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Creative Backs Down on Vista Driver Debacle 228

In the wake of last week's driver debacle, Creative has finally decided to back down for PR purposes. Modder Daniel_K, author of the offending Vista drivers, has had his posts on the Creative forums reinstated. According to Creative the move was to avoid infringing on other company's IP. "Daniel_K is incensed by Creative. 'They publicly threatened me, just to show their arrogance,' he told El Reg by email. He told us that Creative contacted him on a chat session. 'They were sarcastic, ironic and asked me if I wanted something from them, as if I were expecting something,' he wrote. 'It was my protest against them and would like to see how far it would go.'"
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Creative Backs Down on Vista Driver Debacle

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 04, 2008 @01:33PM (#22965428)
    I don't know for sure if all the features you're looking for are there, but I'd say first thing to look at would be M-Audio's cards. They're designed first and foremost for music. []
  • by Khyber ( 864651 ) <> on Friday April 04, 2008 @01:43PM (#22965586) Homepage Journal
    The EULA is still null and void, and many courts have found an EULA to be unenforcable, especially in the state that Creative's headquarters were in - California. There's legal precedent all over.
  • Re:Good for him (Score:5, Informative)

    by bhima ( 46039 ) * <> on Friday April 04, 2008 @01:51PM (#22965718) Journal
    If you'll look I think you'll find that the downloads for his work number in the many 10's of thousands.

    So I doubt it's just a few angry kids.
  • Not really (Score:3, Informative)

    by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Friday April 04, 2008 @01:55PM (#22965770) Journal
    Not really. They had quite a bit of horsepower on their chips to add hardware acceleration to that processing. Now I'm not saying that they're necessarily a good company, or good drivers, and the latency is AFAIK more fit for games than for recording music in real time anyway. Just pointing out that the "The SB probably does it all in software anyway" assumption is false. Out of the games-oriented consumer-level cards, theirs actually do the least in software by far.
  • by Ephemeriis ( 315124 ) on Friday April 04, 2008 @02:03PM (#22965888)

    The card in my system will be the LAST Creative product I own
    I gave up on Creative a couple years ago. I've had tons of trouble with their drivers and eventually just decided it wasn't worth the trouble.

    Does anyone know of any other company that doesn't use Creative hardware or chipsets in their sound cards where I can plug my guitar in and have access to pitch-shifting, chorus, flange, auto-wah, like the old SBLive! 5.1 had in their EAX control panel?
    Since all I use my sound for is gaming, and I've just got some cheap desktop stereo speakers, I've been using the on-board sound for a while now.

    Previously, however, I had a lot of luck with Turtle Beach [] sound cards. Very good sound quality and a lot less driver trouble. I've never done any professional sound work though, nor plugged a guitar into anything, so I have no idea if their cards would work for you.
  • by plague3106 ( 71849 ) on Friday April 04, 2008 @02:13PM (#22966018)
    Are you sure you understand copyright? You buy a book, you don't need a seperate license to read it. That's what you got by paying for the book. Software is no different, and when you buy a creative product you're buying hardware AND software.

    Now, he doesn't have a right to distribute the software, but he probably has a right to distribute changes to it. If i tell my friends to read a book, and come up with a different ending, I'm allowed to tell them about it. I wouldn't be allowed to sell the book with one chapter replaced or anything.

    What he should have done is release a program that changes a few bytes in the original file, not release a modified file. But your notion that you need a seperate license to use something you bought is obsurd, and I can modify the software all I like in the privacy of my home.
  • by Shados ( 741919 ) on Friday April 04, 2008 @02:22PM (#22966124)
    I didnt check, but it depends. Did he make modified drivers available, or did he make diff/patch availables that users can apply themselves? If the former, he played in dangerous territory.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 04, 2008 @02:29PM (#22966224)
    > (I think EAX 3 and higher is software and not hardware-based)

    EAX has been software-based since the SB Live. The only distinction EAX 3.0 has is that it's locked up in all kinds of patents that Creative refuses to license on terms approaching reasonable. Most other cards support up to 2.x, as well as A3D. And games tend to do it themselves or use DirectAudio3D which works just as well.
  • by DigitAl56K ( 805623 ) on Friday April 04, 2008 @02:38PM (#22966330)
    Onboard sound is fine for most applications, but it is not suitable for audio enthusiasts such as musicians who need low latency ASIO. The ASIO implementation on most on-board chipsets (that I have used) is atrocious to the point of being unusable.
  • by gatzke ( 2977 ) on Friday April 04, 2008 @02:51PM (#22966516) Homepage Journal
    Why should that be a big problem for Creative? They sell hardware and provide drivers. He made better drivers. If anything, Creative should have taken his drivers and repackaged them as their own. Maybe even compensated him for doing their work for them.

    The actions of Creative may have been business motivated. Cripple the hardware so you have to buy new hardware. Bad idea.
  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Friday April 04, 2008 @03:14PM (#22966770) Homepage

    It's a problem for Creative because often they use identical hardware for multiple sound cards, with the drivers determining which features are active. For instance, they may sell the UltiSound Basic with 5.1 surround for $150, and the UltiSound Extreme with 7.1 and Dolby output for $300. If you look carefully at the cards, they're absolutely 100% hardware-identical. Even the jacks are identical and wired up the same. In other words, the UltiSound Basic is quite capable of outputting 7.1 and Dolby just like the Extreme. The only difference is in a small EPROM chip with the model ID in it. The driver reads that and uses the model ID to decide which firmware to load into the card, and it won't load the 7.1/Dolby-capable firmware into a card with a Basic model ID. If someone hacks the drivers to change the check, then Creative finds their Extreme card not selling very well since everybody's buying the Basic and turning on the high-end features.

    They also tend to deprecate their low-end cards on new versions of Windows, forcing people to buy upgraded hardware if they want to upgrade their OS. If hacked drivers allow people to keep using their older hardware, Creative loses sales.

    Yes, both tactics are stupid. But to Creative hacked drivers are a threat to a business model based on those tactics. They just discovered here that the PR backlash may be a bigger threat.

  • Re:Good for him (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bassman59 ( 519820 ) <> on Friday April 04, 2008 @03:26PM (#22966900) Homepage

    The only thing they had going for them once upon a time was Ensoniq's IP, which they proceeded to flush down the crapper.

    The thing is, at the time of Ensoniq's implosion, they were eating Creative for breakfast in the soundcard biz. Ensoniq was first with PCI soundcards which were "Soundblaster compatible" (meaning they worked with old DOS games that talked directly to the SB16's ISA-bus register space; that's completely irrelevant now but a big deal back then) and Creative couldn't get their own stuff to work. And Gateway was buying Ensoniq's cards by the boatload, and other PC vendors were looking at doing the same.

    It really is too bad that Ensoniq had issues that lead to Creative buying them. Basically, Creative didn't care about the musical instrument side of Ensoniq; Creative just bought Ensoniq to shut down their better competitor.

  • by mlwmohawk ( 801821 ) on Friday April 04, 2008 @03:51PM (#22967134)
    That's not how copyrights work. By default, you have no right to do anything with someone else's copyrighted work.

    This is, of course, complete nonsense and exactly what the media companies want to to think. The mere act of an entity "publishing" i.e. making something available to the public, gives "the public" certain rights to that material. These rights are embodied by "fair use."

    If you want more rights than fair use provides, then you need an agreement.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 04, 2008 @04:03PM (#22967222)
    It is a violation of copyright law to redistribute the modified drivers (or unmodified drivers). That has nothing to do with the EULA.
  • Re:Good for him (Score:3, Informative)

    by d3ac0n ( 715594 ) on Friday April 04, 2008 @04:20PM (#22967458)
    Well, there's always these guys: []

    They've been making fantastic audiophile-grade cards for Win machines for years.

    Word of warning though, their older stuff (Santa Cruz in particular) does NOT play nice with Linux, despite being generally fantastic on Windows machines.

    Best audio setup I ever had was back when on my old AMD XP1900+ box running Windows XP with my Santa Cruz card hooked to my Monsoon 5.1 flat panel surround sound speakers. Not uber powerful, but INCREDIBLE sound imagery if you were in the "sweet spot". I remember sitting and listening to CDs on my PC because the sound was just so damn much better than even on my stereo.

    Unfortunately, that entire setup is long gone. The motherboard burst it's caps, which sent a surge to the audio card, killing it and down to the Monsoon subwoofer (which held all the critical electronics) killing it too. I held onto the Monsoon speakers, but the company went under shortly afterward, and I haven't been able to get replacement parts for it.

    Now I just make do with crappy 2.1 onboard audio and elcheapo logitec speakers. The sound is passable for low level listening to background music, but little else. Ahh for the days of yore...
  • by GameMaster ( 148118 ) on Friday April 04, 2008 @04:29PM (#22967570)
    Ah, but he's not the one applying the patch and, therefore, he's not the one creating the derivative work. The end user is the one creating the derivative work and as long as they don't distribute the software to anyone else once they've done this then they aren't violating copyright laws.

  • by Hydian ( 904114 ) on Friday April 04, 2008 @04:30PM (#22967580)

    That's not how copyrights work. By default, you have no right to do anything with someone else's copyrighted work. It's only through a license agreement that you have any right to even use Creative's code.
    Huh? Copyrights work the same with or without licensing agreements and have been around for much longer than EULAs in any case. What gives you the right to use the code is the fact that you purchased it and/or that it was given to you by the copyright owner. The license agreement may or may not place further restrictions beyond the copyright laws upon your usage and those restrictions may or may not hold up in court, but that agreement has nothing to do with copyright laws directly.

    If a license agreement was inherently required to use a copyrighted work, then you'd need one to listen to the radio, hang a piece of art on the wall, or read this post. It simply doesn't work that way.

    Copyright law would pretty much only prevent him from distributing (which he did--no argument there) or publicly performing the work. What he does with it in the privacy of his own home is his business as long as he doesn't share the copyrighted work with others and he was granted those rights as soon as the copyright holder gave him a copy. The licensing agreement can restrict those rights (which is why licensing agreements exist) when he agrees to it, but that is a case of voluntarily giving up your rights and not one of being granted rights that you didn't already have.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak