HTC Orders ROM Hackers to Cease and Desist


One of the more dedicated communities of Android users is the ROM developers, who often have phones rooted and running new software hacks even before the phones hit the streets (or shortly after). It has always been a part of Android and always will be as individuals strive to improve the overall functionality of what Google has given them. But now HTC has it in for at least one community of modders led by Coinflipper, a software hacker who has been getting around quite a bit lately.


Shipped-Roms hosts modified ROMs for almost all of HTC’s most popular handsets, including the brand-new HTC Aria. Their ROM collection expends well outside of just HTC’s Androids, too, and perhaps this is why they were just hit with a big old Cease and Desist from the handset manufacturer.

The big complain is that Coinflipper and crew are illegaly copying HTC’s “original art work.” Whether they simply mean the design of the GUI or the entire body of code as art isn’t quite clear, but things aren’t looking too good for the continuation of the site.

Of course taking down a site is one thing, but stopping the whole group of developers and hackers who tirelessly work away at rooting and modding is another thing entirely. Good luck with that, HTC.

[via MobileCrunch]

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  1. Perhaps HTC should concentrate on getting Apple off their asses first before pulling a “Google” with the C&D to modders.

  2. …it doesn’t look like this guy is a chef…he just stores ROM’s on his site.

  3. damn, i meant +1 to first comment

  4. Taking down a site with links to zip files (which I’d guess now are hosted on a 12 servers in countries that don’t even have a consulate in the US, plus the actual links resolve to an address that fowards links to servers with no logging whatsoever) on COPYRIGHT grounds is going to be somewhat problematic. Even if it works the site is going to be back in two dozen copies operating from countries with no diplomatic relations with the USA or with no enforced copyright laws… Brilliant marketing move by the way. It will greatly increase the interest towards cooked ROMs.

  5. A phrase rhyming with “Cupid hunts” comes to mind.

  6. So just get rid of Sense in the ROMs. It isn’t that great anyway.

  7. Man, I hope HTC stops treading down this path as they will end up just as hated as Apple by the technical community. As long as I paid for my device, what I do with it should be of little consequence to the original manufacturer.

    It isn’t like the hackers are making lots of money as pretty much all ROMS are free anyway. They should actually be thanking the hackers who allow users to put custom roms on the Android phones that AT&T gimps on purpose, making their handset look bad.

  8. This is just stupid. Hackers and ROMmers actually enhance the product that HTC sells. It gives people more options and features on their HTC phones than they would have otherwise and gives them a leg up over competition like Apple. If you do away with this, then they fall behind.

  9. Stay classy, HTC.

    Seriously, what is their legal department smoking?

  10. plus … how many people root? The majority of people just stick with the packaged/stock OS (me included). The percentage of HTC phones with hacked rom is probably VERY small. Please HTC, just leave them alone. Don’t be evil.

  11. Hey HTC thanks for reminding me why I will not buy any phones branded HTC in the future when I need to replace my droid.

  12. It sounds like HTC is just concerned about his hosting the leaked ROMs, but with broad terminology (probably because the lawyer drafting up the letter had no idea what he was talking about).

  13. large companies and corporate culture in general suck b@lls.

  14. It’s Conflipper, not Coinflipper.

  15. Yet another good reason to go with the Droid X.

  16. I can not believe that HTC is blowing this opportunity. This is a community of developers and testers who DON’T GET PAID TO DO R&D! Android OS was created to allow just this sort of hacking and HTC, if they were smart about it, could sit back and learn. The forums are huge concept proving grounds and HTC is not paying a damn thing for it.

    This was a stupid move that will alienate some very talented folks who are essentially working for free. HTC needs to apologize to the community and provide guidance on what pieces of their UI should not be duplicated. If they had any smarts, they would buy sponsor ship adds on the forum that hosts the discussions.

  17. Thanks for trying to get me NOT to exchange my Droid for an Incredible, HTC. I do see that they have a legal standing here though. Hackers should just stop making and hosting Sense ROMs, but continue with GPL’ed stock ones.

  18. I’m surely glad that I bought motorola and not htc.

  19. Guess I’ll not be buying any HTC phones any time in the future.

  20. Htc could learn a thing or two from coinflipper. And all it would take is one disgruntled developer to get a class action filed over their spyware issue…

  21. Htc could learn a thing or two from conflipper. And all it would take is one disgruntled developer to get a class action filed over their spyware issue…

  22. Yeah maybe everyone will just drop sense all together and we will only see some great AOSP ROM’s!! :)

    One can dream!

  23. Here’s my 2 pennies;

    HTC’s is probably tired of these modders producing ROMs that outperform their stock versions and they’re also probably embarrassed that nonpaid modders are resolving issues that HTC has not been able to address themselves.

    Although I have not used a custom ROM, I appreciate what these modders are doing and will likely flash one when I get tired of using my EVO in it’s stock state.

  24. Maybe HTC should concentrate on trying to stop the barrage of Incredible pre-order/backorder cancellations after the Moto/Google/Verizon/Adobe announcement next week. There’s an idea.

    They really need to conveniently “leak” their next Verizon device specs/ETA, prior to the announcement, and drop the Incredible price on the day of the announcement.

  25. This sounds like a move Apple would make. Shame on you HTC. Good thing I’m going Motorola.

  26. Well the custom Roms aren’t for profit so why they bitching?

  27. I don’t see why HTC should let people distribute Sense for non-HTC handsets – it’s one of major reasons people buy their phones.

  28. It would be better to reach out and hire the folk HTC if they are actually doing good work. I could understand if they were distributing ROMS for non HTC devices with HTC’s work. But if all this is going back onto HTC devices then whats the deal? They aren’t making any money and I have already paid HTC for their work. Nobody’s getting anything they didn’t pay for from HTC.

  29. Actually I think HTC should hire Coinflipper, so their software might get improved instead of this hate! :D

  30. HTC Build quality issues … Now this crap … I’m sticking with Moto Android phones.

  31. Google, Google vs CyanogenMod (Steve Kondik) and you’ll find that there is already a solution for this. We went tru all of this before. In the end its HTC’s obligation to its shareholders to protect their intellectual property.

  32. Wasn’t the original idea of android being open source so that the coding community could enhance it. I mean google provide the functionality on their N1, so why do other manufacturers decide to stamp all creativity which Google actively encourages, I mean it’s google’s OS, they could always take away HTC’s rights to distribute it.

  33. Wow, I am really glad I went with the Droid.

  34. In HTCs defense, it isn’t like we don’t have a choice. There are dozens of android phones. If you don’t like HTCs pushy policies, just go to a different phone. We aren’t trapped in a closet like Apple users are.

  35. I just got home from checking out the HTC Incredible at the Verizon store as my AT&T Blackberry is up. As much as I enjoyed the phone, I will not be inclined to pad the pockets of a corporation that doesn’t allow it’s customers to fully use the products it’s purchases. I think this just pushed me to the Droid X or Droid 2 side of the fence.

  36. I thought Android was open-source? How is what they’re doing illegal or wrong?

  37. @ Dmlstr

    I believe the expression rhymes with “clucking bell.”

  38. “Cupid Stunts” as we say in the UK

  39. HTC doesn’t want people with a MOTO Cliq .. enjoying the SENSE UI that they put their heart soul and money into… if I think that’s what they’re trying to protect..

  40. Well, this is truly disappointing of HTC. I have to say that though there are things I love about my Inc, I’d trade it if I could. It won’t connect with my bluetooth keyboard because they didn’t implement the full Android 2.1 bluetooth stack but went with the bluetooth from 1.6! Very irritating indeed. I’ll be selling it on an annual upgrade as soon as I can.

  41. Dear HTC and whomever this may concern, please reconcider your taking any legal action against modding/developer websites for hosting modded ROMs. The reason is very simple. Let me explain.

    The developer/modding community is actually a very big selling point for customers and for those who are concidering buying HTC devices. The main reason most people want a HTC device is because of the ability to customize and tweak their HTC device to their liking. By no means do ROM developers seek to reduce revenue or device sales but instead developers/modders strive to promote more HTC device popularity by showing the public how HTC devices ARE more customizable than any other mobile device. This is +1 for HTC! I would not own an HTC device if I was unable to flash a custom ROM… Period. I am confident most advanced users feel the same. Many people want a device they can customize to their personal liking, including enabling/disabling features, adding OS compatability to other HTC devices, etc. Apple’s iPhone users can’t do this! +1 for HTC! The modding communities are your friends who make an already great device into a device that EVERYBODY wants to have! This is a good thing for HTC.

    Please find a way to meet in the middle HTC. Taking legal action is not going to look good for HTC or help solve anything. There are three things in life you can’t stop or change… You can’t stop taxes, you can’t stop hackers and you can’t stop a dog from licking their privates. Fact

    Now is NOT the time for attacking the developer communities who have made HTC what it is today. Think about this HTC, don’t bite the hand that feeds you, which is the developer community. Instead, welcome us and encourage what we have all come to love and enjoy. At the same time the modding/developer community has greatly improving HTC’s popularity, stocks and market share. HTC’s success did not happen by coincidence, it happened because of the developer communities who have gotten the word out to the public and it traveled down the pipe to the average user/customer who would have otherwise purchased a non HTC device. PR is extremely important in today’s market HTC so act accordingly if you want to continue your vast popularity. We all hope to see this issue go away and the success of HTC to continue.

    HTC: Quietly Brilliant? We have brilliant minds HTC, How about you?

    Thanks for reading

  42. I think HTC has to do this. With the way copyrighted material works, if they don’t defend it, there’s precedent for others to use it as well (by others, we’re talking other manufacturers, people doing it for profit)

    Same reason Google had to go after Cyanogen.

    I imagine they’ll go through the motions, get the site to remove direct links, then not persue it any further than that, since they’ve shown they were willing to defend their copyrights if it ever comes up in court.

    Blame the various legal systems, not HTC…they’re just doing due dilligence.

    Still sucks though.

  43. I agree with no Sense UI on a non HTC handset, that’s it. They’re trying to shut down a community that is largely responsible for its success. Bad move HTC. I will make it a point to not purchase or recommend HTC handsets in the future. Focus on your recent build quality issues, not the thriving community that has helped build your brand.

  44. WOW all the fuckin crybabies on here.
    you obviously have never had a brand that you had to defend.
    I bet if someone broke into your house and stole your weed and Doritos you would be crying.
    HTC has every right to defend it’s brand and I doubt they give 2 shits about a bunch of crybabies who won’t buy their phones.
    It’s not HTC’s fault that these misdeed do this for free because they are too dirt dumb to get a fuckin job.
    You guys just give apple all the ammo they need.

  45. @jerry, no one wants sense it sucks balls.

  46. I have wondered for quite awhile when this would happen…I am surprised it has gone on as long as it has really….and i am willing to bet more to come from other handset makers as well..They have the right of course, but if this is really a good move on their part will be debatable. Once Google gets sucked into any one or two of these suits that are bound to come, their grand open source experiment will lose it’s lustre and android os will be relegated to the geeks and years from now they will talk longingly about the glory days that were…

    trying to make money on open source does not mix imho, it defeats the whole spirit of open source in the community, thats the first mistake…..these handset makers do not realize the community they are dealing with, they are not your average joe phone user, carriers might well learn this too, that with android, the real android fans are far more knowledgeable than many of the IT and software persons they employ . I have always said the carriers will ruin the experience, now i wonder if it will be hastened by the handset makers as well..

  47. To everyone saying “Oh, I’m glad a bought a Motorola and not an HTC”, “Oh, another reason to go with the Droid X”. STFU! Motorola would do the same thing but nobody is messing with MotoBlur because ‘Blur Suck!

  48. @JeffDenver

    Not so easy to go with someone elses phone when all of this BS goes down mere days after your 30 day worry free window has expired. Personally, I think Sense is the most overrate piece of Android “customization” out there today. I hate it, and I want it off my phone. Better yet, I would have loved to have seen the Moto Droid X and its specs prior to purchasing this piece of garbage dubbed “Incredible”. The only thing “incredible” about this phone is how it managed to get on the market without going through proper product/consumer test first.

  49. Well if HTC succeeds, I will start looking at Motorola or other company’s for my next phone purchase. This is ridiculous, if it was not for the us the developers Android would never have got a following that it currently does.

    Way to go HTC we support your product and this is what you do, way to go, you sure know how to upset your followers.

    Just my two cents…….

  50. @bill
    For a while I thought this was heaven on Earth–root and custom ROMs and all. I just hope manufacturers don’t spoil the party. I know carriers will always be against the people, though.

  51. Is htc afraid they may actually make the phones ” cool” or something?

  52. “Against the people”

  53. The “Modding community” is likely a tiny percentage of overall sales. I have nothing against devs but what they do isn’t enjoyed by the vast majority of sense users. Sorry the community isn’t significant enough for HTC to concern itself with. I could care less how this plays out I’m just saying…

  54. I don’t see the big problem. HTC are trying to defend their brand, it won’t work but you can’t blame them for trying.

    If we boycott every manufacturer that instigated some sort of unfair litigation then we’d be calling each other using string and yogurt pots.

    As the majority of people don’t root their phones HTC probably would be wiser to spend their efforts making the parts of the Sense UI people like (improved keyboard etc) available as paid for installable apps. This would make them money and reduce the want for people to mess with their roms. Still I doubt that will ever happen.

  55. HTC stop messing around. I might not have a rooted Hero, even though i’m tempted because of your lack of push on the Hero 2.1 update in the UK, which still hasn’t come!! But seriously there are bigger fish to fry then a few modders. Rooting is a little popular but everyone isn’t doing it, it can be complicated for the average house holder and doing this will just drive the cleaver people who like to tinker with software underground. Surely it can’t be doing that much harm. Better to keep your eye on the ball and beat the c**p out of Apple or invest those resources to getting your updated out on time to the people, like Hero users, then wasting the effot and time on small fry.

    Leave them alone and sort your real issues!

  56. That is one dumb move by HTC. As previous said, only a minority of owners will root, and the “hackers” are enhancing their products, making them more desirable and so HTC will sell more.

    Given a choice of two android phones, one rootable, the other not, I will choose the rootable one without hesitation. And if HTC banned distribution of all rooted roms then that’s the end of buying any more HTC handsets, simple as that.

  57. “HTC doesn’t want people with a MOTO Cliq .. enjoying the SENSE UI that they put their heart soul and money into… if I think that’s what they’re trying to protect..”
    Then ban only those roms containing SenseUI made for non HTC handsets.

  58. HTC
    high tech crap

  59. Cyanogen went through this with Google – and in Google’s case and in HTC’s case they both have points – there is certain info/apps etc which are Google and HTC’s – its the basic structure of Android that is open not every app that people develop. Its the app developers choice as to whether their app is open or patented/copyrighted. You wouldn’t cry foul at a game developer for sending a C&D – this is just the same. The ROM developers should be more like Cyanogen and work with Google and HTC and avoid apps etc from their ROMs which are patented/copyrighted. Cyanogen has a really great work around for this and doesn’t have any more issues with C&D’s from Google or HTC.

  60. I have an HTC Droid Eris, rooted of course. I like Sense, but I don’t think HTC should try to force a UI on users.
    I flashed a ROM that is ‘Sense-less’ and love it. LauncherPro is a much better UI experience.

  61. HTC arn’t anti hackers, they just dont want a copied Sense on other phones, they arn’t saying you cant Root one of their phones and replace Sense with somethig else.

    Sense is their property and I can understand why they dont want to see copied Sense on rival manufacturers phones.

    There is no point hating them, when they are just trying to protect their UI.

  62. If people think Motorola wouldn’t do the same thing, they are deluded. Every manufacturer is going to protect what they’ve worked hard to achieve and paid money to develop. If people think a small handful of people ‘jumping ship’ to get a phone they had previously not even wanted to buy is going to hurt them, they’re deluded as well. With sales numbers reaching 6 or 7 figures in size, a small group of disgruntled people are going to get lost in the overall $ calculations.

  63. Yep Android is open source, but the Sense skin and MotoBlur is not, I think HTC should be more clear on what parts they dont want getting out to other phones and not modded, they need to rethink their C&D order.

  64. HTC isn’t against all modded roms, just those that either allow Sense to be put on a non-htc phone or that allow a newer version of sense to be put on older htc phones (and no you don’t have a right to free updates of Sense forever just because you bought one Sense phone unless they specifically give you that contractual right). They are just trying to protect a product that they have spent a lot of time and money on. It would be no different than Sony issuing a C&D to a company that put out software that allowed PS3 games to be played on either an XBOX360 or a PS2. Or if an app developer who designed appXYZ issued a C&D to a website that was giving people a way to install appXYZ on phones for free.

    After all, Sense and Motoblur are essentially just apps that make the phone better (in their opinion at least). Why wouldn’t HTC want to make sure that their product is only available to people who paid for it?

    If you want a phone with the newest version of Sense then buy a phone with the newest version of Sense. If you want to make or install a different ROM go for it. Just don’t expect to be able to use someone’s copyrighted software as a part of it.

  65. The headline made me want to come out and rip HTC a new one…until I read the article. They’re asking to not use Sense as part of a modder’s hacked version. Fair enough. HTC created that part, so they can say what they want about it. I thought they meant any hacked phones, period. That would’ve pissed me off because Android isn’t HTC’s.

  66. Misleading headline is misleading. Coinflipper is not a modder, nor are the ROM’s on ShippedROMs mods. They are in fact, the ROM’s that ship on devices. While it may not be the most PR friendly thing to do, they (HTC) are well within their rights to have this taken down. They could be potentially liable if something were ‘slipped’ into one of these ROM’s and it was passed off as the factory stock ROM.

    This is NOT HTC attacking the modding community in anyway.

  67. Like pouring water on sand. Only people that will benefit are the lawyers.

  68. They can try this garbage if they want, but it’ll never happen. Android modders and hackers will always be around and the community will continue to grow. Period.

  69. The reason I use a HTC/Android phone is that so much can be done with it. Such as rooting and installing a custom ROM. What are they going to do about Cyanogen? There is nothing they can do. The developers of these ROM’s are similar to the developers of body kits for particular cars. They don’t take anything away from the original product, they enhance the original product. HTC should work with them. If they release an Android phone which is already rooted and has the latest version of Cyanogen installed, it would fly out of the shops!

  70. Isn’t the problem that people are porting, for example, Sense UI to the Nexus One? I think its unfair to have a go at them for trying to stop people porting their own work to another phone. They don’t care what you install on your HTC phone after you’ve paid for it, but they don’t want you buying another phone because you think you can run Sense on it.

  71. how about supporting ur phones so that coders do not need to do that instead of you, htc? :\

  72. Everyone needs to stop hating on HTC. The files are not for anybody else to distribute, are they?? I don’t see what the big deal is, it’s not like they are trying to shut down XDA forums. The shared roms site is just nbh downloads, not custom roms.

  73. htc should learn how to make a good quality device and not worry about how we the consumers use them.

    ive owned moto q, moto q9h, htc rhodium, iphone 3gs, moto droid, nexus one, htc evo and htc incredible.

    motorola q9h, except for not having touch screen and a 1 ghz snapdragon was the best and easily modded phone ive ever owned.

  74. Bravo HTC, Google makes Android open source and you add your fouled up, memory leaking Sense-UI to it and start yammering about your “Artwork” being stolen. HTC is taking advantage of the fact that something is open and then closing it again with some poorly written code that you can’t even disable without modifying the ROM (and that even breaks things). Half of the people who buy an Android device do so because Google basically invites you to modify and improve upon their code. Now I can’t improve upon the code that came installed on the device that I purchased without finding a way to remove Sense? BIG mistake HTC, see if I buy another one of your devices in the future.

  75. F*CK HTC! They can’t stop us getting sense on HD2 android

  76. Hey now, some people seem to be overlooking a few things here. (I haven’t read all the posts, there are too many, so someone might have pointed this out already, but…) Everyone has to realize that Google gave a cease and desist to Cyanogen. Not because he was modding Android, but because he was hosting their copyrighted apps, not just the open source system. It makes some sense that HTC doesn’t want everyone to take and redistribute their software. They aren’t pulling a Motorola or Apple and saying that nobody can mess with their devices, they’re just saying that they don’t want their hard work to be hosted and downloaded from other sites. In the scheme of things, it doesn’t make too big a deal since you don’t need a modified ROM to get root. And then you can install a ROM that isn’t HTC. No problems there.

    45. Bobert wrote on June 17, 2010

    WOW all the fuckin crybabies on here.
    you obviously have never had a brand that you had to defend.
    I bet if someone broke into your house and stole your weed and Doritos you would be crying.
    HTC has every right to defend it’s brand and I doubt they give 2 shits about a bunch of crybabies who won’t buy their phones.
    It’s not HTC’s fault that these misdeed do this for free because they are too dirt dumb to get a fuckin job.
    You guys just give apple all the ammo they need.

    You understand that people want to do what they want with what they bought, and since the bought it, HTC received money for it. So if people mod the of a HTC, others might buy a HTC just because they saw that. How many phones do you think HTC sold like that? Wouldnt this result in a huge amount of profit if the dumb idiots that actually did find work could exploit the market?
    The point is very simple here, HTC wants control.
    The fact is that the HTC tattoo is perfectly able to run Android 2.1 but they wont update it just to make the people buy a more expensive model and get more money out of empty pockets so that highly overpaid managers can spend another 100.000 on a stripper.
    The people dont like to be manipulated!!! So just STFU and take the cash that the people give you for those crap phones.

    I was a fan, i have a HTC but i will think about it in the future and look for options.

  78. will you 1d1ots read the article!! HTC is not against modders!!

  79. What ever happened to the days of the custom mods for Unreal and Tribes II? These developers embraced the mod community and flourished for it. The changes to the games came so quickly that the games remained popular for about 10x what a normal lifecycle was thought to be. All of this was done with minimal resource usage by the company itself. What CEO, who is actually interested in moving their cokpany forward, wouldn’t subscribe to this software evolutionary cycle? If the mod communities are embraced, then there is no limit to what your product can accomplish! Consumers today thirst for constant change, this marketing and deployment strategy is perhaps one of the best methods of meeting this demand. While I agree that there will be bumps and bugs along the way, most modders are perfectionists and will not rest until they achieve it. For Pete’s sake, it can’t be any worse than some of the trash that Microsoft has released! Modders will not go away…….embrace them and prosper!

  80. shipped roms != “modded roms”
    HTC != “attacking mod scene”
    90% people here = mob mentality morons

  81. Sure would be nice if when I bought a phone stating that is is an Android Phone, it WAS an Android Phone!

    Vanilla, not Blur, not Sense. My 2-Sence.

    Buy a phone for it’s Openness (Open Source OS), and have it closed like it was a new interface for BSD! What a crock!

    What we need is an Android Open Phone (An)OP1(Kenobi?) if you will.

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