HTC Threatens Handset Hackers With Legal Action For Distributing ROMs


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Jan 27, 2010
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HTC threatens handset hackers with legal action for distributing ROMs


Leaks happen — especially in the mobile world. There are just too many people involved in the process of creating a mobile device to keep things under wraps. Take any given new phone’s OS installation package (known as its “ROM”), for example; when something is as easily copied and distributed as any other piece of software, it’s bound to find its way out eventually.

When these ROMs pop up on developer/hacker forums, it’s generally no big deal — in most cases, the manufacturer doesn’t notice or, if they do, don’t bother to do anything about it. Once someone makes an effort to gather up all these ROMs and distribute them from one unified outlet, however, things get hairy. Such is the case for the popular HTC ROM distribution site Shipped-ROMs, who allegedly just received a Cease & Desist order straight from the desk of HTC’s Legal Counsel.

According to HTC, Shipped-ROMs is stepping out of line by “illegal copying … HTC¡¦s original art work.” Do they use “art work” literally (as in the visuals)? Or are they ambiguously using the term to classify all of their code and other work as art? Who knows. One way or another, HTC is pissed.

If nothing else, you’ve got to praise HTC for their speed: the site, operated by the increasingly well-known hardware hacker Conflipper, is only about a month old. More impressive than HTC’s speed, however, is the site’s: in that month, they’ve managed to accumulate ROMs for just about every HTC handset imaginable, from antiques like the MDA Compact to the just-friggin’-lanched HTC Aria.

So, who does one root for? On one hand, these ROMs allow the hacking community to “cook” up their own custom installs for the hardcore crowd, often unlocking or adding in features that the manufacturer didn’t — and rarely, if ever, do these leaks result in anything malicious trickling down to the end user. On the other, these ROMs are jam-packed with HTC’s intellectual property, which they’ve got some duty to protect.

In the end, I’ll always be rooting for the little guy. My time with a number of HTC devices has been vastly improved by the efforts of the faceless geniuses in the hacking community. If HTC decides to make a misguided effort to stop the hacking community that satiates their poweruser’s thirsts, so be it — but this is the wrong way to go about it. C&D’ing one site won’t do a damn thing; these ROMs will be up on another site (or a torrent tracker, or any one of a bajillion other distribution methods) in the blink of an eye. It’s the classic Napster problem; in making a fuss about these ROMs, you’ve just alerted a bunch of people to their existence. Oh well.

The full text of the C&D can be read at Shipped-Roms. Conflipper says he’ll “do what he can” to keep the site online, but things aren’t looking too good.

HTC threatens handset hackers with legal action for distributing ROMs
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Its ironic that at the end of the legal letter he receives and posts it says:

CONFIDENTIALITY NOTE : The information in this e-mail is confidential and privileged; it is intended for use solely by the individual or entity named as the recipient hereof. Disclosure, copying, distribution, or use of the contents of this e-mail by persons other than the intended recipient is strictly prohibited and may violate applicable laws. If you have received this e-mail in error, please delete the original message and notify us by return email or collect call immediately. Thank you. HTC Corporation
ahh this is the guy giving out the RUUs.

yeah i see why HTC is pissed ;)
its a catch 22 situation. Google phones have profited off the hackers who they know bought the device for that. The Android fanbase is based on a lot of hackers, though there are users who dont root, they would be foolish to think that they are where they are with out the "hackers". Now if some one on the inside is distributing inside info to street hackers then that is wrong.
Which bring up the fact we do not know what are in theses roms we put on our phones. I am just as guilty, if it looks good and it gets good ratings ima give it a try.
The old saying "if you cant beat them, join them". Sort of like building skate parks for skaters so they have a place to skate other then busy sidewalks. HTC/google/moto/etc should have a source section where they can monitor and allow a certain source codes to be used. Heck they could even charge a fee to devs for using it. This way it makes the illegal guy putting out codes almost useless, since devs know they can get official completed source info to make roms. Though this will not end the illegal distribution, it will curve it.
Meh poop on you HTC, way to be a bad apple...You're pooping on the greatest reason for your success...
HTC is also the ones who squashed the original Beautiful Widgets developer.