FSLabs Accused of Piracy

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FSLabs Piracy Claim
FSLabs Piracy Claim

Please note:  The issue has now been resolved.  To read the comments made by Aerosoft and FSLab CEOs please scroll to the bottom of the article.

In a shocking twist of events, FSLabs, the developer of a very popular Airbus A320 addon for FSX has today been accused of piracy by “Friends of Arnaud” in a detailed post on Aerosoft forums.

The post alleges that FSLabs made a copyright violation in that they stole objects from Aerosoft Airbus to include in their own Airbus.

Serious allegations indeed, but we still do not know if this accusation is truthful or just an attack against FSLabs.  But, the community should be informed about the events that are directly impacting them so the whole transcript of the post on Aerosoft forums is shown below for you to read and make up your own mind.

It is also worth noting that Aerosoft is not denying this allegation which may lead us to believe there is something going on behind the scenes.  This is certainly a developing story.


Open letter to the community
L.s,
We accuse Flight Sim Labs of copyright violation and claim they stole objects from Aerosoft Airbus development to include in their own Airbus development.
Instead of showing the usual images of objects that have a surprising level of similarity we will proof our case with four facts.  Everybody who has access to both VC MDL files can confirm our findings by using the model converter from Arno (http://www.scenerydesign.org/modelconverterx/). As the images are easy to make we leave that part of the evidence to others.
Fact 1, finding the stolen files
After the first major update from FSL two separate people who tried to change the textures of the VC noticed that some of their tweaks did not fit anymore. One of them looked at the MDL file to see what was changed and he found several objects of the VC were replaced with new versions. These objects included the tiller he was trying to put a VA logo on and the side stick (but there are more). He then discussed this with the second artist who looked at the same files. A short research showed the origine of the files. They were from the Aerosoft Airbus A320 product line. In detail comparison of the objects confirmed they some were 99% identical, others were exact copies. Please keep in mind these are highly complex, curved objects. A coincidental resemblance is utterly impossible.
Fact 2, response from Aerosoft
One of us, Arnoud, contacted Aerosoft to see if they had licensed the objects to FSL. Aerosoft has published their Concorde after all. Aerosoft responded as follows: 
      “Aerosoft did not and will not license any such objects to Flight Simulator Labs.  We suggest you contact Flight Simulator Labs with questions regarding this issue.”
At that time, we assumed they were preparing legal actions, but the reply was telling. They did not ask for more information as they would when it would be news for them. They clearly were aware of the issue. They have not given any more comments even though we requested more information.
Fact 3, response from FSL
We kept on investigating the issue and found that we were not the only ones who had their doubts about the legality. This post was shared with these people before posting. One more object was added to the list of objects that were possibly not legal. A few days later Arnoud did what the management of Aerosoft suggested and contacted Mr Kalamaras, the CEO of FSL. He described our findings and asked for comment so it could be included in a post like this.
        ‘Aerosoft and Flight Sim Labs, Ltd. have enjoyed a long standing and mutually beneficial relationship.  What you are inquiring about involves a private matter between our two companies and therefore, I am limited as to what I can discuss.  However, as of the date of this email, I can say that there are no outstanding issues between our two companies.”
Most important, the statement of FSL is incorrect.  Two of us bought the product with the illegal files and the two others got them delivered in an update. This is a private matter between Aerosoft, FSL and the its customers.  To say the people who paid for the files are not involved in the matter is arrogant and does not show a company who cares about its customers. The fact Mr Kalamaras did not deny the accusations was not surprising, the fact he stated there was no conflict with Aerosoft was. Either FLS was not aware of any possible steps Aerosoft had taken, but far more likely was that the issue was solved in the meantime.  Any settlement would include the replacement of the offending objects as soon as possible and as an update was expected from FSL we decided to wait for that.
Fact 4, waiting for the final confirmation
The update was released this week and the offending objects were replaced by others. The fact the stolen objects were replaced (with arguably inferior versions) was the final proof for us that they should never have been used.
Conclusion
FSL used the files created by Aerosoft.
Aerosoft stated they had not given a license for this and thus confirming it was a copyright violation.
FSL does not deny the accusation and replaced the objects with another update.
FSL seems to have settled the issue with Aerosoft.
There are several reasons why we decided to publish our findings:
  • It’s dishonestly that is highly damaging to our small hobby, certainly as it is more and more depending on professional versions the fine products we all enjoy.
  • At least one of the reviews published recently praised the VC for it’s fine modelling, we believe Aerosoft’s artists should be at least partly credited for this.
  • FSL stated that it was a private matter between them and Aerosoft and does not feel it’s customers play any role. We, people who paid, strongly disagree with this.
  • We have not been able to confirm this but we were told several times that FSL had spoken in a derogatory manner about the Aerosoft modelling. That’s cheeky to say the least.
We decided to publish on Aerosoft forums because, to be honest we don’t think it would last long on FSL forums, because Aerosoft’s modelling team is the one who is really the victim of this and because we did not think it should be discussed on 3rd party forums who are almost all commercially involved with our hobby.  Also, the fact that you will need to own the Aerosoft Airbus to be able to see for yourself made this the best location. Should Aerosoft decide to remove this post we’ll can easily post it somewhere else.  We hope however they will not do so. Aerosoft files were stolen so it seems logical to discuss it in Aerosoft forums.
In closing, we realize that an extraordinary claim deserves extraordinary proof. We believe the facts outlined leave no other conclusion but the one we describe. The FSL Airbus is an amazing product that did not deserve a modeler who took these kinds of shortcuts. We hope Mr Kalamaras can remove that person from his team so we can all enjoy his fine products without having to fear parts are stolen.
Despite this unfortunate news, we wish you a white and peaceful Christmas,
Friends of Arnoud

Update #1

Mathjis from Aerosoft made a comment in regards to this issue on their forums and we are pasting it in full below:

Well the post described in some detail why the people who wrote it felt it belonged here. You might not agree but I can’t see the fault in their logic and neither can my CEO who I (of course) consulted.

As far as I can see nobody is denying the facts stated. I stated clearly that the part we have knowledge of are correctly represented in the post, of course we can’t say of the FSL comment was factual, we have not seen it. The moment any party claims the facts are not correct I will most certainly consider removing the post.  Until that moment I feel we are all best served by knowing the uncontested facts.

Of course I have tried to contact Arnoud and his friends today. I have only partly been successful and just got a very short email from Arnoud where he stated that they created the post they made as careful as possible, with as much facts and as little conjecture as possible. I believe anybody reading the post will attest that facts 2 and 4 are correct. Fact 2 because we confirmed it and fact 4 because everybody can see it. Fact 3 can only be confirmed by FSL but as far as I am aware did not state the quote was incorrect,  Fact 1 can also be constructed by everybody who has access to the files.

We fully understand the controversy caused by this. It is not of our choosing. Neither is the publication made today.  We are just reacting to what is happening. If people feel it would be better if we would have removed all post and clammed up we simply disagree. This is 2016, we might not always like it but customers have a lot of power! Just by using the plus or minus button below this post gives you a voice. Even better, by using valid arguments you can claim I am wrong and convince others. That’s what forums are for and that why I (and my ceo) feel the post done early this morning is acceptable. Controversial, but acceptable.

I am more then willing to listen to advice on how this should have been handled differently. It clearly is an extremely complex matter and I most certainly hoped to spend this sunday in another way. The best I could do is ask advice of people I trust and take a lot of walks with the dogs to stay calm. Dogs are happy btw. Moderating in day and age where everybody feels free to spout whatever opinion he has is hard. If you got something to say use less exclamation marks and more arguments.

However the moment this topic turns into another FSL bashing slugfest like happened earlier today it will be close and all people involved will be banned. For a long time.

Source: Aerosoft Forums


Update #2

Both Aerosoft and FSLabs CEOs made an official statement on the forums and this is what they had to say on the matter:

Winfried Diekmann, Aerosoft CEO


Hello,

After reading this thread I decided to reply officially.

About two weeks ago we found a small number of 3D objects in the update of the FSL Airbus.

So we contacted Lefteris and found him really surprised.

I talked to him on the phone as we didn’t want to do anything without having talked and I found out that he didn’t knew about it before we told him.

So the files may be used by accident (honestly it was a mistake by comparing some objects between the two airbusses and some wrong objects were deleted) “The good coments were really a nice compliment to our 3D artist Stefan” 😉

We decided together not to make a big deal out of this and FSL has solved the problem with a new update.”Shit happens” 😉

I am sure FSL doesn’t need to use Aerosoft objects in an update because they have the capacity to do them by themself.

So for everybody, for me this is no longer an issue.

We have a good relationship to FSL since many year and no reason to change it.

Btw.: I was surprised that this thread was opened anonymously. I don’t like this kind a usage of forums because it is cowardly.

I wish you and all our customers a contemplative Christmas season and a Happy New Year.

Kind regards

Winfried Diekmann

Aerosoft, CEO

Source


Lefteris Kalamaras, FSLabs CEO


Hello,

it was quite surprising for me to read some comments by anonymous sources accusing Flight Sim Labs of piracy.

Everyone is quite aware that FSLabs and Aerosoft have enjoyed many years of prosperous and mutually enjoyed relationship and none of the competition some people have been so happy to imagine between us.

Winfried called me a couple weeks ago to describe some findings by Stefan, their A320 series 3d modeler which found me and my team by surprise. After looking into the matter as we felt obliged to do, we discovered that some years ago, when we performed a side-by-side comparison of our model with theirs inside 3ds Max, a very small amount of of 3d polygons in the hundreds of thousands that exist in our VC were deleted in error (ours instead of theirs). Theirs remained behind.

This went entirely undetected (both products are very accurate in depicting the Airbus cockpit) until Winfried alerted us about it.

We both decided it was a small issue that would be rectified very quickly with an update – this has already happened by now and our product has once again the correct original objects in place (yes, yes, the tiller among a few others).

I have apologized to Winfried (and Stefan) for the accident, he recognized this was entirely unintentional and the story ends there.

I am, however, quite surprised that some people lacked the decency or strength to come out and alert us on this using their own names, but instead chose to hide behind the anonymity offered by the Internet. Winfried called it cowardly – I agree with him.

Aerosoft and FSLabs are able to resolve matters internally by simply picking up the phone. We enjoy and will continue to enjoy a very amicable relationship – after all, it was in their conference that we even presented our A320-X in the first place and we are known to share a beer or three together when the opportunity lends itself.

We wish you as well a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Kind regards,

Lefteris Kalamaras

Flight Sim Labs, Ltd.

Source


 There you go folks, the story is finally over to everyone satisfaction (except maybe to the group that posted the original forum message to alert the world).