Subject: Re: www.oreilly.com -- Tangled Webs: What Gives Them the Right?
From: "Tim O'Reilly" <tim@oreilly.com>
Date: Fri, 26 Nov 1999 08:58:08 -0800



Russell Nelson wrote:
> 
> Tim O'Reilly writes:
>  > Russell Nelson wrote:
>  > >   o In the software world, anyone can write a replacement for anyone
>  > >     else's program, or library, or can change that program on the fly.
>  > >     Nobody is fined or failed for this.
>  >
>  > This is not true, and was the point of the article.
> 
> Well, there's three possible responses to this:
> 
>   o If you tow something using a car which is not suited for towing,
>     and you break something, you just toasted your warranty.
>     Different products are designed for different purposes.

Yeah, that was Microsoft's claim, but it was completely bogus.
> 
>   o Um, sorry, no, anyone *can* write a replacement for IIS running on
>     NT Server without being fined or jailed.  Just because the
>     economics don't work out, that doesn't mean it's prohibited by
>     law.  Nor does it mean that any laws need to be changed.
> 
You miss the point.  They told their customers that to do so was to
violate the license on the underlying operating system.  We did do a
replacement (or rather, IIS was a replacement for our product, which
came first.)  We told people loudly that this was BS, and that it should
be ignored, and enough people listened, or thought our product was good
enough to pay for on NT Server where IIS was already bundled, that
WebSite is still a viable product.  But the fact is that MS has
repeatedly used its licensing agreements with OEM vendors and large end
users to keep them from using alternate products.  I didn't think I'd be
arguing that point in this forum...

And no one ever said that laws need to be changed.  In fact, the issue
is that laws ARE being changed, and not in favor of the consumer.  There
is a strong move afoot to strengthen shrinkwrap licenses.  To my mind,
this is a very bad thing.

>   o Has anyone been fined or jailed for violating a shrink-wrap
>     license?  The precedents are mixed -- in some jurisdictions
>     you can laugh at shrink-wrap restrictions.  In others they are law,
>     at least until they're overturned anyway.  See
>     http://cr.yp.to/softwarelaw.html .
> 
Whether or not anyone has been fined or jailed, the fact that this is
ambiguous enough to have a discouraging effect on consumer behavior is
bad enough.

>  > Nonetheless, because of the strong allergic reactions from people who I
>  > respect, I'm thinking we should put up some of these responses to the
>  > article, if you guys are willing.
> 
> Let's have you finish criticizing them.
> 
> --
> -russ nelson <sig@russnelson.com>  http://russnelson.com
> Crynwr sells support for free software  | PGPok | Government schools are so
> 521 Pleasant Valley Rd. | +1 315 268 1925 voice | bad that any rank amateur
> Potsdam, NY 13676-3213  | +1 315 268 9201 FAX   | can outdo them. Homeschool!

-- 
Tim O'Reilly @ O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
101 Morris Street, Sebastopol, CA 95472
+1 707-829-0515, FAX +1 707-829-0104
tim@oreilly.com, http://www.oreilly.com