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Piriform Asks BleachBit To Remove Winapp2.ini Importer 305

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the you-always-need-a-lawyer dept.
ahziem writes "As author of the BleachBit system cleaner, I received a polite but firm request from Piriform, makers of the similar application CCleaner, to remove a two-year-old feature from BleachBit that allows individual BleachBit users to import winapp2.ini data files created by the community that define which files to delete for applications. Does Piriform's request have merit? Do I need a lawyer? What is a good response to avoid any ugly situation?"
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Piriform Asks BleachBit To Remove Winapp2.ini Importer

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  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:05AM (#42793679)

    By the way, nice "Slashvert". I'm sold...

  • by Art Challenor (2621733) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:11AM (#42793721)

    And once again for the 1,000,000 time, yes, and this isn't the place to get legal advice...

    True, but there's really any advice that you should ask for from ./er's? How to meet members of the opposite sex? Which Linux distro to use? Whether Metro is better than Unity?

    Once you get it in perspective, the question makes as much sense as any other.

  • by Excelcia (906188) <kfitzner@excelcia.ca> on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:13AM (#42793737) Homepage Journal

    This would be like Microsoft asking OpenOffice not to import Word format. Or, for a closer analogy, for them to ask Mozilla not to have Firefox import IE bookmarks when you install it. This type of thing is done all the time. Unless they claim to have a patent on the format in the .ini file, it's totally fair game.

  • Ignore them. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macraig (621737) <mark.a.craigNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:29AM (#42793837)

    Why should you be frightened of a violation of their TOS? Have you or your software agreed to be bound by those terms at any point? No? Well then, why the fuck are they threatening you? Answer: because it's easier than threatening their own customers who might actually be violating those TOS, since threatening them will create a Streisand Effect and have them leaving in droves for good.

    You might have another TheOatmeal-versus-FunnyJunk moment here.

  • Play for time (Score:1, Insightful)

    by epSos-de (2741969) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:45AM (#42793933) Homepage Journal
    Do it like the Indians in the call centers. Tell them that you are working hard on this issue and are very keen to resolve it as soon as possible, but do nothing in reality.

    Play for time until they are bored.
  • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:52AM (#42793975) Homepage

    Does Piriform's request have merit? Do I need a lawyer? What is a good response to avoid any ugly situation?

    No, maybe, no sure-fire answer. The first option would be to plainly ignore it, which is probably what I would have picked until I got any more formal but since you've already publicly acknowledged receiving it that's out the window. I'd probably reply:

    "Your terms of service is an agreement between your company and your users, as BleachBit is not a party to this agreement we see no legal basis for your request and have not evaluated your claims further."

    Most likely, you'll hear nothing and it'll go away but they can always send a lawyer after you, in which case you might want one too. But I think this answer should be fairly safe since the only thing you're saying is that you never agreed to any terms of service.

  • Don't back down (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tbird81 (946205) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:58AM (#42794005)

    Don't remove this feature. Politely tell Piriformis to go fuck themselves. If you hear from them again, get a lawyer.

    But never back down to these bullying assholes. (Unless they're willing to buy you out for $10 million or something, then I think we'd all sell out.)

  • Re:Hanlon's razor (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @02:06AM (#42794041)

    They said "terms of use". Use of what? If HE downloaded CCleaner files and included them with his app, then I do see problems galore. But if he did not download CCleaner files himself I do not see how he is obligated contractually to their terms. Contract Law 101.

    Depends how he wrote his winapp2.ini importer. Did he use Pinform's documentation/SDK? If so, something may apply if that documentation was provided for the purpose of having users write winapp2.ini files and not for the purposes of developing a competing app.

    If he wrote it by examining how users wrote their winapp2.ini files and made guesses, then he's in the clear (reverse-engineering).

    If he asked for help from the community, things get trickier because now the licenses and all that are horribly tangled.

    I would get a lawyer and compose a polite reply asking why they think it's a TOS violation - perhaps they thought you accessed their documentation and used it against the license?

    Right now things are at the "polite" level. Asking for more information on what they think is wrong doesn't hurt, maybe even politely explaining and showing documentation you didn't violate the ToS. It could be a huge misunderstanding and they thought you took their file and used it directly, without realizing there are other sources? (And that's not secure - since that community source could involve someone uploading CCleaner's version).

  • by 3count (1039602) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @02:17AM (#42794105)

    > Does Piriform's request have merit?
    Did you read the article they are complaining about? It reads like a how-to to rip off Pirform's data. The subtlety of winapp vs. winapp2 may have gotten lost somewhere. But statements like "The Open Source disk cleaner Bleachbit takes advantage of this as it can import all of CCleaner’s cleaning locations." sounds like a real problem.

    Is this a poorly worded article or is the author suggesting taking Pirform’s proprietary data? Does your organization support/encourage people to take Pirform’s proprietary data for use in BleachBit?

    The winapp2.com site seems to list a data file from Pirform, not the community. This may not be your responsibility, but it certainly puts the whole community into question. How closely aligned are you with that community?

    > What is a good response to avoid any ugly situation?"
    I would expect you to be an expert in these tools, this market, and the winapp2 community. The fact that you are asking us these questions suggests you are not. Do you support the article? Do you support the use of anything proprietary to be used by BleachBit? Does the winapp2 community support anything inappropriate with Pirform's data? You should take a position on all of these items. Even if what you are doing is technically legal, how you present yourself can attract unnecessary trouble.

    > Do I need a lawyer?
    Who knows. So the only safe answer is "Yes". But, this is as much of an image issue as it is a legal issue. You might need a marketing person to explain this as much as a lawyer.

  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @02:52AM (#42794261)

    Winapp2 is produced by the same people as Bleach. This is a giant AstroTurf circle.

  • by dcollins (135727) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @03:44AM (#42794397) Homepage

    Why bother responding? Why bother letting them know that you're listening to and giving consideration to their threats? Why bother making a paper trail of any kind?

    If I had a lawyer on staff twiddling his thumbs, then I'd have him one-up the situation and write a "shut up and don't bother us" letter; but otherwise, I'd just dodge that shit entirely and remain silent.

  • by hawkinspeter (831501) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @04:22AM (#42794497)
    Surely the ToS relates to using CCleaner which is totally irrelevant as he's not using their software. I don't see how copyright comes into play if he's not distributing the ini file and as far as I can tell, the purpose of importing the file is for user generated rules.

    The only thing that I can see that could apply would be if CCleaner has patented the ini text format, but that would be absurd and I can't see that standing up in court.

    A simple letter stating that he doesn't use the CCleaner software and that the ToS are irrelevant to him should suffice. Let them come back with lawyers and see how much money they want to waste.
  • Re:Backfire (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @04:30AM (#42794529)

    Da fuq? Having browsed first ~5 pages of J'raxis' comments, I see not a single case of astroturfing.

    His sig is indeed in bad taste, but that's not a reason to spread misinformation -- or worse, upmod disinformation.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @04:34AM (#42794549) Homepage

    The questioner doesn't say where he is based, which makes a big difference. In Europe this kind of compatibility is specifically permitted by the law, so there really is nothing Piriform can do.

    A polite "no" might be a good place to start, and then see what their response is. Ask them to explain why they want it removed and what basis they have for asking.

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @04:46AM (#42794593) Homepage

    winapp.ini is the internal file CCleaner uses to store it's cleaning rules. It follows the basic standard Windows INI file syntax. The entries in each section are specific to CCleaner, but appear to be fairly obvious just looking at the file without any further documentation.

    winapp2.ini is an external file read by CCleaner to import additional (non-Piriform) cleaning rules. It's intended use is to let people other than Piriform add rules to CCleaner. The full documentation on it's syntax is available (without needing to agree to any terms) at http://forum.piriform.com/index.php?showtopic=32310 [piriform.com]. This file uses the exact same syntax as winapp.ini.

    So from what I can tell from this, the contents of winapp2.ini are by definition not the property of Piriform and Piriform wouldn't have any legal right to dictate who can use them. That right would rest with the authors of the entries. Piriform's contention here is that mere use of the syntax is a violation of terms, and as I noted I can get the documentation without needing to agree to any terms. So while I'd be consulting a lawyer, my first reaction would be to respond "Please identify the date on which you believe I agreed to your terms of service, and the documentation you believe supports this contention." as that's probably the first question my lawyer's going to want answered anyway. Frankly to me the demand smacks of "Your product's taking business away from CCleaner, and we don't like it and want you to stop it.". Which is fine, but falls short of the legal basis needed to force someone else to shut down their business.

  • by _KiTA_ (241027) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @04:52AM (#42794623) Homepage

    And once again for the 1,000,000 time, yes, and this isn't the place to get legal advice...

    True, but there's really any advice that you should ask for from ./er's? How to meet members of the opposite sex? Which Linux distro to use? Whether Metro is better than Unity?

    Once you get it in perspective, the question makes as much sense as any other.

    Except this wasn't even a request for advice. This was a thinly veiled attempt to invoke the Streisand Effect.

  • by hawkinspeter (831501) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @04:57AM (#42794637)
    It was just an email - just dismiss it as spam and wait for a more formal request.
  • Re:IANAL (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @05:03AM (#42794673)

    By including that phrase which would indeed be declared invalid in court due to breaking laws (slavery, solicitation), you will have invalidated every other clause in the contract (unless you explicitly had a limitation clause in there saying if any clause is declared invalid all other clauses remain effective). As such you effectively have said they can do anything they like with it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @06:04AM (#42794899)

    That approach might have been more effective if he hadn't already plastered the email onto Slashdot.

  • by chrismcb (983081) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @07:34AM (#42795213) Homepage
    If you need to ask the question "do I need a lawyer" then the answer is probably yes.
  • by faedle (114018) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:11AM (#42796057) Homepage Journal

    Wow, you're a crappy lawyer.

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