copy protection

Chipp Walters chipp at
Sun Jan 9 21:58:26 EST 2005


We sell and copy protect much of our and our client's software. Your 
advice is indeed valuable-- whenever possible, err on the side of your 
user. We don't spend too much time making something 'uncrackable', but 
rather difficult for people to casually pirate.

One problem with a discussion of copy protection techniques, is 
invariably one wants to 'keep secret' the best techniques and not 
publish them to say...a list-group of developers ;-)

That being said, the best copy protection technique we use is auto and 
frequent updates from the web. Only registered users can do this and we 
can of course track any abuses of multiple updating. Even better is to 
put some of the functionality of your application on a server, then 
users *have to logon* in order to use it.

Other techniques not as great, include storing timeout dates in the 
registry and prefs area and not deleting them on an unistall, and 
encrypting regcodes so a simple data search cannot find them.

I personally don't believe in licensing computers, but rather licensing 
users. Typically all of our cross platform apps work with the same 
regCode on any machine. I, in fact, regularly use 5 different machines, 
and hate it when someone (Adobe, Macromedia) forces me to purchase 
multiple copies of their software, when only I will only be using it on 
any given machine at a given time. This is why I like to include a 
person's email address in the regcode process, that way if they pass it 
around, they will be also giving out their email address, which also 
helps me track down the dishonest culprit. ;-) I don't know of many 
folks who want their email address as part of a crack suite of codes on 
a Warez site.

And, if your application is auto-updated (like Acrobat) from the web, 
your users never know if they're passing a ripped off regcode.

But alas, making a great piece of software and marketing it smartly can 
do a lot for sales. IMO, I think most pirates won't pay for software 
anyway. But, people who casually copy software, do tend to want to pay 
for it when they find out they need an upgrade or new feature set.

Hope some of this helps.



Gordon Webster wrote:
> Dear Byron

> I have polled this list about software protection
> issues and have received some great advice from people
> who've obviously thought about it a great deal more
> than I have. I'll bet the essence of the advice you'll
> get will revolve around the question of how much time
> you'll want to spend to net that extra 30% of
> non-payers instead of spending that time improving
> your software (or developing your next product).

> I am curious to know what people do for distributions
> to larger numbers of people. Perhaps some of the gurus
> on this list would be willing to share their expertise
> for the current generation of newbs like myself - this
> topic affects us all as rev developers and I would
> love to know what approaches people are using 

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