Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Tricked Into Buying OpenOffice.org?

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the sucker-born-jede-Minute dept.

GNU is Not Unix 543

mldkfa writes "Recently I told a friend about OpenOffice and how it was a great alternative to the big name pay office suites. She went home and searched on Google for it and thought she found the website, filled typical registration information, and downloaded OpenOffice.org 3.0. The next time she opened her e-mail she found a request for 98 [Euro] for her 1-year subscription to OpenOffice.org 3.0 from the company that she downloaded it from. Apparently the EULA stated this cost and here in Germany she is required to pay up. So I thought I would ask Slashdot, should she pay? On the OpenOffice.org German website there is a warning of these schemes being legal. Shouldn't Sun change the license of OpenOffice.org to protect their fans or are they doing this to protect someone else? It has really made me think about recommending it to any more friends." Below, read Google's translation of the warning; it wouldn't be the first time that open source software has been lightly repackaged and sold in ways that should raise eyebrows among anyone familiar with the wide, free availability of the same apps.Google translates the warning message thus: "WARNING before downloading from any third party: The download of OpenOffice.org is free from this page possible. These are not personal data. In recent times, however, we can reach more complaints about companies that the program for a fee for downloading. Among other leading search engines to search for OpenOffice.org to pay "download subscriptions. We want to emphasize that we have these offers are not affiliated and is not responsible. Due to the open-source philosophy allowed our license, but also the sale. When you download OpenOffice.org under no circumstances disclose your personal information!"

cancel ×

543 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Delete it & forget about it (5, Insightful)

beef curtains (792692) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473317)

Personally (assuming the scammers didn't have any information that could result in them pursuing payment beyond e-mails, i.e. dinging my credit rating), I would remove that particular OpenOffice.org installation from my system and delete the install files. I would then disregard that and all subsequent communication from those scammers, and would go seek out the official, free installation.

Assuming she didn't give them any bank account, credit card or PayPal info (or any other type of payment info along those lines), what could they possibly do if she didn't pay? Keep sending her e-mails? Configuring e-mail filters to send them straight to the trash would quickly take care of that problem.

The fact that they allowed her to download & install the software before attempting to collect payment sounds like one could conceivably consider it to be "trialware", which would mean that deleting it in lieu of paying would be a totally legit response to being billed.

IMO, IANAL, etc.

Re:Delete it & forget about it (5, Informative)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473423)

That depends on what the submitter means by "typical registration information". To me, typical registration information means a name and an email address, but there are plenty of sites, particularly download sites that specialize in "free trial" type software, that will take a lot more information such as name, address and phone number. If they got that information, they could easily get enough information on her to ding her credit. At the very least, they could harass her until she gives up and pays them.

This is why you always give a fake address when asked unless it's a (reputable!) company where you're actually paying for something at the time or if it's a (reputable!) company which is actually going to send you some physical object.

Re:Delete it & forget about it (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26474027)

A terrorist crashed a plane into the Hudson River declaring Jihad on American Water and you guys are talking about Open Office!?!? George W Bush in his last week has declared North Eastern Geese enemy combatants. Get out of the basement guys. This is WAR!

Re:Delete it & forget about it (3, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473469)

IMO, IANAL, etc.

It's your opinion that you are not a lawyer?!? : p

Otherwise, agreed with your post. Unless she gave them some way for them to try to collect from her (other than by sending emails), she should be in the clear. However, I'd check out the site she actually downloaded from to see what their claims supposedly are.

What if she doesn't want to break the law? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26473591)

But you are telling her to break the law. I know that the piracy atmosphere around here is pretty common and what the company she downloaded it from does might (isn't necessary if the company's version had something extra in it or something) be morally questionable BUT...

If it was legal, it was legal and she would break the law if not paying. If pirating stuff isn't common for her and something she approves of, I would rather recommend paying the fee. She downloaded something, from the wrong source, didn't read the license and if the license forces her to pay, it's her own fault.

PEOPLE: I KNOW you don't read EULAs. Practically nobody does. But as you scroll it down, at least quickly scan it for any numeric data...

Re:What if she doesn't want to break the law? (4, Insightful)

timster (32400) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473755)

Hey, I'm not a lawyer, especially not in Germany. The way the story is told, though, it sounds like an extremely deceptive practice.

Maybe this deceptive practice is legal in Germany. It probably isn't legal in the US. But accusing someone who's tricked by this of "piracy" when they don't pay up goes too far. It's one thing to treat dishonest people with honesty, and another to give them your money.

Re:What if she doesn't want to break the law? (5, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473807)

Then she should return it. If they don't take returns, my guess is that the company will run afoul of German consumer protection laws.

Also, despite what companies and lawyers what to make you think, EULAs (and most contracts) are not "law". You won't be brought up on criminal charges if you break it. EULAs are a civil matter, so the company would have to sue her, and if she brought her story into court there's a very good chance (no guarantees, I am not a Lawyer, etc...) that the court would rule in her favor. Note that some places have bad laws on the books that can elevate things like EULAs and corporate policy into criminal law, but that shouldn't apply here.

Re:What if she doesn't want to break the law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26473809)

But you are telling her to break the law

Well, it seems as though no one cares if she lives or dies. So, she might as well begin to put some action in her life.

Re:What if she doesn't want to break the law? (0, Troll)

lordsid (629982) | more than 5 years ago | (#26474057)

EULA's are not legally binding in any court of law anywhere and never will be.

Re:Delete it & forget about it (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473617)

It sounds like in Germany she has to pay. She 'bought' it from the website in question. In the US YMMV but i bet here too, if you agreed to pay, you pay or get sued. Doesn't matter that you can get it free elsewhere. THERE it was pay only.

Really, its not any different then agreeing to buy any other item online: "click here to buy"

She should have read the agreement first. If its struck down, then technically all internet sales of long term support contracts ( or all sales? ) are subject to being ignored.

Re:Delete it & forget about it (2, Interesting)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473761)

Any way to 'return' the 'product'?

I know that Europe has much better consumer protection than the U.S., generally speaking, so she may be able to get a refund or somehow officially reject the product and not pay.

Re:Delete it & forget about it (2)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473885)

Here in the US you cant return retail software in a box for the most part. Once its opened, its normally yours. So donno..

Re:Delete it & forget about it (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#26474183)

Well, theoretically you can refuse to agree to MS's EULA and return it...

Re:Delete it & forget about it (1)

Phoenix (2762) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473713)

Indeed. If no information was given out to state any way in which payment could be rendered, then there is nothing the Germans or the German government can do to require payment.

Just uninstall the program, delete the installer and have done with it.

However...

If the site needs a form of payment to cover it's costs for bandwidth, that's legal and technically not a charge for the software. If that's the case and the "I agree..." button was checked before the download started, then the person needed to do a better job of reading the ToS before doing the download and is responsible for the download fees.

Also, anyone who suggests the software to anyone needs to be mindful of the fact that to be certain of getting it for free is to go to openoffice.org and get it there and nowhere else...unless you're dead certain that it's a legit mirror.

Phoenix

Re:Delete it & forget about it (5, Informative)

thelexx (237096) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473725)

This particular scam is popular in Germany in different guises. I can't remember the details of how the person I read about handled it, but I do know that ignoring it is NOT the correct answer. Which is one reason why the scam is popular. If someone is truly motivated, check out the expat forum toytowngermany.com, I'm sure the thread is still there.

Re:Delete it & forget about it (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26473895)

Ha, yes, I remember that thread. Here it is [toytowngermany.com] .

Germany can be pretty screwed up in some respects, especially if you're used to living in a fairly "loose" system like the US. Still, Berlin's great. Low rents, cheap food, good beer, and incredible nightlife. And plenty of cute girls in Kreuzberg. It's not quite New York or Paris or London, but for 1/4 the price, I'm sure as hell not complaining.

Re:Delete it & forget about it (1)

skeeto (1138903) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473787)

I think the real question is why she filled out a "registration form" with any sort of real information. Automatically filling out forms on the Internet with real information is a bad habit. Unless they are billing you, they don't need to know anything about you.

That's what disposable e-mail addresses [mailinator.com] are for.

Re:Delete it & forget about it (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26474015)

Yes, I remember once getting a phone call for a Mr. Obregon Weirdhat.

I almost felt sorry for the person on the other end of the line trying to say "Obregon"... until I remembered that I was pretty sure that they were scam artists. (I think I used one of those disposable cell phones I was planning to get rid of anyway once it ran out of minutes.)

Re:Delete it & forget about it (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#26474109)

I would remove that particular OpenOffice.org installation from my system and delete the install files. I would then disregard that and all subsequent communication from those scammers, and would go seek out the official, free installation.

Sounds like a normal sort of thing to do, but the question that pops into my mind is, what did this person actually agree to on the scam site? It sounds like she agreed to some subscription, so the next question is, what are the terms of this subscription? Third question: what does German law have to say about it?

I know in the US there are at least some consumer-protection laws (though sometimes not enough). For example, with most products you buy, the seller is required to allow you to return it within 30 days. I would be asking someone lawyerly (rather than techs/geeks) whether I'm legally permitted to cancel the subscription within some timeframe and therefore not pay, or whether the agreement allows for cancellation.

Of course, I'd expect that actually hiring a lawyer would cost more than 98 Euro, so I wouldn't be surprised if she just had to eat the loss and move on. But what I would *not* do is ignore it. I would at least cancel this "subscription" to make sure it didn't auto-renew and charge me another 98 Euro next year.

What's the German Word for "Boned?" (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473337)

Shouldn't Sun change the license of OpenOffice.org to protect their fans or are they doing this to protect someone else?

First of all, it's the general public that doesn't understand open source that need protection--highly unlikely a 'fan' would buy OpenOffice.org or even download it from a third party.

Second, your friend is boned [gnu.org] .

Does the GPL allow me to sell copies of the program for money?

Yes, the GPL allows everyone to do this. The right to sell copies is part of the definition of free software. Except in one special situation, there is no limit on what price you can charge. (The one exception is the required written offer to provide source code that must accompany binary-only release.)

Unless she downloaded it without being notified upfront of the cost, she ain't going to win this one. If they even host a binary distribution from their site they can claim the bandwidth you used was worth whatever you have to pay. If they aren't also offering you the source code [openoffice.org] or haven't given it to you of that distribution, you could maybe send the EFF after them and try to escape via that route ... although I've seen lawyers work their magic & you could still end up paying.

Third, they aren't going to limit or restrict selling their software because this could turn into a scary thing for companies. I write proprietary software for my job. I use code licensed as open source. I make available the source to my customer and they pay my company quite well so that we can adopt and add to that code to specifically suite their needs. It's fairly close to 'software as a service.' Now, assuming I used some library (I can't think of anything off of OO.o that I would use) but my company's law-talkin' guys would be scared as hell if it said I couldn't charge money for it ... because maybe it's an integral part of our product?

Do your friend a favor: sit down with her and talk with her. Explain to her that not every piece of software requires you pay out your ass to use it. In the United States, I would call the Better Business Bureau and let them know about this company you speak of. I don't know a lot about your rights or organizations that will help you in Germany but I wish you the best of luck.

Bottom line: For the sake of and proliferation of open source, please don't argue for a fork of the GPL or even for stipulations on charging to be worked into it.

Re:What's the German Word for "Boned?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26473447)

I would tell them to shut up. A pay up front model is a valid way to sell (L)GPL'd software. However a subscription model is obviously in conflict with the license.

Re:What's the German Word for "Boned?" (3, Insightful)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473631)

Unless she downloaded it without being notified upfront of the cost, she ain't going to win this one.

Are you an expert in German law? How can you possibly make such a statement?

In the United States, she could simply refuse to pay. They'd have to sue her to get the money, which they'd never do because they're a scam.

Re:What's the German Word for "Boned?" (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473709)

Unless she downloaded it without being notified upfront of the cost, she ain't going to win this one.

You can bet it was there somewhere, in the fine print.

I agree its morally wrong to take advantage of people like that, but it legal. Buyer Beware..

Of course then again, are they going to provide some support or something for her $? If so, then its not even immoral and just annoying.

True.. but the solution is more simple. (2, Informative)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473717)

Just don't pay them, don't answer the e-mails, and hopefully she didn't provide a phone number. If she did, perhaps the phone company can put a block on that number.

They'll go away. If they don't they'll have to take her to a small claims type court, and that will cost them money. She won't lose this case. She can say that she never downloaded it and it was someone else that did (I sort of doubt this company would get a subpoena for the ISP to get her IP address information..) or she could say the software was listed as free.

I doubt it would go to court.. these people are just slimeballs looking for easy dollars, not hard dollars.

Re:What's the German Word for "Boned?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26473867)

Have your friend talk to the Consumer Protection (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verbraucherzentrale)

Also take your time to explain your friend the difference between Google Ads and Google Search results. (installing AdBlock plus on top of Firefox on her computer might be a good idea as well)

Re:What's the German Word for "Boned?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26474169)

I guess that from now on, RM$ will become the preferred way to refer to the hairy man.
GPL work can be taken from you and sold for profit! Time to move to actually free licenses like the MSPL.

Never Pay (1)

mfh (56) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473341)

Just don't do it. They are scamming you, obviously.

Easy solution (5, Funny)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473353)

Submitter: your friend should just stick it to the man and pirate it from Bittorrent. That'll teach those money-grubbing bastards!

Re:Easy solution (4, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473401)

Submitter: your friend should just stick it to the man and pirate it from Bittorrent. That'll teach those money-grubbing bastards!

A strongly opinionated statement on Slashdot promoting the legal use of BitTorrent?!

These are indeed strange times in which we live.

Re:Easy solution (1)

Anthony_Cargile (1336739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26474075)

May I direct you to the pirate bay's legal department [thepiratebay.org] ?

Re:Easy solution (-1, Troll)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473415)

Pirate Open Source software from BitTorrent???

wtf? Someone didn't read TFA...

Re:Easy solution (4, Funny)

EvilIdler (21087) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473545)

Is your window open? You may have missed a wooshing sound in all the noise from outside ;)

Re:Easy solution (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473651)

Or has a enjoys a good laugh.

Re:Easy solution (1)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473753)

Holy shit! Another person on Slashdot that doesn't understand sarcasm. Unbelievable!

Re:Easy solution (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#26474019)

They don't have sarcasm on my planet, so unless I'm concentrating, I often fail to notice it.

Re:Easy solution (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 5 years ago | (#26474093)

They don't have sarcasm on my planet, so unless I'm concentrating, I often fail to notice it.

Ford? Is that you? I seem to be having some serious problems with my lifestyle I'm hoping you can help me with, can you meet me down the pub?

Re:Easy solution (1)

The Gaytriot (1254048) | more than 5 years ago | (#26474113)

You must be new here, Slashdot is full of people that don't understand sarcasm~

Re:Easy solution (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 5 years ago | (#26474157)

Why are you so surprised? It's not that unbelievable...

; )

Re:Easy solution (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26474121)

Pirate Open Source software from BitTorrent???

Well, if you refuse to seed the source code, it is technically piracy.

Re:Easy solution (1)

CountZer0(QAW) (874828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473439)

...uhh isn't Open Office aleady a free torrent?

Re:Easy solution (5, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473535)

whoooooosh.

Re:Easy solution (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26473587)

whoooooosh.

http://www.google.com/search?q=whoooooosh.&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a [google.com]

Please to help, I cannot find "whoooooosh." Require help immediately appreciate fast response cheers.

Re:Easy solution (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26473737)

Re:Easy solution (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26473889)

How do joke sails? Is it a boat or bird? And how do I send one over another person's head effectively? Please! I need positive karma here badly to promote my products, help me to be insightful! And tell me when in American culture this is appropriate to use!

Re:Easy solution (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 5 years ago | (#26474197)

This [urbandictionary.com] is the link you were looking for.

Erm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26473369)

I just tried downloading it from the link in TFA and there's no form that you need to enter anything in, just a drop down for the site you want to get it from..?

Re:Erm? (2, Funny)

VeNoM0619 (1058216) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473467)

You tried the link in TFA but you didn't read TFS? She googled for it (meaning by logical interpretation) getting a scam site and not the official site.

thought she found the website

I think the next /. article should have a goatse link randomly thrown in there, for those not so close readers.

Re:Erm? (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473903)

She googled for it

It would be interesting to see that google query tho; I have a hard time seeing the most obvious searches resulting in scammer links.

Of course, to answer my own question, googling 'openoffice scam' turned up the way it appears to be done: buying first link type google ads. I guess that might be a fairly efficient way of scamming unaware google users. Add another of those things to educate users about, or add a firefox plugin translating 'sponsored links' to 'scammers links' on google.com.

Re:Erm? (5, Informative)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473605)

My best guess is she went to openoffice.com, and clicked the link to download OpenOffice there.

It takes you to a website [download-new.com] that does indeed let you download OpenOffice.org - but you have to sign up to be a member of their download service first.

So she didn't actually get charged for OOo, she got charged for the privilege of being in their SOOPER-DOWNLOADERZ club. Sleazy, but caveat emptor.

She is required to pay up (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26473377)

Do they take flooz?

Re:She is required to pay up (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 5 years ago | (#26474161)

Apparently, she paid the bill is straight flooz at boo.com

If it's legal... (5, Interesting)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473395)

Well, if as you say it's legal in your jurisdiction, then it sounds like yes, she should pay, unless she wants to risk damage to her credit.

Maybe for this reason everybody should get into the habit of calling it OpenOffice.org. That's the name of the software. Not OpenOffice. OpenOffice.org. So where do you get it? OpenOffice.org. What's the cost? Find out at OpenOffice.org. What's the latest version? OpenOffice.org will tell you. Et cetera.

Re:If it's legal... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473523)

Don't overvalue your credit rating. One refusal to pay a dodgy charge isn't going to clobber you. 98 Euros is a reasonable amoutn of cash. It's probable that this company isn't going to chase her up over it anyway. While this may be legal the company involved isn't going to push the point.

Deny ever having downloaded the software. Force them to put more effort into it than they will be able to be bothered to do.

Re:If it's legal... (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473675)

But of course that's unethical. If she agreed to a legal fee and received goods in exchange then she has an ethical obligation to pay her bill.

Would I pay it, under these circumstances? Probably not. <rollseyes>At least, not until I came and asked Slashdot what to do, that is.</rollseyes>

Re:If it's legal... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473803)

The ethics of the situation depend upon ones personal ethics.

If they are genuinely offering a service for this money then perhaps. If they're trying to scam her by attempting to charge her for a nominal service then I don't see any ethical obligation to accept the terms.

Re:If it's legal... (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473837)

Looks to me like it's unethical in the same way that refusing to pay any scammer after you figured out they're scamming you is unethical, regardless of prior agreements.

Which is to say, not at all.

Re:If it's legal... (1)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473799)

How would this be a credit thing? There was no credit check, no credit agreement, no credit what-so-ever. There's no way it could be a negative mark on her credit because there was no credit involved.

The worst that can happen here is she gets taken to small claims court.

NO credit damage! Do you not understand what credit is?

Re:If it's legal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26473923)

The term OpenOffice is owned by someone else.
That's why they called it OpenOffice.org in the first place. It's a nice name and they knew no one will make a difference.
Yet this goes both ways does it not?
Good luck convincing everyone use a 3 word name in normal every day speech.

It wasn't her (2, Funny)

Threni (635302) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473405)

It was someone else; she was drunk; she clicked no and her computer malfuctioned; she can't afford it; she can simply refuse to pay and to respond to requests to pay ... I'm sure there are other things she can attempt to get out of it, or to make it not worth the companies time to try and collect the money.

Re:It wasn't her (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26473665)

"not fit for purpose" is a good catch all for situations where you don't want to pay here in the UK, I assume Germany has something similar.

return it (1)

outofoptions (199169) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473427)

Just return it. Let them cancel her license. They did NOTHING for the money.

Re:return it (1)

outofoptions (199169) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473517)

I would think a court would find this to be a deceptive practice at best. Charging for someone elses FREE software and not requiring payment up front so that it was clear, not just hiding the charge somewhere it may not be seen.

The website (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26473473)

Man.. if only there was an easy way to remember what the website is to download OpenOffice.org...

Allowed not only in Germany (5, Informative)

zzyzyx (1382375) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473475)

Selling (L)GPLed software is authorized by the license (and even encouraged apparently). See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/selling.html [gnu.org]

However in your case the price was probably not apparent at the time of sale (or else you would'nt complain now I assume), and thus the sale is illegal under European law. So don't pay.

Cost in the EULA? (5, Interesting)

faloi (738831) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473501)

Is it a typical EULA that was scene during the install of the product? Can't your friend state that she read the EULA, disagreed with the terms and is, in effect, returning the software (deleting it). Delete it, get a fresh copy (just in case the company in question modified some of it before passing it along), and use that instead.

Doesn't it already come when you buy Ubuntu? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26473519)

I mean, if I order a copy of Ubuntu on Amazon.com, won't the OS contain OpenOffice.org?

refund or cancellation of order (3, Interesting)

nategoose (1004564) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473553)

Most likely there's some way to cancel the order on the basis of faulty or incompatible produce -- "Y'all's version of Open Office don't work on my computer! I want my money back!" type deal.
Look into that, remove their version of it, and get the official one or even different software.

Re:refund or cancellation of order (1)

cailith1970 (1325195) | more than 5 years ago | (#26474029)

I'd imagine if it went to court that it would be easy enough to verify if it did or didn't work on your hardware. Telling porkies like that isn't going to help your cause too much, when (it sounds like) there are enough fully legal approaches to take.

Allowed by the GPL. (0, Redundant)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473559)

It is totally legal to sell GPL software. This is morally wrong but it is legal. Sounds like the laws in Germany need to be changed and not OO.org.

Re:Allowed by the GPL. (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473935)

It's legal in the US, too. There's no law against it, so it's legal. In fact, the entire world lets you sell things that are allowed to be sold.

The GPL is the license that states whether or not it can be sold. There is nothing wrong with selling GPL software.

Now, criminal tactics like telling someone it's free and then charging them... Or only telling them there's a fee after they are fully involved... Those might not be legal there.

How do you mean legal? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473597)

I'm sure it's legal to provide a service and request money for it after the fact, and the licence that Openoffice is distributed under no doubt allows them to do this.

This doesn't automatically mean that one is obligated to pay. It depends on the local legal system.

Right to return wares (3, Informative)

orzetto (545509) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473633)

I think there are laws in Germany (and all of the EU) that state that when you buy something over the Internet, you can return the product within a few weeks (at least 2) if you are not satisfied. Google for Widerrufrecht.

If they did not tell her of this possibility, they are hosed. Not sure what are the penalties for not telling the customers about it, but they must be pretty stiff since every time I order something (yes I live in Germany) I get lots of information about it.

Hmm... (1)

lunatic1969 (1010175) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473645)

Out of idle curiosity, is this the site she purchased it off of? www.OpenOffice-Software.com

Do this, and do it *FAST* (5, Informative)

getuid() (1305889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473663)

1) Go see a good lawyer.

2) After having consulted with the lawyer, "return" the software. Delete it or similar...


The point is that german law requires everybody who sells anything on-line to take back the merchandise on the request of the customer within 2 weeks. It's a kind of a safety net against exactly this kind of scams.

Now I don't exactly know how "returning" would translate for software, but that's exactly she needs to talk to a lawyer about, and she needs to do that *fast*, in order to be able to answer before the two-weeks-deadline passes.

However, I wouldn't respond to the e-mail of the scamers directly. Someone here on /. already suggested that without having an address/card ID from her, they don't have any means to prove that it was actually her who downloaded and installed the copy. And without proof, they can pretty much kiss your/her ass...

If they try to scare her off, in Germany she even has the possibility to file a negative clearifying charge (it's called "negative Feststellungsklage", I don't know the exact english legal construct for this). The charge is aimed at clearifying in front of the law whether she is or is not guilty of whatever they will try to accuse her. The nice thing about this charge is that it's her call, not theirs. So they *need* to prove that they have a valid case, or else they loose. If they loose, they pay (up to several thounsands of euros). It's another protection gimmick of the german law system against scamers :-)

Re:Do this, and do it *FAST* (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26473973)

excuse me, but see a lawyer over a E98 charge? Can you even talk to a lawyer for E98, let along talk long enough to get advice about the particular situation?

Now, I'm no lawyer, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26473673)

I don't think there's any way any court is going to take such a demand for payment seriously unless the downloader was clearly notified in advance of the download that they would be charged for it. Anything else is insane.

I'm from Germany and had similar issue (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26473689)

This is a scam that you should ignore or better, contact your local "verbraucherzentrale". Here are some info http://www.verbraucherzentrale-bayern.de/UNIQ123205386511451/link462241A.html
For my case I just ignored them and they gave up. If they did not, my next step would have been to send them a scary (aka lawyer talk) letter written by the verbraucherzentrale ;)
P.S.: the consultation with the verbraucherzentrale costed me 10 euro.

Some companies are charging people for CD-ROMs (1)

Vexer77 (232329) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473703)

I've heard of a company in the U.S. that is selling CD-ROMs containing OpenOffice for ~$10.

Re:Some companies are charging people for CD-ROMs (3, Insightful)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473983)

Which is perfectly legally and morally fine. The LGPL allows you to charge money for distributing software (provided, of course, you also follow through with the rest of the license, incl. providing source), and there's nothing wrong with selling the service of downloading software and burning it to disc for you.

Re:Some companies are charging people for CD-ROMs (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 5 years ago | (#26474163)

That's absolutely fine. I used to buy such things before broadband was available in my area. The alternative was tying up my phoneline for about 72 hours, and I was very happy to pay £3 or so to have it through my door the following morning and avoid that.

We saw the same thing (4, Informative)

dwarfking (95773) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473741)

When my son got a laptop for college, he went to download OpenOffice instead of paying for Office and called me asking for a credit card to pay for it with. Reading the fine print I saw that the site was charging for the download of the software from their servers, but for any problems you were supposed to contact OpenOffice.org.

There are a number of legally gray sites doing similar things. I know of one that has a page that previously came up high in Google rankings because of adwords for you to order particular documents. The site charged you to "explain how to order" then when you went to get the documents, you were routed to a legitimate site that sold the documents and then you were charged for the docs. Many people called the legit site asking why they were being charged twice.

This is apparently legal, so long as there is a disclaimer on the page. Turns out in this case the disclaimer was very small print, but still there. The legit site started monitoring the referral header so they could let the visitor know they had not yet actually purchased anything, but it still caused calls to the legit company's help desk and complaint lines.

Trick or treat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26473743)

Does she have a Dell running Ubuntu perchance?

Ya know... (3, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473747)

this whole thing could have been avoided had you told her WHERE to get the software and that it was free.

I know most /.ers are tired of helping their friends/family/whatever installing software, uninstalling spyware, etc, but when you're trying to promote what you consider to be a better product, sometimes more information and bit of elbow grease is better than simply, "Go get X".

Legal, huh? (1)

boomka (599257) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473765)

Well, so in Germany it is legal to sell OO for any amount of money I feel like charging for it.

So what if this company wrote up EULA saying by downloading OO from them I am agreeing to buy it for 10 million dollars. Would you still recommend to pay?

But is it ANY different than asking for 100 dollars?

What would German law say if company was asking for 1 billion dollar per sale? After all, that number is just as arbitrary as any other number they are charging.

We're all lawyers here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26473821)

You've definitely come to the right place for an answer! Everyone on slashdot is a lawyer and knows all about the German legal system in particular.

Re:We're all lawyers here (2, Funny)

SomeWhiteGuy (920943) | more than 5 years ago | (#26474053)

We actually are diverse in our knowledge of 'legality'. Any country, any system, we're covered. We graduated from "Law & Order" University, "CSI" College (Vegas, Miami, and New York campuses), and "NCIS" School of BS. Some of also received a medical degree from "ER" school of Medicine.

Yes, I think she should pay (0)

they_call_me_quag (894212) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473855)

> Apparently the EULA stated this cost and here in Germany she is
> required to pay up. So I thought I would ask Slashdot, should she
> pay?

Yes, if she agreed to the EULA then she should pay. This will be considered controversial (or just plain stupid) to most Slashdot readers, so let me phrase the question in a different light:

"My friend agreed to pay someone for something. Should she pay?"

Your friend needs to learn to actually read the EULA and to not agree if she is unwilling to meet the terms of the agreement.

It happens everywhere. (1)

CopyMouse (1235878) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473907)

Yeah, well tough shit [bestbuy.com] .

Re:It happens everywhere. (2, Interesting)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 5 years ago | (#26474155)

Yeah, well tough shit [bestbuy.com] .

This boxed set includes a Ubuntu CD, Quick Start Guide, and 60 days of professional support from Ubuntu.

$20 for a CD, a printed guide, a pretty box and 60 days of professional support is not so bad really.

Not only OpenOffice (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26473925)

It's happenig with VLC, Emule, VNC, ...

The first Google promoted links are bad webs.

Sometimes the webs ask for money, but other times just offers malware.

I further translate the Google translation (1)

sonciwind (970454) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473955)

"Don't be stupid. Other people will try to rip you off. Don't be stupid." I'm not sure about that last bit, it could also be translated as "Don't be a dumbass", depending on inflection. Damn, I'm in a mood today.

Why is this awful? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26473979)

People sell CDs of Linux, people sell CDs of SHAREWARE (trial versions!). People can, according to someone who quoted the GPL, sell GPL software.

If the site said it was free and then charged for it, that's one thing. If it did not say it was free, it probably said something about buying it or something like that.

What I find interesting is that the summary says she "googled" it. What in the WORLD did she google? have yo uever tried putting "openoffice" or "open office" or any other variant of it in google? What's the first site that comes up, and obviously the official one? openoffice.org. After that comes a number of openoffice.org subdomains, a wikipedia page for it, etc.

IMO, the summary almost sounds more like a scam than selling a subscription to openoffice.org downloads.

Re:Why is this awful? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26474009)

shameless reply: "why is this awful" is in response to charging for free software. Scamming or tricking people into buying otherwise free software IS awful, albeit NOT illegal and not necessarily a scam. RedHat and Novell and many other software companies try to get people to buy it, though in more honest ways.

Summary: tricking someone into buying openoffice.org is awful. I still haven't seen the page though...

Re:Why is this awful? (2, Informative)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26474129)

Yet another reply...

Here [www.chip.de] is a link to the first unknown site to me ("unknown" means not wikipedia and not openoffice.org) from google.de search for "openoffice." here [google.de] is the search. Still having a hard time finding a scam.

This guy [ztw3.com] apparently did find one: openoffice-suite.com [openoffice-suite.com] and also www-openoffice.com [www-openoffice.com]

Free as in speech (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26473997)

I care more about "free as in speech" by magnitudes more than "free as in beer". I even see it as a good thing that free-as-in-speech software are being sold because it can send a hint to the suits that there is a market for closed-source alternatives. As long as they abide by the open source licenses of the software, there's no reason to complain.

It's consumer friendly europe... (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#26474043)

Surely there must be a "send it back within X days for a full refund".

Not sure how you send back a download, but whatever the consumer rights group is will know...

Standard (4, Informative)

mseeger (40923) | more than 5 years ago | (#26474099)

Hi,
happens quite often, but usually you can refuse payment and would win any lawsuite. I've done a lot of consulting to victims of such traps. None of them payed anything and none was ever forced to pay. There was a lot of "shock and awe" legal letters but it turned out all to be smoke&mirrors and never any court was involved. If any one wants to know what to do in such a case (in germany) or needs any letter examples to respond to invoices, contact me.
Regards, Martin

OS/2 version of OpenOffice costs money (1)

dryeo (100693) | more than 5 years ago | (#26474149)

OpenOffice.org is only available for money by buying a support agreement. ( http://www.ecomstation.com/openoffice.phtml [ecomstation.com] ) There is nothing wrong with this as money was required to pay the programmers who ported it. As long as anyone who buys it also gets the source code it is still meeting the GPL.
It is also stated that you are free to distribute OpenOffice but I believe they ask nicely that you don't as porting costs money.

Right of cancellation according to german law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26474181)

There is a legal right of cancellation of any purchase of goods or services and in fact any contract entered into over a distance (i.e. not in person) in Germany. This is according to what is called the "Widerrufsrecht bei FernabsatzvertrÃgen" in German. This is according to the BGB, the German civil code, in particular  312c Abs. 2 BGB,  1 Abs. 1, 2 und 4 BGB InfoV and  3 BGB-InfoV.

This is actually a well known right in Germany and any on-line shop will explain this to you (and is legaly required to). So she could simply exercise that right by sending them an email, which they must respect.

Then again, everything about these offers seems shady, so I expect they have little respect for the law. And she should probably ignore them after sending that email.

Also the explanation on the openoffice site merely states that the license used (i.e. the GLP, though they do not name it) does not prohibit resale of the software so they can't do anything about it. This would be true for any country, as far as I know.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?