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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Shady toolbar packaging - now uses adwords

We've discussed similar things in the past but I thought I'd let everyone know about an murky practice I'm seeing some download sites sink to now.

Essentially they're advertising on adwords using my product name as a keyword. They then offer a "free download" and wrap it in an installer containing crap such as profit generating tool bars etc.

Example: http://www.deeptrawl.com/etc/shady.png

I thought it worth mentioning as I think a lot of them are in violation of the new T&C's Andy pointed out recently. I'm going to try complaining to Google & see what happens.

Wondering if many other people are seeing this for their products? After all the download sites have all the information needed to do this on mass.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Monday, April 22, 2013
This has been going on for quite a while.  It's nasty because they are potentially ruining our reputation for a few pennies. And some of these toolbars are all but impossible to fully uninstall (e.g. Babylon). softonic are one of the worst offenders. I told them to stop doing for PerfectTablePlan and they did. I haven't checked if they since restarted.

-change your EULA/terms to prohibit modifying your installer
-email them and ask them to stop, telling them it is a violation of your EULA/copyright
-threaten to complain to Google (if they use adwords) or their ISP

A DCMA takedown notice might also work.
Andy Brice Send private email
Monday, April 22, 2013
Do they have your download file on their servers, or are they linking to your website or maybe activating your download button programmatically?
Bill Anonomist Send private email
Monday, April 22, 2013
Any advertising is good advertising?
Harry Phace Send private email
Saturday, April 27, 2013
> Do they have your download file on their servers

I'm not 100% sure, they give the user an installer which does all the toolbar stuff then starts my installer.

> Any advertising is good advertising  

I might agree in some circumstances but not when the user is specifically searching for my product name - then it's just a distraction.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Saturday, April 27, 2013
You left out my question mark when quoting.  I wasn't stating it WAS good, but asking if it were.
Harry Phace Send private email
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Sorry, no intention to subvert your meaning, just a dodgy copy / paste.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Maybe add a  warning in your installer to not proceed unless downloaded from your website. You could state that some download sites may install toolbars, spyware, etc.
Bill Anonomist Send private email
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Bill, that's exactly what I had in my EULA for my apps.  Specifically:

"You understand that the Product should only be downloaded from mysite.com and that if You obtained it from any other source, then You use it at Your own risk and You agree not to hold the Author or mysite.com liable in any way for using the Product from that source."
Harry Phace Send private email
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
I'd be more likely to word it so that packaging it is breaking the eula, so I can then threaten the shady download sites who do this.

I suspect any warning to end users will be of limited success. Those who know better won't fall for this scam, those to do... will.

To be honest I suspect most of my users are more savvy than this, they're B2B and usually web designers / sys-admins etc. so are aware of this kind of stuff. It's more the fact that these guys are willing to sully my good name (and that of other software) to make a few cents that bothers me. Not very pragmatic I know...
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
EULA's don't apply to distributors.  It's an *end-user* agreement.  IANAL.
Harry Phace Send private email
Wednesday, May 01, 2013

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