bugger each other's livestock -- the
legal equivalent of trying to network without TCP/IP or Ethernet.

I suppose you could theoretically set up a common "Proprietary Software
License Guidelines" that establish a common, though limited, set of
rights for proprietary software licensees -- but the closest the
proprietary software vendors have come to such a set of guidelines is
UCITA, which standardizes user rights at zero, worse than no standard at

Anyone who advocates a continuing place for proprietary software in the
world of the future, (Dave Winer, maybe?) is going to have to either
figure out a process for growing cloned lawyers in tanks or address the
issue of transaction costs somehow. I wouldn't want to try either.

Happier news: as of blowing away an old StarOffice and Netscape
4.whatever, I am now a Free Man with respect to software on machines
under my control:

$ vrms
No non-free packages installed on cannabis! rms would be proud. 
$ ssh capsicum vrms
No non-free packages installed on capsicum! rms would be proud. 
$ ssh allium vrms
No non-free packages installed on allium! rms would be proud. 

(Now I'm off to http://www.swift-tools.com/Flash/ to see if a Free
person can still view all those damn Flash movies linked to from Pigdog

Don Marti              "I've never sent or received a GIF in my life." 
dmarti@zgp.org            -- Bruce Schneier, Secrets and Lies, p. 246.
http://zgp.org/~dmarti/        (Free the Web: http://burnallgifs.org/)

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