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Question What is your plan with selling us stolen assets?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Enzi, Mar 19, 2023.

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  1. Enzi

    Enzi

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    This problem is creeping up more and more. Publishers are selling us stolen assets. Be it animations, textures, sounds. I just went though my assets and found one publisher (Cafofo) has deprecated all assets. Quick Google search, stolen sound effects. /sigh

    I'm not accepting removing the publisher and the assets and that's it. As a curated store that's taking a 30% cut you have to take liability. I also don't want to find this out myself. I expect you sending out pro-active emails to buyers and refunds for your F*** up. Sorry for using that word, but that's what it is.
     
  2. spiney199

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    Make all your own assets.

    Ez.
     
  3. bonickhausen

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    Nothing- they have to prepare the next cinematic to please the shareholders, asset store be damned!
     
  4. angrypenguin

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    I think this is a fair enough expectation, to be honest.

    Unity probably can't "take liability" for this, for a bunch of reasons. But they could inform people who've purchased something when it gets taken down from the store, which at least raises a flag for those who care to go and see what's up.

    Or, regardless of storefront, buy only from creators who provide you with some way to do meaningful due diligence.
     
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  5. DragonCoder

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    What Untiy could do is give us the RL identity of the sellers so that in case of blatant selling of stolen goods that later cause trouble in a game for copyright reasons, we can sue them.
    That would deter at least some of the offenders too.
    Hence why in Germany for example even if you just have a homepage, you have to publicly show your RL identity (as an "Impressum").
     
  6. PanthenEye

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    Unity for sure should refund at least asset store credits in case purchased product is removed. Asset Store purchases should not be a gamble, this is not eBay, Unity approve each and every asset before it appears in store so it's at least partly on them to compensate the loss.
     
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  7. impheris

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    What if you are a coder with zero artistic skills? what if you want to make games but you have zero programming skills?
    your answer is kind of useless
     
  8. Ryiah

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    Create an account with ChatGPT. :p
     
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  9. spiney199

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    Two years ago I'd never programmed. So I started learning and am pretty good at it now.

    Many, many years, I wanted to model my own weapons into games like Morrowind despite not knowing how. So I downloaded Blender and learnt how to 3d model, and this was well before the days of widely accessible tutorials.

    So I don't really accept that. Anyone can learn how to do these things, especially in this day and age.
     
  10. neginfinity

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    If you're a coder, you can learn how to draw and model. You'll also have advantage due to knowing how to deal with new problem domains systematically.

    If you can't program yourself, you can learn to program.

    And you can also hire someone else to work for you.
     
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  11. Deleted User

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    What if you're working as a solo dev? They now also have to make every single 3D models for each of their games as well, or borrow money from the bank for an artist?
     
  12. spiney199

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    I mean, that's what I am and what's what I do.

    Simple, stylised assets are rather quick to produce.

    If you're a solo dev you should be scaling your art expectations accordingly anyway.
     
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  13. angrypenguin

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    Or strike some other kind of collaboration deal.

    Or accept some level of risk, and only purchase art from vendors who provide some kind of evidence that the stuff they're selling is actually theirs.

    For what it's worth, even hiring someone doesn't make this problem go away. I could hire someone tomorrow and, unless I do my due diligence anyway, for all I know the art they're "making" for me could be ripped from published games. There is never zero risk in anything. Making sure that you see work-in-progress shots of the stuff people are making is one way to mitigate this.
     
  14. PanthenEye

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    These are such non-answers. Just because anyone can learn any one thing, doesn't mean it's realistic to do every single thing from scratch if you intend to do this for a living and not as a hobby on the side. Especially, when a lot of the current market employs all possible resources out there including the Asset Store and studios are looking for highly specialized people, not jacks of all trades but master of none.

    These "just spend years learning a new skill bro" answers also don't address the issue OP highlights, Unity are selling stolen assets that they themselves approve for selling and don't compensate people for their loss when they remove them.
     
  15. Deleted User

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    Exactly this. Besides, if we're buying the asset, it should be legal to use it, yes? :)
     
  16. Ryiah

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    Alternatively restrict your purchases to only publishers that have a solid reputation. Publishers like Manufactura K4 and Synty Studios. If you don't recognize a publisher or if they're very new don't purchase from them if you don't want to take the risk.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2023
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  17. spiney199

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    Everything posted to Youtube should be above board, yes?

    Except it isn't, and it's impossible to police. YouTube have probably spent millions if not billions trying to solve this problem and it's still incredibly flawed. In fact their solutions probably still have more false positives than actual positives.

    So with all this harking on, no one has actually suggested how Unity might solve this in a preventative way. And the problem is... you can't. You can only ever chase your own tail.
     
  18. DragonCoder

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    The proposal "just make what you'd get from the Asset store yourself" is just silly. The store would not exist if that would be an option for everyone.
    The Indie Dev today has to compete against an ever increasing level of quality by their competition (because the competition will use sources like the Asset Store).
     
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  19. angrypenguin

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    I have in previous threads on the matter. Submitting a "finished product" is not and should not be considered sufficient. The due diligence I've mentioned could be done by Unity (and any organisation running a storefront) by, for example, requiring history of the asset's development be provided as well as the finished product. It's not going to cover 100% of cases, but it will make selling rips harder because it would require actual work, and stop it from being the low hanging fruit that it currently is.

    Of course, it would also be more costly for Unity because they'd have to look at whatever historical data they're given with submissions. And it would also raise the bar a bit for vendors, though I'd sincerely hope that anyone selling their stuff would be taking appropriate professional steps in the first place (e.g. using some kind of version control).
     
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  20. DragonCoder

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    Hmm, is this feasible for works like 3D models art and sounds? Don't think most of them use version control :/
    Those are the way more common stolen ones compared to code.
    It is an idea, but hard to convince Unity to...

    The idea of reimbursing removed Assets with an in-store currency would be great and more feasible.
     
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  21. neginfinity

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    If you're working as a solo dev you scale down your appetites to match your abilities.
    You will not be able to make GTA 15. You may be able to make another Unturned.

    Keep in mind that Axiom Verge took five years, for example.

    That's why office jobs exist. Gamedev is difficult, learning every skill yourself is difficult, these days people tend to forget that, due to all shiny engines being available.

    Yes, they can't do much about it.

    Being in unity's place it would be very tempting to just kill Asset Store completely to avoid this problem or restrict it to coding assets. It definitely isn't even a significant source of income for unity tech.

    I've not heard of any automatic way to detect duped or ripped content, meaning this can't be done automatically, and for content there's already other platforms.

    Speaking of other platforms, I recall encountering triss mayrgold model on sketchfab. Apparently reconstructed through photogrammetry. Reported it to sketchfab, aaand they responded to me "you have to be the copyright holder to do that".

    *shrug*
     
  22. angrypenguin

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    That was the objection last time I raised it. But if you're specifically making stuff to sell, and this is a requirement, then it isn't a super hard one to meet as long as you know about it.

    It doesn't increase effort required, risk level to, or profit gained by the rippers, though. And if I've got a 3rd party asset in my game which turns out to be dodgy, the dollars I paid for it are only a part of the concern, and possibly a small part by that point.

    Though by far my biggest concern is finding out about it in the first place, hence suggesting that buyers be told about removed assets (regardless of reason).
     
  23. neginfinity

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    Version control would work for sounds and models, but it'll be just a bunch of timestamped data blobs. In rare cases art tool may hold history within the file, but this is no way common.

    For an asset creator having to submit version history along with the product will be an annoyance, and they ight decide not to deal with a store that has strict requirements like that.
     
  24. Deleted User

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    I wonder if they could have some sort of algorithm actually do all of that instead of someone doing it? The algorithm would check for matches of that asset, and then the people from Unity look at the results? Ripped 3D models shouldn't be difficult for a big server computer to spot.
     
  25. spiney199

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    See my comment about Youtube.

    It has more chance of going very, very poorly.
     
  26. DragonCoder

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    That works somewhat well in literature where that is common praxis to run a new publication, a doctor thesis or even a students bachelor/master thesis through.
    That works because the source one would copy from, is usually entirely open.
    Someone who would want to make a quick buck on the Asset Store would either extract from a game (which is apparently not too hard - I saw offers on Fiverr.com of people doing that as a service o_O ) or buy it from a different store.
     
  27. PanthenEye

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    No one's talking about making GTA 15 here. The First Tree was made entirely with Unity asset store and other 3D store products.

    Plenty of small to mid sized studios still use Asset Store assets. Are you telling programmers and other non-artist roles to learn 3D art or what?

    They can implement asset store credits system and compensate people for selling them illegal products so they can get a different, alternative version of the asset instead of asking them to cough up more cash they've already taken. This would also force them to more strongly vet new additions to the store. Their vetting process is weak because there's no liability for Unity. It has to be illegal somewhere to take peoples money and then remove the product.
     
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  28. Deleted User

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    Here's the thing. Security on the internet isn't very simple. The best ideas we come up with may only reduce the amount of pirated assets. It's a start. The more anti-pirate ideas they use, the safer we'll be from buying the stolen goods.

    I hope other ideas crop up.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 21, 2023
  29. PanthenEye

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    Comparing Youtube to Asset Store is like comparing apples to oranges. The sheer amount of video content produced all around the world can't be realistically reviewed by humans, this is not the case for Unity assets which all are human reviewed. Completely different scales and business models. Youtube is also free to use, they are not taking any money upfront and then removing the video you paid for.
     
  30. Ryiah

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    If multi-billion dollar corporations can't stop the piracy of video games they won't stop the piracy of assets either.
     
  31. UhOhItsMoving

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    It really isn't possible to know if something is stolen or not because a stolen asset can come from anywhere, even from non-game sources or sources that are not available on the internet. So expecting Unity to scour the internet just to find out if one asset is stolen is unrealistic and not bulletproof (e.g. the asset may in fact be stolen, but is not available on the internet, or is ripped from a game, so can't just be "searched" on the internet).
    This is a good idea. Uploading some project file, progress shots, video, history, etc., that shows actual development from start to finish. People do this all the time on YouTube, Twitch, ArtStation, Vimeo, etc., so it's definitely possible.

    Or, you could require progress to be uploaded to Unity as you go. Unity doesn't even need to review it as you go, either, just when you are finished. The point is just to have a history with actual time between each step on Unity's side rather than just a single bulk upload of "WIP 1, WIP 2, etc." files.
     
  32. neginfinity

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    You can't. At the moment detecting similar images is "KINDA" possible, but problematic. You have to be google to do it, and you'll need massive database of data.

    The issue is that models do not quite retain identifiable information well. Topology might not be preserved, vertex coords might not be preserved, so how do you determine that the data is ripped?

    And it is possible to create models without ripping data. Triss Marygold scenario I mentioned earlier at the moment requires human to catch it.

    Mid-sized studios has more than one person and can distribute workload accordingly. If you're one, learning programming, modeling, level design and music is HARD. However, when there's two of you, that means fewer skills per person. The more people there are, the fewer skills they'll have to learn.

    And that means extra work and extra expenses as a result.

    No, detecting pirated video is actually going to be easier, because those are flat images and there are known algorithms.
    Detecting asset store content is going to be harder, because of higher number of data types. If someone extracts an animation from a videogame, how do you detect that?

    Oh, and by the way, to detect ripped data, you'll have to rip data yourself, to build a database of it. See how people reacted to AI using their images to train image generators. Same deal.
     
  33. PanthenEye

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    You're espousing some kind of purist ideology of game development which does not align with market realities for independent developers. This has nothing to do with the topic, we're not discussing if assets should be used at all or why everything should be done from scratch (in your opinion).

    They're taking money upfront for a product they promote. It's their job and why they take the 30% cut. Surely, a multibillion corporation can put in a little bit more work than just making sure that the asset is openable in Unity and doesn't clearly violate IP of other multibillion corps so they don't get sued. The risk of buying a Unity approved and promoted asset should not be on the user, this is not some free-for-all Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.

    I've never talked about automatic detection algorithms, I don't propose they implement such a thing. And it still doesn't change the fact that Youtube content can't be human reviewed due to the sheer amount of content added every single minute, while Asset Store is on a much smaller scale and all content is human reviewed and will continue to be so. Completely different scales and problems to solve. Please stop taking things out of context.
     
  34. angrypenguin

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    The idea that only perfect solutions are worth pursuing is counter-productive. Even though it'll be far from perfect, taking achievable steps to make the most common problems a bit less common, and easier for users to spot, could well bring a lot of benefit.
     
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  35. DragonCoder

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    Very true! Something game devs need to keep very much in mind for their product as well.
     
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  36. Deleted User

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    And, this... Exactly this. A dev grabs a few stolen assets by accident and sells a game, only to experience a nasty lawsuit later. That shouldn't happen to anyone. I recall accidentally grabbing assets that were apparently ripped from another asset store. Glad I found out before I used them. Even small steps are better than ignoring a massive issue, and small steps could eventually lead to running in the right direction.
     
  37. spiney199

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    Problem is, in these situations, the imperfect solutions often end up hurting legitimate users more than the bad actors (going back to my Youtube comments).

    Hell this paradigm happens so often in all aspects of society its almost a universal constant to be considered.
     
  38. neginfinity

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    How the hell saying that you should know multiple skills in a small to mid size studio "purist"?
    What is it even supposed to mean? This is normal That's why the studio is small to mid sized.

    Also slapping some dismissive label on an argument does not make it wrong.

    You're free to sue.
    Maybe they could but do they have to? Are they OBLIGED to implement anything?
    As I said, AssetStore does not seem to be bringing in a lot of money to Unity.

    Youtube content actually can be human-reviewed due to sheer number of humans using the service. That's what the "report" button is for. They're second line of defense. First we have automatic tagging, then we have human reports. Youtube likely is one of the most used resources on the internet.

    No such idea has been expressed. I'm not seeing ANY decent solution for detection of pirated assets beyond report button. Is there a report button? If there is, they can call it done.

    However, making assets yourself is pretty damn reliable.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2023
  39. TheOtherMonarch

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    Unity should do the right thing, send e-mails to buyers reporting the copyright violation, and offer a refund. I understand why they don't do this. They may not want to assume liability or may not be sure of the violation.

    What they should do is send an email saying this asset has violated the Unity Store terms of service and offer a refund.
     
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  40. Deleted User

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    So, say Unity does nothing to protect us from them selling stolen goods. This would give Unity a very bad reputation, and users would be scared to use the asset store- hence smaller to no profits from it.

    This has nothing to do with making your own assets.
     
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  41. neginfinity

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    Given that Asset Store does not appear to be a significant portion of unity's profits in your scenario unity could simply shut Asset Store down as a way of dealing with the situation.

    There was talk on this forum that unity could be targeting someone other than indies currently.
     
  42. Enzi

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    Lots of posts. I think the general consensus can agree on what I wrote in my initial post.
    - send out emails to buyers
    - give a refund/asset store credits

    As Cafofo was also selling assets in the Unreal store I was made aware that Unreal indeed sent out emails to buyers warning them of the stolen assets. (sound effects)
    I'd really lose a lot of trust in Unity and the Asset Store if there's nothing done about refunds. But the courtesy of sending out warnings is the least thing Unity can do.

    @spiney199: You are missing the point for quite a long time now and as you are not stopping I've to ask the moderators to stop you as you keep on derailing this thread since your first post with a really bad take on this whole situation. Worst of all, you are not only derailing but downplaying this very serious issue. And it's not about being a purist game dev. This is about the trust and integrity of the Asset Store. If you don't want to use any assets and feel to tell others about it, write it in your blog.
     
  43. spiney199

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    It's a problem in all asset store fronts, to be frank. It's not unique to Unity.

    And if you feel its such a problem, then like in medicine, prevention is the best cure. So the best solution is to just not put yourself up at risk in the first place. You're as responsible as Unity are, to be honest. You need to put in your due diligence rather than just blindly buying things off of internet store fronts. It's 2020 mate. There's a baseline level of saviness that should be expected; the world ain't gonna hold your hand.

    I agree that Unity should send out emails. I'm surprised that's not already the case.

    But full refunds? I think you'll quickly see the asset store shut down as it becomes a net negative for Unity's bottom line. Then there'll be a completely different lot of people complaining on the forums.
     
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  44. Deleted User

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    Prevention is also an expensive cure.

    Look, we're all in this together and want Unity to be at its best, right? We love the service it offers and want it to always improve, and we all use it in our own ways. Piracy is a huge problem which could cost anyone tons of money if it is not recognized and dealt with. Again, any solution isn't exactly perfect, but no solution could put Unity down for distrust. And, who knows? If it gains high reputation, it could increase the number of users, and therefore, profits.
     
  45. Enzi

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    No, you're acting as if the majority are bad actors when they are not. The problem of people losing trust in the Asset Store will be a lot more negative than making up for the mistakes that are made. Even worse, when scammers realize that the Unity Asset Store is an easy target to exploit. Maybe take a look at Amazons playbook. They know what's up and have known since the beginning when it comes to respecting the customer and taking ownership in the responsibilities of being a store. Even Amazon aside, most other stores know this too. Yet you are here arguing something completely different. Like the store has no obligation to anything. I know you still think it's 2020 but 2023 has called and this is not how it works any more. Only if I buy from someone directly, I'd agree with you.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2023
  46. TheOtherMonarch

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    Not offering a refund has legal implications for Unity making money off of copyrighted assets.
     
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  47. Deleted User

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    Crazy thought, but do they have to just completely redo making an asset store so they have a clean slate to work with? It would allow them to not have to go through their history for everything. Either that or digging through history- but both would be time consuming... but at least a new store would mean it will not have illegal assets.
     
  48. spiney199

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    I meant 2020 as in the decade, but whatever, be pedantic. If you're a game dev I expect you to have a level of online savviness that would include knowing how to prevent yourself being fleeced online.

    You are buying directly from the seller, however. Unity is just the facilitator.

    Same as Ebay/Amazon. The seller is the person/organisation you bought it from, they handle any warranties/after market support. Ebay/Amazon just mediate, and sometimes get involved usually to the benefit of the customer and the detriment to the seller (again, false positives happen a lot).

    I don't go to Unity for asset support. I go to the seller.

    So no, Unity isn't responsible for refunds. At most they might be entitled to refund you the 30% cut they took.

    Yeah nah, preventative care has always, ALWAYS, been proven to be the cheapest and most effective solution.
     
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  49. FYI: they do not offer ownership over digital goods like music, movies, books. If you "buy" something from Amazon, and they remove the thing from store for whatever reason, they do not offer refund and they forcibly remove the files from your device without consent and when I last experienced it, without notification, if you use them through Amazon apps, like Kindle, etc.

    You picked the _very_ wrong example.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 21, 2023
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  50. Deleted User

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    The infection, however, is not in me. :)
     
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