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Netfront Application Hacking Cease and Desist Order

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CE Geek Page Icon Posted 2007-09-21 12:27 AM
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papaken - 2007-09-20 8:23 PM
I know at least for myself I will never buy anything from Access Co. ever again. They lost my business, and the business of anyone else I have told this story to as well.


There you go - that's the only language the company can understand.
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deusexaethera
deusexaethera Page Icon Posted 2007-09-22 10:06 PM
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I understand the need to protect this site from legal action, and so you guys do whatever you have to do.

<rant>

However, I want to make it perfectly clear that this is complete bullshit. I modify everything I own. My Volkswagen makes 100hp more than it's supposed to; my computer runs 25% faster than it's supposed to; I have an old bench grinder that was never intended to have a brushless motor and a grounded 3-prong power cable; my bicycle has two original parts left on it; and most of the programs on my Netbook aren't supposed to be able to run, but they do.

I don't care what Ming Bing Ding, Inc., or any other company, has to say about me modifying their products so they do what I want them to do. Crescent and Dremel don't bitch at me when I post instructions for modifying their tools online, and Volkswagen doesn't complain when I explain to people how to bypass the alarm system so the engine can idle after I remove the key. They don't complain about these things (and I'm using myself as an example but we all know modifications are never done by just one person), presumably because they're smart enough to realize that they are selling product anyway.

If these people are concerned about third-party modifications, then they should update their software to offer the features people want. If they're concerned that the modifications are detrimental to sales of new, updated products, then their prices are too high. If they don't want to offer those features, that's just tough shit. Their right to complain ends when their products aren't being stolen and copied, and when their profits aren't suffering. (Though, obviously their ability to complain never ends.) No judge will let this case stay in court for longer than a day.

</rant>

Edited by deusexaethera 2007-09-22 10:17 PM
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btrimmer Page Icon Posted 2007-09-22 11:34 PM
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deusexaethera - 2007-09-22 10:06 PM

However, I want to make it perfectly clear that this is complete bullshit. I modify everything I own. My Volkswagen makes 100hp more than it's supposed to; my computer runs 25% faster than it's supposed to; I have an old bench grinder that was never intended to have a brushless motor and a grounded 3-prong power cable; my bicycle has two original parts left on it; and most of the programs on my Netbook aren't supposed to be able to run, but they do.



It's an unfortunate fact that software has been found to fall under Copyright law rather than Patent law. The law views modifying software akin to editing someone else's book without permission or using someone else's artwork in a piece of your own art (so-called derivative works), rather than viewing it as modifying a device. (I'm not sure this is true in the EU, but it is definitely true here in the States. Software falls under the DMCA - Digital Millennium Copyright Act - here in the USA.)

Personally, I think software should be treated as technology rather than intellectual property - as a device rather than as content. True, software is 'written' and not 'designed', but anyone who has done software development knows darn well that the process is less like writing a book and more like engineering a new gadget. It really is a design process rather than a creative process. And we give such products different legal protection than we do the products of artists. After all, it's not as though treating software like technology would make it legal to copy and distribute the software without permission, any more than you could reverse engineer someone's patented device, manufacture copies and try to sell them under current law.

Unfortunately, what I think doesn't change what the law currently says. And the law gives software developers the same rights of control over their creations as writers, singers, photographers and artists of all kinds. Other than exemptions for Parody/Satire and for Fair Use, copyright owners have near absolute control over the use of their creations. Fair Use exemptions usually relate to copying and distributing, rather than modifying as such. (i.e. duplicating small passages of a written work and distributing them, intact, in a published review) Parody/Satire exemptions do cover altering or modifying copyrighted works, but I doubt you could argue that modifying software to work on an HPC counts as Satirical derivative work.

EDIT: I'm was not quite clear on what I mean. I'm really thinking of software like Browsers or Operating Systems when I say this. Real nuts and bolts type stuff Yes, there certainly are creative aspects to software development. Particularly in video game design, where you often have many of the same elements you find in creating a book or movie: characters, plot elements, artwork, and so on. Treating such software under Copyright Law (at least the story and artwork parts of it) makes perfect sense to me. Even aspects of a browser or OS have creative elements - icon design, menu organization and what not. Of course, there are creative aspects to car design in that sense as well. But cars can't be copyrighted - Operating Systems can.

Edited by btrimmer 2007-09-22 11:43 PM
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cmonex Page Icon Posted 2007-09-23 12:13 AM
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btrimmer - 2007-09-23 5:34 AM
Even aspects of a browser or OS have creative elements - icon design, menu organization and what not. Of course, there are creative aspects to car design in that sense as well. But cars can't be copyrighted - Operating Systems can.


and the import table that the linker creates is creative?

this is the only thing we've ever modified in netfront. sigh.
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deusexaethera
deusexaethera Page Icon Posted 2007-09-23 1:32 AM
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I'm a software engineer. I can tell you quite plainly what the creative aspects of software are: functions and aesthetics. That's all. How those functions are implemented is not the creative part. If someone writes a program that works totally differently but looks and acts the same to the user, that's theft of a creative work. If someone swipes a piece of code that does the same thing their own code does, but does it faster and more efficiently, that's also theft of a creative work. Modifying code inside an application for the purpose of repairing a deficiency is NOT theft of a creative work.

Saying that the code contained in an application is a creative work, is akin to saying that Monet ripped off Da Vinci because he used canvas and oil paint.
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CE Geek Page Icon Posted 2007-09-23 3:44 AM
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btrimmer - 2007-09-22 8:34 PM
Personally, I think software should be treated as technology rather than intellectual property - as a device rather than as content. True, software is 'written' and not 'designed', but anyone who has done software development knows darn well that the process is less like writing a book and more like engineering a new gadget. It really is a design process rather than a creative process. And we give such products different legal protection than we do the products of artists. After all, it's not as though treating software like technology would make it legal to copy and distribute the software without permission, any more than you could reverse engineer someone's patented device, manufacture copies and try to sell them under current law.


Good points made there, btrimmer. I suspect that the people who crafted the copyright laws over software didn't understand this, especially given that PC software was a new concept to almost everyone back then. Maybe we ought to write members of Congress serving on committees that oversee such issues. (I know it sounds like a longshot that this would get anywhere, but remember that it just took one tired woman on a bus to start a sea of change in social policy in this country.)
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deusexaethera
deusexaethera Page Icon Posted 2007-09-23 11:40 PM
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It wouldn't work, I'm afraid. Unlike with the Rosa Parks incident, the general populace is not well-informed enough to agree with us, whereas pretty much everybody was offended by the idea of an old lady getting dragged off to jail for refusing to stand on a crowded bus after working all day.

The fact that several people have gotten ridiculously rich (and powerful, and influential) as a result of having near-absolute control over what amounts to a bunch of math equations, doesn't really help the issue either. Their lobby > our lobby. We're just voters.
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CE Geek Page Icon Posted 2007-09-24 12:03 AM
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Well, she wasn't that old - she was only 42 at the time. And plenty of white folks were more offended at the time by her refusal to move to the back of the bus than by her arrest for it. (That attitude sounds outrageous to us nowadays, but it was rather the norm in the South in 1955.)

Hard to argue with your point about the general populace not being well-informed enough to agree with us on software issues, though. But consider this: if they're not that computer-savvy, I'd expect a lot of people not to buy a mobile browser when they can get one for free - they'd probably be satisfied with PIE/IECE or Minimo. I suspect that most of the people who would buy Netfront are as informed (or nearly as well-informed) as we are. Which leads us back to papaken's solution - a boycott may well remove a huge chunk of their sales. If a boycott of the public transit system in a medium-sized town like Montgomery, Alabama can change a whole country, who's to say that a boycott of a payware mobile Web browser by a few thousand geeks couldn't have an impact? (That's the eternal activist in me talking.)
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cmonex Page Icon Posted 2007-09-24 4:34 AM
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erm, no, many people arent satisfied with PIE, and minimo, the latter must be a joke.
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clintonfitchdotcom Page Icon Posted 2007-09-24 7:05 AM
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Okay, so let me make sure I have this conversation correctly.

1. We are now comparing EULAs to race laws in the United States pre-Civil Rights movement
2. We are willing to punish developers by not buying their bits because they have EULAs and don't open source it
3. Further, we are willing to punish developers because our law makers don't understand the technology.



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deusexaethera
deusexaethera Page Icon Posted 2007-09-24 11:19 AM
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1. We are comparing two situations involving unilateral decision-making and considering our options to cause havoc until we get our way.
2. We are willing to punish developers by not buying their bits because they are being overly-aggressive in controlling their products. (There's a difference between hex editing to insert viruses and hex editing to fix bugs, and they know that.)
3. Further, we are willing to punish developers for actively seeking to ensure that our lawmakers continue to not understand the technology.
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Leonard_Caplan Page Icon Posted 2007-09-24 11:37 AM
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clintonfitchdotcom - 2007-09-24 7:05 AM

Okay, so let me make sure I have this conversation correctly.

1. We are now comparing EULAs to race laws in the United States pre-Civil Rights movement
2. We are willing to punish developers by not buying their bits because they have EULAs and don't open source it
3. Further, we are willing to punish developers because our law makers don't understand the technology.



I hope you do not have a problem removing your tounge from your cheek

I have been following all of this and am amazed at both the silliness of most of the comments.

My take on all of this:

FACT - Access developed the program, and under all National and International laws have the right to both stop modification, redistribution, and to either continue to sell it or not.

PROPOSED BY SOME - Access should be contacted and told that they should bend what they have decided is best for their interests
COMMENT-This might be a good idea, but if they decide not to change their decision for any reason, it is their right.

PROPOSED BY SOME - Access should be boycotted if they do not comply with those of us who would like them to.
COMMENT-This might be a good idea, but if they decide not to change their decision for any reason, it is their right.

PROPOSED BY SOME - Access should be notified that their is still a good market for them to keep marketing a product that could be illegally hacked for our use so that they will be able to make money on it.
COMMENT-This might be a good idea, but if they decide not to change their decision for any reason, it is their right.

PROPOSED BY SOME - Congress in the US as well as those governing copyright and Intellecual Property laws in other countries should be lobbied to change the laws.
COMMENT-Gimme a break

I could go on with this list but it would be as silly as most of the comments already have been made here.

SOME OF MY SUGGESTIONS:

If you want to challenge the validity of EULAs, why start with Access? Why not just go after Microsoft and HP? Microsoft came up with an operating system, and just dropped it like a hot potato. Why not just start modifying their source code, make it available, and fight it out with their lawyers.

Boycot Microsoft and HP for all of the same reasons.

Move to Mexico where there are no Copyright and Intelectual Property laws, and use your units there.

TO CONCLUDE:

Access came up with the product. They designed it, but have decided that they do not wish to continue. They do not want it modified, and despite all of the protests and threats feel that it is not in their BEST INTERESTS to change their position. Under all existing laws this is their right. They do not feel that it will, despite all of the threats, make any sense to change their position.

Since many of you feel that there is suficient interest in the product that all possible buyers could make an impact, why not get all of these users together, come up with some money, and hire a programmer to write a new browser program that will work. You could all market it and make a fortune.

The reality of the situation is that although Netfront did work with the hacks, it really is marginal, and many of the functions do not work, and in the hacked form is a marginal product. There are many other software publishers that HAD produced software for our platforms which did work, but is no longer sold by the publisher. WESTTEK is one that comes to mind. Their print programs did work perfectly. Although they still publish similar programs, they will no longer sell licences for their now discontinued product for our platform under any condition. Guess what ... again it is their right to do this for whatever their reason.

I guess that everyone here has the right to express their opinions, but it has really run it's course and is just getting kind of silly.

Just my $0.02.

Len



Edited by Leonard_Caplan 2007-09-24 11:46 AM
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cmonex Page Icon Posted 2007-09-24 1:23 PM
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clintonfitchdotcom - 2007-09-24 1:05 PM

Okay, so let me make sure I have this conversation correctly.

1. We are now comparing EULAs to race laws in the United States pre-Civil Rights movement
2. We are willing to punish developers by not buying their bits because they have EULAs and don't open source it
3. Further, we are willing to punish developers because our law makers don't understand the technology.






you said: you want to make sure you read correctly.
as for 2.: you did not.
the users (who want to boycott) had a different problem... nothing to do with open source. and it is not a problem in itself that they have an EULA.





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Leonard_Caplan - 2007-09-24 5:37 PM
If you want to challenge the validity of EULAs, why start with Access? Why not just go after Microsoft and HP? Microsoft came up with an operating system, and just dropped it like a hot potato. Why not just start modifying their source code, make it available, and fight it out with their lawyers.

Boycot Microsoft and HP for all of the same reasons.

Move to Mexico where there are no Copyright and Intelectual Property laws, and use your units there.



nah, luckily you dont have to move anywhere just to breach an EULA. you can do whatever you want with the program at your home. we are not living in 1984!!
the problem was discussing the how-to on it. i still dont agree with the decision but then..what can i do. and if it hurts the site then i understand.
still, i will help anyone who asks in private (in email!) on this matter.

also, why should we go after MS or HP if the current problem is with Access?

(not that i feel any urge to go after Access right now. they never replied to my suggestions before, so i'm not going to try again.)


Quote

Access came up with the product. They designed it, but have decided that they do not wish to continue. They do not want it modified, and despite all of the protests and threats feel that it is not in their BEST INTERESTS to change their position. Under all existing laws this is their right. They do not feel that it will, despite all of the threats, make any sense to change their position.


lol, in their best interests? i dont know anything about the circumstances so it's just a feeling that Access is misinformed.


p.s.: you mentioned netfront wasnt a perfect solution. maybe it wasnt/isn't, but i would feel lost without it with just IE4 on a hpc2000 hpc. it allows me to access more stuff than IE4 and sometimes faster.

p.s.2: i forgot to reply to another point of yours. about hiring a programmer. redgear isn't dead! i can confirm this now fully!
(and redgear doesn't breach those silly EULA's. the user doesnt have to hexedit)

Edited by cmonex 2007-09-24 1:30 PM
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Leonard_Caplan Page Icon Posted 2007-09-24 3:16 PM
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cmonex -
nah, luckily you dont have to move anywhere just to breach an EULA. you can do whatever you want with the program at your home. we are not living in 1984!!
the problem was discussing the how-to on it. i still dont agree with the decision but then..what can i do. and if it hurts the site then i understand.
still, i will help anyone who asks in private (in email!) on this matter.


The comment about Mexico was meant to be humorous since since they, as a country, do not honour Copyrights.

Quote
cmonex -
also, why should we go after MS or HP if the current problem is with Access?


This addresses the comments concerning ignoring the Access Cease and Disist request, using the fact that they might not really do anything, and that if they did, it might not be upheld in Court.

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cmonex -
lol, in their best interests? i dont know anything about the circumstances so it's just a feeling that Access is misinformed.


This might be true, but it is irrelevant. They still have the right to do nothing, and to answer to whatever they feel is in their best interest.

Quote
p.s.: you mentioned netfront wasnt a perfect solution. maybe it wasnt/isn't, but i would feel lost without it with just IE4 on a hpc2000 hpc. it allows me to access more stuff than IE4 and sometimes faster.


I too find the fact that I would not want to be without it when needed. It doesn't change the fact that as a software application, when used as it is with the hack, it is flawed in many ways. This does not mean that it is not valuable .... however, if I was the initial developer, I would not want my name on it as is with the hacked version since there are so many things wrong with it in that form.

Quote
p.s.2: i forgot to reply to another point of yours. about hiring a programmer. redgear isn't dead! i can confirm this now fully!
(and redgear doesn't breach those silly EULA's. the user doesnt have to hexedit)


If this is the case, and it solves all of these problems, all of this no longer matters, and the issue about the hacks on NetFront will no longer be an issue.

Len

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CE Geek Page Icon Posted 2007-09-24 4:03 PM
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I wouldn't go so far as to call people's comments here silly. Access has the right to do what they want with their software, and to set their own rules about it. And we have the right to refuse to buy their products and to ask all our friends and family to do the same. Boycotts and lobbying (the latter can be as simple as writing a letter) are only ineffective when they are underutilized - and they usually are, because so many people are so apathetic. They complain but don't take action, so it's no surprise their complaints fall on deaf ears. I hardly consider it silly that I refuse to be apathetic about such issues and choose to take action (and to encourage others here to do the same).
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