maxholt

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About maxholt

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  1. My name is Magnus Axholt and I am the ultimate responsible for the decisions made at Navigraph, particularly for exceptional cases like this one. I would like to make the following points: 1. The effect of piracy cases in general 2. How our anti-piracy measures affects all of our users 3. The specific case of Mr. Maxime Cotton 4. My ability to follow up 1. The effect of piracy cases in general Data is an intangible goods which can be copied and distributed so easily that one seldom reflects over the value of data. We at Navigraph pay a lot of money to get our source data from people who read aeronautical information and compile it into databases. The labor of this work, and the salary cost for people performing this work, and the fees for expert consultants hired to review this work, is very large. This is done every 28 days. You don't have to reflect on this very long to realize that the data output every month is worth a lot, in terms of production costs. The main customers for this type of data are airline companies. They need this data in order to offer a safe transport service. Luckily, mainly due to the sheer size of their operations, they can support this labor cost of producing safe aeronautical data. Flight simulation, however, is a secondary market, and the incomes generated from this market segment is nearly nothing compared to what is generated from the airline companies. This means that if there were anything that would pose a concern for the main market segment, if the data was to circulate in a way which potentially upset the business in the main market segment, I think that our license agreements with data providers could be in jeopardy. The take-home from this paragraph is that piracy of aeronautical data in the flight simulation market segment is obviously a monetary concern since we lose potential income, but an even larger worry is that aeronautical data might become much harder to get if the companies that provide our source data decide to terminate our license agreements since we cannot control the way in which they data is being copied and distributed. COPYING DATA IS NOT ONLY AN ECONOMIC LOSS, BUT MAY ALSO RESULT IN THE FACT THAT THE SUPPLY OF ALL FLIGHT SIMULATION DATA IS CUT OFF FOR EVERYONE. 2. How our anti-piracy measures affects all of our users We need customers to generate income. We need happy customers in order to generate recurring income over a period of time. Once all of this is in place, then we might look into efficiency in order to generate profitability to ultimately make room to expand our business and develop new products. Revoking someone's account and forfeiting the subscription may not seem like a smart move when it comes to generating more happy customers. However, this is something we do when an account has been involved in, or linked to, the illegal copying of our data. I try to steer away from legal or technical terminology, because I am not an expert in either of the areas, but I sometimes have to refer back to stuff like the terms of service which you as a user entered into when starting to use Navigraph services. In these terms we tried to think of stuff like this - what do we do if our data is copied in an uncontrolled fashion and our data providers come breathing down our neck, and on top of it all we start losing money? We have decided to straightforwardly just disconnect the account which we think is reason for the uncontrolled copying of our data. Please don't mark my words here - we do much more than just "think" that an account has been involved. We have good measures to figure out who's doing what, and much of it is based on this watermarking which has been mentioned here in the forum. For obvious reasons I don't want to detail it too much, but we have technically sound and established ways of linking users to datasets. Ok, so let's assume that our watermark gives us the correct information and we have indeed found someone's data floating around on the Internet. Can we call the lawyers and sue someone? Press charges? If we wanted to - yes - but in practice it would be too expensive to follow up on every single case. And what's more important - we wouldn't get any customers if they knew that they would be threatened by a lawsuit if their data somehow went astray. Sure, we could argue the circumstances around how this data was lost, whether the user's computer was sufficiently protected, if the data was lost due to willful neglect, and whether the user's actions (or lack thereof) had sufficient causality compared to the damages that arose from copies that we were not paid for. Some people even argue that they would never download the pirated data unless they came by it free of charge, so even tracking the number of illegal downloads is not a good way of estimating the damages. In short, I am not a legal expert, and I prefer spending my time designing software which people enjoy to use. Therefore, we are left in a very frustrating situation with no real way of combatting the users who pirate our data. The only measure we have as a reactive one, which entails deactivating the account which is linked to the suspicious activity. Section 11.3 in Terms of Service http://www.navigraph.com/Terms.aspx says that we can pull the plug on an account which we think is involved in fraudulent, immoral or illegal activities, or for other similar reasons. That was legal again, sorry. I also agree that his is a blunt and arbitrary tool, but at the moment that's all we got. So where does that leave us? Do we get happy customers by closing down accounts? No. Quietly stand by and see our data being circulated around the net, not taking our responsibility we put in writing and promised our data providers? No. We have to act on a case by case basis, and more often than not we are right when we are closing an account. Quite often it's someone who is not old enough to realize the consequences of their actions, or someone from a country where intellectual property rights (copyright) is not as respected as here in Sweden. In short, most of the time we flick the switch on the right accounts for the right reason. This is good, because if ensures that we are in business for a bit longer, have a decent price on our products, and can continue to offer this data to you. HONEST CUSTOMERS MUST NOT FEEL AFRAID THAT WE WILL PRESS CHARGES IF THEIR DATA IS LOST. EVEN IF OUR METHODS ARE BLUNT, WE ARE RIGHT MOST OF THE TIME. MOST IMPORTANT IS TO BE FLEXIBLE. 3. The specific case of Mr. Maxime Cotton Max was very forthcoming with information about his situation, but there was no real way for us knowing whether this was just another story (because they tend to become very detailed and circumstantial and lack that ring of truth) or if Max's computer indeed was compromised. Either way, the damage was done, and closing down his account is what we have always done in an attempt to control the damages. We did not devote any resources to investigate and evaluate the material Max sent us where he, with the help of his ISP, had gathered information to prove that he had not willingly given up the dataset. While we still claim the right to close down Max's account based on what's said in section 11.3, we realize that this is in some cases a quite blunt tool. So what do we do now? Do we let Max back onto our systems again, knowing that his computer still may be at risk, and that our dataset once again can be illegally copied and spread with the consequences described here above? The risk of this happening is probably lower on Max's computer now, compared to any other arbitrary user of our system, mainly because Max has made a pretty thorough review of his system security. Given that fact that Max has chosen to discuss this in public, we no longer have any reason to believe that he has anything but good intent. Therefore we have chosen to take Max's word for being an upstanding flight simulator user, and also someone who takes his data security seriously. We therefore reinstate his account with his remaining cycles. We also offer him a year's worth of free access to all of our data as a compensation for the time he has spent on this issue. MAX COMPUTER SYSTEM WAS COMPROMISED. EVEN THOUGH THE DAMAGE IS DONE, REGARDLESS IF THE DATA WAS COPIED BY WILLFUL INTENT OR NOT, WE WILL REINSTATE MAX'S ACCOUNT AND COMPENSATE HIM FOR HIS TIME. 4. My ability to follow up Even if Richard, Ian and sometimes Simon write a line or two in forums, I generally tend to focus on the Navigraph forum. I cannot guarantee that I will see any posts in this thread and answer them in a timely manner. At some point I will check in and ready any comments or reactions you might have. You are of course welcome to post in the Navigraph forum, or - if you think there is something I need to know immediately - write to me at magnus.axholt@navigraph.com All for now… Magnus - and the Navigraph Development Team