Subject: Re: -- Tangled Webs: What Gives Them the Right?
From: Russell Nelson <>
Date: Sat, 27 Nov 1999 18:02:21 -0500 (EST)

Tim O'Reilly writes:
 > 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.

Not necessarily.  Every boxed piece of software comes with a warranty.
Free software cannot, and that's one of the things that people don't
like about free software.  It seems that people like warranty support
sold as if it were insurance, and insurance always works best if the
pool includes everyone.  The only way to make money on insurance is to
control costs.  Microsoft's warranty costs for Server vs Workstation
were probably different, so they sought to differentiate Server from
Workstation in the license as well as in the packaging and registry.

I had to stretch for that one, but it's not 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.

On NT Server??  Is Microsoft totally nuts??  Why would they do that?
They're getting paid for their web server, why would they then care if 
the customer uses it or not?

Still, regardless of what Microsoft *claims*, the user can run any
program they want, contrary to the claims of the article.  I mean, if
the author meant to talk about a nightmare fantasy, he should have
started off with "Imagine if the following was true... ... if UCITA
passes in your state, it may be."  Instead, he's passing off his
fantasy as fact.

 > 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.

I agree in every regard but one: that it also creates the possibility
of a new GPL version which is more reliably legal.

 > >   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
 > > .
 > > 
 > 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.

Discouraging effect or not, the original article was spreading FUD
about violating shrink-wrap licenses.

-russ nelson <>
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