* The Business of Software

A former community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.

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Moderators:

Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

What do I do if I found my software on PirateBay.org?

My software is listed on PirateBay, I'm not a user of this sort of thing myself so I'm not 100% sure what it is but it doesn't sound great. Pirate Bay is linking to my site so I found this in my logs.

Is there anything I can do to get my software removed?

Thanks
Joe K
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
There is essentially nothing you can do.  Return to solving problems for paying customers, it will be more efficient at making you money.
Patrick McKenzie (Bingo Card Creator) Send private email
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
"There is essentially nothing you can do.  Return to solving problems for paying customers, it will be more efficient at making you money."

People like Patrick keep saying this, but it just isn't true.  Also, Patrick has a full-time job and his Misv is only there to make some extra money.  Essentially, it is hobby.  So why would he care if people copy his software?  He has his job to fall back on.

You shouldn't spend all your time on copy protection, but you should at least make it a challenge to crack it.

 Otherwise, you will start to lose potentially paying customers
stop the lies
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
It's good to "stop the lies", but once you've tried to create an uncrackable scheme and failed, your software ends up on the pirate bay anyway, and our friend "stop the lies" is one of many with no actual answer to the question.

That said, I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the pirate bay probably has software from big-name companies with lawyers on staff, who have failed to get them shut down, so an angry letter from a typical mISV is probably not going to have them hiding under their beds.

You can't do anything.

If you talk to your lawyer, the police, or visit http://www.bsa.org/country/Anti-Piracy.aspx you'll be either laughed at or ignored because really noone in authority gives a damn, but if the legal people can't help, you're back to being stuck.

But for a laugh, you can try creating a DRM scheme that might slow the crackers down for a day or two. It may work, for all we know.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
@stop the lies

If you mean taking reasonable precautions, like an off-the-shelf protection scheme and licensing system, with maybe a few other prudent steps, then I agree with you.

But spending a lot of time on anti-cracking gives a very poor return on investment compared to improving your product, documentation, and website. As a mISV, I need to focus my limited time where it's most effective.

Also, draconian "protections" can be counterproductive. Spore is one high-profile example, but there are many others. There's a certain piece of software in my field -- once popular and with a loyal customer base -- that's getting very bad press right now because it made its license enforcement much stricter, while simultaneously rolling out a new verification scheme that apparently has a lot of bugs. As they say, the only bug-free code is code not written. This company knows its business better than I do, but I wonder if the increased revenue is really worth the massive ill will they're generating.
(User deleted) Send private email
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
>>
People like Patrick keep saying this, but it just isn't true.
>>

Hypothetically supposing that you're right and it is possible to make crack-proof software (in which case, you should drop what you are doing and sell your solution to Microsoft), you still have not described any method of getting previously cracked software off of Pirate Bay.

There is no stuffing that genie back into the bottle, which is what the OP is asking for.  It is a lost cause -- writing letters, getting a lawyer involved, reporting this to the authorities, etc are all just black holes of negative ROI.

That is why I suggest going back to positive ROI activities like improving your software, marketing, etc.
Patrick McKenzie (Bingo Card Creator) Send private email
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
If they're posting a key gen or free key, change your reg code validation algorithm. If it's an .exe that patches your app, add static arrays and recompile to mess up their byte offsets they're modifying (mostly that's what they do, they find the IsRegCodeValid function and put a jump around that).

Then do that every month!
CC Send private email
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
You stay one version ahead of the crackers. Always have new features waiting in the wings and a nice long list of "What's New in this Version!" to release when your software shows up on a crack site.
Jos Stoned
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
>you still have not described any method of getting ?>previously cracked software off of Pirate Bay.
Patrick, you are forgetting the lessons from other industries.
What we need is an industry body of lawyers and a bit of lobbying so we can sue random grandmothers for $M for downloading.

Then there is the question of education - a 5min video about piracy=theft which will run every time any executable is started. This won't be skippable and the app won't display on any monitor without HDCP.

Finally we could add root kits to all our CDs which disable the copying function on the host machine.
Martin Send private email
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
Don't forget to tie their DNA to the serial number, Martin. ;)

Maybe piracy is one reason for the push to cloud/SaaS apps?
ColinM Send private email
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
>>
Always have new features waiting in the wings and a nice long list of "What's New in this Version!" to release when your software shows up on a crack site.
>>

So let's review: you have released version X, and have version X+1 available.  Version X+1 is so much better than version X that, even if you were given the choice of getting X for free, you would pick X+1 over it.

Your idea is to convert a portion of a small segment of the population, who are already prepared to steal your software, into paying customers by showing how much better X+1 is versus X. 

I have a different idea: instead, just go ahead and release version X+1 right now.  Not only is this the optimal experience for the people who actually pay you money (because, let's face it, "You should have less than the best because I need to hold the best in reserve to spite some pirates at some unknown point in the future" is not exactly a customer-friendly decision), it will probably make you more money.

It has to be easier to convert a random honest prospect, who is choosing between "No software" and "Pay for the newest and best version of the software", than it is to convert a random pirate, who is choosing between "Free copy of last version" and "Pay for the newest and best version" and "Wait two weeks until newest and best version gets cracked, then get it for free".  Plus in most markets uISVs are interested in, honest prospects should heavily outnumber pirates.
Patrick McKenzie (Bingo Card Creator) Send private email
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
Welcome to the club. :)

When my app got cracked I got really stressed out! This was an app wrapped with a commercial copy protection system plus a bunch of my own anti cracking tricks.

I lost a lot of sleep and spent time sending emails asking rapidshare type sites to remove my app etc etc.

I soon realised I was wasting my time and just let it go. If it'll help you feel better consider it a kind of free advertising - the pirate users wouldn't have paid for it anyway.
Dominic
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
 
 
I agree with most people that recommend to focus on the positives and not try to fight it. This is utterly pointless and let the big guys try do do it.

A few other points I don't think anyone has touched yet:

- most people that will pirate your software would not buy it anyway, so stop worrying about them
- they are lots of honest people that will buy their software, so focus on them!
- include other services that can not be pirated (like support, user forums, updated data available online) and make it easy for people that paid to prove they did so you can provide these services to them
Pascal Send private email
Thursday, January 22, 2009
 
 
Looking at my logs I can see people who have attempted to use a  cracked version and when that has failed gone on to buy the full product. I can also see support messages from people who have been using pirated versions of my software.

So I have little doubt that there is a financial cost to this problem. However I think it is quite important not to get too emotional about it (hard to do the first few times.)

The reality is it doesn't really matter how much effort you put in, if there is enough demand someone will crack your software. The downside to beefing up your anti-cracking measures is you start to make life difficult for your paying customers.

Of course it isn't as black and white as that, software with no protection isn't going to sell (I've tried) so you need to consider how much effort you are putting in and what the return is. At some point, as Patrick says you will get a better return putting your effort into features and marketing, I think that point is much sooner than many people realise.
Tony Edgecombe Send private email
Thursday, January 22, 2009
 
 
See the BOS FAQ topic on crackers and pirates (link on left).
Andy Brice Send private email
Thursday, January 22, 2009
 
 
"I soon realised I was wasting my time and just let it go. If it'll help you feel better consider it a kind of free advertising - the pirate users wouldn't have paid for it anyway."

oooooh, can you just send me a free copy?  I'm not going to pay for it anyway.

Given the choice between free and $, most people will choose free and if one of your cracked versions shows up in a google result before yours, guess which one your potential customers will choose?  If you don't believe this, give your software away for free and make paying for it optional.

I still can't believe people here consider Patrick M. a success.    He posts as if he has a multi-million dollar company.
john B.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
 
 
@ JOHN B:  Patrick has contributed a lot to the community, and does it out of a genunine interest in helping others.

It doesnt matter how much his product makes because he has a million dollar attitude.

Which is more than anyone can say for you.?

Thursday, January 22, 2009
 
 
"People like Patrick keep saying this, but it just isn't true.  Also, Patrick has a full-time job and his Misv is only there to make some extra money.  Essentially, it is hobby.  So why would he care if people copy his software?  He has his job to fall back on."

I have to agree with the above sentiment (no disrespect as much good advice is proffered by BCC guy).

There is stuff you can do. Which will work and increase your revenue. Don't spend a lot of time on it. But do add protections, chase up piracy etc. Best of all, include online checks in your app that only trigger very infrequently.

Ultimately, most of your efforts should be on releasing new versions.
The Rich uISVer
Thursday, January 22, 2009
 
 
"Your idea is to convert a portion of a small segment of the population, who are already prepared to steal your software, into paying customers by showing how much better X+1 is versus X."

Eddie: I heard that X+1 is a lot better! Should I buy it now?

Stan: Dude, just wait a month and X+1 will be cracked too. Why waste your money man, those software people are just ripping off the little guy. You are doing the right thing getting cracks rather than feed into the capitalist apparatus. People who pay for software are unethical.

Eddie: Thanks dude.
Tony Chang
Thursday, January 22, 2009
 
 
I think all you can do is continue to develop your software. If the hacker seriously cares enough to keep updating it, then you have a following that should show up in your revenue. If it is disproportionate, then you need to fix up your licensing.

In general, I like this view on it: http://www.balsamiq.com/blog/?p=382

"People buy products from companies they trust and respect, and who treat them well in return. People buy software if they know that the people behind it care for your success while using it. They want to see the software improved continuously and with a passion. They care about a sensibility for usability and attention to details.

These aren’t things one can steal."
Worklog Assistant Send private email
Thursday, January 22, 2009
 
 
@ John B

Dunno how old you are, dunno your experiences.

"I still can't believe people here consider Patrick M. a success.    He posts as if he has a multi-million dollar company. "

It's been my own, anecdotal, experience that people who talk successfully become successful.  People who give freely are more likely to get and anonymouse posters are invariably suffer from Kitten Kong syndrome.

http://tinyurl.com/bhpz2f

(link is to YouTube)
Scott Kane Send private email
Thursday, January 22, 2009
 
 
I loathe hero worship as much as the next guy, but Pat is appreciated because we learn from his innovative ideas and pretty good writing. If he made 1/4th of what he's making, who cares? He's learning and sharing his experiences, which many find valuable.

Could the forum creators maybe make it so when Pat or Andy post, we get an angelic choir in the background and maybe some blinking lights? :)
Richard (Tudumo) Send private email
Friday, January 23, 2009
 
 

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