"Microsoft isn't a person, it's a company!"
Posted Jul 22, 2006 2:51 UTC (Sat) by irwinr
In reply to: "Microsoft isn't a person, it's a company!"
Parent article: Free Software Sets the Computing Agenda
"Your argument rests on the false assumption that intellectual property,
copyrights, trademarks, and patents are mere legal constructs.
They are not.
They are objective moral principles--rights inherent to all creations
which individuals are obligated to obey whether they are enshrined in law
Oh yeah? Prove it. If the law didn't force people to obey a certain way, they would not. If there were no law, and someone was holding a gun at your head because you pissed them off, and you said "You are obligated to spare my life because it is my right to live..." They would laugh at you and say "Says who?"
Rights ARE granted, and they are granted because the majority believes they should be 'rights' and thus a government is established to protect those rights. A 'Right' is a human idea. What is, or is not a 'right' can not be proven by any kind of experiment. You only have the rights you have because society deems it so and elects government officials who agree.
"Furthermore, your characterization of the supposedly inflated end-user
prices caused by Microsoft's OEM agreements as a "tax" is fallacious on
two levels. First, selling prices are metaphysically independent from
costs of production. Prices are determined by utility, supply, and
Take an economics class. In a monopolistic environment, the rules for supply and demand are bent in such a way that demand is not as elastic, and therefore the monopolist can charge much more without greatly decreasing demand for it's products. Why? Because users have no choice, they buy from the monopolist or they do without significant and important technological innovations. (In this case, computers in general)
In this case, Microsoft was handed a monoply by IBM. Microsoft did not earn it's 90% market share by having the best product, it got there by being in the right place, at the right time. That, in and of itself, was not illegal. However, Microsoft abused their monopolistic position. They used illegal tactics to prevent competitors from being able to enter the market, and in economies that are based on a free market, such as in the US and the EU, this is ILLEGAL for good reasons.
The Microsoft "tax" was indeed a tax. Why? Because if you didn't pay it, not only did you not receive Windows, but you were denied the ability to use your computer at all. Alternative software for other operating systems didn't exist (And in some cases still doesn't) because Windows held a 95% market share. Microsoft adopted the practice of not only making it's products completely incompatible with anyone elses, they also hid the details of these incompatibilities, and forced you to agree not to try to reverse engineer them or face civil and/or criminal charges.
Essentially, this would be like a car manufacturer creating a new type of hitch, and telling people they can't look at how the hitch is made, and no-one is allowed to create a 'bridge' that allows other hitches to connect to it. This type of behavior would be considered absurd in any other industry, but Microsoft got away with it for years. It has severely hurt technological innovation in this area, as other operating systems with more and better features, are unable to get the neccessary user support and funding neccessary to continue innovating, because they can't run software or even open files that were created using Microsoft products. These activities in and of themselves are not that bad, because there's nothing wrong with Microsoft wanting to keep secret it's own technologies. However, taken in the big picture, it just adds to the big list of Microsoft bully tactics.
Microsoft used a catch-22 to hold it's monopolistic position:
Make sure no competing products can be compatible with Microsoft products.
This ensures that nearly all (Over 95%) of computer users were 'locked in' to a Microsoft product in way or another.
Make sure that no major OEM distributor can sell a competing product, or even bundle competing products along with Microsoft products.
It is literally impossible for any company to introduce a product to compete with this, because Microsofy even ensured that 3rd party programs that ran on Windows could ONLY run on Windows. So even if I invented a great new OS, it wouldn't run ANY of the existing software on the market. So why would anyone buy it? And because no-one will buy it and use it, none of the developers of those 3rd party programs will spend the massive amount of development it would take to essentially re-write their programs to run on this alternative OS.
Microsoft also forced OEM's to sell Windows on ALL their computers. It would not sell Windows to an OEM at all unless they agreed to this. And because there were few alternative products, none of which could run the software that users were demanding (Because Microsoft made sure that software could only run on Windows). OEM's were faced with a choice: Sell ONLY Windows, or go out of business.
Microsoft took many technologies that it did not own, (Java as an example), modified the format of the technology, rebranded it as it's own and bundled it with Windows in order to completely stomp out the company that created the technology. Lukcily, with Java, their contractual obligations with Sun explicitly prohibited this, and they got sued and were forced to stop. Do you feel Microsoft was wronged here too?
"Your assertion that Microsoft does not exist in a moral sphere is also
absurd. EVERY action has a moral component--and, as the eminent
20th-century Russian-American philosopher Ayn Rand proved, the honest and
noncoercive pursuit of private profit is one of, if not the, most virtuous
act one can engage in. Money is inherently a moral issue; read Francisco
d'Anconia's "Money Speech" in Atlas Shrugged for a better understanding."
First of all, just because someone wrote it in a book, does not mean it was 'proven'. Secondly, Microsoft's monopolistic practices put hundreds of businesses out of business. I guess according to your philosopher, those private profits were not as important as Microsoft's? What about the users who get the shaft when they're paying for a product that should be 1/3 the price they charge? What about society as a whole when technological innovation slows to a crawl because once you have a monopoly, and you literally control the market, you have no incentive to innovate. I guess everyone else is screwed because Microsoft should be allowed to own and control each and every one of us? What about everyone ELSE's rights here?
"Finally, obedience to the law is not a virtue in its own sake. There is
never any moral obligation to obey an illegitimate law--and one is morally
obligated to abide by the dictates of a legitimate law even if it is not
enshrined as such."
I don't think I have ever read anything so short sighted, or just plain dumb. Who determines if a law is illegitimate? Tell me? I'm listening... Everyone has different morals. If someone decides it's 'moral' to kill someone for no reason, does that make it alright? I'm sorry, but you can not just 'decide' a law is legitimate or not, and then decide to obey or not to obey it. No-one can say a law is legitimate or not, and it be fact. That statement will always be an opinion, regardless of who says it or why. You can not prove or disprove the legitimacy of a law without using other laws as a reference. Society decides whether laws are legitimate or not by who they elect to public office. And even then, it's not 'proven' or 'fact', it's a consensus by the people of that society that the law should be how it is.
There are people in other countries that will say that you should not have the right to free speech, or that you should not have the right to earn a private profit, or the right to choose ones own religion. What makes them wrong and you right? We only have those 'rights' because humans fought and died for them, and because humans established a government to protect them. People like you disgust me, because you think that you have your rights just because you exist, or because some philosopher says so. If you feel that way, move to North Korea, or Iran, and let me know what they think about your obligation to your rights.
In this case, Microsoft broke the laws defined by society, knowing full well it was doing so. It is now paying the price for those actions. If you think that's wrong, too bad. Get a new set of legislatures elected... Otherwise you and Microsoft can take yourselves and go somewhere where these laws don't apply to you.
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