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Author Topic: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam  (Read 40406 times)
Lashiec
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« on: August 22, 2011, 02:23:02 PM »

Years and years of hosting software and letting everyone on the net download them for free has apparently taken its toll on CNET's finances, which are now offering software packages wrapped in their own custom installer, complete with the omnipresent toolbar offer. Not only that, but developers subscribed to the Premium Service have the option to provide the original, unmodified installer for its own software, presumably for a meager monthly fee.


Not only this move is completely unacceptable from an user point of view, but also breaks the TOS included with many software installers, which disallow modification of the original installer, or re-distribution of the software under different terms. As you can see in the picture above, even VLC, which is distributed under the GPL, doesn't escape CNET's clutches.

NINJA EDIT: According to the FAQ linked above, registered users still can get the original installer. The rest can go... grab the installer from the developer site themselves.

via Slashdot
« Last Edit: August 22, 2011, 04:19:59 PM by mouser » Logged
skwire
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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2011, 02:53:49 PM »

 mad mad mad mad mad mad

This really pisses me off since some of my software is listed on that site and now has this extra setup garbage.  FWIW, I have never submitted any of my software to ANY site other than my own.  I have sent an email to CNet and have asked them to remove my software from their site.  For posterity, and since I had to submit it via their online form, here is the email I sent them:



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f0dder
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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2011, 02:54:00 PM »

If they're labeling it as an "obligatory download manager" instead of an installer, they can probably get away with it.

This really pisses me off since some of my software is listed on that site and now has this extra setup garbage.  FWIW, I have never submitted any of my software to ANY site other than my own.  I have sent an email to CNet and have asked them to remove my software from their site.  For posterity, and since I had to submit it via their online form, here is the email I sent them:
thumbs up thumbs up thumbs up thumbs up thumbs up thumbs up thumbs up thumbs up thumbs up thumbs up thumbs up
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- carpe noctem
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« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2011, 04:03:58 PM »

This really pisses me off since some of my software is listed on that site and now has this extra setup garbage.  FWIW, I have never submitted any of my software to ANY site other than my own.

Wow! Did not know they were going around grabing things at random. Good to know, thanks.
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Stephen66515
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« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2011, 04:11:11 PM »

This really pisses me off since some of my software is listed on that site and now has this extra setup garbage.  FWIW, I have never submitted any of my software to ANY site other than my own.

Wow! Did not know they were going around grabing things at random. Good to know, thanks.

They have ALWAYS done that, apparently, not enough people submitted work directly to them, so "stealing" it was their only real route to market.

They have now broken SO many T&C's and license agreements by doing this!

I see thousands of cease and desist orders, removal orders, and legal battles in the next few hours!

Bye bye Download.com, you will not be missed after this horrific move.
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mouser
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« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2011, 04:16:18 PM »

Absolutely outrageous and unacceptable.

I predict the pushback on this is going to be so severe that it is reversed within days if not hours.

Just wrong on so many levels -- not to mention it's going to result in freeware authors reputations being harmed as users blame them for something cnet is doing.

It's just so far outside of acceptable behavior -- the outrage is going to be withering.  I give cnet 24 hours before they completely abandon this and being an apology tour.

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cyberdiva
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« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2011, 04:20:45 PM »

As I mentioned in another posting today, Bill Pytlovany, the developer of WinPatrol, wrote with dismay in his blog about CNET's new practice of including a "Download Manager" with software from download.com.  He made it clear that if people download his program from his website, they will not have to deal with unwanted software.
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« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2011, 04:22:38 PM »

Absolutely outrageous and unacceptable.

I predict the pushback on this is going to be so severe that it is reversed within days if not hours.

Just wrong on so many levels -- not to mention it's going to result in freeware authors reputations being harmed as users blame them for something cnet is doing.

It's just so far outside of acceptable behavior -- the outrage is going to be withering.  I give cnet 24 hours before they completely abandon this and being an apology tour.



And I give it 48 before all those "Remove my software before we sue you" e-mails hit their desks.

What they have done, shows they have no care for anybody they serve, or the developers who are listed on there.

Like its already been said, Devs find their stuff on there when they never even submitted it, so if they don't specifically look to see if they ARE listed, how the hell would they know they are on there...thats not exactly giving permission for them to mirror (steal) your software for THEIR benefit.  Ignorance is the route of all evil, and is certainly not bliss in any sence of the word.

For me, CNET has just been removed from my bookmarks and I will never be using the service again.  The mere fact they would even THINK about this, makes me shudder.  I hate all things that have bloatware, and if DC did it (I know it won't), I would also leave here, as many many people also would.  They have just instantly lost the trust of millions upon millions of people in one stupid move, and Developers are going to be going crazy (Those who have bloatware ALREADY in their software are going to be even more pisses as they will lose out on revenue!)
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skwire
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« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2011, 04:49:18 PM »

Wow! Did not know they were going around grabing things at random. Good to know, thanks.

You're welcome.  It's rather startling how many different software repository site my applications are listed on.  To reiterate, I have NEVER submitted my applications to any site other than my own personal site.  Yes, I do make PAD files for each application and, no, I'm not naïve enough to think that they wouldn't get picked up and spread around.  That being said, what really gets my goat is that CNET is probably receiving remuneration (however small  tongue) from my work.  Furthermore, I absolutely cringe at the thought of users of my software thinking I've sold out -- including toolbars and all manner of crap like that.  Ugh.   mad   I pride myself on providing free software which, to me, includes being free of extra crap like this garbage.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2011, 05:27:42 PM by skwire » Logged

TheManRetired
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« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2011, 07:50:54 PM »

This stupid program knocks of my wireless router all the time also, it does not matter if you are a member or not as after you use their tracker to find the updates all you can download is the stupid 444kb wrapper and it then supposedly downloads the program you wanted maybe but I have never gotten it to work and click their help and support does no good as two weeks now I have been waiting for an answer and gotten nothing from them. I suggest using filehippo instead.
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vlastimil
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« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2011, 04:46:13 AM »

Ooops, very bad move from download.com. Another software download site to add to the ignore list.

Up until now I have considered download.com one of the better download sites. Unlike other sites, they sometimes did a relatively thorough review of the applications they listed and the applications were approved in a reasonable time. Oh, well. The self-hosting of the installers was annoying though, but I thought they did it to guarantee functionality for their users.

Anyway, is there a "good" download site left? By good, I mean they do reviews or at least look at the software they list. Maybe softpedia.com and some specialized sites like software.informer.com, alternative.to, portablefreeware.com. Anything else?

48 hours from me as well :-)
« Last Edit: August 23, 2011, 04:50:21 AM by vlastimil » Logged
40hz
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« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2011, 08:43:54 AM »

Try www.snapfiles.com  Thmbsup
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app103
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« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2011, 08:52:14 AM »

Anyway, is there a "good" download site left? By good, I mean they do reviews or at least look at the software they list. Maybe softpedia.com and some specialized sites like software.informer.com, alternative.to, portablefreeware.com. Anything else?

Consider Wakoopa as a software research tool. Applications usually have user submitted descriptions, user submitted screenshots, and user submitted reviews...by people that actually use the software, which is how it ends up listed on their site. It's a social network focused on software for Windows, Mac, Linux, and web apps.

They don't host any downloads and don't wrap anything in crapware. Any links to obtain an application lead to the developer's site. And if you want to pitch in and help with the wiki-style editing of application info, just join the site.

They also have their own software application to track the apps you use, if you wish to use that (I do). I have reached "Overlord" user status on the site, which means I am one of the many moderators that help keep the site spam free. There is also a DonationCoder team with 24 members which I am the manager of, although we don't really discuss anything on the team page.
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40hz
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« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2011, 09:11:50 AM »

Wilder Security has words from a CNet staffer up on one of it's forums. Buried in a pile of negative other posts, there's now a very non-inspiring semi-official response from CNet.
Quote
Re: Cnet Download.com Installer
Hi,

My name is Catherine Hwang on the CNET Download.com team and wanted to get in touch with you all to address this issue regarding the CNET Download.com Installer.

The all-new CNET Download.com Installer is indeed a new feature we rolled out in the recent weeks, but it does not force a toolbar on any users. Instead, the users will encounter a single offer for an additional 3rd-party software during the download process, which is clearly disclosed and provides the option to accept or decline the offer before proceeding with the download. In addition, we only show offers for software that is approved for listing on CNET Download.com.

For more information, please visit our FAQ on Upload.com - http://cnet.custhelp.com/.../answers/detail/a_id/2065 and please feel free to reach out with any questions you may have. We welcome your feedback to make this a better experience for users and developers alike.

Thanks,
Catherine
Senior Partner Manager
CNET Download.com
 cheesy
« Last Edit: August 23, 2011, 09:15:03 AM by 40hz » Logged

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mouser
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« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2011, 09:16:02 AM »

It seems I was overly optimistic in predicting that the outrage over this would force cnet to immediately stop this practice Sad

I'm not sure what we can do to put a top to this other than continuing to express outrage everywhere we can and demand that our software is removed from CNet's services, and cause enough heat that CNet realizes how badly their reputation is going to be damaged if they do not reverse course.

The response to my email to them telling them to remove all donationcoder software was to tell me to purchase their premium service if i wanted to remove their bundled installer crap.  In other words this is one big extortion racket.
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Stephen66515
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« Reply #15 on: August 23, 2011, 09:26:37 AM »

It seems I was overly optimistic in predicting that the outrage over this would force cnet to immediately stop this practice Sad

I'm not sure what we can do to put a top to this other than continuing to express outrage everywhere we can and demand that our software is removed from CNet's services, and cause enough heat that CNet realizes how badly their reputation is going to be damaged if they do not reverse course.

The response to my email to them telling them to remove all donationcoder software was to tell me to purchase their premium service if i wanted to remove their bundled installer crap.  In other words this is one big extortion racket.

Legal threats might be the next step.
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app103
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« Reply #16 on: August 23, 2011, 09:32:34 AM »

The response to my email to them telling them to remove all donationcoder software was to tell me to purchase their premium service if i wanted to remove their bundled installer crap.  In other words this is one big extortion racket.

Wait a minute...they won't remove your software from their site?

Legal threats might be the next step.

I agree. Sounds like you might have to send them a DMCA takedown notice to get them to comply with your wishes for removal.
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wraith808
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« Reply #17 on: August 23, 2011, 09:39:31 AM »

The response to my email to them telling them to remove all donationcoder software was to tell me to purchase their premium service if i wanted to remove their bundled installer crap.  In other words this is one big extortion racket.

Wait a minute...they won't remove your software from their site?

I think it's a matter of it going to a person that didn't understand your request, or an automated reply system.  What e-mail address did you send it to?
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vlastimil
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« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2011, 10:13:25 AM »

At least you got a response to your email, mouser. I got nothing so far  Angry

Their blasted installer requires admin permissions! That totally destroys the show for all portable tools  Sad

----

snapfiles is one of the better ones, though they sometimes do not review/approve a program for years - I even tried to pay for their express review (years ago), but they did not review it anyway. I got my money back after asking for them, but no explanation. Their approve process is not transparent. Maybe my software was competing with owner's friend software or something like that. Who know?

I did not know about waakoopa, it looks like a nice alternative to software.informer.com  Thmbsup
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40hz
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« Reply #19 on: August 23, 2011, 10:21:56 AM »

I think a simple e-mail to their legal department informing them you do not agree to their revised terms of service and request your software immediately be removed from their site should be sufficient. If it isn't, there's always the DMCA notification route.

You might, however, want to be just a tiny bit discreet as to how heavy you get with them right up front. It's going to take some time before the degree of outrage registers with those in charge. And possibly a little longer before they realize the obligatory stalling moves and spin doctoring aren't going to sway people towards their story.  So when they do abandon this practice (which I'm sure they eventually will) you may want to be listed with them again. Making legal threats may make them think twice about letting your app back in.

Just something to think about if you're a developer.

Of course, if you don't care, by all means have at them.  Grin
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« Reply #20 on: August 23, 2011, 10:32:16 AM »

In this day-and-age, aren't we meant to create a facebook page and start a petition or campaign to highlight cnet's crass new system.
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mouser
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« Reply #21 on: August 23, 2011, 10:38:20 AM »

Quote
Their blasted installer requires admin permissions! That totally destroys the show for all portable tools

Good point.  all of my original installers are zip-compatible and can simply be unzipped and used portably.  The CNet installer destroys this.

The absolute worst part about this CNet travesty is that users will blame the authors for this bundled crap, assuming that the authors have purposefully wrapped their software in the CNet wrapper in exchange for financial gain.
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mahesh2k
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« Reply #22 on: August 23, 2011, 10:58:21 AM »

Quote
In this day-and-age, aren't we meant to create a facebook page and start a petition or campaign to highlight cnet's crass new system.
+1. Maybe sites like "Makeuseof" and "Lockergnome" and "Ghacks" can help spread the word ?
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Stoic Joker
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« Reply #23 on: August 23, 2011, 11:17:23 AM »

In this day-and-age, aren't we meant to create a facebook page and start a petition or campaign to highlight cnet's crass new system.

Does it come with a screw cnet logo we could all put on our sites linking to the why article/page (for a little SEO boost).
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40hz
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« Reply #24 on: August 23, 2011, 11:29:19 AM »

Quote
In this day-and-age, aren't we meant to create a facebook page and start a petition or campaign to highlight cnet's crass new system.
+1. Maybe sites like "Makeuseof" and "Lockergnome" and "Ghacks" can help spread the word ?

Ghacks is already on it. So'sHackerNews.

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