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RISC OS fan in legal hot water over spoof website

By Chris Williams. Published: 14th Feb 2006, 22:24:40 | Permalink | Printable

David versus the OFT and Microsoft

A photo of TarquinA bungled protest against Microsoft and the Office of Fair Trading has led to a legal showdown between a RISC OS user and the government. Campaigning Tarquin Mills, 32, registered oft.me.uk earlier this month and turned it into a carbon copy of the official OFT.gov.uk website. The RISC OS enthusiast, pictured right, then filled his site with articles lampooning what he believes is the OFT's inaction against Microsoft's dominant position in the personal computer market. The site also includes a screenshot of Oregano showing what appears to be the official OFT website suffering downtime.

Within days of the site going live, the Norwich based programmer was told to remove the spoof website and hand over the domain to the OFT. Tarquin changed the website to just display the hoax press releases without using the OFT's official HTML design, but it's understood lawyers acting on behalf of the government accused him of stalling for time. The .me.uk website is still online, and according to paperwork seen by drobe.co.uk over the weekend, treasury solicitors have been instructed to seek an injunction from the courts to shut down the spoof website, citing copyright infringement and defamation.

"The OFT should start an investigation into Microsoft's 95% and growing monopoly," said Tarquin, who grew frustrated after his letters to the OFT led nowhere.

"In protest at their lack of action, I created a website. What was the OFT's response? Start an investigation? No. The government have just sent me a legal threat."

Tarquin, who stood as a UKIP candidate and previously campaigned against Microdigital, vowed on Saturday to fight the government in court but refused to comment further. The OFT has declined to comment on individual cases.


Man's website protest against Microsoft from The Norwich Evening News

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I am not particularly concerned that Microsoft dominate the market, let them dominate and the majority who buy only such products.

Just having RISC OS up to date and in a smaller market that's a reliable computer and viruses vitually unknown, suits me.

But it does tickle my humour when a company, school or university recommends the "standard" Windows system to use. :-(

Sort of suggesting nothing else really works when they say that?

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 15/2/06 1:54AM
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It doesn't look anyone noticed the clause banning incitred to hatred of Microsoft which was tacked on to the end of the Governments Religeous thought crimes bill. So Tarquin can look forward to having his colon felt by an anti-terrorst officer very shortly, unless of course he first gets accidentally shot 11 times for wearing a backpack.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 15/2/06 9:09AM
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So in fear of losing those subsidised PC's from Microsoft, the government shuts down anyone who protests their monopoly, instead of investigating it.

I left the USA because I was fed up of the corporate-sponsored government (oil, RIAA, MPAA...) glad I'm moving to France now, at least there we have some free speech and copyright means squat ;)

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 15/2/06 9:17AM
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The OFT site has an online survey that anyone could take the time to comment on the issues. My personal issue was the lack of information on action/inaction against the monopoly held by Micro$oft in the desktop computer OS market.

 is a RISC OS Userrmac on 15/2/06 9:57AM
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fight the good fight brother!!

 is a RISC OS Userhighlandcattle on 15/2/06 11:39AM
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Copying the OFT's own material wasn't a great idea if the activist in question wanted to avoid a convenient way of getting shut down, but I don't see any problem with parodying the OFT's site at all.

Next time, though, I'd recommend going for the European Commission - surely any UKIP candidate knows that is is they who wear the trousers in matters of competition legislation.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 15/2/06 11:39AM
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What a muppet.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 15/2/06 11:54AM
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Oh dear, what a shame. Couldn't happen to a nicer feller ;)

Still, seems a bit of an overreaction. Once the lawyers get involved it always seems that there's not much you can do but back away very, very slowly.

 is a RISC OS Userninja on 15/2/06 12:23PM
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What a silly man. I hope he didn't mention RISC OS anywhere on his site. As for the MS monopoly, well, in my office we use XP because there is a hell of a lot of good software for it that we need on a daily basis. Give us anything else and the company would be bust in weeks. For your average small office or home user they could use something else. But it'd have to be user friendly (so that's linux out) and have modern software (bye bye RISC OS). -- Spriteman

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 15/2/06 1:12PM
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Though I have a natural inclination toward the principal of supporting little people squashed by big business, to me Tarquin Mills has always come across as a childish loon. I find it hard to muster a lot of sympathy in this case I'm afraid. If you stand in the middle of a firing range with a target painted on your chest, expect to get shot.

 is a RISC OS UserCogs on 15/2/06 2:23PM
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Hmm, with regards to the current contents of <a href="[link]">oft.me.uk</a>, it's not a good read.

It would be nice if in the midst of all the name calling I could see an argument as to why Microsoft should be investigated or punished, or even what Tarquin suggests could be done to fix this bad situation.

Also I've noted in parodies it's important to get your spelling and grammar mostly correct, this is particulaly important when parodying Chocky.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 15/2/06 3:42PM
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And with regard to getting Microsoft investigated for something - a course of action usually reserved for miffed lobbying-intensive competitors like Apple, Sun, Netscape and Real Networks - I don't see why aggrieved punters don't take "market action" rather than expect some government bureaucracy to file some kind of "beware of the leopard" report on the subject. If Tarquin is so disappointed that he can't buy an Iyonix in Dixons... well, perhaps that's unrealistic - rewind a bit... if Tarquin is so disappointed that it's all Windows (and perhaps a bit of Mac) in Dixons, he should make a point of not spending any money there. For all I know, the most vocal anti-Microsoft types go in, vent about how unfair it all is, and then go and buy an iPod or a plasma TV or something - hardly issuing swift justice to the retail offender.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 15/2/06 4:26PM
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guestx: That would be marvellous if it worked, and in general it does work, but specifically the principle tends to fall down when you have a monopoly or near monopoly, which is why we have a Monopoly and Mergers Commission (or as it's been known since 1999, the Office of Fair Trading).

For example, I don't know off the top of my head of a supermarket that doesn't sell Windows PCs. Should I boycott all supermarkets?

Hmm, perhaps that's not such a bad idea after all ;)

 is a RISC OS Userninja on 15/2/06 5:18PM
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ninja: "For example, I don't know off the top of my head of a supermarket that doesn't sell Windows PCs. Should I boycott all supermarkets?"

Well, alright, singling out a narrow part of a supermarket's business and then boycotting it because of objections to the supermarket's stocking policy in that one area does seem a bit extreme, and I guess if you desperately wanted some consumer electronics, you could always buy it at Dixons and try and forget that they have a stupid stocking policy for computers as you hand over that credit card.

But at some point you have to draw the line and say that there are plenty of places other than Dixons (and other retailers/brands) that sell computers without Windows pre-installed and that you'll take your business elsewhere. This is a lot more effective than pretending that installing something over the top of Windows (with Dixons a few hundred quid up in revenue) is somehow raising it to The Man when it's perhaps more akin to covering up a raised finger: a defiant secondary school level gesture, indeed.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 15/2/06 5:43PM
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Sorry chum, the OFT has never been known as the MMC or Competition Commission, it's been OFT since 1973 (The Fair Trading Act 1973) - OFT and the Commission have different roles.

 is a RISC OS Userbstewart on 18/2/06 9:34PM
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Sorry, you're quite right. The MMC apparently renamed to the Competition Comission in 1999 (not to the OFT). Result of misreading a set of google results. Good call.

 is a RISC OS Userninja on 20/2/06 4:11PM
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It is about time, that MS will be put for International Court !!! At the moment i am busy with my lawyers to put this company for international Court. And last but not least, to get MS out of the UK and out of the Netherlands as well !!!

 is a RISC OS Userdatawave on 22/2/06 1:16PM
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