How to fight Software Piracy

Common question, simple answer:

Just don’t.

Oh, you want more? OK then, here’s my view on software protection:

Don’t bother. You have more important stuff to do. Like improving your software and working on marketing. Way more effective.
Your software will get cracked anyway, protection or no protection. Having protection will only cause a slight delay.

No protection -> get cracked within a day.
Some protection -> get cracked within 3 days.
Heavy protection -> get cracked within a week.

Remember, it’s not the cracker himself that harms your sales, it’s the users that download and use his crack. Once the cracker releases the crack, everyone can download it.
So making the cracker’s life harder has no effect whatsoever on the number of users that get access to a cracked copy of your software.

So, is not doing anything to fight piracy? Well yes, we do.

We use online activation, that is, our users need to validate their license key with our license server to unlock the trial edition into the full edition. That at least protects us from the use of invalid keys and it let us disable keys that get “leaked” onto the net.

Plus, next to online activation, we use another server-side protection method:
Our cataloging programs all need to access our central online database for DVD, CD, book, comic and video game data. Without this access, the programs are practically useless.
So we only allow access from trial editions (but limited to 200 requests) and from licensed copies. For licensed copies, each request contains the license info and it gets checked against our license server. Not a valid license, then no data. Cracked copies get no data either.

So yes, we do fight software piracy, but we limited our investment to a one-time implementation of a relatively simple online protection system. Which is much harder to crack (they would have to hack our server).

And yes, our software gets cracked. Each release gets cracked within a day (Google Alerts shows me the cracker’s proud announcements).

But we don’t worry about it anymore. We don’t let piracy irritate us, drain our energy, waste our time or take away our focus from the important stuff:

Improving and selling our software.

2 thoughts on “How to fight Software Piracy

  1. I think people need to get past the emotional reaction to their software being cracked, I know the first time it happened to me I was furious.

    Once it happened a few times I was able to sit back and take a more measured response.

  2. Pingback: Protecting software with Themida «

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