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Re: [school-discuss] Shocking news about Microsoft's ability tokill Open Source

On Thu, 2003-10-30 at 20:10, Tom Adelstein wrote:
> Hello,
> I'm scheduled to speak at the Desktop Linux Consortium on November 10th 
> at Boston University. My subject relates to Linux in State and Local 
> Government, a subject about which I have some knowledge.
> This morning I discovered from a reliable source that we will not be 
> invited back because Microsoft offered BU a Gold Partnership agreement 
> and marketing money to never "do this again".

Don't see this as a threat, its a great opportunity. They have handed
you a news media opportunity on a plate. Get together a group of
activists, picket the University and get as many students as possible to
back you, contact the media and stage a big demonstration outside the
University gates at the busiest time. They might not be breaking the law
but I think a lot of fair-minded people would see this as unacceptable
behaviour. Its the sort of story the news media love. Multi-national
giant bribes public funded university to crush special interest group
working for the poor. Let the media work out the legalities - give them
the cues about what to print but just be quoted on facts.

Be humble, your group was meeting to help provide software tools for the
poor and disadvantaged in society who can't afford expensive technology.

The University can't touch you and neither can Microsoft. Publicity
works both ways and this is a great opportunity to get 10s of thousands
of dollars of free publicity for GNU/Linux. You can of course find
another venue but wouldn't it be nice to make the University and M$
think twice before pulling these stunts in the future?

> Jsut slightly infuriated, I inquired anonymously about the situation. I 
> contacted the Department of Justice and spoke to an attorney. Imagine my 
> surprise to discover Microsoft didn't do anything wrong. What they did 
> doesn't violate the law. I couldn't believe it.

So fight fire with fire. Don't break the law but use your right of free

> Imagine, all the time spent trying to stop them from restraining trade 
> and it means nothing. They can pay companies to "not sell" Linux. They 
> can provide "marketing money" to make sure their products are put ahead 
> of others, make sure certain products don't get shelf space, advertise 
> on every page featuring Linux or Open Source Software and they don't 
> break the law. Basically, they're not considered criminals as far as I 
> can tell.

Maybe not in the USA, but they are breaking the law in UK and EU in a
few ways. The UK Office of Fair trading is currently investigating
Schools Agreement which is pretty blatantly breaking the law here and
probably in the other EU member states. EU is currently investigating
servers and media player so its not all one way traffic. Thing is not to
just take it. Complain, kick up a fuss but do it in a measured way. Be
calm and logical and adopt peaceful protest. Take the moral high ground
and use the media.

> Now, if they threaten you with bodily harm, that's different. But what 
> does one get other than maybe a settlement if they do? That's something 
> else I found out.

Well I instigated an investigation that could result in M$ being fined
up to 10% of its entire UK turnover and the hitman hasn't called yet. If
I do die in mysterious circumstances, please use this E-mail as evidence
to avenge my demise :-)

> I've followed Microsoft's antics for years now and seen some amazing 
> things. Some of those include what I thought were "kickbacks". But in 
> reality, they must not be kickbacks. I guess if they won a contract and 
> paid the procurement officer, that would be a kickback. But, no one has 
> accused them of that - at least not in any way about which I know. Price 
> cutting, sure they do that. Lobbying, they do that too. Whining, I hear 
> they whine and spin. Evidenttly, nothing is wrong with that either.

Question is do we want to worry about it or do something about it? I'm
in favour of doing something. 

> So, all I can conclude is that we shouldn't call them crooks. We might 
> wind up the subject of a defamation suit.

Freedom of speech is fine as long as you stick to facts and don't get
emotionally carried away. If its a fact that the University is stopping
you as a result of a deal with M$ its fair to say so - even if you say
you believe it to be true as you can't find another reason why the Uni
should suddenly take this stance. The reporters will grill them and make
a story of it.

> I wonder if we could suggest a boycott?

But what benefit will that have?

> Would doing that be a violation of law?

Why should it? Thing is I think that a boycott would be missing a golden

> Tom
ian <ian.lynch2@ntlworld.com>