HTC claims copyright infringement over video of Beautiful Widgets

If you are enthusiastic about customizing your Android device, you’ve at least heard the name Beautiful Widgets. Most of you are probably aware of HTC’s reaction to last year’s release of the immensely popular Beautiful Widgets home screen eye candy, which originally featured some graphics that were more than reminiscent of the HTC Sense widgets, the flip clock in particular. Last December, HTC sent the publisher of the app, LevelUp Studio, with a Cease & Desist order. Makes sense. They designed the graphics after all.

LevelUp’s offending widgets disappeared from the Android Market for a time, but quickly reappeared with a fresh new (and original) look, and continued selling like hotcakes. The theme-aware BW now enjoys the availability of hundreds of skins in the Market. Everyone’s happy; no harm, no foul…at least that’s what I thought the situation was, until today.

It turns out that HTC still isn’t satisfied, because evidence of the existence of the old Beautiful Widgets still exists in the form of screen grabs and video reviews. Not to worry though, because the OEM is combating the issue. I signed into the DroidDog YouTube account today to find the following notice (transcription follows the image):



In case that’s too hard to read, here’s the text:

ATTENTION

We have received copyright complaint(s) regarding material you posted, as follows:

from HTC Corporation about Beautiful Widgets – droiddog
Video ID: 8UxKsAn-6vY

Please note: Repeat incidents of copyright infringement will result in the deletion of your account and all videos you have uploaded. Please delete any videos for which you do not own the necessary rights, and refrain from uploading infringing videos.

If you are unsure what this means, it is very important that you visit our Copyright Tips guide.

If one of your postings has been misidentified as infringing, you may submit a counter-notification. Information about this process is in our Help Center.

Please note that there may be severe legal consequences for filing a false or bad-faith notice.

For your reference, a copy of this message has been sent to you via email, and can also be located in your Account Warnings page.

This notice is referring to a video review of Beautiful Widgets that was embedded in a post on March 8th, 2010 by Carlos Graves. You can click the link and read his intro, but you can’t watch Carlos’ review because it’s already been deleted by YouTube.

I can’t say I blame HTC for tracking down developers who use copyrighted material and slaping some papers on them. On the other hand, I can’t blame developers for wanting to emulate the luscious UI Sense provides. Stealing is another matter. But that old version of Beautiful Widgets, the one that featured HTC graphics, isn’t even available in the Android Market anymore. Was DroidDog’s old review really a threat to their business or intellectual property? I don’t think so, but I like reviewing HTC phones on video, and HTCs products (Sense included) are almost always seen in my app reviews. It figures, because HTC is my favorite OEM of Android phones. I’ve purchased at least six models that served as my personal daily driver over the last two years. But I also realize that DroidDog’s YouTube account is important to our site and audience, so, I’ll let my rhetorical questioning end before it begins.

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