Comments on: the local ordinance we call the first amendment Blog, news, books Tue, 10 Oct 2017 06:01:00 +0000 hourly 1 By: John Tue, 12 Sep 2006 11:04:45 +0000 Will they? should they? these are the two questions to be answered.

By: scrapmonkey Fri, 09 Jul 2004 00:58:13 +0000 “I guess I never thought of a corporation as a defamable entity. Is that the case in most legal systems?”

depends what you mean – global quasi-legal systems are becoming increasingly relevant. and under Chapter 11 of NAFTA, corporations essentially get personhood – the right to sue governments for “appropriation” of profits thru regulations. it’s a mutation of the protection granted by the US constitution against government misappropriation of personal assets. similar rights are enshrined in other trade deals and generally recognized by the WTO.

and now this. i can’t imagine any current context under which microsoft would win this case. for now. but… slippery slope, anyone?

By: Anonymous Sat, 26 Jun 2004 19:26:05 +0000 The following memorandum has just been written to the
chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Or we
can just pretend that it exists, as in the case of reasons for various
other governmental actions in last three years.

To: Chairman, FCC
From: Legal and Cultural Advisor to Chairman, FCC
Re: Alleged inappropriate remarks on public property (United States Senate)

Statement of question:
You have asked whether the Vice President is subject to fine by the FCC
for uttering an expletive on the Senate floor. You have also asked “how
the h-e-doubletoothpicks” you can explain the difference between Howard
Stern and the Honorable Richard Cheney, if asked.
Summary of Answer:
The Vice President is a fine man, indeed, and his hair is much, much
shorter in length and smaller in volume than Mr. Stern’s.
It is important to note certain key facts that naturally have been left
out of the left-wing media reports of the Vice
President’s alleged sexual innuendo, and that also modify the Vice President’s alleged “admission” of such remark.
First, the Vice President realized that Senator Leahy was about to
unleash a massive and scurrilous attack on the Vice President’s
patriotism, and therefore the Vice President’s suggestion was in the
nature of pre-emptive strike. The success of his merely verbal assault
justified its use.
Second, at no time did the Vice President take off his bustier, nor did
Senator Leahy attempt to remove the Vice President’s bustier. Indeed,
the Vice President is a manly man, and there can be no reasonable
comparison of him to Janet Jackson. You asked about analogies to Howard
Stern, but it’s easier to make this point.

With respect to the law, it is true that the Vice President has gone on
Fox television in order to un-deny the incident, and now unfair commentators
in other (jealous) media claim some analogy between his alleged obscenity and Mr. Stern’s. However, as the Vice President explained in a fair and balanced manner, his utterance made him feel good, as the co-leader of the Administration in charge of immediate and long-term decisions. Mr. Stern, however, has often said that he does not feel good about the Administration. So this is, in legal parlance, a “big difference” between the Vice President and Mr. Stern.

In any event, the Vice President’s suggestion as to a contorted posture
that might be assumed by the Senator was plainly not an obscenity but merely an
explanation of a loophole in the Defense of Marriage Act.

Furthermore, Howard Stern opposes the President. Senator Leahy opposes
the President. There is therefore a connection between Stern and Leahy.
Pointing out that connection is the job of any fair and balanced Commission.
Consequently, it is your duty to alert the nation to the fact that
Howard Stern and Democratic Senators are in an alliance to undermine
America. Therefore, if asked about the false analogy between the Vice
President’s (locker-room) humor and Mr. Stern’s (liberal) filth, you should say that
logic compels you to fine all Democrats to the limit of their campaign funds and to ban them from access to the airwaves. Precedent for that action is found in the self-regulatory proscription of accurate information on Fox News.

By: Dan Sat, 26 Jun 2004 19:01:32 +0000 Didn’t the government of Brazil sue (or threaten to sue) the producers of The Simpsons for “defamation” because they had an episode that made fun of that country when the Simpson family visited it (as they did, similarly, with Australia, England, New York City, and other places in other episodes)?

By: Teo Thu, 24 Jun 2004 14:29:06 +0000 Preposterous!

It seems every time I reconcile myself to using their products (we are pretty strictly a Windows shop at work and I don’t have a choice), Microsoft does something like this! Along with detestable software, these unconscionable actions are becoming synonymous with the Microsoft name! Ironically, in taking action against Amadeu, Microsoft insured that his words reached a larger audience while further anathematizing themselves.

American corporate greed doesn’t surprise me anymore. However, I would expect a basic understanding of public relations to suffice in a case like this, where morals are lacking. Even if MS wins it’ll be a Pyrrhic victory, costing them more through bad publicity, increased criticism, and as someone has already pointed out, increased migration to other software.

I do expect better than this. (at least from any other company)! We should particularly expect it from businesses based in wealthy and free societies.

By: Anonymous Thu, 24 Jun 2004 02:33:35 +0000 Alex
Micro$oft’s usual way of doing business is worse than the drug dealer. I think the drug dealer association (if any) should brought up defamation charge for comparing them to “money monger micro$oft”!!
Micro$oft is way low as a business corporation!

By: itstr Thu, 24 Jun 2004 02:26:18 +0000 Go to this link!

By: Jimm Wed, 23 Jun 2004 03:29:49 +0000 This is exactly why we need to reexamine corporate charters in America. No company ought to be breaking the laws of the nation who charter them when operating abroad, and they certainly should not be suing and intimidating people under rules and laws that would not apply at home.

By: Alex Tue, 22 Jun 2004 22:17:02 +0000 While I sympathize with the Microsoft employee who worries that this may be a mistake, I disagree with him. I think it’s crucial for Microsoft to defend itself against these kinds of defamatory charges, especially in Brazil. You can call Microsoft a monopoly, but a government official making the charge that they are somehow morally equivalent to a gang of drug dealers (conjuring up images of, perhaps, Britain, Opium and China) is the height of irresponsibility, and the guy should be brought to heel for it.

You know, America opens its markets to a variety of cheap products from foreign countries that occasionally displace our workers. Yet nobody in this forum is willing to call any of the people running those foreign companies drug dealers. Where is the tool business in the United States? The camera business? The garment business? Are those in the rest of the world to whom we allow access to our markets and our store shelves as bad as this Brazilian claims Microsoft is? For providing operating systems to schools in Brazil?

The Microsoft employee has a point, though. It’s hard to be generous and defensive at the same time. Unfortunately, a lot of the people here on the Lessig blog want Microsoft to be neither – they want them to be gone.

By: Anonymous Tue, 22 Jun 2004 18:40:09 +0000 This isn’t the first time – and it’s happened in the US. An internet entrepreneur was hassled by MS into discontinuing the sale of T-shirts with a wonderfully imaginative “Bill Gates as Borg” graphic. Satire isn’t permitted in MS Land either.

By: Max Lybbert Tue, 22 Jun 2004 01:08:12 +0000 Unfortunately I’m a little late in my comments. However, I find it interesting that the action is based on a 1967 law. That is interesting because Brazil was a military dictatorship at the time. The current constitution was signed in 1989. Unfortunately, the current constitution has over 300 rights listed in it, and as such is considered more of a laundry list of good ideas than a constitution.

Laws pre-dating the constitution are still valid, but must be interpreted under a different legal system than what was in place when they were written. For instance, Brazil’s current constitution protects the rights of expression, but the complaint says that the comments were abuses of the freedoms of expression and thought.

However, even if the action is nothing more than a subpoena, it is definitely a nuisance action, meant mainly to intimidate. Anybody in a position to raise a stink (eg. bloggers) needs to. Microsoft backed down from Mike Rowe (i.e., and I think that comparisons to the old “US vs the freedom to innovate” part of and this (“Microsoft vs freedom of thought”) would shut the company up.

By: Leonardo Couto Chueri Mon, 21 Jun 2004 22:00:51 +0000 the Constitution law of Brasil protects anyone�s freedom to the thought and speech. But it also protects any person (human) or enterprise (legal person) the right to not be defamated or offended. Both are rights and obligations to every brazilian.

“The one�s freedom finishs where starts the other�s freedom.” was said many years ago by Rui Barbosa.

Someone cannot speak UNTRUE statements, so without evidences, against others reputation. It�s as an important individual right as is the right to speech.

Sergio Amadeu made statements about Microsoft and its business practices using his freedom of speech. He said nothing that could be understood as defamation or offense by brazilian law. Also, he said nothing that Bill Gates had not said by himself about Microsoft.

Microsoft has the right to goes the court. But this does not means it has a real case against Sergio Amadeu. It�s just a desperated action.

By: Marcel Leal Mon, 21 Jun 2004 21:40:14 +0000 Sorry, I made a mistake in my previous post. It’s 3,000,000 computers in the schools.

By: Marcel Leal Mon, 21 Jun 2004 21:34:39 +0000 The problem with Microsoft is that it will lose a US$1 million licences contract with the brazilian govt.
Then, every school in Brazil will have computers running Linux, Open Office and Mozilla (we’re talking about 300,000 computers). These children will surely use Linux at home when they can, beginning a new generation of no-Windows users.
Bank of Brazil is already migrating it’s 9,000 servers and 30,000 desktops to Linux. Other govt agencies and departments will follow.
So, MS’s problem is not with Sergio Amadeu, but with all the losses they see in the near future.

By: Matthew Saroff Mon, 21 Jun 2004 18:47:57 +0000 IIRC, a number of countries, Brazil might be one of them, have criminal defamation statutes.

These were ruled unconstitutional a long time ago in the US, though some kid was actually arrested by the cops in one of the big square states about a year or so ago under one of these laws.

It was dropped as soon as the ACLU called.

By: Diego Zenizo Mon, 21 Jun 2004 15:44:24 +0000 Many years ago, I had a brief discussion with an official at Autodesk, makers of the Computer Aided Design software Autocad. At that time tehre was a struggle for the CAD market between Intergraph’s MicroStation (now owned by Bentley Systems) and Autodek’s Autocad. MicroStation was (and still is) much powerful and more productive, but the strategy Autodesk implemented helped the grab the XCAD market.
This person told me that their marketing strategy they were following was to eliminate the copy protection on the software packages sold and/or donated to the universities, so every student that wanted could make a copy of the software. In this way, they will get “hooked” on Autocad, even if it wasn’t the best product, but after a period of time, revert to the copy protection (using a hardware device, which made it harder to twart off).
This strategy allowed them to gain “addicts” to the software, and was very successful; with time, many buisnesses and users depended on Autocad, so they were forced to buy legal licences when Autodesk no longer “allowed” them to use it for free.
If somebody was caugth using an illegal licence, all the force of the law rain on him.
No wonder Autodesk is one of the driving forces behind BSA, the Business Software Alliance, a private group in charge of prosecuting software piracy.
So simple. Give them the drug, make them addicts, then start squizing money.

By: Anonymous Mon, 21 Jun 2004 15:36:38 +0000 Sun Microsystems has some affordable/open standard solutions.

Alternative to MS Office:

Alternative to MS Windows:

By: Crow Mon, 21 Jun 2004 13:09:03 +0000 Also “from a reliable source” drug-dealers want to sue Sergio Amadeu :-D

By: Robert Scoble Mon, 21 Jun 2004 01:48:16 +0000 I work for Microsoft and this decision is wrong. I’ve gone on the record on my blog saying so here:

Not everyone at Microsoft agrees with these tactics.

Going after our critics legally is wrong. Period.

We can compete on the strength (or weakness) of our products, not in the courtroom. At least not for this reason (and I’m assuming this reporting is accurate).

By: Mike Stafford Sun, 20 Jun 2004 22:02:08 +0000 (Width Issue: No surprise given comment above, but Safari 1.2.2 under Mac OS 10.3.4 has the width issue as well.)

IMHO, MS doesn’t do scared; it isn’t in their lexicon. So I doubt tactics like this one represent a fear response as some have suggested. However, their response to uncertainty is invariably AGRESSION, and worldwide the FOSS situation is certainly creating some uncertainty. So this type of ridiculous legal action is just one instance of an overall approach I expect we’ll be seeing a lot of: Thuggery with Intent To Dominate By Silencing, Co-Opting, Or Purchasing Dissenting voices.

It’s always worked for them before, why should they change stripes now?

By: William Richmond Sun, 20 Jun 2004 13:15:22 +0000 shows
up with lines that are entirely too long to read on my
Netscape 4.8 for Linux, Netscape 6.3 for Linux, and Mozilla
1.2.1 for Linux. I’m filling out this form from lynx, which
made the information legible.
Anyway the information and quotes are interesting and

By: lessig Sun, 20 Jun 2004 12:25:07 +0000 hey, I’d love a pointer to the problem with page width. I’ve tried my page with 4 browsers, and no width problem.

By: joe Sun, 20 Jun 2004 10:24:22 +0000 Go ahead and sue us Bill.

But perhaps you might want to check out what happened to McDonalds when they sued some activists who ‘slandered’ them.

The documents recovered in discovery and the testimony obtained under oath were fascinating in that case.

What we could get from Microsoft, under oath, should make even the Halloween documents ( look pale.

and Lawrence, for Gods sake fix the page width thing.

By: Anonymous Sat, 19 Jun 2004 19:46:06 +0000 Astounding how such news breaks just in time for the June 19th anniversary of a historic event this very same day when another country in a nearby place in Latin America tried to show how imperialism often backfires (even quite literally) on its proponents.

No one would wish for Brazilian politicians to resort to firing squads (where an army of penguins -and lawyers- will do), but this strange coincidence should serve as a surefire warning for emperors of any kind not to defy their companies’ destiny by forcing products and business models down someone’s throat where entire countries reject them:

“You’re not welcome here” is a message loud and clear…

By: ajs318 Sat, 19 Jun 2004 19:37:35 +0000 I don’t know about Brasil; but under UK law at least, it is a defence to say that the comparison was a fair one; and also, a true statement cannot be considered defamatory. And the comparison clearly is fair, by Microsoft’s own admission.

So if the law in Brasil is anything like in Britain, Microsoft would have no case.