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 LanSchool Threatens CompSci.ca With Legal Actions
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Dan




PostPosted: Tue Aug 05, 2008 11:36 pm   Post subject: LanSchool Threatens CompSci.ca With Legal Actions

Update: This matter has been resolved by both parties in a positive way. For more information check out the wiki page: http://wiki.compsci.ca/index.php?title=LanSchool#Communications_with_LanSchool



LanSchool is possibility threating CompSci.ca with legal action. For more information check out tony's blog here and spread the word:

http://compsci.ca/blog/lanschool-threatens-compscica-with-legal-actions/

Reddit it: http://www.reddit.com/comments/6v2px/lanschool_sues_programming_forum_where_admin/


Note:

I am currently in the process of drafting a letter to Dana Doggett.

It will be posted publicly and sent once it is finished and approved by Tony.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 8:43 am   Post subject: Re: LanSchool Threatens CompSci.ca With Legal Actions

I suggest that you look into Legal Assistance from your university or college if applicable.
Euphoracle




PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 9:10 am   Post subject: RE:LanSchool Threatens CompSci.ca With Legal Actions

This is how you know a company isn't doing so well in terms of finances.
DemonWasp




PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 9:22 am   Post subject: RE:LanSchool Threatens CompSci.ca With Legal Actions

This sounds like they don't have a case...at all. Maybe they're hoping the legal nastygram will simply scare you off?

I'd say consult a legal expert about this, and if there's nothing to it, ignore them. If there's something, you're better off going the safe route and removing the records. Of course, remember that in this community, there will ALWAYS be someone with a copy of everything, even after you've deleted it. Some of us are archivists.

Of special importance here is the fact that you did the right thing in contacting them to mention this fault in their software before releasing it publicly. The alternative, of course, it to just release it immediately to the public at large, and I can't imagine they'd prefer that.
md




PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 9:31 am   Post subject: RE:LanSchool Threatens CompSci.ca With Legal Actions

The relevant material has already been mirrored off-site, by more then one person.
wtd




PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 12:22 pm   Post subject: RE:LanSchool Threatens CompSci.ca With Legal Actions

Talk to a lawyer.
Aziz




PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 1:18 pm   Post subject: RE:LanSchool Threatens CompSci.ca With Legal Actions

Email sent to support@lanschool.com and info@lanschool.com (not sure if that one exists). Someone could get on the phone with them Smile

Quote:
Good day LanSchool staff. I have become aware of the legal letter sent to the administrators of compsci.ca, Dan and Tony Targonski. As a long-time member and contributor to the compsci.ca community and a friend to both Dan and Tony, I feel I should express my opinion, as I am sure many others of the community will. I should say that the statements expressed in this email message are of my own opinion (Anthony Aziz) and aren't necessarily the same opinions of Dan or Tony or CompSci.ca.

The statements made in the Wiki article are the opinions of a respectable and talented computer scientist and express his view on the facts of LanSchool's software and its previous security issues. Being a developer and scientist, he experimented for the purposes of education and improvement. Finding a flaw in the software is not an illegal or unethical thing to do, and he did not try to use this to harm you. In fact, his first action was to notify your company and explain the flaw and a possible solution. Based on the response, LanSchool was not interested in solving the security flaw.

The small application LanSchooled was designed to express the concern of the flaw and to make others aware that there was a security hole in the software they were using, and the article specifically advised against using the application for malicious purposes. My assumption is that the expected results of this action would be the issue would be realised by the schools and LanSchool developers and be solved, so as to save potential victims from being exploited.

LanSchool's claims against CompSci.ca are ridiculous and contradictory. CompSci.ca's use of the LanSchool logo is a bad example of trademark violation; there is no product confusion. The article is named "LanSchool" and describes the software and the issues some users have had with it, along with the security flaw mentioned. The LanSchool logo, therefore, is used to represent the product talked about, and is in no way linked to the "LanSchooled" application. The name "LanSchooled" is a pun on the LanSchool product name and a slang verb "school", as in, to teach or correct. It is my belief and others that the logo is under fair use.

The legal letter received by CompSci.ca staff claims that the article suggested ways to breach the LanSchool system's security, however it also claims that the software no longer has this security flaw. Also considering that the author contacted LanSchool support about this issue (who responded negatively to the suggestions) and that the author advised the application was for informational purposes only and to not use it for malicious intent, I don't understand how this revelation hurts the company and is the fault of Dan. The developers were made aware of the situation and even given an appropriate solution as a suggestion. In this case, I would say any damage done is the company's fault, due to negligence.

I don't believe any slander is present - especially since all the statements were true and have been proved so, as much as the author has said. You complain about the phrase ?[LanSchool is a] trojan horse type program that is used by many school boards in Ontario to spy on their students as well as controlling one or all computers in a given lab ? LanSchool has many flaws in its design, and thus many security holes?.? This is a critical review and analysis of the software, by another software designer. Movie critics and book reviewers aren't doing anything illegal and can't be threatened with defamation claims because they critique a something as they see it.

And I can assure you that none of the CompSci.ca staff or members have any intention of harming LanSchool's software or business. CompSci.ca is a computer science community dedicated to both helping students and developing new technologies. The website and its staff are respected by many schools and school boards, and there would be no reason or motive to attempt to bring harm to LanSchool through one form or another. Any acts or statements, such as the disputed article, are for education and informational purposes.

Thank you for taking the time to hear my opinion and I hope that everything can be worked out in a civilised manner. We do not wish any harm or trouble, but we are Canadians passionate about digital rights and freedom of speech. Many members of the community will back up the administrators and provide adequate support for legal advice. Please feel to contact me at this email, anthony.aziz@gmail.com, if you wish. Thank you again.

Sincerely,
Anthony Aziz
Zeroth




PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 1:28 pm   Post subject: Re: LanSchool Threatens CompSci.ca With Legal Actions

I've made a small study of copyright law, and by no means am I a lawyer. First, I'd suggest getting yourself a lawyer. There are plenty of copyright lawyers itching for corporate malfeasance like this that may do this pro-bono. Or maybe one of your friends may know. It may be expensive to defend against this, but I'm quite sure, that if you fight back, they'll back off. Very Happy


One note I'd like to make is that under current copyright law, which I now see that Aziz has noticed, is that critiques are perfectly allowed, as well as using the company logo, to represent the company. I'd also like to add that publishing a security "exploit" is allowed when done for research purposes. What matters here is the intent of the publication, not the actual usage, which can be described by this phrase:
Quote:
It is now almost 2 years later, so I have rewritten my hack so anyone, even script kiddies can use it, even with a nice GUI and everything. My hope is that by doing this, I will teach people why programming software in the same way that LanSchool has been written is bad from a security and integrity viewpoint and to encourage the school board to buy (if they must use such software) better software from companies that know what they are doing and are willing to keep with the times. BTW, LanSchools website still claims that there are no known bugs with LanSchool.
(Emphasis mine)

Note how he uses it to display a particularly egregious example of bad programming.
Aziz




PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:02 pm   Post subject: RE:LanSchool Threatens CompSci.ca With Legal Actions

I didn't "notice" that law, I guess I just took it for granted. I'm glad to get your opinion on it, Zeroth, your somewhat of my go-to-guy(-blog) for legal things, so far. I've yet to find the time to finish reading and researching your posts, though =/
Aziz




PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 5:31 pm   Post subject: RE:LanSchool Threatens CompSci.ca With Legal Actions

Quick reply, at least. I didn't see anywhere on that wiki (though I'm in a rush, so didn't really look right now), where Dan says that the issue may have been already fixed (though he has said so many times in other areas).

I'm going to send a response tomorrow morning. Dan, perhaps you should give the fellow a call, or Tony, or I can if you want? Anyways, enjoy:

Quote:
from Ben Cahoon <ben@lanschool.com>
to "anthony.aziz@gmail.com" <anthony.aziz@gmail.com>
cc Dana Doggett <dana@lanschool.com>
date Wed, Aug 6, 2008 at 5:28 PM
subject RE: Legal threats against Computer Science Canada

hide details 5:28 PM (1 hour ago)


Reply


Anthony,

Thank you so much for your message.

It appears that we have many of the same missions and goals with respect to improving education with your community. We are computer scientists and are passionate about improving education with technology.

We are not unreasonable people and would love to amicably resolve the dispute with Hacker Dan.

His posts on his website do not tell the whole story. If they did, they would say that LanSchool fixed the issues. The fact is that his post scares many potential customers away and hurts the company.

We sent an e-mail to them this morning asking for a call to resolve the issue and we haven't heard
anything back. Again, we would love to talk with him to see if we can find a win-win.

If you could help him see that and talk with us, it would further all of our goals.

Sincerely,

Ben
801-770-3096
Tony




PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 5:49 pm   Post subject: RE:LanSchool Threatens CompSci.ca With Legal Actions

The very first paragraph of the wiki page states
Quote:

NOTE: This page detials a proof of conspect expolite of the lanschool program. CompSci.ca and Hacker Dan do not support, condone or recomend the use of it in real life (So don't send us e-mails asking how to get it working or how to hack your schools network). Also since this expolit was found and lanschooled was created, lanschool has upgraded there software so it may no longer be expolitable from the attack desrcibled on this page.

Emphasis mine.
Latest from compsci.ca/blog: Tony's programming blog. DWITE - a programming contest.
Saad




PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 5:50 pm   Post subject: Re: RE:LanSchool Threatens CompSci.ca With Legal Actions

Aziz @ Wed Aug 06, 2008 5:31 pm wrote:
Quick reply, at least. I didn't see anywhere on that wiki (though I'm in a rush, so didn't really look right now), where Dan says that the issue may have been already fixed (though he has said so many times in other areas).


Read the first paragraph of the wiki, it does say it (probably not big enough but its there).
md




PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 7:52 pm   Post subject: RE:LanSchool Threatens CompSci.ca With Legal Actions

Tony, maybe they didn't actually read it? Furthermore... it's a wiki that anyone can register to and edit. Strange how they didn't try doing that either.

Methinks someone should to ask for links to the offending material. Just to see if they even know what they are talking about Wink
Zeroth




PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 8:50 pm   Post subject: Re: RE:LanSchool Threatens CompSci.ca With Legal Actions

Quote:
from Ben Cahoon <ben@lanschool.com>
to "anthony.aziz@gmail.com" <anthony.aziz@gmail.com>
cc Dana Doggett <dana@lanschool.com>
date Wed, Aug 6, 2008 at 5:28 PM
subject RE: Legal threats against Computer Science Canada

hide details 5:28 PM (1 hour ago)


Reply


Anthony,

Thank you so much for your message.

It appears that we have many of the same missions and goals with respect to improving education with your community. We are computer scientists and are passionate about improving education with technology.

We are not unreasonable people and would love to amicably resolve the dispute with Hacker Dan.

His posts on his website do not tell the whole story. If they did, they would say that LanSchool fixed the issues. The fact is that his post scares many potential customers away and hurts the company.

We sent an e-mail to them this morning asking for a call to resolve the issue and we haven't heard
anything back. Again, we would love to talk with him to see if we can find a win-win.

If you could help him see that and talk with us, it would further all of our goals.

Sincerely,

Ben
801-770-3096


So, umm... they didn't call for a resolution. They sent a nasty-gram. There really is no reason to work with them on it once they've sent a nasty-gram. I remember when Monster tried to sue a clever small audio cable retailer that made their own cables, and they sent a very aggressive nasty-gram. Unfortunately, the CEO was a former Litigation lawyer. He sent back a 5 page reply, rebutting their every claim with legal proof, as well as a threat to take them down for all they were worth if they continued actions against him. It was one of the best legal smackdowns I've ever seen, and Lanschool deserves one for their actions.
(Link: http://www.bluejeanscable.com/legal/mcp/index.htm)
Aziz




PostPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2008 10:11 am   Post subject: RE:LanSchool Threatens CompSci.ca With Legal Actions

Wow, another email:

Quote:
from Dana Doggett <dana@lanschool.com>
to "anthony.aziz@gmail.com" <anthony.aziz@gmail.com>
date Thu, Aug 7, 2008 at 10:01 AM
subject LanSchool

hide details 10:01 AM (1 hour ago)


Reply



August 7, 2008



Anthony,



I am the developer of LanSchool and would like to air my side of the ?Hacker Dan? issue.

Several years ago Hacker Dan discovered that LanSchool communication between Teacher.exe and Student.exe were sent ?in the clear.? He notified me by e-mail of his concern that someone might maliciously use that against LanSchool. To demonstrate, he wrote an app (LanSchooled) which would mimic a Teacher.exe app and send packets to students to ?Blank Screens?, disable keyboards, etc?



Hacker Dan was correct that by sending my data packets ?in the clear? I would be susceptible to that sort of attack. Initially I hesitated in changing my base protocols because doing so would make it difficult to maintain backwards compatibility from a new Teacher.exe to older Student.exe?s. However, I did see his point and at the next major release I encrypted the data stream. This was done well over a year and a half ago.



Hacker Dan was notified that the problem was corrected and I requested that he remove his post about the now-fixed security problem. I also asked at that time to at least remove my trademarked logo from his site. No response. I?ve tried to do this SEVERAL times since then in a polite and professional way but still no response. His continues posts have harmed me in two ways. First, new customers will often read his posts and assume that there is still a major security flaw. While that may have been the case in 2004, it certainly is not the case today. Second, if I don?t take active steps to protect my registered trademarks, I may be in a position to lose them (I?m a programmer, not an attorney, but I believe this is the way that works.)



I believe I had taken all steps that I could and the next logical step was to hire a Canadian attorney. I?m not an expert in Canadian software law, but it seemed at the time to be the logical step. The letter produced did seem a bit harsh, but that's often the way attorneys are. I have NO INTEREST in suing anybody. I just want to keep developing the LanSchool software. I?ve been working on this app ever since DOS 2.0 days. I apologize to those I have offended by my actions. I?m better at low-level code than at public relations. Apparently I really did this one wrong!



Sincerely,

Dana Doggett
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