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Re: [Computerbank] Bill rejects request for PC's for Kids

On Mon, Jul 16, 2001 at 01:55:31PM +1000, Price, Tim wrote:
> > Just a quick heads up. Did anyone else see the small article 
> > in the Age (Melbourne - saturday 14/7) detailing how Bill 
> > (aka Microsoft) had refused a request from a charity PC's for 
> > Kids to install MS OS software on recycled PC's. Its a local 
> > charity by the way from down Geelong I think. might be worth 
> > following up and suggesting Linux.
> I didn't see the article, but back in the early days, Computerbank had a few
> chats witht the PC for Kids people - this is pretty much what I remember:
> 1) PC for kids had permission from to install Microsoft OS's on recycled PCs
> in the US incarnation of that charity.
> 2) They had not sought permission in Australia to do the same - but assumed
> they could anyway.
> 3) We *strongly* advised them to use linux - citing lisencing woes (amongst
> other things).
> 4) They have there very own strong agenda and methods - unfortunately I dont
> believe they'll ever go the linux route

I spent a while this weekend looking for a copy of this article on the
Age website, but couldn't find it.

Anyway, I'll type a transcript [*]:


By Gary Barker, Technology Editor:

Microsoft, the world's richest software company, has told a Geelong
charity group, PCs for kids, that it must stop distributing the second
hand computers it recycles and gives to poor children until it can
obtain licenses for the software they carry.

The charity says that to do so would cost it up to $600 a machine, far
beyond its resources or the market value of the computer. It has
suspended its operations and said appeals this week to Microsoft had
"fallen on deaf ears".

The group get its computer from corporations, including Australia Post,
which have site, not individual, licenses for the Windows operating
system.  By recycling the computers and installing on the hard drives
software for which they have not paid a new licensing fee, PCs for Kids
infringes Microsoft's copyright.

Suggestions by PCs for Kids that, given the charitable nature of its
work, Microsoft might waive licensing requirements have so far been
fruitless.  In all cases the software in dispute is becoming obsolete
and is no longer supported by Microsoft.

PCs for Kids has admitted that what it does is a breach of copyright but
is upset that Microsoft refuses to recognise the financial impossibility
of its requirements.

In a letter this week to Colin Bayes, the founder and president of PCs
for Kids, Vanessa Hutley, Microsoft's corporate attorney in Sydney, said
"You have acknowledged that your practices... of hard-loading the
software on to PCs is an infringement of Microsoft's copyright...
Microsoft must insist that you find some other source of software..."

Ms Hutley told the Age that Microsoft required that PCs for Kids "work
with its donors" to obtain individual licences, CDs and manuals for each

"That would cost us up to $600 per machine.  We don't have that kind of
money," said Mr Bayes.  "I think this is a case of greed and
double-dipping.  These are old, secondhand machines, donated to us for
charitable purposes." 

Ms Hutley said no legal action was pending against PCs for Kids.


[*] apologies for any typos.  I pre-preemptively invoke the fair dealing
provisions of the Copyright Act in defence of my exercise of the The
Age's rights in this material ;)


It'll be interesting to see whether PCs for Kids will have any success
in using PR like this to change Microsoft's position...

Peter Eckersley                         http://www.cs.mu.oz.au/~pde 
(pde@cs.mu.oz.au)              TLI:  http://www.computerbank.org.au
<~~~~.sig temporarily conservative pending divine intervention~~~~>
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