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ryanbatcund

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completely mitigated by downloadable products.

 

Yes and that's acceptable risk management ... in the very few cases (in our case that's <0.01% of wrongful identification of theft)  they are corrected and adjustments made ... the problem cases are so far and few between that it's acceptable risk.  Just like racing a car, it's all about risk management and situation awareness (same with flying, driving, just about anything).

 

I have no interest in what's going thru the mind of thieves and I'm certainly not going to second guess their motivation.  The only real observation we've made is that removing anonymity decreases attempted theft.  My job is to ensure ROI for my company ... part of that job is preventing theft because as I sad early we detect it, know about it, and let it continue for 15 days before contact ... we see numbers.  This isn't new to just my company, it's becoming a standard for many companies ... at least the detection part ... how those companies deal with their piracy data is entirely up to them.  But without data, one will never know and just make blind assumptions ... so it's an important metric to have (even if you do nothing about it).

 

Expectations of what software should deliver does not have a relationship to theft.  How could someone know the software is good or bad unless they've already stolen it (assume trial versions are not available)?  Isn't that just another justification of theft?  Regardless of meeting or not meeting one's expectations, it's still theft.  But like I said, developers will introduce "bugs" as a way of determining theft ... I think EA do this frequently with some of their titles except they use unbeatable monsters/levels where end users will complain that "something is impossible" and they've been trying for weeks to figure out how to "defeat/solve/kill"  ... only to discover is was anti-theft process that could never be won.  End user caught ... anonymity removed.  EA's response is pretty harmless, but you gotta admit it's funny!

 

Just as we have bad cars and good cars it's up to the buyer to perform due diligence before making the purchase.  In this global internet community, due diligence is pretty easy to implement (very easy actually, AVSIM is one such good resource for the field of flight simulations) ... Google search and you'll find most of your answers for just about any software ever sold to the public ... if you don't, you can always ask.

 

There is no "right to try" anything ... I wanna try a McLaren P1 car, but it's certainly no justification for me to attempt to sneek into McLaren's HQ and take it home to "try" without paying or getting permission.  But again this goes back to anonymity and why software is stolen at such a higher rate than physical retail items (cars, TVs, food, etc.).

 

But what I find surprising is that people are so willing to use software that is hacked/modified (often by someone they don't know at all, and never will know) and then blindly go ahead and install it not knowing a thing about what it might actually really be doing to your PC ... key logger comes to mind, looking for CC info on your hard drive, stuff that will not get flagged because the end user willingly installed it and provided necessary OS security credentials ... now that's a risk management process I don't really understand?  virus software isn't going to help the end user out in this situation.

 

Sure, it may have circumvented some anti-theft processing that appears to work, but does the end user really know what else it may also do?  Hackers aren't exactly high on the moral standards list -- but it sure is a great way to deploy a key loggers, virus, etc. etc.  I know if I wanted to steal someone's personal info and/or CC info, deploying a hacked popular game would be a great way to do that (distribution is easy that's for sure) ... I mean what or who is the "pirate" going to go to complain to/about ... the police?  Help officer, I stole some hacked software and now this guy used my CC to buy stuff -- arrest him!!  hehe -- I shouldn't laugh, it's not funny, but it's amazing to me how many are willing to take the risk on hacked software.

 

Cheers, Rob.

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That sounds like you are trying to make a justification - economics?  I have no control over one's work ethic, work background, location, environment, all the things that remove economics as justification for theft.

 

Since you view this subject through the lens of morality, it's natural to conclude this. It's also incorrect.

 

Goldwater's phrase "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice" makes sense. One doesn't compromise morals. One doesn't engage in cost/benefit analyses on one's moral issues. They are, essentially black and white with little or no gray. Viewing things through the lens of economics is very different.

 

As a businessman, I'm interested in two things - firstly, increasing my profits and secondly increasing revenues/decreasing expenditures. Reducing theft is interesting to me only as a mechanism for achieving my primary two goals, and I will happily ignore it or allow it to increase so long as I'm making more money.

 

Someone in the thread mentioned a shopkeeper and creating allowances for shrinkage. We have perfectly easy and legal low-tech mechanisms for dropping customer and employee theft to zero (just pat them all down as they leave). No sane shopkeeper would ever dream of such a mechanism, no matter how much they abhorred theft, since the customers and employees would rightly revolt and not be dismissed by blandishments of "blame the shoplifters, not me." Economics trumps morality.

 

Plenty of software companies have turned a blind eye to piracy over the years in an attempt to establish market share - Microsoft didn't secure its operating systems for years because it was locked in a battle for market share with Novell on the server side and OS/2 and MacOS on the desktop (and with its own products). They didn't care about deterring theft so long as their market share (and revenue and profits) were increasing. Only once they had a dominant position did they start locking things down, because revenue and profits flattened out and the only way to increase them was to decrease theft.

 

Apple is another good example - their OS updates had no copy protection and I can't even begin to count how many copies of Leopard and Snow Leopard (which cost millions to develop) were "stolen". Apple didn't care one whit, because they were focused on the real prize and you know what - the pirates "won". Mavericks is free.

 

I'd suggest Tim O'Reilly's essay on "piracy as a form of progressive taxation", but I did so once before on a flightsim board and it was unanimously rejected, despite Tim's being a more successful businessman than all of us combined. If you still see piracy as a moral issue rather than an economic one, don't waste your time.

 

Now it may be that your business model is such that you have the vast majority of your market locked up and there's no more market share to be gained or new customers to be won. However, in such a circumstance you need to be careful that other products still hungry for market share who don't view piracy as a moral issue don't make the sale instead of yourself.

 

 

 

I don't define morals, all I define is a method to ensure my company gets paid for the work/investment they have done ... doesn't make any difference if my company produced food, TVs, or software ... it's all the same.  You are trying to distinguish them as being different, but why -- the moral end or economic justification is no different?

 

The economics are different. If you make a physical good and I steal it, you cannot sell it to someone else. If someone who cannot afford or would not buy your product makes an unauthorized copy, what have YOU lost? They have gained something for nothing and that may be morally wrong, but it is not a zero-sum game and you have not lost anything.

 

Cheers!

Luke


Luke Kolin

I make simFDR, the most advanced flight data recorder for FSX, Prepar3D and X-Plane.

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If to garner physical rights of theft protection requires that I produce my products ONLY ON A PHYSICAL MEDIUM... I'll gladly do so because I can guarantee I can flat out eliminate piracy if I can use a physical medium.

 

Ed- I have long thought  that a physical medium is the only logical way to distribute software. And the folks at XPlane seem to agree.

If you want financial security, the internet is for the birds- just ask Target ! Or any bank.

january.

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The economics are different. If you make a physical good and I steal it, you cannot sell it to someone else. If someone who cannot afford or would not buy your product makes an unauthorized copy, what have YOU lost? They have gained something for nothing and that may be morally wrong, but it is not a zero-sum game and you have not lost anything.


 

Actually, I have lost something - a potential sale.  A real dollar amount.  Physicality doesn't mean a thing.  By definition, a non zero-sum game means that someone wins and someone loses.

 

DJ

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There is no "right to try" anything ... I wanna try a McLaren P1 car, but it's certainly no justification for me to attempt to sneek into McLaren's HQ and take it home to "try" without paying or getting permission. But again this goes back to anonymity and why software is stolen at such a higher rate than physical retail items (cars, TVs, food, etc.).

 

But what I find surprising is that people are so willing to use software that is hacked/modified (often by someone they don't know at all, and never will know) and then blindly go ahead and install it not knowing a thing about what it might actually really be doing to your PC ... key logger comes to mind, looking for CC info on your hard drive, stuff that will not get flagged because the end user willingly installed it and provided necessary OS security credentials ... now that's a risk management process I don't really understand? virus software isn't going to help the end user out in this situation.

 

Sure, it may have circumvented some anti-theft processing that appears to work, but does the end user really know what else it may also do? Hackers aren't exactly high on the moral standards list -- but it sure is a great way to deploy a key loggers, virus, etc. etc. I know if I wanted to steal someone's personal info and/or CC info, deploying a hacked popular game would be a great way to do that (distribution is easy that's for sure) ... I mean what or who is the "pirate" going to go to complain to/about ... the police? Help officer, I stole some hacked software and now this guy used my CC to buy stuff -- arrest him!! hehe -- I shouldn't laugh, it's not funny, but it's amazing to me how many are willing to take the risk on hacked software

Rob, let me personally thank you for the patience you've shown in outlining exactly why these practices are so preposterous in the "light of day".

 

We too have wondered what the "pirate" must feel like when his latest warez dl yields a personal identity theft result.

Folks the internet can be, and often is, a dangerous place if you play in the wrong neigborhood. B)

Ed- I have long thought  that a physical medium is the only logical way to distribute software. And the folks at XPlane seem to agree.

january.

You won't find LM agreeing w/XPLane distribution. Try to get P3D in CD or DVD. B) For that matter, launch your latest Xbox online game without a subscription.


Best Regards,

Ron Hamilton ASEL

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The economics are different. If you make a physical good and I steal it, you cannot sell it to someone else.

 

Actually I can't sell the exact one no, but I can have more made and sold ... but the thief can sell the stolen product ... and many retail goods (I'll dig up statistics but I think it's somewhere upwards of 80%) that are stolen for the purpose of selling to someone else to get cash to purchase drugs.

 

The Federal and State government laws, rules, regulations are the businessman's morality.  But that is by no means the only morality, I've had plenty of meetings where I've told the CEO I won't do something on moral grounds (and his formal training is Ph.D in psychology) ... morality is a part of business, it has to be or else we'd have 5 year old girls/boys slaving away in mining pits.  Or workers painting aircraft dials with highly radio-active radium ... which human history has sadly done.  Lots of morality in business and it evolves as we humans progress in time and space.

 

 

 


If someone who cannot afford or would not buy your product makes an unauthorized copy, what have YOU lost?

 

The economics are no different ... you've lost potential paying customer(s).  Given how software is distributed/stolen, you have many potential customers lost revenue because where is the incentive to buy the product?  If someone can acquire it for free without anyone else knowing, why buy it?  What if the 20 people the thief distributed the software to, 5 of them would have purchased it, BUT, because their friend got it to them for free they didn't -- 5 customers lost.

 

Cheers,

 

Rob

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Luke, without a personal attack toward you are others, your argument, and those you cite, appears to be based on sheer lunacy.

I highly doubt that you have anything of value at stake in terms of IP interest or you would not readily argue for turning a "blind eye" towards theft.

Whether the interest is "moral" or "economic" has a huge impact on the owner/producer of IP.

We maintain that on the basis of both moral and economic objections, theft is not acceptable practice in polite society or even in not so polite society. B)


Best Regards,

Ron Hamilton ASEL

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There is no "right to try" anything ... I wanna try a McLaren P1 car, but it's certainly no justification for me to attempt to sneek into McLaren's HQ and take it home to "try" without paying or getting permission.

Your vids have me drooling to try that Lotus!!  What are my chances??   :Big Grin: 


"For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return."

-Leonardo da Vinci  (some experts question the attribution, but I'll go with it for now.) 

 

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Your vids have me drooling to try that Lotus!!  What are my chances?? 

 

Very good if you're willing to fork out some cash :lol: hehehe

 

 

We too have wondered what the "pirate" must feel like when his latest warez dl yields a personal identity theft result.

 

I think part of the mentality comes from the "Robin Hood" Syndrome ... stealing from the rich giving to the poor.  But Robin Hood is far far removed from what hackers do and they use the pirates of the sea to distribute their handy work for them ... who's a pirate/thief gonna call?  Ghost busters?  :He He:

 

It's a win/win for hacker without fear of any type of retribution from his/her worker bees (the pirates) ... no risk for the hacker, lots of risk for the pirate.  I think many don't realize they are doing much more (to themselves) than just taking away future development revenue.

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no risk for the hacker, lots of risk for the pirate. I think many don't realize they are doing much more (to themselves) than just taking away future development revenue.

I agree, if pirates were to think it all the way through, perhaps they would do less of it.


Best Regards,

Ron Hamilton ASEL

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If I can return to the theme of an earlier message I posted in this topic, my complaint/issue is what I have to go through if I change my system specs.  Literally hours of grief.  There just has to be some more customer-friendly way.  Then with all these license keys there are additional issues.  Such as the FFS Saab 340 I purchased and got less than 20 hours of flying out of before FFS went out of existence about the time I needed to do an FS reinstall.  The site doing their license verification went down with FFS.

 

Per my comment that if piracy was 10X legitimate purchases, perhaps that is due to an issue like a developer releasing an updated version of a product purchased less than 30 days prior, and offering in that situation no concession whatever to the recent purchaser.  I cannot "imagine" an affected customer giving any Hartsfield thanks to such a developer.

 

Then the developer who recognizes that some users experience a flaw with one of their products, promise a fix as soon as their next product under development is completed, and then over a year and two additional new product releases later their response to inquiries is that they still intend to fix the now aging product, sometime.....  zzzzzzzzsss !!!!!  No more purchases from them until that 14 month promise is fulfilled.  And perhaps not even then.  

 

I don't pirate.  Not even once.  But issues like these have placed some tight lids on my purchase decisions.

 

So perhaps its not that piracy is high.  Perhaps instead it is that purchases are low.


Frank Patton
MSFS MS Store version (for now!); MSI Z490 WiFi MOB;  i7 10700k Comet Lake 3.8 Ghz CPU; Ripjaws 32GB DDR4 3600; Gigabyte RTX 3070 TI 8GB OC Gaming; cool MasterCase Pro H500M; Corsair H100i Pro; Corsair Gold RMX850X PSU; ASUS VG289 4K 27"; Honeycomb Alpha & Bravo, Crosswind 3's w/dampener.  AOPA Member #07379126. 
Former USAF meteorologist & ground weather school instructor
                       
"I will never put my name on a product that does not have in it the best that is in me." - John Deere

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fppilot, We feel your pain. Honest customer falls victim to company collapse. Happens with brick and mortar retail as well, sometimes with warning, (Circuit City) sometimes not.... B)


Best Regards,

Ron Hamilton ASEL

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As a developer who's seen my work stolen... I have zero sympathy for anyone who has to "endure" protection methods.

 

If you don't like dealing with copy protection, then find a way to make it's necessity obsolete.

 

IMO, it's rather cavalier to have "zero sympathy" for paying customers who have problems with such protections, and to put the apparent burden for fixing the problem on, again, the paying customer. With no personal offense to you, I would be likely to avoid doing business with a developer that held an opinion like this publicly in favor of other products.

 

It's an economic issue. At some point software will reach the same level as Big Music - security will cause revenue loss and be relaxed as just another cost of doing business, and the industry will be saved from itself.

 

I think this is an interesting comparison. If you look at iTunes, and just how far they went to restrict the number of copies of music and everything, it is interesting how things have turned out. And personally, I'm quite glad to have the music at higher quality and without the worry of such restrictions, even if I have to pay more for it.

 

The best anti-piracy measures I've seen involve giving a paying customer something the pirates can't get access to.  The worst involve things like one of the early word processors using a convoluted unintuitive command set so the product can't be used without documentation, in the days before the Internet where you couldn't just download a PDF file.  Honorable mention goes to Ubisoft who put Starforce on my computer.

 

I've written about this as part of a blog post in the past, and I absolutely agree. It might be difficult to implement in the FS addon industry, but I would like to see more of this. If the experience is better for people who buy the software, people will hopefully buy the software. The most common way I've seen are restricted support forums, which make a lot of sense IMO. Of course, with many such methods there would be the risk that the pirates get access to additional resources anyways.

 

Perhaps the users should take a deep breath and consider what the cost would be if devs recouped their losses with DRM free software.  Ordinarily, software is priced so that dev costs are paid with the first 25% of sales because even with DRM  returns diminish after that.  If 'I' (generic - I'm retired) dropped DRM I'd have to recover cost with far fewer copies and that means a higher over the counter cost.

 

Personally, depending on the price I'd rather pay more. I have some products on CD/DVD rather than download version precisely because they do not contain such measures. I appreciate the knowledge that I won't run into such problems.

 

Just as we have bad cars and good cars it's up to the buyer to perform due diligence before making the purchase.  In this global internet community, due diligence is pretty easy to implement (very easy actually, AVSIM is one such good resource for the field of flight simulations) ... Google search and you'll find most of your answers for just about any software ever sold to the public ... if you don't, you can always ask.

 

I agree with this. While I would say that there are problems with reviews tending toward positivity for a number of reasons, there are always user reviews and feedback. There's no reason to pirate a product just to see if you like it.


Jonathan Monreal

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fppilot, We feel your pain. Honest customer falls victim to company collapse. Happens with brick and mortar retail as well, sometimes with warning, (Circuit City) sometimes not....

 

Ron. in fairness it is key to point out only one of the three I profiled collapsed.  The other two profiled are still very much in business.

 

Here is a thought.  What if in the future LM or XP came up with a way to fingerprint the flight sim DL or media.  NOT the installation.  But instead the end individual users licensed copy of the flight sim.  Perhaps that fingerprint could be later tracked or traced.  Then add on products would read that FS fingerprint, configure a license key based on the add on product AND FS copy, and later recognize the match and give a pass or wave by in the case of a system configuration change.  ex. OS, BIOS update, HD change, etc.

 

I am describing a situation here where it should not be necessary for either the FS or the add on products to be reinstalled as in the example I am attempting to describe they are still in place before and after the configuration change. But currently almost everyone of them requires significant effort to resuscitate, if not completely remove and reinstall.  

 

I fully understand and agree that if I purchase a brand new system and am installing everything from scratch, that I should be able to use my licenses and re-install, but also that I would have more hoops to jump through in doing so.  The kind of hoops that seem to unnecessarily present themselves today on just some system configuration change(s).

 

Hopes this makes sense the way I have written it...


Frank Patton
MSFS MS Store version (for now!); MSI Z490 WiFi MOB;  i7 10700k Comet Lake 3.8 Ghz CPU; Ripjaws 32GB DDR4 3600; Gigabyte RTX 3070 TI 8GB OC Gaming; cool MasterCase Pro H500M; Corsair H100i Pro; Corsair Gold RMX850X PSU; ASUS VG289 4K 27"; Honeycomb Alpha & Bravo, Crosswind 3's w/dampener.  AOPA Member #07379126. 
Former USAF meteorologist & ground weather school instructor
                       
"I will never put my name on a product that does not have in it the best that is in me." - John Deere

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Actually I can't sell the exact one no, but I can have more made and sold ... but the thief can sell the stolen product ... and many retail goods (I'll dig up statistics but I think it's somewhere upwards of 80%) that are stolen for the purpose of selling to someone else to get cash to purchase drugs.

 

Next thing you'll be telling me they're funding terrorism. My point remains - if it's a physical good you are still out the lost revenue in the short term if you are out of inventory and in the long term based on the marginal cost of the good to produce a replacement. When your marginal cost is zero and there is no opportunity cost to replace lost inventory the economics are different.

 

 


The economics are no different ... you've lost potential paying customer(s).

 

Did you read my question at all? There's no potential - they didn't have the means or desire to pay you. You lost no revenue, and you incurred no marginal costs. Explain again to me how in the short term you suffered, beyond the mental anguish of someone out there getting something they didn't pay for. That's a tort only a small proprietor can suffer.

 

As you point out, some percentage of the people something gets distributed to might have paid. That is a fair and valid concern, but it depends on what your business plan is. If you just release one product and are done, then clearly you want to maximize the sales of that. If you plan on building a continual revenue stream based on the release of multiple products, then your thinking changes. Increased piracy of a particular product if it results in greater product awareness and increased sales of subsequent products is merely a loss leader. Are you PMDG or LDS?

 

MP3s and pirated music was the greatest IP theft in recent history. Yet the majority of music sold today is digital, and without DRM. There's a reason for that - in that the customers able and willing to pay for music are quite ready to do so without all sorts of DRM encumbrances. The piracy that results does not meangingfully affect revenue.

 

 


Luke, without a personal attack toward you are others, your argument, and those you cite, appears to be based on sheer lunacy.

 

In my part of the world, when we're going to personally attack someone, we say "bless their heart" prior to doing so.

 

If you think I'm wrong, please explain the fallacy in my logic. I've written software for 30 years, compilers tell me I'm full of nonsense every day without reservation and I do not take offense. The compiler at least has the common courtesy to explain why. I hope you can, instead of accusing me of mental illness.

 

 

I highly doubt that you have anything of value at stake in terms of IP interest or you would not readily argue for turning a "blind eye" towards theft.

 

Let me tell you a story. I'm reticent to describe my employer or role publicly since I don't/can't speak for them, but Allensworth I believe knows. Let's just say that I work for a digital property whose software you've likely used in the last 48 hours and who receives around $160m+ in revenues each year, giving our data away. All of our revenue is based off of our data and the IP we have adding value to said data.

 

We had a problem years ago in that people were scraping our sites for the data we provided, causing capacity issues. It was easier for us to write a new light-weight free data services layer to make it easier to give our data away than to block access and have a negative experience for our customers. To this day we lose a six-figure amount of revenue (and in our business that marginal revenue is almost 90% profit) because people block the ads on our site and consume our bandwidth, infrastructure and data (which costs us millions a year to generate and distribute) for free. It's entirely acceptable to us because it increases our revenue in other areas.

 

My question stands, and I am getting more and more curious why no one will go near it - would you take a doubling of sales and profit in return for a quadrupling of theft? It's an interesting question. I know how I would answer it.

 

Cheers!

Luke


Luke Kolin

I make simFDR, the most advanced flight data recorder for FSX, Prepar3D and X-Plane.

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