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SF Gate: The Clause of the CueCat

Oct 11, 2000, 16:27 (10 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Neil McAllister)

[ Thanks to George Mitchell for this link. ]

"Reverse engineering -- the process of independently figuring out how something works -- is legal. ... That doesn't mean a hardware manufacturer has to like it when its product is reverse engineered. But legally, there's not a whole lot they can do about it. Of course, that's not going to stop Digital Convergence from trying. What's disturbing, however, is the way they're going about it."

"The company modified the language of the CueCat's license agreement after the onset of the controversy. The text of the agreement now asserts that the CueCat "is only on loan to you from Digital Convergence and may be recalled at any time." It implies that such a recall might be initiated any time the device is used in a way in which Digital Convergence doesn't approve."

"But Digital Convergence is trying to extend the terms of its license agreement, the type of agreement that's often used in the software industry, to include their freely distributed hardware. By installing the hardware, they claim, you agree to the license -- and so, waive your right to use the CueCat for purposes they haven't approved. If Digital Convergence succeeds, it could create a dangerous precedent for consumers. Imagine owning a telephone but being told you could only use certain long-distance carriers, and not others."

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