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Microsoft Asks Slashdot To Remove Readers' Posts 1095

Posted by Roblimo
from the DMCA-is-about-more-than-music-and-video- dept.
Our friends at Microsoft are upset about some of the readers' comments attached to the story, Kerberos, PACs And Microsoft's Dirty Tricks (posted on May 2), and would like us to remove those comments from Slashdot. We are not happy about this, to say the least. But instead of reflexively going into rant mode, we are calmly posting the full text of the e-mail we got from Microsoft, along with our initial response to it, so that you can see what news and community Web sites like Slashdot are up against now that the DMCA has become law. We are talking to our lawyers, of course, but we would also like your suggestions on how we should handle this situation.

From: "J.K. Weston"
To: "'dns_admin@andover.net'"
"'dns_tech@andover.net'"
Subject: Notice of Copyright Infringement under the Digitial Millennium Copyright Act
Date: Wed, 10 May 2000 07:08:49 -0700
X-Mailer: Internet Mail Service (5.5.2651.58)

Andover Advanced Technologies
Andover.Net
50 Nagog Park
Acton, MA 01720
Phone: (978) 635-5300
Fax: (978) 635-5326
Email: dns_admin@andover.net; dns_tech@andover.net

Dear Internet Service Provider:

We understand that your website, http://www.slashdot.org, is a popular site for developers to discuss topical issues of interest. In that vein, it has come to our attention that there have been numerous posts of concern related to Microsoft's copyrighted work entitled "Microsoft Authorization Data Specification v. 1.0 for Microsoft Windows 2000 Operating Systems" and we would appreciate your posting this email to the site to help relay our position to your users.

This notice is being sent under the provisions, and following the guidelines, of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA).

Included on http://www.slashdot.org are comments that now appear in your Archives, which include unauthorized reproductions of Microsoft's copyrighted work entitled "Microsoft Authorization Data Specification v.1.0 for Microsoft Windows 2000 Operating Systems" (hereafter "Specification"). 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.

Although not intended to be an exhaustive representation, the specific comments below, categorized by corresponding activities, are examples of the misuse of Microsoft's proprietary information:

Comments Containing A Copy of the Specification:
"by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday, May 02, @03:37PM EST (#197)"
"by BlueUnderwear on Tuesday, May 02, @04:09PM EST (#239)"
"by BlueUnderwear on Tuesday, May 02, @04:15PM EST (#248)"
"by smartin on Tuesday, May 02, @02:20PM EST (#86)"

Comments Containing Links to Internet Sites with Unauthorized Copies of the Specification:
"by ka9dgx on Tuesday May 02, @2:52PM EST (#133)"

Comments Containing Instructions on How to Bypass the End User License Agreement and Extract the Specification:
"by myconid (my S conid@ P toge A the M r.net) on Tuesday May 02, @07:27PM EST (#362)"
"by markb on Tuesday May 02, @05:47PM EST (#321)"
"by Sami (respect.my@authorita-dot-net) on Tuesday May 02, @01:47PM EST (#19)"
"by iCEBalM (icebalm@[NOSPAM]bigfoot.com) on Tuesday May 02, @01:52PM EST (#33)"
"by Jonny Royale (moc.mocten.xi@notners) on Tuesday, May 02, @01:59PM EST (#51)"
"by rcw-work (rcw@d.e.b.i.a.n.org.without.dots) on Tuesday, May 02, @07:12PM EST (#353)"

Under the provisions of the DMCA, we expect that having been duly notified of this case of blatant copyright violation, Andover will remove the above referenced comments from its servers and forward our complaint to the owner of the referenced comments.

This email notification is a statement made under penalty of perjury that we are the copyright owner of the referenced Specification, that we are acting in good faith, and that the above-referenced comments, as part of http://www.slashdot.org, is posting proprietary material without express written permission.

We request immediate action to remove the cited violations from Andover's servers, in accordance with the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.

This email is not intended to waive any of our other rights and remedies.

Please confirm your receipt of this request by responding to this email. Also, confirm the status of this request either via email or via the following contact mechanisms:

By mail:
J.K. Weston, Designated Agent
Microsoft Corporation
One Microsoft Way, 114/2314
Redmond, WA 98052
By phone:
(425) 703-5529
By email: jkweston@microsoft.com


---------------------------

To: J.K. Weston"

From: Robin Miller

Subject: Notice of Copyright Infringement under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Dear J. K. Weston:

Per your request, we are posting your e-mail on this subject on Slashdot.org to help you relay your position to our users.

The balance of your e-mail's content is somewhat puzzling to us. I'm sure you agree that freedom of speech is at least as important a principle under American law as the freedom to innovate, so I'm sure that you personally, and Microsoft corporately, will understand our hesitation to engage in censorship.

Indeed, after reflecting on the nature of freedom for a little while, you may wish to withdraw your request that we remove readers' comments from Slashdot. Please realize that if we censor our readers's posts because they contain ideas Microsoft does not wish to have made public, we may set an unhealthy precedent for other online news outlets and online service providers, including those owned in whole or in part by Microsoft itself.

Meanwhile, in case Microsoft does not decide to have a happy change of heart and support a free and open Internet (which would certainly be in everyone's best interest), we have sought advice both from our attorneys and from our readers about what, if anything, we should do next.

Please expect a formal reply to your request that we censor our readers' comments, which we allow them to post on Slashdot as freely as Microsoft allows user-generated content to be sent through Hotmail and through chat facilities and discussion groups hosted on MSN.com servers, as soon as we receive wise counsel not only from our attorneys, but also from concerned members of the Slashdot community and other interested parties.

Sincerely,

- Robin "roblimo" Miller

Editor-in-Chief,
Andover.net

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Microsoft Asks Slashdot To Remove Readers' Posts

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This doesn't have anything to do with DMCA. They are calling the complete posting of their files a copyright violation, and that would have probably been a violation even before DMCA.

    As for their complaint about links and instructions to bypass the EULA, that's just bullshit and even DMCA doesn't make those illegal. Even if they somehow manage to deceive a judge into believing that using WinZip to extract the file amounts to "circumventing technological measures to limit access", then their complaint should be against WinZip. After all, the current wave of DMCA scaresuits is based on the idea that you go after the toolmakers instead of the people who use the tool, right?

    DMCA was brought up because it has all the stuff about notifying offending parties, and counter-notifying of mistakes, etc.

    Basically, I think they're right about the postings of their files being copyright violations. They're full of shit with regard to the EULA-bypassing. They need UCITA for that to stick.

    Yo, J.K. Weston: Slashdot has generated a lot of heat in the past, but that was directed at entities that were only tangetially opposed to the main subject matter of this site. Your client is different. Your client isn't just the MPAA or the RIAA or someone who violated the GPL. Your client is the main enemy of everyone who uses a computer. Think carefully about proceeding to represent that client, because you are the wrong side of a Holy War. No matter what happens, if there's ever a "Microsoft vs. Slashdot" case, you are going to come out of it smelling like shit, Mr. Weston, and everyone is going to remember your name. Walk away now and find some honest work.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Just a snippet, but you get the point. No need in reposting the whole thing:

    "The fields are defined as follows: include-pac - This field indicates whether a PAC should be included or not. If the value is TRUE, a PAC will be included independent of other preauth data. If the value is FALSE, then no PAC will be included, even if other preauth data is present. The preauth ID is: #define KRB5_PADATA_PAC_REQUEST 128

    References

    1 Neuman, C., Kohl, J., Ts'o, T., "The Kerberos Network Authentication Service (V5)", draft-ietf-cat-kerberos- revisions-05.txt, March 10, 2000

    2 Tung, B., Hur, M., Medvinsky, A., Medvinsky, S., Wray, J., Trostle, J., " Public Key Cryptography for Initial Authentication in Kerberos", draft-ietf-cat-kerberos-pk-init-11.txt, March 15, 2000""

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I fear that even /. might cave in to the legal power of M$ and remove these posts. This thread should be copied to a servers all over the world as soon as possible by whichever AC's have the resources.

  • You would be post #86. They confused you with either #87 (has full text), or #96 which lists a neat circumvention method (I don't know if it actually works, I don't have the .exe). Interestingly they say:
    "by smartin on Tuesday, May 02, @02:20PM EST (#86)",
    yet the copy I have says:
    "by smartin on Tuesday May 02, @03:20PM EST (#86)"

    Yet, the headers on 87, and 96 are:
    "by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 02, @04:21PM EDT (#87)" and
    "by scotpurl on Tuesday May 02, @04:27PM EDT (#96)"

    However you look at it, it seems they were smoking some of the $3 crack that is so common around here :) (Joke, don't sue me for slander/libel M$.)

    Made particularly tasty by this:
    "This email notification is a statement made under penalty of perjury that we are the copyright owner of the referenced Specification, that we are acting in good faith, and that the above-referenced comments, as part of http://www.slashdot.org, is posting proprietary material without express written permission. "

  • by Nick (109)
    Ok, how about we get the option to remove/edit our comments with some sort of system notice that identifies to other users that a comment was there, but now removed by... or edited by...

    Of course the anonymous cowards won't be able to do that.
  • The problem with your analysis is that Slashdot moderates comments...

    We've had this debate before. Slashdot does not moderate comments. Slashdot allows readers to assign scores to comments, and you can adjust the score you are willing to look at. If you browse at -1, then you'll see Slashdot in all of its unmoderated hot grits glory. Your choice.


    ...phil

  • Ha! This brings up an interesting point. The lawyer's email itself contains links to the posts which link to the material that they want removed. Therefore, the lawyer's email is also suspect and must be removed! :^)
  • I think a little precision is in order on this contentious issue. They didn't say "our content", they said "public content". Quite a big difference.

    -Paul Komarek
  • Having wrote that article I was suprised and pleased to be in the list. I suspect however that the fact that it's included is simply a bug in their legal process that will be resolved in "Microsoft Notice of Copyright Infringement under the Digitial Millennium Copyright Act 2.0"
  • I suspect that the fact that it's included is simply a bug in their legal process that will be resolved in "Microsoft Notice of Copyright Infringement under the Digitial Millennium Copyright Act 2.0"
  • By using posts without the author's permission, Slashdot and Jon Katz may be setting themselves up for a copyright lawsuit, but that is up to the people whose posts they used in the book. If Katz is correct, and those people really wanted their letters used in the book, and didn't really want to be contacted for fear of reprisals if the wrong people find out, then there shouldn't be any lawsuits. Either way, it doesn't change the fact that posts are owned by the posters.

  • My prediction, and no, I can't back it up, is that if this had happened a year ago, Slashdot would have stood it's ground. But now, I don't think it will.

    Malda has always said that he has complete control over the content on Slashdot, but what about this? My guess is that Andover gets to make the decision, and that they aren't going to want to risk getting sued. So if Malda says keep them and Andover says delete them, I bet Andover wins.

    When thinking about this, I remember Al Pacino in "The Insider": "Are you a businessman, or are you a newsman?" Slashdot/Andover is going to have to make a similar decision: money or principle. I'm not too hopeful.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:05AM (#1079482)
    Why is it ok to break the DMCA but not okay for me to go break the GPL? Seems like a pretty huge double standard to me.
  • by Hrunting (2191) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @06:15AM (#1079483) Homepage
    If the posts are copyrighted by their authors and the author may well be in violation of copyright, why does the Slashdot have to remove the article (if the article is to be removed)? Oh yeah, that's right, there's no self-management. That's the difference between an ISP and Slashdot. If some user puts up some illegal web page, the company contacts the ISP and the ISP contacts the user and tells the user that they will remove it or have it removed for them and then directs the company to bug the user. Of course, you can't do that at Slashdot because I can't remove my own comments (and believe me, there are times when I've wanted to, but not now).

    I realize that such a system causes problems with regards to AC posting (hmm .. no AC posting, that's an idea .. and a flamewar) as well as with nested comments. AC postings generally can't belong to the author since the author is unknown and Slashdot should rightfully take possession of those and manage them, but as for the rest of us users, why not give us the say? Then we can turn to Microsoft and give them either an "okie dokie" or a nice mooning.
  • Re:Loophole? (Score:2, Informative)
    by myconid (my S conid@ P toge A the M r.net) on Tuesday May 02, @08:27PM EST (#362)

    Heres a good loophole. Install Winrar, right click on the icon and select OPEN WITH WINRAR, extract the file.
    Whats a license? I never saw one..

    ----

    I suggest we all stand outside the Redmond Campus with bullhorns and shout that, repeatedly.

    --

  • by chromatic (9471) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @06:03AM (#1079485) Homepage

    Here's a fun new legal technique, similar to the unequivocably moral Unisys patent plan:
    • Take an open standard.
    • Add one small incompatibility.
    • Hide that incompatibility for a few months.
    • Write a paper describing the incompatibility in sufficient detail, so that implementing the necessary changes is trivial.
    • Post a warning on the paper that implementing the specification without advance written permission is illegal.
    • Wrap the paper in some sort of mechanism which presents the warning and a license agreement nominally waiving fair use, reverse engineering, and free speech rights.
    • Make sure the mechanism only works on platforms where your implementation is already present, and, thus, no clean-room version is necessary.
    • Distribute liberally, knowing that standard means of unwrapping the document -- on any platform but your own -- will not present the invalid license agreement anyway.
    • Wait for the information to spread to all interested parties.
    • Use the threat of legal force to intimidate anyone who might be considering writing a competing implementation -- not necessarily even based on information from the paper -- into cancelling the effort.
    • Bask in the glow that you have not used dumping, product tying, or buyouts to maintain your monopoly position. Just good old American justice.
    As I am not aware of any patent or copyright our friends at Microsoft have on this business process, please be aware that it is copyright chromatic [wgz.org], 2000.

    It's also unethical. I'm not surprised.

    --

  • It's really hard to review what Microsoft is questioning, because the references to comments posted to Slashdot are not themselves hyperlinks. Perhaps the story could be edited so that the references to comments could be clicked through?
    --

    Dave Aiello

  • by SurfsUp (11523) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:32PM (#1079487)
    My real suggestion? Do what Yahoo recently when they were sued for liable because someone posted untrue statements on one of their stock ticker chat boards: Claim that Slashdot has no control over content, and the person they really need to go after is the poster, and if you (M$) provides the right kind of paper, then maybe we can give you some type of information on the poster of the content.

    In other words, Slashdot would be required to keep records of all anonymous postings so the poster can be identified later at the whim of some government agency or corporation able to convince a Judge that it needs to strip away the poster's anonymity. This is the worst of all possible results. It would start a chain of results that would eventually tear away every shred of privacy on the internet.

    I sincerely hope that Slash is doing, and has been doing, the right thing and simply not keeping any records of anonymous posters. The one case I can think of that would justify record-keeping is in the event that some sort of flood attack had to be defended against, and even in that case the record-keeping should stop as soon as the attack stops.

    Do I have a better suggestion to offer? No. Not at this point. I think we've got a hard problem here. Personally, I would tend toward the opinion that Slashdot should remove the copyrighted material, after it's found by a court to be a genuine copyright violation. But for me, there's a big, big problem with that, and it's this: I believe that Microsoft has acted illegally in restricting this material, and indeed, in attempting to subvert the Kerberos standard in the first place; a court should find that Microsoft restricted the material illegally in the first place, and should in fact be stripped of it's right to impose any restriction on the use of this material at all. To put it in fewer words: antitrust law trumps copyright law.

    If you look at the whole issue in that light, this turns into an act of civil disobediance, and that can actually excuse you from breaking certain laws. Let me say it again, in different words: I believe that Microsoft have broken the law by attempting to subvert the Kerberos standard and that the poster is justified in retaliated by making Micrsoft's restricted information public in the way he did. Yes, it's possible the poster broke copyright law in this case, but the principle of civil disobedience should excuse that.

    I think the specs for Microsoft's perverted mods to Kerberos should stay right here on Slashdot until Microsoft has answered in a court of law for its latest trust-making strategem.
    --
  • by sterno (16320) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:29AM (#1079488) Homepage
    I think we should all take a step back from this issue and realize that there is something more important here than this so called "Freedom of Speech". Microsoft has spent countless billions building a monopoly in the industry, and it is their God given right to defend this monopoly. What is an individual's rights compared to the rights of the countless employees as represented by the corporate entity that is Microsoft.

    The government has seen fit to protect the rights of Microsoft, the RIAA, the MPAA, and others. Should we, as mere citizens sit here and question the legitimacy of this position. How can we sit here and argue that we might somehow have a better grasp on the situation than our elected leaders.
    Our leaders are being paid good money by the tax system and political action commitees. Do you think they are being paid because they don't know anything about their job? Imagine if you showed up to work tomorrow, totally oblivious as to how to do your job properly. Wouldn't you be fired? They wouldn't stay there if they didn't know what they were doing!

    What these posters did is wrong because our politicians said so. And really, what more justification do we need? I call on the editors of Slashdot to condemn these people as government heretics, and remove these posts immediately!

    ---

  • by arcade (16638) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @08:58AM (#1079489) Homepage
    Well, your argument is well if its targeteted to the person you answer.

    But, to answer you, with my opinions;
    1. Forced disclosure is ok. What other way to track down spammers? ;)

    2. They cannot ask them to remove it. When posting it to slashdot, well, it would be the same as leaving flyers all over the city. It would be impossible to remove them. It would be the same as dropping flyers down by airplanes. Impossible to remove.

    3. It is impossible, because "the system works that way". If you dropped 1 million copies of some of your work, over a city -- it would be impossible for you to remove.


    --
    "Rune Kristian Viken" - arcade@kvine-nospam.sdal.com - arcade@efnet
  • by seizer (16950) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:19AM (#1079490) Homepage
    Let's try to keep the postings here to a certain standard of maturity. We must appear (because we ARE) to be Microsoft's peers, not Microsoft's unruly next door neighbours' children. If this ever reaches court (who knows, let's hope not), and Microsoft can show 400 postings which say "fuCk yOU mICRo$oft", it won't help too much. Keep calm, keep thinking.

    --Remove SPAM from my address to mail me
  • by nyet (19118) on Friday May 12, 2000 @01:43PM (#1079491) Homepage
    Why is it ok for Rosa Parks to sit in the front of the bus, but not ok for me to come to your house and kill you?
  • by FascDot Killed My Pr (24021) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:18AM (#1079492)
    Now I know that, deep down, the Slashdot editors (and owners) are anti-censorship and, specifically, anti-removing-the-comments.

    BUT, while the spirit is willing, the flesh may be weak. That is, if Microsoft actual sues (or threatens to), Slashdot may cave for financial reasons.

    So I propose the following: If Slashdot removes the comments without having been forced to by an actual court ruling, we boycott Slashdot. Hopefully that will provide the needed reverse financial pressure.
    --
    Have Exchange users? Want to run Linux? Can't afford OpenMail?
  • by Shotgun (30919) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @06:12AM (#1079493)
    They're not asking you to censor anyone's particular ideas on a subject, they're asking you to stop copyright infringement from taking place on your server.

    The problem is that it's not /.'s job to stop copyright infringement. It is M$'s job to stop infringement of their copyrighted materials. The way they would do this is to go to a judge, explain the situation and have the judge issue a court order. DMCA is a bad law because it attempts to bypass the judicial system. Instead of a duly appointed judge issuing edicts, it allows anyone to make them by claiming copyright infringement.

    /. should not remove any post without a court order. By doing so, they would endanger their status as a common carrier. If M$ wants stuff removed, let them get a court order.

    Put concisely, in the US, the judicial branch of the US goverment should judge what constitutes copyright infringement, not M$.

  • by WillAffleck (42386) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @02:14PM (#1079494)
    Actually, another very good point. If you believe that the original MIT license means that any added licensure restrictions by MSFT are null and void, you should inform MIT of this demand (by physical letter, since we do not have legal digital signatures to verify at this moment). And you should consider contacting the ACLU and EFF.

    Attempts to enforce licenses which are in violation of the original license are unenforceable in a court of law - they can threaten you, they can twist the truth, but a judge will laugh in their face.

  • If you had *read* the article, the books will be in HTML on the web!
  • I agree. By /. using the columbine posts without the posters permission, I think they set themselves up. They seem to be saying in one case, "it's our content, we'll do with it what we want" and then saying "whoa, mr. lawyer, we're just a carrier, all comments are owned by the poster!"
    ---
  • by scumdamn (82357) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:28AM (#1079497)
    How about we all just mirror the content?
    I have. [wildwoman.org]
    By the way, that's one hefty assed page. It's a big ass file. I'm going to probably go through and cut much of the chaff from it.
  • by eagl (86459) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:11AM (#1079498) Journal
    Post all the messages, links included, to USENET. They can't sweep it under the carpet from there.
  • by AndyL (89715) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @10:16AM (#1079499)
    Yea, then he changed his mind and decided the thing to do would be to turn tail and run, while blowing up his own ship.

    Somehow setting SlashDot's self distruct sequence then moving everyone over to hotgrits.org isn't the greatest solution they could come up with.
  • Don't be dense. The comments are owned by the poster, meaning Slashdot has no control over what gets posted, and no responsibility. But this is also a public forum, available to anyone, so anyone can reproduce those comments. I don't get why so many people bitch about comments being reprinted without permission--there are too many people, and too many AC's to make that possible; and this is a public forum. It's not like you're publishing a book.

    Here's my [radiks.net] DeCSS mirror. Where's yours?

  • by Walker (96239) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:15AM (#1079501)
    If my knowledge of copyright law is correct (Not necessarily so), the user posts may fall under fair use -- provided that not too much was used. Fair use is not just limited to educational use; critique and public commentary are included.

    This is even more true because the posts are noncommercial. Otherwise AC has some serious royalties due him/her.

    -Walker
  • by spiralx (97066) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:21AM (#1079502)

    Taiwan or Malta would be good - they don't have copyright laws there at all, so MS couldn't really do anything about it.

  • by stil (112175) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @01:49PM (#1079503)
    For any interested, there will be an article in Friday's Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com) regarding Microsoft's letter, /.'s reply, and so forth. The article will be by John Schwartz, who, along with Rob Pegoraro, tend to cover /.ish issues. I think that anyone who reads /. on a regular basis will enjoy the direction that the article takes. Schwartz can be contacted (nicely, don't abuse this guy, he's one of the few decent tech writers in a major media organization) at schwartzj@washpost.com This heads-up comes from someone else with a @washpost.com address, explaining the ability to give advance notice. stil
  • Comments are owned by the poster.

    But are they really? It may say that on the comments pages, but as we've seen the administrators seem to have no compunctions about taking the posts and publishing them elsewhere to make a profit (that fact that it is a profit that will be donated to charity is of no relevance).

    No, but they (gov't) should put yo' ass in jail. If they could find you... You do know that the FBI reads /., right?

    Do you really believe that slashdot wouldn't censor a list of credit card numbers? I think you're being a bit too idealistic here.

  • by medicthree (125112) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @09:38AM (#1079505) Homepage
    Oh please. So now anyone who doesn't agree with you is one of Gates' minions? I can't believe slashdot has come to this. It's really become the case that any and all dissenting voices are either moderated into oblivion or dismissed as "crazy." I for one do not work for Microsoft, and never have. I have a dissenting opinion not because I was told to, but for other reasons. Gross generalizations can only serve to make the one making them look foolish.
  • Microsoft is attempting to create a new legal classification ... an API that is published, yet illegal to use.

    This is not new. How long have Unisys and Fraunhofer been doing this? The interface to GIF is restricted by the LZW compression patent; MPEG audio layer 3 is also patented.

  • by spezz (150943) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @06:07AM (#1079507)
    Archives, which include unauthorized reproductions of Microsoft's copyrighted work entitled Microsoft Authorization Data Specification v.1.0 for Microsoft Windows 2000 Operating Systems" (hereafter "Specification").

    Agreed, if they don't want it up, pull it. They wrote it and they own it. They get to say where it shows up and where it doesn't

    In addition, some comments include links to unauthorized reproductions of the Specification,

    Now you can shut up. You're essentially shooting the messenger. If slashdot isn't hosting it then it isn't slashdot's problem. Indicating that such information exists is merely informing slasdot readers, not infringing your copyright. You don't like those sites, go after them, then the links will be dead and useless. You're just being lazy.

    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.

    Now this is what puts a hair across my ass. Now you're not even attacking the messenger, but the message. If people break your EULA, go after them. This is really telling people, flat out, that they cannot even talk about certain aspects of your software and policy.
  • by joss (1346) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:22AM (#1079508) Homepage
    This is great. As a news site, publicity and name recognition are your life blood. They've really put you in a win win situation. If they decide to take you to court and you eventually lose the extra publicity will be worth far more than the fine. On the other hand, if you win then you get the "David slays Goliath" kudos.

    The worst thing that can happen if you tell them to fuck off is better than than the best thing that can happen if you give in.
  • by djweis (4792) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:03AM (#1079509) Homepage
    Who would have thought slashdot would be one of the first potential court cases to test the DMCA :-)
  • by Uruk (4907) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:46AM (#1079510)
    Someone should start a fund to help Slashdot in case Slashdot does get sued by Microsoft, even though it's very unlikely Slashdot will win.

    Slashdot is not exactly a poor business that's barely trying to stand on two feet. I don't think they need a legal defense fund from the general public, besides which, although I read slashdot, I am completely unwilling to contribute money to the legal defense fund of a for-profit company. If they're making money off of their readership, (and rest assured that they are) they don't need to have us further help them financially by paying for their lawyers should they get sued.

    I'm not anti-business, and I'm not anti-slashdot, but I would no more pay for slashdot's legal defense then I would for, say, Amoco or Bell Atlantic's legal defense.

    The DMCA definately sucks, but in the end, companies will do what is best for their profitability. If they're publically owned, (like Andover is) then they pretty much have to. Your dollars in their defense fund won't change their strategy, and in the end, if the "stand up for the right thing" it will be because management has decided that that's the best thing to do in terms of long term profitability (for whatever reason) not out of some strong moral conviction.

  • by EngrBohn (5364) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @11:07AM (#1079511)

    I agree it's out of line to remove the links. But if, under DMCA, links to illegally-copied material are ruled illegal, then are links to links to illegally-copied material illegal?

    In other words, suppose someone places a copy on a server in Lilliput, out of the reach of DMCA (and perhaps a rogue nation that doesn't acknowledge intellectual property rights at all). In this hypothetical, a webpage in the US with a link to that copy in Lilliput would be illegal. But now suppose there's a webpage in Shangrila, also out of reach of DMCA, that has a link to the page in Lilliput. Would it be illegal for a webpage in the US to have a link to the page in Shangrila?

    Does the "illegal link" propagate?


    Christopher A. Bohn
  • by JonKatz (7654) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:19AM (#1079512) Homepage

    This is the right place at the right time to start working to dismantle this dreadful law, passed nearly two years ago while much of cyberspace wasn't paying attention.
    Some rock bands and music companies (for completely different reasons) are invoking this same law, as will any large corporation with lawyers that doesn't want to see something published. Under the worst provisions of the DMCA, you don't even have to prove copyright infringement, just allege it..and the ISP can only avoid liability by booting the offenders or deleting the allegedly offensive material. To restore access or content, you have to file an affidavit under the jurisdiction of the federal judge in your region.
    This is one of the reasons it's outrageous for a corporation like Microsoft to use the DMCA to remove public comments. Almost nobody online was paying attention with the entertainment industry rushed to get this law passed, maybe because nobody imagined companies like Microsoft would jump in to use it to try and control what they call "proprietary" information, but which, in fact, will have the affect of censoring, chilling free speech. Slashdot is lucky, in this case, to be owned by a corporation..it has access to lawyers. To really grasp the horror here, imagine if you're a smaller website or weblog.Step one: The DMCA has to be repealed or re-written.It's much more offensive and damaging than the Communications Decency Act would have been, and much more enforceable.
  • by juuri (7678) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:16AM (#1079513) Homepage
    Granted I don't care too much most of the opinions of slashdot editors (or posters for that matter). But it is good to see than when something real and serious comes up the editors here at Slashdot can put down the bias and the "revelery" for a moment and do the right thing.

    Your response was brief, to the point, and most importantly not inflammatory. Microsoft is a corporation, so of course its going to act like one. This fact seems to get lost on many slashdot posters. The DMCA is something they fought for... and now something they are going to use to fight with. This is as it should be. Its the lay of the land now... the way it works. Currently.

    Unfortunately for Microsoft (and any large coroporation) they move slow and reacte even more slowly. The power of the net comes from its ability to inform many people of all of the facts on any issue almost instantly. Long gone are the days when it took months or even years to start a proper counter-movement. Now it takes days... Microsoft has felt this before and they will feel it again. What was acceptable for big business in the 80s became less so in the 90s and now in the zeros those who can't change and adapt to a smart, all knowing consumer are doomed to failure at that consumer's hands. This is the "internet economy"... not some company with potential billion dollar profits 5 or 6 years after starting up, no its consumers finally having real choice and power.

    It is about time :)

    ---
    Openstep/NeXTSTEP/Solaris/FreeBSD/Linux/ultrix/OSF /...
  • by Greg W. (15623) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @10:43AM (#1079514) Homepage

    Microsoft didn't ask Slashdot to remove comments which were critical of the company. They asked Slashdot to remove articles which violated Microsoft's legitimate copyright.

    Some of the comments which Microsoft wants /. to remove are not part of Microsoft's copyrighted material. They simply give advice on how one can circumvent an EULA.

    Unfortunately, the DMCA makes the dissemination of such advice legal.

    I'd like everyone reading this to stop for a few seconds and ponder this. If you write a howto which helps people obtain documentation you could be prosecuted under the DMCA.

    A bit scary? I think so....

  • by Johannes K. (27905) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:38AM (#1079515)
    Original post:

    Why is it ok to break the DMCA but not okay for me to go break the GPL? Seems like a pretty huge double standard to me.

    Reply:

    Because the GPL represents Free Speech, DMCA represents Corporate Censorship. big difference.

    Oh, so if I was some big company, and you were some developer of GPLd software, then I would be expected to respect your rights, while you should be allowed to tramp all over mine? That hardly seems fair. We can not claim protection from the law if we don't respect the law ourselves.

    On the other hand, if, as some people claim, the DMCA does in fact contradict the First Amendment, that would be a good reason to throw out the DMCA. Once that happens, obviously, we would no longer have to respect it.

  • by Rupert (28001) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:32AM (#1079516) Homepage Journal
    (Score:-1, Flamebait)

    Coherent and well-argued, Jon.

    Why aren't your articles like that?
  • by Bilestoad (60385) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:24AM (#1079517)
    The time has come for Andover to secede from the United States. This will allow a huge expansion in business operations.

    Suppressed organizations like Napster will be welcomed with opened arms. "IP Address of Convenience" registry will be available to other companies who feel the weight of the DMCA pressing down upon them.

    Absolutely nothing a Scientologist or Microsoft or Metallica lawyer can do will matter in the slightest. It will be sort of like Canada, but not lame.

    JonKatz will of course be named minister of propaganda and warm fuzzy feelings. CowboyNeal gets the ministry of statistics. Of course no form of expression will be censored, but people wanting to plaster dotcom advertisements over everything will be politely asked not to.

    Good Things like microbrew, quality pizza, convertibles, game developers, mechanical wristwatches, fine clothes, USB, penguins, snowboarding and DVD will be encouraged, and perhaps even subsidised.

    If you forget to dial the '1' before a phone number, there will be no annoying voice reminding you - instead the phone system will just know you meant to do that, and connect you anyway.

    After the Andover goes the way of most non-US$ currencies, your old savings will be worth so much that there will be no need for a real job, nothing but open source hacking on state-supplied Athlons, punctuated by nerf gun wars and visits to the "mainland" for baseball games. Hooray!
  • by zornorph (63846) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @06:26AM (#1079518) Homepage
    > The DMCA needs to be stopped before it stunts technology permanantly.

    More correctly, it will stunt _American_ technology permanently. If this trend is allowed to continue and the US falls farther and farther into restrictive legislation, it won't be long before other countries with less restrictive laws will pass you by. Show the lawmakers in the US how this will affect company's ability to compete on the world stage, and perhaps they will think twice about its usefulness.

    For example, recently the US eased restrictions on exporting of encryption. Why? Because US companies were concerned about other counties coming out with equivalent or better products which they then shipped to the world, while the US companies could not.
  • by Kintanon (65528) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:14AM (#1079519) Homepage Journal
    I've been waiting for this to happen for a LONG time. I vote for a refusal to edit the posts or remove. And furthermore I vote that all of us users start appending those posts to our new posts like this:

    May I claim John Doe #1 ... (Score:1)
    by BlueUnderwear on 05:17 PM May 2nd, 2000 EST (#253)
    (User Info)
    ... for This puppy. [free-dvd.org.lu] It's the kerbspec file unzipped and without the legal boilerplate.

    Kintanon

  • by wass (72082) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:25AM (#1079520)
    Why is it ok to break the DMCA but not okay for me to go break the GPL? Seems like a pretty huge double standard to me.

    I don't think it's a double-standard at all. GPL'd code allows you to view the source code, and reverse engineer a protocol or standard, if you so desire. If you wish to expound further on the code, you must either make your changes public, or not use any of the GPL'd code at all. But you are always free to view it. IANAL, but I think you'd also be free to try to reverse engineer a compiled GPL binary, if you really wanted to do that, instead of look at the source.

    DCMA, however, prevents one from trying to find out what is going on behind the user interface. If you attempt to figure out what's occurring, you're in violation. The DCMA seems to provide some sort of blanket behind which software houses can keep their standards secret. If the standard is ever figured out or made public, they cry "DCMA Violation", thus preventing (or slowing down) competing interoperability with said standard.

  • by riggwelter (84180) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:19AM (#1079521) Homepage Journal
    The notion that Microsoft should be allowed to censor /. or any other medium is repugnant, and were this solely about this then I'd be throwing my hat in with everyone else who has knee-jerked and screamed "WE HATE BILL" with all their might.

    If only they'd bothered to look at the issue here...

    Microsoft say that certain posts infringed their copyright, and, if we're honest, they did. People blatently posted material copyrighted to M$. Such posts should never have been allowed to remain on the server, but they did.

    Please don't do anything daft and turn this into a legal case that slashdot/Andover can't afford. I fear you would lose, and it wouldn't even be a blaze of glory you'd go out in.

    --
  • I'm not a lawyer either. However, I know there's legal rulings that in fact argue against this being fair use.

    See, for example, LA Times v. Free Republic [techlawjournal.com]

    Issues. At issue is whether the actions of the Free Republic website in carrying the plaintiffs' copyrighted news stories constitute copyright infringement under Title 17, and whether such actions fall with the fair use defense (17 USC 107). Defendants are not asserting interactive computer service immunity as a defense. (47 USC 230)

    Status. Plaintiffs filed their complaint on September 28, 1998. Defendants answered on October 20, 1998. Plaintiffs and defendants filed cross motions for summary judgment on the fair use issue. Judge Morrow issued a tentative opinion on October 8, 1999 that the fair use defense fails. She finalized this opinion on March 31, 2000. Other matters remain for trial, which may be set for around September of 2000.

  • by wrenling (99679) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:15AM (#1079523)
    Dear Microsoft -

    Its nice to see that you are continuing to live up to your reputation of attempting to squash any open discussions of your business practices.

    Instead of pulling out the DMCA and trying to use it to control, take a look at some of the comments that were made. At the *very* good points that developers and other IT people made about your release. And consider them an independent discussion of your business. The people who were discussing you are in a large part the people who are also your customers, your developers, and the very community with which you want to be having open discussions.

    The best thing you could do at this point is to retract your letter, *apologize* and perhaps contact the Slashdot crew about an 'Ask Microsoft' regular feature. You might be surprised at some of our questions -- and who knows, you may surprise us in a *good* way with some of your answers.

  • by ChadM (102789) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:16AM (#1079524)
    Circumventing the EULA is not illegal. It has no copy protection, it is a simple archive and can be opened in almost any program that handles that sort of file(iw winzip). Just because doing so is against what the EULA says, you must remember that the EULA was never agreed to when somebody decides to simply open it in winzip.

    Also, simply linking to sites that contain unpacked versions that don't have the EULA on it is not illegal, or at least isn't yet(and hopefully never will be). The MPAA tried to get the courts to block 2600 from linking to DeCSS sites(and DeCSS has already been deemed illegal to have in your possesion). Why should slashdot stop linking to sites that contain microsofts implementation of the kerberos protocol when its not even illegal to have to begin with. There is no law saying a EULA must be present when you look at something from a company, even if a company wants it to be that way. I say it's time for Microsoft to realize that their days of blind bullying are over. Don't take down any posts concerning that story.

    Not to mention the fact that "posts are the property of the person who posted them" to begin with. Stupid lawyers
  • by molog (110171) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:10AM (#1079525) Homepage Journal
    Well there seems to be a little bit of an impass here. Will the admin stand up for the right of free speach and fight this fight or will they surrender to the will of the man? I don't know what MS is doing to be honest. They are trying to make their public relations nightmare worse then it already is. Please CmdrTaco and company, stand up to this.
    Molog

    So Linus, what are we doing tonight?

  • by 348 (124012) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:14AM (#1079526) Homepage
    Hey, at least they're visiting the site.:) I wonder if the M$ guys have accounts?
  • by Icesnake (184377) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @01:16PM (#1079527)
    The short version is on GEEK.COM (see http://www.geek.com/news/geeknews/q22000/gee200051 1001407.htm ), posted by Geek Rob:

    "At the root of the issue is whether Microsoft legally has the right to keep its Kerberos extensions under copyright. As far as I recall, Kerberos extensions could only be kept private for in-house development. Obviously, Microsoft's Windows 2000 goes a bit beyond that."

    And

    "Remember as well that Microsoft has made the spec publicly available as long as you agree to certain terms--including that you don't tell anyone else the spec. Clearly, that's a ridiculous premise."

    Even while it is on trial for abuse of its monopoly position, Microsoft is using the usual tactics (absorb, subvert, suppress) to abuse and strengthen its monopoly position.

    The only way this will ever be stopped is to break up Microsoft. Well, short of nationalization, and summary execution of all key officers. Personally, I favor a breakup and summary executions, but I'm a moderate.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:44AM (#1079528)
    Suppose someone from outside the US, and not governed by DCMA, grabbed the document. Then they read it carefully, and basically paraphrased, or rewrote it completely from scratch? Could these comments, now not infringing on plagiarism, may be posted to /., or are they still illegal under the DCMA? The only questionable part would be the explanation of the bastardized Kerberos protocol.

    Is this a violation of DCMA? The reverse-engineering action occurred outside of DCMA's jurisdiction. MSFT's problem, as per their lawyer's letter, seems to be with the DCMA violation itself. Yet they are also complaining about proposals to bybass the EULA to view the document.

    Which of the four stages are we at now? Then they fight you... Guess what stage is next???

    Posting anonymously because their lawyers are probably scanning every post on this thread (scary).

  • by smartin (942) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @12:12PM (#1079529)
    I'm very confused, where in my post did i include any part of M$'s information? I've never even downloaded or read it in whole or in part. I can't understand why you or the evil empire thinks that i did? Here is what I said in it's entirety:

    What happens to the people that implement it (ie. the Samba guys) even if they obtain the information without intentionally breaking the license. Are they exposing themselves to expensive litigation? Are they endangering the project?
  • I recall something like this from another forum: If Slashdot edits or removes any posts, it may then be legally responsible for the content of all posts. As long as it stays entirely hands-off, it bears no liability for any posts, just like newsgroups. But as soon as it exercises any editorial control, it becomes responsible for all of it.

    Can any lawyer here confirm or deny this?

  • by NickFitz (5849) <slashdot@nickfiH ... minus herbivore> on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:14AM (#1079531) Homepage
    Tell them that their concerns will be addressed in the next Service Pack for the discussion, whilch will be available 2nd quarter next year. Until then it is suggested that they disable ActiveSlashdot in their browser. Oh, and reinstall CommonSense while they're about it.

    Did the email have an attachment with a .vbs extension by any chance?

  • by Nagash (6945) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:26AM (#1079532) Homepage
    Just a note (because IANAL almost goes without saying anymore):

    How about it be assumed that whoever posts is not a lawyer, thus eliminating the "IANAL" acronyms and instead, but "IAAL" for "I am a lawyer" for the rare person who has the credentials.

    Of course, there are some issues with this, but really, if you're taking serious legal advice off a public forum, you need more than just legal help.

    Woz
  • by seeken (10107) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:08AM (#1079533) Journal
    These should be added to the list with insightful, etc.

    +1 Trade Secret
    +1 Copyright Violation
    +1 National Secret



    Surfing the net and other cliches...
  • by StormCrow (10254) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:05AM (#1079534) Homepage
    I believe it is out of line to remove links to Microsoft's documents, but the comments actually containing the document are probably a legitimate target for removal.
  • by jms (11418) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @10:42AM (#1079535)
    Microsoft is playing very dirty pool with this "specification."

    The purpose of releasing the specification under this sort of "license" is NOT for the benefit of the user or programming community. This license is specifically crafted to provide a weapon that Microsoft can use against people trying to write programs that are compatable with Microsoft's interfaces.

    The license only authorizes the use of the interface specification "for the sole purpose of allowing review of the Specification for security analysis." The license does not authorize the use of the interface specification for the purpose of utilizing the interface by third-party programs.

    If you were planning to work on a program to interface to Microsoft's Kerberos, and you have seen these documents ... congratulations. You are now legally ineligable to work on them because you have been "contaminated" by exposure to Microsoft's trade secrets.

    Microsoft is attempting to create a new legal classification ... an API that is published, yet illegal to use. If they are successful with this, expect to see future APIs released in this fashion. At least when Microsoft kept their secret APIs secret, people could reverse engineer them, safe in the knowledge that they could not be sued by Microsoft. Anyone who utilizes an API that has been published under these conditions is in danger of having to defend themselves against an accusation of breach of contract, and having to prove that they did not see the poisoned API document.

    Microsoft is playing a fast, loose game with the concept of a "trade secret" in a way that completely violates the spirit of the law.

    As for the question of whether to remove the posts, I would argue that the posts that contained complete, verbatim copies of the program files should be removed, but the rest of the posts, especially the posts that describe how to open the files without agreeing to the EULA, should be left intact. Microsoft did not ensure that persons receiving the API specification could not access the specification without agreeing to the licensing terms, their trade secret has been revealed, and is no longer a trade secret. This is what Microsoft is trying to whitewash in asking that these posts be removed. They are attempting to establish that they can publicly publish an API, yet identify it as a "trade secret", then use it as a weapon against competitors.

    Make no mistake, this new tactic is a direct attack on open source projects that compete with Microsoft's products, and we as of yet have no effective defense because we have been taken by surprise.

    I hope that the outcome of this is that a court eventually finds that Microsoft lost trade secret status when it publicly published the specification, and I hope that whatever Andover decides to do in this case advances this goal.

    Only the loss of trade secret status will stop Microsoft from pulling this dirty trick in the future. If they win this, expect all future Microsoft APIs to be similarly poisoned.
  • by loki7 (11496) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:46AM (#1079536) Homepage
    That would be fine if roblimo argued that Slashdot is a common carrier. But he argued that it's a free speech issue, which it isn't.

    Microsoft didn't ask Slashdot to remove comments which were critical of the company. They asked Slashdot to remove articles which violated Microsoft's legitimate copyright.

    /peter
  • by loki7 (11496) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:16AM (#1079537) Homepage
    It's nice to see someone making sense. Roblimo's response was somewhat puzzling.

    While telling people where to find copies of a document is, arguably, a free speech issue, posting verbatim copies of a copyrighted work clearly isn't.

    If I posted a list of 100 stolen credit card numbers to Slashdot, would they remove that?

    /peter
  • by qseep (14218) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @07:36AM (#1079538)
    Let us not forget that the DMCA has a reverse engineering provision. It is lawful to reverse engineer software for certain specific purposes. One of those purposes is interoperability. Since Microsoft's whole point in protecting it is to prevent interoperability, isn't it legal to circumvent protections for that purpose?
  • by EricWright (16803) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:24AM (#1079539) Journal
    Microsoft's letter specifies a number of comments which include a 'trade secret'. One of those listed is the following:

    Comments Containing A Copy of the Specification:
    .
    .
    "by smartin on Tuesday, May 02, @02:20PM EST (#86)"

    Now, I went and looked at this comment. Wanna know the big secret? Here goes:

    Posting the data is all well and good, but.... (Score:2)
    by smartin on 03:20 PM May 2nd, 2000 EST (#86)

    What happens to the people that implement it (ie. the Samba guys) even if they obtain the information without intentionally breaking the license. Are they exposing themselves to expensive litigation? Are they endangering the project?

    Ummm... exactly where is there a trade secret in this post? I'm waiting...

    Eric

  • by demosthenes (16815) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:38AM (#1079540)
    Actually this would be the perfect test of the DMCA. The posting of the actual document is obviously in violation of Microsoft's copyright, however the links to it and the instructions for bypassing the EULA would certainly provide a good legal test of the DMCA. Rob, take down the actual document where it is posted on Slashdot, but leave the other posts. We need to choose our battles, DMCA is one I think we can win. Posting copyrighted material (like the specification) is not.
  • Someone should start a fund to help Slashdot in case Slashdot does get sued by Microsoft, even though it's very unlikely Slashdot will win. Maybe hire Johnny Cocran to take the case as well as Andover's lawyers. He's had great experience when it came to the O.J Simpson trial ;)

    Anyways, everyone needs to write their representative now! This link [translator.cx] will allow you to do so with ease. The DMCA needs to be stopped before it stunts technology permanantly.
  • > 1. Those individuals can not remove the material, and it appears that preventing individual commenters from being able to remove their comments was an explicit design decision made by the developers of this site.

    This is an interesting point, and actually causes me to consider the Usenet case, and how slashdot differers greatly from this. If Slashdot is going to maintain that the content posted by users is owned by users, then the users need to have complete control over their content (they do own it, after all). This is clearly not the case (n o 'cancel' or 'supersede' provision in SlashCode).

    As someone who is constantly involved in both the Operations and the Policy Enforcement of a Large, Commercial Usenet News Provider(tm), there is one other issue that I don't think has actually been raised here. If Slashdot wishes to use the common carrier argument (most News providers do, at least of the Usenet kind), then the moderation system violates the basic premise of this argument (I'll note that a Slander case involving Prodogy is the precedent M$ would most likely use in this case). I'll also point out that this argument may be invalid with the newfangled DMCA, though that's something that needs to be tested in ligitation.

    I can think of one other argument. Slashdot could maintain that all posters on Slashdot have an inherent copyright on their posts, and therefore M$ needs to go after the posters of the material(s) in question. The only thing that breaks this, is again, the moderation system. Slashdot could contend that Slashdot (as an organization) does not actually moderate posts (at least the type of posts in question), and that the actually users of the site are the real moderators (some what true, IMO), BUT, again, there large holes in this argument. Several years ago AOL was sued over slanderous statements made in an AOL chat room. AOL contended that the AOL Guides(tm) were individuals, and AOL (as a company) was then NOT liable for the guides negelance in moderation. AOL lost, and the basis for the finding was simple. AOL gave the individuals themselves the tools to moderate other users, and therefore they were acting on behalf of the Company. I beleave the same holds true for Slashdot.

    My real suggestion? Do what Yahoo recently when they were sued for liable because someone posted untrue statements on one of their stock ticker chat boards: Claim that Slashdot has no control over content, and the person they really need to go after is the poster, and if you (M$) provides the right kind of paper, then maybe we can give you some type of information on the poster of the content. Oh, and just to be nice, we've removed the material in question since you've asked. The next step to this is to move towards more of a common carrier model, that being one of absolutely no moderation of any sort, PLUS the ability for users to self moderate (as a user I can remove of alter my own comments, but no one else's), and then be very careful about what records are kept on user accounts and even where the records in question are stored. This is actually very close to what all the commercial news providers are moving towards to limit possible damage from liable and DCMA suits.


    [1] I'll point out at this juncture, that I don't have, nor do I want, a law degree.
  • by Wah (30840) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:23AM (#1079543) Homepage Journal
    Comments are owned by the poster. Their content is the owner's responsibility. Microsoft should be sending letters to those people, who should then ask /. to remove the comments..if they want to be censored. This is part of the continuing trend to jump over the responsibility of individuals and make their actions the responsibiility of someone else (i.e. their ISP (Internet Service (i.e.News) Provider). The Internet makes control of digital media impossible, deal with it.

    If I posted a list of 100 stolen credit card numbers to Slashdot, would they remove that?

    No, but they (gov't) should put yo' ass in jail. If they could find you... You do know that the FBI reads /., right?

    --
  • by Penrif (33473) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:18AM (#1079544) Homepage
    Okay, I propose a test. Let's post these Microsoft copywrited materials to some discussion group on MSN. If it's gone within a certain amount of time, then Slashdot should remove their copy. Else, Microsoft is being horribly hypocritical, and I'm sure that can't look good in court. But then again, I don't think there's a provision in the DMCA for hypocracy.

  • by iCEBaLM (34905) <icebalm&icebalm,com> on Thursday May 11, 2000 @07:47AM (#1079545)
    Being one of the named (hey you bright microsoft lusers, you forgot to capitalized my L!) I certainly don't want my post yanked, I did nothing which violated any law.

    I simply stated that to get past the End User License Agreement for the Microsoft "embrace and extend" kerberos spec file located h ere [microsoft.com] is to just open it in winzip and extract it.

    I mean, what possible law could I have violated, being a Canadian citizen and all? These comments belong to me, not Slashdot, if MS has a problem with them, then you talk to me.

    The file is freely downloadable by anyone, in an easy to extract and read format, I thought this is what MS wanted? If not they would never have done it.

    Now as for people posting the text to the file in whole, well, that's a copyright violation, and MS needs to go ahead and sue those people (comments belong to the poster), but as an unmoderated forum, slashdot is no party to it.

    What if the same thing happened on an unmoderated group on usenet? How are you going to yank it after it's out there? You going to sue the news servers? No, you sue the person who did it.

    MS is just making this worse for themselves, the whole kerberos thing would probably have just dissapeared and would have been forgotten by the majority, but now by doing this, they rehash it and just make it worse for themselves, next thing you know there will be mirrors upon mirrors of the pdf file everywhere. I personally am thinking of rewriting the document in my own words to hand off to the kerberos guys now, which I didn't even think about before.

    Microsoft, you really know how to shoot yourself in the foot. Kudos.

    -- iCEBaLM
  • by A moron (37050) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:10AM (#1079546)
    We got a microsoft suit to send slashdot an email with the word "blueunderwear" in it twice. Thanks to blueunderwear for tick them off.
  • by coyote-san (38515) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @01:10PM (#1079547)
    Reading this comment, something occured to me.

    Is it possible that the comments which many of us feel might have crossed the line (e.g., posting actual content instead of just links) were planted by Microsoft employees specifically so Microsoft could make a fuss about the "clear violation of law" and (hopefully) eliminate additional posts which would have otherwise been left alone?

    I have absolutely no evidence that MS did this, or that it even contemplated it, but the problem with playing dirty is that reasonable people have to assume the worst from you. Because of MS's history (written entirely by Mac sorehead losers, no doubt :-), I think it's reasonable for the lawyers to investigate the posters a bit before responding to MS's demand. I think we can all agree that the response will need to be *very* different if Slashdot/Andover/VALinux can show that the offending posters work for Microsoft!
  • by ronfar (52216) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:07AM (#1079548) Journal
    .. find those posts Micros~1 is complaining about and post the contents of them to our individual Web pages? Sort of like DeCSS?

    It might be even more fun to do this to M$, if they (an individual company) keeps fighting things in court, maybe they'll bankrupt... unlike the Entertainment Trust which still owns a lot of people's hearts and minds.

  • by SvnLyrBrto (62138) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @08:21AM (#1079549)

    First, I agree that you don't speak for 100% of Slashdot's readers. It's been common knowledge for quite some time that gates has commanded his minions to infiltrate, monitor, and astroturf Slashdot. You can see some of them in this very thread that you started, and quite a few more in the other threads on this topic.

    Speaking for myself, however, I agree 100%.

    Look. We all knew this was comeing. It was only a matter of time before gates moved to silence his critics. It is an inevitable part of any tyrant's rise... seize control of the critical press. Make sure ONLY your viewpoint is heard by the masses. Stalin did it. Mao did it. Castro did it. Hussain did it.

    And let's face it. Outside of gates' own astroturfing schills, most of the Slashdot community IS critical of microsoft. Now Gates has begun his own campaign to silence his critics.

    I say FIGHT! Do NOT submit without making gates pay dearly for his every inch. The old cliche applies. If you give an inch, he will take a mile. But if you stand your ground, this MAY be the turning point in the struggle for freedom. Who knows? Mabye resistance REALLY is not futile.

    And don't keep the fight in the courtroom only. Take it to the public. Let the media know that gates is attempting to do away with the first amendment. And I don't mean just the tech press like ZDnet and Cnet. Take it to the mass media! CNN, AP, the New York Times, even sensationalist press like Fox. Let the WHOLE WORLD know what gates is trying! Put that Andover IPO money to good use; take out a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal.

    But above all, NEVER GIVE IN! If microsoft suceeds, if gates takes away our right to freely speak and write, critically or no, who knows what right is next on his list during his ascension? Keep and bear arms would be the next logical chioce, but free assembly, trial by jury, and redress of grievances would also be high on his list.

    Slashdot should learn from others who fought such battles against tyrants. The forces of good invariably have triumphed in the past, and I hope that we triumph in the future. Adopt the philosophy of other great fighters. I am reminded of one quote in particular. Some of you might recognise it:

    "We shall have no truce or parley with you,
    or the grizley gang who work your wicked will.
    You do your worst.
    And we shall do our best."

    -- Sir Winston Spencer Churchill

    john
  • by shomon2 (71232) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:17AM (#1079550) Journal
    I think the problem is quite different from actually providing that information in this instance.

    If we just moved the contents of those comments somewhere else, sure we'd put slashdot off the hook, but it would escape this important opportunity to oppose the dmca.

    If slashdot removes those comments, the DMCA has a precedent, and this site will be the place that set that precedent. I think it is of utmost importance not to do that.

    You can take all the controversial stuff you want, and hide it in another country, but if you keep running and hiding, soon there will be no country free enough to hide that information in. Someone needs to turn around and oppose the DMCA head on. That's what will stop it.

    Ale
  • by Cheerio Boy (82178) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:24AM (#1079551) Homepage Journal
    Here it is guys. Here's the chance you've been waiting for.
    I've seen tons of posts saying basically "I'll fight them if they come to my door/portal/site!" Now you have the chance.

    You knew this was coming. You knew it would happen eventually. Now stand up and do what needs to be done.

    1) Slashdot should not have to remove "any" comments any more than an existing paper magazine should. (Some magazines occasionally have crossed the line - but if they can print a retraction in tiny letters on some back page so can Slashdot. ;-)

    2) Microsoft should be made somehow (I don't know how - any ideas?) to pay for trying - IN THE MIDST OF THEIR ANTI-COMPETITION BATTLE - to silence information about something they're working on. To this end I suggest sending letters and e-mail to the Justice Department regarding this recent behavior.

    In the interest of standing up for what's right I give Slashdot permission to contact me as needed regarding anything that I may have seen or heard on Slashdot. I give no such permission to Microsoft under any circumstances.



    The Tick - "Spoon!"
  • by jalbro (82805) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:07AM (#1079552)
    Here's my input:

    Yank the posts that copied the original Microsoft documents. They clearly own the copyrights, and that is a reasonable request.

    As for the links and the comments about the EULA, tough nouggies, theose are protected free speech, copyright the original posters.

    -Jeff
  • by Juda_ben_Maci (83638) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:13AM (#1079553)
    I have not read the comments so I am not certain this pertains. The law explicitly says that it is legal to uses copyrighted material if it is for editorial purposes. Considering that Slashdot is clearly an environment for discussion and debate the posting of Copyrighted material should be legal as long as it pertains to the topic being discussed.
  • by mcrandello (90837) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @07:45AM (#1079554) Homepage
    "When will they learn that Freedom and Truth are to be embraced?"

    They've already embraced them. This is the "extend"ing part.
  • by spiralx (97066) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:30AM (#1079555)

    LOL! I love their address:

    Microsoft Corporation
    One Microsoft Way, 114/2314
    Redmond, WA 98052

    Says it all really :)

  • by spiralx (97066) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:18AM (#1079556)

    I suppose that this had to happen sooner or later given some of the things that get posted to /. every time a "trade secret" story comes up here. It's ironic really that it's everybody's favourite company, Microsoft, that's the one to finally do it though :)

    Anyway, given that this is exactly the sort of thing the DMCA was created for I very much doubt that Slashdot would win if it ever goes to a court of law. /. did have posts which contained copies of the information which were forbidden under the MS Kerberos EULA, and the recent court case victory for shrinkwrap licenses doesn't put /. in a good position.

    The one way I can see to fight this is through publicity and public opinion. Microsoft aren't liked, and if enough of a stink is raised they may back down. And /. is great for raising a stink, especially when it comes to Microsoft :) So everyone should be working to publisize this as a violation of free speech and general interference by a corporation intent on making money at the expense of other's work.

    And I fully expect that the relevent posts will already be mirrored in a hundred places across the net by the time this gets posted anyway, so, like with DeCSS, it's a battle that's lost in practice but being fought for control :)

  • by Mo B. Dick (100537) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:11AM (#1079557) Homepage
    As soon as you start controlling what people post, you will become liable for everything posted!
  • A couple of thingies: If you do remove the actual text copies then at least make a note of it in the postings. Something like:

    Because of a violation of copyrights, we were obliged under the DMCA to remove the information enclosed in this posting.

    What I do find bad is that because this is a digital medium, there is no way of getting it back again. Slashdot is by the same law obliged to remove it of their servers, no back ups etc. Therefore it might also be nice to give posterity a general idea of what was in the posting.

    I must say though that Microsoft seems a bit childish about it. These documents are quite easy to find elsewhere. And I don't see how they would seriously be harmed by this. Though they are probably in their right to ask this.

    One last thingy that I noticed. There is no digital signature appended to the message, not any other way to identify the writer of this e-mail. Ofcourse you could make a phonecall. But coming from MS one would expect better use of Outlook (Or not) :-)

    And really as a final comment, shouldn't the phonenumber and e-mail adress have been remvoed of this e-mail? You never know what someone might do.

  • by Vanders (110092) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:10AM (#1079559) Homepage
    I'm 100% certain that when i say this, i am saying it for all of Slashdot's readers:-

    No matter what Microsoft threatens, no matter what they say, do not give into them. This is not because it is Microsoft, but because Free Speech is far too important, especially on a forum such as Slashdot. Give them hell.

    As a side issue, i have a feeling this could turn into a very intersting thread. It covers all the things Slashdoters love to hate: Microsft, the DMCA and Censorship.
  • by DrEldarion (114072) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:09AM (#1079560)
    If I'm not mistaken (IANAL, naturally), actually hosting the material is illegal. BUT, linking to it is perfectly fine. So, someone make copies of all the comments... stick them on a server off in some country where they can't be touched, and post a link moderated to +5 on the story in question linking to that page.

    I think that would get /. off the hook, and the comments would still be there and totally visible.

    -- Dr. Eldarion --
    It's not what it is, it's something else.
  • by 348 (124012) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:38AM (#1079561) Homepage
    Their content is the owner's responsibility

    So how does one sue AC?

  • by YIAAL (129110) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:34AM (#1079562) Homepage
    Personally, I would not cooperate with such a request without a signed opinion letter from counsel stating that (1) there is no fair use involved; and (2) there is no improper motive in the request. If it turns out they've overreached, you can pursue disciplinary action against the attorney who signed it. Most lawyers will be very reluctant to sign such an opinion letter because of the legal risk it creates for them. And if the requestor won't provide such a letter, it makes subsequent legal action on their part much more problematic. Plus, such a demand on your part is obviously reasonable. Note that the letter must not simply be a demand, but must state that it is an opinion of counsel.
  • by luckykaa (134517) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:29AM (#1079564)
    Which would result in the removal of precisely 1 article [slashdot.org] which is blatently infringing copyright. The rest were links.

    All of the "circumvention" instructions simply said unzip it. This is hardly circumvention. You might as well say "View it using acrobat" is a means to circumvent it.

    Cream of the crop is this one [slashdot.org] which is apparently breaching confidential information.
  • by fleener (140714) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:33AM (#1079565)
    "They invade our space, and we fall back. They assimilate entire worlds, and we fall back. Not again. The line must be drawn here!" -Jean-Luc Picard
  • by Pinball Wizard (161942) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @07:55AM (#1079566) Homepage Journal
    I tried to find out the exact licence the kerberos protocol was licenced under. According to MIT, the inventors of the protocol, Kerberos is freely available from MIT, under a copyright permission notice very similar to the one used for the BSD operating and X11 Windowing system. MIT provides Kerberos in source form, so that anyone who wishes to use it may look over the code for themselves and assure themselves that the code is trustworthy. In addition, for those who prefer to rely on a professional supported product, Kerberos is available as a product from many different vendors.

    Now correct me if I'm wrong, but we were discussing Micros~1's deviation from the kerberos protocol. Most of us did not agree that Micros~1's implementation of kerberos did not fit the standard. Therefore in the context of our discussion, it was legal under fair use principles that we analyse the code.

    Not only that, but according to MIT, kerberos is released under a bsd-style licence. Well, this [debian.org] is what a bsd-style licence looks like. Micros~1 totally abused this licence, and MIT should take away their privilege of calling the software kerberos. Kerberos is a MIT copyright, not a Micros~1 copyright. Micros~1 does not have the right to pursue this.

    I usually play devils advocate when someone spews misinformation about Micros~1. This time, it is totally obvious that they have left the realm of the clued.

  • by Oarboat_7 (179743) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @05:47AM (#1079567)
    Microsoft should be sending letters to those people, who should then ask /. to remove the comments..

    Umm, what you're saying is that Microsoft should contact the individuals who posted the information.

    1. Those individuals can not remove the material, and it appears that preventing individual commenters from being able to remove their comments was an explicit design decision made by the developers of this site.

    2. In order for Microsoft to contact the individuals in order to ask them to remove the material (which is impossible for them to do in any case), Microsoft's staff would need the contact information used to establish the accounts the material was posted under. Do we really want to advocate the forced disclosure of that information?

    3. Point 1 above raises an interesting issue. If comments made here on this forum are the property of the people who submit them, why is it impossible for those people to remove and/or modify the content of those comments?

    I think blowing this all up and making a big issue of it could precipitate a 'sea change' in the legal status of many of the involved parties. It might take this site down, or radically modify how it is structured.

    It will be an interesting ride.
  • First let me say, MS is what happens when corporations endorse unethical behavior and reward it hansomely with great stock options. I looked into possible defenses for a summary judgement to save the comments posted on Andover-owned servers.

    I'm so frustrated, MS might as well have written the law -- it's damn near airtight (even though its application here has to be unconstitutional). Stanford Law's archives were somewhat reassuring in this "fair use" of copyrighted materials quote.

    "The framers of the constitution maintained that a free exchange of knowledge is essential for the good of society, and it is from this assertion that both copyright law and the fair use doctrine find their roots." *

    Now here is the relevant excerpt MS can bury Andover with (notice, I said Andover):

    "(2) No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, componenet, or part thereof, that --

    "(A) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title;

    "(B) has only limited commercially significant purpose or use other than to circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title;


    note:"(A) to 'circumvent a technological measure' means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner; and

    (B) a technological measure 'effectively controls access to a work' if that measure, in ordinary course of its operation, requires the application of information, or a process or a treatment, with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain access to the work."


    Does anybody see anything that would help here? Just making information to circumvent the liscence makes Andover guilty as hell of making information available to more-easily cirumvent the software liscence. A serious crime.
    * http://fairuse.stanford.edu/articles/ [stanford.edu]
    If anybody asks me, I'll say: "you mean there is a liscence on that .pdf? I open all my .exe files with Winzip -- Don't you!?!?"

  • by m0smith (184224) on Thursday May 11, 2000 @09:57AM (#1079569)
    There are 3 points to this "request":

    1 - Removal of copyrighted material

    Posting of copyrighted material is wrong. There is no reading of
    the copyright laws of the USA that allows for the verbatum copying of
    copyrighted material whether it be with a printing press, photo copier
    or email. There is very little justification to the notion that
    an editorial requires the entire contents of the document. So, the
    initial posting was wrong and illegal and the poster may be liable for
    damages.

    The question still remains: shall slashdot remove the copyrighted
    work? It is not a question of free-speech. Even the Evil Empire is
    not "requesting" the removal of the comments, only the copyrighted
    material. This is within the rights of the copyright holder.

    Posting the material was both wrong and illegal (even if its
    Micr$soft'$). Knowingly keeping the posting is still wrong, even if
    the legality is in question. It seems to me that the slash dot people
    are interested in doing what's right.

    2 - Removal of links

    A while back SlashDot posted an article on a similar subject. The
    Mormon church sued to have links to copyrighted material removed from
    a web site. The judge found in favor of the Church. From an article
    in the New York times: ( search for "mormon" on SlashDot for a link to it)

    Claiming that the Tanners were improperly pointing viewers to
    sites that contained illegal copies of the handbook, lawyers
    for the Mormon Church succeeded in getting Judge Campbell to
    issue an expanded restraining order. This week, she also
    issued a formal preliminary injunction, which prohibits the
    Tanners from directly posting the contents of the handbook or
    posting on their site "addresses to Web sites that defendants
    know, or have reason to know, contain the material alleged to
    infringe plaintiff's copyright."

    This would seem to be along the same vein as the "request" made by His
    Royal Gatesness. Having had it brought to SlashDot's attention, they
    now "have reason to know".

    In reaching her decision, Judge Campbell made two key
    conclusions. First, she reasoned that anyone who went to a Web
    site and viewed a pirated copy of the handbook was probably
    engaging in direct copyright infringement, because that viewer's
    browser automatically makes a local copy of the text.

    This is an interesting definition of a "copy", yet it sets a legal
    precedent that might effect SlashDot's case.

    In addition, Judge Campbell reckoned that by posting the addresses
    to the pirate sites after they were ordered to take down the handbook,
    and by otherwise assisting people who wished to locate the pirate
    sites, the Tanners were liable under a theory of contributory
    copyright infringement. By their actions, the Tanners "actively
    encouraged" browsers to directly infringe the church's copyright,
    Judge Campbell wrote.

    This argument could easily apply to SlashDot as well.

    What makes Judge Campbell's 10-page opinion significant,
    lawyers said, is that there are few other instances where a
    court has ruled on the practice of knowingly linking to or
    posting addresses for sites with infringing material.

    Which should give me cause to reflect as the precedent this might set.

    So, while I disagree with this judgement, it is also very applicable
    (at least on the surface) to any case that SlashDot might be involved
    in with respect to links to copyrighted material.

    So should the links be removed? What would SlashDot gain by leaving
    them up. They would get sued (probably) and then the court would
    decide. Should the court decide against SlashDot, that would be a
    victory for the Redmond Monopoly and a strengthening of the above
    legal precedent. Should SlashDot prevail, it would bring the above
    decision into question, which would be a good thing.

    My suggestion: talk to a good lawyer and see what your chances are
    (assuming you have the money for the legal battle).

    3 - Links to instructions on How to Bypass the End User License
    Agreement

    This seems the flimsiest "request" by the World's Richest Nerd.
    Micro$oft does not own the copyright on these articles. I have not
    read the DMCA but this sort of thing falls outside copyright and
    should therefore be allow. Also, EULA are questionable. I do not
    know if they have been challenged but they seem to go to far into
    keeping people from "fair use" of the copyrighted work.

    Again, consult your lawyer, but leave these up.

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