Vero Software Letters – Notice of Infringement Explained
When you get the “love letter” from Vero Software (this is our joking terminology for received a notice of copyright infringement by Vero or one of its “certified fraud examiners.” Generally, you are going to receive a letter informing you that you are infringing Vero's copyrights in one of its many products (see below) and telling you to contact them to try to get the situation resolved amicably. This is the point where most business owners need to decide whether or not to contact a software piracy defense lawyer. This blog will touch on the Vero's letters and TPM (technological protection software) measures.
What is software “cracking”?
Generally, this means gaining illegal access to software without properly licensing it. We see these often on products that cost more than $4,000-$5,000 dollars such as Vero software, some Autodesk products (ex. Revit), and Siemens for example. High end products are often expensive for new startups, and many newer companies are willing to take the chance that they can use the software illegally, with the use of cracks or torrents, and not get caught. When they get caught, our office gets called many time.
There are three common ways of “cracking” software:
- Use of patches
- Finding vulnerabilities
- The Key maker approach
These are explained very nicely on a great website called helpnetsecurity.com which noted:
“Binary patches, which accounted for 52 percent of the cracked releases. A binary patch is achieved by patching installed application files or replacing the application with modified versions provided within the crack distribution.
The Key Maker approach was used in 36 percent of the releases. A key maker approach is based on a successful reverse engineering process performed by the cracking community. The process is able to recover the vendor seed data and algorithms used by the application to verify and enforce the license.
Vulnerability, a general class of crack approaches that does not require tampering of the software, accounted for 12 percent of the cracked releases. This approach relies on vulnerabilities in the licensing system implementation to bypass enforcement.”
What is “Legends Never Die” software piracy group?
“Operation Site Down is the umbrella name for a law enforcement initiative conducted by the FBI and law enforcement agents from ten other countries which resulted in a raid on targets on June 29, 2005. Three separate undercover investigations were involved, based in Chicago (Operation Jolly Roger), Charlotte and San Jose (Operation Copycat). The raid consisted of approximately 70 searches in the United States and approximately 20 others in ten other countries in an effort to disrupt and dismantle many of the leading warez groups which distribute and trade in copyrighted software, movies, music and games on the Internet”
According to Wikipedia, some of the Warez Groups noted include [affected warez groups include]:
- RiSCiSO / -iSO (iso utils)
- Myth (PC-game rips)
- TDA (iso utils)
- LND (iso industry utils, e.g. CAD/CAM)
- GFZ (courier group- US/KR iso division)
- HOODLUM (PC-game iso)
- VENGEANCE (PC-game iso)
- Centropy (vcd, svcd and dvdr movies)
- WastedTime (vcd movies)
- Alec's Game Copying Service (PC Games, PS2)
- ThP (divx, TV-dvdr and dvdr movies)
- Corrupt (dvdr movies)
- GAMERZ (ps2/Xbox games iso)
- ADMITONE (vcd movies)
- HELLBOUND (dvdr movies, TV-dvdr, classic dvdr)
- KGS (vcd movies)
- BBX (anime dvdr)
- KHG (anime dvdr)
- NOX (vcd movies)
- NFR (svcd movies)
- CDZ (ps2/Xbox games iso)
- TUN (vcd movies)
- BHP (TV-dvdr and dvdr movies)
- MACiSO (RiSCiSO /OSX iso games and utils division )
- DVDiSO (RiSCiSO / classic movies division)
Affected warez sites include:
- RM1 and RM2 (RiSCiSO Main / RM2 link provided by Chicago FBI)
- LAD (West-coast US, hardware/link provided by undercover agents)
- CHUD (West-coast US, hardware/link provided by undercover agents)
- SC (West-coast US, link provided by undercover agents)
- VS (West-coast US, link provided by undercover agents)
- RSN (Netherlands, busted?)
- TNA (California, busted?)
- BB (California, busted?)
- TWH (Netherlands, busted?)
- TEN (Eastcoast, US)
- LW (Lithuania, busted?)
According to wikipedia:
“While few arrests had been made by the time of the first press releases, repercussions ran deep in the warez scene. Countless sites closed as a direct response to the busts, and many active scene members went into hiding.”
What types of applications may be subject to cracking
Again, as noted above, usually it is the more expensive software packages that can be subject to cracking and.
These applications traditionally contain significant intellectual property and provide solutions and functionality in:
- Architecture Engineering and Construction (AEC)
- Computer Aided Design (CAD) [See Autodesk Autocad audits]
- Computer Aided Machine (CAM) [See CNC mastercam legal issues]
- Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) [According to wikipedia – “Computer-aided engineering (CAE) is the broad usage of computer software to aid in engineering analysis tasks. It includes finite element analysis (FEA), computational fluid dynamics (CFD), multibody dynamics (MBD), and optimization”].
- Electronic Design Automation (EDA) [Companies may include Angisys, Aldec, Altera, Altium, Ansys, EM Works, Cadence Design Systems, CadSoft Computer, EasyEDA, DAFCA, Dex, Dolphin, Easy Logix, gEDA, Eremex, Ferrochip, Intellitech, Intercept Technology, JEDA, Invionics, Keysight, KiCad, Lauterbach, Mentor Graphics, VisualSim, NanGate]
- Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) [See Siemens PLM software lawsuits]
- Other specialized engineering and scientific modeling and analysis.
Vero Software Products
Here are the few different Vero Software products that may be at issue in a software investigation:
- Cabinet vision
- WorkNC Dental
Each product has its own End User License Agreement (“EULA”) which discusses their “TPM” (technological protection measures), which basically provides some insight on how your company might have been caught using pirated software. Note: the use “informants” is also common:
“The Licensor and its licensors and affiliates take all legal steps to eliminate piracy of their software products. In this context, the Licensed Materials may include a security mechanism that can detect the installation or use of illegal copies of the Licensed Materials, and collect and transmit data about those illegal copies.
Data collected will not include any customer data created with the Licensed Materials, but may be personally identifiable data. By using the Licensed Materials, you consent to such detection and collection of data, as well as its transmission. We reserve the right to use TPM to protect the integrity and intellectual property rights of the Licensed Materials. You must not attempt in any way to remove or circumvent any such TPM, nor to apply, manufacture for sale, hire, import, distribute, sell, nor let, offer, advertise or expose for sale or hire, nor have in your possession for private or commercial purposes, any means whose intended purpose is to facilitate the unauthorised removal or circumvention of such TPM.
Any personally identifiable data collected as part of such TPM will be used solely to help enforce compliance with this Licence, and will not be used for sales or marketing purposes.”
“Notification of Copyright Infringement”
So, if you find yourself in a situation where you, or some of your shop employees, consultants or independent contractors are using unlicensed software to benefit the company, you might receive a copyright infringement notification letter from Vero Software seeking to get you to come forward and try to resolve the situation amicably (i.e. without resorting to legal action). The letter might state something along the lines of:
“This letter is regarding efforts by Vero Software Inc. to identify and eliminate unauthorized use of Alphacam software products and violations of Alphacam license terms and intellectual property. For your information; copyright infringement is determined without regard to the intent or the state of mind of the infringer; “innocent infringement” is infringement nonetheless.
As stated in the end user license agreement (“EULA”) that governs use of Alphacam software products, “We reserve the right to use any technical protection measures (TPM) to protect the integrity and intellectual property rights of the Licensed Materials”. These TPM have indicated your organization is not using a free trial version, but using unauthorized copies of Alphacam produced by the software piracy group “Legends Never Die”, also commonly known as LND.
The letters may also detail specifics about the TPM:
Details from the TPM include;
Software Version: 2013.1
When you get this letter, before you do anything else you should call to discuss your case with a software infringement law firm. We offer free consultations for companies who received a letter, cease and desist letter, subpoena, or served a lawsuit.
We have offices in Europe (UK), Canada, Australia and the United States, could we be sued in any of these areas for using unlicensed Vero Software?
You have to check the EULA, but it appears the answer to this is YES. If your company has assets in Florida, Texas, New York, California, or other states, you might be subject to being sued in the federal district courts in these areas for willful copyright infringement. Here is what their EULA for the Alphacam product says on this point:
EULA says they can be sued anywhere they have an office:
- GOVERNING LAW AND JURISDICTION 12.1 This Licence, its subject matter and its formation, are governed by English law. 12.2 Subject to Clause 12.3 you and we both agree that the courts of England and Wales will have exclusive jurisdiction over any claim or dispute arising from this Licence. 12.3 Unless you are an individual entering into this Licence on your own behalf, nothing will prevent us from bringing a claim against you in any jurisdiction in which you are incorporated, have an office or hold any assets.
We purchased CNC routers from China and they had Vero software installed could this subject us to an infringement suit?
Possibly. Even “innocent copyright infringement” is still infringement and can subject you to damages and attorney fee awards even if you were not “aware” that the software is included and you do not have a valid license from Vero.
Contact a software licensing defense law firm
We handle copyright infringement cases for companies large and small across the United States as the cases are brought is a federal copyright violation. We can also help countries outside the United States who are facing legal action in the U.S. Call us for a free initial consultation at (877) 276-5084 if you received notice of a potential legal action against your company. We can help with responding to demand letters, software audits, investigations, infringement lawsuits, arbitration and mediation involving intellectual property.