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Dispute over 'intrusive' VRPC copy protection

By Chris Williams. Published: 29th Apr 2006, 23:30:44 | Permalink | Printable

Today's taboo word: piracy

A RISC OS user says he is willing to go to court to settle a dispute involving the copy protection system in VirtualRiscPC. Following a fall out with VirtualAcorn, publisher of the RiscPC emulation software, the punter is also considering using a pirate copy of VRPC.

After Richard Torrens ordered a copy of VRPC and installed it from a CD at the start of February, he balked at having to email a 13 digit code generated by the software to VirtualAcorn, who would in turn send back an activation code unique to his PC laptop. Describing the process as "intrusive", Richard said he expressed his dissatisfaction to VA's Aaron Timbrell, who told him to return the software and, in order to get a refund, sign a waiver to declare that all copies of the program had been suitably removed.

After returning the CD later in March, Richard decided he did want to use the software and as he had been charged for it, turned to fellow users for help in obtaining a pirated copy.

In an announcement on Usenet before the weekend, Richard said: "As a result of an unresolved argument with Aaron Timbrell, I am left having paid for VRPC and not having it working as I have no unlock code. I now have the right, which could almost cerainly be justified in court, to crack the software myself, except I have returned the CD to VA."

Describing himself as a "bit of a trouble maker", Richard later said: "I really do not want to cause any harm to VirtualAcorn. I do want to use VirtualRiscPC, and it does not matter if the software is on a CD or via the Internet. I've paid for it."

VA's Aaron Timbrell said VRPC's copy protection was necessary to prevent "unauthorised use" of the software, and will refund Richard once he's certain all trace of the software has been removed.

He said: "In Mr Torren's case, he has already had a full refund once, after he objected to the copy protection system. However he then decided not to return the product, so, after writing to him via post and e-mail we reluctantly had to re-charge his credit card. We then made it perfectly clear that we would offer him a refund again if he would simply confirm that he had deleted the software from all or any machines and destroyed any or all backups.

"It's quite clear from his posting that, although he has indeed finally returned the product, he has kept a copy of it. He has been told repeatedly that we don't want him as a customer. He has been offered a refund repeatedly, but has declined, so there isn't much more I can do."

The VirtualAcorn website warns "VirtualRPC-Adjust requires an unlock code before it can be run. You will need to install the software then contact VirtualAcorn with your Product ID and serial number. We will then provide an unlock code, currently we are only able to provide codes during normal office hours". Users have previously complained about having to rely on VA to supply unlock codes when their hardware changes and VRPC requires reactivating. Aaron's advice has been to "phone, don't moan".

RISCOS Ltd are reportedly said to be considering increasing the level of copy protection used in RISC OS-powered products, such as VirtualRiscPC. The requirement of anti-piracy systems is understood to be due to ROL's license to develop and distribute the OS, which includes a section on ensuring RISC OS cannot be easily copied. Versions of the VirtualRiscPC software with the anti-piracy system removed by hackers are known to be in circulation.

In an apt twist, Aaron Timbrell's other company is 3QD, while 62-year-old Richard Torren's electronics company is 4QD.

Links

VirtualAcorn website

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Discussion

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Personally I do not see the issuue with copy protection. If it is good enough for Microsoft and other software developers, then why not Virtual Acorn. I have a copy of VA, and have and two unlock codes from VA. One when I first installed it, another when I changed the PC I was using it one. VA have always been quick to respond to any enquiries with regards to the licensing unloc codes.

If Richard wants a refund, all he needs to do is uninstall it and right a letter to VA stating that any copies have been removed/destroyed. Talk about a 'storm in a teacup!'.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 30/4/06 7:59AM
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I agree. I really don't understand what all the fuss is about.

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 30/4/06 10:07AM
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Personally I can accept copy protection for software to stop illegal use but:

I expect whatever copy protection to be such that I can fully install and use the product for a limited period of time or register it online through internet no matter what time it is so that when I get a copy I can start using it immediately and don't have to start to install it and then wait for normal office hours until I can continue. If I reinstall my system I tend to do that outside normal office hours when I have the time to do so. For VirtualPRC this is made even worse by the fact that when I need to move to a different hardware or do hardware changes that I need to go through this procedure again. I do have the odd product with copy protection but for all these they are either such that one registration is enough for ever (that is the registration data can be re-used after re-installation) or I can re-register them through internet online any time or that they run for some 30 days giving me enough time to reregister them through other paths.

Thus: That VirtualRPC has a copy protection is absolutely fine but the way to get it unlocked is something I can't accept. There are quicker ways possible these days.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 30/4/06 10:34AM
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The problem with this type of activasion is what happens if Virtual Acorn stop trading or decide to not support an old version. I have always been reluctant to go to Windows XP for the same reason. Not that Microsoft are likely to go out of business, but they may well turn round and say we no longer support XP so we don't issue activation keys anymore.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 30/4/06 10:59AM
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Jwoody: No-one need worry about this eventuality. Arrangemets have already been made to ensure that there would be no probelms if VA ceased trading.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 30/4/06 11:04AM
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The worst thing about the V-RPC copy protection is that it relies on the MAC addresses of the various networking devices connected to your PC. If you have say a laptop and add a PCMCIA networking card to it, V-RPC will refuse to run with the same unlock code.

I had exactly that problem on a customer's site some time ago. Late in the evening, we encountered a problem which I already had a solution for under RISC OS. However, to be able to connect to the customer's intranet, we also needed a special networking card which was the very reason why V-RPC would refuse to start.

The new unlock code came two days later, when we already solved the problem using a different, more lengthy approach. The resulting loss of money for the two companies involved would have paid for rather a lot of copies of V-RPC.

The lesson to be learned is that if you have a turnaround time for unlocking the software you have sold of more than a few minutes, then allow the app to run un-unlocked for your worst-case turnaround time. Even Microsoft understood that with WinXP product activation, even though I am sure that they could guarantee faster turnaround times. It is a matter of respect for your customer.

The other lesson is: never rely on any piece of software to be available when you need it if it employs an unlock code scheme.

Steffen

 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 30/4/06 12:00PM
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Whilst I have no problem with the copy protection on VRPC, if you find it stops working because you've fitted a new network adapter use a utility to change the MAC address of your new adapter to that of the old adapter:

[link]

 is a RISC OS Useralex on 30/4/06 2:10PM
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I also dislike software protection. However, VA are clear that their product includes it and that's their right. If you want the product then that's a feature of it. If you want the product, you have to pay for it; anything else is morally indefensible and theft.

I can't see any shades of grey here. Any company can go out of business or simply lose interest in a product or market, that's just life.

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 30/4/06 2:58PM
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I bought VA some time ago, knowing it was a protected product. I did ask Aaron why it was not sold fully working for a period of time, and then if activation was not done it would stop working, much like windows XP does. I was told this was not possible.

What I did not realise is that the way this protection has been implemented leaves me unable to configure my laptop how I want to, when I want to, without stopping VA working.

I put up with this, and with the two problems I have with VA because it is simply a product I need which allows me to mostly do what I need to on a laptop.

I know what it's like to phone Aaron only to find there is no answer, but I have found he does phone back if you leave a message.

Support for VA from a personal point of view I have found to be excellent, but only if what you're thinking happens to agree with what Aaron's thinking.

So there you are, if you want to use VA pay the money and enjoy. If not get a refund. As I said, I find the benefits of VA are greater than it's little quirks.

 is a RISC OS Userturbo on 30/4/06 3:19PM
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Anti-piracy? What? Parrots, buried treasure and the seven seas, or just a stupidly misused term for people talking up some class of alleged copyright infringement in an attempt to lobby for the pollution of the criminal courts with questionable civil misdemeanour cases.

Anyway, I can't see how people still put up with this kind of intrusive "copy protection" nonsense, even in the cheerleader-happy RISC OS scene. Impression dongles, Vantage and its defunct corporate sponsor, users left high and dry: people would do better to sponsor non-proprietary alternatives to VRPC rather than be messed around by such 1980s-style software dinosaur attitudes.

And as for the refund, perhaps Mr Torrens' credit card company's influence can be brought to bear on VA given that he's been charged for a product that he can't actually use and apparently doesn't have. Perhaps VA want the police to raid Mr Torrens' home/business, BSA-style, in order to "safeguard their intellectual property" - if so, let there be heaped a steaming pile of shame on them, with Mr Torrens' credit card company slowly rubbing it in all over.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 30/4/06 5:33PM
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Tony: yes, VA are open about the fact that there is a copy protection mechanism and that activation is needed. However, they are not open about the fact that minor reconfiguration of your machine needs recativation, and that they don't guarantee any kind of turnaround time for activation key supply.

I can only hope that competition from the open source software side (aka RPCEmu) will let them see the light.

Alex: changing the MAC address of a networking card that is only allowed to enter an intranet when its MAC address is correct is surely a non-working solution.

 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 30/4/06 6:53PM
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guest-x> "Cheerleader-happy RISC OS scene" - thank god no one in Linux-land behaves like that eh ;-)

On a more serious note (ahem), if Richard wishes to use a product for which he has paid he should abide by the license terms and do the product activation (after all he already has done this at least once unbeknownst to himself when he bought the laptop whose Windows XP is intrincally tied to it - yep another form of product activation).

If he has *not* used the product then he should get a refund from VA.

The sad part is given the *small* size of the RISC OS market techniques like product activation are used precisely because even a single or at most a few products used without paying represents a loss that hampers the software producers (to MS it wouldn't really matter as they're worth billions). Personally I am not in favour of product activation - but I believe software vendors should take into account individuals ability to pay and thus reduce the temptation for individuals to "purloin" software by either discounting to pensioners, unemployed, students etc., Getting *some* money is better than getting *no* money - and (in addition) it creates a lot better feeling towards the vendor than schemes that create such a negative response as product activation.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 30/4/06 7:09PM
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In reply to 'guestx'

As, like the rest of us, you don't actually know the full story. IMHO you obviously have a grudge against VA or the company. I find your comments stupid and childish!

Mr Torrens and some of yourselves obviously have no respect or understanding as to why software is protected or why it comes with licence conditions. VA are not the only ones to do it.

I have used VA for sometime now, yes it can be a pain when something is changed on the machine to have to phone/email etc. However, if you leave a message Aaron phones back and emails asap, not unreasonable. I bought the software knowing that the protection was in place, I am the one changing my machine not VA.

 is a RISC OS UserJohnCollins on 30/4/06 8:16PM
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The protection system used by VA is a pain in the ar$e, as it means it no longer runs on my work machine when a USB bluetooth dongle is plugged in, and there is no point in re-registering as we've got a number of these dongles and swap them around as needed.

As I don't have a PC and want to use VRPC on which ever machine at work I'm currently using, its non portability restricts the usefullness serverly. I have suggested a version locked to a serialised USB pen drive which is just as secure (we use it for products costing £1200+), enforces single copy / single use, and removes any possibility of registering a new copy and continuing to use the old one. But its only been greated by with stupid comments by those that should know better on csa.misc

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 30/4/06 9:36PM
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in reply to 'druck'

You don't want much for your money do you? Free use of VA, is that what you want? As said previously, yes a pain, but what the hell part and parcel of the product! Would you prefer not to be able to have VA at all?

 is a RISC OS UserJohnCollins on 30/4/06 10:16PM
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JohnCollins: no I just want to use one copy on one machine at a time, just not always the same machine. That isn't unreasonable where I come from.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 30/4/06 11:01PM
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AMS: "thank god no one in Linux-land behaves like that eh ;-)"

This isn't about Linux: it's about what the average punter should or shouldn't have to put up with. Some people love their corporate role models so much that they put up with anything (in the Apple scene this can mean getting sued by Apple, for example). Given various cautionary tales on this side of the fence, you'd expect the RISC OS scene to have grown up, too.

JohnCollins: "As, like the rest of us, you don't actually know the full story. IMHO you obviously have a grudge against VA or the company. I find your comments stupid and childish!"

I only know what I've read in this case, but if that's an adequate reflection of the facts then I stand by what I've written. I don't have a grudge against VA, but like any business they should expect criticism of their practices where these may conflict with fundamental consumer rights. You may find my remarks stupid and childish, but you're the one apparently standing in the playground, given the level of critique coming from your direction.

"Mr Torrens and some of yourselves obviously have no respect or understanding as to why software is protected or why it comes with licence conditions. VA are not the only ones to do it."

Well, I'm fully aware of the relationship between copyright and licensing, since such issues are largely a constant throughout the open and proprietary software universes. What your simplistic rhetoric ("Free use of VA, is that what you want?") fails to address is that by refusing to refund Mr Torrens on mere suspicion, VA may well be acting dubiously at best, unethically in the eyes of the casual observer, and possibly illegally in the light of consumer law.

But anyway, I wouldn't have touched software with such draconian protections in the first place. When the RISC OS scene finally consists of just two people - one developer and one user - I'm sure the same old tired, short-term-thinking reward systems will still rule the day.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 30/4/06 11:11PM
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In reply to 'guestx'

OK, then explain your understanding of the relationship between copyright and licencing. as I am so inept at grasping the concept.

I like the roundabout myself, how about you?

 is a RISC OS UserJohnCollins on 30/4/06 11:33PM
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JohnCollins: "OK, then explain your understanding of the relationship between copyright and licencing. as I am so inept at grasping the concept."

I don't have to justify or explain to you any aspect of what I've written, but with regard to the licensing of software, the licence obviously dictates the terms under which that software may be used or redistributed, noting that a lot of software doesn't rely on dubious technical mechanisms to "enforce" various restrictions in the licence. However, it should be noted that some commercial licences contain terms that are legally unenforceable or which can be overturned by applying appropriate law. As I wrote, Mr Torrens would be well advised to look into which rights the law guarantees him, regardless of what the licence says, especially as VA currently have his money.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 1/5/06 12:25AM
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druck: So, having had some of the difficulties with your proposed system pointed out in c.s.a.misc you give up and scurry away to Drobe to try them out here.

The problems and licencing issues are just the same, they haven't changed. It *might* seem like a good idea but, as I've already pointed out, there are issues with the method that you probably aren't aware of and which I'm not about to discuss in public.

However, for the benefit of others please remember we're not just talking about a "normal" piece of software but also a complete commercial operating system with many add-ons and extensions and lots of other (licensed) 3rd party software and IPR, so it's a lot more complicated than simply working out how to do it with some sort of hardware dongle.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 1/5/06 7:43AM
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guestx: "Mr Torrens would be well advised to look into which rights the law guarantees him"

I think Mr Torrens already has, which is why he's resorted to public rants.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 1/5/06 7:46AM
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Having lived through the days of Lenslok, colour code cards, those bloody stupid wheel things, dongles that exploded (literally) and dodgy "use track 81" protection systems, I really do get annoyed at the likes of intrusive protection. I don't have a problem with companies needing to protect their product, but the use of the unique code system (which is pretty much the same as the MS activation code) does take the biscuit.

Why can't companies use the non-intrusive system Clares had for WimpBASIC? It should be simple enough for VA as not only do you have the top layer (RISC OS), but all the garbage Windross provides. Gets around the activation code crap. If an extra step is required, provide something on the CD which generates a number based on the BCA are of the disc.

 is a RISC OS UserNodoid on 1/5/06 8:37AM
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Using the MAC address was a bad choice, as network cards to change, scrambled vendor identification pages from various motherboard components would have been more reliable.

Least I'm not tempted to buy it anymore, Emulators have a long lifetime, longer than small software developers. I wouln't want to be left with in effect a computer which doesn't work after a few years.

 is a RISC OS UserNoMercy on 1/5/06 11:53AM
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It seems very few people have actually reade the article and are too busy have a moan about a copy protection system.

Lets get back to basics here: the software was purchased from VA, he deccided he did not want to use the unlock code system, so asked for a refund, VA said Ok, return the CD and remove the copy off the computer and confirm in writing you have done so. All reasonable. Since he no longer wanted the software. VA credited his Credit Card while awaiting return of the goods.

He then changed his mine and wanted it again. Since he had failed to return the CD which was the property of VA not Mr Torren's anymore. He was Recharged after being repeated asked to return the CD he had said he no longer wanted.

Then asked for a pirate copy to get round the security.

People seem to forget they don't OWN the software they get a LICENSE to use the software subject to the conditions of use of the software.

To be honest if Richard still has a copy on his Computer and has returned the CD he has an illegal copy of the software. Full Stop.

To all the comments about we don't need copy protection, I will say two things, one I would before we did not need it, but clearly we do, becuase there *are* pirates in the RISC OS scene.

 is a RISC OS UserWakeman on 1/5/06 12:59PM
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Wakeman : rubbish. Sorry mate - but the line "People seem to forget they don't OWN the software they get a LICENSE to use the software subject to the conditions of use of the software" is utter tripe.

While it is true for Windows and most software from the Borg itself, it is not true for a great deal of other software out there. If you buy Winzip and pay the shareware release, it's yours - same can be said for lots of stuff.

 is a RISC OS UserNodoid on 1/5/06 1:09PM
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In reply to Nodoid:

Its not rubbish mate, whether you like to believe or not. I am talking about commercial software here just to be clear in you don't OWN the software when you buy a copy of the software you are given a licence to us it. Nothing more, nothing less.

In your example of Winzip, you own a copy to use, you don't own the copyright, unless you have purchased that from the owners of the software.

Simple really.

 is a RISC OS UserWakeman on 1/5/06 1:33PM
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Wakeman:

I'm not totally convinced it is that simple.

I'm no lawyer, but I understood that when you buy software, you can actually own it, just like you own a book that you might buy. What you don't own is the copyright.

It's the right to copy the software that the licence grants you. As I understand it, especially in the UK, whether such a licence is needed to "copy" the software into memory in order to use it is unclear.

As I say, I'm not a lawyer, so I don't really know, but it strikes me as very odd. You shouldn't need a licence to use the software that you've paid for. The copyright protection that the law already affords should be sufficient to protect the copyright owner. Anything else is a restriction for the consumer (just my opinion).

It's a shame that VA need to use activation keys, whether this is through their own choice or forced on them by their own licensors. I've not used it myself, but it does sound as if it's been badly executed and will end up losing them customers in the long run.

 is a RISC OS Userflypig on 1/5/06 2:40PM
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Wakeman: "Since he had failed to return the CD which was the property of VA not Mr Torren's anymore."

How does that square with this quote, then...?

VA: "It's quite clear from his posting that, although he has indeed finally returned the product, he has kept a copy of it."

How do they know he has a copy of it? I know Mr Torrens acted in a somewhat ill-advised fashion by advertising his desire to crack the protection, but how can Mr Timbrell be certain? Does he want an audit?

Wakeman: "To all the comments about we don't need copy protection, I will say two things, one I would before we did not need it, but clearly we do, becuase there are pirates in the RISC OS scene."

What you're supposedly describing is copyright infringement, not piracy. But anyway, what the diminishing RISC OS scene needs is people to actually invest in software that they subsequently have a stake in (think Firefox but more collective) rather than paying out licence fees to unimaginative outfits who then mess everyone around with their dated copy-protection schemes, only to see everything stop working when said outfits retire, give up or go under.

VA: "He has been told repeatedly that we don't want him as a customer. He has been offered a refund repeatedly, but has declined, so there isn't much more I can do."

Yes, why not just sit on the fence and enjoy the BSA-funded legislation that lets you escape various long-established norms of trading?

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 1/5/06 4:31PM
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apdl wrote>However, for the benefit of others please remember we're not just talking about a "normal" piece of software but also a complete commercial operating system with many add-ons and extensions and lots of other (licensed) 3rd party software and IPR, so it's a lot more complicated than simply working out how to do it with some sort of hardware dongle.

While on the surface that *might* appear true in practice it isn't is it ? As I *keep* writing VA system are *not* the native platform, the "OS" (so called) is simply data used by the VRPC emulator to present the RISC OS "experience" on a non-native (x86) platform. If VA's activation system works then ONLY legit VRPC systems can be run - and they're the *only ones* that could benefit from having the RISC OS data and 3rd party "software".

Point is if you prevent VRPC from running (e.g., if it doesn't have a legit dongle) then ANY and ALL other software supplied with it (including RISC OS) would be useless to a PC user. Simply being able to copy it would acchieve the person copying it nothing as VRPC (copied) would still *not* run without the license key. Having a single "strangle hold" over execution of the emulator controls the use of ALL the software used in the emulated environment.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 1/5/06 6:52PM
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In reply to 'guestx':

If Mr Torrens hadn't kept a copy of the software, why was he asking to crack it?

 is a RISC OS UserJohnCollins on 1/5/06 7:50PM
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Of course VRPC has already been cracked, so anyone who wanted to pirate it can already do so, therefore, as always, the only people annoyed by the copy protection are the people who don't want to copy it.

 is a RISC OS Userbobloblaw on 01/05/06 9:21PM
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JohnCollins: "If Mr Torrens hadn't kept a copy of the software, why was he asking to crack it?"

His original post was contradictory about whether he had the software or not:

"...I am left having paid for VA and not having it working (no unlock code)."

vs.

"However - I now have the right (which could almost cerainly be justified in court) to crack the software myself (except I have returned the CD etc to VA)."

He then goes on to inquire about suitable tools, although that in itself doesn't say anything specific about him having the software or not. I haven't trawled that much of the thread to discover the latest, mostly because it involves wading through the usual off-topic comp.sys.acorn.* drivel.

Sadly, even previously-legitimate activities related to reverse engineering and fair use are now no longer permitted by law, so Mr Torrens' "right [...] to crack the software" may be more curtailed than he imagines.

Even if he has seen an element of sense and deleted any copies he may have, in order to resolve various ambiguities (is having an unusable copy of a program the same as having a usable one?), what recourse does he have? In this kind of licensing regime, companies can just refuse to accept returns or to give refunds, claiming that the goods cannot or have not been returned. How does that jive with consumer law?

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 01/05/06 9:36PM
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bobloblaw: You're right, cracked copies of VARPC have been floating around various P2P networks for many months, the only people that don't have an easy to install copy are those that legitimatly paid for it.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 01/05/06 11:18PM
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If they did not have the protection (or removed it) I would be happy to buy VRPC, until theu do I'll live with Virtual A5000

 is a RISC OS Usertweety on 01/05/06 11:29PM
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So their are pirate copies in circulation. So the RISC OS market does have software theft and copyrigt theft.

So we do need copy protection becuase of these people who don't want to pay for the software legally.

It does the market no credit for these people to try and make out it their right as a consumer to rip the software off.

At the end of the day it Richard Torens own fault.

 is a RISC OS UserWakeman on 02/05/06 00:17AM
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guestx: "If Mr Torrens hadn't kept a copy of the software, why was he asking to crack it? His original post was contradictory about whether he had the software or not:"

His public posts may have been ambiguous but his private correspondence with VA wasn't.

Anyway, if he's deleted it from his comuter(s) and hasn't kept a copy why has he steadfastly refused to make a simple declaration that this is so? That's all VA has ever required of him.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 02/05/06 06:34AM
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Bob Loblaw & Peter Howkins: While it may be true that cracked copies are floating around, that doesn't render the copy protection pointless. The copy protection does still prevent people from ignoring the licence conditions and installing it on more than one machine - sadly, otherwise legitimate users do IME have a tendency to do such things.

Chris Hughes: Technically, VRPC is a piece of Windows software, so the existence of a cracked version is primarily indicitive of software theft in that market, rather than the RISC OS one. Though, of course, it's probably safe to assume that the users of that version will have no qualms about obtaining unlicenced copies of other software to run on VRPC.

 is a RISC OS UserVinceH on 02/05/06 08:44AM
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Here's my 2p worth. VA is a commercial piece of software, for your money, you get a licence to USE the software, not OWN it. It's called an EULA (End User Licence Agreement) which is used by all commercial software manufacturers.

It's normal practice to consult the EULA before installing the software. If you're not happy with the terms of use of the EULA, you return the product in it's original packaging, unopened. That way, both parties are happy - the packaging has not been tampered, so the manufacturer knows you haven't installed it, and you'll definitely get your money back.

It's their choice, but VA should consider adopting an online form of registration, like with Adobe and Macromedia software. You type in your serial number, it gets sent over a secure connection, and VA could send back an encrypted key which is automatically re-interpreted by the software as properly registered. This is done in such a way as to not infringe on that user's privacy - the user still has the option of registering his/her email address and contact details to receive offers, and be notified of updates. Adobe offer you freebies if you register, there's nothing better than a free gift for your trouble! :-)

In the past few years, I've noticed that these EULA terms have changed with the times - many people now have more than one machine at their disposal, perhaps a PC at work, and a laptop to take work back and forth. Certainly, Macromedia software came with an EULA that entitled you to make 2 installs of the same software on seperate machines, and only pay one fee. Perfectly commonsense approach. More of the userbase are having more than one machine these days, it is something that should be considered also, even if it means taking a cut in income.

From what has been reported here, Mr Torrens' actions are not going to be looked on favorably by the courts, when taken in unison with my above comments. Perhaps a look on the internet for similar disputes such as these will help him see the light. The comment made by another member, regarding Mr Torrens' credit card company is a good one, although the implications for VA financially could be bad, would their credit rating be blacklisted as a result of something like that?

All in all, a storm in a teacup. If Mr Torrens is concerned about intrusion, it's a bit late now isn't it? Our lives are intruded without you even knowing it!

 is a RISC OS Usersascott on 02/05/06 09:26AM
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I was one of the early purchasers (perhaps the only one?) of a Microdigital Alpha. This, of course, was machine targetted at those who wish to have a portable RO machine and, as such, came with a licensed (I presume) copy of VRPC. One of the first things I did to that machine was to add a wireless network card (the wired ethernet port is, of course, built in to the mother board). As others have reported, this caused VRPC to stop working. I contacted Microdigital who said that they had no ability to produce an unlock code for the new machine identity string which VRPC now generated. I contacted Virtual Acorn, who simply washed their hands and referred me back to MD.

After much messing about, I discovered that what was causing VRPC to balk was a simple Win XP software configuration change. As soon as you add multiple network interfaces (ethernet, firewire, bluetooth etc.) XP decides that it will create a s/w bridge between the various ports. Simply de-configuring the software bridge in XP allowed VRPC to run with the internal ethernet port, a PCMCIA wireless card and a bluetooth dongle present.

However, with the demise of MD, I would appear to have a legitimate, licensed, copy of VRPC with absolutely no support (I guess that it was probably little different while MD were still 'trading'!)

 is a RISC OS Userpeterb on 02/05/06 09:32AM
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VinceH: I've quite a lot of sympathy for people who want to install something on more than one machine, as long as they are only going to be using one of them at a time (as sascott points out). Insisting otherwise seems to be profiteering and nothing else to me. There is no justification for it, it's just profiteering. CDs and copy protection have been in the news often enough, but not even the notorious music companies try to say you should have to buy a separate CD for every CD player you might use.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 02/05/06 10:29AM
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Stephen Scott:

"The comment made by another member, regarding Mr Torrens' credit card company is a good one, although the implications for VA financially could be bad, would their credit rating be blacklisted as a result of something like that? "

You are mistakenly assuming that this hasn't already been tried by Mr Torrens and that his credit card company isn't aware of the true situation.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 02/05/06 11:01AM
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I think someone said that there was no need for any sort of copy protection with RISC OS because there really wasn't any software piracy. I've just caught someone on ebay blatently trying to sell 3 CDs of my software. Needless to say they aren't there any more, so although most people are honest don't be under the illusion that everyone is.

In such a small marketplace even quite a small amount of piracy taking money away from the few companies remaining does very serious damage.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 02/05/06 11:08AM
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sascott: So if the EULA is in the box or on the CD itself, how do you return the box unopened?

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 02/05/06 11:09AM
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apdl: "his private correspondence with VA wasn't."

So it would appear!

dgs

 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 02/05/06 11:28AM
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Wakeman: "So their are pirate copies in circulation. So the RISC OS market does have software theft and copyrigt theft."

We've almost got content industry jargon bingo with the above quote. Copyright theft? Software theft? Pirate? Has Mr Torrens stolen the soul of the software, too?

sascott: "It's normal practice to consult the EULA before installing the software. If you're not happy with the terms of use of the EULA, you return the product in it's original packaging, unopened."

flibble: "So if the EULA is in the box or on the CD itself, how do you return the box unopened?"

What the man said! Of course, we've seen almost everything on the EULA front from Microsoft already: can't read the EULA without opening everything up (or even installing the stuff), can't get a refund because it's all part of a special under-the-table bundle, can't criticise Microsoft with their own products... All this EULA stuff is like a bad trip back to the early 1990s, really.

Perhaps Mr Torrens just has to sign that declaration, if it'll get him his money back, and just move on from this sorry tale.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 02/05/06 12:11AM
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I have seen VRPC SE (My Dad uses it) and have used Red Squirrell.

The protection does not bother me! Its jsut like Windows XP Home, if you have installed it too many times.

It would be good if there was a student discount :@P

I will be buying a copy after i have finished uni!

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 02/05/06 7:13PM
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In reply to David Holden:

Your comment is noted. Very sad to know you're coming across pirate copies on eBay. Anyone who thinks piracy doesn't exist on RISC OS, is living in cloud cuckoo land!

In reply to Peter Howkins:

As guestx has pointed out, the EULA should be consulted before installing the software. The external packaging itself can be opened, it's usually the CD wallet or envelope which has the actual seal on it, which you break if you agree to the EULA that's printed either on the envelope itself, or with the accompanying documentation.

It's pretty clear cut really. The EULA would usually have terms regarding whether the software actually works on your computer. This is where trial versions would usually come in, so you can have a good idea of whether it does work. A shame then that VA can't provide one. It could still function, but time out after 15 minutes or something?

 is a RISC OS Usersascott on 03/05/06 08:51AM
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apdl: The comments about piracy, from someone who produces a CD which strongly looks like it has an Elite logo from my website printed on it :-)

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 03/05/06 2:41PM
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sascott: "This is where trial versions would usually come in, so you can have a good idea of whether it does work. A shame then that VA can't provide one. It could still function, but time out after 15 minutes or something?"

And then, upon returning any full product for a refund, you'd have to sign a declaration saying that you'd deleted the trial version, too, since I imagine it could be cracked in a similar fashion.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 03/05/06 4:01PM
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In reply to guestx:

If the trial doesn't work, there's no use in cracking it :-p

 is a RISC OS Usersascott on 03/05/06 5:38PM
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Simon: I don't know where to artwork came from originally, I inherited it, but if you're sure it's yours and object to it being used then I'm quite happy to replace it, just ask.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 03/05/06 6:24PM
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apdl: I'm not at all bothered by it. It seems to have been pinched enough and moved around all over the place in any case, and to be honest I was quite pleased to see it appear there. Besides, if I was to complain then I'm sure whoever owns the copyright to the design could have a go at me.

It was originally drawn on Atelier, on an A310. That brings back memories (mostly of school, so best forgotten).

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 03/05/06 7:23PM
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Simon: Ok, thanks. Your previous post just sounded a bit peeved, which is why I offered, but it will save me the trouble of scanning and then altering the manuals etc.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 04/05/06 06:48AM
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apdl: That's just my normal, pessimistic, miserable tone. The only graphic I noticed is the one printed on the CD itself, I'll have to have a look through the manual when I get home!

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 04/05/06 10:42AM
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Simon:

Look on the front cover of the on-line manual. That's where I took it from for the CD artwork.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 04/05/06 11:15AM
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Erm, which on-line manual? I can't find my CD, if it's on there, and I can't find it on the APDL site. THe only other online manual I know of is Ian Bell's (who's used various graphics from my site).

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 04/05/06 8:59PM
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Simon: It's in the Elite directory on the CD. It's cunningly disguised by being called !Manual :)

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 05/05/06 06:54AM
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So it is a rummage around for the CD after all, wherever it may be. It's probably somewhere in The Great Heap Of Piled Up Stuff :-(

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 05/05/06 11:19AM
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