Dispute over 'intrusive' VRPC copy protectionBy Chris Williams. Published: 29th Apr 2006, 23:30:44 | Permalink | Printable
Today's taboo word: piracyA 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.
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