Ninjutsu OS, a new software tool that heavily modifies Windows 10 with a huge number of tweaks, mods and extra tools, has been hit with a DMCA complaint by Microsoft. According to the copyright notice, the customizing, tweaking and disabling of Windows 10 features, even when that improves privacy, amounts to a violation of Microsoft’s software license.
Many of these tweaks can be carried out using tools provided within the software itself but the recently-released Ninjutsu OS aims to take Windows 10 modding to a whole new level.
Released on May 7, Ninjutsu OS claims to take Windows 10 and transform it into a penetration testing powerhouse, adding huge numbers of tools (around 800) aimed at security experts, a few for regular users (qBitTorrent and Tor Browser, for example) while also removing features considered unwanted or unneeded in such an environment.
Designed for Information Security Beginners
“I created this project to help beginners and students in the field of information security. As you know it is very difficult for beginners to build Windows and install all the tools and install libraries for some of the programs that you need in the field of information security,” Ninjutsu creator ‘Hasan’ informs TF.
As the image below shows, Ninjutsu’s appearance is striking and is likely to appeal to the target audience.
From June 6, 2020, the project was hosted on Github but according to a DMCA complaint filed by the Business Software Alliance (BSA) on behalf of Microsoft, Ninjutsu OS violates Microsoft’s copyrights.
“BSA has determined that GitHub.com (specifically, content made available on GitHub through the link listed below) is providing access to copyrighted, nonpublic, proprietary information of our member Microsoft,” the complaint reads.
“The link leads to copyrighted material pertaining to Microsoft. Specifically, the copyrighted material in question can be found at the following link: https://github.com/ninjutsu-project/ninjutsu-project.github.io.”
Disabling Windows 10 Features is a License Breach, Claim States
While that link to the project has now been taken down by Github (Hasan insists that the page “does not contain any violation of Microsoft’s rights”), the complaint goes on to highlight several features of Ninjutsu OS that are claimed to be infringing. As advertised and specifically highlighted by BSA/Microsoft they are:
– Customize Windows 10 with powerful tweak and optimize.
– Protect your privacy by tweak and customize Windows 10.
– Disable many of the annoying features built into Windows.
– Unwanted Windows components removal.
– Remove/Disable many Windows programs and services.
According to the complaint, the above actions by Ninjutsu OS as mentioned on its Github page provide a “work around technical restrictions of the software”, something which supposedly violates Microsoft’s software license terms.
“As such, we request that you please act expeditiously to remove or disable access to the specific pages/links described above, and thereby prevent the illegal reproduction and distribution of Microsoft content, via your company’s network, pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §512(d),” the DMCA complaint adds.
At first view, some may conclude that Ninjutsu OS amounts to a heavily modified yet pirated version of Windows 10. However, a video explaining how the software works suggests that users will actually need their own license for a genuine copy of Windows 10 to get the modifications up and running properly. Ninjutsu’s creator informs TF that’s indeed the case.
Other Tools Used to Tweak Windows 10, Developer says
There may be workarounds, of course, but BSA/Microsoft’s complaint appears to be centered around the unauthorized tweaking or wholesale removal/disabling of Windows 10 components, rather than copying its content. While there may be more going on here, at no point during the complaint does it provide details on which Microsoft content has been reproduced.
Ninjutsu’s developer informs us that the ability to tweak, disable or remove features in Windows 10 is carried out using two tools – Win10-Initial-Setup-Script and O&O ShutUp10, with the latter billing itself as a tool allowing users to “decide how Windows 10 should respect your privacy by deciding which unwanted functions should be deactivated.”
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