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hphosts ToS for commercial use

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Hi, your EULA (https://hosts-file.net/download/eula.txt) seems to be a bit contradictory. It explicitly allows commercial use but on the other hand it prohibits modification and distribution to gain financially from your products.

Could you clarify the usage of your hosts files in a commercial product like for example a tool to detect malicious network traffic?



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It is really quite simple.

If you have a business you can deploy the HP Hosts file amongst the computers used within that business.  The use within said business is considered "commercial use" which is contrasted with the use in a retail situation where it is used within one's home and used personally or within one's family.  These are allowed usage.  The difference between the retail and commercial use is that of a familiar relationship.  In a commercial setting there are numerous personnel who are unrelated.  In a retail setting it is within a family group of related individuals. 

However one can not take the HP Hosts file and place it in a product that is distributed outside of that business.   That is a disallowed usage.

For example I can't take the HP Hosts file, modify it or keep it intact and rebrand and distribute it as Dave's Host File.

The EULA is not contradictory.  One can distribute the HP Hosts file within and not outside a given commercial setting.





Edited by David H. Lipman
Edited for content, clarity, spelling and grammar
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Yep, it's pretty simple.  Like many freeware tools, you are allowed to use it as you see fit, however you are NOT allowed to profit from it by integrating into a product, putting it behind a paywall and charging for downloads, or rebranding it as your own work for example.  Taking a thing that is provided completely free to all and transforming it into a paid solution for profit is one of the lowest things that a person/company can do in my opinion and there is a long history of such 'products' acquiring very bad reputations for participating in such activities, and such vendors' products and distribution sites are usually flagged as PUP, scams or even malware (depending on the use, purpose and context) by Malwarebytes and other security vendors to protect users from being scammed by these so-called products that try to profit from the voluntary efforts of others who are doing nothing but trying to provide a useful tool or service for free to help others.

A while back there were a lot of websites/companies popping up trying to sell people the free versions of tools like Spybot, Ad-Aware and even Malwarebytes as well as non-security tools like CCleaner.  They would offer these as commercial products and would charge users to download them from their websites, and all their paying customers would have to show for it would be installations of tools that they could have acquired elsewhere for no cost at all from the original authors.  Services like this are a scam and take advantage of the ignorance of others who are only seeking to clean and/or secure their devices and it is a predatory practice, especially since the tools that they are offering weren't even created by them.  They just grabbed copies of the installers from the web and started hosting them on their own sites and put them behind a paywall for profit.

Conversely, if someone came along who had an idea for a tool or product to block bad websites and wanted to integrate the hpHosts database into it, it's not impossible that they would be able to do so legally, however they would first need to seek permission from its creator/owners to do so and get authorization from them to do so otherwise it would be IP theft/copyright infringement and unauthorized modification and redistribution.  One example of this is HostsMan.  It is a tool that downloads and combines HOSTS files from multiple sources and combines them on the user's system.  It includes links to the hpHosts HOSTS files, however that program's author got permission to do so and therefore there is no problem.  Of course HostsMan is a free utility also, and things would probably be a lot different if they were trying to charge for the tool.

As for commercial use that is allowed; this just means that in a business environment, a company is free to download and use the HOSTS file in their own network to protect their own endpoints/devices without having to worry about getting into trouble or having to pay anyone for its use.  That's not at all the same thing as a company seeking to integrate the file into their own product to sell commercially and that type of use is not what is intended by the authorized use in commercial environments.  Basically there is a big difference between allowed use and commercial (re)distribution.  It's the same reason I'm allowed to purchase a copy of Malwarebytes to protect my computer, but if I set up my computer on a static IP and tried to use it as a proxy for others to connect to the web through as a paid service advertising something like 'secure proxy with protection provided by Malwarebytes' I'd get into big trouble and it's no different with the hpHosts files or products and databases from other security vendors.  Any services that do provide that kind of service/protection had to first get permission from the security product's company and they likely pay a hefty fee to be able to offer such protection (there are some VPNs/proxies that offer such protection, and some ISPs offer special versions of AV products to their customers either for free or at a steep discount but they had to work out a deal with those AV vendors to be allowed to do so).

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