I wonder if Microsoft would ever try enforcing its draconian censorship rules?

Reading the software license from Microsoft for Windows Live Movie Maker (and it is a standard license that applies more widely to Microsoft products), I found this:

4. How You May Not Use the Service.
In using this service, you may not:…

  • use the service in a way that harms us or our advertisers, affiliates, resellers, distributors and/or vendors, or any customer of ours or our advertisers, affiliates, resellers, distributors and/or vendors

The use of “harm” there is an extremely broad prohibition. Imagine I was an unhappy customer of one of Microsoft’s advertisers and I made a short film showing the problems with a product, edited it with Movie Maker, and put it up on YouTube. Publicising bad news about a faulty product? That’d harm the firm in the usual meanings of the word (and I can’t see a legal provision in the license that means ‘harm’ has a much more specific and narrow meaning, but if someone knows otherwise…).

It is hard to imagine Microsoft enforcing that provision and, in their defence, it’s a pretty sure thing that it is a provision that is actually regularly broken day in, day out without Microsoft trying to enforce it.

Which leaves the question, what’s the point? It’s a legal power that if enforced would generate huge controversy for Microsoft and involve it in all sorts of actions that the firm clearly doesn’t actually want to get in to. It also doesn’t do a good job of PR for Microsoft to see that they are willing to stick out such draconian licenses, whether or not they actually intend to use them.


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