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Digital Convergence Changes EULA, and Gets Cracked 279

mfdii writes "Apparently Digital Convergence has changed their EULA. This EULA has been modified to include the CueCat reader in an attempt to shutdown those tinkering with their cats. The old EULA can be seen here." Meanwhile a dozen or so really excellent programs utilize the childishly simple protocol (or, if you're DC, their "Intellectual Property")... and as if that isn't enough, apparently their service was cracked. Anyone who used DCs CueCat software has had their information stolen from the DC servers! This comes from an e-mail being sent in by zillions of people warning them (and also apologizing by giving a $10 gift certificate).
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Digital Convergence Changes EULA, and Gets Cracked

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  • by oni ( 41625 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @07:05AM (#772204) Homepage
    When will companies start being held legally accountable for these types of inexcusable security oversights?

    Where the hell do they get off throwing lawyers at innocent people for violating their "property" and then making no effort what so ever to protect my property (specifically, my personal information)?

    How about if I make DC sign an EULA that says "if you lose positive control of this information (last name, first name, address) then you owe me $10K for every piece of junk mail I get as a result"
  • Did anyone besides me notice the fact that in order to get your 'free' $10 RadShack gift certificate, you have to go to the DC site and provide them with your NAME, ADDRESS, ETC, far more personal information than they orginally asked for...

    Think about it, the reason they are offering the free certificate is BECAUSE SOMEONE CRACKED THEIR SYSTEM AND STOLE OUR PERSONAL INFO... and now they want us to go back and GIVE THEM MORE?

    Huh? I never made the connection....
  • There wasn't any on the CueCat box. It did not even have a seal. Whoops, DC, try again.

    sulli

  • Your understanding is wrong. The issue with Digital Convergence here is that they WANT you to use their software, and by using your own software with the Cuecat you're infringing on their IP (or so they claim). It's the hardware that they have an issue with.
  • Yeah, I was kind of miffed about this.

    I was pretty pleased about it! It meant I didn't have to worry about any license crapola.

    OT: Hey, are you the lizrd [mailto] I [sulli.org] think you are?

    sulli

  • I have a cuecat. It was handed to me at radio shack with no mention of a license agreement, and in fact, the salesman said they were "giving them away for free". I have not installed the software, or even taken the software out of its sleeve. I wrote a javascript decoder [nbci.com] for it. I can just as easily write the decoder without having a cuecat, so I want to tell digital convergence i do not accept their EULA. How does one officially do this? Mail it back? Take it back to the RS I got it at?
  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @05:30AM (#772210) Homepage
    Their registration "database" was actually a plain text file published on their webserver! No hacking involved. Just type a URL into netscape, and viola, there's the "database." Digital Convergence isn't staffed by geniuses.

    ---- ----
  • No, they were really cracked. I've seen the data. It was posted to a publically accessable web server for quite some time.

    DC submitted their press release on the issue at 10pm friday night, probably in hopes that nobody would care about it by monday. (Tried and true technique, release bad news friday night and it has less impact. Unless nobody hears about it until /. posts it on monday)

    I read their press release on Yahoo's news site saturday. It's probably not there anymore, news gets turned over pretty quickly.

    The $10 certificate is probably their way of saying "Please don't sue us for mishandling all that information you gave us."

  • Hey, did anyone write a Mac driver? I got a cuecat and can't do a damn thing with it as I have a Macintosh.

    Yeah, I know, gotta get linux. Working on it.

    sulli

  • by puppet10 ( 84610 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @05:34AM (#772223)
    You're absolutely correct. Any unsolicited merchandise you recieve is yours to keep without charge to do with what you will.

    Here [usps.com] is the Postal Service guide to preventing mail fraud in PDF format (it doesn't say much about this other than anything sent to you unsolicited is yours to keep).
  • by pb ( 1020 )
    I don't even know what that agreement is for, or what it would give me if I agreed to it, but since I don't have one of their cheap scanners, I can be bound to it by pressing the 'Agree' button.

    So where's the 'Agree' button?

    Also, my name is not "Your Signature". Sorry, try again... Could they at least have you fill out a form to generate something official-looking with the right name on it? Sheesh.
    ---
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [ncsu.edu].
  • The CueCat is the product of what might just be the dumbest startup ever. I'm not sure who's going to be made to suffer for the error: the engineers or the investors.

    The thing spits out whatever barcode it reads, massaged for easy merging into a URL by a logical XOR on the number 67 followed by a pass of Base64 encoding, not unlike what happens when you attach a file to e-mail. In nontechnical terms, this is "encryption" weaker than passing something through a Flash Gordon decoder ring, then passing the result through a Lone Ranger decoder ring.

    The "intellectual property" Digital Convergence is trying to protect can be expressed in 3 lines of very basic Perl or a flowchart sketched inside a matchbook. I wish them luck.

    As a result, I've seen a quickie book database someone slapped together: it grabs the ISBN and fetches book info from Amazon. Anonymously. Without having to pass a thing to Digital Convergence, makers of the scanner, and without passing a cookie or any other form of ID to Amazon. I've never been consumed with an urge to catalog my books or CDs on my computer, but the CueCat makes it surprisingly convenient. It took me about ten minutes to feed in about 60 books. The ones without barcodes are still a problem, but this certainly takes much of the bite out of the process. Nearly all CDs, on the other hand, have barcodes.

    Another little perl script floating around lets you scan anything the Digital Convergence folks have catalogued on their servers groceries, radio shack catalog items, magazine articles) and jump to the product's site or web page.. again without passing so much as a user ID or cookie to them. The servers are wide open and will return the product URL for a given barcode regardless of whether or not you're a registered, cookied user of their official software. Whoops!

    Since it's easy to distinguish between the barcodes on books, CDs and grocery items, the same three lines of perl could be used as the basis for a five-line program to put products in a shopping cart on your favorite web grocery store, again without involving the CueCat folks.

    You'd think in the four years this was in development someone would have wondered why no other company had ever tried to build a tight marketing database around cheap barcode scanners given away at a loss.

    It's not because it hasn't occurred to thousands of entrepreneurs since cheap barcode wands first appeared 15 or so years ago. It's because until the dunderheads behind the CueCat came along, all the other peopole who had the same dream realized that even a kinda-sorta lockable barcode scanner would cost too much to give away for free. And then with that Big Idea out of the way they went and did something productive, like wash some dishes or eat a Popsicle.

    So simple, so early-80s is the CueCat's design that those Linux drivers probably took someone half an hour to write while watching TV and feeding the dog. Especially given the dozen or so little shell scripts and perl programs that have since popped up, all of them ramshackle "baby's first program"-caliber triumphs. I can't wait to see what online music, grocery and book stores do with this.

    If any license agreement short of requiring a signature before receiving a security-free scanner like this holds up in court, it would open the way for hand-tool makers to require people to buy separate "screwdrivers" and "paint-can openers".

    I wonder if Digital Convergence is publicly held.
  • InterNet News Radio [internet.com] ran an interview with me this morning about the CueCat. I have it mirrored
    here [flyingbuttmonkeys.com]. It runs today, Sept 18, 2000, so you'll have to look for it in their archives starting tomorrow. However, I'll keep the mirror at my site.



    ---- ----
  • See also http://www.flyingbuttmonkeys.c om/media/newsradio.mp3 [flyingbuttmonkeys.com] for a phone interview with me from this morning.

    (I would like to thank slashcode for inserting the space in the url).

    ---- ----
  • ...you do not own the software on the CD
    Clarification: you do not own the copyright to the software on the CD.

    For example, if the software contains an EULA saying "you may not reverse-engineer this software", and you never accept the EULA, then you have every right to reverse-engineer the software.

    However, you don't have the right to burn copies of the CD and pass them out (except of course as permitted by "fair use"), because even without accepting an EULA, you are still bound by copyright law. (By the same token, if you get a copy of Newsweek in the mail, you can give it to a friend, but you can't distribute a zillion copies of the articles in it -- you own the physical magazine, but Newsweek's publisher owns the copyright.

    Getting back to the CueCat: Whether or not you've consented to the ULA, the firmware inside the CueCat is protected by copyright law, and you can't, say, download the object code and then burn it onto chips at your own bar-code-reader factory. However, reverse engineering is not forbidden by copyright law, so if you don't consent to the ULA, you can reverse-engineer the CueCat protocol.

    IANAL, of course, and I am ignoring the whole question about whether shrink-wrap licenses are ever enforceable.
    --

  • It's kinda the same thing. I don't own the software on the the CC's microcontroller, but I do own the hardware (I have a reciept), so I can, say, take it apart [sausageparty.net], or analyze it's output, without ever caring about the software burned into it's ROM.

    Of course, assuming I *did* want to read the uC's ROM, I prolly wouldn't be able to. Many microcontrollers are read-protected so people can't look at the ROM.

    --K

    ---
  • I'm not talking about the software on the CD or floppy. I'm talking about the software withing the cuecat that turns a bunch of lines into a bunch of alphanumerics.
  • Nobody viewed, copied, reverse engineered, or emulated any part of the firmware in the CueCat. Period.

    Except for emulation, the same goes for the PC software. DigitalConvergence can't protect against emulation unless they get a patent on some crucial part of the decoding process.
    --

  • IIRC, most EULAs allow the software maker (but not the user) to change the terms of the license, subject to agreement by only one of the two parties. So, the company lawyer says, "Sure, I agree to that change," and there you go: the EULA has changed, and you are still bound by it.

    Of course, this assumes that click-/shrink-wrap licenses are binding, which will become law when UCITA gets passed. (And don't fret, it will, just like the DMCA did. You don't have enough money to brib... er, donate to your elected representatives.)

  • I think the point is to appear to be the good guys on this issue. Yes they don't have a clue with their business plan, but they'll point to the "hacking" community as the reason their business failed, not to that plan. If people take the high road then I think they would be left naked with a crappy business plan and no one to blame but themselves.
  • by big.ears ( 136789 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @05:46AM (#772252) Homepage
    In the cue cat box I swiped from my neighbor's mailbox (thank-you :Forbes :Magazine), there also was a neat 8-foot long connector thing called a :Convergence :Cable (tm). It has a 1/8th inch stereo plug on one end and a :male and a :female RCA jack on the other. It looks like the thing I need to hook up my TV audio to my computer.

    This cable is supposed to capture special bookmarks embedded within TV ads and forward you to the web site of their choice. It saves a lot of hassle, because you no longer have to type in "http://www.forbes.com" just to order an official :Forbes :Magazine :Golf :Shirt. Surely, this is also part of their :Intellectual :Property and took up some of their five years of engineering and development.

    Why aren't they coming after people who are reverse engineering the :Convergence :Cable, those who circumvent their EULA by using it to make .ogg files out of their ":South :Park" video tape collection? Maybe somebody should put up a "How to :Reverse :Engineer the :Convergence :Cable" :web :site.

    Could someone please tell me what the difference is between the :Cue :Cat and the :Convergence :Cable?

  • check out the cuecat.com [cuecat.com] webpage by digital convergence:

    they say: "We've made it super easy to get your new :CRQ system, including the :CueCat reader, absolutely FREE"

    Even Digital Convergence's own page [digitalconvergence.com] says "Digital:Convergence will distribute more than 10 million of its new :CueCat(TM) devices and :CRQ(TM) software free to consumers by the end of this year."

    Even more interesting is who runs Digital Convergence (see link above): "The company's management team includes a roster of industry veterans from Time Warner, AT&T, GE, ING Barings and Disney."

    It would seem that they're not idiots. They're just dumb

    -V

  • Don't know why this was marked as a troll, but anyways... For confirmation:

    http://x64.deja.com/=dnc/[ST_rn=ps]/getdoc.xp?AN =669719818&CONTEXT=969293000.49807373&hitn um=59

    The site was not "cracked". They simply left the registration file as a plain .txt file globally readable via http:.
  • I'm not talking about the software on the CD or floppy. I'm talking about the software withing the cuecat that turns a bunch of lines into a bunch of alphanumerics.

    Ahh, I see what you mean. I guess they need to put the EULA inside the microcode on the Cuecat in the next revision? ;)

  • Nobody viewed, copied, reverse engineered, or emulated any part of the firmware in the CueCat, so there couldn't be a problem with that.
    --
  • Here is the Postal Service guide to preventing mail fraud in PDF format

    Funny, my mail fraud is all on paper. I haven't seen any "make money fast" schemes in PDF format.

    ;-)

    --
  • To start - what DC is trying to create is a bailment. A bailment is A delivery of goods or personal property, by one person (bailor) to another (bailee), in trust for execution of a special object upon or in relation to such goods, beneficial either to the bailor or bailee or both, and upon a contract, express or implied, to perform the trust and carry out such object, and thereupon either to redeliver the goods to the bailor or otherwise dispose of the same in conformity with the purposes of the trust. Black's Law Dictionary, 6th ed. All that verbaiage is the attempt to legally describe all the ways you can lend things to other people without transferring title. As DC says in its EULA, The :CueCat reader is only on loan to you from Digital:Convergence and may be recalled at any time. Without limiting the foregoing, your possession or control of the :CueCat reader does not transfer any right, title or interest to you in the :CueCat reader.
    The most important thing is that a bailment is not an absolute transfer. The bailor (in this case DC) retains title to the chattel property (CueCat).
    Problem is, DC goes on to contradict its bailment agreement as follows:
    1. The warranty recital.
    The DC warranty disclaimer says, YOU ASSUME FULL RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE SELECTION OF THE :CUECAT READER TO ACHIEVE YOUR INTENDED RESULTS, AND FOR THE INSTALLATION AND USE OF THE :CUECAT READER. This is pretty standard sales warranty disclaimer language. DC states that the user has chosen CueCat. While this may be true for those folks who got it at RS, it is not true for those who received it unsolicited in the mail.
    2. The warranty disclaimer.
    The DC warranty disclaimer goes on: THE :CUECAT READER IS PROVIDED "AS IS" AND WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND. DIGITAL:CONVERGENCE EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES AND/OR CONDITIONS, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDED, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES AND/OR CONDITIONS OF MERCHANTABILITY OR SATISFACTORY QUALITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE The disclaimed warranties are all sales warranties. The especially damning one is the disclaimer of warranty of fitness for a particular purpose. First, DC says you can only use it for a particular purpose, and then says it is not warranted to actually serve that purpose. The fitness warranty applies where you get specific help or guidance in selecting a product for a particular use. DC wants it both ways - they want to force you into their particular use, but say that they did not so they can disclaim the warranty.
    3. Integration clause
    The integration clause says, No amendment to or modification of this License will be binding unless in writing and signed by Digital:Convergence. . Hey, where's the signature?
    For further entertainment, check out http://www.digitalconvergence.com/legal.html, which contains the absolutely laughable statement, The materials ("Materials") contained in Digital:Convergence Corporation ("Digital:Convergence") Web site are provided for informational purposes only. Ah, its just info, not a real contract.
    Geez, these guys are fools. Bankruptcy or buyout in 12 months.
  • The :Convergence:Cable uses audio "barcodes", and its software (and maybe the cable too) is covered by a patent because it's possible novel and nonobvious. The :Cue:Cat uses visual barcodes and isn't covered by any patent because it's been done a million times before.
    --
  • Ah, the infamous WOM - Write Only Memory.

    It's not as stupid as it sounds.
    The ROM and processor are on the same die,
    so the ROM is readable by the processor core, but not externally.

    --K
    But you probably knew that already.
    ---
  • by StoryMan ( 130421 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @06:09AM (#772287)
    Hey don't underestimate the power of a "you suck" note.

    A lot of companies do suck -- DC is certainly one of them -- and they often need to be reminded that they do, in fact, suck.

    Everyone tries to be nice-nice. "Dear Sir, It has come to my attention that your bar code device... blah blah blah"

    Just tell them they suck and be done with it.

    People underestimate the power of simple, honest language. Everybody tries to throw in 10-cent words when a few, choice 5-cent words will do just fine.

    Besides, I'm tired of all these companies talking at my head. "You can do this, you can do that, you can't do this, blah blah blah."

    It's high time consumers -- or whomever -- just dispense with the niceities and get down to brass tacks: more and more corporations suck, period.

    Corporations want to fuck us over, take our money, and move on to the next sucker, er, consumer at our expense.

    That *does* suck. And the corporations that do this *do* suck. And no amount of "pretty" language (or professional) will hide this. I'm tired of being a "nice" consumer when these not-so-nice corporations want to order me around, and spit me out for dead when they feel like it.

    I'm sick and tired of it.

    DC sucks. And their stupid bar code reader sucks.
  • Nobody viewed, copied, reverse engineered, or emulated any part of the firmware in the CueCat. Period.

    That can't be right - the firmware encodes the barcode, right? And those clever hackers figured out how to decode it, so doesn't that count as reverse engineering?

    Not that there's anything wrong with that you understand...
  • There was no shirnk wrap to break. No license agreement to agree to. I *NEVER* installed their software, so their new EULA is just as unenforcible as their old one and will get the same response from my atterney: Get Bent.
  • I already have a usb adapter for my Palm. Not that this matters in the slightest, as I have no use for a Cuecat, but I'm curious.

    Maybe I should sell it on ebay. I'll throw away the cd, so no EULA issues will be involved.

    sulli

  • This company was doomed from the start and it is a good thing since the next company that decides to use similar business practices will take CueCat's mistakes into consideration. Not a single user is at fault here. Just like when you are paying taxes. I read a book that teaches how to minimize tax payments, it started with a disclaimer stating that nobody should pay more than is required by the law. So, if the CueCat did not understand this simple concept - user will not pay more than is required by the law, and did not encorporate this idea into their product, it's their own mistake and they will pay for it. The bar code reader maybe good due to excellent engineering (I don't have one, since they are not distributed in Canada) but CueCat's business model is flawed and that is due to poor business management (who the hell sponsored these guys anyway?)
  • > You may receive unsolicited emails (a.k.a. spam) from unrecognized sources.

    Is it just me, or is that a little too specific? When was the last time you saw this kind of language when other "e-commerce" sites got cracked?

    I mean, I'm not accusing DC of doing this, but if I were a marketing company, and my product was based on being able to track who scanned what ad, and I were to sell my database to mainsleaze spammers (e.g. MessageMedia, m0.net, and other "legit" spam-for-hire outfits, as opposed to the MLM and MMF pyramid/quack-medicine/pr0n scammers), this is exactly how I'd do it.

    Those of you who gave DC a "spamtrap" address - say, a dc-spam-12345@yahoo.com type of thing, to trace the spam you got from DC and to not be detectable with a traditional dictionary attack on Yahoo - keep an eye on your headers.

    If the spam's from a random dialup IP, it's probably a dictionary attack or maybe, in 3-6 months, if there was a cracker, then maybe the addresses did get resold.

    But if it comes from a "mainstream" spam-for-hire company with real money behind it, and advertises real products, you just might want to suspect that DC themselves sold the data to the mainsleazer.

    Hell, I'll bet it's even in their "privacy policy" that they have the right to do so. So blaming an imaginary "Hacker X" shouldn't be necessary in the first place. Again, I'm not accusing them, and I have no evidence that this is the case, but I must confess I'm just a little bit suspicious that maybe there's more to "Hacker X" than meets the eye.

  • by funkman ( 13736 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @03:19AM (#772304)
    Imagine if this worked in all hardware:

    EULA for ACME Toothbrush. By opening the packaging for this toothbrush, you acknowledge that this device will only be used orally. This device may only be used to brush teeth, dentures, or anything as approved by the ADA.

    Improper uses unclude:

    Pets

    Shoes

    Computer parts

    Silverware or any other dishes

    Any other device where the object where the cleaning agent is not toothpaste.

    Our lawyers will attack if this agreement is breached.

  • by tinla ( 120858 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @03:20AM (#772307) Homepage Journal
    If you'd sooner have your cat on /dev/scanners/cuecat than hanging off the back of a Windows box then you can patch your kernal today... CueCat Driver 0.1.8 [lineo.com] was released on Freshmeat mere hours ago.

  • well if that is true, then it's *incredibly good news*, since it would mean that all restrictive software EULA-ing would become invalid (find itself without any legal foundation), except of course for those licenses that cover copying only (so the GPL is actually safe).
  • Well, you *do* own that copy of the software and can do anything with it that you legally could do with a book... You can sell it, use it, modify it, ignore it, critique it, benchmark it, burn it, or feed it to a cyber-pet.

    You can't bypass copyright controls and start reselling the AOL software (plural), but you may resell your copy of the AOL software.

    Ditto with the CueCat. You own it in all concievable ways, but that doesn't mean you own the patents it's based on, or the copyright on any ROM code. But you do own the right to use everything that it comes with.
  • by Icebox ( 153775 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @03:20AM (#772311)
    Is there any requirement that a company prove that a person has actually seen their EULA? If you never install their software or read their docs I'm not sure how they could make the case that a person was even aware of the EULA. The CueCats I have all came in bags, maybe they are printing it on the bags with the phrase 'by opening this bag you agree to....'.
    The majority of the people who use the cracks do so because Cue's software either doesn't work on their OS or because they don't want Cue to snoop on them. In either case the EULA would never be seen by the user, I can't imagine that it would be enforceable.

  • Companies change their license agreements all the time, if a new product comes out then it stands to reason that the lawyers are going to want to see it included in the EULA.

    What would have been more relevant would have been a if DC (or any other company for that matter!) had made a change to the EULA, not notified their users and then tried to enforce the changes.

    I don't know if this is the case, but to be honest, DC would probably have been much better off having two completely seperate EULAs. This way there is no confusion - and again no possibility of falling into the "no notification" trap.

    Mind you, it is governed by the laws of the State of Texas, so I guess that you'll be on the chair before you have a chance to pipe up your disent of any part of the agreement ;)
  • as far as I can see Eazel's stuff is a pure service, not an after-sale, since there is NO SALE to begin with. and since their software is open source, they sure can't be accused of tying a product (whatever they develop) with a service. hence, for all I care, they should feel more than free to base their business on offering their update services -- although I have my reservations as to whether it's a viable model. and if it *does* work, it'll be precisely because of this lack of tying; once the users know that they're free to use whatever service (or none), and that this is freedom is protected by the fact that the software is open source, they may actually have less reservations to use the service in question.
  • they are perfectly within their rights in having a license for the use of the CueCat.

    However, unless you install their software, you never actually see the EULA. So, the question is, how can someone be bound by an agreement that they never even see?

  • Add something else to this line of thought: it is legal to disassemble software. After the initial round of legal nastygrams went out, I asked a number of people in the know about the legality of this whole mess, and the common answer was: It is legal to disassemble software. If you use those instructions line for line in another product, that is not protected, but you can dig up the algorithm, reimplement it yourself, and all is fine. The DMCA (DCMA? I don't remember. It's morning) has made some weird restrictions on reverse engineering, but there's no copyrighted information we are accessing, they can't even wave that one around.

    So, this lands under contract law -- the sort of thing where they start saying "If you do not agree to these terms, we do not acknowledge your existence and therefore you must vaporize immediately or stop using our product", but even with that in mind, there's still some problems. They've just made changes to a contract nobody agreed to in the first place, which is not available with the product, neither through radio shack or the magazines that sent them to their subscribers.

  • When I printed the text portion of patent 6,098,106 from the USPTO.GOV site, I found this interesting tidbit:

    This application is related to copending US patent application Ser. No. 09/151,471, entitled "Method for Interfacing Scanned Product Information With a Source for the Product Over a Global Network" filed of even date herewith.

    Interesting, but not exactly a patent on the CueCat itself, based on the title.

  • You may want to update your Perl script to take into account some recent discoveries about modifications [fluent-access.com] to the 'Cat.

    Specifically, you may want to insert the minor tweak that lets the code handle those 'Cats that return command and slash.

  • It strikes me that whenever a company comes out with something where they intend to make their profits from after-sale mechanisms, the first thing that people want to do is to try and avoid this. We've recently had this CueCat business and a page complaining about paying $10 a month for TiVo, despite the fact that they sell their hardware as a loss leader and rely on the subscription charges to make any money.

    To me, all of this seems like trying to rip off companies that are providing something which people obviously want. And if people succeed, then these companies are going to suffer, which means no more deals for people. Is this what we want?

    Every time a new service is hacked into so that the company fails to be able to make a profit, it just discourages other companies from being so generous, or encourages them to follow the MPAA/RIAA in slapping restrictive laws or licenses on the technology. Do we really want a situation where every new technology comes out hand in hand with restrictive legislation to give the companies a chance to make a profit?

  • by tooth ( 111958 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @03:25AM (#772327)
    From the New EULA [digitalconvergence.com]: In any event, you will notify Digital:Convergence of any information derived from reverse engineering or such other activities...

    Riiightt... so, now not only can't I reverse engineer the software under thier "agreement", I have to dob in anyone I find out that is reverse engineering it?

    hmmm, better stop reading slashdot, I guess MS, RIAA and the MPAA were right. You are all the spawn of Satan. Lucky the big companies are here to protect me and my children (please, won't you think of the children?).

  • A better URL is here: http://faq.crq.com/ResultPage.asp?FAQId=129 [crq.com]. Search for "can i use".

    That's funny. I guess their lawyer didn't do a good enough job of combing through the EULA after cut-n-pasting it from somebody else's shrinkwrap software.

    So are you bound to the specific contract that you agreed to with the "I agree" button, or can you use multiple copies since they publicly state that you can?
    --

  • So where's the 'Agree' button?

    Also, my name is not "Your Signature". Sorry, try again...

    You haven't read the DMCA very well, did you? And you know, that by law you are required to _know_ the law. But obviously you've missed two of the minor points of the DMCA: requiring everybody with a computer to legally change their name to "Your Signature", and replace their keyboard with the new RIAA approved keyboard with the large, friendly greed^Hn "I agree." button. Better fix that right away, because now you're liable to be taken to court pretty damn quickly, since you've admitted to those crimes in public.

    Stefan.
    It takes a lot of brains to enjoy satire, humor and wit-

  • Nope. If 'those clever hackers' figured out HOW the barcode is encoded, and did it themselves, that would be reverse-engineering. Nothing (IMHO) was reverse-engineered. The hardware takes input (the barcode) and creates output (the base-64 stuff XORed with 63, etc...). Nobody cares how that was done. Nobody cares how their software turns that into something useful. All that was done was to interpret the output, using no knowledge of either the hardware, firmware, software, or other -ware belonging to DC.
  • by nospoon ( 126741 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @03:30AM (#772345)
    Since in the email they sent they ask you to fill out a form to get the $10 Certificate snail mailed to you -- it is just a way for them to tie your address in Meatspace to your 'userid' or whatever it's called in their software. I for one won't be getting the $10 certificate. Infact I just disabled the email account I had setup to get a code to test the software with.

    I'm not going to sell my address to those spammers for a lousy $10.

  • I have no idea about the legalities of chaning the EULA for a product already in one's possesion. Obviously, they are trying to add the hardware to the EULA, which only included the software before, but how on earth can this be enforced.

    Most licenses expire. At least most non software licenses expire like driver's licenses, and alcohol licenses. Each time you renew, you could be subject to new rules, but all parties are more or less aware of that in advance. I don't see how they can expect to change the terms of a license that most people just clicked through, and expect it to mean something.

    IANAL, but even in the great state of Texas, I think that their business, if it depends on this change in EULA, is pretty much over.
  • by Matt_Bennett ( 79107 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @03:34AM (#772355) Homepage Journal
    I received a CueCat in the mail. I have accepted no license, and I don't plan to. I'm not going to install their software by any means. They have given me no ability to refuse the terms of their license. It was sent to me without any action on my part, other than being a subscriber to a magazine- that sounds like a gift to me.

    They have the broad statement of (2) using the :CueCat reader leading to my acceptance of the license. But what do they mean by using it? Using it as a doorstop? Paperweight?

    I really hope this issue comes around and hurts them in the end. They must have spent a *huge* amount of money to get this out. They probably have 100's of thousands sitting in a warehouse somewhere, ready to be shipped. I hope they never get to ship them.

    Hmm... a thought. Can I refuse their terms with an email that states that if their email server accepts the message, they accept my terms? That sounds a lot like the arbitrary acceptance conditions that they put forth.
  • by elbuddha ( 148737 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @03:35AM (#772358)

    I received a CueCat in the mail. Apparently because I am a subscriber to Wired. I did not ask for the CueCat, did not order it, did not pay for it (yes I know its free anyway). Under US Postal Regulations, this item is now mine. It is not the property of D.C., they have not loaned, lent, nor licensed it to me. They can not ask for it back, they can not tell me what to do with it. It is mine, period. If they would like to claim differently, they can take the issue up with the Post Office, not me.
  • The presense of a ROM code in hardware doesn't matter at all. If the company selling your old (completely analog in this assumption) fridge wanted to, they could make you sign a contract before buying the fridge which would prevent you from storing certain things in it...

    They couldn't prevent you from storing grocieries from a certain store, that would be anti-competitive, but they could prevent you from storing beer, or peanut butter (maybe they're afraid of shotgun lawsuits from allergic people.)

    It doesn't matter what sort of parts the fridge uses. Hell, they could sell you a cardboard box and if you signed the contract before sale, you'd be bound by the same rules...

    But, if they don't show you the 'agreement' before you purchase the product it has *no legal force!*

    If anyone claims that EULAs have any legal force (outside of the bonehead states that accepted bribes to pass the UCITA) they're lying. It's painfully obvious to anyone with any legal background that EULAs do not satisfy the requirements for a contract, they fall short in many different areas.

    There's an off chance an EULA would be binding in the case of free software, but I doubt it. It's like an EULA for a book... If you buy it, you can read it, if they give it away, you can read it.
  • Does the same apply to the numerous AOL CDs I received in unsolicited mail last year? Do I OWN the software on the CD? Can I do whatever I want with it?

    Yes, it's yours to do with as you please, within the limits of the law. (i.e. Don't violate the copyright by copying the CD and giving the copy to someone else while keeping the original.) You are perfectly free to do things like install the software (without agreeing to any license), disassemble the software, or use it as a coaster.


    ---
  • It strikes me that whenever a company comes out with something where they intend to make their profits from after-sale mechanisms, the first thing that people want to do is to try and avoid this.

    Well, knock me down with a feather!


    If companies are basing their business model on after-sale mechanisms, and they intend to rely on technical means to compel people to pay them money, it's obvious that somebody is going to try and get around it.


    Instead of trying to use *technical* means to do this, have they considered a) contracts, and b) making the extra-cost services sufficiently compelling to justify their customers spending money? If you're going to use a lock-in strategy, why not be up-front about it like the mobile phone companies, and be prepared to offer a contract-free version at the full retail price.

  • So if I don't agree with the licensing terms for this unsolicited mailing, what can I do with it? I certainly can't break it into bits or burn it up. That would violate the "disassembly" clause. I can't even throw it in the trash since that would be an illegal "distribution" of the device.

    What's a poor law-abiding consumer to do? I guess I'll just have to keep it in my closet.

  • Repeat after me, no one is ripping off these companies. If some braindead MBA believes that selling stuff below cost in order to gain mindshare is a business plan, I am not obligated to satisfy his plans for me as a consumer by paying for a marked up service or accessory to something I got for free or below cost.

    It strikes me that whenever a company comes out with something where they intend to make their profits from after-sale mechanisms, the first thing that people want to do is to try and avoid this.

    I seem to remember one of the first things I was taught in Economics class being that consumers should be assumed as rational beings that will try their best to maximize their utility (i.e. consumer happiness) by paying as little as possible for a service. In my opinion a company that fails to factor in the lessons of ECON 101 while designing a business plan deserves to fail.

    People like you who complain because consumers are not going along with a corporation's plan to sell them a marked up service or product shock me. I cannot for the life of me figure out why I should spend more than an item costs after other payments are factored in for the illusion of being given something for free. Anyone remember all those free PC companies that made you sign 3 year ISP contracts? Guess that means the PCs weren't so free, huh.



  • More than that even... If I'm in a mall and someone asks if I want them to send me a free sample of something in the mail, that free sample is a gift even though I asked for it...

    Basically, unless you've already entered into an agreement with a company (like Columbia House, etc) to send you something in return for payment (even if at a later date), you can consider it a gift and keep it, even if they show up at the door asking for it.

    There are a couple exceptions to this, for instance if they mail something to the wrong John Smith, or if they mail you something you said you wanted and they told you they'd bill you for it (at the same time as you asked for it.)
  • by Shotgun ( 30919 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @03:41AM (#772376)
    If companies want to make money this way, they need to get people to sign a contract up front. Plain and simple. If you build a business on being able to trick people into paying you for nothing, then you deserve nothing when they wake up.

    As for the EULA, it's as worthless as the original. Here is the babelfish translation:

    "Now that we've concluded our contract, here are some extra terms that we'd like to add."

    All EULA's say exactly the same thing. If a vendor wants to enforce a EULA, it must be presented before the sale so that I can read it, and the vendor must refuse the sale to transpire without me signing the agreement; otherwise, it's all bullsh**.

  • That's not paranoid at all, that just makes sense... They're sending a product that only has value to them if it can be tied to a person, no doubt they did their best to do so.

    But, the scanner doesn't communicate back unless you use their software and this guy didn't install the software so they'll never see the serial number from his CueCat, let alone be able to match it to an ID.
  • From the CC FAQ...

    Q: Will staring into the :CueCat hurt my eyes like a laser pointer?

    A: No. :CueCat uses LEDs for scanning. It poses no risk to your eyes.

    I just posted this in response to what might be a joke because a friend asked me this same question... Most good barcode scanners use a small laser so they have a better range and can scan in more adverse conditions, the CueCat though is cheap, so cheap you don't have to worry about this.
  • Good will my ass.

    These companies have ridiculous business plans designed around the idea that people are willing to pay forever for a "service" of nominal value. If this were true, broadcast television stations would have been charging their subscribers a service fee for the last fifty years.

    And the idea that the solution to this "problem" is litigation ranges from absurd to positively subversive. It is flatly ludicrous to expect a government to protect faulty business models by shoving legislation down the throat of the consumer. I cannot even begin to comprehend the logic that places used car salesmen in the position of writing legislation that turns a fee-for-service into a tax.

    Somehow, in this country, businesses have forgotten that success depends upon delivering a service or product at a price that benefits both the provider and the consumer of the service. Instead, greedy marketing type pinheads have decided that what is necessary is to scam customers into paying good money for items of marginal value.

    The proper "solution" for a lousy business plan is bankruptcy.
  • What you buy a piece of software, you are buying a license to use that software.

    No. Software isn't any different than a book. When you buy a book, you own the book. When you buy software, you own the software. (Note that in both cases, you're just buying the item, not the copyright, so IP rights are still preserved.) You can tear the pages out of a book and make paper airplanes, and you can disassemble software.

    The only time you buy a license is when the purchase of that license is explicitly made a part of the sale. (For example, when people buy custom software from my employer, I think they sign a license at the same time that they hand over the check, although I don't work on that side of the biz, so I'm not sure if this is still done.)

    Or if the license grants you additional rights that you otherwise would not have under copyright law, then you might decide to agree to the license in order to take advantage of those additional rights. For example, you normally can't give away copies of copyrighted works, but some software comes with the offer of a special licence (e.g. GPL) that will grant that right (with some restrictions) to people who agree to its terms.


    ---
  • by Malevolent ( 231436 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @03:45AM (#772385)
    Hmm, this gives me an evil idea!

    If I were [theoretically of course!] to crack into a database and obtain e-mail address data, it wouldn't take much effort to then mail out everyone whose addresses I had obtained saying "We're sorry - our database got cracked. Send us your credit card details and we'll give you a $10 refund straight to your card for the inconvience!". =)

    Put in a genuine looking "From:" address, and a temporarily set-up "Reply-to:" address, and wait for those CCs to come rolling in =) I'm sure there are enough people out their who would happily fall for such a scam!
  • by Kevin DeGraaf ( 220791 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @03:47AM (#772388) Homepage
    IANAL, but can they change the EULA so radically after thousands (millions?) of CueCats have been distributed? I got mine from rat shack a number of weeks ago, and immediately destroyed the CRQ CD. Now they're trying to bind me with a contract I didn't agree to? I'm going to disassemble my CueCat right now...
  • Ah, you think that the long-term effect of this is that we will cross over the transition from having a free lunch, to not having a free lunch? There never was a free lunch! They're not going to "reduce services", they're just going to make costs more explicitly spelled-out up front.

    If you get one of these CueCats and use their software, then it isn't free. They are getting information about you (which has value) and probably selling that information to someone, or selling targeted adspace (which has value) to companies that want to advertise things related to whatever you scanned. Whenever someone pays Digital Convergence for an ad, that money doesn't come out of thin air -- it comes out of the sale price that you pay when you buy that item.

    Any time someone pretends to give you something for free, it is almost certainly an attempt to decieve you. Taking advantage of them is a Good Thing, since it punishes lies and hidden costs. The especially nice thing is that if they don't try to trick you and actually put the costs up front where the customer can see them, then no one can take advantage of them, and fair market forces decide their fate.


    ---
  • On October 26-27, the FTC will hold public hearings [ftc.gov] in Washington on "click-wrap licenses", software warranties, and related issues. If you're in Washington, go.

    A previous Slashdot article of a few weeks ago encouraged people to submit comments for that proceeding. Some of those comments are online at the FTC site. [ftc.gov] (The FTC staff tell me all the comments should be up shortly.)

  • Well, IANAL, but when you read carefully, I think that you can decompile, reverse engineer and/or disassemble:

    you may not decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, modify, rent, lease, loan, sublicense, distribute or create derivative works based upon the :CRQ software

    Does this sentence say anywhere that you can't decompile the :CRQ software? No, it says that you can't decompile OR create derivative works. Decompile what? It doesn't say. It actually says that you can't RE, disassemble and decompile derivative works based upon their software. So be their guest, and work on their software... that's not derivative!
    How to make a sig
    without having an idea

  • It was sent to me without any action on my part, other than being a subscriber to a magazine- that sounds like a gift to me.

    I don't know the specific U.S. law, but I do rember a commercial a few years back from the U.S. Postal Service that showed an Eskimo opening a box with a fan in it. The announcer (off-screen) said "Did you know that if you recieve anything in the mail that you didn't order, you don't have to pay for it?" "Cool" said the Eskimo, as he smiled.

  • Not at all. The contract implicit in sale is completed the moment the product is sold. To disclose later that the product isn't what you advertised but 'offer an out' is fraud.

    You can be held to an original offer even if you later wish to revoke the offer.

    If I offer something for sale and tell people to reply to me by Friday, someone can reply saying 'I accept your terms' and that binds me to the sale. I'm then bound to the terms I offered initially.

    If I want to offer something vague with undisclosed caveats, I have to say something like 'I have Item X for sale, email me for details if interested' which isn't an offer to sell.

    EULAs are completely without any power (except in the states that were bribed to pass the UCITA).
  • I am just imagining scared housewifes standing on a chair trying to beat down a CueCat on the floor with a broom.

    Seriously, how much bickering is there going to be about all these litttle details on an inanimate object? I don't think people are going to take software agreements seriously anymore with all this BS going on. I haven't even hooked up my cuecat, and I could care less about it's agreement on the software I won't be installing. I'm not really afraid of any acronyms in this situation.
  • built in firmware doesn't come with "licensing agreements" by any stretch of the imagination, for the very simple reason that there is no copying involved. the (really bad) excuse that opened the software licence floodgates was that software gets copied from disk to memory at the user's request, so the user needs a 'license' for that. no such thing happens with firmware.
  • by orabidoo ( 9806 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @03:58AM (#772409) Homepage
    To me, all of this seems like trying to rip off companies that are providing something which people obviously want. And if people succeed, then these companies are going to suffer, which means no more deals for people. Is this what we want?
    yes. this is what we (or at least, I) want. I want after-sale business models to FAIL so that companies can get back to the good old way of selling stuff without tying the user to some badly thought-out service of theirs. namely, by selling appliances at a profit. just like VCRs, stereos, cars, and everything out there that gets sold. selling hardware at a loss and recouping on side channels is BAD FOR THE CONSUMER.
  • and on an NT box, clicking on "cancel" just throws you back to the "hit ctl-alt-del to login" prompt....


    --
  • No point.

    On evolutionary grounds a company without a clue in their business plan deserves to die.

    So just get go and get your CATs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 18, 2000 @04:05AM (#772418)
    ...you will notify Digital:Convergence of any information derived from reverse engineering or such other activities...

    Well, so far I've determined that the people at Digital Convergence are pricks. Does that count?
    Guess I better go notify them.
  • by barracg8 ( 61682 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @04:06AM (#772420)
    The key change in the license agreement would seem to me, to be that this:
    • Except as expressly permitted in this License, you may not decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, modify, rent, lease, loan, sublicense, distribute or create derivative works based upon the :C.R.Q. Software in whole or part or transmit the :C.R.Q. Software over a network or from one computer to another.
    Has been changed to this:
    • Except as expressly permitted in this License, you may not decompile, reverse engineer, disassemble, modify, rent, lease, loan, sublicense, distribute or create derivative works based upon the :CRQ software or :CueCat reader in whole or part or transmit the :CRQ software over a network or from one computer to another.
    They clearly thought that anybody wanting to reverse engineer their scanners would have to disassemble their software, so they thought that they could prevent this with the software licence agreement. They clearly didn't realize that by using such a braindead-simple protocol, people could reverse engineer the protocol just from the hardware, so they have extended the EULA to cover reverse engineering from the CueCat itself.

    But how can this be legal? What you buy a piece of software, you are buying a license to use that software. When you buy ( /are given ) a piece of hardware you own it. You can do what you like with it. You have the right to sell it to someone else, and DC have no contract with that person.

    This cannot be enforcable.

  • by ConceptJunkie ( 24823 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @04:07AM (#772422) Homepage Journal
    You're right! Individuals are exercising more and more power over companies. It's getting out of control and is completely contrary to the American way of life. People are unfairly exercising their rights to think and use technology to abuse poor companies that have no recourse when faced with the power of a motivated hacker and such unscrupulous tools as Linux.

    One of the problems with capitalism and technology is that individuals often become so powerful that their influence over honest hard-working companies becomes so great that they can start to take advantage of them. This is where the federal government can step in to protect the rights of these poor companies that are just trying to mind their own business and make a buck.

    People might complain that these companies need to exercise a little more judgement when they come up with their business plans, but let's face, even the most careful companies can fall victim to ruthless individuals utilizing their technology to take unfair advantage of them.

    It's time people stood up for the rights of victimized corporations! Write your Congresspeople so they can pass laws to protect those poor companies who cannot protect themselves.

    If we don't stand up for the big companies, who will?

  • by Shadowlion ( 18254 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @04:11AM (#772425) Homepage
    What cracked me up was the statement in the EULA:

    The :CueCat reader is only on loan to you from Digital:Convergence and may be recalled at any time. Without limiting the foregoing, your possession or control of the :CueCat reader does not transfer any right, title or interest to you in the :CueCat reader.

    Excuse me?

    How can you "loan" me something if you a) don't know who I am, b) don't bother to record who I am, c) don't ask for any collateral or specify any terms/conditions/length for the loan, and d) retroactively declare it was a loan?

    This sort of seems to me to be equivalent of handing out money on the street one day, and then getting on television the next saying, "Oh, by the way, all those people I gave money to on the street yesterday have to pay me back when I ask for it."

    How absurd.


    --
  • See this comment [slashdot.org] for a link to the more-restrictive EULA that was posted about two weks ago.
    --
  • Does the same apply to the numerous AOL CDs I received in unsolicited mail last year? Do I OWN the software on the CD? Can I do whatever I want with it?
  • As I recall, Digital Convergence did not hestitate to fire off bogus legal threats [flyingbuttmonkeys.com]. This is no "good will" to abuse.

    They have a busines plan with a hole large enough to float the USS Truman [navy.mil] through. Namely, they hope to profit from a service that can easily be obtained elsewhere for free. They're trying to cover this gaping hole with legal intimidation.

    An altruistic outfit might reasonably expect a somewhat altruistic public response. But once the lawyer threats start, forget it.

    • That the encryption is weak or it is encrypted makes no difference.
    IANAL, but I think it does.

    Imagine I make a keyboard that encrypts the text you type, and provide special Windows drivers to decrypt the text, and wrap the drivers up in an EULA that makes you promise you will not be naughty and reverse engineer anything.

    If you disassemble my software and reverse engineer my code, then I can probably prevent the distribution of any drivers based on your work. It is not a case of me owning the text you typed, but owning the IP over the driver that I wrote (and that your driver is a derivative work of). However, if my encryption is weak, and you can reverse engineer just from experimenting with the hardware, then you do not break my EULA (which only covers the software), and I cannot prevent you from distributing your drivers.

    cheers,
    G

  • Well, last week I threw together a Java based CueCat decoder/web page finder. Its at http://www.timpatton.com/jcat [timpatton.com]. It just needs java 1.2 or better. I guess I will sit around and wait for my subpoena. :)
  • by (void*) ( 113680 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @04:19AM (#772441)
    Yes. But putting aside the issue of who owns the CueCat, their license doesn't even makes sense. The entire purpose of a barcode reader is to scan barcodes and spit out characters into the input stream. Exactly like the entire purpose of keyboard is to detect keypressed and spit out the characters to the underlying software.

    Pursuing the analogy further, does having a MS keyboard mean that the code I type belongs to MS now? It is my effort, my code, my computer. Even if MS wraps a license around the keyboard, they can not be allowed to extend that license to my ownership of other things. In exactly the same manner, if I use the cuecat to catalog the books I own, the books are mine. the database software is mine (or some other company's) The barcodes are on the book - they are public. The ISBN is not a proprietry system. Which part of the whole thing does cuecat own? Nothing.

    That the encryption is weak or it is encrypted makes no difference. I could use it to generate pseudorandom numbers. Does it mean that CueCat owns the random numbers now?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    QUOTE:

    "Please read the following license agreement carefully before using this software or hardware as you are agreeing to be bound by the following terms and conditions of this license. You agree to the terms and conditions of this license by performing ANY OF THE FOLLOWING ACTIONS: (1) using the :CRQ software; (2) using the :CueCat reader (3) pressing the "agree" button below; OR (4) printing out a copy of the agreement, signing the agreement and returning a copy to Digital:Convergence(TM). If you do not agree to the terms and conditions of this license, do not press the "agree" button or engage in any of the foregoing acts."

    Hmm.

    So here is what we have got here... a "legal" (read as "clickthrough", "shrinkwrap") agreement that tries to be as binding as if it were signed and returned to D:C. I wonder how many seconds this will hold up in court when challenged. The fact of the matter is is that when they give me hardware, it is now MY hardware, and if they think that I have to use their software, then they are stuffed. Also, is it possible to open the package and use their damn barcode reader WITHOUT viewing any portion of the license at all? Of course. However, D:C wants to bind you to their terms even if you don't ever even take a glance at their terms.

    D:C is one of those companies that will be throttled by their own license and slowly fade away. Thank god.

    Oh, I was about to post this, and lookee what else I found, buried in an unindented block of legalese:

    QUOTE:

    "The :CueCat reader is only on loan to you from Digital:Convergence and may be recalled at any time."

    They need to realize that when they put hardware into my hands that it is MY hardware. If they want me to sign a contract with them (not the crap faux contract they try to bind you to in the first place), I will happily do so, but as long as they try to stiffarm me into forking over all my data, I'll just use the cracked software.

    Oh, yea, I want to see someone ballsy enough to actually print out that agreement, cross out everything that they don't agree with, and fax it to them. :)

    inquis, posting anonymously 'cause he's too lazy to go get his password.

  • If a company tries this kind of thing, it has two choices: a contract, signed by both parties and enforceable in court, or to simply accept that some of the items it gives away won't produce any revenue.


    I think that the reason we're seeing so much angst over these business models is that these "giveaways" are presented as free; they aren't, as you have so eloquently argued. The actual intent is to trick the unwary into giving away something of greater value for something of lesser value. The old "new lamps for old" scam.
    If some one wants to make such a deal, knowing what he's getting into, fine. If CluelessCat wants to trick the gullible, I don't think that is fine at all.


    Every time one of these companies sets their "rules", and finds that people who never knowingly agreed to them don't follow them, we can only laugh. If new technology comes out with restrictive legislation, it'll be because you didn't contact your congress-critters early and often.

    Nels

  • They've got a line for "Your Signature" and they want you to fax it back.

    Being... well... Evil, it occured to me that you could pop out to Radio Shak, pick up one of these, open the box, disagree with the EULA and send it back to Digital Convergence. Think a couple'a hundred thousand of their silly felines in the mail might make a point?

    Of course, if I were looking for a laser scanner, I'd have much more faith in the Intermec hardware I can get, and it dumps staight ASCII and is much more stylish.

  • Not in the same way. You own the physical AOL CD, and you can do almost anything (legal) you like with it. You can use it as a cofee mat, a frizbee, you can use it as a mirror.... etc. However, you do not own the software on the CD.

    Cue:Cat is different as it is hardware, so as long as you do not try replicating it then you should be able to be able to do almost anything you choose with it.

  • No no no. That would allow the vermin in your closet access to the device, which you must protect with your life and limb, since it is not yours and is on loan. Yes. The only way is to plug it into your computer port and install the software now, little consumer droid.

    You will submit.

  • by barracg8 ( 61682 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @04:29AM (#772454)
    • it just discourages other companies from being so generous
    DC is being every bit as generous as your local dealer who gives crack to kiddies to get them hooked. DC is not being generous. It is driven by the motive of making money.
    • Do we really want a situation where every new technology comes out hand in hand with restrictive legislation to give the companies a chance to make a profit?
    I have two imaginative thoughts.
    1. Sell things for what they are worth. Crazy, I know, but what if DC tried selling the scanner for what it cost them to make it? Wow!
    2. Just write off the loss. Okay, hands up anyone who has ever taken a free T-shirt at a trade show, for a product that they will never, ever, buy. Should there be an EULA on the T-shirt against that? If DC were really feeling generous, they could just write off the loss of a handful of scanners to /. geeks who want to hack around with them, and concentrate on pushing more scanners at lusers who are more likely to use their software.
    DC are currently expending a lot of energy on fighting us, not on making money. This is very dumb.
    • despite the fact that they sell their hardware as a loss leader and rely on the subscription charges to make any money.
    Ah! DC is stupid. Tell me again, why is that my problem?
  • Anyone who believes these liars is a fool. Sure, validate their account details on you for $10 credit if you like - it may be a fair sale to some.

    Just don't for a minute believe they were hacked. Oh, they're using NT servers so I'm supposed to believe their "our IT is incompitent" line. :)

    This sounds too vague to be legit. Offering $10 to end users for SELLING their details is one thing - at least that is honest. This little scam makes them no different than the spammers who put "reply to unsubscribe" in their email (in order to verify an address to sell it at a higher rate).

    Besides, the Linux software is better than the Windows version. :)
  • I think you are too naive. So I will have to explain it at your intellectual level.

    A loss leader is like spreading gold along a path. This usually leads to two options:

    • The idiots that start walking along the path get robbed. In the middleages thay used to get killed as well. Unfortunately now this does not always happen and the evolution does not take its due course so we have to have this idiotic conversation
    • The people who actually have some brains chose another path (or use armed escort). And they get away with their money and alive.
    It is obvious that if two many people use an alternative path there will be an attempt to ambush that one as well (think of EULAs and similar measures), but until a company have not ambushed the other path it should not expect anything but a random idiot to fall in its traps. Evolution have taken its due course for thousands of years. So the avoidance of non-enforceable loss leader schemes is to be expected.
  • I thought of the same thing I think everyone reading should join a mass CueCat protest by mailing their CueCat (and as many as they can pick up) back to Digital Convergance POSTAGE DUE.

    Maybe that will be enough of a clue-by-four to make them stop their ridiculous scary lawyer letters.
  • I unplugged my cat and tossed it on my bed. When I realised my (falsified) data was not safe, I deceded to abandon ship. They offer a gift cert of $10 to the shack, but the last time I needed to go there was about 3 years ago.
  • A dead looser company alsways blames someone. This is part of the business. Hackers, Weather, Force Major, but never idiotic business plan and lack of clue. The reason is very simple. The concession that the business plan was idiotic means that the VCs were idiots. VCs do not like to be marked as stupid. So having someone else to blame is to be expected.
  • by Pictling ( 233952 ) on Monday September 18, 2000 @05:15AM (#772474)
    If anyone is interested, you can find the one and only Digitalconvergence.com patent here. [ibm.com] The patent number is 6098106 and it was issued August 1, 2000. It covers using sound to link to a web site. IANAL, but it doesn't look like it covers bar codes.

    As for bar codes, they really don't encode much information. The first part of the number is the company producing the product, and the last part is a unique identifier for the specific product (a green widget would have a different identifier than a red one). So really it's just a pointer or index that links into a database elsewhere. Forget any hopes of scanning your CD's and getting a song list from the barcode, unless you link it to a database that contains what you're looking for.

That's the thing about people who think they hate computers. What they really hate is lousy programmers. - Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle in "Oath of Fealty"

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