"Microsoft isn't a person, it's a company!"
Posted Jul 21, 2006 6:19 UTC (Fri) by xoddam
In reply to: Microsoft's only sin here...
Parent article: Free Software Sets the Computing Agenda
> Microsoft's only sin
No-one is accusing a company of a sin; the concept is a nonsense.
Companies are mechanisms for profit, they don't exist in any moral
sphere. They do exist in a *legal* sphere. For instance, Microsoft
exists in a legal environment where individuals' right to make copies
is severely restricted by the power of the state.
> Who owns companies? Who runs them? Who works for them?
The state provides a mechanism whereby individuals may collectively
engage in enterprise for profit and be shielded from individual
responsibility for the debts and crimes of the company. Corporations are
established under and protected by the law. If a corporation breaks the
law, sanctions apply against the collective and to its legal officers who
have voluntarily taken this responsibility, not to random individual
shareholders and employees as you seem to imply.
Protections afforded to people and companies by the state are things like
monopolies on copyrights and patents. Without rigorous state enforcement
of the copyright law (with such sanctions as fines for companies and
imprisonment for individuals), Microsoft would be worthless. It is only
fair that Microsoft should also pay a penalty for its violation of legal
> no majority is entitled to trample on the rights of the individual
While we could debate all day the niceties of whether the state has a
right to enforce its laws or to exist at all, or whether it represents a
majority or merely a ruling class, that's utterly irrelevant to companies
and courts which take the legal framework as an *axiom*.
Individuals are forced to play by the rules all the time. The degree to
which force is applied to lawbreaking individuals by the state is usually
in inverse proportion to personal wealth. The same applies to
corporations, so it's nice to see the law being applied with such a heavy
hand against such a big company, for a change.
Whether the fine will ever actually be paid is a separate issue.
(There's a much more subtle question, as to the validity of antitrust
laws, which the article you link to mentions but which doesn't seem to be
part of your own argument. The essence of antitrust is that the state
arrogates the right to collect taxes to itself: private interests aren't
entitled to impose their own taxes. So here's a better question: should
Microsoft have the 'right' to impose the Microsoft Tax?)
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