At 02:32 PM 8/3/2002 -0400, Bagotronix Tech Support wrote:
>I have been warning friends and family about
>what is happening with software licensing, with mixed results. I get a lot
>of apathy. It will be that way until one day they turn on their PC and it
>says (names changed to protect the guilty):
>"Your Winblows license has expired. For your convenience, we have your
>credit card information on file. So that we may continue to serve you,
>please click on 'OK' to renew your Winblows license. Your credit card will
>then be charged $199 for a one-year license renewal. If you click on
>'cancel', you will be charged a one-time fee of $99 to cover processing
>costs of removing your computer information from the central license
>registration database. Should you decide to renew later, you will be
>charged an addtional $99 processing fee to add your computer information
>back to the central license registration database, in additon to the rate
>for a new license, which is currently $299.
The scenario is not entirely ridiculous, though the numbers are likely
inflated over what they would actually be at current pricing. The
cancellation fee is unlikely, but if it was clearly stated in the user
agreement, accepted at installation, it might be legally enforceable.
However, the scenario goes beyond what would be lawfully enforceable in
> Should you desire to contest
>these charges, please recall in the End User's License Agreement that by
>using the software, you agreed to not use credit card chargeback procedures.
This would almost certainly be a violation of credit card company policy.
In other words, the credit card companies would ignore it and would still
honor a protest and chargeback if they determined the charge to be
illegitimate. Having a little experience with chargebacks, I'd say that the
credit card companies tend to give priority to customer claims; if the
customer claim is reasonable on the face, they will give the charging
company an opportunity to rebut; but they don't want to be courts, there is
no money in it for them. The cardholder is their customer, they want to
keep him or her happy; and if they don't honor a reasonable chargeback,
their customer could, in fact, refuse to pay the bill and that, in itself,
will create more headache than they want.
(If you refuse to pay a charge on a credit card bill, they *must* follow a
procedure prescribed by law; if they don't, not only will you not be
required to pay the charge, they will be assessed penalties which, if there
is still a balance, you can deduct from the balance. I ended up in a
dispute with Capital One over some overlimit and interest charges they had
assessed because they failed to credit an account timely with a payment;
fortunately, I had sent the payment return receipt requested, so I knew
when they had received it. It did take a few months and a few layers of
management, but they ended up crediting me with the whole shebang,
reversing their charges and in addition, the penalty prescribed by law.)
So Microsoft would have to go to court to collect. They might succeed if
the user contract was reasonable, i.e., there was a discount given at time
of purchase which could be recaptured if a customer did not complete a
contract period, but a contract that locks in a customer to payments over,
basically, the rest of their life would probably not be enforceable under
the statute of frauds (which makes contracts to be performed over a period
longer than one year unenforceable unless they are in writing). And
Microsoft would definitely not want to be seen in court with customers over
a matter like this!
It's easy to cancel a credit card!
>Should you attempt to reclaim files from this computer's hard disk without
>first renewing your Winblows license, any .NYET-enabled files will report
>their being opened to the central license registration database, possibly
>leading to your prosecution under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act for
>felony charges of attempting to defeat software security measures. Thank
>you for using Macrohard products."
>OK, that was not a statement of fact, but a prediction of how it might go.
>In any case, it was fun to write. And it (or something like it) COULD
Well, some aspects are possible, but quite unlikely. Such practices would
have to be clear in the user agreement, and, if as extensive as was
described, would also have to be in writing; even then they could be
cancelled (stringent contracts written by the seller to the buyers
detriment might not be enforceable even if the buyer has signed). And as
soon as it was widely realized that a user agreement contained such
provisions, their sales would go to close to zero.
Files can't report being opened (unless they are executable), rather an
operating system could make such a report that the file was opened. And
this would be a tad difficult if the network was unplugged. And I think it
would be a bit difficult to enforce the DCMA against a user attempting to
recover his own data, that was definitely not the purpose of the DCMA. Who
would be the injured party? Defeating the encryption of copyrighted
material involves an injured party, the holder of the copyright
(ostensibly; I don't necessarily agree, but the law provides a presumption
of that), but defeating the encryption of one's own data, not copyrighted
by anyone else, no, I highly doubt that this would be illegal in the
I don't like the XP licensing scheme and it is the major reason I have not
purchased XP. If XP became necessary for some reason, however, I don't
think it would stop me from going ahead (although I could change my mind
after reading the user agreement). Upshot is that I suspect that the new
licensing system is hurting XP sales and only the OEM agreements are saving
Microsoft's skin. I have previously commented on this list and elsewhere
that a certain level of copyright violation (i.e., copying or using without
license) may actually *help* the copyright owner by stimulating sales in
the long run, I'm almost certain this is true for software, provided that
such copying does not become the norm.
Here, with ATS, it seems completely within Altium's rights to set up such a
maintenance system. They have not attempted to make maintenance obligatory,
which would be offensive. (I don't know if it still does, but the PADS user
agreement provided for repossession of the software if maintenance was not
paid. When I asked them about it, they said, "Oh, we don't enforce that."
But they could at any time. They lost a sale because of that clause, and
they probably would have lost more than they do if users carefully read the
The argument that Altium is required to provide fixes for all bugs without
charge is seriously defective. It is good business for Altium to provide a
certain level of maintenance without charge. If a bug makes the program
unusable for a customer, the customer might be able to demand a refund;
specific performance (i.e., a legal requirement that a person perform as
required by contract) is not even an issue unless Altium had contracted to
provide such fixes. Otherwise, the burden is on the customer to determine
if the product meets his or her needs. If it does not, the customer really
has only one recourse: return the software for refund. If Altium refused to
refund, the customer might have a cause of action to sue for the refund.
But I suspect that a non-frivolous claim of unusability would be honored by
Altium. If one had kept the software for a year before returning it, I
doubt that such a claim would be honored, however.
So Altium, by providing ATS for a year, is really protecting itself against
claims of unusability.
Basically, if I have a tool I want to sell, that tool may do some things
well and it may do other things poorly. It may have design flaws. If it
were a requirement of law that the seller were required to provide
replacements of the tool to fix every defect or design flaw, for an
indefinite period of time, well, let's say that I'd go into a different
business than selling tools.... Warranties only extend, typically, for a
fixed period of time. And warranties typically do not cover design
deficiencies if the product can be used for its intended purpose.
Protel 99SE, quite clearly, can be used for (most) of its intended
purposes. If the 3-D viever is a nearly useless toy, well, we could have
returned the program (or the upgrade) soon after we received it. If we
didn't, quite likely we kept the program because we could use it
sufficiently that it was worth what we paid for it.
It is perfectly legitimate to sit back and wait to see how DXP goes. Altium
is not threatening users that they will suffer by waiting, anything more
than not being able to use the new version while they waid (except for the
demo). I'd certainly advise getting the demo and perhaps waiting to install
it until one is close to making a decision (or until one has some spare
time). My sense from DXP users is that the upgrade is worth the price, but
there are still 2.8 users out there, even though I'm certain that what it
took to get from 2.8 to 99SE (not much, really) was well worth it, *if* one
is doing design regularly. Not everyone is.
I would, however, watch Altium for changes to upgrade pricing. Sometimes
they make special offers, sometimes they raise prices, usually with some
advance notice. I waited to do the P99 upgrade until the $700 special
offer, so I saved $300. But because of that, I didn't start to use P99 for
perhaps three months or more. Overall I think I would have been better off
buying it sooner.
Much or most of the cost of upgrading is really retraining, BTW. Even if
Alium gave away the upgrade, this cost would remain. (I don't think the
retraining for DXP is severe, but it *is* different, as we have seen from
$2K for an upgrade from 99SE to DXP seems reasonable to me; it is a little
more than I expected, but not a lot more. ATS -- am I right? -- is $1500
per year, which is also a tad high, but, again, not a lot higher than
expected. As long as the software works (not necessarily perfectly), ATS is
voluntary, and is included with purchase for a year, it seems a reasonable
method for providing maintenance and upgrade as an alternative to the
upgrade purchase method Protel used in the past. I'm assuming that service
will improve with the improved cash flow, the new DXP tech support list is
a good indication that this is, in fact, happening. (I also see Mr.
Shwaiger frequently on that list, I don't know his position now, but he was
the Protel Engineering Manager at one time, he might still be.
Communication with users is improving, a very good step toward better service.)
* Tracking #: BDC9F2FAD530FD4FA764DC619AFA02394C4AD1A1
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* To post a message: mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]
* To leave this list visit:
* Contact the list manager:
* mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]
* Forum Guidelines Rules:
* Browse or Search previous postings:
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *