31 January 2006


Tuesday, January 31, 2006

StarForce threatens to sue me for criticizing its products

A company that was criticized on Boing Boing has threatened to 
sue me, and claims to have sworn out a complaint against me with 
the FBI.

Yesterday, I posted about StarForce, a harmful technology used 
by game companies to restrict their customers' freedom. 
StarForce attempts to stop game customers from copying their 
property, but it has the side-effects of destabilizing and 
crashing the computers on which it is installed.

Someone identifying himself as "Dennis Zhidkov, PR-manager, 
StarForce Inc." contacted me this morning and threatened to sue 
me, and told me that he had contacted the FBI to complain about 
my "harassment."

If you're looking for reasons to boycott StarForce-crippled 
games (besides the obvious ones), you might add their use of 
bullying legal threats to your list.


    From: "Dennis Zhidkov" <denis.zhidkov@star-force.com>
    Date: January 31, 2006 9:55:40 AM BST
    To: "doctorow[at]craphound.com" <doctorow[at]craphound.com>
    Subject: StarForce Response to Cory Doctorow

    StarForce Inc. response to Mr. Cory Doctorow

    Dear Sir, calling StarForce "Anti-copying malware" is a good 
enough cause to press charges and that is what our corporate 
lawyer is busy doing right now. I urge you to remove your post 


because it is full of insults, lies, false accusations and 
rumors. Your article violates approximately 11 international 
laws. Our USlawyer will contact you shortly. I have also 
contacted the FBI , because what you are doing is harassment.

    Dennis Zhidkov
    StarForce Inc.


Here's my reply: "Thank you for your response. I have appended 
it to my original post and have forwarded it to the Chilling 
Effects project to be part of the permanent record of abusive 
attempts by companies to silence their critics." Link

Update: Looks like this isn't the first time Mr Zhidkov has sent 
legal threats to critics of this company -- check out this email 
he sent CNet, which opens "Dear Sir, calling StarForce 
'nefarious Rootkit/Virus' is a good enough cause to press 
charges. How do you like that for a start?" (Thanks, Alexander!)

Update 2: Fiona sez, "I just contacted a friend who works in the 
testing department of the UK branch of the worlds largest games 
publisher, and they hadn't heard of it! I now think they have 
the (very healthy, by all accounts) fear of god about what this 
thing could do to peoples systems. They're testing a third-party 
game that uses it, and have found the drivers on their test box. 
They're not happy about having it on an open test system,"

Update 3: Avi sez, "Their business seems to depend on people not 
knowing how much they suck. For example, I was on a private beta 
list for a new game I won't mention by name due to NDA -- but 
the game authors agreed to drop StarForce after an outcry from 
the community. You don't often hear the stories about game 
developers dropping StarForce in favor of their customer."