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From Rob Weir <>
Subject Re: Scam issues.
Date Fri, 17 Aug 2012 17:04:48 GMT
On Thu, Aug 16, 2012 at 8:40 PM, Tamblyne <> wrote:
> On 8/15/2012 9:06 PM, Rob Weir wrote:
>> On Wed, Aug 15, 2012 at 4:28 PM, Tamblyne<>  wrote:
>>> On 8/2/2012 11:31 AM, Rob Weir wrote:
>>>> On Thu, Aug 2, 2012 at 11:50 AM, David H. Lipman<>
>>>> wrote:
>>>>> From: "Anastasia Cher"<>
>>>>>> Hello there,
>>>>>> I didn't know where to email, so I decided to just email to you.
>>>>>> just
>>>>>> want to tell that there is an issue, some website
>>>>>> www.*openoffice*.fm/suitepretends that its you. When I googled Open
>>>>>> Office it was the first website
>>>>>> in research so I just clicked and downloaded what they offered. The
>>>>>> say
>>>>>> that it's an Open Office suit. When I finished and installed it,
I had
>>>>>> lots
>>>>>> of bugs and staff but no office. So I don't know, but these guys
>>>>>> using
>>>>>> your name for scam.
>>>>> This is going on for numerous software from Adobe Reader to VLC Media
>>>>> Player.
>>>> Right.  This is how it seems to work:
>>>> 1) They buy advertisements on Google and Bing and spam social
>>>> networks, offering OpenOffice,Free Office and similar keywords.  These
>>>> lure users into going to their page.
>>>> 2) The pick URL's and brand the site in a way that makes it look
>>>> official.
>>>> 3) To download OpenOffice you need to use their special "downloader"
>>>> tool.  The main purpose of the downloader tool is to install other
>>>> unrelated applications onto your system.  It may or may not then
>>>> install OpenOffice.
>>>> 4) These other applications are sponsored apps, meaning another
>>>> company is paying for these applications to be promoted.  That is the
>>>> source of revenue for the websites that do this.
>>>> I did a blog post on this:
>>>> Note:  Users are not powerless.  There are places to report such
>>>> issues.  Some are listed in the blog post.
>>>> Regards,
>>>> -Rob
>>> Users aren't powerless, but too many of them just don't pay attention. I
>>> pulled up your blog post to see if you addressed the easiest "clue" --
>>> for
>>> me, anyway -- the URL itself and I see you do mention it, but maybe it
>>> could
>>> be more directly stated.
>>> *Any* URL that ends in a dot other than COM or ORG or NET should be
>>> suspect
>>> and probably shouldn't be clicked on at all.  The ".fm" in the URL the
>>> poster provided is a dead giveaway.  Most of your suggestions of things
>>> to
>>> watch out for require the user to actually visit the page first, and too
>>> many times it's already too late after that's been done.
>> I think that another issue is that users are not very Google (or Bing)
>> savvy.  They don't all know about sponsored links in search results,
>> especially when they appear on top.   They have in mind what they are
>> searching for, and naturally gravitate toward the top listing.  Subtle
>> shading or small print does not cause them to slow down and even check
>> the URL.
>>> It always frustrates me that in these "modern times" so much time is
>>> spent
>>> cleaning up messes in the wake of these unethical people -- thieves and
>>> liars.  I have no use for them.
>>> For instance, I'm sure it took you a fair bit of time to write that blog
>>> post -- which is very helpful.  Unfortunately, I would guess that a vast
>>> majority of the people who need that knowledge won't find it until
>>> *after*
>>> they've been screwed and go to try to find out why.
>> True.  But it does have some value for us to articulate what we
>> consider to be acceptable and unacceptable.  As open source software
>> we tread a narrow line.  We're open as a matter of principle, and from
>> a copyright perspective our license allows anyone to copy the software
>> for any purpose.  But that is only with respect to copyright.
>> Trademark use is an entirely different beast, and no one is given
>> permission to use our trademark in a way that confuses or harms our
>> users.
>> If we were a big corporation we'd have legions of attorneys at our
>> call to apply their special powers of persuasion to remedy this.  But
>> we're a non-profit, relying on volunteers.  So the emphasis
>> necessarily focuses on user education.  We're not the only product
>> that runs into this problem.  Many of the popular open source apps
>> have the same issues, like 7-ZIP and VLC Player.  It comes
>> hand-in-hand with popularity.  No one tries to misuse trademarks of
>> unpopular programs.
>> -Rob
> I definitely agree with what you say, and am familiar with the issues. It's
> only that the horse will have already left the barn before the people who
> really need that info will find it.

Any suggestions for how we could do this better?

The one thing we're not able to do is go out, guns blazing, with cease
and desist orders and DMCA take-downs, etc.  We're not a big

One idea -- more of a dream than a plan -- is to contact other open
source projects who face similar issues, and work together to raise
recognition of the issue, educate users, but also push for less
expensive routes for non-profits to raise complaints in these areas.

> Tam
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