Poll

What do you think is ok?

You should pay for everything.
18 (7.3%)
Tweaking hardware is ok, downloading or tweaking software is not.
22 (8.9%)
Tweaking hardware and software is ok, if it is mine I can do what I want.
155 (63%)
Everything is ok as long as it saves me money.
31 (12.6%)
Something else.
20 (8.1%)

Total Members Voted: 237

Author Topic: Stealing: The double standard?  (Read 92226 times)

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Online PA0PBZ

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Stealing: The double standard?
« on: March 03, 2013, 03:09:20 pm »
Hi All,

Something that has been puzzling me for a while, please read on. I will try to keep this first post free from my own opinion.
When someone mentions that he is downloading not-free software the reactions are mostly "you should not do that".
On the other hand, tweaking hardware to enable more options than you paid for seems OK and cheered at.

Some examples:

Changing an Agilent DMM into a more expensive model  :-+
Downloading Altium  :--
Making the Rigol 1052 into the 1102  :-+

So what is the difference? The only thing I can see is that you already own the hardware and are just doing a modification, but would that mean that changing software to enable more options is OK too?

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alm

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2013, 03:20:18 pm »
I would say neither of them qualifies for stealing, since stealing requires depriving someone of property in all jurisdictions I'm familiar with. Neither in the case of downloading Altium, nor in the case of upgrading the scope/DMM do Altium/Agilent/Rigol actually lose the original item. It's not like a DS1102E disappears from the Rigol warehouse every time someone modifies their DS1052E.

Like you, I don't see a clear distinction why removing artificial limitations from hardware (be it feature or time-limited trials like with the Agilent scopes) compared to removing limitations (eg. time-limited trial) from software. In both cases you can either argue that you are using functionality you haven't paid for, or that you just modified it to make full use of the product you 'own'. Then you can argue about whether you own or license software or firmware that you paid money for.
 

Online PA0PBZ

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2013, 03:35:53 pm »
Then you can argue about whether you own or license software or firmware that you paid money for.

Yes, that was one of the answers I prepared for all the "If it is mine" voters, but that could start another discussion: Do you feel you 'own' the software when actually you only have a license to use it. Anyway, going off-topic myself now...
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Offline ftransform

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2013, 03:41:38 pm »
 

Offline Marco

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2013, 04:13:02 pm »
I have to agree, changing use limitations on firmware is not fundamentally different than on trial ware which runs on your PC.

That said there are mitigating circumstances ... sure you don't pay Rigol and Agilent the full amount, but at least you gave them some money ...
 

Offline Thor-Arne

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2013, 04:34:05 pm »
IMO one should pay for what one use.

Any piracy or hardware hacking will only backfire in the long run.

In example; if enough Rigol 1052's is modded it's expected that the upgrade versions will be discontinued at one point and only the "full" models will be available.
 

alm

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2013, 04:37:02 pm »
I believe the cost of the DS1102E is now pretty close to the DS1052E, so discontinuation of the DS1052E would hardly be a big deal. It also made the hack somewhat pointless.
 

Offline Lightages

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2013, 04:57:13 pm »
If I  buy a car and then modify it I am doing nothing wrong morally or otherwise. If I buy an oscilloscope and modify it the same applies. I have paid for the item and I can even put a different badge on it and resell it as if I was the manufacturer.

Downloading and/copying software without paying for it is a different matter. The person/company making the software depend on people paying for their work and if no money changes hands then there is a problem at least morally.

Modifying software to change its function is no different than modifying you car. That is as long as the modification is not to bypass the protection scheme the person/company has placed in their software to prevent people copying the software or enabling functions blocked in a freeware version.

The problem is we now get into a grey area, a big one. With so many pieces of hardware being mass produced with the same physical capabilities and with software controlling the feature set we now have the problem that we are hacking the software part to make the hardware work differently. If a person does this by reverse engineering and writing clean room code to do so then it is the same as just modifying a car again, no problem. If a person makes the modifications by bypassing a protection scheme in the existing software then it is more like copying/downloading software.

As someone already said, this last situation is different in a way than just outright copying software without paying for it. In this situation the hardware and software contained have been paid for and the modification "robs" the company only of the extra profit they would make if you paid for the full capabilities. What most people don't realize is that for many companies the lowest model makes no money and the higher priced ones do. In that case their amortization of the model line is thrown out of whack and they might not make a profit at all if everyone buys the bottom model and hacks the firmware to make it the higher model.

So my last question/point: In the past I purchased a cassette tape deck, and my friend one two models lower. They had very similar functions. They had very different performance specs. The manuals included the schematics. After comparing the schematics in became very apparent that the lower model had EXTRA parts. These extra parts were added to degrade the performance, ie. caps across signal paths to degrade the frequency response. The manufacturer had done this to save money of making different boards for different models. Adding capacitors and changing a few passives was far cheaper. We clipped out his extra parts and instantly had a tape deck that performed the same as mine, but he paid half the price.

I am sure no one person on this forum would say that we did anything morally wrong and certainly nothing illegal. How is this any different from modifying the DS1052 to make it work like a DS1102?
« Last Edit: March 03, 2013, 05:00:40 pm by Lightages »
 

Offline MikeK

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2013, 05:05:32 pm »
I don't know what Altium is, so I can't comment on that.

But if you own the product it's yours to do as you wish.  If you, or someone else, figures out how to hack it...that should never outlawed.  If you're renting it, that's a different story.

Haven't they already discontinued the DS1052E?  The few vendors I've checked only sell the 1102 now.  And I see this as Rigol's fault.  They should have produced ONE scope, the 1102, not two.  And I really wish they would make the firmware open-source...there's an entire community who could improve on it.
 

alm

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2013, 05:10:59 pm »
How is this different to a piece of software with some extra code added to it to impose limitations (eg. time-limited trial, or board size limitations like in Eagle)? In both cases you could either argue that you are depriving the vendor of income because you didn't pay for the more expensive model, or that you are removing artificial limitations on a product you acquired legally.

If the manufacturer is losing money on their bottom end model scope/DMM, isn't it much nicer to download a piece of software without costing the manufacturer money? In both cases you could argue for lost income (although probably not for the same company, someone illegally downloading Altium would be much more likely to buy Eagle or Diptrace, or even use Kicad). But at least in the software case (especially if you download it via file sharing networks so you don't cost the vendor any bandwidth) they're not actively losing money on it.
 

Offline bradleytron

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2013, 05:20:12 pm »
If I  buy a car and then modify it I am doing nothing wrong morally or otherwise. If I buy an oscilloscope and modify it the same applies. I have paid for the item and I can even put a different badge on it and resell it as if I was the manufacturer.

Downloading and/copying software without paying for it is a different matter. The person/company making the software depend on people paying for their work and if no money changes hands then there is a problem at least morally.

Modifying software to change its function is no different than modifying you car. That is as long as the modification is not to bypass the protection scheme the person/company has placed in their software to prevent people copying the software or enabling functions blocked in a freeware version.

The problem is we now get into a grey area, a big one. With so many pieces of hardware being mass produced with the same physical capabilities and with software controlling the feature set we now have the problem that we are hacking the software part to make the hardware work differently. If a person does this by reverse engineering and writing clean room code to do so then it is the same as just modifying a car again, no problem. If a person makes the modifications by bypassing a protection scheme in the existing software then it is more like copying/downloading software.

As someone already said, this last situation is different in a way than just outright copying software without paying for it. In this situation the hardware and software contained have been paid for and the modification "robs" the company only of the extra profit they would make if you paid for the full capabilities. What most people don't realize is that for many companies the lowest model makes no money and the higher priced ones do. In that case their amortization of the model line is thrown out of whack and they might not make a profit at all if everyone buys the bottom model and hacks the firmware to make it the higher model.

So my last question/point: In the past I purchased a cassette tape deck, and my friend one two models lower. They had very similar functions. They had very different performance specs. The manuals included the schematics. After comparing the schematics in became very apparent that the lower model had EXTRA parts. These extra parts were added to degrade the performance, ie. caps across signal paths to degrade the frequency response. The manufacturer had done this to save money of making different boards for different models. Adding capacitors and changing a few passives was far cheaper. We clipped out his extra parts and instantly had a tape deck that performed the same as mine, but he paid half the price.

I am sure no one person on this forum would say that we did anything morally wrong and certainly nothing illegal. How is this any different from modifying the DS1052 to make it work like a DS1102?

I'd like to chime in on the software portion of this discussion. Only a fraction of the revenues generated by selling software is used to pay the worker's. The question, in my mind, is how bloated is the profiteering part of this process? So, if greed is at play on the part of these companies are they not screwing us, the customers? Just my two cents!
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2013, 05:23:25 pm »
If a manufacturer puts limitations in their product, they are aware of the risks, and if someone hacks it, that's just tough.
It is possible to make these things secure, but if they don't want to put the time and money into doing so, they must accept the risks.
the bottom line is the customer owns it, and can do what they like with it.
I think that (some people within) many manufacturers quietly don't really mind, as the extra sales of a hackable product may well take enough market from their competitors to outweigh any lost sales of higher models.
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Online VEGETA

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2013, 05:37:37 pm »
Quote
But at least in the software case (especially if you download it via file sharing networks so you don't cost the vendor any bandwidth) they're not actively losing money on it.

Well, It's not about bandwidth really. If you downloaded a hacked one (patch, keygen, crack,...) via any sharing network like rapidshare or so, we still using it illegally right?

The whole idea is about whether it's proper to use hacked software or not. I don't know about Altium but I say older versions like 10 on many sharing sites with a working crack that let's you use it full-feature and forever... Hence, just like you bought it!

^
Do you find this legal?

If I didn't understand the topic, please point out where.

 
 

Online rsjsouza

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2013, 05:51:34 pm »
Modifying software to change its function is no different than modifying you car.
Usually when you are installing the software (or downloading a free trial) you are bound to the "End User License Agreement" - a contract that nobody reads and everybody blindly clicks "Yes"... :)

This is a contract electronically signed by you which usually states you can't reverse engineer, modify, etc. This is the piece that makes software hacking/copying/etc illegal, and the "crime" is breach of contract.

Even if you are in a country different than the one of the original software manufacturer, answering "yes" still makes you legally bound - in practice, it obviously is a lot harder to pursue any infringement unless the local law enforces its validity and sets the penalties.

I am sure no one person on this forum would say that we did anything morally wrong and certainly nothing illegal.
Your example is a good one; the cassete tapes do not have any contracts, thus you didn't do anything illegal. On the other hand, DVDs have Macrovision which scrambles the images if you try to record a DVD to a VHS tape. If I am not mistaken, I think the DVDs still come with a license agreement that disallows tampering with it - obviously the situation changes if your VCR simply ignores this mechanism (check here)

How is this any different from modifying the DS1052 to make it work like a DS1102?
Regarding the Rigol, I wouldn't see anything wrong unless they come with a printed version of such End User License Agreement...

But as Thor-Arne mentioned, if you abuse the system the system always fights back. One possible consequence: Rigol still offers the two models but with a higher price tag to cover the expenses for an anti-hack mechanism.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2013, 06:02:36 pm by rsjsouza »
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Offline G7PSK

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2013, 05:53:36 pm »
If you purchase a product it is your's to do what you wish with, some of the electronic's manufacturers (the one whose name is at the front alphabetically springs to mind) seem to think that you only have a lease on it.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2013, 06:52:40 pm by G7PSK »
 

Offline houdini

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2013, 06:05:48 pm »
i dont think pirated software is a loss in most cases the people that pirate it would never pay the rediculous amounts for the software because they cant afford it.  Also i think its only wrong if you get caught applies here.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2013, 06:09:31 pm by houdini »
 

Offline hlavac

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2013, 06:17:46 pm »
The fundamental problem is it is not really fair to sell copies of software.
Copy costs nothing to make and has no value.
Nobody deserves money for doing nothing.
The value is in actually creating the first original of the software and that is what should be paid for!
We need ways to pay programmers to work on open source, free software.
Until the sale of digital copy fallacy is eliminated, there can be no peace!
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alm

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2013, 06:18:28 pm »
Usually when you are installing the software (or downloading a free trial) you are bound to the "End User License Agreement" - a contract that nobody reads and everybody blindly clicks "Yes"... :)
I'm quite sure many modern instruments will come with an EULA. I even seem to recall some instruments showing a screen with a reference to the EULA on boot.

This is a contract electronically signed by you which usually states you can't reverse engineer, modify, etc. This is the piece that makes software hacking/copying/etc illegal, and the "crime" is breach of contract.
The validity of this contract is under debate in some jurisdictions, since you are not usually offered the contract before purchasing the product. Getting your money back if you refuse the license is also often almost impossible. Breach of contract is not a crime in any jurisdiction I'm familiar with, it's usually considered a civil matter. A contract is an agreement between two private parties. It's just a piece of paper (or computer storage) written by one or both of these parties, it is not law.

Circumventing copy protection and anti-counterfeiting mechanisms is considered a crime in many jurisdictions, however. For example the digital millennium copyright act (DMCA) in the US. The EU and Canada have implemented similar directives. I'm sure Australia copied and rubber stamped the US proposal. There has also been pressure on other countries like China to adopt similar legislation, no idea how successful this was.
 

Online PA0PBZ

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2013, 07:03:49 pm »
If I  buy a car and then modify it I am doing nothing wrong morally or otherwise.

I have a Ford Focus which comes in many models, but this model had either 150HP or 180HP as an € 2500 option. Exactly the same hardware, the difference is in the ECU mapping. Of course I bought the 150HP model and changed the mapping in the ECU to that of the 180HP model. I don't feel bad about it although I'm sure morally I should have paid for the option.

A few years back I found an Agilent N1996a spectrum analyser on EBay, which already had the tracking generator, RF amplifier, demodulation, stimulus response hardware and a few more built in but you had to buy the keys to use it. When I also found that it runs on Linux I bought it and enabled all options. I don't feel bad about it.

Usually when you are installing the software (or downloading a free trial) you are bound to the "End User License Agreement" - a contract that nobody reads and everybody blindly clicks "Yes

I don't think that is even legal where I live.

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Offline M. András

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #19 on: March 03, 2013, 07:22:19 pm »
maybe they stop making the same hardware for higher end models and lower end models with only software difference if more people will publish modifications for them etc, as for softwares, music, film, etc. they count every lost opportunity to sell the same crap or insanely expensive zeros and ones, if you didnt buy it from them or distributors/stores. in reality they lose nothing of bucnh of people downloads their "products" only a possible buyer but most likely that invidual would never buy that anyway so its would be count as loss for them. in fact someone already bought that piece of data they are so eager to flag as "piracy" or huge losses while its just "planned income" which they miss, it would be real loss if they lose the master copy of the same thing with source codes and original records if its a film or anything else. this would be stealing, but while they already got their money for that piece of data its just another copy nothing else you dont harm anyone with that unless you are counting on the unsold copies in the warehouse, which would be still there anyway.

they sould really learn not to give the whole package with softwares with parts of its disabled or bound to license keyes. or not at the prices they charge for it, take a look at the adobe graphics packages, or any cad/cam software.

for hardwares, i do not care what they say i paid for it i can do anything with it, its mine from the momment they sold it for me, they made it and i own it.
if you throw it out on the window you wreck it etc, its the same as modifying it as you like, the original product you bought would be improved or totally wrecked, both cases the manufacturer lose no money on it or earn money from it, but they love to prohibit  to modify it...
 

Offline RCMR

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #20 on: March 03, 2013, 07:49:18 pm »
As someone who has spent a fair proportion of their life making  a living from writing software, I always pay for the software that I use.

Just about everyone else I know of has a cracked version of Sony Vegas to do their video editing -- mine's bought and paid for.

Lots of folk have illegally downloaded their favourite movies from the Net -- mine are store-bought disks.

Sure, I have some music that's been downloaded from the Net -- but that's only because when I couldn't find anyone who actually stocked the albums concerned so I *couldn't* buy them.

Also, sometimes I might watch a movie from YouTube by downloading and burning to a DVD or a USB drive -- but if I like the movie, I go out and buy the disk legitimately.  That's exactly what I did with Iron Sky.

As for hardware mods however, well I figure that if someone buys a piece of hardware I'm selling and then "improves it", good on them!  With the Rigol 1052 then I see no issue with "upgrading" it to the 100MHz version.   If I were selling a piece of hardware that relied on keycodes to unlock firmware functionality I might kick myself if someone figured out the upgrade process but I would consider it "my bad" that they were able to do that.

Using pirated software isn't theft of software but it sometimes does deprive the rightful owner of the intellectual property of their justly deserved revenues.

And there's no point in suggesting that the software vendors "make too much money anyway" so it's okay to deprive them of revenues.  If they're smart enough to create something that people will buy at the listed price then good for them!  If you think it's too expensive then just try writing your own version and selling it in competition.  You might find that the price isn't really that bad after all.
 

alm

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #21 on: March 03, 2013, 08:23:58 pm »
Upgrading the DS1052E to 100 MHz by changing the model number (sometimes) deprives Rigol of their justly deserved income made by selling the DS1102E for a premium price. Why this double standard for hacking software to have features you didn't pay for as opposed to hacking hardware to have bandwidth you didn't pay for?
 

Offline jancumps

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #22 on: March 03, 2013, 08:25:48 pm »
What is the difference? The Rigol trick is a software hack too.
 

Online VEGETA

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #23 on: March 03, 2013, 08:38:59 pm »
"Lots of folk have illegally downloaded their favourite movies from the Net -- mine are store-bought disks.

Sure, I have some music that's been downloaded from the Net -- but that's only because when I couldn't find anyone who actually stocked the albums concerned so I *couldn't* buy them."

that's simply what a double standard means. If you couldn't that doesn't mean you get them illegally. I don't hate downloading movies from the net or so cuz all my movies like this... but to say it's right if I "couldn't" buy them.. no.

the talk about copyrights or so will continue forever... few months ago this SOPA appeared to lol-eliminate the piracy in the net and they had an epic faliure. simply because they can't! no matter what you do there will be someone that will hack it or find a way.

they closed megaupload and few other major filehosts but people use torrents which can't be controlled... so, after that SOPA, movie rips increased and nothing changed. I can get an episode from a japanese TV and rip it then upload it over the net with no problem.

sorry for forking the topic but the talk about copyrights got me excited.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Stealing: The double standard?
« Reply #24 on: March 03, 2013, 08:53:20 pm »
What is the difference? The Rigol trick is a software hack too.

You can argue that it's not "hacking" at all.
It's simply using the existing commands in the unit, using an existing user interface.

The is a huge difference between hacking hardware and downloading hacked software for free. With hardware you have to buy it in the first place. The company gets their money, people stay employed, the economy keeps turning.
If the hardware companies don't want people to hack their hardware, don't make it hackable. It was their choice to deliberately put features in that can be exploited.
With the Rigol hack for example, sales exploded, and the company made more money than it did before. They shouldn't be complaining.

When you download pirated software, the author doesn't get paid a cent. And the same rule applies to crippled software as it does with hardware. If the software companies don't want people to hack their software, don't make it hackable. It was their choice to deliberately put features in that can be exploited.
But of course the huge difference between hardware and software remains, that it's trivial (and free) to copy software. You can't do that with hardware unless you physically steal something that the manufacturer paid to build.

People can argue all they want over what's "stealing" and what's not, but you can't argue the huge difference between hardware (that you have to buy) and software which has no inherent tangible value, and can be trivially copied for no cost.

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