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Author Topic: Software “Robin Hoods” ?  (Read 5468 times)

Offline blue_cristal

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Software “Robin Hoods” ?
« on: 13/02/2008 18:49:16 »
There is a group of people scattered around the world who probably need to do some reverse engineering on countless expensive software in order to crack them and make them accessible to anyone. They are like modern “Robin Hoods” who steal from the rich ( big software corporations ) and give to the poor ( mostly people who are, ate least, intelligent enough to learn how to use these programs but they cannot afford to buy them. Probably most of them are poor students, unemployed people, etc).

I guess a lot of this reverse engineering work demands quite a lot of effort, skill and time.

Has someone a clue why these people work for free and even risk being caught and imprisoned just to help anonymous people who do not afford to buy these software ?


 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #1 on: 13/02/2008 22:23:59 »
Because they can & it's a challenge. Computer geeks are renown for rising to challenges.
 

another_someone

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Software “Robin Hoods” ?
« Reply #2 on: 14/02/2008 00:10:05 »
Bear in mind that a lot of these people are teenagers, or people in their early twenties.  These people are by nature the group most likely to break the law.  They are the people who are natural risk takers.  They are also the group that most desperately want to get noticed, to appear to have made a difference.  They are also the group who are most fearless, believing that whatever risks they take, somehow nothing bad will ever happen to them.

Yes, they like the challenge.  Some will climb mountains, some will risk their lives walking atop moving trains, and some will crack software.
 

Offline blue_cristal

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« Reply #3 on: 14/02/2008 09:24:29 »
They are also the group who are most fearless, believing that whatever risks they take, somehow nothing bad will ever happen to them.

LOL ...

That is true. I remember when I was a teenager I had my "invincibility" delusion phase.
 

Offline that mad man

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Software “Robin Hoods” ?
« Reply #4 on: 14/02/2008 15:47:29 »
I disagree that they are like modern "Robin Hoods" and that they are more like "Robin Bas***ds" as they are stealing and depriving the rightful owner of an income.

Most do it mainly for the challenge and not because the software is expensive and people cant afford it. Its kudos to the one who manages to crack something first.

Pirating and using warez (cracked software) now seems to be very common and something that many people seem to do regardless of whether they can afford it or not. Even the small developers, who charge reasonable prices for software suffer from this as their income reduces. Unfortunately that impacts on any further development they may embark upon and as a result less software is produced by small companies. 

Unfortunately by their actions (the crackers) they are not doing the majority of us any favours. The software companies will only counteract by putting up the prices and or start to use intrusive copy protection with the use of dongles or a challenge/response scheme with on-line registration. In extreme cases they may stop further production thus restricting choice and leaving it all up to the "big boys" who can afford a loss.

But, that is the nature of software and it shows how easily software is to crack. 

Because of pirating/cracking combined with more powerful computers and the advance of the internet, software "for sale" may change in the future. It may be transferred over to a renting or leasing scheme where you do not even see a copy but end up paying a subscription for using it on-line. I believe that this is the way Microsoft and other big companies want to go as it cuts out any cracking or pirating of their stuff.


There is the other concious free route though, use a Linux OS which is free as is most of the software for it.






 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #5 on: 14/02/2008 16:39:31 »
Bernard - with open source software becoming so widespread, do you think there will be much of a market in the future for non-free software on home PCs (with the exception of bespoke packages)?

In the early days of open source, the standard was a bit dire (to put it politely); but with products such as OpenOffice (a very worthy competitor to MS Office), and all the other high-quality products now available, there really is very little need for anyone to buy software.

My own PCs, for instance, are loaded to the hilt with open source software. I hardly ever use paid-for products. The ones I do use are FruityLoops Producer's Edition - for MIDI and music recording/production, for which there is no real open source competitor yet; Adobe Premier Pro video editing software - far and away the best there is; and XP on a couple of my PCs, but that came pre-loaded anyway. I also still use Adobe Photoshop. I've got GIMP and although it does more-or-less anything Photoshop can, I find Photoshop easier & quicker to use. All my development software, my browsers, much of my music production software, my WP, DTP, spreadsheet, presentation packages, media players, FTP client, web server, CD/DVD burners, and general utilities - the list is almost endless - are all open source.

You only have to look on sites such as Snapfiles, SourceForge or Freedownloadcentre to see the range of open source software available.
« Last Edit: 14/02/2008 16:41:48 by DoctorBeaver »
 

Offline blue_cristal

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« Reply #6 on: 14/02/2008 16:48:35 »
Pirating and using warez (cracked software) now seems to be very common and something that many people seem to do regardless of whether they can afford it or not.

Hum... the way you put it, it can be misinterpreted.

I read a book of a software expert that said that actually when the prices come down and become affordable, most people would prefer to buy them. Only a minority might still keep using pirate software.

Probably, some of the reasons are that it is difficult to update, get plug-inns, etc in pirate software plus there is the risk of getting caught ( mainly when people are connected with the internet ). And the risks are far greater if it is a company that uses pirate software and gets profit from it.

People who use software just for learning purposes or to play with it usually do not necessarily get profit from it ( at least, not directly or immediatelly ). Actually, some companies cleverly realized that and offer free demos.
« Last Edit: 17/02/2008 12:37:37 by blue_cristal »
 

Offline that mad man

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Software “Robin Hoods” ?
« Reply #7 on: 15/02/2008 17:14:43 »
Hi doc.

I think there will always be a demand for pay for software all the time that Microsoft are the dominant force in the market. I do think that their dominance is now waning as Open Source becomes better but it still amazes me how many people have not heard of Open Source software or Linux.

Most of us use some form of Windows system and have done so for a long time so changing their system and using something else is a big learning curve that some are not prepared to go through. I admit that I have to use Windows occasionally because like you I do music using Sonar and Samplitude with Vst's and I may need to share a session with others. Like you say there is little to replace the sequencers and it can be difficult getting Vst's working on Linux.

Fruity eh! Have a looksee here:

http://lmms.sourceforge.net/screenshots.php


@blue_cristal Hi!

I do a lot of PC work and because of that get to see what's on a lot of computers that I work on. I can tell you for sure that there are many people who could afford to buy their software but use pirated cracked stuff. It seems to be acceptable among some to use it and also to freely pass it around and it certainly is not a minority. Its very common in the workplace and I've also seen it in some recording studios. Unfortunately even the cheaper software is pirated and shared round so saying if it was cheap most would buy it is, IMHO is not correct.

I happen to know and be friends with some music software dev's, I have met some and also do alpha or beta testing sometimes for them. These guys sell their stuff at reasonable prices and rely on that income, they certainly are not mega rich.

 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #8 on: 15/02/2008 22:20:27 »
OOH! Thank you, Bernard. I shall download that & try it.
 

another_someone

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Software “Robin Hoods” ?
« Reply #9 on: 16/02/2008 00:00:07 »
I disagree that they are like modern "Robin Hoods" and that they are more like "Robin Bas***ds" as they are stealing and depriving the rightful owner of an income.

On the contrary, I think referring to them as 'Robin Hood' is very apt - but then don't forget, Robin Hood was also a robber.  OK, so he has a reputation of robbing the rich (there's a better percentage to be had in robbing the rich than robbing the poor), but he was still a robber, and the software thieves mostly disenfranchise the richer companies.

It is true that the smaller companies also get ripped off, and often by the very same big companies who are keen to protect their own intellectual property.
 

another_someone

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Software “Robin Hoods” ?
« Reply #10 on: 16/02/2008 00:15:46 »
I think there will always be a demand for pay for software all the time that Microsoft are the dominant force in the market. I do think that their dominance is now waning as Open Source becomes better but it still amazes me how many people have not heard of Open Source software or Linux.

I think there is more to it than the strength of Microsoft.  It is human nature to seek strong leadership, and they see such big companies (Microsoft now, IBM before that) as providing that strong commercial leadership.  The point is that simply following a strong leader needs little thought, and absolves one from the responsibility of having to thing about a decision (the old adage that nobody ever got fired for buying IBM - this did not assume IBM was the best, and definitely not the cheapest, only that it was name everyone was familiar with, and it is unlikely that your bosses would ever actually thing you had taken a bad risk).
 

Offline that mad man

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Software “Robin Hoods” ?
« Reply #11 on: 16/02/2008 13:51:18 »
There is a big difference.

Robin hood (allegedly) stole from the rich, who had made their wealth from taxing the poor and gave it back to the poor, whereas these crackers steal from anyone and give to anyone. Like I have said these thieves do not discriminate or disenfranchise just the rich and will crack anything for the challenge, that is the problem.  You can even get cracked "shareware"

quote

"I think there is more to it than the strength of Microsoft"

For sure but look at what's happening in the "One Laptop Per Child" project.

Microsoft and Intel because of their domination are playing politics with the above and stifling its progress. They don't like the fact that it was to use AMD cpu's and a cut down version of the free Linux system so what has happened. They are now promoting their own OLPC using Intel chips and with a cut down version of Windows installed. This OLPC version now has to have a hard drive because of the bloated nature of Windows and this will allow other Windows compatible programs to run on it, thus keeping the MS dominance alive.

 

another_someone

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Software “Robin Hoods” ?
« Reply #12 on: 16/02/2008 15:22:08 »
There is a big difference.

Robin hood (allegedly) stole from the rich, who had made their wealth from taxing the poor and gave it back to the poor, whereas these crackers steal from anyone and give to anyone. Like I have said these thieves do not discriminate or disenfranchise just the rich and will crack anything for the challenge, that is the problem.  You can even get cracked "shareware"

OK, aside from the fact that there is no evidence of a single person who represents Robin Hood, but insofar as the legend goes:

There is no evidence that I know of in the original folklore that Robin Hood gave to any poor other than his own men.

Who were the rich he stole from?  They would have been merchants (who, with the exception of tax farmers, tax no-one) and landowners (who may obtain wealth by the use of the labour of the poor - not much changes there - but since the poor were to poor to be taxed in money, would not have raised tax in the way we think of taxation).

If one wants to look at maybe a more modern Robin Hood figure, why not Al Capone - who did actually spend money of helping the poor.

But, aside from the details of who Robin Hood was or was not; the point I was really trying to make is that notions of altruistic criminality is rather akin to the concept that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" - it all depends if you are the guy getting the benefit or the guy getting stung.  The same actions can have opposing, and both legitimate, interpretations.

quote

"I think there is more to it than the strength of Microsoft"

For sure but look at what's happening in the "One Laptop Per Child" project.

Microsoft and Intel because of their domination are playing politics with the above and stifling its progress. They don't like the fact that it was to use AMD cpu's and a cut down version of the free Linux system so what has happened. They are now promoting their own OLPC using Intel chips and with a cut down version of Windows installed. This OLPC version now has to have a hard drive because of the bloated nature of Windows and this will allow other Windows compatible programs to run on it, thus keeping the MS dominance alive.

I suspect that too is more complex.

I suspect that the way the OLPC project was run, right from the beginning, was rather naive in business terms.  The problem is that it tried to sign up the big boys to do business with - but they are used to doing business their way, and certainly would not be comfortable being told how to run their businesses by an outsider.

I am not saying that everything Intel e.al. do, or did, was necessarily honourable, but certainly what was asked of them was naive.

On the other hand, there are other alternatives too - the Asustek Eee laptop - which has no hard disk, and presently in only available with Linux, although there is talk of loading Windows XP (not Vista) onto it some time soon.  The reports have in many ways suggested the Eee is better than the XO (although also slightly more expensive, and maybe some other trade-offs - but at £125, is not exactly expensive either).

I am not suggesting the the Eee is the ideal answer to what the XO was trying to be, but rather that what the XO has succeeded in doing, even if it may end up failing as a product in its own right, is to create a new market sector that was not there before.

To some extent, this is also something the software pirates also achieve.  Despite all the hype that software piracy forces up prices because legitimate buyers have to pay more for their products, the reality is that often software piracy forces down the market price to make piracy seem a less attractive contrast (many people who might be willing to spend a small some of money to stay legal, would be far more willing to go outside the law if they think the product is overpriced, or the restrictions on the legal ownership of the product are too onerous).
 

Offline blue_cristal

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Software “Robin Hoods” ?
« Reply #13 on: 17/02/2008 12:54:42 »
Despite all the hype that software piracy forces up prices because legitimate buyers have to pay more for their products, the reality is that often software piracy forces down the market price to make piracy seem a less attractive contrast (many people who might be willing to spend a small some of money to stay legal, would be far more willing to go outside the law if they think the product is overpriced, or the restrictions on the legal ownership of the product are too onerous).

Exactly my thoughts. Ray Kurzweil, great inventor and brilliant thinker has similar opinion.
 

paul.fr

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Software “Robin Hoods” ?
« Reply #14 on: 17/02/2008 18:14:34 »
Despite all the hype that software piracy forces up prices because legitimate buyers have to pay more for their products, the reality is that often software piracy forces down the market price to make piracy seem a less attractive contrast (many people who might be willing to spend a small some of money to stay legal, would be far more willing to go outside the law if they think the product is overpriced, or the restrictions on the legal ownership of the product are too onerous).

It does not matter what the cost is, or comes down to. people will still want to download for free, you can legally download your favourite song or tv programme for about £1. yet people still download, because they can and its free - even if windows was sold for £1 it would still be pirated and downloaded.

It's nothing to do with price or overpriced, the net is there and you get stuff for free. why do people have broadband (the majority of)? because you can download illegal stuff quicker, oh the ads will tell you that you can check emails quicker and send photos. but who the heck cares about that? the majority of people have broadband so they can download pirated stuff.
 

another_someone

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Software “Robin Hoods” ?
« Reply #15 on: 17/02/2008 18:54:22 »
It does not matter what the cost is, or comes down to. people will still want to download for free, you can legally download your favourite song or tv programme for about £1. yet people still download, because they can and its free - even if windows was sold for £1 it would still be pirated and downloaded.

It's nothing to do with price or overpriced, the net is there and you get stuff for free. why do people have broadband (the majority of)? because you can download illegal stuff quicker, oh the ads will tell you that you can check emails quicker and send photos. but who the heck cares about that? the majority of people have broadband so they can download pirated stuff.

You clearly know very different majority of people to me.

Most of the people I know do not download illegal material, or only a very small amount.

It is true that there are plenty of geeks who do download illegal material, but the majority of people I know are still wary of the smaller legal sites, and are nervous of open source software, so are certainly staying clear of downloading pirated software.

There are grey areas where I too download illegal material - mostly some of the stuff on YouTube is known to be illegal, and there are still issues to be resolved surrounding Internet radio; but otherwise I do not download pirated software.  I don't stick rigidly to all aspects of copyright law, but neither do I flagrantly and indiscriminately flout it (much as I do with many other laws - e.g. traffic laws).  These are people who do have broadband.  They don't need 24Mbps, but do like being always online, and do send photos, etc., and for them a 512Kbps broadband is fine.  They represent the largest portion of broadband users I know.

One should also remember that there still exist sites (such as WikiPedia) that run purely on voluntary payments, so some people are clearly willing to pay for things, even when they don't have to.

What you might say is that the people who don't download pirated software will also not be the early adopters for many of the new services (e.g. legal music downloads) available on the Internet.
 

paul.fr

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Software “Robin Hoods” ?
« Reply #16 on: 17/02/2008 19:15:01 »
Just one illegal site had over 4 million hits per day! per day! The vast majority of internet users do download pirated material for one reason or another. The ISPs could stop this, but dont. Why?
because they will lose custom, this is the only reason people need more that a meg or two in download speed.

The only ISP to stop illegal downloads is kingston, but they have a captive market and as such can do what they want. Although they cant stop illegal downloads through newsfroups, which is becomming popular again for this reason and the fact the RIAA and others are more avctive.

Even then you can still hide your ip address from them, pirating is never going to end. there is a growing market and we as a society want it, we want it now and we want it for nothing.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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« Reply #17 on: 17/02/2008 22:49:24 »
I'll give you some reasons for wanting fast broadband.

As some of you may know, I write soundtracks for videos. Try downloading or uploading even a 20 minute AVI video on slow broadband.

I also design & code interactive websites that I FTP to the net. I don't want to have to wait 20 minutes before I can test them live each time I make a change (I've written php code that works fine on my home PCs but not on certain web hosts).

Also, given the amount of images (or Flash) there are on some websites, fast broadband is essential for any kind of decent browsing.
 

another_someone

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« Reply #18 on: 18/02/2008 01:53:37 »
Just one illegal site had over 4 million hits per day! per day!

4 million hits does not mean 4 million downloads, let alone 4 million people who download.  I regularly visit sites that contain downloads, but don't download anything (true, most are legal downloads - but just be careful how you interpret statistics).

The vast majority of internet users do download pirated material for one reason or another.

I doubt either you or I can authoritatively say anything about what the vast majority of Internet users do - they are a very diverse collection of people, and each of us know a very small percentage of the whole.

The ISPs could stop this, but dont. Why?

How would they stop this?  And at what costs in terms of their own legal liability?

There are billions of downloads going on all of the time - how is an ISP going to know what is legal and what is not legal.

Already ISP's have problems with legal liability on things like defamation and libel.  They don't have the resources to thoroughly investigate each complaint, so they take the precautionary approach which says that if they get a complaint, they will assume there is substance to it, and will shut down the site merely on the basis of accusation.  If they now have to do this with copyright material as well, then the situation will be totally unmanageable (I would merely have to make an accusation of theft of copyright to get someone shut down).  ISP's don't have the resources to be judge and jury, and don't want to be.

If I get a court order to have someone shut down, that is something else - then the court is judge and jury, which is what they should be.

Some ISP's could simply prohibit some forms of application (e.g. P2P applications, which are often used for distributing illegal copies of software).  The problem is that P2P is also used for distributing legal material (for instance, the BBC's new iPlayer uses a form of P2P, and I often download Open Source software (totally legally) using P2P).  One reason why ISP's do restrict P2P is because if consumes a lot of bandwidth, but for that they don't need to make judgements as to who is downloading legal and who is downloading illegal material.

Ofcourse, given your assumption that most users are only on the Internet to download illegal material, we could just shut down the entire Internet and have done with it.

In another area, where ISP's try to be a bit more proactive, is in blocking child porn sites.  Even with this, they only have very marginal impact, but at least the matter is easier for them to judge (judging whether a site contains child porn is fairly simple, but judging whether something that is being downloaded is copyrighted material, and whether the person has a legal right to publish that material, is more complex).

Even then you can still hide your ip address from them, pirating is never going to end. there is a growing market and we as a society want it, we want it now and we want it for nothing.

If it is the collective view of society that copyright is a bad thing (or bad in its present form), then if democracy means anything, should it not imply that the legislation should reflect what society desires.

Note that I do not assume you are correct, but neither assume that you are incorrect, in your assertion about what society wants; I am merely asking whether the nature of a true democracy should not allow society to have the laws that it desires.
 

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Software “Robin Hoods” ?
« Reply #18 on: 18/02/2008 01:53:37 »

 

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