A Nefarious Plot To Repackage And Sell A Free Open-Source Game

Imagine if a bunch of flight-sim enthusiasts got together and spent years assembling a free, open-source, constantly updated flight simulator. Wait actually, you don't have to imagine that: It's a real thing, and it's called FlightGear. The open-source simulator has been around for years.

Now imagine some nefarious do-badders have co-opted the free game and are selling it under a made-up name. Unfortunately, you don't have to imagine that either: It's really happening.

As reported in a thorough and well-assembled exposé by Tim Stone at Rock, Paper Shotgun, the games VirtualPilot3D, ProFlightSimulator, Flight Simulator Plus and FlightProSim are all just made-up alternate names for FlightGear used to sell the free software to unsuspecting buyers.

In addition to selling software that they did not actually make, the websites for these products are covered in fabricated assets, images and videos lifted from other sims, and testimonials from totally made-up people, as exposed in this discover that "Professional Pilot Tom Rosales" was in fact Bernd Lenz, some dude from Germany.

The website for VirtualPilot3D (the phony) has the intense, manic air of a 90s' infomercial. It's covered in testimonials, exclamatory text, text with stars around it, stamped money-back guarantees, seemingly hundreds of fonts... and, going by what Stone has dug up, all of it is completely bogus, including claims of FAA certification.

They'll also lie through their teeth on occasion. As this official X-Plane page explains, FAA certification doesn't come easily. Even Mr Meyer's magnum opus needs to be modified and combined with approved hardware before it can be used for real pilot training. FlightGear has been incorporated in expensive FAA certified simulator set-ups but to suggest that VirtualPilot3D is a government-approved training tool is poppycock plain and simple.

Even if, as Stone points out, it's not technically illegal, it takes a special kind of nerve to jump on the back of an amazing, long-running project like FlightGear in a cynical attempt to make a buck. If you want to try a great flight simulator (for free), download and play the real deal.

The Flare Path: Don't Buy VirtualPilot3D [RPS]


Comments

    wow! that sounds so like something Apple would do! Too bad they didn't jump on this bandwagon first

      Err you realise OSX uses FreeBSD as its core right? It's not a legal problem for BSD licensed stuff, but it's still pretty lame.

        I think you mean OpenStep....
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenStep

        What is 'lame' about it? The FreeBSD piece is just the POSIX part of the system used perfectly within both the letter and spirit of the BSD license. The kernel is their own as is the vast majority of the userspace APIs.

      Speaking of bandwagons, lets all start talking about how shit Apple is!

    The GPL license grants the rights to sell software as long as you provide the source code... so there is no nefarious plot. and I don't really see a problem with this.

    I bet if the owner of the commercial version was some college student he'd be hailed as a business genius. Fact of the matter is, slapping a salespage infront of software licensed under the GPL is not illegal, and is actually pretty smart from an entrepreneurial perspective.

      There is more too it than that.. the advertising is intentionally misleading, using images from Microsoft's FSX among others to sell it as well as claims for free lifetime support and updates..

      Umm. The article points this out. It has a link in red to the license.

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