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Locking a discussion about a locked discussion? Huh?

by Slikkster / July 24, 2008 1:00 AM PDT

I just noticed that Tom's "Hackintosh" thread is now locked? That's a little extreme, isn't it? What's the problem with talking about policies on the forum? Can't be bothered? This is the kind of heavy-handed thing that will drive people away from this forum.

Rather than taking your bat and ball and going home, why not use it as a chance to expand upon the policy(ies) about posts?

Quite frankly, I find the application of these policies a bit inconsistent. If anyone does a search here for "jailbreak" here, you'll see threads that "discuss" it in some manner or other. As I read the Apple EULA on the iPhone, it seems to take an even harsher stance on (e.g. criminal punishment) doing things that might manipulate the hardware or software than on manipulating OSX.

Yet here's one thread where Mod Bob responds to a direct question about whether an update to Itunes and Quicktime will be bad for jailbreakers:

http://forums.cnet.com/5208-6126_102-0.html?forumID=10&threadID=270694&messageID=2623080#2623080

No lock? It's ok to discuss jailbreaking here?

Why not just be more specific about what is and isn't allowed, without *hinting* about it. Example:

Allowed: Discussions about Hackintosh as a concept.

Disallowed: References to *how* to Hack OSX and/or references to *where* to obtain such hacks/cracks to OSX.

Allowed: Discussions about pros/cons of jailbreaking iPhones.

Disallowed: Instructions and or links to jailbreak websites or downloads.

When I read the original poster's Hackintosh thread, I took the "K...y" reference as an aside, meaning I didn't know what the heck he was referring to. Now, given all the attention YOU brought to it, I know. Uh, thanks?

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Gaaaa....
by PressAnyKey / July 24, 2008 2:16 AM PDT

I can't stand all this teasing. I'm a home brew monster and I must build a Hackintosh!!!

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Reminds me of that scene from Airplane.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 24, 2008 3:04 AM PDT

When the paranoid one turned off the runway lights...

I see you understand where the lines are. Now let's get to it.
Bob

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It's more than just that...
by John.Wilkinson / July 24, 2008 3:24 AM PDT

Note the first post in the thread, which tells members where to go to discuss topics forbidden in the forums. That's no different than saying "Hey, I do not believe stripping DRM is wrong, but since it's forbidden to be discussed in these forums why don't you come over to another website, _________, and we'll discuss what we cannot discuss here." Discussion about forum policies is permissible, within reason, but attempting to circumvent them by directing forbidden discussions elsewhere is itself forbidden. Such threads are routinely edited/locked/deleted, with Lee's support. The thread in question has been locked pending a decision by Lee.

John

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that helps; Hackintosh connundrum; EULA-watch blog?...
by shawnlin / July 24, 2008 4:10 AM PDT

John - that post was good to read, thanks.

I'm just confused about the whole Hackintosh thing and I was throwing thoughts and questions out there to better understand it - apparently it eventually touched off a 3-rail of sorts. All I was trying to do is understand the topic through the minds and insights of folks in Buzztown. If someone would be able to point to be to "Hackintosh explainer", that would help, a lot. As Tom mentioned in the post (sorry it got locked Tom, no thanks to me), I may be visiting Tom's Plurk page, etc.

Also...is there some "EULA watch" blog out there? I'd like to get clarity on software hacking - or...at least the best clarity available.

The analogy that I have in mind to make sense of all these software subtleties is using and example from the "physical realm". For example, I can buy a car and immediately modify it to my hearts content. I may void the warranty, and if I'm okay with doing that, no problem then. However maybe if I were to buy some high profile supercar (Ferrari, Bugatti, Rolls Royce, etc.) then there would be some EULA preventing modifications?...

As for the forums, it is up to them and I understand and respect their decision. At this point though, I wish to have more insight as to why the topic was shut down. I would like to see an exhaustive and formal explanation about the shutting down of thread on this, apparently, very unique topic. I just don't think it's been fully explained, or at least I've not seen the post where this has all been explained already.

Best,
Shalin

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"EULA preventing modifications?"
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 24, 2008 5:04 AM PDT

If that is what you want to discuss then let's do that.

The EULA didn't appear to limit that. Just what hardware you could run it on.

There is a legal Hackentosh out there but so far everyone veers to the forbidden models. Do you know which one is legal?
Bob

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Warranty vs license...
by John.Wilkinson / July 24, 2008 5:29 AM PDT

Shalin,

I think there's a key distinction there. A warranty defines what rights a consumer has with regard to repair/replacement/compensation should a product fail. A license, on the other hand, represents an individual's legal right to access/use a service or product. That's exemplified by buying a new computer: If it comes without a warranty the consumer may be upset, but if it comes without licenses for the software (say, Windows, Photoshop, and Nero) installed on it the software developers may sue for piracy.

Thus, I feel a proper analogy would be more along the lines of a bar owner possessing a license to dispense liquor. The owner must pay for the license, which may be revoked at any time should the owner violate the terms of the license. Should the license be revoked the owner no longer has the legal right to dispense liquor, even though he paid for the license, the cost of which was never refunded. The difference is that a liquor license is generally designed to protect the patrons/public and benefit (one could argue) the government while in this case it's mean to protect and benefit Apple.

----------

As to the lock, it was enabled by me pending a decision from Lee. I think there is potential benefit from discussing the law, forum policies, etc, and thus I would support such a thread for as long as it could remain civil and avoid circular arguments. (Repeating the same arguments time and time again for a week or more would be pointless and distracting.) However, the original post by Tom is what concerns me. Telling members to go to another location if they wish to engage in discussions prohibited here was prohibited by Lee long ago as a circumvention of forum policies. This came up exactly one year ago, so there's some history here to deal with internally, and I'll leave it at that.

John

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Uh-Oh...
by Slikkster / July 24, 2008 8:32 AM PDT
In reply to: Warranty vs license...

Tom's in trouble, Tom's in trouble...

Sorry; couldn't resist.

Now, as to EULA's. Let's face it, anyone can put ANYTHING in a EULA. It doesn't *necessarily* make it legal, nor enforceable.

Using an absurd example to make the point, say Apple says "By purchasing this "license", you agree to give us your first-born son". Seriously, you really must resist giving blanket "license" to EULA's when they may not, in fact, have the force of ANY law behind them depending upon what they actually say.

Now, of course, Apple may be perfectly within its legal rights to state what they have stated in said EULAs. But I, personally, would never accept any EULA as legally binding *just because* it is a EULA. That's ridiculous.

A corollary of sorts is retail store policies on returns and refunds. Well, in some states, no matter what the store says is valid policy, the state itself might provide the consumer additional rights. Here's a short blurb from Hawaii's Consumer Affairs dept:

"Merchants may not charge or deduct restocking fees for processing a refund, merchandise credit or exchange. The only exceptions relate to certain custom orders, and a merchant may deduct charges for repacking, pickup and transportation of goods previously delivered, unpacked and set up by the merchant at the direction of the consumer, if the deduction is disclosed to the consumer before the purchase."

Get the point? Just because someone sets out what they deem is a legal declaration (e.g. "20 percent restocking fee on ALL returns") doesn't make it so.

Like the old Hebrew National hot dog commercials used to say about using other than 100 percent beef:

"We can't." "We answer to a higher authority."


Now, all of that said, I DON'T expect cNet to make the determination of what is or isn't legally binding in any company's EULA. Just making my point, that's all.

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Then the one question.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 24, 2008 8:43 AM PDT
In reply to: Uh-Oh...

Since you will not accept Apple's license do you feel you can copy any software product to use anywhere, as many times as you can since you don't agree with EULA's?

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Pay attention...
by Slikkster / July 24, 2008 7:52 PM PDT
In reply to: Then the one question.

You did not carefully read what I said. No go back and get it right.

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Oops...
by Slikkster / July 24, 2008 7:56 PM PDT
In reply to: Pay attention...

I meant "now go back"...

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I have one question.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 24, 2008 11:11 PM PDT
In reply to: Oops...

Your answer would tell us a great deal.

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Again, please read what I actually said.
by Slikkster / July 25, 2008 12:02 AM PDT
In reply to: I have one question.

I don't accept your premise, and it's not what I said. That's why I pointed you back to my post, which, by the way, the other moderator didn't have trouble comprehending. So please, read it again. Where do you see in that post my contention that Apple's EULA is unequivocally invalid?

What I DID say is that I don't automatically take as absolutely legally valid ANY EULA *just because* it's a EULA. My point is that any company can say anything in a EULA; big deal. It doesn't *necessarily* make them legally binding.

I pointed out that Apple's EULA might be totally legal. My commentary was about EULA's in general. People should not assume that just because some entity has put out some verbiage in a license agreement that the verbiage has the force of law, particularly when there are higher authorities (the courts, local, state and federal governments) that have the final say.

I never said anything about copying software, so please, don't put words in my mouth. The part of the Apple EULA I find potentially suspect has to do with installing OS X on anything other than Apple-branded equipment. That could easily be construed by a court as being in violation of monopoly law; exactly what Phystar hopes to sucessfully claim.

Imagine if Apple said only certain applications were allowed to be run on OS X. They'd be legally hammered, just like Microsoft was. Why is it OK for Apple to legally limit hardware manufacturers, if they would never be able to successfully limit software manufacturers?
That's a question the courts are going to have to answer. The fact that Apple has, in the past, licensed their OS's to third-parties is a precedent that can (and probably will) be used against them.

If I buy a copy of OS X, I've paid Apple. I'm not talking about warez/Kalaway, etc. I'm talking about a purchased DVD. Apple wants to protect its hardware profits by preventing end-users from installing the OS on other branded equipment. I, and others, including some companies, feel we have a legitimate choice to make in installing it on whatever it will run on.

Let's see what the courts say. To be clear (and I don't know why I have to be clear), I'm not advocating software theft. Heck, I even paid for Winzip, when there are any number of free alternatives. But, that's just me.

I hope my answer has told you a great deal.

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Which is just spinning the EULA.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 25, 2008 12:17 AM PDT

If we want to modify MacOSX to go beyond its EULA and license will these forums also be doing the same for Windows and all other software?

Once you cross that line there is likely to be no going back.

"Imagine if Apple said only certain applications were allowed to be run on OS X."

Already happening. Look no further than the iPhone. I agree in total with this one. PLEASE start a new discussion if you want to know why.
Bob

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I agree...
by John.Wilkinson / July 24, 2008 9:12 AM PDT
In reply to: Uh-Oh...

There have been EULAs in the past that have been thrown out of court due to "unconscionable content or circumstances," which is what's commonly cited in cases where it requires you to give your first born or something else like that. And many rogue applications which actually have EULAs or other agreements have been subject to litigation where the EULA was thrown out. Thus, I read the EULAs of software and only use them if I agree with the conditions, and agree that in some cases you should not be bound to them even if you previously agreed. It's just that in this case that doesn't apply. Psystar is currently arguing that Apple has created a monopoly on Mac OS X and is unfairly controlling its usage. If they win this may change. But most likely they will either lose or be financially forced to withdraw their claim, in which case that clause will stand. Regardless of the outcome we must go by what currently stands, and so such discussion is prohibited unless Cnet and/or the courts rule otherwise.

John

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oh, yeah, good catch on my mixing apples/oranges...
by shawnlin / July 24, 2008 12:57 PM PDT
In reply to: Warranty vs license...

so yes, I think the bar analogy makes sense. or a drivers license, or just about any "license" situation. I guess...well, I'm really interested if anyone has

Okay, so I vaguely recall something about this kalyway thing be *stolen*...so someone just stole a copy of OSX and hacked into it? the theft and use of a stolen product - I can definitely understand that's a problem. But *is* hacking an OS violating a EULA? If so...why? Strictly a control of quality and user experience issue - and thus marketshare and profits? Is this at the root of open source vs. closed source debates?

and by the way, for both yourself and Bob thanks for workin' with my feeble non-computer-geek mind on this stuff. I think I only added to the circular arguments because I just didn't have enough background info. huh...I can probably draw up a detailed plan to transport humanity to Mars, but this stuff confuses me... sometimes life is like that Wink

--Shalin

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"But *is* hacking an OS violating a EULA?"
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 24, 2008 1:07 PM PDT

Sorry that needs a small word change. Try "But *is* hacking an OS violating the EULA?"

For that you have to read their EULA. This is dry stuff but you can work your way through it.

-> The demo shown did use a purchased MacOSX and some special (I'll use the wrong term here) drivers and helpers but they did pay up for their OSX. The locked thread wasn't so kind.

If you were going to allow that then we'd have to allow any discussion of all crack methods, pirated OSes and more. Discounting any legal issues what you would end up with the usual crack and warez forums. Why would anyone come here anymore?
Bob

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Part of the inconsistency...
by Slikkster / July 24, 2008 8:00 PM PDT

is the fact that these topics can be discussed in a cNet product, i.e. in this example, Buzz Out Loud, yet cannot be discussed in the cNet forum that purports to associated with said podcast.

I hope that fact is not lost on the moderators, and the podcasters.

Maybe it would be wise for Tom, Molly, and Jason to have an alternative site such as what has been mentioned so there are no legal culpabilities for cNet, while topics can be more freely explored.

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John - my apologies
by acedtect-20196213851867054973637995818137 / July 26, 2008 8:41 AM PDT
In reply to: Warranty vs license...

I would not have intentionally broken that policy had I known of it. I really was trying to direct the original hackintosh poster to the ability to interact with me, while maintaining respect for the policies y'all have carefully and thoughtfully crafted. And then I go and put my foot in it.

I hope you don't think I was trying to circumvent anything.

And to any and all reading this, please please respect the moderators. They have a very tough job walking the line that keeps these forums a usable and enjoyable place to discuss things. I think both Bob and John have shown in this thread that they aren't powermongers looking to arbitrarily control discussions and censor, but rather they're open to ways to discuss things that won't disrupt the forums.

Let's hear it for the moderators!

-Tom

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(NT) Awesome. My post was deleted.
by kwahhn / July 24, 2008 11:31 PM PDT
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Email me a copy.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 24, 2008 11:48 PM PDT

I didn't get a notice that anyone did it but wonder what it was.

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No worries...
by kwahhn / July 24, 2008 11:55 PM PDT
In reply to: Email me a copy.

It was probably deserved.

Think I wrote something on the lines of:

"I support this type of thread absurdity."


And believe it or not, I actually do.

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Usually the mod deleting it
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 24, 2008 11:56 PM PDT
In reply to: No worries...

Alerts it. I haven't seen that yet.

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Policies Talking About Polices About...
by Renegade Knight / July 25, 2008 5:05 AM PDT

Apparently there is a policy that says talking about a policy about not talking about things that can be considered illegal.

So if I hack my mack with an Asus motherboard becuase it was cheaper than my Apple motherboard. Then hack my Mac to run like it did before...That hardly strikes me as illegal.

Then of course if you upgrae each part on your mac so the only thing left of your mac is the OS...I'm not sure that's illegal either.

Apparently you can't discuss merely starting out with a PC, but it's ok if you start with a Mac and end up with one.

That's the thing about a policy about the discussion of something that's potentially a legal issue.

Heck there is no law that says 'you can't hack a PC to run OSX". Instead there is a EULA with some wording that doesn't cover every known case and therefore is subject to intrepretation. Which is actually very different from discussing illegal things (which of course in and of itself isn't illegal).

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This one is easier.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 25, 2008 5:13 AM PDT

You paid your bill to Apple. It's now just a repair job and differs far too much from the locked post under discussion.

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mods better lock this thread...
by robstak / July 28, 2008 10:58 AM PDT

jk Wink

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