Creative Faces Online Storm After Warning US Modifier ~ Creative Labs Zen MP3 Players Sound Blaster Card
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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Creative Faces Online Storm After Warning US Modifier

Tech giant slammed for pulling up user who took donations for modified drivers

Now, even the mass media knows about this controversy between Creative Labs and Daniel_k modded drivers. This bad publicity has certainly gone beyond online world and into the press.

HOME-GROWN tech giant Creative has found itself in the middle of an online firestorm after it threatened an American user who modified drivers for its Sound Blaster
sound cards.

The user, known only by his online signon, Daniel_K, had modified drivers - software that allows hardware devices to function on a computer - to allow the Sound Blaster Audigy cards to be used with Microsoft's Vista operating system.

Claiming the cards had limited functionality on Vista, he set about modifying them and distributing them online and asking for donations in return.

But last Friday, Mr Phil O'Shaughnessy, who is the vice-president (corporate communications) of Creative Labs, which is based in the United States, posted a public warning to Daniel_K on the company's official forum.

Mr O'Shaughnessy warned Daniel-K to stop' distributing the modified drivers, and accused him of infringing Creative's intellectual property rights.

He also warned him to stop soliciting donations, saying that by doing so, Daniel-K was "profiting from something that you do not own".

News of the warning soon surfaced on several websites in the United States and elsewhere, including local forum Hardwarezone, and sparked a huge backlash against Creative on the Internet.

The initial warning itself attracted more than 2,000 comments, with many threatening a boycott of Creative's products.Meanwhile, tens of thousands of posts on the subject have cropped up worldwide.

Many users of the modified drivers are saying they did so because, according to them, the Audigy sound card's features are not fully compatible; with Vista: When paired with Creative's drivers, only' their basic features are available.

But when used with the modified drivers, advanced audio features like Dolby Digital and THX, which enable users to hear realistic surround sound in movies, are unlocked and become available.

Creative takes issue with this. In his posting, Mr O'Shaughnessy said that if the
company chooses to unlock features with some cards and not with others, it is a "business decision that only we have the right to make".

But users retort that since the packaging for the cards states that they are "Vista-compatible", they expect drivers with a full list of functions when used with the operating system.

Others have jumped into the fray and are distributing the modified drivers on file-sharing sites like BitTorrent - for free.

Some Singapore netizens have also expressed anger at Creative, but many others are also defending the company because it is a home-grown icon.

User desertengineer wrote on the Hardwarezone forum: "While Daniel-K probably didn't do it with ill intent, asking for money while doing it is a big no-no, and puts Creative in an awkward position. Sometimes they have to respond."

Creative Singapore declined to comment, while there was no response from its US office.

Several users have noted that in the online world, where respect for intellectual property rights is frequently disregarded', the flaming of Creative is no surprise.

Apple Computer, for example, was attacked by numerous users last year after it threatened that a software Update would render illegal y hacked versions of its Wildly popular iPhone useless.

But legal experts have criticised such attacks by users.

In a New York Times report last September on the threats against Apple, assistant dean Noah Funderburg of the University of Alabama's School of Law said: "We have
a free marketplace.

"Buy a product, including using it on the terms accompanying the purchase, or don't buy it. And learn to live with not always getting everything you want."

via Straits Times

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