The third chapter in the HTC RUU trilogy has finally been brought to a close. James Taylor, founder of the HTCRUU.com repository of HTC ROM Update Utilities just recently let me know that HTC is no longer demanding that his files be taken down. Instead, any RUUs released for production models and custom ROMs can continue to be hosted at ruu.androidfiles.org. All HTC requires is that no test versions of its RUUs be posted, its trademarks be respected and that a disclaimer be posted stating that the site is not officially endorsed by or affiliated with HTC.
It appears that the negative publicity directed at HTC as a result of its earlier action against HTCRUU.com had a sobering effect on company officials, since the company went out of its way to reaffirm its support for the development community on Thursday, and today has backed its words with actions in allowing Taylor to continue hosting post-release RUU files and custom ROMs.
I feel that I must reiterate the point that not only RUUs hosted by third parties but also custom ROMs based on Sense are actually unauthorized distributions of HTC’s rightful intellectual property. The company would have been completely within its rights to issue Cease and Desist orders to all sites that host these files, including XDA and RootzWiki.
Nevertheless, HTC has repeatedly expressed support for the development community (as have other OEMs such as Sony, Samsung and even Motorola where carriers allow them to). To demand that all Sense-based RUUs and custom ROMs be taken down would directly contradict HTC’s previous statements and would result in a great deal of bad publicity for the company. True, the rooted community takes up a tiny fraction of any manufacturer’s global sales, but it is a very vocal fraction, and I find it both refreshing and sobering that such a small group can sway the decisions of multibillion dollar multinational corporations.
The full statement by James Taylor follows:
Backstory: In Nov 2012, I decided to start a RUU repository. I registered htcruu.com domain. At the time I saw no issues other than a backup to the files football was providing. When football quit providing RUUs, I posted links to my site around XDA. Around Jan 17th, 2013, I recieved a complaint from a HTC lawyer about the domain and the files I was providing. The domain was in trademark infringement and the roms were copyrighted material. I then took down the domain. Around the same time I deleted the website from my server and the htcruu.com resolved to my androidfiles.org domain by default. I recieved the request to transfer the htcruu.com to HTC which I have no issues with. Looking at it now I see it was a bad choice to pick for the domain name. Oh well. I was also told I was required to take down my custom roms also as they are copyrighted material. On Jan 31st I was contacted by Nick Sherrill (Senior Manager, Global Communities) of HTC. On Feb 1st, I had a conference call with Nick, Leigh Momii (Developer Evangelist), and Jason Dunn (Leads the HTC advocacy program). The conversation started with clearing up some misconceptions about my old site (htcruu.com). It was reported to the lawyer that I was selling the RUUs. Which was untrue in every aspect. The Paypal button was for donations and donations only to help keep the site running. Also, I unknowingly had test roms on my site. Given HTCs reasoning for preferring these to not be released alongside regular release RUUs, I removed them. So from this moment out, the site will only contain release RUUs. They also said they are looking into hosting the RUUs themselves negating the purpose of my site and I hope they do. There is no timeframe for it but it is something they are looking into. As for my personal opinion of this whole situation. The domain name htcruu.com was obviously a bad choice and I was wrong. I never denied that fact. As for the rest of the issues, they have been resolved. HTC as a company has no desire to hinder the developer community with no allowing people to distribute custom roms. They apologized about the misunderstanding that happened. This is why all my custom roms and the RUU repo are back up. There were little issues I had to deal with regarding my site but overall they were very polite and informative about the entire situation. Also, as a general disclaimer this public statement was my choice. I felt it was wrong to leave a misunderstanding unresolved on the internet. And no, I wasn’t threatened or paid off.
- James Taylor, JMZ Software, Androidfiles.org