The AutoPatcher team today announced that Micorosft has threatened to sue them, if they do not shut down their project. For those of you that don’t know, AutoPatcher is a download that offers all available Windows Updates for a particular version of Windows (and recently, Microsoft Office) in a single file.
This process had many advantages. IT Consultants could go to a client’s office and ensure they had every update for Windows on them, rather than sit, bill, and wait while Windows updates were downloaded from Microsoft.
Is Microsoft legally able to force them down? I don’t think so… the files themselves were offered freely for download, all AutoPatcher did was collect them up and offer them directly for download. Microsoft may have a case for those updates that required WGA Authentication (an anti-piracy measure) to download… but AutoPatcher respected those rights when installing things like Internet Explorer 7 and Windows Media Player 11.
My opinion on this still stands. I won’t let anyone take down a project of mine without a full review from my legal team. It looks like the AutoPatcher team did not even take that level of review before shutting down their project… and I think they had a case that Microsoft was violating their own EULA by making it difficult to store an offline copy of updates in the first place (and thus, preventing large portions of their community who are on non-broadband connections from obtaining updates).
Wish I had an email, or a phone number for you to call to complain to… but if AutoPatcher won’t defend their own project’s intellectual property, I certainly can’t do that for them.