Charnell Lucich

Creative Tried To Silence Third-Party Programmer – Customers Revolt

Posted on: March 31, 2008

His most recent public community given title, ‘VP of Screw Ups’, Phil O’Shaughnessy created quite the shit storm for Creative to deal with today. Friday morning, he posted a warning on the Creative customer forums that told programmer Daniel_K to stop writing his own drivers for their X-Fi sound cards. After a year of it’s release, the sound cards still will not work on Vista because Creative hasn’t released drivers for them. According to Mr. O’Shaughnessy, Daniel_K is “stealing” from Creative by making the cards work.Over the weekend, Creative’s forums exploded with posts from angry customers who have sworn to stop buying their products and it seems there’s already a boycott site up at boycottcreative.com.

A Creative Forum poster named “youAREkidding” summed up Creative’s stupidity quite nicely

Imagine what would happen if 10%, just 10% of the people who will read about this, be in a store somewhere, see someone about to buy a Creative Labs product, and say to that potential customer. “If you have Vista, Creative has non-functioning drivers for it, there was a guy who created a Modified driver, but Creative made him stop distributing it, and there are still no workable drivers for Vista.” Some people might laugh at him, but the majority of computer peripheral buyers don’t know squat, and if they hear it from someone who presents themselves in a knowledgeable manner, they may actually think twice about it. Creative loses another sale.

So, yes, Daniel may very well have stepped on some copyright rules, and Creative had the lawful option of doing what they did. Score 100 on the law, score minus several millions for not doing the job themselves in the first place, and putting someone like Daniel in a position where he had to do what he did, just to get the customers of this company happy.

And here is what created the beginning of a very bad week for Creative:

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.

Read the customer comments and the forum post on this over at the Creative Forums.

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