back to article Microsoft faces second 'black screen' lawsuit

A second Chinese man has filed a lawsuit against Microsoft demanding it remove a notice from his computer accusing him of using illegally copied software. He is not seeking damages, but Dong Zhengwei who brought a case last week is suggesting a fine of $1bn is in order. Microsoft introduced its Windows Genuine Advantage …


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  1. Dex

    Pot kettle black anyone?

    Let me get this straight, the CHINESE are accusing the YANKS (Microsoft) of hacking into thier systems.......pot kettle black? The chinese have been doing it for damn years and yet when Microsoft give them a taste of thier own medicine (possibly?) they cry and run off


  2. NukEvil


    Let's see what happens when the world's largest country (population wise) demands that Microsoft change their illegal methods of spying on the users of "its" software.

    I say "its" because legally, it's not really a copy of "its" software after someone else has bought it off a shelf.

  3. John PM Chappell

    Confused, methinks, NukEvil

    NukEvil - Guess again. It is, and will remain, Microsoft's software and property, in its entirety, until such time as they choose to sell it on (unlikely, ever). You didn't buy it, you bought a licence to use it and implicitly and explicitly agreed to the licence terms. Some of those terms may not be enforcable in a given jurisdiction but rest assured that no jurisdiction tries to claim the contract never existed nor that you own the software. :¬)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo


    You don't buy software, you license it. The software has always been Microsofts, to do with as they see fit as long as it is in the license terms.

    They can even put a kill date in it so you can't use XP after 2009 and have to upgrade !!!

  5. Joe Montana

    Kill date

    Who needs a kill date, just turn off the activation servers and most people will be screwed, forced to reinstall and their machine becomes a brick.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    been there done that...

    Maybe.... just maybe IT IS A COPY... judging by the number of emails i get from various chinese people i have never met offering me a copy of rolex's, medicines, etc etc it could be that the copy is illegal.

    Also RE: MS owns it, you just license it ... there are FREE, OPEN SOURCE alternatives if you dont like the terms that you agreed to without reading them.

  7. Mo


    Let me get this straight… a lawsuit over an anti-piracy system introduced by an OPTIONAL update that does nothing except reset your wallpaper once an hour?

    I thought the USians were lawsuit-happy. Jeezo.

  8. MarmiteToast

    Give him what he wants

    Tell him it's easy to fix, just uninstall windows.

    Heck - write a program that will remove all windows files (but not personal files) and see how he likes those apples.

  9. Colin Millar

    Let me get in first

    Ha ha -suckers for using Micro$haft

    Be smug like me and get Chebola (if that isn't a linux flavor it will be soon)

    (More stuff that's irrelevant to the subject at hand ad nauseam..................................)

    This penguin flaming (new icon idea - spitroasted penguin icon) is harder than I thought - you actually have to concentrate on switching off large parts of the brain to do it.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @jeremy - been there done that...

    "Also RE: MS owns it, you just license it ... there are FREE, OPEN SOURCE alternatives if you dont like the terms that you agreed to without reading them."

    As with M$ software you don't own the alternative you just have a license to use it. There is no difference between open and closed source when it comes to ownership, you just have a license to use. Open source gives you far more rights in what can and cant do with the software, but it still doesn't give you ownership rights over the software.

  11. b4k4


    I never quite understood why they called this "Advantage". Surely its to your disadvantage if you have to shell out cash to keep using your computer?

    Like the Microsoft "permissive" licence I suppose, and "open" XML.

    Anyway, good on them for dis-alienating their future user base. Maybe the Chinese will turn to free software instead.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    am i missing something

    Has anyone seen evidence that the user DIDN'T purchase his copy of windoze legit?

    Ok, so software gets copied. So do movies and music. That simple fact does not mean that EVERY blinkin' copy in existence is a fake. Come down off the high horse and admit that there is a problem here that needs to be resolved and let the evidence fall where it may (whoa, once it actually comes into evidence).

  13. Fluffykins Silver badge

    Just a thought.

    If it's genuwhine Windows then sure, Miscroshaft owns the software and licences it to you and there's b-all you can do about it.

    On the other hand, If it is a copy then one may have indeed bought it from someone other than Microsoft.

    The fake licence is not Microsoft's (Er...It's a fake)

    The software isn't genuine, so Microsoft are actually trampling all over a product a d platform which is not actually heirs to trample over.

    The words "hoist" and "petard" spring to mind.

  14. Pierre Silver badge

    Hem, Dex, think again...

    The US are actually the world number one source of malware and spam. Not China, not Russia. The US. And that's not even taking MS into account.

    Anyway, this black screen thinggy is only one more dysfunction in a crappy OS. Still, it's about time the big MS bully was told they cannot screw people as they see fit anymore.

  15. Peter D'Hoye

    Windows Tax

    I think the illegal copies compensate the windows tax many people are forced to pay when buying a new system. Why I am forced to pay this when I'm not going to use it (install linux,..) is beyond me....

  16. Charles Silver badge

    Re: John PM Chappell

    EULA's are being challenged, because software can be compared to books, and we all know books (which are themselves copies) can be resold. It's the Right of First Sale, enclosed in the US Copyright Act of 1976. Basically, once something changes hands in a sale (and note that a copy still counts as *something*), it is outside the original owner's scope to control its use. For one thing, the buyer is granted the *right* to resell it. Autodesk lost a federal suit over this very matter earlier this year, and this can potentially place EULA's that enforce "licensing" in jeopardy of being declared illegal under the Copyright Act.

  17. The Mole

    License or Purchase

    I'm pretty sure that it has not been legally settled whether the clause in the license agreement that states that "the product you just purchased from a shop isn't actually a product you purchased but just a license agreement for the perpetual use of said software" is actually legally valid in most juridstrictions.

    While it is clear that if two parties have come together and negotiated a contract whereby they agree that there is a license to use a product for a period of time (or even indefinitely) is valid either for software or indeed for a car.

    What hasn't been clearly estabilished (in most juridstrictions at least) is whether the purchase of a software package in the shop has any of the essential elements needed to form a contract (eg some form of negotiation and the coming together of two parties) and so hence whether a valid contract has been made or whether instead you have done what you thought you did and gone into a shop and brought a copy of windows and not a license. In particular it should be noted that in all the advertising and box the manufactors always talk about buying XYZ or purchasing XYZ as if you were buying or purchasing it.

    Imagine what the world was like if you found out that the car you purchased from Ford wasn't actually a purchase and was in fact just a license to use the car on the roads that they had decided you could use it on and you have no right to resell the car when you no longer want to use it.

  18. Shig

    Like a wasp complaining when it gets stung

    Fuck off China! Until you curtail the waves of piracy that emanate from your country, you have no right to make demands of legitimate businesses.

  19. Mark

    re: Pot kettle black anyone?

    "But he does it too" was never a defence outside of the infant school playground.

    At least until NuLab and GOP started using it.

    Fuck off.

  20. Mark

    re: Whu…?

    Optional? No it isn't.

  21. Mark

    re: @jeremy - been there done that...

    Nope, you own the software with GPL. There is NO ***END USER*** license needed. Specifically stated in black and white for the retards who spout this sort of crap because they think it is the ONLY way software can exist.

    You don't own the copyrights, but you DO own the code. Until you start distributing copies (or a derivative work, as, for example, a binary compilation) you can do what you like with the code.

    The owner of the MS software doesn't think nor is he asking for ownership of the RIGHTS of the software copyright owner. He's asking for the ownership RIGHTS of the copy he bought.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Waste of time

    Microsoft doesn't care so long as they get their money, Yes you purchase a license but that license is no good if you have lost the disc. Micro$oft won't replace nor give you a section to download a copy to install and activate with that license. This may be off the point but I don't care. M$ is the devil, they only care if it benefits them.

  23. Kwac
    Gates Horns

    Crack dealers

    “Although about 3 million computers get sold every year in China, but people don’t pay for the software,” he said. “Someday they will, though. As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”

    William Henry Gates III

    July, 1998

  24. Neoc

    Owning Vs Licensing

    Never understood why MS didn't simply have "free disks" with MS software on it (the way they did with SP2 for XP) and then have a small booklet with the licence number inside to be purchased separately (a variation on the OEM packs).

    Separation of church and state - er... software and licence - would make the difference easier to understand (you get a copy of the software for free, but if you want to use it, you need to pay for the licence). Also means you wouldn't end up with a redundant disk with every licence you got.

    It's not as if the distribution of the CD would matter - I have used the same install CD on myriads of machines and applied the appropriate key/sticker to each without any problem, so we *know* the licence key is not linked to a specific CD.

    Stoopid MS.

  25. Paul

    Of course you own it

    If you walked into a store (or virtual equivalent) and bought it, you own it. End of story. Anybody who tells you otherwise is just trying to scam you. Copyright, as the name would indicate, has something to do with the right to make copies. But once you make a copy and sell it, you don't have any control over how someone uses it. Some would argue that by it's nature using computer software constitutes copying it (to memory, etc), but courts have ruled that you ARE allowed to copy something for personal use.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Only two?

    Out of all of China, only 2 people have complained they have fake versions?

    Wow, that's a pretty decent strike-rate.

    What is microsofts problem?

  27. Kwac
    Gates Horns


    You bought a license to use what you thought you bought.

    The CD and its contents don't belong to you - they belong to Microsoft.

    Read the EULA.

  28. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    Bear in mind ...

    that in the vast majority of cases WGA was NOT installed as a result of informed action on the part of the user. Even if you disable automatic updates (which Windows NAGs incessantly about having turned back on) and check all proposed updates - most people would NOT understand that WGA will install software that will irrevocably give MS the ability to turn off your PC remotely, because the description is very carefully worded to avoid saying that.

    If people have (IMO rather daftly) left automatic updates turned on, then WGA will be installed without even asking the user/owner and therefore it's hard to see how MS can claim that they had any consent at all, let alone informed consent, to install software which really does NOT present any significant advantage or security improvement to the user.

    It's about time some authorities around the world looked at this - I think in the UK it should be covered by the Misuse of Computers Act. So which MS executives are going to jail ?

  29. Mark


    I bought the CD and the software thereon.

    If I require to copy it to use it, the Berne Convention doesn't count this as a copyright controlled action and in the UK, since it is a civil tort, only damages can be applied and not punitive action (this requires a criminal court). Damages from ***using*** the software you bought to the person you bought it ***from***???

    Yeah, that pony flies.

    You bought a CD. It contains software. There's no license needed to USE the software. No matter how much you want to to be.

  30. NukEvil
    Paris Hilton

    @ John PM Chappell

    Wrong, and here's why.

    There is NO contract agreed upon--implied or otherwise--that tells you you don't "own" something when you buy anything. If you buy a vehicle, you do not agree to ANY CONTRACT WHATSOEVER that you're only "licensing" said vehicle, and that the maker of the vehicle can, for example, turn off your vehicle's radio if you don't have a driver's license (whether you have a license or not, the thing that detects whether you have a license or not can't be wrong, right?)

    Therefore, what happens when some n00b goes out, get's a proctological examination, and buys a copy of the latest version of Microsoft Windows, reads the EULA, decides he doesn't agree, and tries to return the software? That's right, the store won't allow him to get his refund, because he needed to OPEN THE BOX and INSTALL a small piece of the software on his computer to read the EULA in the first place! They'll only allow him to get an exact copy of the same crappy software he's now trying to get rid of in the first place. And since he's aready installed a piece of this software, no matter how small, he's effectively "used" the "non-transferrable" "license", so therefore, under the terms of the EULA, he won't be "legally" able to return it, or even exchange it for something other than an exact copy, anyways! I quoted legally, because of what I'm about to type:

    EULAs that demand implied concent upon a condition that inevitebly occurs before you are able to read them (i.e., installing the software) are illegal under the Digital Millenium Copyrights Act. You should read up on it sometime.

    Paris, because, well...proctology.

  31. vegister
    Gates Horns

    sneaky automatic updates..

    one of my work PCs run XP legally, but i prefer not to run the WGA notification "update". I didn't install it, and asked not to be reminded again. Today my yellow shield appeared on the icon bar, and the WGA notification was in the list, expecting to be installed. If it was in a list of 10 updates i wouldn't have noticed. What's happening here? Did MS reset the "i don't want to install this update" flag on our PCs? i think we should be told.

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