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Nvidia threatens NGOHQ over ForceWare Distribution


mobilenvidia

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Regeneration from NGOHQ just received this email:

Unauthorized Distribution Of NVIDIA Drivers on NGOHQ.com

*************************************************

To Whom it May Concern:

We understand that you are distributing or facilitating the unauthorized distribution of NVIDIA?s drivers for its GPU and/or MCP products. We are writing to remind you that these drivers constitute intellectual property (?IP?), including copyrights, of NVIDIA. As the exclusive owner of this IP, under Section 106 of the Copyright Act, NVIDIA alone has the right to authorize distribution. Since you are not authorized, we ask that you immediately stop all activities that distribute, allow or facilitate distribution of NVIDIA?s drivers on your web site. Unauthorized distribution is a serious violation of NVIDIA?s intellectual property rights and if it continues, we will take the necessary steps to prevent further unauthorized distribution.

NVIDIA drivers that are distributed through authorized channels have been tested on the supported platforms that are included in the driver INF file, and are supported by NVIDIA and its OEM partners. Modifying drivers to add products that were not intended to be supported in the driver may cause more problems for customers due to limited testing and known problems on some products.

Please confirm that all unauthorized distribution has ceased within two weeks of the date of this letter by sending an email to dperez@nvidia.com

Sincerely,

Bryan "BDR" Del Rizzo

Senior PR Manager

MCP Business Group

2701 San Tomas Expressway

Santa Clara, CA 95050

This brings back memories from earlier this year and my run in with Microsoft and the very first Forceware X 100.30 that we leaked.

I wonder who MCP Business Group is ? are they the legal division of nVidia ?

So what 'BDR' is saying nVidia don't make 'Unified' drivers at all, each driver is made explicitly for the GPU's in the INF, what a load of plop.

Wonder if we also will get a letter from Bryan, as we supply the DevID's for nearly all the INF modders out there.

For the original post wonder on over here

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Here is Bryan Del Rizzo and the MCP Group:

http://www.nvidia.com/object/IO_28819.html

MCP stands for "Media and Communications Processor" and the MCP Unit looks (from the press release) like nVidia's motherboard unit.

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I'm curious where the actual issue is. I gather that NGOHQ supplies both the normal driver and a driver packaged with a modified INF that they are complaining of the latter files. We host a driver that is still NVIDIA's, just repackaged smaller without the INF modified. If you choose to download the changed INF then that is an option as well.

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a driver packaged with a modified INF

I bet that's exactly the problem. Here the driver has it's original file so it's essentially unmodified from what NV distributes. Packaging that modded inf file with it probably implies that it was tested by NV in the legal world. I guess that if they wanted to they could go after anyone that distributes drivers without their permission, modded or not.

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Strange how this guy is mingling in this discussion, no? How sure are they this is not just some guy? I mean, nVidia's motherboard section complaining about 'stealing' GPU drivers...

Fishy.

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Here's NGOHQ's official response:

This is an official response to NVIDIA?s Unauthorized Distribution of NVIDIA Drivers on NGOHQ.com letter. Our servers are based in Israel. If you?re unaware, Israel is not a state in the United States. Israel is a small country in the Middle East. Therefore, the United States Copyright law and Section 106 do not apply here. This specific law applies only inside the United States borders.

Drivers for GPUs and MCPs are being offered freely by NVIDIA Corporation and millions of web-sites around the globe. If Guru3D, DriverHeaven, Techconnect Magazine, Laptopvideo2Go, Softpedia, DriverZone, FileForum and many other sites are allowed to distribute ForceWare and nForce drivers, then we don?t see any reason to remove it.

Our local law permits us to distribute copyright software as long it?s intended for private/educational purposes and no-commercialism is involved. The software available in NGOHQ.com is being offered to the public free of charges. We are not charging money for the files or bandwidth, and no commercialism is involved with the distribution. The software available here is intended for home users and their private use. Therefore, the site fully complies with the local law.

We are offering drivers and free software; we are not distributing licensed software. Since no law is being violated, NGOHQ.com is fully complaint with the local law. You have no base for you accusations and you can?t threaten us with your own laws. Also, there is no DMCA law in our country. How come million sites are hosting your drivers, and we are the only one to receive legal threats?

Our modified software does not include code-level modification, only installation script modifications (INF) which is Windows script file. The installation script is not a part of the driver itself and NVIDIA Corporation cannot claim copyright ownership on these kinds of files. NGOHQ.com is providing notifications to the users and letting them know that the software is not being supported by NVIDIA Corporation. The user acknowledges that he?s/she is using the software at their own risk. You have no rights to claim ownership on installation scripts.

NGOHQ.com is fully legal and follows its state laws. NVIDIA?s drivers are being distributed on millions of web-sites on the internet. This attempt to force NGOHQ.com removal of this software is nothing but an attempt to continue the abuse toward NGOHQ.com. From our investigations, it seems that NVIDIA Corporation hasn?t sent this legal threat to anyone except NGOHQ.com.

From million of sites, NGOHQ.com is the only site who received legal threats. The real motive behind NVIDIA?s action is surely not the protection of their consumers, but to abuse NGOHQ.com due to unknown reasons.

We are modifying ?driver .INF file? because you?re using your software illegally as a tool to promote your new products. You?re removing INF file support for older product generations to promote your new products illegally, and using your drivers as tool for psychological warfare on your customers. Your actions are violating the United States Antitrust laws and consumer rights. You?re also making false advertisements by claiming your software is Unified Driver Architecture, while it?s not.

NVIDIA is required to ensure that their products are working, and the software is bug-free. Instead of working on your drivers, you?re ignoring issues, requests and customer?s rights by dropping support and playing software tricks with them. The consumers are suffering in both desktop/mobile platforms because of your abusive tactics.

Without these ?modified drivers?, your customers would file class actions against you. Your users are downloading drivers from our site because you fail to satisfy them, and you ignore them (Unfriendly control panel, Known 7800 GS issues and more)

This is not the first time that NVIDIA is trying to abuse this site. About a year ago, they sent another legal threat and requested to remove a patch that was made by Asrock. A few months ago one of their PR agents contacted their OEM partners and asked them not to provide samples, cooperation and support to NGOHQ.com, in-order to drive it out of business and to abuse this site, illegally. While NVIDIA is providing review samples and cooperation to other related sites to promote them, all we get is abuse, abuse, abuse and more abuse, and that?s after we provide support for their customers for free and from good will.

There is a very limited amount of websites who offer the same services for free. We don?t ask for anything in return but respect. Instead of providing us support, review samples, information and briefings, NVIDIA is sending us legal threats and abuse. Not only you?re not helping us, but you?re abusing us, yes! your own support site.

There is very a limited amount of sites like NGOHQ.com, and instead of supporting them, like you do with normal hardware sites, you?re abusing them, treating them without any respect and sending them ridiculous legal threats.

NVIDIA is working closely with our competitors. They are allowing them to host this kind of files, they are providing them betas to host, they are providing them review samples to promote their sites. Maybe NVIDIA is unaware to the US Antitrust laws, but we have all rights to provide competition in this area.

If NVIDIA is trying to take us out to promote their friends/our competitors, then NVIDIA is violating the US Antitrust Laws by preventing us from providing competition. We are allowed to offer competition if they like it or not. NVIDIA must respect open market, even if its website business. We have all rights to offer competition to the other sites, and we have all rights to offer ForceWare mirrors as well, like our competitors.

NGOHQ.com is providing unofficial support for its readers for free. If its software, tools, guides, reviews, information, drivers and news. NGOHQ.com is acting as an unofficial NVIDIA and ATI/AMD supporter on voluntary basis. We are providing help and support for you customers for FREE. We are providing workarounds and information for your customers as good will. We are not charging them for any fees and we don?t ask anything for return.

Our site and downloads section are very popular among your customers. These free downloads are consuming a massive amount of bandwidth and we have to pay for this bandwidth from our own pockets (18000-25000GB per month). We are also providing free bandwidth by mirroring these drivers, without quotes or any unpleasant content. We never received any kind of appreciation from NVIDIA about our hard work, these free services we are offering.

NGOHQ.com hasn?t violated any local law, the only ones who did violate, is NVIDIA with their continued abuse, harassment and attempts to drive NGOHQ.com out of business illegally. We will not remove the software; it is fully legally with our local law, while NVIDIA is violating the United States Antitrust Laws by preventing us from running. If NVIDIA will continue abusing, harassing and illegally forcing their OEMs not to work with us, we will have no choice but to take legal actions against NVIDIA for Antitrust and Discrimination Violations.

We will also make sure to fill a complaint in the US DOJ regarding your abuse and possible antitrust violations. We will also tell them about the following:

* Possible use of illegal blackmail tactics against the press.

* Possible use of illegal The Way It's Meant To Be Played program to gain unfair advantage and abuse the open market.

* Possible use of illegal false advertisement.

* Possible use of illegal viral marketing campaigns.

* Possible use of software support being used as tool to promote sales illegally.

* Possible Antitrust Violations against the state, consumers, press and your competitors.

NGOHQ.com reserves the right to offer competition and to offer support for FREE. Your claims are baseless and pointless. NGOHQ.com has the tools and rights to protect and defend itself, and even to attack if necessary. We?re not scared of you; we can fight back, so do not underestimate us.

We prefer to deny access to US rather then removing free software from our site. If Guru3D, Driver Heaven, Techconnect Magazine, Laptopvideo2Go, Softpedia, DriverZone and FileForum are hosting these files, we will continue doing so, and if NVIDIA tries to prevent us from offering competition, we will be forced to fill a Discrimination and Antitrust lawsuit against them, and use their own laws against them. We would like to finish this response with the following quote:

"Feel free to distribute and endorse Catalyst software. Just please let your users know that if they use modified drivers we aren't able to support them properly. Keep up the good work in the community." -AMD/ATI

For the official NGOHQ page on the reply head over here

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Time to move our driver server over to NZ, eh Pieter?

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Our drivers arn't modified we only host what we find :) so they are quite safe

The INF is a seperate downlosd, this allows the user an option to use the original INF Iif they can, or use the modded INF if they so CHOOOSE.

Other modded INF sites include the modded INF with the driver and do not have the option of using the original INF.

This is probably part of the reason why nV have taken their action, but there must be more to it than meets the eye.

As why would they single out only NGOHQ for this as many sites do the same.

There could be a possibility I would need to keep the INFs on non-US based servers, but I doubt it will come to this.

One thing I must work on is a disclaimer that nV cannot be liable for any problemsdamage caused by using our modified INF.

We keep modifying the INF to a minimum, I only add all GPU support and some mobile GPU support in Win XP (not needed in Vista)

Other INF modding sites do a heap more tweaking and this could possibly have some issues with certain GPU's

Even our performance/Quality tweaks only tweak what can also be tweaked with the control panel sliders

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Right. This news spread to many news sites, but nobody figured that the included INF is the problem.

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