This one is interesting. I received the following e-mail this week from Microsoft's Elizabeth Boyle:
It has come to Microsoft's attention that Internet-Nexus is distributing the following Microsoft software products, Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 3, Outlook 97 Internet Mail Enhancement Patch Beta 3, and Internet Explorer 4.0 Platform Preview 1 via its web site at http://www.internet-nexus.com.
By this notification Microsoft seeks to address the serious nature of the redistribution of these products and demands that you immediately cease and desist redistribution of such product and that these download links be removed from your web site within five (5) working days. Further, Microsoft reserves its right to pursue all legal remedies available relative to the distribution of unlicensed or illegal products by Internet-Nexus or its Internet Service Provider.
If you have any questions regarding this matter, please contact me via e-mail or directly at (206) 936-3847.
Now, I can't imagine how this harms Microsoft, but the Nexus does have a very high speed connection and I've gotten numerous thank-you's from people who were able to download software from us much more quickly than at Microsoft's own site. Here is my response to this e-mail:
While I question the ethics of your problem with our "distribution" of free software, I will certainly abide by your request and remove the offending programs within five days.
We are interested, however, in distributing this software since we offer our users a high bandwidth connection. How might we become involved with licensing the right to do this? The hyperlink you quote does not address this issue.
Her response to this, as you might expect, was not exactly what I had in mind.
Thank you for your prompt response to our request. At this time, if you would like to continue to offer your customers access to these Microsoft products, the only way we can authorize this distribution is for you to establish a direct link to the Microsoft web site where the download can take place.
The end result, of course, is that we will be removing the downloads she mentions early next week (we'll be waiting the full five days, naturally). If you haven't downloaded these items and you'd like to, you should do so soon. Unfortunately, Microsoft wishes to control the downloading of free software and we don't see any easy way to fight this. The sad thing, of course, is that we are evangelizing Microsoft software--for free--and they decide to treat us like this. It's unfortunate