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Microsoft To Issue Blanket License To NGOs 255

itwbennett writes "Following a recent report that Russian police have used software copyright raids to seize computers of activist groups, Microsoft announced it will issue a blanket software license to nonprofit groups and journalist groups outside the US. The new blanket license should remove software piracy as an excuse for 'nefarious actions' by enforcement authorities, Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith wrote. The new license 'cuts in one swoop the Gordian knot that otherwise is getting in the way of our desired handling of these legal issues,' he said. 'The law in Russia (and many other countries) requires that one must provide truthful information about the facts in response to a subpoena or other judicial process. With this new software license, we effectively change the factual situation at hand. Now our information will fully exonerate any qualifying [nonprofit], by showing that it has a valid license to our software.'"
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Microsoft To Issue Blanket License To NGOs

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  • Re:hmm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Monday September 13, 2010 @06:47PM (#33566886) Journal

    It will be interesting, but it only lasts until 2012. It's hard to believe they would extend it longer.

    Apparently it's an interim measure while NGOs learn that they can take part in an existing program involving "donation" of software to non-profits. End result is effectively the same, as you get free licenses, but donations are to a specific org, whereas this is meant to be a blanket license to shield everyone from abuse right here and now.

  • by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:14PM (#33567158) Journal

    I used to work for a 501c3 non-profit and we got ridiculously good deals on Microsoft licensing. Everything from server licenses, to Office suite, Exchange and the whole Back Office line of products (SQL, Sharepoint, etc). I know that our Office licenses (for the Professional edition) were in the neighborhood of $30 a piece. That included a provision that allowed the users to have a copy of the program on their home computer as well.

  • Re:Tax breaks (Score:4, Informative)

    by blagder ( 234003 ) on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:16PM (#33567174)

    I think you are misinterpreting that paragraph; and thus not giving Microsoft their due credit.

    It is saying that Microsoft already does run a ‘donation’ program to NGOs that likely does allow them tax deductions at no cost. But that’s not what this is. By instantly creating a license that any NGO can use for free; they cannot claim a deduction. For a deduction, they would have to get the NGO/journalist to go through specific channels so that they could document the ‘donation’. And that of course if why they want to move people to their donation program.

    This is talked about in a bit more detail in the Microsoft blog entry that announced it. I would expect this to make it a bit more difficult to get NGOs to use their donation program since the motivation for jumping through the hooks is less.

    This is a fantastic program and Microsoft should be commended for it. Even on Slashdot.

    Now, getting deductions for software (or other IP) donations in general is ridiculous and something that governments should reconsider. Any business deduction where they can control the value of the donation by their pricing is somewhat shady. But this license does not seem to be taking advantage of that.

  • by slashbaby ( 261784 ) on Monday September 13, 2010 @07:59PM (#33567562)

    Second this.

    I work for the Canadian branch of an international NGO, and MS almost throws software at us - we recently were donated $50 000 MSRP of software from MS. We paid $2300 in "administration fees" - which pay for two years of Software Assurance, downloads, customer service, tech support, etc.

    Most software companies are generous to registered NGOs.

    We do use *nix for many things, most of our network infrastructure is *nix. It just makes sense. But for the users, who know Office and Windows, we can't justify the lost time and training in switching to a something else when there is next to no price benefit - our software cost per workstation is ~$50 every 4 years.

    I do feel bad for being a MS propagation machine, but they do make it pretty darn easy.

  • by Peeteriz ( 821290 ) on Monday September 13, 2010 @08:09PM (#33567632)

    Also, in the previous cases they don't really say "my client does not want to press the issues" - Russian government had started a criminal process, and as in most criminal process the 'victim' does not get a choice to stop the persecution, and granting a license after a request would not help either (as the violation occurred in the past, when the license was not there yet) - so if the prosecutors want to press charges, they have a valid case.

    These same issues may apply to any other country where criminal penalties apply for copyright violations.

  • well that was odd (Score:3, Informative)

    by phrostie ( 121428 ) on Monday September 13, 2010 @08:19PM (#33567712)

    I may never have a reason to say this ever again so, well done!

  • Re:No. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bing Tsher E ( 943915 ) on Monday September 13, 2010 @08:28PM (#33567770) Journal

    Nope. Attitudes like ours is what started the American and French revolutions.

    The French Revolution rapidly degenerated. It got really, really stinky. The American Revolution wasn't really a revolution. More of an anti-colonial thing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 13, 2010 @08:52PM (#33567954)

    Most probably this refers to the open charity license program policies about qualifying non-profits or some other licensing program that Microsoft may have tacked this under.

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard