02.23.10

Microsoft’s Deal With Amazon is Extortion and Should Get Reported

Posted in Fraud, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat, Steve Ballmer, Windows at 4:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Al Capone mugshot and Steve Ballmer

Summary: Analysis of the patent deal with Amazon and why it is a breach of some laws and should therefore be reported to authorities or regulators

IN THE previous post about Amazon’s patent deal with Microsoft we called for a boycott. Some people in Slashdot have independently made similar calls. In this longer post we shall look at some reactions to the news and then analyse a little further.

Glyn Moody, a journalist and author, says “shame on you” to Amazon’s founder, president, and chief executive officer:

Microsoft has consistently refused to give any details of its absurd FUD about GNU/Linux infringing on its patents, which is not surprising, since they are likely to be completely bogus and/or trivial. So Amazon is showing real pusillanimity in making this unnecessary deal. Shame on you, Jeff.

SJVN starts his post as follows:

What was Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, thinking?

As we explained earlier, Jeff surrounded himself by Microsoft employees who joined his management. Brian Valentine, formerly of Microsoft, is now an SVP at Amazon. There are many more like him who jumped over from Microsoft to Amazon, so it’s a bit like Yahoo! being seized from the inside.

Now they create precedence for charging GNU/Linux hosts and DCs, as well as e-readers. In response to this, said one person: “Let’s see….tell me again why Microsoft news is not relevant for Linux?”

We get asked that question quite a lot here at Boycott Novell. People hopefully realise that the truth is elusive and they hopefully understand why Microsoft is so unique. To ask the above question is to discourage people from looking at what really matters a lot and what requires constant scrutiny.

Basically, what we have in our hands right now is Amazon’s participation in racketeering [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. These previous posts explain why this qualifies as racketeering. This involves servers too, so it’s definitely not about FAT like some people are trying to suggest (this deal is unique and very different compared to TomTom’s for example).

“Microsoft knowingly breaks the law and simply perceives itself as above the law.”Microsoft tried getting around signing of deals with Red Hat and instead it is approaching their customers (Amazon mostly uses RHEL), which are stuffed with unethical individuals who couldn’t care less about Free(dom) software. Microsoft surprised Amazon when it came up with statements that were probably intended to be secret (protected by an NDA). This is some really nasty back-door dealing and as a former Microsoft lawyer explained some days ago, the company is sometimes intimidating and retaliating. Microsoft knowingly breaks the law and simply perceives itself as above the law. Steve Ballmer, for instance, needs to be arrested (not that rich people are ever apprehended, just look at Dick Cheney). Many people are not aware of this because of endless PR, including the ongoing scams of the Gates Foundation. It’s impossible to explain this in a minute or two (the concision constraints).

Microsoft blogs are of course serving their own delusion and are justifying Microsoft’s side in subtle ways. Microsoft has put a lot of PR effort into patent propaganda, so they probably believe their own spin and lies. They are controlling the message and telling the public how to think and how to feel about it.

Microsoft booster Ina Fried is delighted about this extortion [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] because it’s beneficial to the company she promotes. That same rubbish (it’s a blog post) from that PR person has reached ZDNet as “news”, where there is the one-sided promotion with quotes from Microsoft and no criticism whatsoever. People should not blindly accept such bias. “Microsoft licenses Linux to Amazon” is what our reader called it after reading this poor article (promotional, no criticism whatsoever of Microsoft’s racketeering) and he added: “This has to be illegal, MS is making some sort of property claims, else they are engaged in an extortion racket.”

It is an extortion racket indeed. In previous posts we showed why. It must have been made possible in part due to those former Microsoft employees (including vice presidents) who entered Amazon. Should the industry ostracise those Microsoft employees who seem to promote Microsoft’s interests almost everywhere they go?

Here is the coverage from Microsoft booster Richard Waters (he has a long history even bashing Microsoft’s competitors in the Financial Times):

Some big Asian tech companies – including Samsung and LG Electronics – have already reached similar deals to license the Microsoft patents, which the software company claims cover IP that has been copied in Linux. But the Amazon arrangement looks far more significant given Amazon’s massive data-centres.

Servers, eh? Maybe a lot of Red Hat. What does Red Hat have to say about this? Should it not be made part of this decision? Can a client of Red Hat decide on ‘Red Hat’s behalf’ that Red Hat requires a licence from Microsoft? This has got to be some kind of fraud. Here is the coverage from IDG:

Among them, the agreement will shield Amazon from patent litigation against its Kindle e-reader, which includes some open-source software components, and against its use of Linux-based servers, Microsoft said.

Why quote Microsoft’s spin? Wording like “shield Amazon” are nothing but deception (like calling patents “protection” and nuclear missiles “defence”). This is not balanced reporting because the supposition is that Microsoft is not breaking the law and is doing something acceptable. Well, it’s not.

TechDirt, which is immune to the gullibility of the mainstream press, asks: “Amazon Has To Pay Microsoft To Use Linux?”

While since it’s a straight cross-licensing deal, it doesn’t sound like any money changed hands, but effectively Amazon had to “pay” by licensing its own patents. It does seem pretty problematic, doesn’t it, when a company has to “pay” Microsoft (whether in cash or via licenses to its own patents) just to use Linux? Perhaps it’s time to redefine the “Microsoft tax.”

The first comment says: “Where are those anti-trust guys?? Perhaps it’s time to abolish the Microsoft tax…”

Another anonymous commenter says: “Yeah, if you are compatible with FAT you infringe. It seems that Microsoft does not like interoperability.

“How much do they want for each use of Linux – $699 ?”

US regulators may seem like a lost cause [1, 2], but we urge readers to write to their members of parliament or regulators; what Microsoft does here is extortion and just because Microsoft executives wear suits does not make their offences any less criminal than those of a shoplifter or a drug dealer; in fact, the damage that Microsoft’s ruthlessness causes to society is orders of magnitude greater. It’s called “white-collar crime” which sometimes can be “organised crime” (involving more than one party, or an accomplice in collusion).

“Microsoft is asking people to pay them for patents, but they won’t say which ones. If a guy walks into a shop and says: “It’s an unsafe neighbourhood, why don’t you pay me 20 bucks and I’ll make sure you’re okay,” that’s illegal. It’s racketeering.”

Mark Shuttleworth

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