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mgh

My scenery re-uploaded by another, at another website...

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Hi all,I was perusing another flight sim site yesterday, and came across a very large file (377 MB) of Thailand scenery. Since I am an avid Thailand scenery designer, I downloaded it to take a look. Imagine my surprise to discover that the work was my own, as well as some scenery made by Jan Martin.Anyway, I emailed the webmaster, and asked that the file be removed. Keep in mind that this isn't a case where someone simply leeched a file from AVSIM, and re-uploaded it. The "uploader" took the time to take all the scenery and texture files from several exisiting archives, and re-zip them into one package. There are numerous problems with this, but the primary one was that he also removed all of my readme files, and then created his own, giving himself credit.That's the part that really gets me - I did all the work (... and Jan Martin), so I at least deserve to have my name on there somewhere. Anyway, I'm sure the webmaster will remove it.Meanwhile, 285 GB of bandwdith has been lost to this other website (based on 755 downloads). Also, the offender uploaded the scenery as FS2002 scenery, when in fact most of it was specific to FS2004, which leads me to suspect that he never actually used the scenery. He is just a re-packager.Whatever your personal feelings towards EBay selling, or Leech sites are, you have to agree that taking other peoples work and re-uploading it as your own is going too far. I think that this guy thought he was being helpful and wanted to contribute somehow, but this can cause problems for me as a scenery designer. Hopefully, the webmaster will educate his minions through his forum, and all will be well. It behooves us to check other websites occaisionally for this sort of thing.- Martin

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I have seen it here as well, Martin. In particular, I remember a library of ship objects that is nothing more than a compilation of work by various other people. In this case, the person who put the package together did not hide the names of the original authors, but I doubt whether he got permission from them to do this. The package is still in the library, I believe. And this sort of thing is all too common, though infrequent.Also, some "commercial" scenery designers release packages where they use freeware textures by other authors. What is particularly annoying is that the texture authors specifically mention that these textures are not to be used in commercial scenery (Nova, Jorge Pagano). This has notably appeared in scenery packages for my part of the world, which is why I have noticed it, since generally I do not download other people's scenery.A most regretable practice overall. Flightsim specifically mentions authors' rights in its library section (as does Avsim, that in addition, requests that nothing be placed in the library except by the original author), yet some people deliberately ignore this.Sorry it had to happen to you.Best regards.Luis

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MartinI also have these same fustrations. I spend a lot of time (past 2 years) updating FS9's default scenery database when real World Airports add a new ILS runway or change runway numbers. AFCAD alone does not add any xml Approach data which has to be written for each new ILS runway. If a scenery designer changes a runway number without updating all the default FS9 database xml Approaches this breaks FS9 and renders the ATC portion partially inoperative. CTD can also occur because the approach data which is owned by the Airport Scenery called the Visual AI Zone is no longer in sync with the new or changed visual runway numbers. The AFCAD xml runway data owns the ILS (user aircraft radio only) and ground movement. One of my most popular fixes is EHAM for the default scenery. I have had some extract out of the zip only the ILS/scenery bgl portion and place in with their uploaded AFCAD file for freeware/payware addon scenery. That even occured here on AVSIM where my original zip files are uploaded. There is still only two Scenery's that fix EHAM properly. My FS9 default scenery and NL2000 which I lended knowledge too. I monitor closely EHAM, KDEN, KMIA, KIAH, KMCO, KPVD, LEBL, EFHK just to name a few that I have fixed for the default FS9 scenery that I produce and upload. If a freeware or payware scenery designer wants my help all they have to do is ask. Shez's did (KCLE) I learned along time ago to finger print any of my AFCAD's that must coincide with my ILS approach data.I also add portions of my copywright distribution statements to the compiled ILS/Scenery bgl's that are identical to the original readme. If someone trys to decompile my bgl's and remove this type info the compilers cannot recompile due to missing model mdl's and other added xml statements embedded that I made. We can't police the entire internet (locks are for honest people) but if I do find some of my files elsewhere or here on AVSIM then it is very convincing to say those are mine and here is why.Same as Luis, Sorry it has happened to you also.

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If someone disassmbles MS' default AP files, takes some data out of it and modifies or adds their own, is that OK or not? It seems like we are getting on shakey ground if we try to claim too much credit for a mod of another (default or addon) file. I know I have modded many files (default and addon) for my own use. My mods may be useful for someone else. In general I have not uploaded these, concerned about this copyright/credit issue. What is the community position on these mods? I agree that simply aggregating files doesn't provide enough value added to really justify a new upload, but what if there is some value added? I know the readmes provide differing statements on what the authors want/allow. Just the other day was a post from a user complaining about having to d/l VOD textures, or trees and having to keep track of all these things separate from scenery designs that use them.scott s..

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Good question, given that the FS EULA states:"Limitations on Reverse Engineering, Decompilation, and Disassembly. You may not reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble the SOFTWARE PRODUCT, except and only to the extent that such activity is expressly permitted by applicable law notwithstanding this limitation."

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>If someone disassmbles MS' default AP files, takes some data>out of it and modifies or adds their own, is that OK or not? >It seems like we are getting on shakey ground if we try to>claim too much credit for a mod of another (default or addon)>file. I know I have modded many files (default and addon) for>my own use. My mods may be useful for someone else. In>general I have not uploaded these, concerned about this>copyright/credit issue. What is the community position on>these mods? I agree that simply aggregating files doesn't>provide enough value added to really justify a new upload, but>what if there is some value added? I know the readmes provide>differing statements on what the authors want/allow. Just the>other day was a post from a user complaining about having to>d/l VOD textures, or trees and having to keep track of all>these things separate from scenery designs that use them.>>scott s.>.>>> You have a good point, but common courtesy would require an email to the original author to at least ask his permission. In the past, other people have emailed me asking to use my textures, and objects, and I have always agreed. In every case, I was at least credited with the original work. I agree that there is some grey area to be worked out sometimes.That is not the case this time though. The uploader didn't modify any of the scenery files. He simply re-uploaded them and claimed exclusive credit for the work.- Martin

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>If someone disassmbles MS' default AP files, >takes some data out of it and modifies or adds their own,>is that OK or not? It seems like we are getting on>shakey ground if we try to claim too much credit for >a mod of another (default or addon) file.If that was true then every single AFCAD airport uploaded including the AFCAD program itself are in some kind of violation. However it is the other way around because MSN incourages us to modify their exsisting airports that are found in the APnnnnnnn.bgl files with our own.The SDK that MSN wrote explains what all these This is the backbone of Lee Swordy's AFCAD program and it copies out most of the default APnnnnnnnnn.bgl so we can modify FS9 airports and use or upload a new bgl which includes our changes.When I write approaches for new runways or change exsisting runway numbers I better follow the SDK to the letter by using the deleteAllApproaches = "TRUE" statement.I go as far as placing my files in the correct folder that MSN says to use, not the Addon Sceneryscenery folder.When you follow the SDK correctly the MSN files (APnnnnnn.bgl) are never modified at the root level.

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ScottI just re-read my post and it is not entended to be offensive but informative.The APnnnnnnn.bgl is a very powerful bgl and MSN gives us most of the information in the SDK to write a new bgl that will replace their APnnnnnnn.bgl or portions of it.>If someone disassmbles MS' default AP files, >takes some data out of it and modifies or adds their own,>is that OK or not? No, I do not believe that is ok. (see MPH post)That is saying we decompiled a APnnnnnnnn.bgl, changed something and then recompiled it back as a MSN protected file with a backup of the original file.What MSN does allow is to write a new bgl that resembles a APnnnnnnnn.bgl and then place it at a higher priortity level (Generic Scenery folder) so our new xml file replaces or adds to the default root file.The Authors of both decompilers (to view default xml bgl's) state that they are for information purposes only.There is a decompiler/compiler out there that does change the root MSN protected file and that is the utility JABBgl. I stay away from those type utilities because they are in direct violation of tampering with MSN protected files.MSN gives us a correct way of fixing 3rd party scenery that does not have the airport elevation set correctly. That requires a new xml Airport Header compiled by BGLComp and placed into the world scenery folder. Hope this helps and sorry if my post sounded offensive.

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I did not take your post as offensive in any way. I understand exactly what you are saying. ISTM that modding is an important part of most of the top level games. The problem is what is a fair use of the base file (either default or some one elses). I don't mean that from a legal standpoint, but from the betterment of the hobby standpoint.I think maybe there needs to be something like the GPL. You can use my software in your software as long as you include this license with it and abide by it.Believe me, I have no problems with your files. You have done a lot of good for all of us, helping users as well as providing files.Again, I'm not talking about aggregators, or ebay resellers where no value added occurs, though I could see how a compilation might be a benefit to someone.scott s..

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"The Authors of both decompilers (to view default xml bgl's) state that they are for information purposes only."The documentation I have states:"BGLXML is an utility which analyzes and decompiles BGL files" "NewBglAnalyze is version 1 of a disassembler for BGL-files" The EULA forbids decompilation and dissambly except as permitted by law. It seems to me that there is an element of double standards here - it's wrong to ignore restictions imposed by add-on developers but OK to ignore Microsoft's

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MPH Maybe I read too much into these different statements from the decompilers but I read it as a information toolBGLAnalyze says"Disassembling scenery files in some countries might violate legal rights of copyright holders" and"The program can be used by scenery designers or other people interested in the structure of scenery files without restrictions"BGLX180 says"This utility is freeware and open-source,licensed under GNU-GPL to help developersunderstand the new FS2004 BGL structures"My interpretation could differ from others

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I only have BGLXML and NewBGLAnalyse, so I can't comment on the others you mention. Whatever disclaimers may be included, the fact remains that the applications appear to breach the EULA.I'm quite laid-back about this subject, but do feel slightly uneasy at the regular choruses of disapproval whenever people here complain their rights have been infringed, when many of them seem happy to infinge other's (Microsoft's) rights.

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>I only have BGLXML and NewBGLAnalyse, so I can't comment on>the others you mention. Whatever disclaimers may be included,>the fact remains that the applications appear to breach the>EULA.>>I'm quite laid-back about this subject, but do feel slightly>uneasy at the regular choruses of disapproval whenever people>here complain their rights have been infringed, when many of>them seem happy to infinge other's (Microsoft's) rights.And if someone were to actually infringe on Microsoft's rights, I'm sure they would have something to say about it. But that is not the case here. In any event, the only default files which are regularly modded show up as AFCAD files. There really isn't much question as to how MS feels about this - they gave us the tools and detailed instructions of how to create and modify these files. As well, there is a seperate EULA that was distributed with the SDKs which isn't quite as heavy handed as the one that shipped with FS9, and even tells us to include a copyright statement with our application.Even if we take the FS9 EULA literally, and ignore the SDKs and fair-use rules, we still have to accept that it is up the MS to determine whether to enforce it or not. If they choose to allow the distribution of AFCAD files, then that is their perogative. If I choose to complain because someone has taken my entire catologue of work and re-uploaded it as their own, then that is mine.Back on track...The offending file has been removed. An explanation was offered that with so many files being uplaoded, they can't all be thoroughly checked to see whether they actually work or not, never mind whether the uploader stole it or not.- Martin

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I made no objection to creating new scenery using the information in the SDK to create an XML file and then compiling that with BGLCOMP. That seems to me perfectly permissible under the EULA. What isn't permissible is decompiling Microsoft's files in breach of the EULA and then recompiling new versions. Widening the thread a little, do all add-on aircraft developers create new .air files only by changing the .cfg and then using FSEdit or do they rely on knowledge gained by decompiling Nicrosoft's .air files?

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>I made no objection to creating new scenery using the>information in the SDK to create an XML file and then>compiling that with BGLCOMP. That seems to me perfectly>permissible under the EULA. >It is permissible if MS allows it, therefore we have a plethora of AFCAD files in the library.>What isn't permissible is decompiling Microsoft's files in>breach of the EULA and then recompiling new versions. Widening>the thread a little, do all add-on aircraft developers create>new .air files only by changing the .cfg and then using FSEdit>or do they rely on knowledge gained by decompiling Nicrosoft's>.air files?What you are implying is correct - most add-on aircraft designers modify existing .air/.cfg files. Does this violate the EULA? I think not, since MS gave us the tools and instructions specifically to do this. I think that this is exactly what MS expects us to do!Maybe we'll just have to agree to disagree. I don't think the EULA was meant to be construed as narrowly as you suggest, and I'm pretty sure that most scenery designers see the difference. My best support is the numerous files which already exist on this and other websites, and the fact that MS told us how to make and modify those files, and tolerates their existence. - Martin

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Copyright and enforcement of copyright are two different things.Microsoft claims copyright on their product; this is their right and their privilege, the fruit of their labor, if you will.But, as far as add-ons created by us are concerned, they do not enforce the copyright since they:1. are undoubtedly enthusiasts themselves and so are very happy to see us come out with enhancements to their product;2. perhaps they probably also see this as value that is added when we make add-ons based on the basic aircraft and scenery.In any case, a holder of copyright can either tolerate or not any violation of his rights. That is his prerogative, and Microsoft obviously does not mind.If, however, we were to decompile the flight and graphics engine, and come out with a new flight simulator based on their work, then you can be sure that the Microsoft legal team would come after us.But, this is not the case, so there is no point in worrying about it.But, the point of this thread is that Martin, along with many others, does have a right to his work, it is his copyright, and the person who packaged it and placed it in a library violated his rights.As Martin says, he is usually quite happy to allow this as long as he is asked first. Most designers in the freeware community do the same.But, he was not asked. Nor was he credited. This is the problem.Best regards.Luis

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"What you are implying is correct - most add-on aircraft designers modify existing .air/.cfg files. Does this violate the EULA? I think not, since MS gave us the tools and instructions specifically to do this. I think that this is exactly what MS expects us to do!"Microsoft has not published an SDK describing the .air files. Indeed, Microsoft's official position is still "The .AIR files contain proprietary data that aircraft manufacturers have provided to us. To help protect that information, we don't release the internal details of the .AIR file." (See FSInsider/Articles/WhatPilotsAreAsking)Microsoft has only given a tool (FSEdit) to change an .air file in conjuction with a .cfg file. Making changes directly to the .air file (such as changing a table in it) requires knowledge of its structure that can only be known as a result of reverse engineering, decompiling, or disassembling it. I have never said that files created using only the tools provided by Microsoft are not legitimate. I still suggest, however, that files that rely on reverse engineering, decompiling, or disassembling Microsoft's files are not, and are in breach of the EULA. The EULA is pretty unambiguous and doesn't leave much room for interpretation.I absolutely support your position relating to unauthorised use of your files. The point I am making that is that although everyone rightly condemns such an infringement of your rights, there is ambivalence when it comes to infringing Microsoft's rights.

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Hi all.I'm not a lawyer, however I have an opinion about this.We are discussing 2 discreet concepts... copyright and EULA.Copyright:Its the legal protection given to creators which protects them against unauthorised copying of their work. There is nothing further to be implied about the studying, or the reverse engineering of this work. Violaton of copyright can lead to criminal prosecution in some courts. This protects the creator from someone ripping off the creator's work and passing it off as the work of someone else.Most courts would make provision for monetary compensation in this case. The thief also risks prison, as this is a criminal act.EULA:End-Users Licensing Agreement. A EULA is a licensing contract between a software manufacturer and the enduser. As a contract, it is binding by mutual consent. EULAs may contain elements found to be illegal, or not binding, by courts, even though they may be specifically stated by the grantor of the license. Violation of a EULA typically means the licensee no longer has the permission to use the software... but the EULA cannot imply illegality, or monetary compensation for it's violation... unlike a copyright violation. Using software in violation of a EULA simply means you are doing so without permission... not a criminal act in itself. Monetary compensation for the violation of a EULA may be decided by a court. Reasonably, a court would demand the end-user pay for the software. However, if you've already purchased the software, it's unlikely the court would have you pay twice for it... so compensation for the EULA grantor may be difficult to obtain. A court order to cease and desist further EULA violation could be obtained, and violation of that could lead to fines or imprisonment... for contempt of that court.I suspect it is far easier to defend a copyright than a EULA, as one is defended by law, and the other defended by a contract.As far as tools used for scenery or aircraft creation, as long as those tools are used for the FS series, why would Microsoft be offended by their use? Doesn't Microsoft encourage the creation of scenery and aircraft? And if a tool alters a default BGL file, if that alteration is an improvement of the default file, and if it is free, why would Microsoft care? In that case it would lead to an increase in value or usage of their product. If a default MS Word macro was found to be deficient, and a freeware alteration was made to improve the usage of MS Word, would Microsoft be offended? After all, they themselves allow macros and scripts, and provide tools and education to alter files.The copying of Martin's files was a violation of copyright... legally and criminally wrong.Altering a default AP*.bgl is not a criminal act, nor is it's freeware distribution. But it should be made clear in it's distribution that the new file is an alteration of the original, and not for sale, so that the copyright of Microsoft is kept intact. Is this a violation of the EULA or any other private agreement between Microsoft and the end-user? maybe, but a court would decide that... not us. We are not judges.==============================With all that said, this is a game.Microsoft's legal department can persue any course it wants in the world's courts concerning EULAS or copyrights, but I seriously doubt MS, or the courts, would go after freeware contributors to the Flight Simulator game.An odd circumstance could arise. A court may decide the violation of the EULA contract should require the return of the software to the manufacturer... and a purchase refund granted to the licensee! That would logically null and void the contract, and end the dispute. I don't think MS would like that scenario.Dick

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Hello Mr. Mgh!I do not get your point here!Seems you are a lawyer!And I normaly do not post on threads like this!Can you explain me this with international law?Or: Are you writing nonsense?With my humble Austrian English, I can say only: I am very proud to read this forum!And happy what people are doing here!And very happy what MSFT devs writing now in there

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This is a matter of ethics/morality, not of law - copyright or otherwise.Your post confirms my argument. You say it was wrong to copy the original poster's files without his permission, possibly in direct breach of his README file, and I totally agree with that. But you then go to say say it's OK to decompile and change Microsoft's files without its permission and in breach of its EULA.There can be no objection to using the tools Microsoft has provided to make changes to its files. For example FSEdit and the .cfg files to change the .air file. But I know of no Microsoft tools to change the .air or .bgl files directly, and Microsoft has never published details of the structure of its default .air and .bgl files. This information can only be obtained by decompling these files.I don't believe your justifications are valid. - "...it would lead to an increase in value or usage of their product." That's for Microsoft to decide and, anyway, how would anyone who didn't already have Flight Simulator be aware that there was an improved .bgl available? - "Microsoft's legal department can persue any course it wants in the world's courts concerning EULAS or copyrights, but I seriously doubt MS, or the courts, would go after freeware contributors to the Flight Simulator game." Substitute "Developer" for "Microsoft" and read it again it relation to the original post. Would you accept that as a vaild response to the original poster's complaint? I wouldn't.

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Hi mgh.You stated that Microsoft should decide. That is not true. You or I or Microsoft do not decide if a contract or law is broken. That would be done by a court of law. If a website removes a file because it appears to violate a copyright law, that shows their common sense, as they wouldn't want to be involved in a possible legal dispute. AVSIM does this with their library.Microsoft, or any other software creator, can decide to persue a legal course to stop what they percive is a violation of a EULA or copyright, but they do so knowing the case may go against them. I know of no instance where Microsoft has done this concerning an addon developer to Flight Simulator.I would hate to think we cannot develop, evolve, or alter Flight Simulator for fear of violating someone's personal code of morals or ethics.By your standard of ethics, could anyone use FSUIPC ( just to name one program )? Didn't the creator of that software probe and backward engineer the simulator's files and runtime memory? Could anyone use LWM or VTP scenery when the ASM include files were originally devloped by backwardly engineering the default BGLs? Many times SDKs are released after the code is cracked, and that makes sense, in that the community of developers has demonstrated a maturity of knowledge that supports the release of an SDK... which is exactly what happened in the case of LWM and VTP scenery.In fact, all addon scenery BGLs have involved some use of knowlege obtained by decompiling, or examining default files. I would assume the same could be said of addon aircraft.My point is Microsoft has encouraged such activity, and supports it by adding ever increasing amounts of SDKs to fuel the process. They want us to investigate and alter the sim. They want us to have fun.Law is the expression of a community's morals and ethics. To superceed law with our own individual interpretations of morals or ethics is nonsense. Law is what we have agreed on as a group.Shaka did persue the protection of his legal rights by asking the website to delete the plagaristic files from their library. The resolution was to his satisfaction.If your standards of morality or ethics precludes you from downloading or using addons in the sim, that's your business. If you use some addons and not others, that's still your business... but don't fool yourself into thinking these addons, of which you approve, are not derived from tools or knowledge that have pushed the envelope of violated EULAs. And certainly, don't tell the rest of us how to behave, or publicly to try to reprove us because we do not steer by your particular moral compass.Dick

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My last post on this matter.First, my reference to Microsoft deciding was in relation to "an increase in value or usage of their product" - not in relation to breach of contract etc.Second, the remainder of your post confirms the common view here that it's OK to ignore the specific requirements of the Flight Simulator EULA for the reasons that it's advantageous, and anyway Microsoft can't/won't do anything about it. Finally, The purpose of my earlier post was to point out the double standards that exist here. If it's wrong to disregard some peoples' readmes/EULAs then it's equally wrong to disregard others. I'm not telling anyone how to behave - only pointing out inconsistencies in attitudes.

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You are the one using a double standard. You use addon aircraft and scenery while ignoring the fact they were produced with tools and knowledge that violated Microsoft's EULAs.. there is no exception.Then you evangelize your belief that it is morally wrong to do just that. That is called a double standard.You cannot use ANY addon to Flight Simulator without being a party to a EULA violation.Dick

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"You cannot use ANY addon to Flight Simulator without being a party to a EULA violation."Thank you - my point exactly.

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