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Microsoft Your Rights Online

BSA Accuses OpenOffice Mirrors 808

Posted by michael
from the premature-exclamation dept.
sqrt529 writes "A German university was accused by the BSA of pirating MS Office, because they mirrored OpenOffice.org. The scripts from the BSA only check for "Office" in the filename and then automatically send out notices to the ftp admins. Did any of you get similar notices from the BSA?"
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BSA Accuses OpenOffice Mirrors

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  • by Almace (216500) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {yraeY.yreffeJ}> on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:28AM (#5405499) Homepage
    This is really funny actually. I'm going to start uploading mp3s named "office.mp3" to ftp sites now for fun.
    • by ketamine-bp (586203) <calvin@noSpAm.k.eta.mine.nu> on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:31AM (#5405536)
      /me think we should setup some sort of ftp server that fakes every microsoft software's files, like

      SlashDOT_MS_OFFICE_2K_1_of_37.zip

      heh.
    • by caseydk (203763) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:39AM (#5405632) Homepage Journal


      Why doesn't the RICO Act apply to the BSA (not the Boy Scouts)?
    • by forgetful_ca (554717) <cwj_ca@@@yahoo...com> on Friday February 28, 2003 @11:39AM (#5406219)
      I would think we should add a link to open office with the comment "My word, this version of office really does excel".
    • by luispo (158938) on Friday February 28, 2003 @01:47PM (#5407344)
      I am the community manager for OpenOffice.org and replied to BSA, asking them to correct their obvious error. Here's their response, which came within an hour of my message.
      --
      I apologize for the obvious mistake I made.
      Apparently our system detects the OpenOffice files as MS Office programs and alarms me, which in turn sends the notices. I failed my part by not reassuring clearly enough which property was infringed and now that I am aware of that fact we will try and fix the search terms of our system and of course be more aware of the possible mistake.

      Thank you very much for your e-mail.

    • by rabidcow (209019) on Friday February 28, 2003 @01:53PM (#5407390) Homepage
      Note to self: next time I'm pirating office, give it a different name.
  • by nitehorse (58425) <clee@c133.org> on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:28AM (#5405503)
    "I've got an idea! Let's write scripts that will automatically log in on FTP servers, waste bandwidth, cost people money, and also do a shitty job looking for pirated software!"

    Yeah, that's really bright. If I were operating any servers that had been raped by the BSA's scripts like this, I'd be extremely pissed off. They should realize that bandwidth isn't exactly free, especially not in countries != US.
    • by Angry White Guy (521337) <CaptainBurly[AT]goodbadmovies.com> on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:33AM (#5405551)
      Google:
      Searched the web for Office.
      Results 1 - 10 of about 78,600,000. Search took 0.10 seconds.
      Start sending the letters!

      as an interesting side note, the first link is US Copyright Office [loc.gov]
    • Send them a bill for the bandwith used.
      Then take them to small claims court when they don't pay!
      • by gmuslera (3436) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:54AM (#5405770) Homepage Journal

        Sue them for diffamation. In some moment they should learn that accussing someone for things nobody did have a cost (at least a generous salary for the one that had to check their affirmation, administrative costs, etc).

        Terrorists don't have to send bombs around to spread terror and cause economic chaos... just mail in the name of BSA letters to all companies that inform that illegal software was detected in their systems and next week will go a team to check licenses, and billons of dollars will be lost.

        In fact, I think BSA is fitting very well in the "terrorist" definition, could US army invade them to avoid further damage?

        • by lfourrier (209630) on Friday February 28, 2003 @11:07AM (#5405899)
          not for defamation, for perjury:

          from the mail :
          BSA represents that the information in this
          notification is accurate and states, under penalty of perjury, that it is
          authorized to act in this matter on behalf of the copyright owners listed
          above.

          they (BSA) obviously played it very softly(apologies and thanks), cause they feel a little weak on this one.
          • by Aquitaine (102097) <sam AT iamsam DOT org> on Friday February 28, 2003 @11:15AM (#5405970) Homepage
            It is stating under penalty of perjury that it has the authority to act on behalf of Joe Bob Copyright holder. Not that you have broken the law. That's like suing the prosecution for perjury during your trial because you think they're lying.

            Seems like a very simple misunderstanding. Like it or not, the BSA exists, and is full of people who are trying to do their jobs. If it were you, tell me that the notion of a net spider wouldn't appeal to you.
            • by Marc2k (221814) on Friday February 28, 2003 @11:38AM (#5406209) Homepage Journal
              A net spider would appeal to me, but you can be damn sure i wouldn't be mailing out legal threats the moment the spider caught the word "office" in the filenames. Why wouldn't they just plop the server name and file name into a database where human eyes can check it out before mailing threats?
            • by sbaker (47485) on Friday February 28, 2003 @11:44AM (#5406261) Homepage
              Yeah - but at least I'd have my software check some checksums on the allegedly pirated files - then have a human go check them out BEFORE mailing out threatening letters.

              This sort of harassment needs to stop.

              The problem is that it's cheaper to send out a threatening letter than to check carefully and THEN send letters only to true offenders. You just bet that 99% of recipients will stop doing whatever it is you suspect them of - which makes it a cost-effective way to work. The BSA doesn't have these people as customers - so what does it care if it pisses them off?

              I suppose, what the world needs is a law to say that if you send someone a letter threatening legal action if they don't do something - then if they don't do it, you should be REQUIRED to take them to court - and to be liable for their costs, pain & suffering, mental anguish, etc, etc if they turn out to be innocent.
    • by maan (21073)
      I dislike the BSA just as you, but when you have a public FTP site up, then by definition, it's open to everybody. It's ok for hundreds of people to log in and download hundreds of megs worth of files, but not for BSA to just do an "ls"?? Come on...let's not push it.

      And what do you mean by "bandwidth isn't exactly free, especially not in countries != US"?

      Maan
      • by nitehorse (58425) <clee@c133.org> on Friday February 28, 2003 @11:15AM (#5405972)
        Public FTP servers usually have the restriction that the user enter a valid email address, which the BSA's spidering/searching software faked in order to gain access.

        Hell, isn't that illegal under the DMCA? They're circumventing a protection measure to gain access to digitally protected work. Heh. That'd be awesome, if someone would sue the BSA for breaching the DMCA...

        Also, here in the US, it's very common to be charged a flat fee for internet service, such that one would pay (say) $400 a month for a guaranteed pipeline of 3Mbits (numbers are made up, but you get the idea.) Whereas, in other parts of the world, billing is much more commonly based on the amount of data transferred. Which means that if I host a server here, I pay for the line to it - no matter if the machine is accessed once or two million times in a month, whereas in other countries (especially Europe, including Germany), the difference between once and two million accesses is quite large, and may result in higher bills due to more data transfer.

        My point is that the BSA wasted bandwidth, needlessly scared a sysadmin at a German university, and may have even violated the DMCA in doing so. Again... Wow, that was stupid of them.
    • by twilight30 (84644) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:55AM (#5405787) Homepage
      If you read Ms Beck's reply carefully, you'll notice that she -- and not the bot -- seems to think the name 'Louis' refers to a female. Talk about adding insult to injury...
    • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday February 28, 2003 @11:25AM (#5406065) Homepage Journal
      If I were operating any servers that had been raped by the BSA's scripts like this, I'd be extremely pissed off.

      Business Softare Alliance www.bsa.org

      To Whom it May Concern, Don't act so surprised, You weren't on any mercy mission this time. Several transmissions were beamed to this site by Rebel spies; I want to know what happened to the plans they sent to you.

      You are part of the Rebel Alliance and a traitor. Cease and desist!

      Regards,
      Lord Vader

      "Oops. Oy is there egg on my helmet!"

  • Funny! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tempest303 (259600) <jensknutson@y a h o o . c om> on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:29AM (#5405508) Homepage
    Shouldn't this be filed under "It's Funny. Laugh."?

    It made *me* chuckle, anyhow... ;)
    • Re:Funny! (Score:3, Funny)

      by jhawkins (609878)
      Unfortunately, no.
    • not funny (Score:5, Insightful)

      by twitter (104583) on Friday February 28, 2003 @11:42AM (#5406245) Homepage Journal
      It's not very funny when you consider the power the BSA has to harass. Here in the states they could pull an audit of all your systems based on information like that. I'm afraid of what they could do elswhere. Of course it's stupid, but dumber things have happened.

      The BSA obviously has a problem doing it's job. Do you think they can trust the names people put on files? No, if they are going to do their repulsive job they have to dig deeper than that. It looks like they felt they could not do that practically and so decided to make everyone else do their work for them by proving their innocence. I hope it bites them in the ass.

  • by Morky (577776) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:29AM (#5405512)
    The Boy Scouts of America should stick to tying knots and keep their jamboreeing noses out of I.T.!
  • wow... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Kadagan AU (638260) <{kadagan} {at} {gmail.com}> on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:30AM (#5405521) Journal
    this HAS to be one of the dumbest things I've heard!

    If Office Depot had an ftp site where you could get their latest catalogue, they'd be accused of pirating M$ Office?!

    I think they went a bit too far this time.

    ~Jon~
  • by lavalyn (649886) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:31AM (#5405532) Homepage Journal
    And imagine what the BSA would have loved to do to these servers if they were allowed to hack the offending boxes.

    FTP is a file-sharing protocol, isn't it?
  • by binaryDigit (557647) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:33AM (#5405550)
    I know that some search sites "spider" ftp sites, but couldn't ftp site owners change the license agreements for their sites to disallow the spidering of their site for the explicit purpose of trying to find specific files. In this way the search spiders can still work, but a spider "looking" for anything specifically would not be allowed? I don't know if this type of thing is common in other contexts that may negatively be impacted by such a change though?
  • by LemurShop (585831) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:33AM (#5405555)
    Those damn communists and their "open sores" threaten the good, god loving corporations.
  • by jmb-d (322230) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:33AM (#5405560) Homepage Journal
    A German university was accused by the BSA of pirating MS Office, because they mirrored OpenOffice.org. The scripts from the BSA only check for "Office" in the filename and then automatically send out notices to the ftp admins.

    Dadgumit, the Boy Scouts of America [scouting.org] have gone too far this time! Back in my day, we helped little old ladies across the street... Now they're policing for pirated software? Sheesh...
  • Up for penalty? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Espen (96293) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:34AM (#5405567)
    From the letter:

    BSA represents that the information in this notification is accurate and states, under penalty of perjury, that it is authorized to act in this matter on behalf of the copyright owners listed above.

    So the BSA has perjured itself; now what is the penalty?
    • Re:Up for penalty? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ketamine-bp (586203) <calvin@noSpAm.k.eta.mine.nu> on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:36AM (#5405602)
      Actually, they are UP for their penalty. This is because they announced that they are representing the Openoffice.org, but actually they do NOT.
    • Re:Up for penalty? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Sarcazmo (555312) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:38AM (#5405619)
      I think you are parsing that wrong.

      [The BSA] states, under penalty of perjury, that it is authorized to act in this matter on behalf of the copyright owners listed.

      Seperate clause from the first half, I believe.
    • Re:Up for penalty? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dschuetz (10924) <slash@d a v i d . d a s n et.org> on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:40AM (#5405640) Homepage
      BSA represents that the information in this notification is accurate and states, under penalty of perjury, that it is authorized to act in this matter on behalf of the copyright owners listed above.

      Ha!

      I'd've spent DAYS scouring every open directory on the aforementioned server, just to verify that no copy of MS-Office was on there, then send them the bill. And use that clause as justification. Run it through court, and you've got a decision against the BSA showing that, at least once, their practices were shoddy and their information unreliable.

      Wouldn't *that* be a great thing for the next recipient of a BSA-extortion-threat to point to?

    • Re:Up for penalty? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by cgenman (325138) on Friday February 28, 2003 @11:08AM (#5405907) Homepage
      Hmm... Good questions. Any lawyer know how much the Open Office team can sue the BSA for claiming, under penalty of perjury, they represent them?

      Or, does the Open Office team have to sue the script that sent out this letter?

      (I'm not opposed to people sending out thoughtful, intelligent cease-and-desist letters on a case by case basis. I'm opposed to blanketing legal threats like spam across the world, and taking up other company's time and money instead of doing your job as a lawyer properly. This letter obviously was never seen by a human being until such a time that it was recieved by the school, who like so many other institutions had to take a large chunk of time to investigate the claim. Only piles of money allows the BSA to do such a thing: no smaller company would ever be allowed to get away with flagrantly false legal threats.)

  • Could this be ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Draoi (99421) <draiocht@nosPam.mac.com> on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:34AM (#5405570)
    ... a sneaky way for MS to hit OpenOffice by threatening mirror servers with legal action? The SysOp at uni.Muenster wasn't sure whether he was on shaky legal grounds or not. If the name OpenOffice gets any way muddied, people would turn off it. In short - more FUD.
  • Guilty of Perjury (Score:4, Interesting)

    by weave (48069) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:34AM (#5405576) Journal
    They should be sued...

    BSA represents that the information in this notification is accurate and states, under penalty of perjury, that it is authorized to act in this matter on behalf of the copyright owners listed above.

    And how is this different in truth from the common statement "You are receiving this message because you opted-in to our marketing list to receive special offers."

  • This beggars belief (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hittite Creosote (535397) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:34AM (#5405578)
    Excerpt from the BSA email...
    Filename: /mandrake_current/SRPMS/OpenOffice.org-1.0.1-9mdk. src.rpm
    The above computer program(s) is/are being made available for copying, through downloading, at the above location without authorization from the copyright owner(s).

    It seems almost astonishing that even the BSA can be as utterly incompetent as this (does BSA stand for Bloody Stupid Alliance?). Unless you go for the conspiracy theory that they're deliberately hassling their clients rivals...

  • by monkey_tennis (649997) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:36AM (#5405596)

    Quote: "As you know, illegal on-line activities can result in 50 million people on the Internet accessing and downloading a copyrighted product worldwide without authorization - a highly damaging activity for the copyright holder."

    Well I suppose 50 million people downloading OpenOffice would damage Microsoft's Office sales :)

  • by worst_name_ever (633374) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:37AM (#5405604)
    Dear Sir/Madam,

    As president of Ashdo Software Inc., I take software piracy very seriously. Recently, the sophisticated scanning software of the Business Software Alliance has detected that your website "www.slashdot.org" is most certainly hosting and distributing illegally-obtained copies of proprietary Ashdo programs. You are hereby ordered to cease and desist the above activities, which I'm sure are also in violation of the DMCA in some way or another.

    Sincerely,
    Hiram Ashdo
    President, Ashdo Software Inc.
    cc: BSA

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:37AM (#5405605)
    From the BSA letter in the article:
    >> FTP Login Name: anonymous
    >> FTP Login Password: guest@nowhere.com


    Hmm. Using a spoofed (or at least, invalid) e-mail address?
    As most FTP servers allow anonymous access if you "Please provide e-mail address as password", I'd call that gaining access under false pretences. Is the BSA representing those same companies that get so pissy when people (for privacy reasons) use spoofed details on web "please register" forms?
    If they can do it, so can we. I won't feel so guilty - not that I did anyway - next time I install software and register it to "nobody@mindyourownbusiness.com"..
  • by Schwartzboy (653985) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:38AM (#5405614)
    I think that the practice of letting computers/searches/scripts do all of the work without applying any human intelligence to the process has become more and more common. Yes, it's worse in my mind when the BSA does it because I'm biased against them in the first place, but to be fair it's spread to just about everybody in my recent experience. I just moved, and when my wife and I changed our driver's licenses over she got a semi-threatening letter because she didn't also change over her car registration (our only car is registered in my name for no reason I can think of). I recently had my account put on hold by PayPal and then restored, but in the interim I sent a question to their help staff regarding something else entirely. Someone (apparently a bot?) from PP replied to me and said, basically "we can't restore your account until you do X, Y , and Z. Please contact us if you have any further questions. Thank you!" I don't think it's a good thing that organizations have become this brain-dead, but the BSA certainly can't patent a method for making themselves look like idiots by letting a search tool plow blindly through a set of data for them. Plenty of prior art there...
    • by pmz (462998) on Friday February 28, 2003 @12:39PM (#5406738) Homepage
      I think that the practice of letting computers/searches/scripts do all of the work without applying any human intelligence to the process has become more and more common.

      This, in itself, isn't bad. For example, I use scripts almost every day to make me much more productive. However, as any decent programmer can tell, a quick, dirty, and untested script can wreck a system or, at least, output garbage (like in the example you provide).

      What this incident with the BSA shows us, is that their impulsive and uneducated lawyers and businesspeople hired incompetent and lazy programmers to do their dirty work. If one of those people is reading this, then, yes, I do mean to offend you (you should be in a different line of work...perhaps custodial engineering, instead?).
  • by doctor_oktagon (157579) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:39AM (#5405627)
    If you check the BSA e-mail, they logged into the anonymous FTP resource with the address "guest@nowhere.com", which is obviously fake.

    In the UK this could be construed as attempting to access a system un-lawfully ... they have lied when asked for their e-mail address!
  • In Yo Face (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 4of12 (97621) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:40AM (#5405641) Homepage Journal

    It's clear the much feared BSA has made a mistake.

    However, since their actions in the past have caused untold scrambling to find licenses on the part of many law-abiding but sloppy businesses, I think it is only fair that BSA likewise be caused to scramble. Because the BSA, likewise, has now been sloppy.

    The university should have lawyer draft up some pompous letter indicating that

    1. the BSA has not done its homework,
    2. is accusing the university falsely,
    3. has maligned the reputation of the university,
    4. is beginning to cause the university to incur expenses to deal with the BSA's flimsy and false accusations and to repair its reputation as a law-abiding university, and
    5. that, furthermore, the BSA should expect an invoice shortly for these expenses.

    [I know, it will be only a paper tiger and never stand up. But I'm sure I'm not the only one that fantasizes about seeing the BSA have to eat their own dogfood for a change.]

  • Ironically (Score:3, Funny)

    by Zog The Undeniable (632031) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:41AM (#5405647)
    you can still find Russian FTP servers mirroring the real thing.

    /me is glad the Cold War is over :-)

  • by Raetsel (34442) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:41AM (#5405654)

    I don't know what's funnier... that they're claiming copyright infringement of OpenOffice, or that they thought Microsoft Office came as RPMs!!

    This is the part I refer to:

    • What was located as infringing content:

      Filename: /mandrake_current/SRPMS/OpenOffice.org-1.0.1-9mdk. src.rpm
      (199,643kb)
      Filename: /mandrake_current/i586/Mandrake/RPMS/OpenOffice.or g-libs-1.0.1-9mdk.i586.rpm
      (35,444kb)

      The above computer program(s) is/are being made available for copying, through downloading, at the above location without authorization from the copyright owner(s).

    Oh hell, I needed a laugh this morning...
  • BSA sue BSA (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thinkliberty (593776) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:43AM (#5405675)
    The Boy Scouts of Ameria should sue the Business Software Alliance and force them to change their name, kind of like what the World Wildlife Federation(Foundation?) did to the World Wrestling Federation which is now WWE.

    They might also be sued for for cyber squatting on BSA.org,com,net,etc...
  • Microsoft Stretch? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Schnapple (262314) <tomkidd@via[ ]as.com ['tex' in gap]> on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:44AM (#5405677) Homepage
    I notice this is a Microsoft Logo topic (though it's "Your Rights Online"). And of course the logo is the "Evil Bill Gates" logo. Meaning that since Microsoft is tangentally involved, we'll use that logo.

    Seriously, though - isn't this an "evil stupid BSA" topic? We'e had a dozen or so "evil stupid BSA" stories in the last few months - why not make an "evil stupid BSA" logo? Since "BSA" is also the initials of the Boy Scouts of America, why not make it like a three fingered salute with a big "NO!" slash through it?

    Then again, after hundreds of stores on Google there's still not a Google Topic, so maybe you have to piss of Slashdot before you get your own topic. I'd say you have to advertise on Slashdot, but Google already does that (with those little, yellow, different server rack accessories).

  • BSA scanner ranges (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ransak (548582) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:46AM (#5405699) Homepage Journal
    Anyone have the IP ranges of the network the BSA scans from? I don't need my bandwidth wasted by these clowns.
  • "good faith belief" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by _|()|\| (159991) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:47AM (#5405706)
    One phrase struck me in the BSA and IDSA letters (emphasis added):
    • "IDSA has a good faith belief that ... [WoS] infringes the rights of one or more IDSA members."
    • "[BSA has] a good faith belief that none of the materials or activities listed above have been authorized"
    I'm sorry, but Ms. Beck's apology doesn't cut it. A web robot cannot assert a "good faith belief."
  • Just remember everyone, Unix-like operating systems (Free-BSD, Linux, GNU/Linux, HPUX, Solaris, etc.) have the capability to have "Empty" files. When you do an `ls`, they CAN show up as huge....

    I think I'll go making a download page at my website with "Office.zip", "Word.zip", and "Outlook.zip", which all will appear to be 600 megs or larger.....

  • by XTaran (70498) <abe@nOspam.deuxchevaux.org> on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:49AM (#5405732) Homepage
    .../mandrake_current/SRPMS/OpenOffice.org-1.0.1-9m dk.src.rpm

    Hmmm, seem's as if their regexps need some fine-tuning...
  • by jolshefsky (560014) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:51AM (#5405743) Homepage
    Alternatively, one could say, "The Business Software Alliance (BSA) declares that OpenOffice is identical to Microsoft Office." Wow! That's how to sell software!
  • by Clovert Agent (87154) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:54AM (#5405769)
    As it happens, I'm due to meet with the chairman of the BSA in the UK, a fortnight from now, to grill him about issues like this. What would you put to him, in that position?
    • by Wee (17189) on Friday February 28, 2003 @11:37AM (#5406203)
      Tell him to take off the jackboots and brown shirt and stop harassing people.

      OK, seriously: Tell him to presume innocence rather than immediately assume guilt. Tell him that, believe it or not, there are a lot of people and businesses that use software which is not only ok to copy freely, but such copying is highly encouraged. He needs to find a way to get his mind around that and set policies in place to deal with it.

      If I were grilling him, I'd ask him something along the lines of "So if you find this small business that is using illegal copies of non-free/commercial software, do you immediately persecute them or do you suggest free alternatives? Why not? You want businesses to stay in business, right? Well then why not show them the error of their ways, and then show them how not to get in trouble again -- without causing any artifical financial hardships on them? If they pirated MS Office because they couldn't afford it, why try to get blood from a stone?"

      Pipe dream, I know. The BSA is basically the brute squad, and exists only to enforce "taxes". But it sure would be nice if they were at least slightly constructive, and actually helped businesses build the economy.

      -B

    • by Bastian (66383) on Friday February 28, 2003 @11:39AM (#5406217)
      What would you put to him, in that position?

      I don't know. . . stuff. Nothing grandiose or complicated - just simple things like leg irons, hot pokers, thumbscrews. . .
  • sue them. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kevin lyda (4803) on Friday February 28, 2003 @10:59AM (#5405824) Homepage
    seriously. they sent you a legal notice that was false. they logged into your ftp server with false information.

    if you sent the bsa a legal document that was false, could you get away with, "oops, sorry?"
  • by RichMan (8097) on Friday February 28, 2003 @11:01AM (#5405842)
    I note that the BSA email includes the details of how they accessed the "violating" software. This includes the anonymous ftp login using
    login: anonymous
    password: guest@nowhere.com

    I doubt that the address guest@nowhere.com connects to the person that runs the script for the BSA. If servers had the policy requirement that all anonymous access required a valid email address as the anonymous login password the letter from the BSA would provide a valid point to charge the BSA with illegal access to a system.

    Also if the BSA does not represent the copyright/left holders for OpenOffice then the BSA is open for a claim of false representation.
    >> Based upon BSA's representation of the copyright owners in anti-piracy
    >> matters, we have a good faith belief that none of the materials or
    >> activities listed above have been authorized by the rightholders, their
    >> agents, or the law. BSA represents that the information in this
    >> notification is accurate and states, under penalty of perjury, that it is
    >> authorized to act in this matter on behalf of the copyright owners listed
    >> above.
  • MPAA does this too (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Christianfreak (100697) on Friday February 28, 2003 @11:13AM (#5405959) Homepage Journal
    I have a friend who had a program called 'decss' which removed CSS tags from a webpage, hosted on a University computer. The MPAA emailed the University with a threat of legal action if the program wasn't removed. Really quite humorous.
  • by phorm (591458) on Friday February 28, 2003 @11:38AM (#5406208) Journal
    After building up some more money, I've often considered doing the following (this applies to music but could easily apply to other mediums):

    Putting up a server with tons and tons of mp3 files named after popular songs. Don't put up the real files however, just audio clips with a voice saying "this is not the file you are looking for" and enough silence or noise to make the filesize/length similar to an actual mp3 of the song.

    Next, let several well-respected citizens, or perhaps those in law see that the site does not contain any real copyrighted music.

    Wait for the cease and desist. Ignore or send a somewhat ambiguous reply stating something like "there's nothing to cease" but not mentioning the lack of actually pirated files

    Wait for the court case...

    Even with a crap lawyer, having some strong witnesses and playing 1-10 of the supposed pirated files to demonstrate that the *AA (or BSA) do not actually check file contents but simple use shitty filters and scare tactics should make the case an easy win - and leave the plaintiff with egg on their face.

    *note: This works better since I'm in Canada. Loser pays the legal fees, and there's always the countersue, etc, as well as I believe measures for frivolous lawsuits.
  • by solidox (650158) on Friday February 28, 2003 @11:40AM (#5406227) Homepage
    ftp> ls -la
    227 Entering Passive Mode (127,0,0,1,249,244)
    150 Here comes the directory listing.
    drwxr-xr-x 2 502 502 4096 Feb 28 15:40 .
    drwxr-xr-x 12 502 502 4096 Feb 28 15:36 ..
    -rw-rw-r-- 1 502 502 0 Feb 28 15:37 BSA-are-morons.zip
    -rw-rw-r-- 1 502 502 0 Feb 28 15:36 Microsoft.Office.XP-sucks.zip
    -rw-rw-r-- 1 502 502 0 Feb 28 15:39 hazxxx0r
    -rw-rw-r-- 1 502 502 0 Feb 28 15:39 illegal
    -rw-rw-r-- 1 502 502 0 Feb 28 15:38 illegal.mp3
    -rw-rw-r-- 1 502 502 0 Feb 28 15:39 microsoft.salty.bastard.zip
    -rw-rw-r-- 1 502 502 0 Feb 28 15:37 microsoft.zip
    -rw-rw-r-- 1 502 502 0 Feb 28 15:37 office.zip
    -rw-rw-r-- 1 502 502 0 Feb 28 15:37 openoffice is better than microsoft word.zip
    -rw-rw-r-- 1 502 502 0 Feb 28 15:38 touchisagreattool
    -rw-rw-r-- 1 502 502 0 Feb 28 15:39 warezr0kr.rar
    226 Directory send OK.

    now i just sit back and wait for them to spider my ftp and send me a notice, then i can have the joy of telling them to piss off.

    hopefully this will fuck them off a bit.
  • by Hanno (11981) on Friday February 28, 2003 @11:48AM (#5406300) Homepage
    Ok, I doubt anyone from them would dare to do it, but I'd love to see an official BSA representative to step up for a /. interview.
  • by megazoid81 (573094) on Friday February 28, 2003 @12:03PM (#5406424)
    To: Members of the MIT Community
    Subj: MIT's policies regarding copyrights
    ---------------

    In recent weeks, many members of our Community have received a letter from BSA (Business Software Alliance; www.bsa.org) and/or heard BSA sponsored advertisements regarding software licensing compliance.

    At this time, I write to remind people of the Institute's copyright policy (see: for a complete statement of the policy):

    • MIT respects copyright law and Institute policy calls for our community not to violate copyrights and to adhere to license requirements.
    • Claims of copyright infringement are promptly investigated. If the clam is found to be valid, MIT will take prompt action to have the infringing activity stopped.

      At this time, MIT is not aware that the BSA has been granted authority to enforce the copyrights of its members. If the BSA contacts you regarding an alleged infringement, MIT's standard practices should be followed. The BSA should be directed to Stop-it, the MIT unit with responsibility for following-up on copyright infringement complaints resulting from network-based activities. Stop-it is found at stopit@mit.edu or at .

      Without specific written authority from a copyright holder or other valid legal authority, the BSA has no right to inspect MIT computers for illegal copies of software. MIT most likely will have licenses covering the software in question. Those licenses often spell out the audit rights of the vendor as well as the rights MIT has to make copies of the software. Anyone approached by the BSA with a complaint of software piracy should confirm the license status before proceeding further. In the event appropriate licensed use cannot be confirmed, James D Bruce, VP for Information Systems, should be contacted for appropriate follow-up with BSA representatives.

      For further advice on matters concerning BSA inquiries or copyright infringement in general, please contact the Office of Intellectual Property Counsel at (XXX) YYY-YYYY, the Office for the VP for Information Systems at (YYY) XXX-XXXX or Stopit (stopit@mit.edu).

  • by Halvard (102061) on Friday February 28, 2003 @12:04PM (#5406440)

    From the BSA apology: (italics and emphasis mine)

    Apparently our system detects the OpenOffice files as MS Office programs and alarms me, which in turn sends the notices. I failed my part by not reassuring clearly enough which property was infringed and now that I am aware of that fact we will try and fix the search terms of our system and of course be more aware of the possible mistake.

    Apparently, they automatically assume that some one/organization is a crook by the "which property was infringed" statement. No human oversite of the 'bot, no extensive verification routines, etc. and the result is frivolous threats and accusations. This isn't the first time I've heard of this happening. To me, this sounds like routinely making false accusations against innocent people and businesses.

    IANAL, however let's see if I can layout objectional behavior and possibly illegal behavior:

    Frivolous accusation of wrong doing without due diligence to verify allegations made by threat. This cost the University money because employees had to deal with a claim without merit. At least 2 employees, and a potentially expensive number of man-hours. No doubt, the person who received the threat sent it to their boss, who either sent it to their boss or the legal department. At least one meeting would have ensued as well as researching the claim that the University stated that they did to check that in fact they were not distributing MS Office. That could be several thousand Euros or even more that ten thousand Euros based on time involved where these people could have and would have been engaged in productive work.

    Despite the point of entry being anonymous FTP, the BSA engaged in what might possibly be theft of service (by consuming a finite resource for other than the purpose the allowed reason of access that the University pays for). This may also prevent others from using the system legitimately because of the expense of the system.

    Trespassing possibly. SPAM has been cited as trespassing due to the use of others assets for transmittal and storage. Perhaps this can be construed like this as well.If in fact accusations like these directed against the University of Muenster have been occuring for some time against others for doing similar things, than the apology (from the organization since I can't speak for the individual) most likely is not sincere and means that this behavior will in all likelihood continue, the the University and others. I believe we can be reasonably sure that the BSA has not ceased this behavior because of this incident.

    I feel that this situation is akin to this scenario: I give or sell a dozen cookies to people or organizations in Boston. Then, I walk into every office in New York City and exclaim that because there is some food on a desk, food waste in the trash, etc., that they obviously stole my cookies because cookies are food. Cookies are the metphor for software and an unlocked door at an office is the metaphor for anonymous FTP.

    What this shows is that the BSA is engaging in activities in multiple countries. Because their membership is dominated by the major software companies, and here they threatend the distribution of a competing, if free, product, perhaps this can be construed as collusion by the software giants and anticompetive behavior. Can someone cite other similar instances?

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday February 28, 2003 @12:50PM (#5406836) Homepage
    Making a false claim of copyright is a criminal offense in the US, punishable by fine or imprisonment. (17 USC 506(c)) [cornell.edu]. That's come up in a case where one vendor made a false claim of copyright to induce a customer not to buy a competitor's product. That's libel.

    In California, it's probably extortion, too. [lapdonline.org] "Extortion: To unlawfully obtain money, property, or any other thing of value, either tangible or intangible, through the use or threat of force, misuse of authority, threat of criminal prosecution, threat of destruction of reputation or social standing, or through other coercive means." That's a felony. Because there was an illegal predicate act, the "unlawfully" element of extortion is satisfied.

    Some legal action is definitely indicated.

  • by repoleved (569427) on Friday February 28, 2003 @01:07PM (#5407001)
    IANAL but (pay attention this is important!) ...

    Even though the legal claim is bogus, it is important that everyone that receives such a notice replies within 10 days to (in pretty much these words) respectfully agree to withdraw offending files, provided that the BSA can prove that there is a legal reason for you to do so.

    The alternatives:
    * To ignore such a notice is a strike against you should you ever go to court against the BSA.
    * To be disrespectful is also a strike against you should you ever go to court against the BSA.
    * (Strangely,) To disagree is a strike against you should you ever go to court against the BSA.
    * And finally, to admit any wrongdoing is a definite strike against you in court, and would give the BSA a good reason to bother you even more....
  • Ha! interesting! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Azureflare (645778) on Friday February 28, 2003 @02:26PM (#5407686)
    look at this:

    What was located as infringing content:
    Filename: /mandrake_current/SRPMS/OpenOffice.org-1.0.1-9mdk. src.rpm (199,643kb)

    Filename: /mandrake_current/i586/Mandrake/RPMS/OpenOffice.or g-libs-1.0.1-9mdk.i586.rpm (35,444kb)

    Notice the line:

    Filename: /mandrake_current/i586/Mandrake/RPMS/OpenOffice.or g-libs-1.0.1-9mdk.i586.rpm (35,444kb)

    The bolded text is what the script must have caught! how hilarious! it searches for *MS*OFFICE* LOL What a lame script! whoever wrote that script needs to be shot!

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