Monday, 28 March 2011

Credit where it is Due?

As many will be aware Dassault Systèmes Draftsight running under Linux is now available for users to download and use. I have always been interested in looking closely at Draftsight and have told many (students) to do so; however, I have also told them to be very careful using software from a software vendor who states, within their EULA, it “automatically collects certain system data and transmits the data to Dassault Systèmes for support purposes.”

There is good reason to be wary of software developers. Significant software developers, you would think, should know better, but as we have seen, given these companies are manned by people, they are also subject to the vagaries and failings of people. One of those failings is knowing what is right and wrong and or reasonable business behaviour. In my opinion taking data off customers computers without their knowledge, and or giving the customers complete control over the process, is neither correct or reasonable, to do, nor justifiable in any sense.

That said, when Draftsight first became available, what I saw as a great opportunity was derailed by Dassault’s wording in the EULA; compounded by Draftsight’s management who chose to ignore, three (3), email requests to discuss the conditions found in the Draftsight EULA. The EULA and the managements silence meant there existed little reason to trust the company and or make further recommendations. To this day my requests have been ignored but, maybe not the reason for them?

Hearing of the release of the Linux version and knowing the value of this release for some and students I decided to have another look, the EULA being my first stop. Had it have been the same I would have gone no further, but it was not; so I read further and, what I found was that the clause - relating to the removal of data - was missing? Good!

So, Credit where it is Due. Whether a conscious decision or an oversight the important fact is there is no indication, at least in the EULA, Dassault has, within the Draftsight software, intrusive Trojans or functionality similar to Autodesk’s Trojans and CIP: something we are about to check as thoroughly as we can. My stubbornness and skepticism remains though; the capability may still exist within the software?

If there is one thing my ‘stoush’ with Autodesk has taught me is software EULA, similar to Draftsight’s, are NOT legally binding/enforceable contracts; despite developers attempts to use wording, within the documents, stating this as fact. I treat all digitally “Accept”ed, non- negotiable EULA equally: they must be read even though and, as is the case with me, I do NOT accept their terms nor their claimed legal enforceability, Dassault’s EULA are no exception.

So in moving forward: I want to test, to get to know and probably promote Draftsight (particularly for students) for the obvious reasons of access, cost and for the important flow-on effects available to industry. The software will, quite possibly, be used in connection with nuclear and chemical systems, missile propulsion systems and in other industry sensitive areas. Therefore when there existed the capability and an open statement - within the EULA - defining what is totally unacceptable business behaviour and, considering Dassault's managements reticence to discus their EULA, I was not, previously, prepared to proceed

Whether the capability to remove business data still exists or not (it may?), with the current EULA and Dassault’s previous reaction I am now prepared to take the next step; but before I do, I am publicly declaring, I do NOT accept Dassault’s Draftsight EULA terms and conditions and I do intend to test and use their product. The ball, now, is entirely in Dassault’s court. If they believe the Draftsight EULA is legally enforceable, and I must accept that as fact (without discussion or negotiation), Dassault must notify me not to proceed or now decide whether to prevent me from downloading, authorizing, testing or using their Draftsight software. Dassault Systèmes must prevent me proceeding further or accept, allowing me to download and use Draftsight will be Dassault Systèmes acceptance of my terms and conditions of use.

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24th May 2007

Buyer Beware…’, was the title of a letter published in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 24th May 2005. It detailed a fundamental shift in the use of a particular EULA away from being a tool that defined the rules of use for software – reasonable - to a legally enforceable contract containing a number of questionable conditions including one granting the licensor, "the right to conduct an audit on your premises or by electronic means"; unreasonable!

The EULA moved from being a contract defining what you can and cannot do with software to a contract, if accepted unchallenged, that specifically gives the licensor access to your premises, business, design and computing systems!

Caveat emptor, the Blog, is an extension of that original letter and highlights my original, unanswered, requests relating to the addition of Audit clauses in my existing Subscription and Licence contracts. Requests for information and detail that I, as an established licence holder and customers, have every right to; and information the licensor should be compelled and obligated to provide!

If my goal is considered offensive, unjustified or unreasonable it will only be by those who believe protecting their IP is more important than that of others. To them I make no apology; if the issues raised previously had been broached correctly, and in the first instance, they would have long ago passed by.

Caveat venditor: ‘Like a dog with a bone’, I have absolutely no intention of letting go of these issues until they all are sensibly discussed and answered as I believe they should be!