FWD: ZDNet: News: Linux pioneer calls for Amazon boycott

Fri, 24 Dec 1999 11:44:42 -0500 (EST)

This message was forwarded to you from ZDNet (http://www.zdnet.com) by sk@zotgroup.com.

Comment from sender:
Jingle bells...

Next time you're about to miss a critical file delivery deadline, we've
got three words for you: speed of light. UPS Document Exchange. The faster
way to send your critical files.


This article is from ZDNN (http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/).
Visit this page on the Web at:


An early developer of the Linux operating system has called for a
boycott of Amazon.com Inc., claiming that the online retailer's effort
to enforce its 1-Click patent "is an attack against the World Wide Web
and against E-commerce in general."

The boycott was launched last week by Richard Stallman, who announced
it in an article titled "Boycott Amazon" posted on the Linux Today Web
site. News of the boycott has been widely distributed to Internet
discussion groups and on Linux-related Web sites, such as slashdot.org.


Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) spokesman Bill Curry said the company is
aware of the boycott, but declined to comment on whether the boycott
has affected sales. He also declined to disclose how many complaints
the company has received.

Stallman's ties to Linux go back more than a decade. In 1983, when
Stallman was a programmer at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology's artificial-intelligence lab, he began work on a free
alternative to Unix. Stallman dubbed his operating system GNU. Then in
1991, Linus Torvalds wrote the kernel of the operating system -- the
core source code that translates user commands into instructions a
computer can use -- and Linux was born.

Free software movement
Stallman currently works as the head of the Free Software Foundation
(www.fsf.org) in Cambridge, Mass., which he founded. That job is
unpaid, and he said in an interview that he makes most of his income
from speaking fees. He also said he has no ties to any online
retailers, including Amazon's archrival, barnesandnoble.com Inc.
(Nasdaq: BNBN).

[TABLE NOT SHOWN]Stallman objects to Amazon's patent because "it
directly affects the freedom of e-commerce," he said. Specifically, he
worries that patents like Amazon's will inhibit the future innovations
of software developers. "Patents restrict everyone," he said.

The 1-Click feature stores billing and shipping information so that
repeat customers can buy an Amazon item, such as a Harry Potter book,
a Marilyn Manson compact disk or an electric handsaw, without going
through a complicated checkout process.

Amazon was granted a patent for 1-Click in September. In October, the
company filed a complaint against barnesandnoble.com, alleging that
the rival retailer was infringing on Amazon's patent for "1-Click"
shopping. Earlier this month, Amazon was granted a preliminary
injunction in the dispute; that injunction barred barnesandnoble.com
from using its Express Lane checkout service.

The boycott comes as many industry watchers say it's unlikely Amazon
-- the recent injunction aside -- will be able to prevent competitors
from using similar technology. "Remembering who the customer is
doesn't feel like something that is worthy of patent protection --
it's not an entirely new way of doing something," says Barry Parr,
director of consumer e-commerce research at International Data Corp.
in Framingham, Mass.

[TABLE NOT SHOWN] In reaction to the boycott, Amazon has put together
a form e-mail response to boycotters who have retracted their orders
or canceled their affiliate relationships with Amazon. In the e-mail,
Amazon says that it spent six months and thousands of hours working on
its 1-Click technology, that the company is pleased about the
injunction and that it hopes the protesters will reconsider their

"It's ironic that people would call for a boycott to support companies
that have brought no innovation to the market," Curry said.[TABLE NOT SHOWN]


Copyright (c) 1998 ZDNet. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole
or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of
ZDNet is prohibited. ZDNet and the ZDNet logo are trademarks of
Ziff-Davis Inc.