Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 9th Oct 2007 16:14 UTC, submitted by Rahul
Microsoft Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has warned users of Red Hat Linux that they will have to pay Microsoft for its intellectual property. "People who use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to compensate us," Ballmer said last week at a company event in London discussing online services in the UK.
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definition of extortion
by irbis on Tue 9th Oct 2007 19:30 UTC
irbis
Member since:
2005-07-08

The definition of extortion according to Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extortion

"Extortion or outwresting is a criminal offense, which occurs when a person either obtains money, property or services from another through coercion or intimidation or threatens one with physical or reputational harm unless they are paid money or property. Refraining from doing harm is sometimes euphemistically called protection. Extortion is commonly practiced by organized crime groups. The actual obtainment of money or property is not required to commit the offense. Making a threat of violence or a lawsuit which refers to a requirement of a payment of money or property to halt future violence or lawsuit is sufficient to commit the offense. The four simple words "pay up or else" are sufficient to constitute the crime of extortion. An extortionate threat made to another in jest is still extortion."

More detailed legal description for extortion can be found, for example, here (according to the Canadian law):
http://legaltree.ca/node/554
but it says basically the same thing as the Wikipedia definition.

Edited 2007-10-09 19:36

Reply Score: 5

JonathanBThompson Member since:
2006-05-26

Well, until Microsoft ponies up proof, that's how a lot of people will see their actions.

However, if they truly do have evidence that their patents are being violated, it's no long extortion, technically, but a legal threat, and a threat that is indeed legal to make, that tends to either result in a civil court case or a settlement out of court.

Zealots would like to believe Microsoft is doing pure extortion, and that they have no legitimate claims to back up their sabre-rattling. However, that defies logic: Microsoft is the biggest software company on earth, and likely to be so for the foreseeable future, despite anyone's wishes otherwise, and that's because, for the most part, they don't do horribly stupid things like SCO did, at least not to any degree that matters towards the bottom line a great deal.

Microsoft is far from being unique in the field of software and high-tech stuff from doing this sort of thing: this is prevalent throughout the industry and any like it, but Microsoft just happens to be the most visible one, that's all.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: definition of extortion
by irbis on Tue 9th Oct 2007 22:51 in reply to "RE: definition of extortion"
irbis Member since:
2005-07-08

"Zealots would like to believe Microsoft is doing pure extortion, and that they have no legitimate claims to back up their sabre-rattling."

Maybe they have legitimate claims, maybe not, I don't care and that's not the main point here. The point is that they are only throwing empty threats as long as they have no actual facts and proof to show. You know, in theory also Linux companies like IBM, Red Hat (or any others) could as well claim that it is Microsoft that violates thousands of their valuable IP patents, and ask MS to pay them, regardless of those claims being true or false. However, fortunately the IT business as a whole has not sunken to such low levels yet. Maybe some companies will still appreciate good business practices and ethics too instead of only money?

Edited 2007-10-09 23:06

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: definition of extortion
by walterbyrd on Wed 10th Oct 2007 03:45 in reply to "RE: definition of extortion"
walterbyrd Member since:
2005-12-31

>>However, if they truly do have evidence that their patents are being violated, it's no long extortion.<<

Big "if" isn't it? If msft does have that proof, then what is the big secret? If msft does not have that proof (and let's be honest, it is clear they do not) then is it even boarderline ethical for the CEO to make such claims?

>>Zealots would like to believe Microsoft is doing pure extortion, and that they have no legitimate claims to back up their sabre-rattling. However, that defies logic<<

WTF? Defies logic how? Why doesn't msft put up or shut up? Msft has been making these specious claims for years and years. Logically, if msft had evidence, then msft would present it. Unless it's just another msft fud campaign. Right?

>> Microsoft is the biggest software company on earth, and likely to be so for the foreseeable future, despite anyone's wishes otherwise, and that's because, for the most part, they don't do horribly stupid things like SCO did, at least not to any degree that matters towards the bottom line a great deal.<<

WTF? Did you catch the part where ballmer spoke about the $500 million settle that msft just paid. And that is far from the first such settlement. Far from the largest settlement also. Msft has caught red-handed in *numerous* outright lies and scams - how about bald face lying to the US-DoJ? BTW: scox was not stupid at all, scox was as good as dead before the scam. Scox had nothing to lose, and all that msft money to gain.

>>Microsoft is far from being unique in the field of software and high-tech stuff from doing this sort of thing this is prevalent throughout the industry<<

WTF!!? I openly defy you to name another major software company that routinely breaks the law like msft does. How about outright stealling stacker technoloy? How about the letters from dead people campaigns? How about fronting with fake think-tanks? How about astro-turfing with a letters-from-dead-people campaign? How about the obvious corruption in the OOXML scam? How about paying another company many millions to have that company file a totally bogus lawsuit against IBM, just to FUD Linux. Please, name another major software company that does all that.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: definition of extortion
by Soulbender on Wed 10th Oct 2007 04:14 in reply to "RE: definition of extortion"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

"However, that defies logic: Microsoft is the biggest software company on earth, and likely to be so for the foreseeable future, despite anyone's wishes otherwise, and that's because, for the most part, they don't do horribly stupid things like SCO did"

Or maybe that's exactly why they think they can get away with it. It wouldn't be the first time a large company has been infected with hubris and done amazingly stupid things.

Reply Parent Score: 1