By Kim Lloyd
This email arrives in my inbox almost everyday:
No wonder at least one half of potential software revenue is lost due to piracy, a total of $11-$12 billion lost worldwide (1). These people know how to market! Our company currently has a need for some licenses of Photoshop, and at a startup every penny counts. So it was tempting, but knowing as much as I do about the blood, sweat, and tears that go into making good software, it is not going to happen.
Unfortunately not everyone understands and appreciates the value of your hard work. Believe it or not most piracy occurs not by these mass blackmarket software vendors, but by people for personal or business use with far less malicious intent. For instance, it is quite common for a company or individual to buy a single license for a DNN module or skin, and then re-use that on a virtually unlimited number of DNN hosts or sites.
DotNetNuke module and skin developers, and smaller businesses in general, are usually unaware or have little control of the fact that they are using pirated software. So much so that Microsoft has implemented a “self-audit” type of valid license checker (2). This helps Microsoft, but unfortunately it does not help protect your intellectual property.
Internet auction sites like eBay make it easy for software piraters to distribute illegal, downloadable software to unwitting buyers. According to Keith Kupferschmid, an executive with the Software & Information Industry Association, the industry believes 90 percent of all software sold on Internet auctions violates copyrights or licensing agreements (3). Furthermore, even when a module or skin is purchased via a valid distribution channel such as Snowcovered, there is nothing stopping someone from purchasing a single copy and re-using that copy illegally over and over again.
To cloud matters even further, there are several “urban legends” perpetuating software copyright abuse.
The 24-hour rule
According to this rule, under the copyright law a user may download a program and use it for 24 hours to determine if they want to continue using it - and then after the 24-hour period they have to delete it or buy it. This is illegal.
Copying software for Evaluation
This premise gives the okay to people copying paid-for licensed software from someone else. The idea is to install and use the software under the guise of evaluation purposes. This is illegal.
All DotNetNuke modules grant a Host-wide license
While this is the most common license for a DotNetNuke module or skin, there are many modules and skins that only grant a license for use on a specific DotNetNuke site or portal. Many users install their module on their host, and use it over and over again for many sites. Some users are further under the misconception that they also have the right to install a DotNetNuke module or skin on several hosts or servers. Both of these scenarios are illegal.
Redistribution of Free Modules or Skins
Free does not mean there is not a license associated with it, and most free or open source licenses have restrictions around modification and / or distribution. If I got it for free, then I can also redistribute this software because it is free. This is illegal.
Free use of Abandonware
Abandonware is software that a copyright holder has ceased distributing or supporting for more then five years. Abandonware is another urban legend created and circulated to justify violations of copyright law on the Internet. This is illegal.
To assist these honest businesses with software license compliance, it benefits all parties involved to take the guesswork out of copy protection. There are many technology-based techniques for protecting code and allowing legitimate customers to activate their licenses. Some are much better than others. For those whom are malicious at heart, they will always try to find a way to “crack” the code. But for the group of “accidental” copyright abusers aforementioned, they will more than likely pay for the digitally protected software rather than attempt to find a way of cracking it.
For developers concerned that protecting their DNN code and skins will dissuade potential customers from buying their software, this is the last great falsehood. In next month’s article, we’ll discuss the trials and tribulations of distributing evaluation software. Protecting your IP is the key to helping you sustain your business, potentially developers may no longer be able to afford the continued development and creation of modules if this is left unchecked.
If you would like to protect your code and protect your revenue starting today, visit http://my.flatburger.com
(1) Every two dollars’ worth of PC software purchased legitimately, one dollar’s worth was obtained illegally according to the Third Annual Business Software Alliance (BSA) and IDC Global Software Piracy Study, May 2006
(2) “How to Ensure Your Software Isn’t Pirated?
”. Hattie Bryant of Small Business School interview.
(3) “Software Makers Crack Down on Net Piracy
”. 2007. ABC News. Michael Liedtke.