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Asks for definition of FUD

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Microsoft's Brazilian subsidiary has taken the country's leading open source advocate to court over what it calls defamatory remarks. Sergio Amadeu, president of the National Institute of Information Technology (ITI), a software libre consultancy, compared Microsoft's Windows license discounts for the public sector to running a "drug dealer practice". Brazil is moving towards open source at a pace, with central government and education leading the way. The magazine in which Amadeu's comments appeared last month is also named in the request.

Perhaps as an indication that its legal request isn't entirely serious, Microsoft also asks for a definition of FUD. It's a rule that lawyers never ask a question to which they don't already know the answer. And although the etymology of the word is obscure - many free (as in useless) web encyclopedias simply parrot Eric S Raymond's jargon file entry - its meaning certainly isn't. Microsoft's legal department says that doesn't want to intimidate anyone, really.

The drug analogy has been used many times, most often by Scott "the first hit is free" McNealy, and even by Gates himself.

A petition in support of the official online here points out that with 46 per cent of Brazilians living below the poverty line, the country can't afford proprietary software licenses. (In which case, what's it doing buying PCs? - ed) ®

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