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Mandatory Registration: Bad Business


Mandatory Registration: My Experience

I recently had the single worst experience in computer software–and I
would never have expected it: I am referring, of course, to my
experiences with Caere’s Omnipage Pro 8 software, which I had
purchased from an unsuspecting CompUSA for a price of $80. (I also
purchased Pagekeeper Standard, since it had finally been updated to 32
bit.)

The time was 4AM, and after installing the app, an expected dialog box
had popped up with an unexpected twist. The box stated that if I did
not provide my personal information to Caere within 25 uses of the
application, my access to the software I had purchased would be
terminated. The personal information, as demanded by the web site as
a condition of using their product–honestly, I must admit I had
believed that paying Caere would be sufficient–consisted of:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Email

You can view the registration page at
http://www.caere.com/live/content/support/registration/prodreg.htm? .
A previous edition of this page mentioned that even Microsoft feared
this tactic; now I hear that they´re planning to use it in Office
2000. DIVX on the Desktop doesn´t sound fun.

Another Reason To Use Linux

(These are for Pagekeeper, since I finally broke down and installed
it. What a pity–wonderful programs crippled by idiots in Marketing
slavering over demographics.)

Why Mandatory Registration Is Unethical

You may be wondering why I would become so angry about being required
to provide so little information. Allow me to explain:

  1. It is an established standard in the computer industry that
    software that “times out” is to be considered trialware. I paid
    $80 for a package that will not work as advertised after a few
    days of operation. (Changing scanner settings requires you to
    lose one of your 25 boots.) It’s one thing to download a trial
    demo–in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is exactly what the
    trial has. It’s another thing for something you buy in a store to
    simply stop working because the designers don’t want you using
    it. Which brings us to…

  2. Personal Information is worth money, and I’ve already paid up. In
    order to get me to register, besides telling me my investment will
    be rendered inoperable, I was offered the technical support I had
    already paid for and the discount merchandise I did not want. I
    would have been happy to provide my personal information if that’s
    all they wanted, but once they recieved cash payment, they had no
    right to demand my identity.

  3. False Advertising Is Fraud. The product has a feature list. At
    no point on the box do they say, “We have intentionally designed
    this software to cease functioning unless you let us sell your
    identity.” Work of art or not, there is a definite palpable
    intent to defraud. When I called Caere’s voice number and
    demanded to recieve a code without providing any information but
    my serial number, it was provided without problem. This is a clear
    sign of a policy that exists to trick those who don’t know
    better–and anyway, thanks to ANI, Caere can already cross
    reference the serial number I was forced to provide with my phone
    number and thus my address, so they still get their demographic
    research.

  4. (This is because of the telephone refusal to provide information)
    If I lose the non-bundled reg code, and reinstall Windows 98, I
    can no longer get access to Omnipage 8. What are they going to do
    when I provide a serial number previously registered? Answer:
    They will tell me I am attempting to re-register an already
    registered copy of Omnipage 8, and deny my the non-bundled access
    code.

  5. Abuse of the shrink wrap license. At first, I thought that
    because the shrink wrap license doesn’t mention anything about a
    requirement for registration, the “right to use the software”
    clause was being violated by the company. But, since the
    license(and most software licenses) let the authors of a software
    program rescind the right of its users to use the software they
    paid for, for no recompense, it turned out legal–and so utterly
    slimy, not even Microsoft would come close to doing it. (I would
    not speak so offensively if I did not feel so offended; please
    forgive me this.) This is yet another reason why shrink wrap
    licenses must be limited in their power–I fear the day when
    looking at an errant poster can conscript me by license. Remember
    folks–AT&T recently licensed one of their applications so that
    downloading it meant AT&T could spam you all it liked no matter
    what laws were passed–and they could transfer this right.
    Luckily, the AT&T researchers had a cow and convinced the public
    relations people that this was, in fact, incredibly stupid. Score
    one for science–PR saw the light and slapped down the lawyers.

  6. NO PRIVACY REGULATIONS. What more needs to be said?
Categories: Security
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