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Doubt on write filters (EWF, FBWF) legal issues

write filters fbwf ewf legal redistribution

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#1 MarkM82

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 01:52 PM

This is my first post here!
In this forum (and others) I read several threads about write filters and their
installation on not-embedded Windows versions (XP and 7 Home/Pro).
My question is not technical, but only
about legal matters: is it legal to extract write filter program
files (dll, sys, exe...) from embedded versions and apply them to
desktop versions?
And is it free to redistribute them to users (even after the
acceptance of the EULA from Microsoft)? For example, if I leave them available for download on my website (not selling them! And specifying they're owned by Microsoft, copyrighted).

Since a user can download those files for free from Microsoft, it should be legal... but I'm not a lawyer and I don't understand law stuff easily :/

Thank you!



#2 Nuno Brito

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 02:44 PM

There has been some precedent on what you ask. Some time ago we saw plenty of discussions with a similar issue around the WIM drivers that were only available as Microsoft files.

 

Many projects were redesigned not use them, while some projects still use them today, albeit in a very discrete (hidden) manner not to raise attention. On our case with the new winbuilder there is no need for MS files, we have our own code in place.

 

In regards to write filter, wouldn't WinvBlock or Firadisk help in your case?

 

http://reboot.pro/to...8168-winvblock/

http://reboot.pro/to...k-latest-00130/

 

From a legal point of view I'm unable to answer, you'd do better in contacting a lawyer and explain him your context.

 

From a technical point view, if you are planning on using to use the write filter because you're afraid of not enough RAM, then I'd say that with some luck you can reduce the overall ISO size to 100Mb based on our previous testings.



#3 MarkM82

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 06:47 PM

Thank you! My purpose, anyway, is not concerning optimization but security of pre-installed Windows on PCs.

Can the two filters you told me about (WinvBlock and Firadisk) do the same things FBWF does?

I mean, the ability to protect a whole partition, excluding some specific files/folders?



#4 Zoso

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 07:25 PM

but I'm not a lawyer and I don't understand law stuff easily :/


hi MarkM82,

EWF is a great tool!

"law stuff" is not easily understood by design. basically, if you have to ask about it then you are not in a competent position to rebut any legal presumptions made to the legality of what is in question.

IMO there is nothing unlawful about what you propose here but the legality of it can go either way.

one can presume anything is "illegal" it is more important to be able to rebut these types of presumptions.

what is legal to one may be illegal to another.

"Study to show thyself approved"

#5 Zoso

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Posted 16 January 2014 - 07:31 PM

Thank you! My purpose, anyway, is not concerning optimization but security of pre-installed Windows on PCs.
Can the two filters you told me about (WinvBlock and Firadisk) do the same things FBWF does?
I mean, the ability to protect a whole partition, excluding some specific files/folders?

I dont think WinV and FiraD can do these on their own but I seem to recall reading here that it may is possible in combination with IMDisk! maybe ask about it in the IMDisk sub-forum and someone may provide more details about a way.

#6 Nuno Brito

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 09:06 AM

 

basically, if you have to ask about it then you are not in a competent position to rebut any legal presumptions made to the legality of what is in question.

Yes, fully agree.

 

 

is not concerning optimization but security of pre-installed Windows on PCs.

 

 

Ok. It should be possible to engineer a way of removing the need for EWF from your build using a freeware driver. Where is the OS booting from? A CD/DVD or from USB/HDD? From a writable media you can just load to memory the part of Windows that you don't want to see modified and use the writable partition for your purposes.

 

Sorry for the generic advice, without knowing more details about what software you are trying to run I'm unable to propose something more specific to try out.



#7 Agent47

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 09:19 AM

Hi

 

Since FBWF is part of all WinPE from 2.0 to 5.0 (Vista to Win 8.1 PE ) , i don't think one need licence for Windows Embedded to use FBWF in a PE 3 or PE 4 project. For PE 1 projects it will matter as there is no FBWF driver is shipped with Windows XP , 2003 etc. 


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#8 paraglider

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 12:44 PM

However using fbwf from a copy of windows embedded that you legally do not have permission to use would seem to me to be illegal. Does not matter how you obtain the embedded version of fbwf. Its still redistribution of a windows component that MS prohibits from redistribution even if it redistributed by patch.


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#9 Agent47

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 01:03 PM

Yes, using Windows Embedded FBWF might be illegal as Paraglider pointed out. But there is no need to use that in PE3 and PE4 projects. Just stick with the built in FBWF came with OS to avoid possible legal issues.



#10 MarkM82

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 01:09 PM

Yes, using Windows Embedded FBWF might be illegal as Paraglider pointed out. But there is no need to use that in PE3 and PE4 projects. Just stick with the built in FBWF came with OS to avoid possible legal issues.

 

This means there's no way to use it legally on Windows 7 Pro, for example, because it doesn't contain any version of FBWF... and if I want this protection filter on my main OS (not a PE project!), I should install a Windows Embedded version.
I read many people using it, anyway, like this thread says:

 

http://www.techques....-(non-embedded)

 

And this forum too:

 

http://www.mp3car.co...ows-xp-pro.html

 

Anyway, it doesn't mean that if somebody do that, it's fully legal!

 

PS: Sorry I have linked some other forums, I don't know if it is allowed... and this is just another "legal" issue :D

Anyway, I know alternative software useful to freeze a PC, as Deep Freeze.


Edited by MarkM82, 17 January 2014 - 02:00 PM.


#11 cdob

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 05:14 PM

And is it free to redistribute them to users (even after the acceptance of the EULA from Microsoft)? For example, if I leave them available for download on my website (not selling them! And specifying they're owned by Microsoft, copyrighted).
Since a user can download those files for free from Microsoft, it should be legal...

In general you may redistribute files, with manufacturer permisssions.

There are Visual C Redistributable Package
http://www.microsoft...ls.aspx?id=5555
You may redistribute this example.

Contrary I doubt redistributing of files from embedded windwos.
 

Since FBWF is part of all WinPE from 2.0 to 5.0 (Vista to Win 8.1 PE )

Just stick with the built in FBWF came with OS to avoid possible legal issues.

Good catch.
Yes fbwf is part of boot.wim at a Windows 7 installation DVD.
Imagine: Windows 7 was installatied from this DVD.
And fbwf is inside c:\Recovery\{guid}\winre.wim.
It's added to hard disk by default installation already.
What about extracting files from boot.wim or winre.wim and apply to the installed OS?
No idea if this works in real.

#12 Zoso

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Posted 17 January 2014 - 05:16 PM

From a writable media you can just load to memory the part of Windows that you don't want to see modified and use the writable partition for your purposes.

yes, this is where IMDisk comes in the mix somehow but I have not explored it further.

also to me it seems EWF is better than FBWF from security standpoint since nothing is left writable on the partition but I think maybe the freeware alternatives mentioned would work better than both EWF and FBWF due to their limitations.

as to the legality of using M$ components beyond their intended usage, a brief study of contract law should enlighten one as to whether or not M$ has a valid contract with one whom uses EWF or FBWF. what are the requirements for a contract to be legally binding, and does M$ meet all these requirements?

I am not a lawyer (law merchant) I do not have a license to give legal advise so I dont say the correct answer but I think M$ will be changing to all subscription based service in the near future so that they can more properly control their code.

a legal study in licensing may prove beneficial to some in these (and many other) regards also. a law dictionary applicable to the political society one finds themselves involved in would be the best place to start. look up the definitions of these words, in many cases you will discover a new meaning for the words that you thought you already knew.

legalese is a different language that uses the same words except with different meanings. you may think you know what these words mean already but you probably do not.

"That depends on what the definition of is, is" - B. Clinton

#13 Agent47

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Posted 18 January 2014 - 05:53 AM

 

 

This means there's no way to use it legally on Windows 7 Pro, for example, because it doesn't contain any version of FBWF... 

 

A version of FBWF is shipped with all Windows 7 editions. First you will find it in the install media - inside Boot.wim. If you create a "System repair Disc" which is essentially a WinPE , you will find FBWF.SYS inside System32\Drivers. This version of FBWF is different than the one came with Windows Embedded but the functionality is same.

 

What i recommend is, mount either Boot.wim ( inside "Sources" folder in install media ) or WinRE.wim ( inside hidden C:\Recovery folder) and copy the FBWF.SYS from it. This way you are using only a system file came with your Windows and probably legal too. 

 

FBWF.SYS  - > System32\Drivers

 

FBWF.SYS.MUI -> System32\Drivers\en-US

 

FBWFLIB.DLL -> System32

 

 

 

 

What about extracting files from boot.wim or winre.wim and apply to the installed OS?
No idea if this works in real. 

 

As Cdob said, i also don't know how to add it to a regular Windows. I think the registry settings from "Sevenforum" will do the trick. I would recommend testing it on a virtual machine first. Once you managed to add the service, you will need a tool to manage FBWF. Below project may help you.

 

http://reboot.pro/to...ite-filter-gui/


Edited by Agent47, 18 January 2014 - 06:25 AM.


#14 Sha0

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 03:41 AM

These filters can filter block devices (AKA "disks", roughly) or filesystems. Write filters can be bypassed by other drivers. Choices have to be made about where write operations goto; memory, network, some other filesystem or disk, etc.





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