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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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  • Backfire (Score:5, Interesting)

    by J'raxis (248192) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:09AM (#42793709) Homepage

    I've been using CCleaner on the few Windows boxes I maintain for a while now. I'd never heard of BleachBit. It looks like it does a lot more than CCleaner, and especially in light of Piriform's obnoxious legal theats, I think I'll switch to BleachBit.

    Thanks, Piriform!

  • Pretty clueless (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SilenceBE (1439827) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:26AM (#42793819)
    It sometimes baffles me how clueless some people are working in IT as "manager". Since when aren't you allowed to write an importer for an ini file that is publicly availabe. That ini file wasn't even written by piriform.

    I think this is a case of a manger that wants to get good points from the upperhand, not knowing how ridiculous her/his requests are.
  • What's the problem? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:29AM (#42793831)

    It seems that piriform is all worked up about an article that implies that BleachBit is importing CCleaner's data, this article [ghacks.net] in fact. However, the article does not say anywhere that the data is coming from CCleaner, it says the data is coming from Winapp2. Note that Winapp2 specifically states that they are not affiliated with Piriform!

    In other words, it looks like Piriform is saying "You can read the same file format that we can read and we demand that you stop reading it", despite the fact that Piriform has no claim to the files in question.

  • gist (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shentino (1139071) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:29AM (#42793833)

    Basically their message is as follows:

    "You're pissing us off by having a feature that competes with us, and we have an army of lawyers to throw at you if you don't back down."

    This is blatant intimidation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:35AM (#42793869)

    It's not a legal request and the company has simply asked him to remove the feature. He simply declines, he is under no such obligation.

    Here, I'll even craft the letter for him:

    Dear Louise,
    We are under no legal obligation to remove that feature and we therefore decline. If you believe there is a legal basis then please get your lawyer to outline your claim in more concrete terms.

    Yours,...

    Don't waste your money. There's nothing here.

  • by hack slash (1064002) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:14AM (#42794079)
    Ridiculous.

    They're trying to intimidate without using lawyers because they don't have any legal power to stop you using winapp2 - ignore them.
  • Bully tactics fail (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @02:43AM (#42794391)

    Never heard of either company.
    Downloaded bleachbit. Loved it.
    Piriform may sick my duck.

  • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortexNO@S ... t-retrograde.com> on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @03:23AM (#42794511)

    I think he should read the TOS first and get a feel for the situation.

    Why would he need to read their ToS to know if he can include a feature that imports an unencrypted text file?

    It's not just any text file... Why it's a specially crafted .INI / .CONF formatted text file.

    Who knows, I'm sure if I hired a patent attorney they could write up patent claims vague enough and using terms obscure enough that a patent clerk wouldn't find any relevant hits in the patent database, so there's really no reason to assume that the INI file format isn't pattented... but if it's not, then they can piss right off.

    He's not re-distributing their files, so he's not infringing copyright. The name winapp2.ini is too generic to be a strong trademark, except maybe to Microsoft over Windows (tm).

    I wouldn't worry about shit. In fact, I wouldn't have even acknowledged that I received a notice of any kind.

    Protip: In the future if you want to incorporate a 3rd party's data format, implement a plugin system and API for importing the generic data to isolate the main application from the import functionality. Distribute the plugin that implements the import feature separately, it can download after install at the behest of the user. Defer all complaints about plugin functionality to the "owner" of the plugin -- A different entity than the one that holds the rights for the main application. I call that a firewall.

    I suppose INI itself may be so generic as to not really qualify as supporting another program's data format, but even so it would be pretty simple to make a .INI translator program that simply search and replaced the [SECTION] tags with differently named tags, and distribute a converter that converts their format into your format prior to import. I really wish SCOTUS would do something about data formats: No one should be able to assert rights over something ilke .WAD, .JAR, .INI, CSV, XML ugh, Microsoft was sued over using XML. [pcworld.com]. So, I think the only way to achieve that is to say all file formats are public domain. Good luck with that.

    Then again, IANAL. However, I've been through this shit several times. There's nothing you can actually do at all to avoid being sued. Anyone can sue for fucking anything, why worry about it? Oh No! A million people could sue me tomorrow! No problems folks, I'm incorporated. That would be the sixth time I close up shop and re-open the next day as a different corporate entity, I'm exceedingly efficient at it. Hell, get your own incorporation today, even if you're not going to run a business! Just pay your corporate dues and file your taxes, and you can sell them off for a decent profit to bigger corporations that need a few shell corps to do some dirty work under -- And on paper can be "In good standing since $INCORPORATION_DATE." Yep, brand now company buys an LLC shell to operate under and adopts its good standing credit, and incorporation date.

    So, bottom line: Are you incorporated or operating as a 501c3 charity? If so, fuck em till you get sued, then fuck-em some more. Your code is open source, and you're protected by the corporate veil: Be Prepared to Reboot in case you have to "turn it off and on again". If there's no insulating imaginary person-hood in place, then get yourself that way ASAP, and get a damn lawyer. There's free "pro bono" advice to be had, esp. for non-profits, but Slashdot isn't the place to ask for it.

  • by KitFox (712780) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @06:20AM (#42795169)

    Maybe I'm missing something here, but....

    Group 1 makes a third-party add-on that works with Company A's and Company B's product. Neither company controls Group 1.
    Company A is not using anything at all from Company B, but makes use of Group 1's items.
    Company B is telling Company A to remove the feature of using Group 1's items because it violates ToS.

    So either Company B's person somehow thinks that the Company A product violates B's ToS (which is not in effect, since B is not in use at all and the interaction is with a third party), or B thinks that A's implementation violates Group 1's ToS and is giving a "courtesy" alert. If the former, then a simple response pointing out that A's product and feature does not utilize anything under the control of Company B and thus Company A is not subject to B's Terms of Service since B is not providing any services to A would suffice. If the latter, then check the ToS of Group 1 and remedy if the allegations are correct.

    I suspect that somebody (Louise) saw the words "CCleaner's Winapp2.ini files" in the ghacks article that implies (apparently incorrectly) that the files are created by and owned by Piriform, so assumed that her company owns them and nobody else is allowed to use them. Instead the case looks to be that "Group 1" creates and owns them and her company USES them, so her company's ToS does not apply to the use of a third party item they don't own or control.

"Never ascribe to malice that which is caused by greed and ignorance." -- Cal Keegan

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