12.14.09

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Microsoft Violates Copyright Law (Corrected)

Posted in Asia, GNU/Linux, GPL, Kernel, Law, Microsoft, Vista 7, Windows at 9:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

[Was: "Microsoft Violates the GNU GPL for Third Time in 2009"; see comments for correction]

“There’s free software and then there’s open source… there is this thing called the GPL, which we disagree with.”

Bill Gates, April 2008

Summary: Microsoft is said to be breaking the law again, not just mimicking another Web site but also misappropriating someone else’s code

Microsoft has just done it for the third time (at least) this year. It violated the very same licence it had been mocking for ages. Earlier today we mentioned the circumstances under which Microsoft got sued in China for copyright infringement. Windows 98, 2000, 2003 and Windows XP are banned as a result and it is a Vista 7 tool that was caught violating the GPL [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], which incidentally means that Microsoft violates copyright law all over the place, even in Linux [1, 2, 3].

The latest alleged violation has the victim offer sufficiently compelling proof to make it quite certain. We wrote about the offending service at the beginning of the month and as one reader of ours puts it:

This is the second code issue in as many months with Microsoft being alleged to have infringed on the GPL with code in their software. As usual it doesn’t take long for the “Microsoft blames” statements to arrive and in this instance it was in the form of blaming 3rd party developers for the “dodgy” code. The question I had at the time was, if Microsoft don’t have control of their own code (in that they were not aware) what else lurks inside their products which we may not be aware of.

Even Windows sites are covering this scandal and a reader wrote to us saying: “you might add a list including Sendo, SendIT, etc and going on back to Stac Electronics.”

Microsoft does not mind the law when it competes.

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11 Comments

  1. dyfet said,

    December 14, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    Gravatar

    Indeed, what other code might there be lurking in their codebases that have been fraudulently appropriated, whether from freedom or even other proprietary sources. They do have a known and documented history of doing this.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2009 at 6:32 am

    Gravatar

    Hmmmmmm… it seems like the cited source is incorrect. I can’t find evidence that the code was GPL licensed.

    dyfet Reply:

    I had wondered that also as I did not see anything that said plurk was GNU GPL licensed code. But again, as noted, they have a history of commercial infringement, whether of proprietary of free. The wider adoption of metadata rich and, as in the case here I gather, client-side scripting languages, will continue to make it easier to reveal their crimes.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Well, I’ll correct the title either way.

    dyfet Reply:

    Yeah, it does invalidate the headline, but certainly not the relevance of the story. I imagine because people were talking about showing and comparing code, maybe someone assumed this somehow. Commercial copyright infringement is commercial copyright infringement regardless of the license of the code involved.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    The JavaScript wasn’t obfuscated. I wonder if the back end too was a ripoff.

  3. Goblin said,

    December 15, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Gravatar

    Sorry Roy if my article was not clear.

    I quote “This is the second code issue in as many months….” and then go on to say that one was a GPL violation with: “Microsoft being alleged to have infringed on the GPL with code in their software”

    I assumed it was clear that the issue of yesterday was wholly different to the previous one (a GPL violation) and thats why the title of the article asks the question of “stealing”

    I used the term “code issue” to incorporate both, because theft or violation or GPL they both are code issues.

    Regards
    Goblin,

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    “Theft” is the wrong word to use here. Copying is not theft, it can be an infringement though.

    “Theft” implies the original is vanished, not duplicated.

  4. Goblin said,

    December 15, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Gravatar

    I’ll agree with you, as per definition under the theft act:

    “To dishonestly appropriate properly belonging to the other with the intention to permanently deprive the other of it”

    However for want of a better word, infringement for me is far too general and can mean a multitude of things….”passing of as ones” own would be better, but far too long….

    “Fraudulent use”? or Piracy? ;)

    Having said that (and taking it off topic slightly) there is a common phrase of “identity theft” which appears to be accepted by many and since you can’t “steal” an identity….the quest goes on (at least until the theft act wording is changing)

    My suggestion:

    “To dishonestly appropriate property either physical or intellectual belonging to the other, either with the intention to permanently deprive the other of it or by taking such property by means of duplication with the intention of assuming ownership, gain or otherwise not in accordance of the others wishes.”

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Information can actually be pirated, as this video demonstrates.

    your_friend Reply:

    Microsoft is stealing and it is right to call what they do theft. They are not simply making a copy to get work done or even to sell in the normal sense. Their war against sharing and software freedom makes them a special kind of criminal. They take code with no intention of sharing it and they have every intentions of destroying everything connected to the code’s creators. If Microsoft had their way, no one would be able to share or commercialize any code or media but Microsoft. Their attacks on GNU/Linux and other competitors are as pure and malicious an act of theft as any.

    Sharing books, software, music and other things with your neighbor is not theft. That is a charity that has been the basis of libraries and learning throughout human history. Depriving your neighbor of the ability to share is a terrible crime which has at its root the theft of all of your neighbor’s property and the destruction of freedom in general.

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