Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Message from Creative: Stop making our products work!

Well, I posted this on Slashdot, as I am sure there were other submissions as well.

Here is the story - a user named "Daniel_K" "modded" (I hate that term) the driver suite that Creative distributes for their sound cards to re-enable some features their driver disables in Windows Vista. Notably, these features work just fine in Windows XP, and Creative seems to be pushing this as a way to make customers upgrade to a new card, the same as the old, but with a driver that works (for now).

Sound fishy? You bet.

To quote their VP (original thread archived here):

Daniel_K:

We are aware that you have been assisting owners of our Creative sound cards for some time now, by providing unofficial driver packages for Vista that deliver more of the original functionality that was found in the equivalent XP packages for those sound cards. In principle we don't have a problem with you helping users in this way, so long as they understand that any driver packages you supply are not supported by Creative. Where we do have a problem is when technology and IP owned by Creative or other companies that Creative has licensed from, are made to run on other products for which they are not intended. We took action to remove your thread because, like you, Creative and its technology partners think it is only fair to be compensated for goods and services. The difference in this case is that we own the rights to the materials that you are distributing. By enabling our technology and IP to run on sound cards for which it was not originally offered or intended, you are in effect, stealing our goods. When you solicit donations for providing packages like this, you are profiting from something that you do not own. If we choose to develop and provide host-based processing features with certain sound cards and not others, that is a business decision that only we have the right to make.

Although you say you have discontinued your practice of distributing unauthorized software packages for Creative sound cards we have seen evidence of them elsewhere along with donation requests from you. We also note in a recent post of yours on these forums, that you appear to be contemplating the release of further packages. To be clear, we are asking you to respect our legal rights in this matter and cease all further unauthorized distribution of our technology and IP. In addition we request that you observe our forum rules and respect our right to enforce those rules. If you are in any doubt as to what we would consider unacceptable then please request clarification through one of our forum moderators before posting.

Phil O'Shaughnessy
VP Corporate Communications
Creative Labs Inc.

Mr. O'Shaugnessy, do the right thing and resign, because you know nothing about how software developers or the market work. You clearly fell off the cluetrain. Go crawl back under the rock you crawled out under from, or maybe some dying music label that sells crappy music but wants to blame the Internet will hire you.

Creative's damage control folks have now deleted this post on their forum, and replaced it with this:

We have read the strong feedback about Creative's forum post regarding driver development by Daniel_k and other outside parties. Creative's message posted on our behalf by our Company spokesperson tried to address our concern about the improper distribution of certain software which is the property of other companies. However, we did not make it as clear as we would have liked that we do support driver development by independent third parties. The huge task of developing driver updates to accommodate the many changes in the Vista operating system and the extensive testing required, including the lengthy Vista certification requirements for audio, makes it very difficult for Creative to develop updates for all past products. Outside developers have been very helpful to Creative and our customers by developing updates for many of our Sound Blaster products, and we do support and appreciate these efforts. This however does not extend to the unauthorized distribution of other companies' property. We hope to work out a mutually agreeable method for working with Daniel_k in supporting his efforts in driver development. Going forward, we are committed to doing a better job of working more closely with third parties to support their development for our products and our customers.
Message Edited by Dale-CL on 04-01-2008 03:49 PM
Sounds like that reverse gear grinding away. In short, Creative's position is:

  • The technology daniel_k re-enabled for Vista was only licensed from the original creators for use under Windows XP.
  • Daniel_k was wrong to accept money to support is "illegal" habit. (If you're claiming that I only have a license to my hardware, you guys need to get your heads examined. It's like Ford telling you you don't have a license to put Yokohama tires on that car.)
  • They're really mad that he made their kind-of-crappy audio processing suite work with cards other than ones made by Creative. Boo-hoo.
Tough cookies, Creative. Makes me glad I passed your products by the last couple of years.

Daniel_k got responded on Wired - good for him to do this in more mainstream press.

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