College Kid 1, Microsoft 0

A wonderful David vs. Goliath story… In the blue corner, Microsoft Incorporated! In the red corner… College Kid!

  • College Kid buys software from campus bookstore.
  • Finding that it requires a reformat, he decides not to install it on his machine.
  • Bookstore will not allow him to return software, even if it is unopened.
  • Kid contacts Microsoft, who also refuse return of unopened software.
  • Faced with a catch-22, Kid sells software on eBay.
  • Microsoft finds out about the eBay auction and sues Kid.
  • Kid fights… and, to everyone's surprise, wins.

My comments:

  • BRAVO!
  • A Microsoft "investigator" stopped the Windows XP auction on the grounds of "piracy". When the kid called them on it, they did not reply.
  • Microsoft had the nerve to claim that his $143.50 in profits was "unfair competition" and forced the company to sustain "substantial impact" on their multi-billion-dollar business.
  • MS claimed that the Kid was "hassling them"… even though they were the ones who started the process of litigation. Apparently the act of fighting back is now considered "hassling". What you are supposed to do, presumably, is roll over and hand them your check book…
  • MS was more than happy to bury the kid in litigation – until the kid told the Press what was going on. At that point, the company suddenly changed their tune and wanted to settle… and bury the story instead. This goes to show that Corporations are more concerned with their public image than doing the right thing. Naturally, the Kid, having better things to do with his life, obliged… and as a result can no longer discuss the case.

This case shows the holes in the laws regarding Software Licensing Agreements (SLAs), which are generally used by the publisher to

  1. Deny all liability for faults and damages and
  2. Limit what the customer can and cannot do with the product.

I would like to see a plain-English "spirit-of-the-law" SLA statement… and for publishers to be held a little more accountable in the "real world".

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