Mad British user group to bust MYOB DRM

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Mad British user group to bust MYOB DRM

Customers cut off as part of MYOB's British sale.

A group of frustrated British MYOB customers have joined forces to sidestep the Australian software vendor's imminent termination of the British version of its accounting software.

The customers, banded together as a non-profit, have hired a software developer to build a code generator that will allow members of the group to bypass the MYOB “activation and confirmation” service, set to end on 31 December 2011.

The confirmation service, which acts as a digital rights management (DRM) system, generates a code that confirms MYOB “data files”.

Without that code, which is required after activation and thereafter periodically, MYOB software is reduced to read-only mode.

“We have made an arrangement with a software developer to write us a program which issues confirmation codes in place of the system which MYOB Pty Ltd (the Australian parent) is turning off,” MYOB UK User Group administrator Mark Hill told iTNews.  

The ‘sunset’ on MYOB's British software stems from an agreement MYOB Australia made in 2008 with the buyer of its British division, Mamut Software.

The agreement included a clause that it would terminate the British version of its software by 31 December 2011, which it will do by switching off its anti-piracy confirmation service.

“It is outrageous that a company like MYOB with a supposedly high ethical standard should collude in this cynical nonsense," said Hill.

“Australians should be worried - your software has the same 'Digital Rights Management' that allows MYOB centrally to turn off versions that they no longer approve of you using.

“Using the argument that they need to 'sunset' software they can make your datafiles also turn to read only, thereby making them unuseable.”

Hill believed MYOB and Mamut’s agreement to end support for the British version of MYOB was a breach of customer licenses.

They have no right to turn off our software. It was not rented. It was bought outright and the license confirms this,” he said.

“MYOB are obliged to confirm the data files. That they have decided not to do so any more is a clear breach of terms, which we are seeking to remedy by a voluntary association.”  

It’s unclear how many active MYOB British version customers remain, however at the time of Mamut’s acquisition there were 20,000. 

Mamut has provided MYOB British edition support for the past two years, but will cease doing so after the ‘sunset’. In the meantime it has been urging MYOB customers to switch to its own accounting software. 

While Mamut has offered free migration to its own accounting software, one customer has criticised it for being conditional upon accepting a one year service contract with Mamut.

“This is a cynical exercise to get users to upgrade to very expensive software that they do not need, and which is very difficult to use,” said Hill. 

The MYOB UK User Group currently had 43 members, however Hill said it would need 100 to be sustainable.

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