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Dongles and Support

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Paul Burke, Oct 8, 2003.

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  1. Paul Burke

    Paul Burke Guest

    I've been contacted by a customer who wanted me to hack some calibration
    software that he runs, which is dongle protected. I pointed out the
    illegality of this (not to mention the difficulty), but I have quite a
    lot of sympathy with the guy, in the circumstances.

    He bought an annual time limited license for the software, which is
    essential to the maintenance of some of his products, which utilise
    otehr software supplied by the vendor, and which requires a regular
    recalibration routine. After using it for two years, the vendor has told
    him that they no longer support the software, and will not renew the
    license in future. They will, however, supply a new version with
    additional bells and whistles at a greatly increased price.

    As part of his original decision to use the vendor's software was based
    on the calibration software, he is more than a bit miffed. It would
    appear that he is over a barrel, and that there's legally nothing he can do.

    How common is this? Is there anything you can do apart from avoid the
    supplier in future?

    Paul Burke
     
  2. Ben Pope

    Ben Pope Guest

    Not really. Unless the original agreement was for lifetime support... which
    it seems not.

    I guess thats the problem with relying on another company supplying a
    limited term licence - they always have the option of holding you over a
    barrel.

    Ben
     
  3. In situations like this I'd have no qualms over hacking the dongle and publishing the info
    (anonymously of course!). Companies that use tactics like this need to be taught a lesson.

    Why don't you name the company so others can avoid being screwed over by them in this way ?
     
  4. Phil Hobbs

    Phil Hobbs Guest

    Or just tell them you're going to? They might like some barrel time
    too, just to find out what it feels like.

    Cheers,

    Phil Hobbs
     
  5. John Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

    Electronics Workbench pulled a similar scam: they promised lifetime
    upgrades to purchasers, then renamed the product to Multisim to renege
    on the deal.

    John
     
  6. I'd like a little clarification here. By 'his products', do you mean
    that these are products that your customer produces? Resells? What
    exactly is the relationship between your customer, the product in
    question and the software (written by a third party, I assume)?

    Who do they think they are? Microsoft? ;-)
    That depends on exactly what the relationship between the 'product',
    your customer and the software is. In some cases, unwitting hardware
    manufacturers incorporate the intellectual property of a software
    subcontractor into their product. Without fully understanding the
    licensing terms attached to the embedded software or included drivers,
    the manufacturer is made to be a hostage of the licensor.
     
  7. TCS

    TCS Guest

    You should recomend visiting a local liquor store and robbing it's cash
    register. They he'll have enough money to legitimately run the software.

    Otherwise, he should just learn to do without it.
     
  8. Dismantle it and take some pics.
     
  9. Geo

    Geo Guest

    So does the software stop working at the end of the year?
    What do they supply each year? Replacement software or dongle or both?

    Geo
     
  10. Paul Burke

    Paul Burke Guest

    Yes, it appears to be clever enough to know which computer it is on (by
    reading the hard disk ID I assume) and the date (resetting the computer
    date doesn't reactivate the dongle). On renewal, they supply a pass code
    which would appear to be written to the dongle itself, reactivating it.

    Paul Burke
     
  11. Geo

    Geo Guest

    Hopefully a new hardisk does not stopt it functioning.
    Then they just refuse to supply a new pass code? - That *is* wicked.

    Is it a commercial (e.g.Rainbow) dongle or one of their own devising?
    I seem to recall a (Canadian?) site which offered dongle "repairs" for victims
    of rampant vendors as you describe.

    Geo
     
  12. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

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