Andover Moves Against Competitors

Posted 1 Apr 2000 at 07:40 UTC by kuro5hin Share This

Predatory business practices have finally come home to roost in the linux and free software media community. Andover.net today, in a sweeping blitzkreig of legal maneuvering, moved to shut down it's two most popular competitors, Advogato and Kuro5hin.org. As reported in a PR Newswire story, Andover has filed a "look and feel" copyright injunction against Advogato, and one or more patent infringement injunctions as well. What has not been made public until now is that at the same time, Andover also moved against my site, kuro5hin.org. Whether it is legal for me to release this information publically or not, I don't care. the truth must be known! Read on for the full story.

Early on Friday I received the following email:

From: Cordwainer Byrd <cbyrd@bbmma.com>
To: Rusty <rusty@kuro5hin.org>
Subject: Notice of Copyright and Patent Infringement

Mr. Foster,

My name is Cordwainer Byrd. I represent Andover.net as general counsel, with the legal firm Bailey, Byrd, Manks, McKeen, and Anders. This email serves as preliminary notice that my firm has filed copyright and patent infringement suits against you personally, as the owner of the internet web site "kuro5hin.org".

As you know, one of the primary holdings of Andover.net is the internet web site "slashdot.org." Your web site significantly duplicates copyrighted "look and feel" elements of Slashdot, as well violates several of our patents, including US Patent No. 45,487,338,209, "A system for organizing user-submitted text by means of collaborative ranking" and US Patent No. 46,773,228,287 "A system for gathering publically accessable electronic media by means of widespread individual reportage."

You will receive official notice of the actions by courier within the next two business days.

Cordwainer Byrd,
GC, Andover.net,
Bailey, Byrd, Manks, McKeen, and Anders

Of course, I immediately emailed Rob Malda, as I couldn't believe this wasn't just a hoax. And what do you think I got as a reply?

To: rusty <rusty@kuro5hin.org>
From: Rob Malda <malda@slashdot.org>
Subject: RE: You're not really suing me, are you?

rusty <rusty@kuro5hin.org> wrote:
> Rob-- I got an email from somone claiming to
> be your lawyer. You're not actually suing me are you?
> Please tell me this is some kind of joke!
>
> --R

Every time you ask if we're suing you, I'm asking for $24 million more in damages.

--
 | Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda | Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no 
 | malda(@)slashdot.org   | match for a good blaster at your side, kid.
 | http://slashdot.org/      |                 --Han Solo, Star Wars
So it's true. It's finally clear what it was that Andover had to offer slashdot to begin with. Lawyers. Rob has long espoused a "one world, one web, one news site" philosophy, and now it looks like, rather than improve their code or straighten out the mess that the comments have become, they will instead attempt to simply use legal pressure to shut down or stymie thier competition.

I have not yet talked to Raph about the situation we're in, but I believe that we will stick together in this, and hold firm in our refusal to bow to the will of the Linux Media Giant, VAndoverDot. We will be contacting the EFF, and PeaceFire in an attempt to raise a legal defense fund.

Right now, we'll just have to wait and see how this all pans out, but in the meantime, I urge you all to boycott slashdot, freshmeat, sourceforge, and all other VA/Andover holdings, to show your support for the freedom of internet media. What happens in these cases will have far-reaching effects on the future of the Internet. Show them that we will not stand for this kind of bullying within our own community!


US Patent Lameness, posted 1 Apr 2000 at 08:57 UTC by asmodai » (Journeyer)

With all due respect,

but it seems the American Bureau of Patents truly let people patent whatever they can. I mean ``A system for organizing user-submitted text by means of collaborative ranking'' as well as ``A system for gathering publically accessable electronic media by means of widespread individual reportage''. If that's true then I know of a few other sites they want to file a suit against as well, since they also use such systems.

And frankly it pisses me off to see supposedly Open Source friendly and supportive people and companies go the truly commercial way of filing suit against fellow Open Source initiatives. Guess that Dollars are worth more in the end.

Of course, nothing wrong with commercialism, I mean, I support the BSD License myself, but things like this are just downright dirty.

--asmodai

Please let this be an April fools, posted 1 Apr 2000 at 09:09 UTC by ajv » (Master)

After last year's episode with Rich Stevens, I basically gave up on Slashdot. Then I find a great site (this one) that has fantastic S/N ratio (and people who understand what that is). There's a world of difference between the weighted graph stuff here and the "post more get more karma" Slashdot weighting. On slashdot, you get moderation points for agreeing with the linux bigots and posting a lot (which drives ad revenue). Here, you get ranked by your peers - and enough of your peers also have to agree with their peers to make a difference. There's so much difference that the patent infringement would not stand scrutiny if the owners can afford the lawsuit to defend themselves.

Are they going to sue Technocrat as well? That's a blatent rip off. Maybe I'll post this to Bruce Perens, and see what he's got to say. I'm off to moan to the SourceForge people.

Why even bother releasing the source to Slashdot (which became 1.0 just the other day) if they're going to sue anyone who runs a site that looks and feels like them?

I'm going to try and get pnm2ppa pulled from SourceForge. This is fucked. Excuse my french - I'm really pissed off.

Note to Rob Malda: you are a <insert expletive> hypocrite. Call off the knuckle dragging goons, or else you will lose eyeballs for your ad revenue. All that ad revenue down the drain, for what? I'm so steamed.

Andrew

Steam off: it's a hoax, posted 1 Apr 2000 at 09:23 UTC by ajv » (Master)

Please do a dig or nslookup on your favorite nameserver. bbmma.com does not exist.

Good one fellas. Got me.

Andrew

Insanity, posted 1 Apr 2000 at 09:25 UTC by rconover » (Observer)

I cannot believe that I'm reading this. I'm appalled by these actions. What ever happened for benefiting the open source community? Has this entire thing been blown out of proportion?

So essentially I think this is a bunch of crap. Since I still see that ESR is still on VA Linux's board, maybe he should talk to the rest of the board about these actions. Yet since the suit is being filed by Andover.Net which hasn't yet been fully folded into VA maybe ESR's comments won't do any good.

Anyways I'm disgusted by reading that Andover.Net is taking these actions. I guess I'll leave it at that since I don't have anything else nice to say.

Doh!, posted 1 Apr 2000 at 09:28 UTC by rconover » (Observer)

April 1st

Good one guys, you got me!

Pffffft..., posted 1 Apr 2000 at 10:13 UTC by asmodai » (Journeyer)

I saw the date and figured something like this wouldn't be an April 1st prank.

Drat, dub me sucker.

Headlines, Headlines, It's all they care about these days., posted 1 Apr 2000 at 11:17 UTC by jmg » (Master)

Great piece there! and the headlines at the end of the PR Newswire bit really takes the cake!

Bravo!! You get the award of being the first to dupe me this April fools!

P0rn for nerds, smut that matters, posted 1 Apr 2000 at 12:25 UTC by Iain » (Master)

just delete the frameset.html from the PRthingy link, and looks where it takes you, "Nude Nerds"

Not just web sites, posted 1 Apr 2000 at 13:39 UTC by jacob » (Master)

I also recieved mail from Malda's lawyer claiming patent infrigements with bug-buddy; specifically the method it uses to extract a stack trace from a running application. Unfortunately Evolution 1.0 lost the mail, so I can't post it here.

Poisson D'Avril!, posted 1 Apr 2000 at 18:52 UTC by crackmonkey » (Master)

Man, they're just filing this lawsuit so that they can afford those new BSD-powered personal jetpacks.

Oh man..., posted 1 Apr 2000 at 19:13 UTC by julian » (Master)

You really really got me until I read the comments. :)

I was just about to flip out an kill myself. Oh well.

*feels dumb*, posted 2 Apr 2000 at 16:16 UTC by jdube » (Journeyer)

I read this on April 2... didn't check advogato yesterday. I was about to write Rob a very dirty email when I noticed some replies. Hey, look... something written on the cieling... 'gullible'... wonder what that means. ;)

The Swedish Chef Filter, posted 3 Apr 2000 at 05:03 UTC by mbp » (Master)

(no body)

The Swedish Chef filter, posted 3 Apr 2000 at 05:09 UTC by mbp » (Master)

Our little web server</a> spiked over the weekend after somebody posted to slashdot a Swedish-chef version of the meantime announcement. It would not be in the April spirit to explain whether it was serious or not I suppose, though it *does* have a RCS timestamp at the bottom of the page. I don't think Slashdot scales to the level of popularity or traffic that it has at the moment.

It was kind of funny to see that Stupid Americans(tm) thought that chef.pl output was genuine German or Spanish. Tee hee.

.. more on Slashdot:, posted 3 Apr 2000 at 05:15 UTC by mbp » (Master)

You can get some sense of the audience of Slashdot these days from the fact that their linking to meantime was enough to tip the balance of User-Agents on our site back in favour of Windows rather than Unix. :-(

 1: 30515: Windows
  : 14508:   Windows NT
  : 11178:   Windows 98
  :  4503:   Windows 95
  :   193:   Unknown Windows
  :    93:   Windows 32-bit
  :    31:   Windows 16-bit
  :     7:   Windows 3.1
  :     1:   Windows 2000
  :     1:   Windows CE
 2: 28686: Unix
  : 24713:   Linux
  :  2115:   SunOS
  :   707:   BSD
  :   689:   IRIX
  :   194:   OSF1
  :   138:   HP-UX
  :   114:   AIX
  :    16:   Other Unix
 3:  9446: OS unknown
 4:  8989: Macintosh
  :  8075:   Macintosh PowerPC
  :   879:   Macintosh 68k
  :    35:   Unknown Macintosh
 5:    76: OS/2
 6:    22: BeOS
 7:    20: Amiga
 8:     8: VMS
 9:     6: RISC OS

Browser stats, posted 3 Apr 2000 at 06:00 UTC by kuro5hin » (Master)

It's really not all that realistic to claim that /.'s audience has declined because the majority of readers run windows. The vast majority of web users run windows. I would imagine that perhaps a page on linuxcare.com.au would have drawn a primarily linux and unix-based audience, but as soon as it hits a public media site (which /. most definitely is), you're simply bound to get more windows users than otherwise. My (www.kuro5hin.org) browser stats break down like this, by way of comparison:

 no.:       reqs: OS
---: ------: --
    1: 185027: Windows
      :   75886:   Windows NT
      :   66322:   Windows 98
      :   40049:   Windows 95
      :     2520:   Unknown Windows
      :       172:   Windows 16-bit
      :         69:   Windows 32-bit
      :           9:   Windows 3.1
    2:   91817: Unix
      :   83492:   Linux
      :     5393:   SunOS
      :     1556:   BSD
      :       919:   IRIX
      :       308:   HP-UX
      :       136:   Other Unix
      :         13:   AIX
    3:   20823: Macintosh
      :   11383:   Macintosh PowerPC
      :     9406:   Macintosh 68k
      :         34:   Unknown Macintosh
    4:   16422: OS unknown
    5:       863: BeOS
    6:         83: OS/2
    7:           8: Amiga
So the ratio is roughly 2 windows users to one unix user. My site would likely be of more interest to unix-background people, so I very much doubt that that's an accurate ratio, but more what you could expect to see at the unixy-end of the popular media spectrum. Slashdot, I imagine, is right about in the middle of the popular media spectrum at this point.

Anyhoo, I'm not really one to argue that /.'s audience hasn't gone downhill. I just don't think that's necessarily a fair reflection of that fact. And, did it occur to you that maybe only windows users could read the enchefferized article? ;-)

Windows users on websites, posted 3 Apr 2000 at 14:53 UTC by cmacd » (Journeyer)

Remeber that many folks use their lunch break to check out their favorite sites on the web, and many employer desktop machines have windows installed.

Patent search fails, posted 3 Apr 2000 at 15:48 UTC by Zaitcev » (Master)

Patents do not clear by databases I know, so, for the time being, I think it is probably a hoax. Rob's letter may be explained by his perverted sense of humour.

--Pete

User Agents, posted 3 Apr 2000 at 17:30 UTC by pudge » (Master)

Heck, Andover EMPLOYEES use Windows. A lot. Not the Slash programmers, of course. Although I work on Slash and use Mac OS ... and Internet Explorer. Sigh. Why couldn't APPLE have kept its OWN employees to make a browser as good as their ex-employees made for Microsoft?

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