Full text revealed of legal threats against JMZ Software for hosting HTC ROMs and RUUs

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In the continuing saga of HTC versus JMZ Software, which affects everyone involved in rooting and customization, we now have the text of the email that contained legal requests, and reasoning for the requests, from HTC’s legal rep.

The text has been modified by JMZ to remove some personally identifiable information; however, it’s all hopefully complete otherwise. The full text can be viewed here.

I asked HTCDev for a comment on the stance of Sense-based ROM redistribution, and I got back a statement that HTC can’t comment on it because HTCRUU was not the company’s website. I have re-volleyed the question into something that HTC can’t wiggle around, and that’s for a statement on HTCs policies on Sense-based ROM redistribution. However, I’m just waiting for an answer I probably will not get.

HTCRUU was taken down for using HTC in the domain name, and also using HTC’s logo. If the owner wanted to fight it, he probably could argue that it’s the same intent as a store called Nissan Aftermarket: there was no affiliation with HTC, except that he was distributing HTC-branded products (the RUUs). It would be a tricky thing to have kept the domain name, and next to impossible to keep the RUUs.

The lawyer didn’t seem to initially understand that. For example, the term Jewel is what developers still call the EVO 4G LTE, and any directory named Jewel contained released and modified released ROMs, not pre-release ROMs. The lawyer states that in any case, these ROMs pose a security risk because they could be modified or changed in such a way that could harm the device or its user, and that fault would be imputed to HTC. In general, this would probably have not been assumed if domain name did not have HTC in the title, but in this case the HTC legal representative tells JMZ that the ROMs have to come down and that finding any other sites that have modified HTC ROMs would be appreciated.

That statement from HTC’s lawyer should be of great concern to all: “On the ROM front, HTC does not endorse or allow distribution of its ROMs by any third party.” If this statement is true, this means that for the past several years, developers who have been operating under the blessing (or at least the turned eye) of HTC have been gravely mistaken, and their hard development work can be lawyered away if HTC wants what they’ve made for its own, or just doesn’t like them.

Questions still remain, though: Is this just a lawyer who doesn’t understand how the ROM world works? Is this HTC’s official stance? Is this another case like Trevor Eckhart’s Carrier IQ saga, where HTC will  plan to bully anyone into doing what it wants by unfounded, or in this case potentially unbacked, legal threats?

Since answers don’t seem forthcoming, perhaps it’s time to demand answers from HTC.

  • What are the exact reasons JMZ software (both RUUs and custom ROMs) is being taken down?
  • Why are his ROMs potentially dangerous, at least in the lawyer’s opinion, but XDA (for example) has thousands of ROMs for every HTC device ever made that are based on stock software, and nobody has complained?
  • Is the object here to crush custom ROM development and distribution completely?
  • Without using doublespeak, what is HTC’s stance on Sense ROM modification and redistribution by third parties? Is HTC planning to threaten other developers who make its phones more usable, while it works through trying to fix bugs in the latest official release? Or is this just JMZ being told he is out of the game since he used HTC in the domain name?

The most important question here is the future of open development on HTC’s device platform. The future is at risk if developers are not allowed to make modifications and fixes, and distribute these mods. Several people, myself included, would have walked from HTC a long time ago, had it not been for being able to get ROMs that function correctly after a disastrous update.

HTC obviously has benefited from the development world. So please, HTC, just let us know: is it your plan to kill development by shutting down distribution of custom modified stock ROMs, or is this just a lawyer who was tasked with shutting down a trademark infringing website, and he’s gone a bit too far?

If you’d like to know from HTC about the threat to development and the complaints against JMZ other than the trademark infringement, tweet @HTC and @HTCDev and ask for an official statement on 3rd party custom ROM distribution. Or just click here and it will tweet for you.

Check out the rest of our Android coverage, including app reviewsNexus news, and more at pocketables.com/android.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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34 thoughts on “Full text revealed of legal threats against JMZ Software for hosting HTC ROMs and RUUs

  • Avatar of adam
    January 24, 2013 at 1:46 pm
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    this is f ing crazy.. HTC is on some other sh**..

    Reply
    • Avatar of Paul E King
      January 24, 2013 at 1:58 pm
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      I can’t help but think that it’s probably just a lawyer who does not have a clue about HTCDev, the previous several years of development interaction, the community, etc.

      But, it does look freakishly bad

      Reply
      • Avatar of Fifth313ment
        January 24, 2013 at 8:07 pm
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        Yeah after the huge losses they are taking as a whole in their revenue, bugs in their OS on multiple phones, slow sales and a slowing development community this is exactly what HTC needed to get back into the game! If you couldn’t tell this is sarcasm, lol. If the bugs and other issues didn’t stop me from getting another HTC phone this certainly did. Goodbye HTC… I heard the SGS4 has Gorilla Glass 3 and a 8 core processor… Paul?

        Reply
        • Avatar of Paul E King
          January 25, 2013 at 8:04 am
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          HTC’s going to have to do something major to prevent this from becoming a catastrophe.

          Honestly don’t know right now… just got an email back from HTC that made me want to punch someone so going to wait on commenting.

          Reply
          • Avatar of Fifth313ment
            January 27, 2013 at 11:55 pm
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            Hey Paul, you’ve had some time to calm down now, so what did they tell you? I’m still mad that we’re now over a month past when JB was released on the EVO LTE and we have no idea when bug fixes, which made the phone almost unusable for some, are going to be released? The proximity sensor bug literally makes me want to throw my phone at least twice a day minimum! HTC and Sprint both have no comment and now with HTC going after the dev community I don’t know why any sane person would invest in another HTC phone?

        • Avatar of Paul E King
          January 29, 2013 at 12:22 am
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          it was a very long runaround having to deal with an escalation department for a no comment. Bunch of people who wanted my MEID in order to escalate a request… then hurdles to get them to understand that they did not need that… then the brick wall.

          Reply
  • Avatar of Anthony
    January 24, 2013 at 1:58 pm
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    I think we might have found the new apple…

    Reply
  • Avatar of Randy S
    January 24, 2013 at 2:05 pm
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    I emailed HTC directly, telling them that if HTC Sense ROM development continues to be attacked, I won’t be buying HTC products anymore. I love their hardware, but I’d prefer a plasticy Samsung phone with TouchWiz stripped out and a pure Android ROM to not being able to install Sense-based ROMs.

    If anyone else wants to email them:
    http://www.htc.com/www/contact/email/

    Given that they’re struggling, they should be happy that there is a development community that still likes their hardware.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Simon Belmont
    January 24, 2013 at 3:11 pm
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    Hmm. This rabbit hole does go deeper it seems. If HTC doesn’t want people mucking with their software, why do they allow HTCDev to exist at all? Even if all you’re doing after HTCDev unlocking your device is rooting it, you’re still MODIFYING it in some shape or form.

    I can sort of understand HTC not wanting to field devices screwed up by custom ROMs, hence the “security” aspect. However, if you’re are HTCDev unlocked, they already know you’ve chosen to muck with their software, so they can deny warranty, right? I dunno. This seems weird, the whole thing. It’s a shame because JMZ makes good ROMs. Used his unofficial CM9 and CM10 ROMs on my wife’s OG EVO.

    Reply
  • Avatar of DeMarcoDC
    January 24, 2013 at 7:46 pm
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    Looks like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and The Librarian of Congress may be the reason for this. Seems they are trying to make it illegal for anyone to unlock a cell phone. Law goes into affect Jan 26. You can thank The Librarian of Congress.who made these changes last October.

    Reply
    • Avatar of me
      January 25, 2013 at 10:36 am
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      See why doesnt this make the news! Instead I get pop star tmz thrown down my face all day long.

      Reply
      • Avatar of Paul E King
        January 25, 2013 at 1:33 pm
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        try explaining to someone who doesn’t know anything about development what this actually means, you’ll quickly understand why it doesn’t make news. The eyes start to gloss over.

        Plus, we’re small, we have ~2000 people who might even read this, the person they said it to was infringing on their trademark so it’s freaking hard to prop him up as a persecuted martyr, etc.

        I mean, had it been one thing, the ROMs, we might have gotten it blown up… but man, the other things… just going to have to wait to see if HTC is smart and doesn’t do that to anyone else…

        Reply
          • Avatar of Fifth313ment
            January 28, 2013 at 10:27 am
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            Comment is gone, perhaps they have moderation on the comments?

          • Avatar of Paul E King
            January 28, 2013 at 10:55 am
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            I’ll check the spam queue – looks like at least one thing is awaiting moderation as it thinks it’s spam…
            Yup that was it, think the links to other sites threw up a flag… it wasn’t marked spam, just was marked as might be spam so take a look before it posts

  • Avatar of Ferenczy
    January 24, 2013 at 10:36 pm
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    Is it not common sense (no pun intended) that since HTCdev.com (a site created by HTC) allows for unlocking of the bootloader (which has to be done in order for a ROM to be flashed if memory serves) that HTC has in essence already given their blessing (with all attached disclaimers) to creating new/modified ROMs for their devices? I personally believe that their own actions have created this conundrum.

    From HTCdev.com –

    “We are extremely pleased to see the energy and enthusiasm from our fans and loyal customers, and we are excited to see what you are capable of. HTC eagerly anticipates your innovations.”

    What innovations would/could they mean if not for ROM/kernel development? I would argue that with the disclaimers on their own website that HTC has implied consent to development of the software that is used on/for their devices.

    I’m no lawyer (obviously) but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night and watched a Matlock marathon on the boobtube…

    Reply
    • Avatar of Simon Belmont
      January 25, 2013 at 12:34 pm
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      Precisely. This is exactly what I was saying in my post.

      If HTC isn’t open to development of custom ROMs on their hardware, then why even offer the option to unlock the bootloader? It makes little SENSE (see what I did there?).

      Reply
  • Avatar of Scruff24
    January 25, 2013 at 5:46 am
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    So w/ the DMCA, will it be illegal to root your phone after Saturday? What I understood was that as far as unlocking and using on a different network…is what is trying to be quashed….or is it rooting altogether?

    Reply
    • Avatar of Hwyman
      January 25, 2013 at 7:10 am
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      I believe it’s the former since you are not prevented from buying an unlocked phone or unlocking one that is out of contract. Also, I believe the new law only applies to (locked) phones purchased after Jan 26.

      Reply
      • Avatar of NYCHitman1
        January 25, 2013 at 7:43 am
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        What is illegal is using your unlocked device on a carrier that you are not on-contract with, not the unlocking of bootloader/rooting/etc..

        Reply
  • Avatar of Scruff24
    January 25, 2013 at 8:21 am
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    OH, ok….thx for clarifying.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Feech
    January 25, 2013 at 8:29 am
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    I’m not sure if there is anything to it but since HTC has become buddies with Apple it seems like they are real douchey now..

    Reply
  • Avatar of gticlay
    January 25, 2013 at 1:10 pm
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    HTC knows exactly what local government knows: They have more money than you do so they can basically bully and treat you however you want if you don’t have a boatload of cash to defend yourself in court (almost nobody has that much money). I see this all the time with cities and counties bullying their citizens because they have nearly unlimited money and property owners do not. Same shituation here.

    Reply
  • Avatar of whoshotjr2006
    January 25, 2013 at 8:52 pm
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    htc 2012-13 = lame.

    i can understand them asking jmz to take down the htc logo, but seriously, untouched ruu’s? coming from a guy that has used that site more than once to get out of a jam after flashing stuff, those ruu’s are seriously untouched. just as htc offers them. its called a mirror host. he had only a few roms up *on his personal site i might add that had nothing to do with htcruu.com* that would be considered “a stray from the original.” do your homework htc.

    they should be thanking jmz, not bullying him. he and others have provided a valuable service by breathing life back into phones that htc churns out then forgets 4 months later.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Kortez
    January 26, 2013 at 10:05 pm
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    Well I guess no more HTC even tho I love the hardware. This ridiculous sh*t is the reason why I’ve never owned an apple product now add HTC to the list. Ima run the miles on this 3vo until the next nexus comes out anyway but dam I really do love the hardware.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Kortez
    January 26, 2013 at 10:27 pm
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    so basically they saying no one is buying their products because they can reuse them after the contract ends on another network???

    to me no one is buying their products because of software updates (ice cream sandwich & jelly bean) and the timeline of their products life.

    To me I think they are really looking at the consumers like we are suppose to get a new phone every 13 months and not realize that the money is more important than the development of the os. I say fuck em since basically that’s the reason why Android is so popular over ios. Nexus here me my family and the thousand others I have turned in Android freaks come.

    Now I’m just waiting for Google to get that network up and running.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Kortez
    January 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm
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    I’ve only had HTC phones from the mytouch line to the EVO line. Yep that’s right since 1.5 but enough is enough. Beats Audio isn’t that important if I’m suppose to have the best phone with last year’s os. Thanks HTC for letting me kno what’s up in 2013. If its not unlocked its not the pure Android experience.

    Reply
    • Avatar of Kortez
      January 26, 2013 at 10:38 pm
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      “If its not unlocked its not the Pure Android Experience”

      Reply
  • Avatar of jtology
    January 27, 2013 at 10:33 pm
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    Well, that’s it for me. I’ve been a loyal HTC customer from the Dash to the Wing to Touch Pro, Touch Pro II, Hero, Evo, Evo 3D and Evo LTE. HTC was once Apples nemesis.. now they’ve become Apples protoge. This is the last act in a long line of backward thinking from HTC for me. I’m going to start buying Samsung phones from here on out. Despite a few flaws and no Sense UI, Samsung phones are still arguably among the best in the market and their innovative and progressive thinking is second to none. I respect them for not bowing down to Apple and for having shown a committment to their customer base. Hopefully they will show the development community some love and the cellular world will be set right again.

    Reply
    • Avatar of Fifth313ment
      January 28, 2013 at 12:00 am
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      jtology with the way Sense 5 is looking I doubt you would even recognize it as an HTC phone once its released. I’m not a fan of TouchWiz but I do like how they integrate their OS more into Google services than HTC! I mean HTC can we get friggin peoples full birthdays in the contacts!? I’m tired of having to edit my contacts every time I need to figure out how old someone is (editing the contact is the only way to see the year a person was born, dumb I know). I think HTC is just among a growing list of corporations who no longer listen to their customers. They feel they know what is best and screw you if you don’t like it.

      Reply
  • Avatar of Fifth313ment
    January 28, 2013 at 10:32 am
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    EasyEEE:

    “My HTC Evo LTE (one x variant) came with Android 4.0 and Sense 4.0. Update in August took it to 4.0.4/4.1. Update in December took it to 4.1.1/4+.

    “Android 4.1″ is the current official release

    I don’t know what more you can expect from them.”

    Fifth313ment:

    “I can expect them to release updates on a timely (PUBLIC) schedule and not be a year(S) behind. I can expect them to not release OS versions with major software bugs (proximity sensor bug was fixed in 4.0.4/4.1 update but came back worse in the 4.1/4+ update and it makes the phone unusable in low light conditions). The previous update 4.0.4/4.1 removed customized ringtones, which took them almost three months to fix. Its now been over a month since the 4.1/4+ in which non of the huge list of other bugs that updated created have been fixed. I mean who needs the proximity sensor, LTE, text messages, corrupted picture sending or battery to actually work on their phone, right? What good is a battery, am I right?

    The LTE issue makes the device basically unusable as an LTE phone in Sprint areas lucky enough to have it, so much so that Sprint stopped marketing it as an LTE phone in-store and started to push the SGS3 & LG Viper (YES THE VIPER over the EVO LTE). Once the Samsung Galaxy S3 came out Sprint pretty much saw the writing on the wall and dropped the EVO LTE altogether. And these were LTE issues that Sprint and HTC knew were there before the phone was even released (see link below) and to this day have not been fixed. If you live in an LTE area you can bring your EVO LTE to a Sprint store and they will trade out your phone for another LTE model phone as they seem to don’t care about a fix.

    The EVO LTE was released with 4.0.3/4.0 and the first update was to primarily to fix the huge black button debacle (huge black menu button at the bottom of the screen which was, and still is, on MOST Android apps due to noncompliance with ICS/JB standards). Whoever thought the huge black button was a good idea should have been fired the next day. And no the current version of Android is 4.2.1 (really 4.2.2 is out on some devices too). Oh and when HTC isn’t fixing bugs or creating new ones they like to attack the hardworking development community. So when current/former HTC EVO 4G LTE owners say they now hate/loathe HTC, do you now know why? That’s all the time I have you’ve been great!

    HTC & Sprint’s LTE Lies: http://s4gru.com/index.php?/blog/1/entry-169-evo-lte-pre-order-under-way-with-ship-dates-as-soon-as-may-15th/

    EVO LTE JB Bugs: http://pocketables.com/2013/01/three-weeks-of-official-jelly-bean-bugs-on-the-htc-evo-4g-lte.html

    HTC development douchebaggery (say that five times fast): http://pocketables.com/2013/01/the-text-of-the-legal-threats-again-jmz-software-for-hosting-roms-ruus-trademark-issues.html

    I posted this just so people can see how ridiculous this all sounds. I mean the fixes for HTC are so easy to make yet they act like there is nothing wrong? Any company having the issues mentioned in my post would not survive as a company and I think that is happening to HTC. I’m not going to link to their financials but let’s just say they will be belly up soon if they don’t fix things NOW!

    5TH

    Reply
    • Avatar of jtology
      January 28, 2013 at 8:55 pm
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      I’m with you 100% on that Fifth313ment. And that’s not even going into Sprint charging an additional $10 per smartphone for the last 2 years while most of us still don’t get a 4G signal never mind an LTE signal. I have to use an Airrave just to get a 3G signal where I live. Then they took away the NFL package and scaled back the yearly upgrades to every two years when they got rid of their rewards program for preferred customers. HTC and Sprint are co-authoring the book on how to lose customers.

      Reply
  • Avatar of Paul M
    January 28, 2013 at 2:58 pm
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    I only bought an HTC Doubleshot, er, T-Mobile Mytouch 4G Slide, because I knew there would be a range of ROMs for it from third parties since HTC and T-Mobile basically abandoned the phone.

    If in the future I have to rely on HTC for supporting a phone, I’ll simply not buy another one.

    And what about HTC’s kernels? I know the kernel is covered by GPL, but its possible HTC might decide to prevent people reusing their kernel modules by using binary blobs which they could also decide aren’t distributable. This would mean HTC proprietary hardware wouldn’t work with AOSP.

    So, at the moment, given what I know, HTC won’t see another penny from me when I next upgrade, and, moreover, my friends who rely on me for support and advice won’t be buying HTC either.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Paul M
    January 28, 2013 at 4:27 pm
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    P.s. I’ve never owned a Motorola phone because they’ve been locked down and poor vendor support. HtC are now on the same list of “do not buy”

    Reply

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