Microsoft Bullying School Districts For Lunch Money

from the moral-outrage dept

Well, here’s an interesting contrast. On the same day that Microsoft is donating $1.1 million to a poor school district in Florida comes a story about how they’re raiding other (often poorer) schools for illegally copying software and then forcing them to pay huge fines that they can’t afford. As if Microsoft didn’t already make you sick, this article will help. Many school districts are starting to look more seriously at open source products instead of being held for ransom by Microsoft.

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Comments on “Microsoft Bullying School Districts For Lunch Money”

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xdroop (user link) says:

I don't get it.

The schools broke the law. Not even the schools are claiming otherwise. Why should schools be held to a different standard than businesses?

I agree with Microsoft when they say that schools should set the example of complying with the law, rather than merely breaking it when it becomes ‘inconvenient’.

All this is pushing schools to investigate cheaper alternatives, which in the long run is good for their students and for the entire free software community.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: I don't get it.

Yes, I agree that the schools have broken the law, but come on… Microsoft should have better things to do then bullying a bunch of schools that are broke anyway. Let them go after businesses.

Also… if they’re donating all this software to one poor school, while holding the other one ransom for cash, don’t you think that’s a little unfair? And, worse, it’s making life much worse for the students who aren’t even at fault in this situation. Their schools have less money since they’re being fined by Microsoft, and they have less software to use.

It’s definitely a situation of bullying. Sure, in a perfect world schools would have perfect licenses… but if you read the article carefully you’d see that the school district who turned to Microsoft to help them clean up their licenses was told that Microsoft doesn’t do that sort of thing, they just fine you for failing to comply. That’s not Microsoft trying to follow the law – that’s them being punitive and taking it out on the education of children.

What Microsoft should do in situations where they find a school that has broken the license is help them get into compliance, but don’t fine them, and hurt the school. That’s just mean and hurtful.

xdroop (user link) says:

Re: Re: I don't get it.

You are just arguing for selective enforcement, something which can only increase the dilution of the power of law. It isn’t bullying any more than the traffic cop who picks one speeder out of a line of twenty is ‘bullying’ his ‘victim’, even though he ‘let the others get away’.

Arguing that since Microsoft is making donations to other schools is a non-starter as well — as an individual organization, Microsoft has the right to select who will receive what. Your argument seems to say that schools can demand an equitable donation even if Microsoft has not decided to donate to them.

The bottom line is: did they break the law?


If you disagree with the outcome, change the law.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: I don't get it.

Of course I’m arguing for selective enforcement of the law – because I think that’s a fairer solution.

If the cop picks the speeders who are driving more dangerously, and more likely to cause harm, then YES, that’s exactly what he should do.

I think that there are circumstances that surround every case, and to base decisions on the word of the law alone is often a dangerous way to do things. The fact is that schools *are* different than regular businesses, and that’s a circumstance that needs to be looked at.

Perhaps the laws do need to be changed, but it’s my opinion that Microsoft is doing no good in bullying schools into paying. If they have a problem with what schools are doing they should help them get into compliance. But they shouldn’t be taking money away from the schools. That hurts everyone.

xdroop (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I don't get it.

But it never will be ‘fair’, that’s the problem.

So this school board gets to pass on paying for all the licenses they borrowed. How is this fair to the school board which budgeted for licenses properly (removing money from the lunch program or whatever special interest tickles your fancy)?

And the cop should be charging said driver with driving dangerously, not speeding. My assumption was that all other things were equal, and said speeder was no different from the nineteen which flew the coop.

The original idea behind having laws was that it was a ‘thou shall not foo’, where foo was something that society had decided was against its interests. Of course, since laws got extended into more and more gray areas (and grayer and grayer areas), people like you now turn a semi-blind eye to violators except when it becomes a convenient stick to beat over someone else’s head (“your honor, the defendant was intoxicated, erratically driving a stolen car which failed to meet basic safety standards — but since there was no malicious intent, let’s forget all that and merely convict him of speeding“).

If a law isn’t enforced, then it isn’t serving the purpose to which it was originally enacted. The situation becomes unfair to those who voluntarilly comply with it, since there would be no penalty for violation. This law should be repealed, or enforced.

If a law is only occasionally enforced (as in the case of our speeder), then it becomes arbitrary, random, and unfair.

Schools, as the educators of the next generation of citizens, should be held to standards second only to lawmakers and law-enforcement. They should set the example that laws are to be obeyed, even when they are “unfair” or inconvenient.

Otherwise, you end up with — hey! — society today, where laws are “optional” until enforced.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 I don't get it.

If the end result of all of this is to harm the educational process, which I believe it is, then sure, change the damn law.

Or, fine, go out there and build a better free product for schools to use.

If you really think that society is a better place when laws are rigidly enforced without any thought given to circumstances, then I’m glad you (apparently) live in a different country than I do. 🙂

m4d_3r337 says:

when de facto and de jure clash

Yes the schools broke law, but in fact shcools do break copyright laws all the time and rarely get called on it because of ALL THE BAD PR IT WOULD CREATE. Remember getting photo copied handouts of other textbooks/selected readings/etc.? Well they were illegal, the publisher/author didn’t get reimbursed for them.

The bottom line is that schools MUST teach and they MUST have materials to do it. And schools don’t always have the cash to pay for the materials, but they must still teach. So they beg, borrow and steal what is necessary. I see both sides of the issue, but my heart is with the schools because they need the cash more than the billion dollar company M$ has become.

How does it look if: “The lack of a football season this year was brought to you by Micro$oft”?

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