Software piracy has been common for a long time. Companies who create software, or games, have tried to fight piracy with digital rights management (DRM). There are many reasons individuals steal software. Sometimes it is not available in their country, or (it’s) out of print. They may feel angry with the publisher for the DRM used in the software, so they pirate it out of desire for a better experience or simply want software for free. DRM only makes the experience for the honest customer poor, not pirates, and those who keep developers employed should be rewarded not punished.

Many early forms of DRM required disks for software to run. This prevented installation of software on multiple computers. However, eventually optical drive emulators were created. Emulators could make a copy of the disk called an ISO and hold it virtually, so when the software called for the disk, it was available. Some of these include Daemon Tools and Virtual Clone Drive. Publishers fought virtual drives with software like Starforce, SafeDisc, SecuROM and others. Starforce would look for virtual drives and not allow installation if they were detected. DiscSafe had a vulnerability where it could allow escalation of user privileges and allow hackers to take control of the machine. SecurROM limited the number of times software could be activated after installation. SecurROM would install hidden software that would communicate back to servers for authentication. When the limit of activations was used by the number of installations, the user had to contact customer support to install the software again. This became even more complicated, because the user was not told in the license agreement about the activation limits or that the DRM was not uninstalled when their software was uninstalled. If a user reinstalled their operating system, any activations used up would be lost forever because the data left on the computer could not be accessed after it had been written over.  There were a lot of blunders in the schemes created to stop piracy that only caused the honest-paying customer to jump through hoops that were often complicated and difficult for the non-tech savvy.

Login forms of DRM have proven to be less abrasive to consumers. This depends on the internet connectivity in your location. Countries with good internet service provider (ISP) infrastructure tend to have less problems with this. Countries where good infrastructure is a luxury tend to suffer, because their internet connectivity is not always consistent.

The best way to fight DRM is to build trust with customers by selling DRM-free software. Using advertising campaigns that emphasize trust in their customers and DRM-free software as a feature will help educate consumers about piracy and profits. There will always be pirates who just want something for nothing. Everything costs money. Those who refuse to pay for others’ hard work will find the software they enjoy leaving the market because developers aren’t able to stay in business. Everyone deserves to be paid for their work.

 

By:Aaron Calder 

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