About Us: Who we are and what we do - CNET

CNET Downloads software policies

In an effort to create the safest, most up-to-date, and easy-to-use downloading experience on the Web, we prohibit certain types of software and we require that publishers conduct business according to certain standards. We expect publishers to comply with these Software Policies and the spirit of our mission statement. Because software is constantly evolving, these policies are neither exhaustive nor static. We may decline or remove applications for reasons not specifically mentioned below if we determine there has been a violation of any of our policies.

Security, privacy, and control

We test all software products submitted to us against a comprehensive set of criteria. In addition to screening for common viruses and spyware, we also look for other threats that might interfere with our users' security, privacy, and control. We consider publisher Web sites, publisher conduct, and our own experience with a particular product.

Viruses, spyware, and malware

We will not list software that contains viruses, Trojan horses, malicious adware, spyware, or other potentially harmful components. We will not list products known to contain such items in instances outside CNET Downloads, and we may disallow products from publishers our editors feel violate the spirit of this policy.

The following are types of software we will not accept:

  • Software that installs viruses, Trojan horses, malicious adware, spyware, or other malware at any point during or after installation.
    • Software that installs the above items via links to other software or Web sites.
    • Links on publishers' Web sites that may enable the installation of the above items.
  • Software that installs without notice and the user's consent.
  • Software that includes or uses surreptitious data collection.
  • Software that collects and transmits information about end users or end users' computer usage without adequate prior notification.
  • Software that diverts or modifies end users' default browsers, search-engine home pages, providers, security, or privacy-protection settings.
  • Software that interferes with users' control and privacy.

EULA and installation prompts

All products in our library must present users with a clear and easy-to-read license agreement, and provide users with an opportunity to cancel the installation if they do not agree to the terms. End-user license agreements are a contract with the user, and in keeping with that spirit they must be truthful, accurate, comprehensive, and easy to read and understand.

Following are types of software we will not accept:

  • Software that installs in a concealed manner or denies users an opportunity to read the license agreement and/or to knowingly consent to the installation.
  • Software that induces installation by making false or misleading claims about the software or the software publisher.
  • Software with license agreements that do not clearly or adequately disclose critical information about the software or additional items included with the installation.

Software bundling

Any additional programs or third-party items included with the downloadable file must be clearly disclosed in the CNET Downloads product description and during the installation process. Users must be given a way to opt out of all additional items during installation, or they must be given an opportunity to cancel the installation completely.

We will not accept software that exhibits any of the following:

  • Additional programs or third-party items that are not clearly disclosed in the CNET Downloads product description, end-user license agreement, or installation screens.
  • The inability for users to opt out of or cancel the installation of additional items included with the installation.
  • Icons or shortcuts placed on a user's desktop without adequate prior disclosure or permission.

Advertising-supported software

We allow certain types of advertising-supported software, including a small number of adware components we evaluate on a case-by-case basis.

Removal and uninstallation

We respect the user's right to control software that is installed on their computers, and we require that all software in our library provide users with a clear and simple method for removal. We may disallow products we feel are unnecessarily difficult to uninstall, are obscured, or are resistant to removal.

Following are types of software we will not accept:

  • Software that prevents its own uninstallation or disablement.
  • Software that requires users to give up personal information to uninstall.
  • Software that cannot be properly or safely removed due to errors or other programming issues.

Quality and content

Given the rapid advances in technology and user control, we are here to demystify what may seem to be a confusing array of downloadable content. We try to explain technical requirements, legal issues, and performance standards in a manner that is clear and concise. In order to maintain the quality of our download library, we may decline to list software with stability problems, offensive content, or general quality issues as determined by our editors.

Software quality

We will not list applications with reliability or stability issues, and in most cases we will only accept submissions for nonbeta versions of software. We also may decline products our editors feel do not meet the general quality standards of the library or do not offer significant value to users. Additionally, we may decline to list products that generate a significant volume of negative feedback or complaints from our users.

Following are types of software we will not accept:

  • Software with obvious quality or stability issues (crashing, error screens).
  • Alpha, beta, or prerelease software not approved for listing by an editor.
  • Products that generate a significant volume of negative feedback or complaints from users.
  • Software that does not meet the general quality standards of the library as determined by the editors.

Prohibited software

Our editors have determined that certain types of software are not appropriate for the CNET Downloads software library. We will remove products or publishers who violate this policy by either directly or indirectly distributing CNET Downloads-prohibited software.

  • Casino, gambling, or betting software with real wagering.
  • Pornography-focused applications (for example, "porn media managers") or programs containing graphic nudity.
  • Hacking and spamming tools.
    • E-mail-extraction programs, anonymous bulk mailers, and mass-messaging IM utilities.
    • Search-engine-manipulation and doorway-page-creation tools.
  • Products that enable users to cheat in online games.
  • Products that enable users to copy encrypted commercial DVDs.
  • PC-monitoring applications with remote-install capabilities.
  • Illegal software products.


We do not allow products that contain or promote inappropriate, offensive, or sexually explicit content. This policy may extend to content delivered by the application, links from the application interface or publisher's Web site, and content found on the publisher's Web site.

Product information

To help ensure the processing of submissions correctly and within the estimated processing time, all submitted products must adhere to the Upload.com Submission Instructions. These requirements are designed to inform publishers about the information needed to successfully submit products to our software library.

Copyright and trademark

If we determine someone other than the legal copyright or trademark holder (or his or her official agent) has submitted a product, we will suspend the product listing. If you would like us to investigate an alleged breach of copyright, please follow the instructions contained in our Copyright Notice.

Access and usability

We believe our users should be able to easily access and use the downloadable content listed on CNET Downloads. We will provide direct download links whenever possible and may reject products that lack them. All acceptable products on the site must provide a minimum of features and functionality. In the case of software submissions, we do not allow passive demos, such as movies or presentations.

Download links

Submitted files are automatically uploaded to our servers. Therefore we require download links that will immediately initiate the file download. We generally do not allow links to HTML pages or information-capture forms.

  • Links that are broken or lead to error pages.
  • Links that point to HTML pages or information-capture forms not approved by editors.
  • Links that redirect to mirror pages or pages where users must take additional steps to initiate a download.
  • Links that don't allow our system to upload the file to our HTTP hosting servers.

File hosting

In order to ensure the safety and integrity of our download library, all files submitted to CNET Downloads must be hosted on our servers. Limited exceptions to this policy are made on a case-by-case basis, and at our sole discretion.

Product usability

At minimum, software products submitted to our library must be working demos, and we will only accept free products or functional trial versions that allow users to experience the software adequately. We will not accept slide shows of a product or self-running demos.

  • Trials that require users to enter a credit card number.
  • Passive demos (for example, slide shows or self-running demos).
  • Expired trial versions or products that do not load.

Data integrity

The integrity of our data is paramount to our business. We make every effort to ensure product information, download counts, user opinions, and all other data displayed on our sites are true and accurate. As part of that effort, we maintain a number of rules and best practices for publishers and end-users that are designed to guarantee the integrity of the library.

Download counts and user opinions

Attempting to artificially affect download counts or user ratings is a serious violation of our listing policies, and may result in immediate and permanent removal from the library. Publishers may link to CNET Downloads product pages, but only via an approved CNET Downloads Button, and may not submit reviews for their own products or solicit others to do so.

Duplicate listings

We do not allow multiple, separate listings for the same product or company. We reserve the right to remove or suspend listings we feel are identical or substantially similar.

Product updates and product sets

Each new version of a product may be featured in the New Releases list no more than two times per month, at our sole discretion and after the new information and features have been verified by our staff. New product sets (or product lines) can only be added as new product listings, and may not be submitted as modifications to already established product sets.

Links to CNET Downloads

We encourage you to link to your product listing on CNET Downloads by placing a CNET Downloads Button on your Web site. We do not allow any other type of direct link to pages on our site or to download links we host, and we reserve the right to remove products that violate this policy.

CNET Downloads content

We do not allow the use of CNET or CNET Downloads logos, trademarks, and other copyrighted material without permission. You may only place an approved CNET Downloads Button on your Web site.

Customer service and business practices

We are a customer-focused organization, and we believe our mission is dependent upon our partners' embrace of our principles. We expect third parties who submit material to our sites will comply with our policies, and we encourage all partners to remember our values as they do business with us. Our goal is to promote an environment of fair business practice, adherence to service level agreements, and mutual respect.

User satisfaction

We encourage all software publishers to provide quality customer service and assist users with any issues related to the software. We may choose to remove products or publishers if we receive a significant volume of negative user feedback or complaints, or if we feel users are not being given an adequate level of customer service and support.

General conduct

Repeated or egregious violations of our policies, failure to pay for services rendered, or abusive behavior toward our users or our staff may result in the suspension of your account or permanent removal from our library.