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MS Gives Free Licenses To Oppressed Nonprofits 151

victorl19 writes "Microsoft is vastly expanding its efforts to prevent governments from using software piracy inquiries as a pretext to suppress dissent. It plans to provide free software licenses to more than 500,000 advocacy groups, independent media outlets and other nonprofit organizations in 12 countries with tightly controlled governments, including Russia and China."
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MS Gives Free Licenses To Oppressed Nonprofits

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  • by cbiltcliffe ( 186293 ) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @10:13PM (#33928346) Homepage Journal

    So basically, they're taking a bunch of organizations in countries that probably have a 95% or higher piracy rate, and giving them free licenses.

    So it's costing Microsoft essentially squat, but potentially improves human rights in said countries.

    Commendable, but not exactly as philanthropic as MS probably wants to come across as....

  • by shriphani ( 1174497 ) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @10:19PM (#33928386) Homepage
    yeah because it is almost everyday that a large software vendor aims to reduce someone's level of suffering by not collecting any $$ on their product.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @10:22PM (#33928412) Journal
    Microsoft fundamentally believes there are some who will never pay for the software. Crackdown too hard on them or be too successful in preventing piracy, they might defect to Linux and open free software. So it did not try too hard to fight piracy. But the dissenters in oppressed countries might better served by specific hardened distros from Linux camp than by the free offerings from Microsoft. You never know if it has shown the source code to these governments or allowed them to install back doors.
  • by bsDaemon ( 87307 ) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @10:23PM (#33928414)

    Well, what else would you expect them to do? Recently, Russia was raiding the offices of politically undesirable organizations using software piracy as an excuse, and Microsoft lawyers were involved. Microsoft had stopped agreeing to press charges once it became obvious that the government was just using them as an excuse. Now, they're going ever further than they already had and being explicit about who they are giving licenses to.

    Just because it doesn't cost them anything doesn't mean it isn't still worth something. And providing free licenses is a big step up from not prosecuting pirates. They'll be able to get software updates and security patches, which will cut down on the amount of out-of-date, exploitable software out there to become part of spam bots, which is good for everyone.

  • Anything... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @10:40PM (#33928526)
    ... to prevent them from switching to free and open software.

    Microsoft, in its recent press efforts, has shown it is very concerned about free and open software. So now Microsoft is trying to disguise itself as a free and open software vendor. A crack dealer will give away free samples to obtain and retain a customer......

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 17, 2010 @10:42PM (#33928534)

    Think again. Not doing it would a public relations disaster of epic proportions. As it stands it's an averted one. A narrowly averted public relations disaster.

    The fact that they had to be told in the first place means they were well behind the curve -- as usual. I mean, seriously, they're the biggest software corp on earth, every resource you can think of. Think of what they didn't manage: A laid-back press conference saying they'd noticed years ago and quietly gave everyone they could think of a refund and free licenses. It's something you give your anti-piracy lawyers discretion to do, and hope to keep it quiet because of the abuse inherently possible with that, not something you want to have the nytimes splash all over the front page, forcing you to make an equally grand gesture to convince everyone you're not that evil.

    FTFA: “We clearly have a very strong interest in ensuring that any antipiracy activities are being done for the purpose of reducing illegal piracy, and not for other purposes,” they say now, but that isn't what they always said: “Microsoft had long rejected requests from human-rights groups that it refrain from taking part in such cases, saying it was merely complying with Russian law.”

    It's damage control, is what it is.

  • Re:Repost (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kholburn ( 625432 ) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @11:05PM (#33928642)

    Not a repost. They seem to want to escape PR of this [] [] has a link to a letter sent back ~April 15 2010.

    They could end up being accused of interfering in internal politics of another country by subsidising dissident groups.

    No good way out of this really.

  • by Nursie ( 632944 ) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @11:09PM (#33928670)

    "To you, maybe, but Microsoft could bankrupt itself inventing a machine that causes piles of food to appear in every village in Africa at the push of a button, and it wouldn't come across as philanthropic to Slashdot."

    Hey, the guy or girl you're replying to does not speak for slashdot. Neither do I, just to set the record straight.

    I don't like MS. I don't like their business practices. I don't like their efforts to frame things like .Net as cross platform. I don't like them when they're actively trying to screw things up for the FOSS world, and I don't like them when they're pretending to be friends. I have mixed feelings about their OS and office products and I try not to spend too much time using either.

    All that said, well done Microsoft for this move. This is a good thing. It's perhaps not going to stop bad governments raiding some of these NGOs, but it does remove one more way they could try and cover it up and pretend it was reasonable.

  • Re:Repost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anpheus ( 908711 ) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @11:09PM (#33928672)

    Previously the "blanket" license applied in Russia. They're adding it to more countries.

    That's not deceptive. That's you calling it deceptive.

  • by Anpheus ( 908711 ) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @11:13PM (#33928694)

    The Russian government treats copyright law as a criminal, as opposed to civil matter. The Russians would ask Microsoft if they were all licensed up, and Microsoft's people in the area were saying "no", probably because they didn't have enough pull to say "yes" within Microsoft.

    It's typical bureaucracy. When the negative PR reached Redmond, they were like, "Whaaaaaa?" and responded by saying all NGOs in Russia are licensed, period.

    Microsoft is now expanding the program in other countries where they suspect similar tactics may be used. How shameful.

  • by LazLong ( 757 ) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @11:17PM (#33928712) Homepage

    What the Russian gov't is doing to the political opposition is criminal. Odds are that M$'s motives aren't pure as I'm sure someone, if not the originator of the idea, knew M$ would get good PR in the West for their actions. If one grants that their ulterior motives are impure it only underscores the beauty of what M$ is doing: Giving the Russian gov't a dose of their own medicine. What M$ is doing is along the same lines as Russia in that they are both doing something that they know will get good PR in the West but with 'hidden' self-serving ulterior motives. Russia deserves a dose of its own medicine. Kudos to M$ for poking the Russian gov't in the eye, even if M$ gets some benefit from it!

    To those who point out the possibility/fact that Russia will just find some other pretext to appear to be legally cracking down on the Oligarchy's enemies, this doesn't mean that simply rolling over and giving up because that could/will happen is the correct course of action. If the opposition does that, then Russia will just continue to be the frakked up entity it has been since at least the time of Kievan Rus'.

  • What the hell (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 17, 2010 @11:37PM (#33928818)

    This is ridiculous. I thought Slashdot was finally over this kind of thing?

    I'm sorry man, I lost you after the third dollar sign. No one will take your arguments seriously like this, anymore than anyone would take someone obviously biased against FOSS repeatedly using terms like "linsux" or "open sores".

  • Re:Repost (Score:2, Insightful)

    by billsayswow ( 1681722 ) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @11:46PM (#33928866)
    There's a huge difference between a statement that's easy to misinterpret, and deliberately misinterpreting a statement.
  • Re:Anything... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by T Murphy ( 1054674 ) on Sunday October 17, 2010 @11:53PM (#33928908) Journal
    To be fair, if your oppressive government uses the software piracy pretext, "we use Linux" probably won't stop them from raiding the place (it would be treated the same as "but we paid for Windows"). Removing the pretext by making piracy a non-issue actually has some effect (how much of an effect depends on how much the government cares about having a plausible excuse). Yes, if everyone used Linux piracy would also be a non-issue, but unfortunately that isn't a realistic expectation.
  • Re:Repost (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 18, 2010 @12:47AM (#33929182)

    Please don't use URL shortners. Im not gonna click that link, and a good portion of other people are not going to click that link. The information you were trying to spread is not being spread.

    You take what very well may be an informative post, and relegated it to possibly being a trollish goatse post. It would be like taking a samsung dvd player and rebranding it as a $generic_brand. No one is gonna buy it, we all think its no good. No one is gonna click your link because it looks like $generic_goatse

  • Re:Repost (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sean Hederman ( 870482 ) on Monday October 18, 2010 @02:03AM (#33929528) Homepage

    What should they do exactly?

    "We are terribly sorry to hear that a tiny number itworld reader have misinterpreted their misreporting of our original statement and unfortunately came to the mistaken conclusion that we had given this license worldwide. In order to rectify this horrible mistake (since it's unfair that we gain any advantage from people's misunderstanding), we will be cutting our marketing budget to compensate. But when people mistake what we're saying in a NEGATIVE light, then that's okay, and we must just take that on the chin"

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson