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Author Topic: Pirated Software and Viruses? Ahem... No. I don't want to help you...  (Read 5776 times)

Renegade

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So I'm sitting outside for a smoke, and my neighbor tells me that he's having trouble emailing me a link to something because of viruses, and then asks if I can help him out because he bought a CD of pirated software and can't figure out how to install it from the readme.txt file.

I kind of stare at him in disbelief, then mention that pirated software is a good attack surface for viruses and the like, and explain how anti-virus software signatures work, and that it's quite easy to slip a virus past them. (There are few programmers that have done desktop software that haven't used the same kinds of techniques used in viruses, e.g. keyhooks.)

He still wants help with it, so I say, "To be honest, I really just don't want to help you with pirated software." He sort of nervously laughs and that's the end of that.

Like really?

It's one thing to use a crack for software that you have already licensed, but...



Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

f0dder

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It's one thing to use a crack for software that you have already licensed, but...
And another to use wholly pirated software, which isn't necessarily the end of the world...

but asking a programmer for help with pirated software? priceless :)
- carpe noctem

housetier

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It is good you refused to help this neighbour.

Stoic Joker

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It's one thing to use a crack for software that you have already licensed, but...
And another to use wholly pirated software, which isn't necessarily the end of the world...

but asking a programmer for help with pirated software? priceless :)

(hehe) Yeah, that like flagging down a cop and asking where is the best place to by pot. Renegade should have given the guy the number for the local BSA, and told him to ask for "Tech Support".

fenixproductions

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but asking a programmer for help with pirated software? priceless :)
You would be surprised to see how many developers use pirate software.

40hz

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I get asked every so often (usually by a client who should know me better) to help with installing a piece of cracked software they acquired. I usually don't have to say much.

If I'm there, the look on my face says it all.

If I'm not there, the conspicuous way I simply ignore their request serves equally well.

Occasionally, one of the thicker skulls will ask a second time. At which point I give them my canned response: "Think a moment about what you're asking. We can't be having this conversation."

I've never had anyone press the issue after that.  8)

-------

On a related note, I have a coder friend who was enraged to discover a product of his hit some websites in a cracked version. He was absolutely livid when he found out. He did the whole legal thing and soon put a stop to it. When he told me about it, I congratulated him on finding out and stopping it. But he wanted to know why I was smiling so much while he was waxing indignant about "effing pirates."

So I reminded him about an extensive collection of bootlegged music and movies residing on a certain home media server we knew about. And when I only got a blank stare in return, I asked him: Isn't that also a form of pirated software?

He smiled sheepishly and said he felt "that was different," although he also acknowledged it was probably "a bogus argument."

What comes around, goes around...

( We're still friends. ;D )
« Last Edit: May 02, 2011, 07:05:54 AM by 40hz »

wraith808

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but asking a programmer for help with pirated software? priceless :)
You would be surprised to see how many developers use pirate software.

I know one.  But he's more palatable than most- he only pirates software for which there is no demo, and if he likes it/plays it past a couple of hours, he buys a legitimate copy.

40hz

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but asking a programmer for help with pirated software? priceless :)
You would be surprised to see how many developers use pirate software.

I know one.  But he's more palatable than most- he only pirates software for which there is no demo, and if he likes it/plays it past a couple of hours, he buys a legitimate copy.

Is that like the old joke about the wife of the traveling salesman who was so proud of her virtue? She only slept around when her husband was out of town. ;D

Stoic Joker

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She only slept around when her husband was out of town.

If you can't be with the one you love honey love the one you're with.

(If nobody remembers that song...I'm going to look like an idIoT)

40hz

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^Worry not. I remember it.

Or as we used to rephrase it: If you can't be with the one you truly love, please feel free to have casual and meaningless sex with the total stranger sitting next to you.  ;D

wraith808

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Well, like I said... more palatable.  Not entirely.  ;)

superboyac

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^Worry not. I remember it.

Or as we used to rephrase it: If you can't be with the one you truly love, please feel free to have casual and meaningless sex with the total stranger sitting next to you.  ;D
I'll have to remember that one!

Regarding piracy, over the years I've had to check my initial emotional reaction to such issues.  It's usually a VERY defensive reaction (if I'm being accused) or a VERY judgmental reaction (if it's someone else).  That's usually a sign to me that I'm not thinking clearly about it.  The point is, it's a very gray issue and I know I can effectively argue both sides of the debate.  I think just about everyone will probably have a righteous, judgmental reaction to this stuff publicly, not realizing that they have been involved with piracy in some form or another in their lives.  So I have a really hard time taking sides on this thing.  I'm just like 40hz, if I am forced to be involved in such a situation, I'll take the 5th.  No comment.  I'm not going to formally consent to any piracy, but that doesn't mean I think I've never done so or that I'm clean as a whistle on the matter.

I was just thinking about this the other day:
I'm not allowed to video record a concert of my favorite signed artists and post it, even if only to share the rare or unique performance with others.  But...I can take a picture with the star and post it.  Where do we draw the line?  I'm not talking about the legal definitions of all this.  I'm talking from a practical standpoint.  What if the signed artist comes to my house and plays some music for me in my living room.  Can I record that and post it?

I feel all this is stifling creativity in a macro sense.  If I go off on a tangent, I can tie how this relates to a shift in society and global economics as well, but it would probably sound a little crazy at this point.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm utterly confused and frustrated about the balance between legality, ethics, and freedom at this point...just in life and America in general.  I get a little freaked out and depressed about it occasionally, like this weekend.

Shades

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Wraith was mentioning that after the programmer in question was not able to get/find a demo he would use the cracked version.

Sums up the whole problem for me. If you want to sell your software, have an easily available demo. Microsoft is generous in this regard and is actually a good example (for putting up trail versions, not the fact that they still get pirated as hell).

But hey, if you want to be "high and mighty" about your software...well, all bets are off (and you should be standing in a corner contemplating your stupidity unenlightment, if you ask me for my 2 tuppence).


wraith808

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Sums up the whole problem for me. If you want to sell your software, have an easily available demo. Microsoft is generous in this regard and is actually a good example (for putting up trail versions, not the fact that they still get pirated as hell).

^ this.  But still- I just choose to buy or not based on what I've seen/heard rather than pirate.  But I do realize that this is my own decision, and try not to foist that on others.

Renegade

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+1 for shareware.

If I can't try it, forget it.

I had to bite my tongue a lot with my neighbor. I wanted to ask him if he'd help me rob a bank in trade...
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

Curt

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Regarding the thread's subject.
I think Renegade reacted well - I disapprove very much with pirating.

Nevertheless I am in theory willing to adopt a pirated version of an abandoned program that is no longer for sale.

------

I was just thinking about this the other day:
I'm not allowed to video record a concert of my favorite signed artists and post it, even if ...

I guess this problem is bigger in USA (and England) than elsewhere. The American music industry has made an enormous effort to make new laws created. The old law did of course not include digital copies, but was strictly for analogue media. All over the world we could enter a second-hand shop and purchase books, cassette tapes, or LPs, without anyone but the shop owner making money on the deal. Personally, I don't see any difference between a (one) low density YouTube music video or an (one) old LP - but the real difference is no longer the age or quality of the media, but the Internet. One copy is no longer one copy, but in theory a zillion copies. Tricky.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2011, 01:58:09 PM by Curt »

40hz

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I guess what I'm saying is that I'm utterly confused and frustrated about the balance between legality, ethics, and freedom at this point...just in life and America in general.  I get a little freaked out and depressed about it occasionally, like this weekend.

I think you hit it on the head.

We're all confused and frustrated. And most of us are trying our best to do what's right by our own individual ethical standards. And trying to balance fairness and reasonableness against selfishness and greed.

Not an easy task, no matter where you stand on the topic.  :huh:

app103

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You know, you could offer to help him, but maybe not with the kind of help that he originally had in mind.  Ask for a list of the software titles he wants help with and return him a disk full of high quality open source and freeware alternatives. 

Explain to him that this software is good, needs no cracks, and doesn't come loaded with malware...and best of all, it's legally free.

Ask him to do a favor for you...that since you bothered to take the time to create this collection for him, he should bother to take the time to try every single application on your disk.

Because if you don't help him in some way, he will find someone else that will. And they are likely to do exactly what he asked you for. And if you can do this before he asks someone else, maybe he will still ask someone else, but maybe he won't pirate all the things he originally planned on.

If he keeps just one of the free apps and uses that instead of pirating something on his original list, consider it a partial victory, and maybe it will make him just a little more open to the idea of using free legal alternatives in the future, if he doesn't feel like paying for it.

Or you can prepare the disk and then clean the malware off his pc and install everything for him, placing the shortcuts on his desktop like this:

  • OpenOffice (MS Office)
  • GIMP (Photoshop)
  • xchat (mIRC)
  • etc.

That way he knows what he has and what it compares to when he wants to accomplish a task, and he won't get lost trying to figure out what all that new stuff is.  ;)

vlastimil

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... he bought a CD of pirated software ...

This really sounds absurd to me. He is OK to pay for software, but not to the authors.

I think this is ours (software authors') fault. We cannot sell the software properly. The deal does not seem fair to a lot of people. And so they pirate the software. I don't hate them...but helping them? No.

superboyac

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I've spent a lot of time thinking about this.  The core of the problem is that it doesn't seem like writing software (on a small business level) is life-sustaining profitable.  I've seen too many talented programmers write good stuff only to give up after realizing they can't support themselves.  As a result, they are forced to make a living doing other things.  Society pays the price because the innovative software is not readily available, and the software that is successful is usually big company software that is bloated, has poor customer service if any, and not all that great to use.

On the other hand, I also feel that a lot of the small guy computer programmers would be served well to learn a thing or two about business.  You can't be such idealists and expect to make a living.  I often fall into the same trap myself, and I'm only now learning how to think differently.

Instead of complaining about Apple, look at what they are doing and see if you can learn a thing or two about business from them.  Same with any other successful company, like Microsoft and Google.  I'm not saying copy them, I'm saying learn from them.

But ultimately, I truly believe that these are difficult times.  No matter how smart or talented you may be, there probably isn't much of an opportunity to "make it" as a solo programmer.  With Apple, apps, cloud computing, the increasingly disturbing lock between mobile computing and wireless service...there is not much room at all for a person with strong ideas and skills.

Too many people, too much competition.  Apps are going to destroy the shareware market pretty soon.  Obliterate it.  Most of the developers will be forced to start designing apps or cloud computing applications.

It's crazy.  All Microsoft has to do is create a decent antivirus suite, like they just did.  I think that is extremely bad news for the commercial AV products like Kaspersky, NOD, McAfee.  After almost a decade of using Kaspersky, even I switched to MSE.  This is all bad news for individuals who are reaching for success.

Renegade

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I think this is ours (software authors') fault. We cannot sell the software properly.

This is a very real problem. And probably one of the most common things you read about in developer forums (except here -- for some reason there isn't a lot of discussion about that here).

A little about OC
I hate to dredge up dirty laundry, but this is one of the reasons that I decided to try out OpenCandy. It offers software authors a way to capitalize on their software with larger companies picking up the tab.


Selling software is tough. A lot of people don't see the value in software. I'd posted a link in another thread where the author in part blamed free software for destroying markets (specifically he blamed Google for some problems). I think that's true in some ways.

Arbitrage in advertising has hiked prices up far above fair values, which in turn further damages legitimate markets.

The current best ways to market software are exactly what software authors do not want to do. Like who wants to 'get social' when you can do something cool like learn a new social SDK?

Shameless plug: For software authors, have a look at some of my blog posts on RoboSoft. It's a start, and since a lot of it is technical, it's an easier transition to get into some better marketing techniques.

@superboyac +1
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

TomD101

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Hi all,

when I started out in 1985, I was in high school, had no income and spent my driver's license money on a C64 with floppy drive. We all copied ANYTHING then. It was the Hacking Crew against LENSLOCK and mostly VERY expensive games, few apps and the fun of sharing information and how to's.

Later with my first PC (8088, 8 Mhz, 20 MB HDD) I was dependend on people who had access to software. There was no online market and stores in Germany were ... well, existent, but knowledge about PCs were not really common. I took anything, I could get my hands on, tested it, uninstalled it, kept it, depending on its value (for me).

Over the years I did what most people around me (and with similar (non-)income structure do. Re-use licenses, download trials and hacks and more and more turn to freeware.

Since working for a programmer - translating his software -, I have more and more insight into the HIGH amount of work that is connected with creating and maintaining software. His program sells well, so pirating is of course an issue but nothing to keep him from sleeping.

So my current PC has either paid software or freeware. If I need a program, I find a freeware or I test several programs and decide which to buy.

I admit, I sometimes use a crack, if I need extended features before I decide to buy. I also used cracks, if I needed ONE special software for ONE task only. But after that, I usually deinstall OR decide to buy anyway.

But then again, it took me some 20 years to achieve an income that lets me act that way.

Thomas
Germany
The more things stay, the more they change the sane.