I decided, as an excersize (and for the heck of it) I would package my FOSS
project YICS (www.yics.org) for Debian.
Basically, YICS connects to any of the free Yahoo! Chess lobbies and emulates a
FICS server, meaning xboard, eboard, and other FICS interfaces can be used to
play on Yahoo! Chess. The idea is to bring the features of those interfaces
(automatic PNG logging, customizable colors/sounds, etc) to the Yahoo! world.
There are, however, a few legal issues I wanted to bring up before I spend the
energy packaging it. I believe that I can refute most of the problems, but you
might (and certainly do) know more about law than I do.
(For those who can't figure it out, I start potentially negative sections with
"===" and potentially positive ones with "+++".)
=== Problem 1: The Yahoo! TOS: http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
Section 17 contains this sentence:
> You agree not to access the Service by any means other than through the
> interface that is provided by Yahoo! for use in accessing the Service.
Section 2 defines Service:
> Yahoo! provides users with access to a rich collection of resources,
> including various communications tools, forums, shopping services, search
> services, personalized content and branded programming through its network of
> properties which may be accessed through any various medium or device now
> known or hereafter developed (the "Service").
We can assume that this includes Games.
+++ Refutation: "Interface" is not defined anywhere. Couldn't TCP port 11999
be considered some kind of interface to the "Service?"
=== Problem 2: Back to our friend, section 17:
> You acknowledge and agree that the Service and any necessary software used in
> connection with the Service ("Software") contain proprietary and confidential
> information that is protected by applicable intellectual property and other
The binary protocol is encrypted, which also brings up DMCA issues.
+++ Refutation: Progressive XOR can hardly be considered a trade secret. And
the DMCA is supposed to cover *copyrighted* material, *and* allow for
=== But: http://www.eff.org/IP/Emulation/Blizzard_v_bnetd/ The DMCA is, of
course, supposed to cover copyrights, not protocols. But bnetd did get sued.
=== Users of YICS don't see banner ads when playing either, so YICS does mean
some lost revenue for Yahoo!.
*HOWEVER*, and this is kind of the hinge... regardless of the legal issues
outlined above, I have one major advantage. I have very strong evidence that
Yahoo! knows about my project, and I have made no effort to hide my identity --
the program itself lists my Yahoo! ID.
I have not heard from Yahoo! during the project's two-year life.
An unfortunate side-effect of YICS is that it allows a computer to be directly
hooked up to the Yahoo! Chess servers, by way of WinBoard, xboard, and other
commercial interfaces. Yahoo! does not forbid this, but I doubt they like it
very much. On the project wiki and forum I have stated in the rules that any
kind of information pertaining to using YICS in combination with an automated
computer are prohibited from appearing or being discussed on either. I feel
that it is this alone that has kept me in Yahoo!'s good graces.
A side-effect of this side-effect is that I am contacted almost daily by
certain key members of the Yahoo! underground world (cracking, boosting, and
all that junk). Several of them have had their accounts removed within months
of registering on Yahoo!.
So... if Yahoo! actively deletes accounts of known underground leaders and
participants, how come my account hasn't been disabled or removed? I can only
assume that it's because I've tried to promote YICS as an alternative
interface, not a cheating tool. I haven't tried to hide from Yahoo!.
My site doesn't use a dark color scheme like the "hacker" sites, either.
But seriously, what do you think?
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GCS/IT d-(--) s:- a--->? C++(+++)$> UL++++ P++++$ L+++>++++ E---
W++ N o++ K? w--$ O M- V- PS--(---) PE++ Y+ PGP++ t+ 5? X-
R(+)>- tv-(--) b- DI+> D++ G>+++ e>++ h(--)>--- !r>+++ y->+++
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