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Guest wathomas777

Confessions of an ex-game pirate

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The latest threads regarding the piracy of FS2004, and the means some companies are being forced to protect their investments have led me to relate some of my life experiences, because they definitely apply.I am 37 years young. I have a wife, 3 kids, and work for a KVM switch manufacturer. We publish software for use with our switches, and some of them have licence fees. I also worked for 2 years as games tester for Microsoft.And 20 years ago, I was a huge Commodore 64 pirate. I estimated the street value of my software at the height of my piracy at over $20,000 dollars (1984 dollars).This piracy continued for roughly two years. My friends and I would often have "copy" parties, in which we all met for an afternoon sucking down cokes and eating pizza, while trading the latest warez.We refered to ourselves as the commodore convicts, and would trade documentation and copy protection schemes and how to break them over local 8 bit BBS systems.We figured we were hurting no-one, and Thankfully I never got caught. At least not by anyone mortal. You see, going to Church, and stealing 20K of software didn't really mix, and as a result, of some maturity, the prospect of possible capture, and a bit of conviction from the big JC. I bulk erased every single disk I did not legally own.My friends could not believe it. They wanted me to at least "give them" the disks. But I wouldn't do it.So flame me if you want, but here is a bit of truth, from someone who was once in the community.We didn't pirate, just to 'play' the game. The challenge was in cracking the software, putting our little "logo" or "Opus Rulz" on the header and then distributing our fame around. In most pirate groups, it was like collecting baseball cards. I had every single Infocom adventure ever published. I played none of them. But those files were of value because they could get me something else. The files themselves became the tender of the software underground. And most of us had no interest in the software except that we had it. (For truthful insight into the past and current hacker/pirate subculture. Read the book, The Hacker Crackdown by Bruce Sterling. Ironically, it is available on the web for free download. It is legally free of charge in electronic format, and is an astounding read!)Did we actually use most of the software. Not really. Of all the software I had, 10 games were what I played most of the time, and owned valid commercial versions of each and everyone of them. You did this for a number of reasons. Good documentation, addictive game play. Whatever. You bought it because it was worth it.Do I deserve a medal. No. I was a thief. But at the same time, it wasn't using the software that gave the thrill. it was the challenge of breaking "the code". Most of us who really loved a game purchased it simply for the documentation, and because despite our illicit activity, really believed deep down, that talented software developers deserved our money, whether we could get it for free or not.20 years ago, there were no downloadable demos, or "shareware" or "time limited" copies. Most software purchases were "buyer beware". The minute the shrink wrap came off, your rights were forfit. It did not matter how the content was. We didn't have the magazines that review software like you do now. Most reviews were simply glorified press releases, and you could only rely on a screenshot and a fancy box.We justified our actions as simply "trying before buying". And while it doesn't justify the activity. In truth, that is what was indeed happening.I pirated Flight Simulator and Jet for the C64. But also bought them, because well, because.... after trying the pirated copies, I just had to own the actual software...I have also worked on the other end of the spectrum. I run customer support for a company that licenses it's software, but relys on the honor system to generate revenue. We depend on the customer to actually purchase the licenses he needs. We get hurt by piracy, but we also then roll that cost into the cost of the hardware. I worked at Microsoft for 2 years and saw the damage done by pirates, as well as damage done by overly restrictive software anti-piracy measures.Why did I write this? To let people know. To software pirates. Stop it. It is as illegal as shoplifting. It takes food from peoples tables, and forces you to pay more for legitimate goods and services. With reviews, previews, demos, and forums, it is not necessary to "pirate" simply to see if you like the product. Also some stores, like Software ETC. do allow returns of open material. There is no moral or legal justification of your actions.To software developers. You have a right to protect your investment as you see fit. However, spend your energies on providing quality and bug-free product. Develop a business that is supportive of your customers. Stop spending money on anti-piracy measures that will either be cracked within 3 months, or will alienate your customer base.Understand, that Piracy will always exist. However, you can win by providing such a good product, with such good customer service, at such a good price, that MOST "casual" pirates would find that actually purchasing your product is easier and more convenient than piracy. Sometimes the easiest solution is the one that seems least likely to work.I would love to hear if there is actual data that relates an anti-piracy measure, or machine binding measure, to real declines in piracy. Are these expensive software packages really serving up as a deterrent, or simply alienating honest users. What are the piracy rates for an unprotected product vs protected product. And even more telling, what would the piracy rates be for unprotected product that was now reduced in price because of the savings a company gets by not passing on the cost of expensive copy protection schemes.Just a thought. Will.In the case of anti-piracy methods, sometimes, less is more.

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Well for one I'd like to give you a BIG hand. You are one of a very few people who actually admits that he did software piracy. It takes a good man to admit something to another person, it takes a strong man to admit something to a community.

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Most people may not like this post but My wife and my mother believes that I have a diffrent way of looking at things. First off I am a church go

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Don't you think the likes of Microsoft already have a built in premium on the price of software for pirated versions? I.e its like an indirect tax, a 'warez tax' which we all pay, obviously in which we all don't know about.

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Thanks for the insight, Will.I'm a bit of a noob when it comes to all this IT stuff. Never really understood the motivation of the "casual pirate". Yesterday, in the huge thread on the subject, Steve Small linked us to a Warez site. It was interesting to see how much time and energy those guys use on "security" measures to keep from being caught. It truly is a challenge for them to NOT pay for the software they steal. And the challenge is the real motivation.Life's realities remind me that we'll never really be rid of the pirates. Most don't do what they do for any commercial reasons... it's a game they play. They simply do it for the challenge. This sort of activity is difficult to stop. It's very much like terrorism... loosely organized, fluid, poorly planned.Another major concern to me is the hit on commerce that anti-piracy methods have created. In their effort to stop the casual pirate, software developers are inwittingly pushing their customers away. The two recent monster threads in this forum have opened my eyes to the extent that software sellers are reaching into our lives when we purchase their products. Methods like machine binding are short sighted and doomed to fail. It's ironic that this particular technolgy can only achieve success on computers that are not upgraded, yet computer technolgy changes so fast that many folks (especially us gamers) are driven to live by an almost constant upgrade schedule.I have now made the choice to limit my online software purchases. I simply don't want the intrusive and inconvienent technology in my life. I recently wasted 4 hours of my life trying to get an FS addon to work on my system... I finally gave up and wrote off the purchase and effort to install. I may not be able to stop the march of technolgy, but I certainly can choose to not support it by keeping my credit card in my pocket.And this then is the real damage caused by pirating. When developers become so engrossed in stopping it that they drive away their honest paying customers. Terribly short sighted IMHO.Thanks,

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>Don't you think the likes of Microsoft already have a built>in premium on the price of software for pirated versions? I.e>its like an indirect tax, a 'warez tax' which we all pay,>obviously in which we all don't know about.>So what you are saying is: If I own a store and raise the prices for my paying customers a little, it's ok for other people to steal from me? Correct me if I misunderstand what you are saying.KP

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Copy protection and piracy have been a very interesting thing to monitor over the years. I've followed it since the early 80's mainly since I had a good deal of authority over what software was purchased for our department within a corporation for many years before I retired, and the issue was just there.Observing from the outside (not in the software business), software protection appears to mostly have been a total failure. Many companies, over the years, that adapted it, later retracted it. The best example of total failure with it, that I can think of, was/is Autocad.Then look at ACDSee. This program has been pirated so many times, and by so many millions of people, it's beyond belief. And the company flourishes. I read a while back where some government ordered 18,000 copies in one swoosh!And look at the download counts at any freeware/shareware site. That program with a long period between upgrades and the resultant availability of a serial or crack is always the leader in downloads. And frankly it seems like the program author doesn't particularily care.And look at the simple trial download/key system used by 95% of the smaller programmers. That system is usually broken the day it is released. And surely the author knows that is going to happen.And I've strained my brain, and said "what's the deal". Why does it go on this way? This does not have to be. And while it's "just my humble opinion", the only conclusion I can come to is....1. The developers want to get big at any cost. An old Bill Gates trick (remember Windows Explorer).2. Many developers are relying on commercial business to be their real "bread and butter". These customers are usually highly legal.3. They feel if someone is gonna steal their program, they probably would not have bought it anyway. And what the hell, maybe they've got some honest friends.I'm not saying software developers love piracy. I'm just saying it's an interesting fact of life in this business. And some of the developers with alot of business sense, have not only learned to live with it, but have actually exploited it.And I find that most interesting. Bob (Lecanto, Fl)AMD, Athlon XP, 1800+MSI, K7T266 XP ProPC 2100 DDR, 1024 MBXP, Home Edition Elsa GLadiac 920, GF3/64Mb andPNY, Verto nVidia TNT 2-M64/32WD, 100 MB, 7200, Ultra 100Sound Blaster, Audigy MP3+CH Prod, VPP Yoke - Sound CardCH Prod, Pedals - Sound Card

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There is an excellent article about piracy on the bbc web site (UK).In short, people pirate because1)it's virtual - nothing solid or physical has been taken2)how can you have stolen something when no one has lost something they used to have3)no risk of being caughtbut best of all, 4)"It's that we don't really mind ripping off huge fat-cat corporations, which would probably do the same to us given half the chance.The ethics of intellectual property are not only about individuals. If companies charge extortionate prices because they can, perhaps they ought to get their own house in order before suing customers. And if they package their software in sweatshops, who's ripping off whom?"http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/3049966.stm

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Thanks Will - your words are personally encouraging to read.Blessings hard and soft,Mark

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I for one applaud your honesty and courage in coming forward like this.Most of the FS enthusiasts on the Internet are good honest people. But unfortunately there are some who feel they are entitled to take advantage of others by trading or accepting the copyrighted material of developers. Their sense of entitlement fuels their self-serving justification that manifests itself in the "I'm not hurting anyone" mantra. The result of this is that it is the honest people who are inconvenienced by having to deal with license management/anti-piracy protection put in place by Microsoft, and developers like us. We wish we did not have to do it, but it has come to the point where we cannot survive without them.And the less principled just sit back and laugh at all the tumult and controversy they have created.My http://www.fsd-international.com/dcforum/Images/twocents.gif worth.http://www.fsd-international.com/team/TD_forum_sig.gif

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Hi Tim,<>It is this that concerns me the most. The inconvinience and intrusion I can limit by not purchasing. And therein lies the problem... for you.It is the impact of buyers pulling away that is adding to your losses. I don't like that... because I like your products. But not enough to submit to the intrusion and inconvenience. Buying your products is not a necessity for me. It is a hobby.I was preparing to purchase the Cheyenne upgrade (been busy the past couple of weeks), but now I'm going to pass. And to be honest, part of me was putting off the purchase because of the problems you, Steve, and I had in getting the Commander upgrade installed on my machine. We never did succeed in getting the Commander upgrade installed. All the time and inconvenience prompted me to stop the effort (I felt bad about your hours of time and efforts, not to mention my time). So in the end who wins here?I hope a resolution can be created here. But until then I have no choice but to not buy payware.I don't envy your position. It is a fine balancing act between protecting your rights and generating revenue. But in the end, what can you achieve by trying to block the pirates at the expense of lost revenue from your honest customers?Nope, I don't envy you at all. But I still stand by your side in your battle... because that's all I can really do.Regards,

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Hey .. great post!I'm curious... why don't former hackers like you ever switch hats and go hack the hackers.. find out who they are, and get them busted?Vin

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Many hackers do just that and become security experts and the very same people that make anti-piracy in the first place.The truth is, it's very hard to do. Read the great Hacker Crackdown and you will see that in many cases, the hackers themselves got a huge amount of PR because they are going up against large corporations.

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Warning, this is very long,There are 4 basic types of Pirate, and Piracy 1. The Warez Pirate: They are basically individuals who pirate software simply for the sake of piracy. The files themselves are the legal tender in this subculture. The more valuable the software, the more prestigeous the pirate. This is the most visible form of piracy, and is ironically the least damaging. Many of these pirates never even use the files they collect. In fact, many pirates will purchase software so that they can crack it for the prestige it brings. A great book that exposes this subculture, is "The Hacker Crackdown" by Bruce Sterling. It is a highly entertaining book, and provides a unique insight to the "digital underground". While a pirated copy of the latest version of Back Office, may indeed be illicit, it is hard to quantify financial damage from a 12year old warez dude who probably would never fork over the $4000.00 to own it if he had it. Has no idea how do use it, and simply files it in the recesses of his hard drive for some future "trade". 2. The Corporate Pirate: One of the most invisible, andconsequently most damaging pirates. These are the corporate IT guys who are basically bucking the system by buying single copies of applications, and then "spawning" them across the network. These type of Pirates usually "buy" one legitimate copy of the software they use, and then spawn it to the entire enterprise. Another form of this Pirate is the "system integrator" who may own a computer shop and then sell computers that have copies of a single OS on them. The losses to this type of piracy can be staggering. Application and Operating System Software companies are hardest hit by this piracy 3. Piracy for Profit: This group is probably the smallest group in the US, due to copyright laws, but is staggering in it's scope internationally. Hong Kong, was (and still may be) a veritable playground of piracy. In Asia, many countries did not, and still do not recognize copyright law. As a result, A huge number of legitimate international companies in Asia, and in third-world developing countries are actually running businesses on Pirated software. In fact, in some areas, the pirated versions are more easily obtained than legitimate copies. The piracy in this form can boggle the mind. When I went to Hong Kong, I went to a place in Kawloon that featured over four floors of booth, after booth, selling all forms of software. None of it original. You simply picked which ones you wanted, and came back in an hour. Price differences were usually only if you wanted color copies of the manualsinstead of black and white. This was done in the open and was entirely legal in Hong Kong. In fact, it was harder for me to find a LEGAL vendor of software in the city. 4. The Casual Pirate: They get a game for free from a friend and fire it up. They don't necessarily go searching for the Warez, but simply get their friends to "burn em" a copy to play with. This also causes a real loss of revenue to companies because the casual pirate usually ONLY pirates what he uses, and rarely purchases what he uses.The Hardware binding scheme that Microsoft employs in XP, is actually a very powerful and relatively effective anti-piracy tool that is targeted at pirates 2 and 3 (The corporate and for profit pirates). Most of these environments use OS and application installations that are fairly static (No IT guy likes to reinstall an end users OS or application over and over again). And this has been very effective at countering the Level 2 and 3 pirates. While this method has been cracked. (I saw a "pre-activated" copy of Office XP recently), even the cracked copies are usually not able to be upgraded via patches or updates. This makes these versions not really suitablefor the needs of the number 2 and number 3 pirate, since security upgrades and patches are necessary to run a secure business. Entertainment software is a different beast. First of all, the home user is much more likely to make incremental upgrade changes that will affect product activation, and the hobbiest is much more likely to individually wipe their system. Also, many times, software is uninstalled and reinstalled to manage hard drive space as Entertainment Packages get larger.Entertainment software is also, much cheaper than an OS or Office suite and entertainment software depreciates over time. Anyone recently just pay 8 bucks for Serious Sam 2 off the slash counter? Or $19.00 for Diablo II expansion? (Current prices at my local Wal-Mart), The copy protection means usually employed here, involves CD keys, and copy protected disks. While these methods are adequate to prevent the casual copier. They do nothing to deter the dedicated warez dude. Corporate Pirates, have little need for the entertainment software, and as far as the "piracy for profit" the market for entertainment software pales in comparison to the business counterparts.Some entertainment software companies have even recently adopted Microsoft's hardware binding method for their own software. This is the equivalent of hunting praire dogs with an Elephant Gun. You may hit the target, but you also have to deal with the collateral damage as well.The problem with this type of anti-piracy measure, is two fold.One,it is not very compatible with the home user, and their typically more "fluid" hardware configurations. (Something XP home users have found out). Two, it is prohibitively expensive to support. When I worked at Microsoft, a single phone call to Technical support roughtly cost $30.00. What are my costs,when I now make every user activate? Well, for web connected users, I can have them automatically activate. I have to set up the website and perform the activation. This is not THAT expensive. But what do I do for non-webenabled clients. Now they have to phone in. For every manual activation I perform, I write that sale off in total. Now how about the guy who phones in because the web didn't work or the Web Server was saturated. Write his sale off too. And if I have to deal with the "atypical" "pain in the butt" customer, I may have to write off as many as 5 to 10 sales, depending on when I finally draw the line in the sand.After the initial release, the picture doesn't get any prettier. When sales die off, and the price of the software drops, we then see a whole new "wave" of consumers possibly needing to call in. These are the guys who might not pay the full price, but now are more than willing to pay half price. Only now, the cost of the call now writes off TWO sales, not just one.And what if you ever want to just "retire" the product to the "Value" pile?With CD-Keys and more passive methods, you can simply write off the CD with a final Read-Me and you're there. With product activation, Value software companies are not going to support product activation on a product that retails for $9.99. And you, are either stuck holding the "activation" bag, or you won't be able to sell off the product to another "publisher". And after you DO retire support, at what point do you shut down the activation line and tell your customers that, "I'm sorry, but we are no longer activating that product, thanks for your patronage"?Small software houses are also not as financially stable, thus the idea of a software company like Looking Glass, going bust, and losing all support is a very real possibility.Now companies like Microsoft, can afford this expense and are likely to be around awhile. Windows XP home costs 200 bucks and Office nearly 400. So an activation call or two doesn't hurt them as much. They can also afford to have an automated phone system which will allow activation over the phone, and can afford the toll freecharges as well. In short, the company has deeper pockets, can lower the cost of implementation through automation, and MOST IMPORTANTLY the software that uses activation is usually is priced to handle the added expense.Did you ever notice, however, that Microsoft GAMES don't use productactivation? Why? If activation were so keen, how come it isn'trequired for a recent game like Freelancer, one of the most heavilyanticipated (and ultimately pirated) games in years? Will Flight Simulator 2004 require activation? No, simply a game CD to be inserted during initial start up of the program. The answer is simple, product activation is too expensive to implement for the price point of the software protected. (In this case, the lock costs more than the door, or the house) So here is the dillema faced by the Entertainment Software Industry. They need to devise a method of anti-piracy that will keep pirates from robbing them blind during the first 3 months of a release, but then need it passive enough to prevent having the support the product ad-nauseum. Plus they need to assure the user that his software won't suddenly become inactive after the company goes out of business or retires the product.Product Activation in my honest opinion, is entirely appropriate for what it was designed for. It has worked fairly well for Operating Systems and expensive Software suites that tend to be installed either one time, in a static environment, or if installed multiple times, has a price point that will support the added "technical support" requirements. It is much less effective for lower end products. The PR alone from the "Intuit Turbo Tax" fiasco, forced users into the arms of the much more "user firendly" hands ofTax Pro. And that is but one example. Microsoft, the first user of such methods, only enables it on higher priced software for a good reason.Software companies are free to choose whatever means they wish to combat piracy. However, they may find that sometimes, the cure, is more harmful than the disease.You be the judge.Will.

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>Life's realities remind me that we'll never really be rid of>the pirates. All we can try and do is make it less easy to steal. Piracy is just a polite word for theft.>This sort of activity is difficult to stop. Yes, but that is no argument for doing nothing. I don't subscribe to the theory that if rape is inevitable you shold lie back and enjoy it. >Another major concern to me is the hit on commerce that>anti-piracy methods have created. In their effort to stop the>casual pirate, software developers are unwittingly pushing>their customers away. Not so much of a concern for us at all simply because the VAST majority are not impacted because the VAST majority are thoughtful and honest people who accept the reality of life. In those two marathon threads were very few of our customers but there WERE a number of subscribers to the Warez URL we have been reading and monitoring for many months and they were having a good deal of enjoyment at the expense of our asses.It was a difficult call to blow that clandestine access but a few folks contributing to or watching our assassination needed a wake-up call. We have close to five thousand individual customers and we hear from maybe 5% of them ever. Most never comment in public for fear of the lynchings or flamings that will follow but a huge number write privately. Developers also write to us and say how much they support us, but almost all stop short of saying anything in public for the same reasons, the fear of the lynchings. Even co-developers and Publishers we work with and whom we considerd friends (?) suffer as we do but are typically reluctant to stand up and actually take a stand. Of all the contributors to the marathon threads, conspicuous by their integrity were Tom A, Bob K, Ken S and several other folks of principle who I won't mention but alone as developers were Rob Young(RealAir Simulations) and Ron Hamilton (Eaglesoft Development Group). Their files were available through that site as I also forgot to mention yesterday was the MAAM B-25. These developers (friends, not competitors) we consider friends who we'd help any time at all - not that they need it. Their views represent those of the vast majority of developers and users but these guys were alone in actually saying something on the occsasion of our latest lynching. As developers they stood up to be counted because they are principled, ethical men of character and they have seen some of the correspondence we get. Most developers place sales above principles : it is dreadfully inconvenient to have principles and sometimes it takes a toll but we really respect folks who refuse to be doormats. >The two recent monster threads in this>forum have opened my eyes to the extent that software sellers>are reaching into our lives when we purchase their products. >Methods like machine binding are short sighted and doomed to>fail. Still, you have to get used to them or the advances you demand in operating systems or applications just won't happen ...>It's ironic that this particular technolgy can only>achieve success on computers that are not upgraded, yet>computer technolgy changes so fast that many folks (especially>us gamers) are driven to live by an almost constant upgrade>schedule.I think it's unfortunate how few people really actually READ how these processes work. You change hard drives or operating systems and you reinstall. We support that many times daily, like Mr Richards' fifteen re-activations. Speaking of that person, after all the support and all the external costs we incurred supporting him, we refunded all his sales and terminated the licenses to be spared future encounters.>I have now made the choice to limit my online software>purchases. I simply don't want the intrusive and inconvienent>technology in my life. I think it's a good thing to make choices that suit the individual. I'd comment that I don't like Government or Taxes either, but I also like the fact we have a welfare system and a defence force. All we do is stop the redistribution of unprotected installers that can be passed around at will and reinstalled. We had to ditch our old delivery system because we knew we were fighting a losing battle to get it tightened up in any appreciable way. >Terribly short sighted IMHO.Yeah, crime is dreadfully inconvenient isn't it ? Epecially so for the victim.It is apparent to me that many people get lost in the philosophical aspects of this discussion and need simple, everyday examples to get clarity on basic issues. I am always looking for the analogy that illustrates a point, as some just don't get it. Like ... do you leave your car in the street, unlocked, with the keys in it and expect to find it there in the morning ? Do you leave the house unlocked and the doors ajar even when you are not home ? Would you leave your manufacturing plant open all night long with no security ? It's a real nuisance, but it's the price you have to pay to participate in contemporary society and in the unaccountable anonymity of "internet life" (likely an oxymoron) you have to take similar precautions. Like, I'll bet you have a firewall and anti-virus application installed on your PC's. These are poor analogies perhaps, but until you convert an esoteric discussion into everyday examples that have a personal dimension, many folks don't get it ...Best,.....Steve SmallCanberra, Australiahttp://www.fsd-international.com/team/Steve_signature.gif

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This may be on a bit of a side tangent, but it's something I was discussing today with a good friend of mine (who probably fits into group 1 and 4). We were talking about bigger software apps... Office, Photoshop, etc. The value of software is highly dependent on what it's used for. For instance, if you use Photoshop every day at work to create ads for magazines, it's well worth the $600 price tag. If you use Photoshop once a month at home to create a new signature banner for your AVSIM account, it's worth maybe $50 in your eyes. I think there should be a sub-category under the casual pirate: the person that pirates because the software's cost puts it out of their reach. This person causes no financial damage, because the software is too expensive for them to ever justify purchasing for themselves given the amount they will use it. This pirate may be the most beneficial to the software companies, which I'll get into below. I'm not justifying this type of piracy, but I think the software companies should cater to this group of people.Software companies should sell non-commercial versions of software: versions that are priced the same as educational versions, but can be used by anyone for non-profit use. Microsoft has started using this trick on Office to build market share. Place the $150 "educational version" MS Office box right next to the $400 "standard" version, put no true limitations on who can buy the $150 version, put an "OFFICE! $150!" sign above the educational version, and see what people buy. I'm guessing there are many people that bought the educational version without even knowing any of the licensing "restrictions" placed upon it.Back to the piracy issue

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And your point is?That's it's OK to pirate software because the losses they anticipate are in the price anyway?That's just another lamer excuse along with the "punishing big companies for overcharging" or the "it's really a patch which they should give away for free" lamer excuses.

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That's indeed what he's saying it seems...

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>This may be on a bit of a side tangent, but it's something I>was discussing today with a good friend of mine (who probably>fits into group 1 and 4). We were talking about bigger>software apps... Office, Photoshop, etc. The value of>software is highly dependent on what it's used for. For>instance, if you use Photoshop every day at work to create ads>for magazines, it's well worth the $600 price tag. If you use>Photoshop once a month at home to create a new signature>banner for your AVSIM account, it's worth maybe $50 in your>eyes. I think there should be a sub-category under the casual>pirate: the person that pirates because the software's cost>puts it out of their reach. This person causes no financial>damage, because the software is too expensive for them to ever>justify purchasing for themselves given the amount they will>use it. This pirate may be the most beneficial to the>software companies, which I'll get into below. I'm not>justifying this type of piracy, but I think the software>companies should cater to this group of people.>Actually it DOES cause a financial loss.Ever wonder why many companies now sell "lite" or "limited" versions of their fullblown applications?The person who claims he pirates only because he can't afford the product has more than enough choice of cheaper of free alternatives either from the same company or some other.You don't go into a car dealership for BMW and steal a 530i because you can't afford it do you? You go to a Ford dealership and buy a Focus or Fiesta (just an example).Same with software, piracy ALWAYS hurts someone. Maybe in your example Adobe isn't hurt by you pirating Photoshop, but JASC is because you would have bought Paintshop Pro had you not pirated Photoshop.>Software companies should sell non-commercial versions of>software: versions that are priced the same as educational>versions, but can be used by anyone for non-profit use. Some companies have this model, it doesn't help much.They are of course usually stripped down versions lacking the functionality only large corporations would need (like a development environment lacking integration with Oracle and Sybase databases).The pirates don't want that, they want the full product (even if they never use the extra functionality...).>Microsoft has started using this trick on Office to build>market share. Place the $150 "educational version" MS Office>box right next to the $400 "standard" version, put no true>limitations on who can buy the $150 version, put an "OFFICE! >$150!" sign above the educational version, and see what people>buy. I'm guessing there are many people that bought the>educational version without even knowing any of the licensing>"restrictions" placed upon it.>That's not Microsoft, that's the reseller...>Back to the piracy issue

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Plus of course the vital (in that industry more than anywhere) issue of trust.You're a known cracker who now offers his services to a large software house to help them prevent other crackers.How can they trust you not to betray them and actually help those other crackers with the inside information you gathered while employed there?

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Steve,Your comments were enough to get me to register to this forum. First off, I feel for your issues of theft but I believe your wrong on your choices of theft prevention. Your process is just to restrictive to the user. Very poor example with comparing software theft to rape. What really floors me though. I cannot believe that you would be more concerned with how and when an end user installs YOUR software that he or she paid for, than keeping a sale of that product. You will refund his money because its a hassle to you or your company to deal with. It is YOUR restrictions that are causing the problems not the customers. I can understand this more if you were providing a service and terms of a contract were not met by either party, but you are offering a sale of a product. How can you be conerned about financial loss with piracy when you don't seem concerned about holding on to the customers that you have.I wish you luck on how to find a balanced way to deal with piracy and hopefully these recent threads will at least let you look into other options for theft prevention.A folk that thinks he gets it.M. Terry

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>Actually it DOES cause a financial loss.>Ever wonder why many companies now sell "lite" or "limited">versions of their fullblown applications?Companies wouldn't need to spend the money developing these extra applications if they just sold non-commercial licenses for the full versions in the first place. Many people are drawn to the full-blown application because of its popularity. They want to learn a professional program, possibly because they're interested in a future career in that field. The only option for these people is to buy the full program at full cost.I know this argument has been made many times before, but I think the financial loss as a result of piracy is completely overblown. Mind you, I'm talking about the higher-level programs here, not games and FS addons. I'm guessing most pirates are under the age of 25, with little or no income. If they can't acquire the program illegally, they'll just give up. They have no intention of ever purchasing the software at full retail price.I'm not defending these people; I just think the cost of software should depend on what you do with it. If you use it to run your business, it deserves a high price tag. If you use it to tinker and build your knowledge, it's not worth the high price tag.I think the future will probably come down to renting software, and I'm not really opposed to that if companies implement it correctly. People should have the option of buying software outright, or renting on a per-usage basis. The programs should be "smart" in determining how to charge the individual, based on their productivity and what they produce. Using Autocad as an example, a person creating a patio in 4 hours should be charged less than someone designing the first floor of a building in 2 hours. Using this example, each person is charged a fair price for what they personally create with the software.>You're still trying to make up excuses for pirates by saying>software is too expensve when it's mainly the piracy that's>responsible for that...Actually, I'm just trying to think of other ways for companies to curb piracy while making it fair to the individuals that use the software. The methods out there now are obviously not working; whether the future holds non-commercial licenses, utility computing, or tougher, more restrictive copy protection will determine the future of software piracy.

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So... When I bought Visual Studio 6 for just under half it's 'shelf' price, because I owned a legal copy of Borland C++ Builder, then my mother was offered the same package for just over half what I paid, the price of VS6 is entirely set by piracy? I'm sorry Jeroen, but I don't think so.In the example I gave above, Microsoft would have made a profit, selling the product at a quarter of the 'shelf' price, to a teacher. The only difference would have been the printing on the box and the enclosed license. How do I know this? Because the person who tried to sell the product to my mother was from Microsoft U.K. - not a reseller, they were trying to generate more business in schools.Would Microsoft lose money if a teacher sold software they had developed using an eductional software? Only because they set the price for a "commercial development" version versus a "non-commercial development" version where the only difference is words on a piece of paper.Don't get me wrong, Microsoft, the same as any other company, are fully entitled to set any price that they want for their products. Is this a sensible state of affairs, though? You may have your opinion, but I think it is utterly ridiculous.Ian P.

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Steve,I am very happy you joined this discussion. I will be the first to admit that piracy is a problem. Huge problem. But, I also doubt that anti-piracy methods have been very effective. There has never been any data that certain methods help deter or stop piracy at all. Hardware binding has been effective but does come with a pretty steep cost both financially and public relations wise. (Ask Intuit....)Which brings me to the method you folks have chosen to protect your intelectual property. In another message, I mentioned that the hardware binding method was pretty effective at detering corporate piracy, of piracy stemming from system integraters selling multiple spawned copies of an Operating system. You said in an earlier post that you use the same method as Windows XP. I can't help but wonder if that is overkill on your part. While hardware binding works well in static environments, on higher priced software packages, I can't believe that this method is leaves you any profit at all.The price point of your software surely can't cover the costs of even one support call. And yet, the customer you mentioned, must have finally sucked up the profits of over 15 sales, not to mention his own.Now I'm not one to tell you how to run your company (well, I guess I am...(grin)). But I would like to know something. Is this method of anti-piracy protection actually increasing your profits? I would think that this method has some real costs associated that come close to overshadowing your loss from piracy. Kind of like paying $10,000 for an anti-theft device for a $3,000 car.All philisophical debates, privacy concerns, bad karma from users who are now championing the 'poor user' aside. Is this method doing it's job? I am simply asking out of curiousity. I have done product activation with windows XP several times and have not had any issues with it.However, some things concern me when a "smaller" company employs the same methods.First is, that I may not be able to just reinstall the software at my convenience should something catestrophic occur to my system. Even at Microsoft, they have a time limit AND a 24 hour web and phone line that ensures that I can not only activate at any time, but have no need to reactivate immediately.Second, am I able to "resell" or "give away" the software. (Not piracy, simply uninstall, and give all CD's and documentation to a new owner), and if so, what notifications must I make so that the new owner is not stuck with software that is unusableThird, What happens if the company decides to "retire" or goes out of business.? I'm not just talking about a lack of support, I'm talking about a complete lack of functionality.I own Diablo 2, and that CD copy protection is horrid. In Windows XP it failed to function after a period of time. I had to go back to Windows 98. I would GLADLY support product activation to get rid of CD-Keys, and having to have the CD in the drive and all the other garbage. However, It's the percieved requirement of Always having the company around to "reactivate" it that gives me the heebie jeebies. Especially when I know that every support call you take, cuts deeper into your profits than other more passive measures.Thanks for your response and attention.

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