by Cloudeight Internet

POSTED 03/01/2007


This week we received a letter from Starware (MIVA) demanding that we take down this page on our Web site which truthfully presented facts about Recipe Toolbar (Starware bundle) or face legal action. Please read the letter from MIVA/Starware here.

We responded to Christopher Pimentel, ESQ. by email on February 27, 2007.  As of this writing (3:00PM EST, March 01, 2007) he has not acknowledged our response. It's interesting to note that Esquire Pimentel was not an Esquire in 2004 when he wrote us concerning "partnership opportunities". He was just a sales person then. We turned down (ignored) their inquiry. He represented MIVO (Starware) as a "multi-million dollar company". So I guess there's lots of money in the sort of work this company does. Maybe we're in the wrong business. Anyway...

Here is our response sent via email to Christopher Pimentel, ESQ. on February 27, 2007:

Dear Christopher Pimentel,

I am responding to your letter dated February 15, 2007 and received on February 26, 2007, to Cloudeight Internet. You have requested we either remove the web page
http://thundercloud.net/infoave/answers/starware-alert.htm  or to respond by email, which we are doing.

Our goal is to help Internet consumers make informed decisions about "free" programs and to educate them about adware, spyware, programs that manipulate browsers and search engines, questionable freeware, and software bundles.

According to dozens of credible anti-spyware and anti-adware programs and sites on the Web, your products fit into one or more of these categories. Additionally, since your "toolbar" came to our attention via spam (unsolicited) emails, apparently either your company or your affiliates use or condone the use of spam to advertise your products. Whether your company or your affiliates advertises through spam email is not relevant. As the principle you must assume responsibility for your affiliates.

Your company apparently has more problems than our single web page. Today, February 27, 2007, when I attempted to go to your Starware website to see if you have made any changes since the article was written, my first alarm was with well respected Spyware Doctor: "Spyware Doctor has detected that you are attempting to access a site that may contain harmful content. "try.starware.com". PC Tools Spyware Doctor has prevented you from accessing a site suspected of containing harmful content. There is no need to be alarmed, as Spyware Doctor has prevented you from accessing this site. "

My next alarm was with well known and well respected McAfee's Site Advisor Program and it is "protecting" me from entering your website: "Feedback from credible users suggests that downloads on this site may contain what some people would consider adware, spyware, or other unwanted programs."

So, at this time I am unable to even evaluate your site to see if you have made any changes to your software. Nonetheless, we revised the page to reflect current adware/spyware information regarding your product. If you have a problem with us providing this information, perhaps you should address it first with companies like McAfee and PC Tools who block people by presenting warnings about your site's content and the downloads thereon.

If you have further questions, or if you would like your response posted on the web page with an explanation, please don't hesitate to ask.

Confirmation of receipt of this email is requested.

My Comments by TC

It seems to me that it's time for everyone to open their eyes and start paying more than lip service to this kind of thing. Time for all of us to really care. The Internet seems to be a train without brakes heading down a mountain pass and no one seems to know how to get the train under control. Checked your inbox lately? Overflowing with spam? How many anti-spyware programs are out there now? Hundreds? And the case of Julie Amero, a victim of the detritus that flows from the Web so easily onto hundreds of thousands of computers a day. It's a wakeup call for me. It should be a wakeup call for you too. Trouble is, most of you won't even read this far, but some will. Thanks if you are still reading this.

Reputations are earned. No one starts out with a bad reputation. If someone earns a bad reputation, the way to correct that reputation is to change the way the do things, not threaten people with lawsuits and demands. We had nothing to do with Starware's reputation, we are simply reporting the facts and telling the truth. The page they want us to remove contains many references to respected software developers' sites, and graphics that show what other trusted developers, like PCTools and McAfee (Site Advisor) think of Starware.

Why do these people cry when their reputations get them in trouble. Why don't they change their products to legitimate and respectable ones, instead of straddling the twilight fence between adware, spyware, and browser manipulators. If they don't want to be honest freeware, then why don't they sell their products like a respectable developer, instead of copying the ideas of other questionable companies with ruined reputations like Hotbar, Zango, FunWebProducts (SmileyCentral), Claria, and the like?

Socrates said: “The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”

There's enough of the kind of stuff that Starware makes all over the web. The supposedly "this is free because we show advertising based on things that interest you - and this pays for the software so you get it free" yada, yada, yada. There's more going on than that.

But, you know, the real problem, is the people who download and use this kind of stuff. We can only blame ourselves if Starware is a "multi-million dollar" company. It got that way because we (meaning the internet community) download it. Where would these companies be if no one downloaded their software? They'd have to think of another scheme or else make legitimate software and sell it like decent developers try to do. The market will decide then if they'll become a million-dollar company. Make good products and they probably will be. And deservedly so.

You can see how all this works now. People want "free" stuff and there are people out there that will give it to them (with a few catches of course). These companies took advantage of good reputation of real honest-to-goodness, freeware developers, usually small one-person companies who gave away a program or two they made for the pleasure of it or for the recognition it brought them. And now we're in this spyware, adware, hijacker, browser-manipulator mess we're in. The mess that might just put Julie Amero in prison for 40 years.

You don't like spam. There's tons of it out there. Why do you think there's so much spam? Do you think the spammers send it out because it's fun to send billions of emails? No. They send it out because they make money. People buy things from spam emails. Lots of people. So, just like spyware and adware, we are to blame for lots of the things we're now up-in-arms about.

Just my thoughts.

Close This Window