Computer Giant Takes on Geelong Not for Profit
23 July 2001 at 1:07 pm
It’s a classic David and Goliath story…Microsoft, the worlds largest computer company run by one of the world’s richest men, Bill Gates has shut down a small Geelong charity that provides second hand computers to needy kids.
But the charity says it isn’t about to be bullied and give in!
The Not for Profit “PCs for Kids” has been operating from a Church hall in the city of Geelong, west of Melbourne, for just over two years reconditioning and supplying donated second hand computers to disadvantaged local kids.
And it’s been a big success making more than one thousand children who would never have the chance to own a computer, catch up on the new technology.
Not only have Geelong children benefited but, PCs for Kids founders, Colin and Terresa Bayes say they have been able to send many computers to East Timor children as well.
But three weeks ago, out of the blue, they received a letter of demand from the Microsoft Corporation telling them to stop their work because they are breaching copyright.
It is a fact, Terresa Bayes says, that she and her husband clean up the files on the donated computers removing any personal information and then they reload the same copy of Windows and then send the computers to needy kids.
However she says Microsoft in Australia has told their organisation it must purchase new license packs and register the software with every reconditioned computer it sends out.
The result is PCs for Kids has shut down while discussions continue.
Terresa Bayes says she has had many offers for the supply of free software such as Linex and Star Office…but while these programs are compatible…they are not the same as the kids are using at school….so again they are in a disadvantaged position. The cost of providing new Microsoft software would be prohibitive – around $650 a pop!
Bayes says Microsoft has shut down almost all the Not for Profits in the US offering the same service as well as a New Zealand group called ARK.
She says these groups have been bullied and harassed but PCs for Kids will not give up the fight. PCs for Kids is run by community volunteers and like many small Not for Profits runs on the smell of an oily rag!
Bayes says one solution would be for Microsoft to issue a special licence to the organisation restricting the computers’ distribution to children. However this doesn’t appear to suit the corporate giant.
She says they are now stalling for time hoping they will run out of puff and funds to keep going. But Terresa and Colin vow to fight on…their story has gone worldwide and she says she had had e-mails supporting her from 36 different countries!
No doubt we will hear more about the battle of David and Goliath and if you have an opinion why not join our on-line Forum at probonoaustralia.com.au.
For some information on PCs for Kids….check out the web site at www.pcsforkids.org.