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Microsoft's Passport: No Marylanders, Thanks 182

An Anonymous Cowardly Reader writes: "NewsForge is running a story about Microsoft's Passport service's terms of conditions, which effectively disallow residents of Maryland to use the service, and subject all users to Washington state laws, which they agree to by signing up." It's one case of unexpected consequences that the pro-UCITA forces may not have anticipated: states may pass (as Maryland did) versions of UCITA which unsubtly change the real effect of the law, and the changes may not be in the software makers' favor. Wasn't that "U" supposed to stand for "Uniform"?
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Microsoft's Passport: No Marylanders, Thanks

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Its not criminal court. There is no such thing as extradition in civil cases. More importantly a european could not sue microsoft under the laws of their country.

    Its scary how many people believe what they read on slashdot.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    They've passed laws to that effect (UCITA, that's what this is all about!)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    > BTW I am seriously not making that story up. It was a con man who later wrote a book about his exploits.

    My guess would be that you are refering to Abagnale. Just because it's written in a book, doesn't mean it must be true. Believing what you read without investigating/researching the subject is just as stupid as handing your deposits to a strange guy claiming to be a guard.

    > Do a search and look for it

    You do a search and find there is some suspicious things around the claim. For instance:


  • by Anonymous Coward
    They buy it too. I give then the cash and they pay for the goods at the checkout line. Then since I'm not good with computers, my kids install the software for me. Are there any legalese agreements presented at that time? I dunno. As I said I don't install the software. The kids do. I only know how to use it. And I've never seen any "I agree" dialog boxes pop up. If the kids did and clicked OK, well, MINORS CANNOT ENTER INTO BINGING CONTRACTS. Actually they can, but they can also say "I want out" whenever they feel like.

    Take THAT! Microsoft and UCITA!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 26, 2001 @08:30PM (#262685)
    Okay, I live in Maryland. Let's say for a moment that I am brainwashed enough to use Passport. How can they stop me? They can't. And if I do use it and have cause to sue ... too bad for them: Trial is in Maryland.

    MS might be big, but their policies do not carry more weight than even the small states' laws.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 26, 2001 @10:57PM (#262686)

    Ooooohhh lets all rag on MS for using standard EULA clauses.

    Seriously though, this is nothing that suprising. Go read other EULAs. A bet 90% of them state that by using their software your agree to their EULA which is standard of cource. But in that EULA it will say that you agree to laws in the state that software company resides in. I wouldn't doubt that RedHat does that. SuSE might, but since they are not a total American company I don't know. But I bet a lot of American software companies, BSDi and Linux companies alike, probably say that you agree to the laws of their state. Not the state you live in. And I think that is perfectly fine. Lets say that Joe Blow starts a computer company. He desides to sell his own ver of GNOME. He doesn't put this clause in. Now some company in Hawaii wants to sue him because gnumeric crashed and destroyed their data. They sue him in Hawaii beacuse they the EULA didn't state they had to come to his state of Maine. Now unless Joe Blow wants to auto-lose his case, he must travel to Hawaii.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 26, 2001 @08:32PM (#262687)
    ...and of course Microsoft's legal division will add a "choice of jurisdiction" clause that says that even if you're a small furry creature from Alpha Centauri, you're still subject to Washington state law in case any legal dispute arises.

    ...and, of course, the small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri are welcome to use their proton disintegrator rays should the Washington state courts find against them...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 26, 2001 @08:51PM (#262688)
    A more interesting issue not mentioned in the article is what's known as "choice of law," where courts decide which forum's laws should apply. (For example, for a suit brought in MD, would Washington or Maryland contract laws apply?)

    We can presume that the license states that its terms are governed by the state of Washington. So-called choice of law clauses are common in mosty contracts. But courts sometimes instead use the principle of 'lex loci contracti'--that is, the place of the contracting provides the laws. For products purchased in Maryland, that might (or might now) mean Maryland and not Washington state law applies.

    A few states, like Kentucky, have extremely aggressive application of forum laws in 'choice-of-law' cases.

    There's a curious trend in the linux community to speculate on legal matters, so I thought I'd throw this into the mix. BTW, IAAL (sic--no N).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 26, 2001 @09:52PM (#262689)
    BTW, IAAL (sic--no N).

    Um, shouldn't your name then be listed as Anonymous Coward, Esq.?

  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @07:03AM (#262690) Homepage Journal
    "Does that mean that companies are authorised to leave a back-door in a program you sell that allows them to essentially hack into your computer at any time to disable a piece of software they sold you?!?"

    How else? Seriously, I don't see why not. The only other alternative is to have the software demand to phone home over the net, which is possibly a more popular method and used in Windows XP and .NET. In that case, rather than the company being authorised to hack into your computer, the company is authorised to sell you products that will intentionally cease to work if you don't keep checking in with the central authorities.

    Where have you been, to not know this? Microsoft does this. Other companies do as well. I know that I (a Mac user) returned the mp3 player Macast for a refund because it continually lost its (paid for) registration and demanded to 'phone home' to confirm the legit number I gave it, eventually refusing to honor the number because I'd moved the app to different hard disks too many times.

    This isn't the future- it's the past and present. Probably the best response is to continue to be ready to ask for your money back when your software turns out to operate this way, and/or just plain do without stuff that works this way. It's potentially quite a bit more intrusive than government.

  • I think that the way it'll work out in practice is that Marylanders will use the software anyhow- it's just that in doing so, they will legally be 'scofflaws'. Microsoft will encourage people in Maryland to use their software without addressing the licensing problems, so that rather than Marylanders having legal recourse (shyeah right- but anyway) for problems with the software, the Marylanders will be subject at any time to prosecution for violating UCITA.

    So if you are a Microsoft user in Maryland, you have to be _extra_ good or Microsoft can sue your ass! O_O

  • by Wansu ( 846 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @03:32AM (#262692)
    From the article, "... it would seem that Maryland's UCITA would contradict itself in this case -- by giving Maryland courts jurisdiction over software disputes at the same time it ties the user to an agreement to use courts in King County, Wash."

    It certainly didn't take very long for the foolishness of that UCITA law to become glaringly obvious.
  • Doesn't Washington State have that nifty anti-spam law with TEETH?

    Get all the spammers to sign up!
  • by Ricdude ( 4163 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @05:38AM (#262696) Homepage
    Standard contract law says that the deal happens in the state of the purchaser, for the purposes of litigation. I don't see how M$ can ask you to waive the entire Uniform Commercial Code (ok, I forget the actual name of the collection of laws governing commerce) and get it to stick in court. Maryland actually has some additional clauses to their version of that piece of law, too, specifically to afford their residents with additional protection under the law. E.g. companies cannot warrantees of merchantability in MD. This has the side effect of making most "service protection plans" a waste of money in Maryland. I don't care if I didn't buy the service plan, if my TV breaks "too soon", you pay to fix it. End of Story. One reason you have the "you may have other rights that vary from state to state" disclaimer everywhere is MD's little addition to those "uniform" laws.

    IANAL, but I remember a little from my Consumer and the Law class in college (the best class you could possible take =). In this case, Uniform means 99% identical, with 1% well known local variations.
  • And what happens if someone signs up to Passport, and then moves to Maryland?
  • Would that make the entirity of the USA ineligible for the Pa$$port service, or just Washington state?
  • i think the court in question is here [metrokc.gov]. perhaps people should get an idea of what sort of justice they might receive.
  • by FFFish ( 7567 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @08:58PM (#262703) Homepage
    And it's worth noting that Maryland residents are not "effectively disallowed from using it."

    They are able to use it, and Maryland's laws will protect them: if there's a lawsuit going on, it will be held in Maryland, and not in Washington no matter how much Microsoft may want it to be.

    (So, Microsoft and WA government are in bed together, eh?)

  • by XNormal ( 8617 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @01:25AM (#262704) Homepage
    "Store information in your Passport wallet that will help you make faster, safer online purchases at any Passport express purchase site." - from Passport.com [passport.com] main page.

    Quoting your own advice, perhaps you should "...consider learning about what you're talking about before you go spewing at the mouth."

  • by Gromer ( 9058 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @09:28PM (#262705)

    Don't get too excited. Microsoft has a couple options here: change Maryland law, change the TOS, or give up (potentially) billions in revenues by banning Marylanders in order to avoid the onerous task of changing the TOS. Which do you think it will pick?

  • > Hey can I play that game too! I don't believe that the moon landing occured therefore it's an urban legend! Wow this could be fun..

    It could be if you weren't such a tedious troll. When you get a little more school, perhaps you'll learn about something called "burden of proof". In the meantime, thanks for illustrating exactly how credulous Americans are.

  • If perhaps you spent a little less time being smug, superior, and so much more enlightened than us rabble, you might have noticed that snopes put a white dot next to the report. When you use this astonishing faculty of reading and apply it to the legend for these dots, it means the story is unverified. Nowhere do they claim it's false. I sincerely doubt you read the page. Keep digging.
  • by banky ( 9941 ) <gregg.neurobashing@com> on Thursday April 26, 2001 @09:28PM (#262708) Homepage Journal
    you gotta admit, that's not a compelling argument to the average user, who can barely remember their Hotmail password and has never even used Windows Update, who clicks on every damn thing you present to them.

    The problem with this is the exact opposite of your argument: the average user will think its mana from heaven. Not knowing any better, they'll vote with their dollars.
  • What if Joe Blow's computer company has a branch office in Hawaii?
  • Well, it's nice to hear from an optimist. Doesn't seem the way to bet, but it's probably more comfortable.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • Bad idea. A better idea is for each state to make it's own rules, that change things in a way that is less objectionable. A "Uniform Commerce" act is desireable only when it's desireable, not just because it's another chance to pass a law.

    Caution: Now approaching the (technological) singularity.
  • by Royster ( 16042 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @05:44AM (#262713) Homepage
    So what happens if you live in, say, California, and your Delaware insurance company sues you? The trial takes place in California, but the California court applies Delaware law (if that's the law the contract specifies).

    Bad example. Insurance contracts must be approved by the state in which it is sold before it can be sold. If you are a resident of California and you buy and insurance policy, the laws of California apply. Period.

    If you live in Delaware, buy a contract and then move to California, the laws of Delaware, the state in which you bought the contract apply.
  • by Royster ( 16042 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @06:46AM (#262714) Homepage
    are anything but. Several different kinds of national standards organizations propose and distribute "uniform" or "model" laws from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to the people behind the Uniform Commercial Code. Each state decides if they will enact the model law as is or make changes to it. They do so usually by considering if the change puts state residents or domiciled companies in a disadvantageous position.

    Virginia passed UCITA, VA is the home of AOL. MD passed a consumer protected (less consumer adverse?) version,

    Contract law is state law. No one can agree to have the laws of another state apply unless the local state allows it.
  • Very similar to Judge Dredd, huh? Except that, instead of those kick-ass guns that Dredd uses, the MS judge will pull out a giant, shifty-eyed paperclip which will poke you in various sensitive areas.

  • by Osty ( 16825 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @02:55AM (#262718)

    "Store information in your Passport wallet that will help you make faster, safer online purchases at any Passport express purchase site." - from Passport.com main page.

    Passport's auth services (which sites like hotmail use) and Passport's wallet service are two different things. Having a Passport account does not mean having a wallet account, though setting up your wallet information does require having a passport account. However, my statements still stand, in that Passport is, at its core, nothing more than a centralized authentication server. Choosing to use other services provided by Passport (not to be confused with services provided by third parties using Passport for authentication) is just that -- a choice. Just as using Passport at all is a choice. However, it's possible (and I'd guess most common) to use Passport without using Passport Wallet.

  • by Osty ( 16825 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @12:00AM (#262719)

    Really now, do we need a Microsoft database full of your credit card and personal information? Passport is just another tool to help you be a good little consumer.

    Please, people, consider learning about what you're talking about before you go spewing at the mouth. Passport.com has nothing to do with taking your credit card, or keeping more than a minimal amount of information, or anything like that. Passport is nothing more than a service designed to provide a single authentication mechanism for any service that wishes to use it (there may be licensing fees, I don't know). If Site X uses Passport for authentication and then asks you for your credit card number, Site Y that also uses Passport has no way of getting that credit card number. Why? Because (and pay attention, this is the kicker) Passport only provides authentication. Passport doesn't store that credit card number. All passport does is map an e-mail and password to a Passport ID. What tenant sites do with that is up to them.

    If you're still all hot and bothered from the little TOS problem with Passport a while back, please realize that has been fixed, with both an explanation and apology from Microsoft.

    I really don't get it. Microsoft screws up, and /.'ers bash them. Microsoft acknowledges the problem, fixes it, and apologizes, and they still get bashed. And they continue to be bashed for problems that haven't existed for a while. I guess I'll never understand that.

  • by Felinoid ( 16872 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @01:45AM (#262721) Homepage Journal
    > I wouldn't doubt that RedHat does that. SuSE might, but since they are not a total American company I don't know.

    Any of those limitations would be in violation of the GPL...

    In simpler language... it would be illegal..
  • by Felinoid ( 16872 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @01:23AM (#262722) Homepage Journal
    A whole state is banned from Microsofts on-line services...
    Add .Net and a whole line of Microsoft products will also be banned from same..

    This is a bad thing?
    It means a whole state will have to use Linux or Mac eventually.

    This means a rather larg jump in the user count...
    Want costumers in Maryland? Support something other than Windows...
  • Microsoft has just put themselves in a VERY good legal position for dealing with residents of Maryland.

    Scenario 1: Maryland resident sues M$.
    Microsoft can simply claim that the resident was not an authorized user of their systems, and thus the case should be dismissed.

    Scenario 2: M$ sues Maryland Resident.
    The user will likely say "Oh ho! You cannot sue me under Washington law because of this clause!" but M$ will say that they were an unauthorized user, travel to Maryland (according to Maryland's law) and sue the user not only for the problems they caused, but for unauthorized use of their computer systems.

    They've effectively created a system where they can sue but not be sued.
  • There's a bit in the Constitution that says "Congress shall have the sole power to declare war." Congress didn't declare it; therefore there was no Gulf War. Clearly the poster meant that they were a border state in WWII.
  • by Quarters ( 18322 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @03:04AM (#262725)
    We had border states in the US during the Gulf War?

    How odd....

  • by The Cat ( 19816 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @08:51PM (#262726)
    These "you agree to the jurisdiction of.." clauses are somewhat problematic. A citizen may not have the authority or the power to choose which jurisdiction to which they are subject.

    Of course, there's no *signature* on this agreement either, so I suppose that would be the first legal challenge, if there were one.
  • by GregWebb ( 26123 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @04:14AM (#262727)
    I was speculating about setup file license agreements a while back. Got submitted as an Ask Slashdot whether anyone thought this would be possible, but got rejected after a natter with Cliff. Oh well :)

    Anyway. InstallShield is a solid enough, known format. How hard would it be to write a program which could take any of its installer programs, strip out the license and give you a new file? Sounds possible enough to me.
  • "...use their proton disintegrator rays..."

    If all the protons are disintegrated, leaving only neutrons, then the charges will be dismissed.

  • There are two separate issues. What you're thinking of are basically shrink wrap licences, though there may be a box to click on the screen saying "I agree" or whatever, these are clearly invalid under normal contract law principles and are something that UCITA is intended to validate (I've no idea why anyone would want to validate them, the idea seems insane). These don't work under normal contract laws because it's far too late for a seller to be proposing terms after you've already bought the product. It's your software and you don't need to enter into an agreement to use it (and yes, it is your software, just like if you buy a painting it's then your painting, you don't own copyright to it but you do own the item itself and can do as you please with it).

    Click through licences on a web site, which is what Passport entails, are a completely different thing. In order to get the services you have to first click something to show that you agree with the terms, then the services are provided to you. This is standard offer, acceptance and consideration stuff. There is no reason to assume that these contracts are generally invalid.
  • by Voxol ( 32200 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @01:45AM (#262732)

    I finally got around to reading something about this UCITA thing.


    Get rid of it, get rid of it!

    It looks like a licence to screw the little guy.

    See, the problem with out-right capitalism is that it moves to turn everything into a commodity. Everything unfortunately includes information and legaslation.

    Next thing, they'll start playing around with the constitution.

  • Federal law applies to interstate commerce. According to United States Constitution , article 1, section 8: "The Congress shall have power ... To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states."

    Hmmm...I would think that would rip the guts out of any "choice-of-law" clause, unless (as I'm guessing here) there are no federal laws regarding online interstate commerce and licensing.
  • by Platinum Dragon ( 34829 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @09:35PM (#262734) Journal
    Ok, so here we have a case of a Washington company dealing with customers in Maryland. The WA company tries to place itself under WA jurisdiction. The MA people are under MA jurisdiction.

    Since this appears to be a circumstance of interstate commerce, wouldn't it just be a helluva lot easier and more sensible to deal with this on the federal level? Who has jurisdiction over interstate commerce in the US? What laws, if any, would apply?

    And how did you guys get into this mess in the first place?
  • its is becomeing obvoius that M$ isnt an enemy, but rather a huge, bumbling, edit of a giant,

    There is nothing which says an enemy has to be compentent. Ask anyone from Eastern Europen

  • There's also that recently passed Federal law that recognizes "electronic signatures" based on key clicks and similiar trivial acts. As you can probably guess, I think that this bill goes too far because it's far too easy for action to not match intent (ever hit the wrong button?), to say nothing of the mischief possible with forged authorization.

    On a related note to the prior post, the legal definition of "signature" is any tangible mark made by the hand. There's nothing about it being in "cursive," or even being your own name. That's why an "unsigned" check can still go through the system - the 'signature' is the rest of the check being filled out.
  • Let me tell you a true story to illustrate exactly how stupid most americans are.

    A con man one time rented a guards uniform from a local shop. He went to the airport with a stool and a hand made sign. He parked the stool in front of the night deposit box and hung a sign that said "night deposit box out of order please leave money with guard". He sat there for several hours collecting bags of money and went home.

    Not one person said to thenselves "how can a night deposit box be out of order?". Nobody asked for and ID or credentials.
    Americans see a sign and obey it, they see a person in uniform and do what he says.

    So tell me will americans say "why should I trust microsoft with my credit card?" or will they simply hand over a bag of money to the guy with the guard costume on?

    BTW I am seriously not making that story up. It was a con man who later wrote a book about his exploits. Do a search and look for it. I laughed my ass off about the time he ripped off prostitutes at a convention.
  • He says he did. Somebody else says he didn't. I guess I get to choose who I believe since I was not there and did not witness the event.
    I read the book and saw him on TV he seemed believable to me (I guess con man are like that).

    I think I'll choose to believe the man seeing as how these bozos with a web site are unable to provide any evidence whatsoever about this story one way or another. It looks like they don't believe him so they decide it's an urban legend. Hey can I play that game too! I don't believe that the moon landing occured therefore it's an urban legend! Wow this could be fun..
  • Burden of proof or not the website offers only one explanation as to why they claim this is an urban legend. They don't believe him. All they would have to do is to point out one piece of paper anywhere on this planet that told this story and predated his book and they would have had him.
    You don't get to call people liars without offering some evidence to the contrary. They probably did not even contact the man and ask him to prove it. They did not offer to pay for a lie detector test, they did no research at all. They simply said "I don't believe it therefore it's an urban legend".

    In the absence of any evidence whatsoever I get to choose who I believe. Present one piece of evidence to contrary and I may change my view.

    Speaking of stupid americans. The only reason you don't believe him is because it says so on a web site. You were not there, you have zero knowledge of what may or may not have happened. You have one eyewitness to the story who claims it happened. You have zero eyewitnesses on the scene to contradict him. No matter how you count the evidence there is more evidence to suggest that it did happen then to suggest that it did not happen.

  • Given two conflicting testimonies and absent any further evidence you can only rely on your perceptions of who is telling the truth.

    The web site in effect states "we don't believe him therefore it's a legend". Given this weak of an argument It's astonishing that you would accept the conclusion of that web site over the testimony of a person who claims to have actually done the deed.

    If you have some reason to believe the web site other then "cos I saw it on the web" please enlighten me.
  • by Sylvestre ( 45097 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @08:23PM (#262741) Homepage
    How is it that we allow this to go on? Oh yeah, everyone just clicks OK when the big box full of text pops up. We need to get used to this type of conflict, or start our own services like passport that aren't so silly in construction.
  • by edwdig ( 47888 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @09:01PM (#262742)
    Based on what happened with this case, I doubt that'll happen. Microsoft wanted the UCITA, and its already causing them to (theoretically) lose users. Most people will just click thru and use the service without paying attention to it. Even if they did, how many people do you think actually read the UCITA? Or how many people do you think knew that despite the name containing the word Uniform, it isn't uniform between states? So this won't affect their userbase, altho it does cut down on the number of people theoretically able to use their software.

    They'll probably just end up with a clause in the license that changes the problem parts for Maryland users. Like how the MSN Rebate terms were different in California. So the UCITA won't really make a difference.
  • by edwdig ( 47888 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @09:15PM (#262743)
    Why is that? The part I quoted 2 messages up says usage is prohibited unless the license is 100% enforcable. Is there a law against having a clause like that? If so, I would agree with you.

    If not however, I see things happening a bit differently. Yes, Microsoft would have to go fight the case in Maryland. But I think their case would basically come down to claiming that the user was unauthorized to use their systems. I have no idea whether that lawsuit would be worth persuing or not tho.
  • by edwdig ( 47888 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @08:39PM (#262744)
    This is the problem:

    Use of the Passport Web Site and service is unauthorized in any jurisdiction that does not give effect to all provisions of these terms and conditions, including without limitation this paragraph.

    The problem is that the version of UCITA which Maryland passed specificly says that if there is a problem with licensing issues in Maryland, that the issue must be solved in Maryland, under Maryland's laws.
  • by aonifer ( 64619 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @10:51PM (#262747)
    How many of you assemble a wallet and then hand it to some guy on the street who happens to be dressed in a pinstripe suit with a tie?

    Look, I only did that once, will you stop hounding me about it?! Besides, he was very convincing. He said, "Wallet inspector. Give me your wallet."
  • This is coercion, to the point of forcing individual States to pass laws favourable to Microsoft.
    Given their Monopoly position this cannot be allowed to go on. States should be free to pass the laws their legislature deems appropriate without this kind of threat from a corporation. If Microsoft weren't a monopoly, then I'd say "Fine, it's their choice." but a monopoly cannot be allowed to withdraw it's services in this way.
  • Microsoft may want the version of UTICA that they originally supported. The "UCITA" law in Maryland is far from uniform with other states, or even the original UTICA. State legislators did what they always do, they tacked on ammendments, and changes parts. In the end, the one benefit to consumers, having uniform laws from state to state, is lost. What we end up with are a bunch of inconsistent laws, which cause everyone problems. Microsoft doesn't want to have lawyers consider 50 different state laws for the licensing agreements on their domestic products alone. Consumers don't have much of a chance of knowing all the laws, or even which ones apply. Legislation is usually a compromise, and as with many compromises, in the end no one is happy.
  • by fanatic ( 86657 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @08:31PM (#262754)
    ...since Microsoft was one of the big proponents of UCITA. Maybe the modifications Maryland made weren't toothless after all. (Maybe.)

  • by fanatic ( 86657 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @08:46PM (#262755)
    Maybe the modifications Maryland made weren't toothless after all.

    Cancel that. It's apparently conflicting jurisdiction that's at fault, and that's always been part of UCITA. Also, there's nothing in the article that states that the Passport EUA is aimed at UCITA - it's just a chance collision of a law and an agreement.

  • by BierGuzzl ( 92635 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @11:25PM (#262756)
    How about some sort of third party organisation that one can trust to "certify" these agreements as adhering to a certain set of principles? Face it, we're not going to be able to stop people from trying to rush past the whole document, so why not, in the same way that a software license is fsf approved, have an approval/rating system for shrinkwrapped licenses?

    On the one hand, yes, we'd be enabling people's bad habits to blissfully continue. More importantly, however, this would provide a service not only to those who would not take the time to read the document but to those who wouldn't understand it anyways.

  • by kiwaiti ( 95197 ) <kiwaiti@TWAINgmx.de minus author> on Friday April 27, 2001 @06:33AM (#262758) Homepage
    Average user?....you mean my girlfriend? She doesn't need to remember any stinking password because it's me who check mails for her. Whenever the browser asks "Open at the current position/Save it" she will click the former without hesitation....of course, that includes open files like 'BO.EXE', 'ILOVEYOU.TXT.VBS', '1337!.EXE', etc.

    I'm also responsible for all the dead links and bad design of any websites she came across. Needless to say, I'm ordered to 'fix' them.

    Have you thought of switching to a brunette?



  • by Curieus ( 103853 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @01:09AM (#262761)
    Microsoft being a "rechtspersoon" (:=person as defined by a law) is subject to local law. A good example would be: can an american sue Shell? It is a British-Dutch comany after all. Like kv-tje writes a sale in a country is subject to the laws of that country. This case is made easier by the fact that MS has a specific office for the Benelux... All countries will strive to prevent allowing legal disputes at home being fought in a foreign country.
  • by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @11:43PM (#262763) Homepage
    You are confused, like most Slashdot readers are, because you do not realize that the question of where a lawsuit is heard is independent of the question of what law applies.

    There where part is determined by what courts can obtain jurisdiction over the party that does not want to be involved in the suit.

    Pretty much every contract in existence has a clause that specifies what state's contract law is to be applied. Grab any random contracts you have in your file cabinet or safe deposit box and read them, and you'll probably find such clauses.

    So what happens if you live in, say, California, and your Delaware insurance company sues you? The trial takes place in California, but the California court applies Delaware law (if that's the law the contract specifies).

  • Yep and then we'll all be naked sitiing in trees outside M$ headquarters.
  • by jgerman ( 106518 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @01:59AM (#262765)
    ...but according to UCITA if I purchase passport (I live in MD), purchase of the product means that I agree to whatever license agreement is included... at which point I cannot use the service (not that I would want to, mind you) because of our UCITA that forced me to agree to the license sight unseen in the forst place.

    So basically M$ is using UCITA to prevent me from using the product because I am bound by UCITA. Forgive me if I feel a bit like Yossarian here.

  • by sPaKr ( 116314 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @09:08PM (#262767)
    (M$ in a proper east german accent)
    M$:Papers Please
    user: uh.... uh.. here is my PassPort
    M$:Your Papers are not in order
    user: wha.. what?
    M$:Your travels, say you started in Maryland
    user: .. ya,.. so
    M$:These are not Maryland Papers
    M$: You will have to come with us..
    user:.. call my lawyer!!
    M$: what do you think? this is a free country?

    Back to reality, there was a time that I really belived that M$ was the enemy. That they must be stopped. Now with .NET, and this PassPort buisness, its is becomeing obvoius that M$ isnt an enemy, but rather a huge, bumbling, edit of a giant, and its only a matter of time before the giant trips over himeself, knocks his head on the ground, and sufficates on his own tongue. Really now its just sad. Its sort of like getting a fight with Ali, now that he has altimzers, its more sad, then intresting.
  • It's an interesting point and one thaqt's been through the courts a few times.

    In the UK it's where YOU were when you did it. Like the guy who ran a US porn site from the UK. Because he uploaded the images from his UK residence he went to prison for distributing obscene material.

    I'm sure legal types get questions like this in college.
    "If I'm standing one one side of the state line and you on the other and I shoot and kill you, where did the murder take place?"

    "What if after I shoot you you stagger and fall into my state and I go and stand in yours and watch you die?"

    Stamp out crime, repeal all laws!
  • The MA people

    .ma.us is Massachusetts. Maryland is .md.us.

    Who has jurisdiction over interstate commerce in the US? What laws, if any, would apply?

    Federal law applies to interstate commerce. According to United States Constitution [everything2.com], article 1, section 8: "The Congress shall have power ... To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states."

    In other words, all your jurisdiction in interstate commerce are belong to U.S.
  • by antis0c ( 133550 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @08:26PM (#262772)
    Hopefully maybe Microsoft will ban all its products from Maryland =) I suppose I can dream..
  • by Salsaman ( 141471 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @02:58AM (#262777) Homepage
    Yes you are right. MS _are_ working on a 'United States of Microsoft'.

    However you got a few facts slightly incorrect.

    Children born in these states will not only get an NDA, but they will also receive a product ID, which their parents will have to activate with Redmond. If Bill doesn't like your kid, too bad !

    And of course these states _will_ be more democratic, Micro$oft is constantly innovating in the area of Democracy. In fact Democracy XP(tm) will take democracy to a new level, never before seen.

    There will be no law breaking, because as soon as you cross the street at the wrong time, a giant floating judge will appear and say 'It looks like you are trying to shoot your wife.' thus alerting everyone else to your intransigence !

  • by sallen ( 143567 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @12:13PM (#262779)
    Microsoft has just put themselves in a VERY good legal position for dealing with residents of Maryland.....

    I think you're right that what they've tried to do. Interestingly, most companies aren't as arrogant and actually place in their agreements that some states may grant rights contrary to the agreement, such as in warranty clauses. But this one's interesting, in that IIRC a license is a strange animal in legal terms, and 'agreeing' to it, you can give up a lot of what one would think were legal rights, irregardless. What's interesting is that MS's .NET strategy is going after big business. I'd think if anyone was really going to look at this as suspect, it's going to be the lawyers from those same large companies that MS is looking to get their recurring revenue from the .NET. I think it's part of the arrogance that makes then think they can do anything, and all will follow. They may be right. Though given alternatives, they could be betting the ranch and not just a paddock or two. It does make an interesting publicity thing though. While they want UCITA passed everywhere (in it's vanilla form, of course), it seems state legislatures might get a little testy if this is put in their face... they usually have this 'states rights' things down pretty good, and aren't fond of 'outsiders' saying how they're constituants are gonig to be handled. If UTICA passes elsewhere, I get a strange feeilng there'll be a lot of similar 'maryland' type markups in the law before it goes to any vote.

  • Of course, I seriously doubt that there is a way that hotmail could screen to see if someone is in Maryland, and even if they could, they would not exclude them from using their sercices.

    But still, if I use hotmail, and the computer I am using it in is in Maryland, does that count? After all, the computer in Maryland is just a device to edit an html page on a server in California. How can the law stop me from using that computer for that purpose?

    How can anyone say what the exact geographical location of an internet transaction? Is it where the client and server computers are located? Is it where the backbone and routers are located? Or is it where the individuals and corporations involved have their legal residencies?

    So many questions...
  • by The Dark ( 159909 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @10:36PM (#262786)
    Its not quite foolproof because "housing wants to be free"
  • by bataras ( 169548 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @07:49AM (#262788)
    I recently bought a copy of VC++ 6.0 at compusa for a client. I promptly went to the MS registration site to um, register it. In order to complete the registration, MS forced me to signup for a passport account.

    Does this mean people in maryland can't register MS products.

  • by B747SP ( 179471 ) <slashdot@selfabusedelephant.com> on Friday April 27, 2001 @01:44AM (#262791)
    Microsoft preventing people from using their software or services? People, this is a GOOD thing! It's like when career criminals give lectures in schools about the evils of crime, and stuff like that!

    Can it be that Microsoft is finally turning from evil to good? No, I don't think so!

  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @09:07PM (#262798) Journal
    I was going to convert it (the Maryland law) from rtf to text. but it is 90 pages long, and very confusing to read.

    But this is still a hoot.

    We need a lawyer or law geek to go through this. I am interested in many of the sections that seemed to allow all kinds of consumer rights, but I might be hallucinating.

    I am also wondering is this would mean that Windows would be outlawed in Maryland? [joke]

    For example section 21-708. ADEQUATE ASSURANCE OF PERFORMANCE.

    This sounds fascinating.

    One part of the Maryland law is that One of the most contentious pieces of the Uniform Computer Information Transaction Act -- allowing vendors to remotely disable software on a user's computer if the user was in breach of the software's licensing terms -- has been modified. The change eliminates the provision for software sold via retail outlets. But is still an issue for corporate users.

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [eplugz.com] comic strip

  • by CaptainZapp ( 182233 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @12:23AM (#262799) Homepage
    Should be a helluva load of fun, when Micro$oft attempts to apply hailstorm to European slave^H^H^H^H^Hconsumers.

    They might be interested in this piece of European legislation [privacy.org].

    In short, it says about that...

    Companies must notify both employees and consumers about how information collected about them will be used;

    Companies can only use data for its intended purpose;

    Companies cannot transfer data on employees and consumers to countries with inadequate privacy protection laws;

    Consumers will have a right to access data collected about them;

    Consumers will have a right to have inaccurate data rectified;

    Consumers will have a right to know the origin of data about them (if this information is available);

    Consumers will have a right of recourse in the event of unlawful processing of data about them;

    Consumers will have a right to withhold permission to use their data (e.g. the right to opt-out of direct marketing campaigns for free without providing a reason);

    Companies need explicit permission of consumers to process sensitive information, including information on racial origin, political or religious beliefs, trade union membership, medical data, and sexual life.

    I can see it now, the M$ Hail$torm license agreement going like:

    All your database are belong to us and in an event that your local laws conflict with our right of ownership of your data then Washington State laws and the word of our Lord Gates supersede such laws...

    Well, they just might be laughed out of any European court.

    For starters: Click through licenses are not legally binding in most European countries. And their certainly not binding when they conflict with mandatory local laws.

  • by cthugha ( 185672 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @01:22AM (#262800)

    Of course, there's no *signature* on this agreement either, so I suppose that would be the first legal challenge, if there were one.

    In general, the law of contract does not require a signature to create a legally binding agreement. You just need some communication between the parties, or even just actions, consistent with an intent to enter legal relations. A signature is useful purely for documentation (evidentiary) purposes.

    There are exceptions to the rule, but they're generally for statutory classes of contract (e.g. contracts for the sale of land), and deeds (legally binding agreements where no consideration has been paid for a promise).

    Isn't law fun?

    IAALS: I Am A Law Student

  • by dynoman7 ( 188589 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @04:34AM (#262801) Homepage
    Hubby: (under breath)Crap. HONEY?!?! WE GOTTA MOVE AGAIN!!

    Distant voice of wife: WHAT YOU SAY?!?!






  • I wonder why my post was moderated "Troll", it wasn't meant that way...I was very serious.
    But on topic again: I suspect that you are right. Mangling the setup program could work too...perhaps someone already implemented such a thing. Of course, I fear that any court would rule such manipulation of executables as "criminal usage" or so.
    The case that I actually removed the lisence file was accidental (just forgot to copy it...) I never claimed it would work on every setup.
  • It's your software and you don't need to enter into an agreement to use it
    I wonder if this is true: if it were my software I would be able to disassemble it and make modifications to it. (Well, provided I knew assembler which I only know in very basic terms) I clearly am not allowed to do that as far as I know. As for the painting: I am free to rip it apart and make my own artwork from it, called "decadence of a disturbed mind" or so. You see ownership of software is quite "vage" and ownership of real things isn't.

    As for the web-site approvals-click: I agree, you are right. I didn't think of it as an agreement of terms and services...but it is! I didn't pay a thing yet, and can still decide not to agree. I fear that I am not the only one who didn't realise the difference between the two.
    My problem is that I can't read legalese and my guess is that most people can't. But of course I also signed the insurance of my car with just roughly skimming over terms and conditions. I guess real life and virtual life don't differ much in this question.

  • Now as a European I don't really bother too much about the UCITA, but woudn't there be a way around it? Consider this: I had a case where I copied the installable product from CD to harddisk, removed a text file called 'lisence.txt' and then launched the setup. The click through agreement said exactly nothing (empty textfield), so I clicked accept for a empty agreement. And don't say, I coudn't remove the lisence.txt file because up until then I did not agree to anything.
    Oh, besides...does anyone remember those diskette pakages that said "if you open this package you agree to the encosed lisence agreement". I didn't notice them in ages, do they still exist?
  • by Quila ( 201335 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @10:57PM (#262809)

    Article IV, Section 1: Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State....

    It would seem that in absence of a Washington law directly contradicting the distasteful-to-Redmond portions of Maryland's law, the law in Maryland would stand.

    bit of article clarification... And this is not optional boys and girls, you can't just drop Marylanders because you don't like the laws there, because the Constitution forces it. Okay, if you had a brick-and-mortar chain and decided that Maryland's laws were restrictive, you wouldn't build a business presence in that state to accept clients there -- no problem. But MS already has a Maryland business presence, so they're screwed.

    Continuing: ...And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

    It seems that only a federal-level UCITA will solve this problem, but let's hope that consumer protection rather than rights-castration is the central point of that law. We do have a chance after the DMCA backlash, since Congressmen appear to be realizing that the people are starting to notice when Congress passes laws supporting big business at the direct expense of the people. The Internet's been a big help in that one.

  • by AndrewD ( 202050 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @07:34AM (#262810) Homepage

    I am a lawyer, I happen to have been advising on this one this morning, and you're right. The relevant law is to be found in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998, Principle 8 of the eight principles listed there.

    If you want to read it yourself, go to www.hmso.gov.uk and drill down to the legislation in question. I'd do an href but I can't be bothered.

  • by AndrewD ( 202050 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @12:27AM (#262811) Homepage

    I just looked through the Passport T&Cs (IAAL, btw, UK rather than US qualified) and there's one or two terms in there that would be unenforceable in english law (and probably in scots law as well), including the jurisdiction and choice of law clause as against a consumer.

    Yes, Microsoft's T&Cs prohibit the use of their Passport service in most of the UK. If not all of it.

    To use the lawyers' term of art, they can go pee up a rope.

  • by nick_davison ( 217681 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @12:50AM (#262813)
    The UK has the Data Protection act (1988) modified by various junk Europe has dumped on top of it. One of the fun bits there is that it's illegal for any European to give their personal details to any system based in a country without adequate data protection legislation (which Europe decrees includes the USA).

    Back when I worked for [multinational telco] they had all sorts of problems trying to make up ways to get round the legality of the London employees simply having their phone numbers stored on the US phone directory.

    Does that mean Microsoft can stop annoying Europeans too? With luck they can close themselves out of every market soon.

  • by KarmaBlackballed ( 222917 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @08:50PM (#262814) Homepage Journal
    So let me understand, this passport is no good in Maryland? What kind of a worthless passport is this? (I did not realize I needed a passport to travel across state lines.)

    And when did MS think it was big enough to start issuing passports anyhow?

    ~~ the real world is much simpler ~~
  • by hillct ( 230132 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @09:11PM (#262817) Homepage Journal
    At this rate, it's only a matter of time until we see the federated states of Micro$oft. Children born in these states will not get a birth certificate. They'll get a Non-Disclosure Agreement. These states will be more democratic that any state of the United states, because everyone of any age will be able to vote a shareholder meetings.

    It will be a peaceful society, because all matters of law and justice will be resolved centrally in King County, Washington.

    Oh, what joys we have to look forward to!

  • by FreeMath ( 230584 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @10:05PM (#262818) Homepage Journal
    New feature in XP?
    "Where do you want to go today?"

    BSOD: An error occured int legal module 0C673E2.
    Please relocate and try again.

  • by Fatal0E ( 230910 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @08:32PM (#262819)
    I suppose this is the first of many criticisms of MS but it doesn't surprise me that they introduced us to Digital Divide 2.0 (PR1). Slicing up the US into UCITA Compliant and Non UCITA...even I gotta admit that's pretty slick in that shady kinda way...

    wish I woulda thought of that :)
  • by megaduck ( 250895 ) <dvarvel.hotmail@com> on Thursday April 26, 2001 @09:01PM (#262824) Journal

    Since Passport is closely tied into .NET through "Hailstorm", this might mean that you won't be able to use any .NET products (like Windows XP) in Maryland either. In effect, Micro$oft might have shut themselves completely out of Maryland once .NET arrives. This is almost too good to be true.

  • by vkt-tje ( 259058 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @11:48PM (#262829)
    If a company (any company, anywhere) uses any form of distant sale (specifically including on-line sales) to sell a product to someone residing on Belgian territory at the time of the sale, then that sale is covered by Belgian law...
    For example, this gives the buyer the right to a seven day period in wich he/she can cancel the sale.
    If M$ would not respect that (or any other part of the Belgian law regarding distant sales) the guy can sue M$ in any Belgian court: the sale was done on Belgian territory.
    It is strange I know, but so are a LOT of things over here!
  • by deran9ed ( 300694 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @09:45PM (#262833) Homepage

    I wonder how this will truly hold up, as opposed to just stating X = X, lets face it, how many sites do you know of actually follow their policies when they create them?

    Example, Hotmail, Yahoo, and others have policies against spammers sending from their respective domains, yet spam gets out and little is done to the users who send it.

    Is the company creating these laws which are likely to be laughed at by the majority of the users via way of no one actually reading the implementations of those laws? Think about it, how many people actually sit there and read those rules?

    Another odd question is, what does Microsoft expect do to should someone outside the US break those rules? Extradite a European to America for breaking Washington State laws? Get real.

    I'm far from understanding the laws of their products, but one thing I could say is little will be done, by them or any other company building these assinine policies, so their ratio to capture someone who actually breaks their policy is going to be low, and should it be the other way around, they're gonna end up hurting themselves in the pockets when they try to prosecute millions of people and dish out legal fees out the ass. Either way I see it as a stupid move.

    Blackbox pimps [antioffline.com]

  • You are WRONG. The Data Protection Act, and the EU directive it's based on prevents any UK or EU based company that gathers and processes personal information in the EU to export it to any company that doesn't guarantee the same privacy protections of the data (the so-called "safe harbor" agreement that was created to prevent the EU from outlawing transfers of personal data to the US outright) that the EU based company is legally bound to offer, or to publish that data without your expressed, voluntary approval.

    It does not in any way make it illegal or prevent you as a private citizen to transmit your own personal data to a non-complying company outside the EU.

    In effect it's a protection for EU citizens to ensure that their personal details are subject to privacy protections, and that a company can't force you to sign away those rights, and that you have to give your permission for them to be able to give your infor to anyone who might misuse the information (such as US companies that couldn't care less about your privacy).

    The company you worked for could simply have made it voluntary for any London employee to connect directly to a webserver in the US or whatever, and leave their information there, and it would be perfectly legal for the US arm of the company to use it.

    (Ob disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer. An allthough I have been dealing with these issues a lot lately, I'm not guaranteeing anything;)

  • by AX.25 ( 310140 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @06:09AM (#262836)
    Dear Mr. Gates,

    Can you ban Ohio from your software too?


  • by number one duck ( 319827 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @08:40PM (#262840) Journal
    Yes, I love living in Maryland, even if this isn't a good thing, I'm proud to be a stumbling block in the way of world domination.

    My college sent a guy to work for Microsoft mere weeks before their security was compromised. He seemed like the patriotic type, although I doubt it was him. Whatever my state can do to help, we will.

    (Being a border state in the last war gave us a bad image, we're sorry! :)
  • by ClassExport ( 323284 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @08:28PM (#262841)
    So much for the Global Community

    "Where do you want to go today?"

    Obviously not Maryland.

  • by the_brat_king ( 443955 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @03:24AM (#262846)
    Was the requirement for a lawyer position at Microsoft that you'd pass a MSCE?

    I think it was MCSL (Microsoft Certified Slick Lawyer)
  • by the_2nd_coming ( 444906 ) on Friday April 27, 2001 @05:04AM (#262849) Homepage
    no, it does not autorize them to leave a back door open, but products like M$ Office 2k autoregister for you if you do not do it.

    To ilistrate this I will tell you a story about a freind of Mine who owns a small network consulting buissness.

    He had office 2k on one of his computers on his LAN, the computer was replaced so he put office 2k on its replacement. a week later he got a letter from M$'s legal depatment ordering him to remove the software from his computer or pay the licencing fee plus a $10k penalty. He promptly wrote back and said "OK I will pay the fees, however I am charging your company $250k for the time you spent on my Network.

    He hasn't herd from them since.
  • by pheared ( 446683 ) <kevinNO@SPAMpheared.net> on Thursday April 26, 2001 @08:51PM (#262850) Homepage
    stop using stupid "secure software." Really now, do we need a Microsoft database full of your credit card and personal information? Passport is just another tool to help you be a good little consumer. How about you all say F that, and not be controlled by the big companies, whom you all blast whenever you can.
    My point being, don't use it, it goes away. It's unnecessary and dangerous. How many of you assemble a wallet and then hand it to some guy on the street who happens to be dressed in a pinstripe suit with a tie?
  • by House of Usher ( 447177 ) on Thursday April 26, 2001 @10:02PM (#262851) Homepage
    Having been an advocate proponent of warning the public of the HailStorm services that Microsoft is pushing so hard I'm not surprised about Microsoft's current practices. Many people were once worried that the government would slowly make it so that you were entirely dependent on them. However it would seem that the government isn't the one to be concerned with in this practice anymore, rather it would be Microsoft.

    It definitely is disturbing to think that they are willing to sue the user for misuse of our own information. The fact of the matter stands, IMHO, that Microsoft is basically trying to make the public think that they really hold all the answers. Quite frankly I think that it was a sign from God when the earth quake stuck last year and nearly made Seattle fall off the coast.

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor