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Piriform Asks BleachBit To Remove Winapp2.ini Importer

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the you-always-need-a-lawyer dept.

The Courts 305

ahziem writes "As author of the BleachBit system cleaner, I received a polite but firm request from Piriform, makers of the similar application CCleaner, to remove a two-year-old feature from BleachBit that allows individual BleachBit users to import winapp2.ini data files created by the community that define which files to delete for applications. Does Piriform's request have merit? Do I need a lawyer? What is a good response to avoid any ugly situation?"

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Who knows, I'm not a lawyer... (4, Informative)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793671)

Do I need a lawyer? What is a good response to avoid any ugly situation?

And once again for the 1,000,000 time, yes, and this isn't the place to get legal advice...

On the other hand, a "firm request" doesn't quite sound like a legal threat. Anyone can send a "firm request".

Maybe check it with a REAL lawyer, but not worry too much until the people you've collided with send you a letter with more solid threats?

Who knows, I'm not a lawyer...

Re:Who knows, I'm not a lawyer... (3, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793679)

By the way, nice "Slashvert". I'm sold...

Re:Who knows, I'm not a lawyer... (5, Insightful)

Art Challenor (2621733) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793721)

And once again for the 1,000,000 time, yes, and this isn't the place to get legal advice...

True, but there's really any advice that you should ask for from ./er's? How to meet members of the opposite sex? Which Linux distro to use? Whether Metro is better than Unity?

Once you get it in perspective, the question makes as much sense as any other.

Re:Who knows, I'm not a lawyer... (4, Funny)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793749)

True, but there's really any advice that you should ask for from ./er's? How to meet members of the opposite sex?

Last time I followed advice from Slashdot on the chicks, I got a visit from the Sheriff's Department.

Re:Who knows, I'm not a lawyer... (4, Funny)

arth1 (260657) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793887)

Last time I followed advice from Slashdot on the chicks, I got a visit from the Sheriff's Department.

Oooh, a sexy chick in uniform! Tell us how that went!

Re:Who knows, I'm not a lawyer... (5, Funny)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793949)

Oooh, a sexy chick in uniform! Tell us how that went!

I think she might have been into the "bondage" thing, because she cuffed me.

Re:Who knows, I'm not a lawyer... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42794119)

Did she cuff you before or after you put on your robe and wizard hat?

Re:Who knows, I'm not a lawyer... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42794233)

She was ok with that, but when I showed her my gnarly staff, she reached for the cuffs.

Re:Who knows, I'm not a lawyer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42794227)

I think she might have been into the "bondage" thing, because she cuffed me.

Next time, get clarification - the specific temperature of 'hot grits' should not be enough to cause third degree burns.

A good rule of thumb is if you can eat them, they're good to be poured down the pants of a petrified Natalie Portman. (Assuming you have the consent of a petrified Natalie Portman.)

Re:Who knows, I'm not a lawyer... (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about a year and a half ago | (#42794309)

Oooh, a sexy chick in uniform! Tell us how that went!

I think she might have been into the "bondage" thing, because she cuffed me.

I've heard this one before. "You've been a bad boy resisting arrest like that, and you need to be ... punished!"

Re:Who knows, I'm not a lawyer... (1)

Capsaicin (412918) | about a year and a half ago | (#42794357)

Oooh, a sexy chick in uniform! Tell us how that went!

I think she might have been into the "bondage" thing, because she cuffed me.

If you don't mind me asking, what was the advice you followed to get yourself into this ... ahm ... terrible predicament? Please!

Advice on the chicks... (1)

sabt-pestnu (967671) | about a year and a half ago | (#42794361)

Last time *I* followed advice from Slashdot on the chicks, I ended up on a blind double date with Rhode Island Red and a Miss La Fleche.

Actually, I've been going steady with them ever since. Not for the romance, you perv... I need the eggs.

Re:Who knows, I'm not a lawyer... (5, Funny)

Phrogman (80473) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793787)

Basement dwelling tips, thats probably safe. Best Pizza outfits, also a good bet.

He wasn't asking for a legal advice (4, Informative)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793773)

And once again for the 1,000,000 time, yes, and this isn't the place to get legal advice...

Lemme quote that guy had stated:

Does Piriform's request have merit?

Do I need a lawyer?

What is a good response to avoid any ugly situation?

Of the three quoted questions above, "Do I need a lawyer?" comes closest in resembling a "legal advice", but it ain't.

The gist of what poster "ahziem" was looking for is "What is a good response to avoid any ugly situation?" - that is, how should one go about under that situation.
 

Re:He wasn't asking for a legal advice (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42793793)

Go fuck yourself, ignorant moron.

Re:He wasn't asking for a legal advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42793945)

Only thing to protect you against shitbag lawyers is more shitbag lawyers. It's an unfortunate truth.

You don't answer anything until told to by the shitbag lawyer you pay. Then you pray your shitbag lawyer is better than their shitbag lawyer.

Re:He wasn't asking for a legal advice (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42794143)

"Do I need a lawyer?" is a question that only a qualified lawyer such as myself can answer.

Let's call that a half hour.

He DOESN'T need a lawyer (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42793869)

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

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

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

Yours,...

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

Re:Who knows, I'm not a lawyer... (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#42794001)

I'm certainly not a lawyer, your lawyer, or his lawyer; but I'm pretty sure that 'having a feature that might facilitate some third party breaking the terms of use that they may or may not have agreed to' isn't actually a crime(unless you are being sued by the MPAA/RIAA, in which case basically anything that transmits or stores information that might conceivably be copyrighted is a conspiracy with the worst of pirates and pedo-terrorists).

Nothing that says they can't bury you in procedure until you suffocate; but the 'request' is bullshit and they ought to be ashamed of it. Is it ever a good thing for a file format to have only a single program capable of decoding it?

Re:Who knows, I'm not a lawyer... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42794267)

but I'm pretty sure that ... isn't actually a crime

IAAL, and I'm nowhere near as sure as you that facilitating some third party to negate their license (and this contravene the other party's intellectual property) isn't a crime. Does 'authorisation' ring any bells? I'd like much more information about the facts of the case and the particular legislative framework in place in the relevant jurisdiction(s).

I wonder if this isn't an example of the Dunning-Kruger effect?

Re:Who knows, I'm not a lawyer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42794289)

Did you just intentionally omit "might facilitate" and "ToS may or may not have agreed to" just to have an opportunity to make lawyers look more intimidating and necessary?

Re:Who knows, I'm not a lawyer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42794127)

I think he should read the TOS first and get a feel for the situation. Then see a lawyer. It would probably make things go faster.

Re:Who knows, I'm not a lawyer... (2)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year and a half ago | (#42794211)

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

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

Re:Who knows, I'm not a lawyer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42794345)

I wouldn't bother asking here, someplace like the Electronic Frontier Foundation might be a more likely source to get good legal advice. You don't want subjective opinions like you'll get here on ./
https://www.eff.org/pages/legal-assistance

IANAL (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42793691)

I am not a lawyer nor your lawyer, but I would just ignore the e-mail. Don't answer, just ignore it. Importing a text file has nothing to do with their ToS. This is not a legal advice.

Re:IANAL (5, Informative)

Garridan (597129) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793993)

Yeah -- unless you're using their software, you can't violate their TOS.

Re:IANAL (5, Funny)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year and a half ago | (#42794235)

I put out a CD ripping program years ago (not gonna link it because its dated and useless by todays standards) but in the ToS, I wrote that I was given the right to each users first born child as well as hand jobs from any male users girlfriend... I dont think that would hold up in court if i pushed it, but it WAS in my programs ToS

IAAL (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42794343)

I am not a lawyer nor your lawyer, but I would just ignore the e-mail. Don't answer, just ignore it.

IAAL (not practising) and a developer and this comes closest to what I know I ought to do in this situation. Don't communicate until such time as a formal legal request is made and then communicate only as per legal advice.

Personally I would be fighting with myself really hard to stop replying (aka giving them evidence)... however I wouldn't dream of representing myself (not even if I were practising).

At this stage I would save myself the $$$ and just wait to see if they escalate the matter. I'm in no position to assess the legal liabilities in your particular situation. Nor should you accept the analysis or assurances of anyone commenting here. It may be they have no case, in which case their lawyer should tell them to wear it. At least in my jurisdiction a lawyer can face disciplinary proceedings for initiating action without "reasonable chance of success," and threatening legal action where no legal basis exists is a huge no-no (for lawyers that is). That may be different where you or Piriform are.

If a formal legal letter threatening action (a lawyer is of course free to ask you to stop doing something on behalf of a client ... "pretty please ...") were received I would take legal advice in quick order.

This is not a legal advice.

Nor, it should go without saying, is this. It's just what I would do. If it makes you sleep better at night and you have cash to splash about you may want to get your legal team to take these jokers apart starting tomorrow.

You don't distribute the ini file, correct? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42793697)

If you don't distribute the ini file, and the ini file isn't encrypted, you can ignore his request the same way anyone who creates an emulator, but doesn't distribute any roms (and doesn't include any functionality to break any encryption some roms may have) does. There's nothing illegal about what you've done, AFAIK.

Of course, talking to a lawyer is the only place to get proper legal advice, slashdot is just a peanut gallery.

Re:You don't distribute the ini file, correct? (5, Informative)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | about a year and a half ago | (#42794207)

winapp2.ini [winapp2.com] is not property of Piriform. It is a separate project by other people and even notes the compatibility with BleachBit as a feature. Piriform is just being a bunch of assholes. Fuck them.

Really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42793703)

You can read and parse any file you like.
In what scenario is this possibly a problem?
(Unless someone stole code)

LOL (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42793707)

I wouldn't blink until they had their lawyer send a hard copy to you. Email copy if you can authenticate.

IANAL nor a programmer. Anyway, reverse-engineering is legal though I have no idea how you did it. If you had no help from their program then they don't have much to stand on. If you did, then they may have cause to sue but it's possible all they can sue for is a breach of EULA (NOT a contract).

Considering it's just an INI file, I doubt it was too difficult to figure out. Nobody owns file extensions, and nobody should own data except the creator, but software patents make the last part a bit murky.

Backfire (5, Interesting)

J'raxis (248192) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793709)

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

Thanks, Piriform!

Re:Backfire (-1, Troll)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793727)

Nice AstroTurf.

Did he pay you or maybe you are part of the development team?

Re:Backfire (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42794039)

Half of his posts are "astroturf" and his sig is affiliate site.

Re:Backfire (2)

Moridineas (213502) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793743)

To be fair, while Piriform's request might be considered obnoxious, there's really not a threat involved. As far as letters go, it was pretty mild.

That's not to say that threats (legal or otherwise!) won't be forthcoming, but they're not here yet. I hope slashdot follows up; will be interesting to see what happens next.

Re:Backfire (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793783)

BleachBit can run in CLI mode. We've scripted it to run on PCs over the network. Part of a monthly maintenance. Generally stuff that slows down the system. One thing that really bugged me about CCleaner is that it never provided an option to clean multiple local profiles on one machine even when logged in as a local admin. WTF?! Why not?. This would have been a God-send for cleaning up old and crusty Windows Terminal Servers.

Re:Backfire (0)

icebike (68054) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793845)

Cli mode? It wanted me to install Wine. Toss.

Hanlon's razor (2)

whoever57 (658626) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793711)

This is probably just an example of a clueless PHB who doesn't realize the souce of the winapp2.ini files.

Perhaps a polite letter asking how you are violating their TOS, pointing out the source of the winapp2.ini files? Also, you probably never accepted their TOS did you?

Re:Hanlon's razor (3, Informative)

Skapare (16644) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793753)

They said "terms of use". Use of what? If HE downloaded CCleaner files and included them with his app, then I do see problems galore. But if he did not download CCleaner files himself I do not see how he is obligated contractually to their terms. Contract Law 101.

Re:Hanlon's razor (3, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year and a half ago | (#42794041)

They said "terms of use". Use of what? If HE downloaded CCleaner files and included them with his app, then I do see problems galore. But if he did not download CCleaner files himself I do not see how he is obligated contractually to their terms. Contract Law 101.

Depends how he wrote his winapp2.ini importer. Did he use Pinform's documentation/SDK? If so, something may apply if that documentation was provided for the purpose of having users write winapp2.ini files and not for the purposes of developing a competing app.

If he wrote it by examining how users wrote their winapp2.ini files and made guesses, then he's in the clear (reverse-engineering).

If he asked for help from the community, things get trickier because now the licenses and all that are horribly tangled.

I would get a lawyer and compose a polite reply asking why they think it's a TOS violation - perhaps they thought you accessed their documentation and used it against the license?

Right now things are at the "polite" level. Asking for more information on what they think is wrong doesn't hurt, maybe even politely explaining and showing documentation you didn't violate the ToS. It could be a huge misunderstanding and they thought you took their file and used it directly, without realizing there are other sources? (And that's not secure - since that community source could involve someone uploading CCleaner's version).

What are these CCleaner files? (2)

Skapare (16644) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793715)

This will depend on the CCleaner files. If they are public visible files anyone can make for themselves, you might well have a valid case. If they are files Piriform makes, maybe not. You need an ATTORNEY to help you determine your position, and especially if they sue you. If the formatting of the CCleaner files involves a patented technology, they could have a valid basis to sue you (even though I would personally disagree with it). If the CCleaner files are encrypted, they may have a case based on cracking them. If they are in the clear, then it's no different than you having written a music player to play UNencrypted music files.

Re:What are these CCleaner files? (5, Informative)

1u3hr (530656) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793789)

They're not "CCLeaner files". Winapp 2 is made by a 3rd party See theior site:

http://www.winapp2.com/ [winapp2.com] "This website and its files are not endorsed or supported in any way by Piriform. They take no responsibility for any damages or problems that arise from its use.",

Looks like Piriform has sent similar messages to them.

This is a giant AstroTurf circle. (1, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year and a half ago | (#42794261)

Winapp2 is produced by the same people as Bleach. This is a giant AstroTurf circle.

Re:This is a giant AstroTurf circle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42794379)

winapp2.ini maintainer is robert ward;

bleachbit developed by andrew ziem.

ya, same guy.

Um, confused here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42793717)

I know, I know, actually clicking on links in the summary. Horrible me. But in the link of the email sent to you: "How To Integrate CCleaner’s Winapp2.ini File Into Bleachbit". That doesn't exactly sound like community property when the article keeps prefacing winapp2.ini with "CCleaner's". Am I missing something that should be obvious to me?

Re:Um, confused here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42794065)

Eh, "How to integrate $program's $config_file into $another_program" sounds like $config_file is someone's property to you?

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42793725)

You aren't using their software. You didn't agree to their terms of service. Their users may have, is this file only from their app or do others use this feature?

If them only....You should probably consult the scum of the earth (a lawyer).

If others....Not as big of a problem in my view, but they may have scum working for them that can cause you problems.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42793875)

You should probably consult the scum of the earth (a lawyer).

Thank you for the gratuitous insult.

Re:Well... (3)

arth1 (260657) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793919)

Thank you for the gratuitous insult.

Yes, it was harsh of him to insult scum by comparing them to lawyers.

Other software does the same thing... (5, Insightful)

Excelcia (906188) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793737)

This would be like Microsoft asking OpenOffice not to import Word format. Or, for a closer analogy, for them to ask Mozilla not to have Firefox import IE bookmarks when you install it. This type of thing is done all the time. Unless they claim to have a patent on the format in the .ini file, it's totally fair game.

Re:Other software does the same thing... (1)

mizkitty (786078) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793891)

I wonder if they sent letters to the developer of System Ninja and CCEnhancer as well?

On what basis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42793745)

One doesn't need to be a lawyer to see that a "request", polite or otherwise, has no legal standing unless it has some legal foundation. Are they claiming some kind of legal basis for their request?

If it's nothing more than "We just don't want you to import our stuff" then you can just ignore them if you wish. They can't take you to court on a whim. (Except in the US of course.)

Easy target first (2)

infogulch (1838658) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793759)

If they have a problem with their TOS being violated, then they should take it up with the people that are actually violating it. (Class action lawsuit anyone? Piriform vs All PC users: importing ini files stored in the clear. Yeah that will work.) It looks like this has nothing to do with you.

This feature annoyed them and they figured, what the heck, if you were weak kneed about it then sending you a pansy email would be the easiest solution.

How does TOS affect YOU? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793785)

Why in the world would you have any obligation to honor their TOS? It doesn't legally bind you in any way.

IANAL, but as far as I know it's perfectly legal to build an app to read data from Excel, or Word, or QuickBooks, or whatever... unless it's incrypted (in the U.S.), the makers of those programs have pretty much no say in the matter. And even if encrypted, I would not consider it a moral obligation because the laws against un-encrypting are pretty darned questionable anyway. They are just a form of corporate welfare.

Re:How does TOS affect YOU? (1)

Dasuraga (1147871) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793865)

If he used CCleaner to reverse-engineer the file and there was a clause in the TOS forbidding that, it might be a problem right?

Re:How does TOS affect YOU? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793911)

"If he used CCleaner to reverse-engineer the file and there was a clause in the TOS forbidding that, it might be a problem right?"

Technically, I suppose. Again, IANAL. I think that would make him, as a user, guilty of violating the TOS... but I still don't think it has anything to do with his own product reading the files. And it would be pretty hard to prove, too. He could have bought the knowledge about the file format from his next-door neighbor.

Re:How does TOS affect YOU? (1)

Drgnkght (449916) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793979)

That could be an issue, but it seems highly unlikely in this case. Having taken a look at the winapp2.ini from winapp2.com (the file isn't made by ccleaner as best I can tell.) there wouldn't have been any need to reverse-engineer anything. It is an incredibly simple format. Below is one entry from the file. It seems fairly representative. I cannot image he'd need to reverse-engineer their software to figure out what it meant.


[Amazon Kindle for PC*]

LangSecRef=3023

Detect=HKCU\SOFTWARE\Amazon\Kindle

Default=False

FileKey1=%LocalAppData%\Amazon\Kindle\Cache|*.*|RECURSE

FileKey2=%LocalAppData%\Amazon\Kindle\Logs|*.txt|RECURSE

Re:How does TOS affect YOU? (3, Informative)

ebspso (959601) | about a year and a half ago | (#42794219)

The header for winapp.ini contains this...
----
Application Cleaning file
WARNING - DO NOT EDIT THIS FILE

If you would like to create custom entries then create a new file
called winapp2.ini which follows the same format as this one.
CCleaner will automatically pick up the new file.

Copyright 2004-2008 Piriform Ltd, All Rights Reserved.
This file and it's contents may not be copied or distributed
without the express permission of the author.
----

The copyright section does indeed say that you aren't allowed to use winapp.ini
Since BleachBit and other 3rd party software are using winapp2.ini (which the copyright doesn't cover), Piriform can not insist that BleachBit stop using it.

Did you agree to their terms of service? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42793801)

If you agreed to their terms of service (ever) you may be in violation. If you reverse engineered Their file format from scratch then you are in a different position.

Re:Did you agree to their terms of service? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42794255)

And what is the penalty for being in violation? They don't get to use CCleaner anymore. That's it. A TOS doesn't create endless liability.

Furthermore, the CCleaner TOS doesn't even cover this case. Here is the relevant portion of the TOS:

>You may NOT decompile, disassemble, reverse engineer or otherwise attempt to discover the source code of the Product except to the extent that you may be expressly permitted to reverse engineer or decompile under applicable law.

Small problem. The winapp2.ini files that CCleaner uses are clear plaintext files. There is no decompiling or disassembing required. They are data files, not source code. And the format is so obvious (standard windows ini file format) that any claims of reverse engineering are an extreme stretch at best.

Arkell vs Pressdram applies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42793803)

http://www.nasw.org/users/nbauman/arkell.htm (language may be NSFW)

Why ? because ini file format or the contents ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42793811)

WinApp2.ini its maintained by the community of users of CCleaner, System Ninja, and BleachBit... its a simple ini file, which lists for every app one [section] group header, followed by some lines of regex for file selection and one empty line as end of section delimiter

if BleachBit doesnt distribute WinApp2.ini made by ccleaner... just cant see the basis for the request. BleachBit can support the non exclusive .ini configuration format, and the users can freely download the file WinApp2.ini from Winapp2.com and there is nothing ccleaner can do about it

i am missing something ?

Question Judo (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793813)

Ins response, offer them code (or just a document) to read your custom definition file so they can do the reverse.

Pretty clueless (4, Interesting)

SilenceBE (1439827) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793819)

It sometimes baffles me how clueless some people are working in IT as "manager". Since when aren't you allowed to write an importer for an ini file that is publicly availabe. That ini file wasn't even written by piriform.

I think this is a case of a manger that wants to get good points from the upperhand, not knowing how ridiculous her/his requests are.

Flimsy complaints do require lawyers (0)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793823)

I'd say they have a very flimsy case as .ini is a commonly implemented newline delimited text format consisting of name value pairs. There is no base for any legal case other than "well OUR software generated those file, we are suing him for creating a program that can read text files our software created".

As absurd as it may be, in the real world such an argument may be enough to win a lawsuit -- the law is not about right or wrong, but whose lawyer can make the best case and how ignorant a judge may be (or choose to be) about technology cases.

So yes, they have a claim, and as flimsy as it is, is a valid one
Yes, you need to get a lawyer if you plan on supporting this feature.
No, you may not have to go to court

Essentially, hire a lawyer who is willing to work on a small retainer and fire off a few nasty-grams in reply, that while not threatening, cite the law and the fact that .ini files are exempt from DMCA restrictions and by making use of these files at the operator's discretion and permission (by being the file owner), are not infringing on copyright.

If they file suit against you, you'll have to pony up a larger retainer and respond to the suit. However, since there is no contract or agreement between your parties, you may be able to threaten counter-suit and sue them for legal expenses. Any competent lawyer will be mindful to remind them of these realities and most likely they wont sue.

But all of this requires you obtain counsel and allow said counsel to present your party as a serious player to them.
If you reply personally, they will not take you half as seriously as they would a letter bearing the letterhead from a law firm no matter how small.

What's the problem? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42793831)

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

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

gist (4, Interesting)

shentino (1139071) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793833)

Basically their message is as follows:

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

This is blatant intimidation.

Re:gist (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42794215)

we have an army of lawyers to throw at you

Perkins: "But, couldn't we just sue him?"

Louise: "Shut up and get in the catapult!"

Ignore them. (4, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793837)

Why should you be frightened of a violation of their TOS? Have you or your software agreed to be bound by those terms at any point? No? Well then, why the fuck are they threatening you? Answer: because it's easier than threatening their own customers who might actually be violating those TOS, since threatening them will create a Streisand Effect and have them leaving in droves for good.

You might have another TheOatmeal-versus-FunnyJunk moment here.

Re:Ignore them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42794139)

This. And do not answer to them, as that can land you in trouble. If they ever send you something with legal value THEN you have to hire a lawyer. Until then, they're bluffing.

Re:Ignore them. (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year and a half ago | (#42794247)

Well then, why the fuck are they threatening you?

In fact, no one has "threatened" anyone.

They made ridiculous request that can be safely ignored, but it was hardly a "threat".

Way too much is being made of this by the Bleach people, but I'm sure that after this Slashdot "story", their downloads are up...

Get a lawyer (4, Informative)

steelfood (895457) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793843)

Sounds like winapp2 is an independently-developed "application" that Piriform does not own. If you wrote your own libraries to parse the file, then they'll have trouble successfully suing you. But that doesn't mean they won't sue. If you're using their libraries, then best ditch it and rewrite that piece yourself.

In either case, you need a lawyer. Let the lawyer respond.

OP is either a clueless n00b... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42793847)

...or ingenious 13th degree black belt master of the Streisand Effect.

Re:OP is either a clueless n00b... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42794213)

"Hey internet, I got this private message today from Louise Kinane from Piriform, here's a link to it, and I kind of feel they're being douchey but I don't want to say to their face that they're douchey, so what's a real subtle way to handle this situation delicately without upsetting anyone? Please post about and discuss these douches on an online forum k thx."

Seems like it would be easy to accomodate this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42793849)

It seems like you could run into trouble using the name "CCleaner" when referring to this file. It also seems possible that refering to the file name "Winapp2.ini" might be problematic. It doesn't look clear to me if this Winapp2.com community is associated with Piriform at all (it looks to be independent). If that is the case - the base course of action would probably be to supply them with an easy conversion from this format to some other format of your definition and ask that they make that available in addition to the Winapp2.ini file. That way you would be totally in the clear.

CCEnhancer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42793857)

CCEnhancer seems to modify, read, and write the same files. I would contact the dev and see if he received a similar warning. If not it will give you a leg up if you can demonstrate that they allow some to perform these actions while attacking others. CCEnhancer in particular is a good example becuase they admit to reading an article that references the software and most certainly know what it is and does.

Only a lawyer will be able to help you with this though.

Well CCleaner is toast (0)

ghinckley68 (590599) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793907)

No one even knew this thing existed till 10 mins ago.
What is it going to take before these companies learn that blasting them selfs in the foot with 10ga legal garbage threats is just no conductive to staying in business.

Piraform RIP in piece you just signed your own death warrant.

Re:Well CCleaner is toast (1)

ghinckley68 (590599) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793967)

Oj just DL and ran this thing. the UI is total first grade but man does it get the job done.

I can see why Piriform did what they did this can become a serious threat.

Just tell them no. You aren't bound by their terms (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42793913)

Just tell them no, and be polite about it. You aren't bound by their terms; the users of their software are. Therefore, they need to address this issue with their users, not you.

And remember to be polite! You get more flies with honey than vinegar.

Play for time (1, Insightful)

epSos-de (2741969) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793933)

Do it like the Indians in the call centers. Tell them that you are working hard on this issue and are very keen to resolve it as soon as possible, but do nothing in reality.

Play for time until they are bored.

who created the original project (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42793943)

for the file? if it is NOT piriform, then piriform has no claim to it whatsoever unless they bought exclusive rights to it from the guy that did create it...

Final answer to: Do I need a lawyer. (1)

lpt1 (46613) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793971)

The answer is simple:
You need a lawyer to tell you if you need a lawyer.

Can we come up with a new law for this question, kinda like Godwins?

Tip: What some might call a "0 hours minimum" service contract, a lawyer calls a retainer. You pay whether you use it or not, it's usually cheaper than paying per incident, and if you use it more than a time or two, you'll either get canceled or offered a nice shiny new contract with a newer shinier not-so-nice price.

As far as I can tell (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about a year and a half ago | (#42793975)

Does Piriform's request have merit? Do I need a lawyer? What is a good response to avoid any ugly situation?

No, maybe, no sure-fire answer. The first option would be to plainly ignore it, which is probably what I would have picked until I got any more formal but since you've already publicly acknowledged receiving it that's out the window. I'd probably reply:

"Your terms of service is an agreement between your company and your users, as BleachBit is not a party to this agreement we see no legal basis for your request and have not evaluated your claims further."

Most likely, you'll hear nothing and it'll go away but they can always send a lawyer after you, in which case you might want one too. But I think this answer should be fairly safe since the only thing you're saying is that you never agreed to any terms of service.

Don't back down (1, Insightful)

tbird81 (946205) | about a year and a half ago | (#42794005)

Don't remove this feature. Politely tell Piriformis to go fuck themselves. If you hear from them again, get a lawyer.

But never back down to these bullying assholes. (Unless they're willing to buy you out for $10 million or something, then I think we'd all sell out.)

The obvious answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42794019)

No. Probably. "No".

my response (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42794049)

honestly if i were you i'd tell them to suck your balls

Ignore it (1)

VonSkippy (892467) | about a year and a half ago | (#42794055)

If it didn't arrive by certified mail requiring a signature, ignore it. Don't respond, don't ask for more details. D O N ' T.

Email has no authority, no authentication, no traceability, nothing.

Responding just adds more burden to you - so don't do it - just ignore that email, and any future emails.

Until you get an official snail mail letter, preferably from a legal firm, relax they're just trolling for a easy fix.

Re:Ignore it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42794241)

And as long as you don't upload a copy of their email to sourceforge.net and then post a link to it on slashdot publicly asking for advice on how to handle it, they'll never even know whether or not you read the thing.

Company A asks Company B to stop using Company C? (3, Interesting)

hack slash (1064002) | about a year and a half ago | (#42794079)

Ridiculous.

They're trying to intimidate without using lawyers because they don't have any legal power to stop you using winapp2 - ignore them.

Read their complaint again (4, Insightful)

3count (1039602) | about a year and a half ago | (#42794105)

> Does Piriform's request have merit?
Did you read the article they are complaining about? It reads like a how-to to rip off Pirform's data. The subtlety of winapp vs. winapp2 may have gotten lost somewhere. But statements like "The Open Source disk cleaner Bleachbit takes advantage of this as it can import all of CCleaner’s cleaning locations." sounds like a real problem.

Is this a poorly worded article or is the author suggesting taking Pirform’s proprietary data? Does your organization support/encourage people to take Pirform’s proprietary data for use in BleachBit?

The winapp2.com site seems to list a data file from Pirform, not the community. This may not be your responsibility, but it certainly puts the whole community into question. How closely aligned are you with that community?

> What is a good response to avoid any ugly situation?"
I would expect you to be an expert in these tools, this market, and the winapp2 community. The fact that you are asking us these questions suggests you are not. Do you support the article? Do you support the use of anything proprietary to be used by BleachBit? Does the winapp2 community support anything inappropriate with Pirform's data? You should take a position on all of these items. Even if what you are doing is technically legal, how you present yourself can attract unnecessary trouble.

> Do I need a lawyer?
Who knows. So the only safe answer is "Yes". But, this is as much of an image issue as it is a legal issue. You might need a marketing person to explain this as much as a lawyer.

Unlikely (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year and a half ago | (#42794107)

IANL, but I don't see how you could be violating their TOS if you're not a licensee.

Winapp2 site states.... (1)

deimios666 (1040904) | about a year and a half ago | (#42794121)

From the Winapp2.ini site (numbering added by me):

1. Winapp2.com is the official website of Winapp2.ini, an addon for CCleaner, System Ninja, and
BleachBit

2. This website and its files are not endorsed or supported in any way by Piriform. They take no responsibility for any damages or problems that arise from its use.

3. Many entries from Winapp2.ini have been included in the official builds of CCleaner over time.

Looks like the " CCleaner data" the email is referring to is actually Winapp2 data included into CCleaner.

DON'T WASTE YOUR CASH ON A LAWYER!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42794133)

just go ahead and remove the feature, it will save you a world of hurt!
don't be a tool to lawyers, i've had a friend who tried and you'll have to remove it anyway and be off $10,000 poorer.

Did you ever agree to their TOS ? (1)

mijxyphoid (1872142) | about a year and a half ago | (#42794195)

Quote from Piriform "As this is against our terms of use, we kindly request that you remove this feature."

Did you even agree to their TOS, or even download, install or execute their software ?
Im not a lawyer (Just another Slashdot nutbag Lol), but I thought that you are not using any of their closed source code in your open source product,
nor are you using their dll's or their data.

Isnt this kinda like a Musician saying please remove the mp3 capability in your player, as this violates the TOS of our music ?

Problem? (1)

Sigvatr (1207234) | about a year and a half ago | (#42794197)

I don't understand what the problem is, this all looks like legal mumbojumbo to me. Can anyone give me a layman's understanding of the situation?

This doesn't make sense... (1)

Cruciform (42896) | about a year and a half ago | (#42794257)

Why is Piriform reaching out when WinApp2's own site says: "This website and its files are not endorsed or supported in any way by Piriform."

Click reply, type "No, thank you."
Send.

I would say you pretty much nailed it (1)

TwineLogic (1679802) | about a year and a half ago | (#42794311)

By posting to Slashdot, you've guaranteed that either they will put up, or slink away in shame. Well done, really. I'm pleased to see all that shame-on-you-lawyers posts on Slashdot lately.

You're Asking About A Windows App? (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about a year and a half ago | (#42794319)

On Slashdot?

Yer not from around heah, are yew?

Re:You're Asking About A Windows App? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42794339)

There's also a Linux version, dumbass.

http://bleachbit.sourceforge.net/download/linux [sourceforge.net]
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