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Soundcard maker Creative Labs threatened a developer with legal action after he wrote drivers enabling the company's older products to run smoothly on Vista. Daniel Kawakami's drivers were initially removed by Creative from its site, but the company later backed down and reinstated his posts. Like Kawakami, you were incensed at Creative's tactics:

Funnily enough, I am currently reading a book called "The Undercover Economist" that explains that behaviour by companies. It goes something like this: intentionally cripple your cheaper/older products so that people have a reason to buy the more expensive ones, in this case by providing sub-standard drivers for Vista. The problem when you do this through software is that a bright hacker can ruin your plans by writing good drivers. In this case, a company has two choices: 1. say thank you, distribute the better products and go to plan B to milk cash from customers another way; 2. threaten the hacker with a lawsuit to safeguard plan A, which looks like what Creative is doing here. The problem with the second solution is that there is a risk it will backfire as a PR disaster that can lose you customers and cost you more than going to plan B would have done.

This looks like an own goal to me: Customers 1 - 0 Creative

Bruno Girin


If only there was some organisation devoted to the new frontier of electronic freeedom, or someone advocating free software and backing up their beliefs with legal muscle... Nah, it'll never happen: none of these cases will ever go to court. Nobody serious about computing would do anything like that.

Still, it's a shame, because seeing that one go to court would make fools of Creative Labs. The document discovery required in such a case might also reveal that Creative are forced to act this way in order to retain their Microsoft certification: their board live under the threat that every single Creative Labs device will one day be 'decertified' and prevented from running protected media under Windows.

I wonder how that would play in the press... If there still is a free press: much of the mass news media is owned by people who have an important financial interest in the in the next-case-but-one, where we establish a legal precedent that states whether the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a license to ignore the antitrust laws. Do Microsoft, or the content owners who now seem to be Bill's paymaster, have the legal right to selectively 'freeze out' hardware manufacturers who don't toe the line?

It occurs to me that Creative Labs might actually gain more than they lose from taking this case to court. Unless, of course, their legal team are as badly-managed as their developers: given the clumsy way that they have behaved so far, this seems all too likely.

And what do Creative Labs have to lose? We already know they're fools and their hardware drivers don't work particularly well anyway.

Of course, a court case might also permanently blacklist and burn our promising young programmer's career - at least, in the world of large corporations in partnership agreements with Microsoft. But there are worse things than starting out in a department which ships bad code, learning to accept working that way, ending up managing the process and forcing it on a new generation of recruits, and eventually directing legal operations against the the sort of promising young programmer that you used to be.

Nile Heffernan


The enraged thread on creative's forum numbered 160 pages this morning and clocked over 170,000 page views! And that was just over the weekend, before it was picked up by the news sites.

Calling this a PR disaster is puttting it mildly, but to those of us who have suffered at the hands of Creative's senseless disregards for its customers, it's nothing new...

I personally returned the last creative product I bought when the vista drivers proved flaky since last time I checked I was not getting paid to be their beta tester...

Dimitri


Wacky Hawaiian botanist Walter L Wagner has filed a lawsuit attempting to prevent CERN's Large Hadron Collider destroying the universe as we know it. Wagner argues that there is an appreciable risk that cavalier boffins might accidentally create a black hole that would engulf us all, or possibly create "negatively-charged strangelets", which would turn everything on the planet into strangelets as well. Neither possibility is an inviting thought.

This guy's a genius. He managed to be both the plaintiff and the defendant and no-one noticed until the garden received the bill.

He may be a loon, but he's a loon with some serious balls!

Steve


Like a parallel universe wouldn't be an improvement? Perhaps we might wake up in a universe without any Republicans? Hell, we might even wake up in a universe without an IT angle...

My weekend is sounding better already!

Anonymous Coward


Steve, I don't know about balls, but there's certainly some serious bollocks in there.

TeeCee


Surely a more Wagnarian scenarios would be that the strangelet-custard conversion and monopole transmutation threats causes the manifestation of large breasted women on flying horses who drag us through the black hole into a giant hall where we spend the rest of eternity feasting!

Bring it on!

Anonymous Coward

Well, we're saddled up and prepared for the inevitable. Wait, where's my axe? ®

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