I think Tamino is right:
Some have criticized Microsoft for “supporting” the so-called “Heartland Institute.” The basis of this is that Microsoft provides free software because the so-called “Heartland Institute” is, at present, legally classified as a nonprofit organization. There have even been suggestions to pressure Microsoft no longer to allow the so-called “Heartland Institute” free software access, because of their global warming denial.
I disagree. Fervently.
Microsoft provides free software to non-profit organizations. I think that’s a wonderful service. They don’t have a review committee, or a lot of rules and regulations, and frankly they aren’t interested in making a bureaucracy of doing so. I’m glad. I want all non-profit organizations to benefit from this. If there are reprehensible non-profit organizations — and I consider the so-called “Heartland Institute” about as reprehensible as it gets — as long as they legally qualify as non-profit, they get the benefit too. That’s as it should be. Because the minute they start making exceptions, the whole thing slides down a slippery slope.
But he misses a point and suggestion that Greg Laden picks up on:
The important point here is this: Microsoft Corporation dislikes the Heartland Foundation. When you see the “Microsoft” logo or the name “Microsoft” on a list of supporters for Heartland, that is not Microsoft supporting Heartland, it is Heartland at the Microsoft Trough scarfing up some free grub, and nothing more.
Which brings me to my suggestion. If you are going to give away a big pile of stuff with only loose criteria for who gets it, make a rule: If you want the free item, take it, but do not put our name on your web site or anywhere else without our expressed permission. Microsoft or any other large corporation giving away free stuff can certainly advertise, and thus capitalize on this fact, without letting just anyone use their logo or name and certainly should want to avoid accidental association with nefarious interests.
UPDATE: It seems that Greg Laden was mistaken. Heartland never publicly misused Microsoft’s name. The Heartland-Microsoft connection (ie Heartland taking advantage of a Microsoft program that gives non-profits free software) was disclosed as a side effect of Peter Gleick’s sleuthing.