Article 43

 

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Good Software Gone Bad

Software vendor adds DRM product activation without adequate disclosure, then changes terms of license via email from unlimited to two computers.

[Editor’s note 3/27/07 - Tamosoft refused to honor the existing EULA, remove the DRM, or add additional activations to cover upgrading all my existing licensed installations. They suggested this one user buy a multiuser license. Yeah, sure. What about the six months left on this one? Those greedy, arrogant bastards just lost a $500+ yearly revenue source, and my attitude towards the WAREZ community changed completely.]

I’ve been a customer of NEW ZEALAND’S network monitoring software vendor TAMOSOFT for years, and rarely had a bad experience with them or their stuff - UNTIL THREE MONTHS AGO - when for the first time - they stuck DRM on a product of theirs, and DRASTICALLY ALTERED IT’S EULA.  Today their flagship packet sniffer INCLUDES similar CONTROL.

What’s missing in the March 21 announcement…

TamoSoft announces the immediate availability of the next version of its network analyzers: CommView 5.5 for wired networks and CommViewή for WiFi 5.6 for wireless 802.11 a/b/g networks. Click on the following links to learn what’s new in CommView 5.5 and CommView for WiFi 5.6. These products can be downloaded in the Download Area.

...is CommView now carries DRM in the form of product activation that PHONES HOME to Tamosoft’s website - including upgrades installed on top of existing enterprise licensed releases - which I just learned the hard way:

<entry method="GET" url="https://tamos.com/activation/sec.php?code=”123456789
CV.exe</processname>
<![CDATA[ encrypted-stuff ]]>
<address>209.68.11.237:443</address>
<![CDATA[ more-encrypted-stuff ]]>
<address>MY-IP</address>
<![CDATA[ more-encrypted-stuff ]]>

To their credit - the vendor has a WEB PAGE explaining activation, somewhere on their site. However, the software and whoever it calls can TRACK AND INDEX serial numbers with location, timestamps, IPs at home, at work, and anywhere else it’s installed.  The encrypted stream could possibly even contain a virus. 

Let’s remind ourselves that AT&T’S POLICY ON CUSTOMER RECORDS teaches us how any vendor may for ANY REASON share our DATA, and the vendor always has the power to UNILATERALLY DECIDE when it changes it’s policies, and what those policies are.

Let’s also not forget about relations like BANK OF AMERICA AND DOUBLECLICK, or DOUBLECLICK and anybody, or MICROSOFT AND 2o7.NET.

Shove all the anonymous info into a BIG DATABASE and everything about alleged anonymous stuff is ANYTHING BUT.

PRIVACY, CONTROL, lack of full DISCLOSURE and FAIR USE are SERIOUS DRM ISSUES FACING ALL CONSUMERS.

Looks like it’s time to FURTHER EMBRACE OPEN-SOURCE alternatives and kiss another CONTROL FREAK vendor goodbye.

Here’s the info that makes no mention of the new DRM:

This program is a 30-day evaluation version. You can purchase the fully functional, unrestricted version of the program by visiting our Web site. Two license types are currently available for CommView:

The more expensive Enterprise License grants you the right to use the program anywhere for any commercial or noncommercial purpose

- The less expensive Home License grants you the right to use the program at home for noncommercial purposes. If you use CommView to monitor your home network, the maximum number of hosts in your LAN this license allows you to monitor cannot exceed ten. The Home license would not allow you to connect to CommView Remote Agents. The Home license wouldn’t allow you to capture loopback traffic. 

One licensed copy of CommView may be used by a single person who uses the software personally on one or more computers, or it may be installed on a single workstation used non-simultaneously by more than one person, but not both. Check our web site for pricing on multi-user licenses if you need to purchase this product for more than one user.

WHAT’S NEW

Version 5.5

- Full IPv6 support throughout the application (decoding, filters, search, alarms). 
- UTF-8 support in TCP session reconstruction. 
- Optional reassembly of fragmented IP packets. 
- A new alarm type: the application can pronounce messages using the Windows text-to-speech engine. 
- A few improvements and configurable options related to decoding and session reconstruction. 
- Fixed a resource leak under Windows Vista if the DPI value is set to 120 or higher and possible system crash if a dial-up connection is monitored. 

Here’s the license.txt file that explains the DRM policy:

3.6. Additional Protection Measures.  Solely for the purpose of preventing unlicensed use of the Product, the Software may install on your computer TECHNOLOGICAL MEASURES that are designed to prevent unlicensed use, and the Licensor may use this technology to confirm that you have a licensed copy of the Product.  You may not be able to exercise your rights to the Software under this Agreement after a grace period not exceeding seven (7) days unless you activate your copy of the Software in the manner described in the activation wizard provided as part of the Software or at http://www.tamos.com/activation. You may also need to reactivate the Software if you modify your computer hardware. The Licensor will not collect any personally identifiable information from your computer during this process.

I wrote to Tamosoft. In my letter:

WHAT TYPE OF phoning home does it do, and WHAT’S THE POINT of product activation to enterprise license holders like me?

There may not be a renewal this year from this long-time customer - not because open-source alternatives like ETHEREAL and WIRESHARK are free, but because they don’t INVADE PRIVACY, or enforce DIGITAL RIGHTS management.

We know IPs are transmitted with encrypted data during activation.  Since I’m licensed to put the software on as many computers as I want, activation isn’t necessary, and any argument supporting it - or vague references to technological measures - likely to mean tracking, spyware, and/or limit use

If you think SNEAKWRAP is bad, check out WHAT HAPPENED next.  A BRAND NEW EULA was in my email - cutting an enterprise license from unlimited to two computers:

“Licensee is granted a non-exclusive and non-transferable license to Operate one (1) copy of the specified version of the Product by one user account in the operating system ("User") during the Term of this Agreement on one Client Device provided that you, as the primary user of the Client Device on which each licensed copy of the Software is installed may make a second copy for your exclusive use on one additional portable Client Device and further provided that if multiple or volume License is purchased, the number of the Client Devices and the number of permitted users shall be as provided and permitted by invoicing terms or applicable terms and conditions set forth on the Licensor Site at the time of purchase of the License.”

IS IT TIME for honest, loyal, long-time, repeat business customers to EXPLORE other software ALTERNATIVES and NOT GIVE ANOTHER CENT to businesses implementing this type of PRACTICE?

You bet it is.

No wonder GOOD PEOPLE TURN to PIRACY.

Posted by Elvis on 03/25/07 •
Section Privacy And Rights
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