Monday, April 08, 2013

Don't Steal My Freeware!

I write software for a living. Yet in my spare time I publish useful freeware utilities that I think the Windows community or developers at large may find useful. This is my way of thanking others for sharing their expertise with me. But just because the software is made available for free, doesn't mean it isn't copyrighted.
Recently I was on the phone to a client and needed to look up some information on my SMSQ freeware program. Rather than typing in the URL I did a Google search and to my horror discovered that some random web site called Software Informer had taken it upon themselves to list some of my utilities on their site, and make them available for download. I was horrified.
How dare they? They didn't ask for permission, their listings are incomplete and badly written, and they don't even have the decency to provide an honest link to the original page. I sent a letter to the address provided, and got the following boilerplate reply from some jackass called Kasey Bloome:
Dear Donn,
Please, try considering first what we are:
We (software.informer.com) do not sell anything at all. Our software database serves solely as a source of information; for that purpose, under each software entry, we only provide links to sites run by the actual developers (or copyright owners) of that software - including the download links (if there are any). None of the listed programs (with the only exception of 'Software Informer –°lient', developed by us) is hosted on our site physically or offered as an illegitimate download in any other way.
Each program gets into our database automatically after it is installed by at least one user of siClient (http://software-informer.software.informer.com/). That is, a user clicks 'Refresh' in the client, and our site gets the info about the existence of the new program.
The description (until the program is reviewed) is obtained from the program's PAD file. Alternatively, you can use a link "Suggest a correction" available at the program individual page to change all the information you see fit.
Please, read more about our service at http://software.informer.com/help.html
and about using our siClient: http://software.informer.com/help/
If you still insist on removing any reference to your software, please let me know.
Best wishes,
Kasey Bloome
partners@informer.com
Needless to say I did let them know, and they have done nothing, other than continue to knowingly violate my copyright.
So why get into a big froth when the software is free? Well, firstly, their poor quality listing is a bad reflection on the quality of my software. Secondly, the links links they provide are bogus: Their link to Playsound looks like this:
http://software.informer.com/go/go.php?n=877768&go=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.openaccess.co.za%2FBlackAndWhiteInc%2FPlaySound.htm
instead of like this:
http://www.openaccess.co.za/BlackAndWhiteInc/PlaySound.htm
This is the form that search engines use to provide page ranking. So not only are they making money out of my site, but they are burying the original site in the search listings. It sucks.

And in spite of their public assurance that they only provide links for the download, they also provide a mirror download:
http://download.informer.com/stor/276791/playsoundsetup.exe
i.e. they lied. Kasey Bloome is a liar and a thief.

They also mention the use of a PAD file: not one of my programs uses such a file. So as far as I can see they are happy to deliberately violate my copyright, lie to me, and ignore my complaints. What's more, their SI Client program spies on the user's list of installed programs and reports these back to the web site. In most circles this is known as Spyware, and is actively discouraged and removed by honest users.

Update 1pm: It seems that the people at Software Informer have had their own software copied. Serves them right.
Update 3pm: Casey Bloome wrote:
All the products of your company have been successfully removed from our site. We apologize for the delay and any inconvenience this may have caused.
But the illegal mirror download files are still there, and my company name is still listed. More ducking and diving, but then I expect nothing less from this kind of scumbag.

Update 5pm: It's not only Software Informer that has been doing this kind of thing, although they are by far the worst. I have also sent email removal requests to:
Then there are the more difficult ones to contact
I have also had to re-engineer my web site to check where the download is coming from, and then either allow the download or not. What a pain. I have replaced all the static EXE downloads with my BOFH program, which generates random meaningless error messages, such as this one:

See also: "There is only one AccessOpener" written 5 years ago.

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