On Piracy

Many people who use pirated products justify it by claiming they’re only stealing from rich mega-corporations that screw their customers, but this conveniently overlooks the fact that the people who are hurt the most by piracy are people like me.

Shareware developers are losing enormous amounts of money to piracy, and we’re mostly helpless to do anything about it. We can’t afford to sue everyone who steals from us, let alone track down people in countries such as Russia who host web sites offering pirated versions of our work. If you visit a few public “warez” sites, you’re unlikely to find software from companies such as Microsoft who can afford to prosecute pirates – instead you’ll find hundreds of shareware products written by people like me.

Some would argue that we should just accept piracy as part of the job, but chances are the people who say this aren’t aware of how widespread piracy really is. A quick look at my web server logs would be enough to startle most people, since the top referrers are invariably warez sites that link to my site (yes, not only do they steal my software, but they also suck my bandwidth).

A couple of years ago I wanted to get an idea of how many people were using pirated versions of TopStyle, so I signed up for an anonymous email account (using a “kewl” nickname, of course) and started hanging out in cracker forums. After proving my cracker creds, I created a supposedly cracked version of TopStyle and arranged to have it listed on a popular warez site.

This cracked version pinged home the first time it was run, providing a way for me to find out how many people were using it. To my dismay, in just a few weeks more people had used this cracked version than had ever purchased it. I knew piracy was rampant, but I didn’t realize how widespread it was until this test.

(As an aside, the only thing that prevented me from having this fake cracked version erase the user’s hard drive was a sense of ethics – the same thing that’s apparently missing from those who steal my software. This does illustrate, though, that you never know what you’re getting when you download warez. Folks, if you’re downloading pirated software, you’re trusting EXEs hosted by people who brag about being criminals!)

Software crackers should be listed alongside spammers, virus writers and script kiddies as scourges of the Internet, because they make software more expensive and more invasive. Trust me: shareware developers such as myself really don’t want to resort to things like software activation since it adds to our already oversized workload, but when we see thousands of people stealing from us, we’re willing to do pretty much anything (wouldn’t you?).

45 thoughts on “On Piracy

  1. Nick Bradbury on Software Piracy and the Independent Developer

    Nick Bradbury, creator of HomeSite, TopStyle, and FeedDemon, posts a thoughtful article on how software piracy affects the independent developer. According to Nick, there are more pirated copies of his software in circulation than licensed copies! Nick…

  2. Nick Bradbury on Piracy

    On Piracy by Nick Bradbury Nick tells his story of piracy from a shareware developer side of things. Maybe you’ll think about who you’re pirating from next time you go out on the web searching for that reg key. BTW,

  3. Piracy

    I read an interesting article by Nick Bradbury, the creator of TopStyle and FeedDemon on piracy. Yes, piracy is a depressing fact of life for small software companies. We just bit the bullet and implemented an product activation system for

  4. On Piracy, or, Nick Bradbury is an Amazing Idiot

    Bradbury’s article is riddled with errors. Change piracy to “name theft” (I charge for use of my name, don’t ‘cha know) and you see the problems.

  5. О пиратских программах

    Nick Bradbury рассуждает о проблемах пиратства. Он пишет о том, что больше всего от пиратства страдают не крупные корпорации, а производители "шароварных" программ, такие как он сам: Если вы посетите несколько известных "варезных" с…

  6. Aaaarghhh!

    The author of a piece of software that i have used in the past to work on this site — TopStyle — wrote a fairly thought-provoking article on piracy a couple of days ago. Now, i acknowledge that i am…

  7. Aaaarghhh!

    The author of a piece of software that i have used in the past to work on this site — TopStyle — wrote a fairly thought-provoking article on piracy a couple of days ago. Now, i acknowledge that i am…

  8. Warez and Shareware Developers

    Nick Bradbury, developer of TopStyle, HomeSite and FeedDemon, did a test to see how many were using warez’d versions of…

  9. Nick Bradury rants on piracy

    I don’t like software pirates, either, as, generally, they hurt the little guys more than they hurt the big guys. Nick Bradbury, as a software developer, has a good commentary…

  10. FeedDemon Author on Piracy

    Nick Bradbury, author of Feed Demon and (IIRC) Homestyle, one of the best HTML editors out there (still), has written…

  11. The Toll Piracy Takes on Shareware

    On Piracy: Nick Bradbury, creator of TopStyle and FeedDemon makes a cast against the casual pirating of shareware. To find out the depth of the problem, he created a version of TopStyle that was supposedly cracked, and posted it on…

  12. Nick Bradbury On Piracy

    I am not a big fan of piracy. Especially not when it comes to small and independent developers who I believe ought to be supported. Many make good purpose built software which meets the needs of their user base and…

  13. Nick Bradbury on software piracy

    Nick Bradbury, author of TopStyle and FeedDemon laments the cost of piracy to his business. There is some interesting discussion in the trackbacks, including some pointers as to why the figures Nick uses aren’t accurate. Anyone who creates intellectual…

  14. The Kids are all right – Artists must be compensated and the present system sucks

    Nick Bradbury , Aaron Swarz and Don Park are all right: Artists (software developers, musicians, etc.) must be compensated and the system sucks.

  15. Stealing the intangible

    Stealing the intangible: There are a couple of different conversations about digital theft this morning… Nick Bradbury started one thread, above, which had many spinoffs, including this long commentfest at Don Park’s. Meanwhile Graeme Bull talks abou…

  16. Nick Bradbury on Software Piracy and the Independent Developer

    Nick Bradbury, creator of HomeSite, TopStyle, and FeedDemon, posts a thoughtful article on how software piracy affects the independent developer. According to Nick, there are more pirated copies of his software in circulation than licensed copies! Nick…

  17. On Piracy

    This article on software piracy, while it will probably not change anybody’s mind, at least puts a more personal face on the issue.

    Basically a shareware author, curious about piracy, put out a hacked version of his software and uploaded it to a warez…

  18. Software Piracy

    On his blog, Nick Bradbury, the Man behind TopStyle, HomeSite and FeedDemon tells his story of software piracy and how the little independent developer is affected. This is very interesting and counters the claims by most people that they’re only…

  19. Software Piracy

    Nick Bradbury, creator of TopStyle (probably the best StyleSheet Editor in existence), has a blog (who knew?) and posted an article on Friday about the widespread effects of software piracy on “the little guy.”
    It’s a great read, but it falls into…

  20. John Locke and Software Piracy

    Adam Gessaman posts his thoughts on John Locke and software piracy. The thread began with Nick Bradbury’s complaints that pirated copies of his software outnumber licensed copies and meandered through a snarky follow up by Aaron Swartz. Applying Locke’…

  21. Смогут ли “свободные цены” решить проблемы пиратства?

    Пост Ника Брэдбари на его блоге о проблеме пиратства, о котором я писал здесь, вызвал очень большой отклик. Только что Ник опубликовал новую заметку, где продолжает размышлять о путях решения проблемы пиратства для производителей "шароварных"…

  22. Freedown (loads)

    Nick Bradbury, author of Topstyle, one of the most used CSS-editors around, writes on software piracy and how it affects him. Aaron Swartz, accomplished teenage coder, calls Nick an amazing idiot. The debate on the use of software (legal vs illegal) is…

  23. Morality of software patches

    If I had a cracked version of FeedDemon, I’d probably keep it installed alongside other RSS readers and would be more likely to switch over to a paid version at some point.

  24. Arrr, matey

    Here’s an interesting post from a shareware author regarding piracy. I just realized I haven’t pirated software in many, many years. Then again, I haven’t really purchased anything (not counting game console software) in a while either. I did manage to…

  25. John Locke and Software Piracy

    Adam Gessaman posts his thoughts on John Locke and software piracy. The thread began with Nick Bradbury’s complaints that pirated copies of his software outnumber licensed copies and meandered through a snarky follow up by Aaron Swartz. Applying Locke’…

  26. Interview mit Nick Bradbury

    Marc A. Garrett hat ein Interview mit Nick Bradbury geführt, dem (ursprünglichen) Entwickler von HomeSite, TopStyle und FeedDemon. Es kommen ein paar interessante Dinge zur Sprache, z.B. warum er (noch) nicht für den Mac entwickelt, wie …

  27. Nick Bradbury on Software Piracy and the Independent Developer

    Nick Bradbury, creator of HomeSite, TopStyle, and FeedDemon, posts a thoughtful article on how software piracy affects the independent developer. According to Nick, there are more pirated copies of his software in circulation than licensed copies! Nick…

  28. Pirates, Licenses, Activation

    A interesting piece over at dog or higher begins the first part of a discussion on shareware and piracy. In this first installment, John Allsopp (developer of the excellent Style Master) explains the choice to brave the risks and reap…

  29. О пиратских программах

    Nick Bradbury рассуждает о проблемах пиратства. Он пишет о том, что больше всего от пиратства страдают не крупные корпорации, а производители "шароварных" программ, такие как он сам: Если вы посетите несколько известных "варезных" с…

  30. Смогут ли “свободные цены” решить проблему пиратства?

    Пост Ника Брэдбари на его блоге о проблеме пиратства, о котором я писал здесь, вызвал очень большой отклик. Только что Ник опубликовал новую заметку, где продолжает размышлять о путях решения проблемы пиратства для производителей "шароварных"…

  31. Price-insensitivity

    Price-insensitivity: Gregg Wygonik reports shareware experiences similar to Nick Bradbury… we still need to discover sustainable financial models so that digital creators receive compensation when others make a profit on their work….

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