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.comment: Your Voice

A Remarkable Response

December 26, 2001

Two weeks ago, I encouraged readers to take advantage of the public comment period in the U.S. v. Microsoft case.

I am not as a rule a tinfoil hatter -- conspiracy theories are, to me, more a matter of amusement than conviction. Having said that, I must admit that I'm truly puzzled that the contact information provided in the Federal Register was erroneous in two out of the three methods listed. The third, regular mail, carried a warning that it might not arrive.

Here is the correct information. Bear in mind that if you choose to comment -- and you should -- it must arrive before January 27. The correct e-mail address is microsoft.atr@usdoj.gov while the correct fax numbers are 1-202-307-1454 or 1-202-616-9937.

That bit of business out of the way, I must take my (non-tinfoil) hat off to the readers of this column, who I have come to learn are among the most logical and reasoned people it is my privilege to know. I learned this because a number of you were kind enough to send me copies of your comments in the case. It is too often too easy to forget that there is more to the Linux user base than the free-for-all discussion, flames, humor, and communications from another (distant and undiscovered) dimension that we all know from the various online fora.

This week I thought I'd excerpt some of those comments, to give those of you who haven't yet written a sense of what your fellow Linux users are saying to the Department of Justice and the judge. In that I do not have specific permission to use them, I will not quote people by name, nor will I repeat anyone's comment in its entirety. Due to the fact that this column will probably be very long anyway, there will be some that I don't quote at all; I hope that their writers do not take this as an appraisal of their contributions, because it's not. Without exception, the comments I've seen have been well-reasoned, well-put, and appropriately respectful. I'm proud to know their writers.

Before I start, let me give the best answer I can to a question I received from numerous people. I do not know whether comments from outside the United States would, as a matter of law, be given any weight. I do know, however, that as a practical matter international commerce is what fuels the world's economy, and a growing part of that economy is computers and software and the uses to which they are put. It is inconceivable to me that a strong representation of interested parties outside the U.S. could do any harm, and I strongly suspect that it might do a great deal of good.