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China Piracy Software The Almighty Buck Your Rights Online

Turning Chinese Piracy Into Revenue 170

Posted by timothy
from the we-call-this-the-photoshop-model dept.
itwbennett writes "Weak penalties and a lack of enforcement have made China a hotspot for software piracy, but it is possible to turn some pirated software into sales, says Vic DeMarines, vice president of products for V.i. Labs, a company that helps makers of engineering and design software track the unlicensed use of their products. Forty of V.i. Labs' clients use code to track when an installed application shows signs it's a pirated copy. The data collected makes a record of what organizations in China are using unlicensed copies across how many different PCs. They can then use the data to reach out to those organizations, who might not be aware they are using unlicensed software. 'We think that's a better way to reduce piracy overall,' says DeMarines. 'You need to target the organizations that should have the ability to pay license versus going after individual users or the people who crack the software.'"
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Turning Chinese Piracy Into Revenue

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  • "Reach Out" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CSFFlame (761318) on Monday August 29, 2011 @08:54PM (#37248768) Homepage
    Like the BSA?
    • If they are hard handed about it, the more the alternatives become attractive. A good example of this is the Ernie Ball BSA reaction. This publicity has had a ripple effect. It is the biggest reason I have gone open source at home.
      http://news.cnet.com/2008-1082_3-5065859.html [cnet.com]

    • I'm the guy who wrote the Ask Slashdot about the BSA about a month ago. This sounds very reminiscent of that. In my case I had no unlicensed software and the BSA gave up, but just being approached in this way really pissed me off. The BSA approached me because they thought I had money and assumed I was using unlicensed software - the were wrong on both counts but had they been right being cornered like that would in no way earn my favor for the software or companies they represent.

      If they think this is a go

      • by s73v3r (963317)

        As soon as they win a case in China and force some company to pay (good luck assholes) I hope they see their software fall out of favor very quickly.

        Yeah, those assholes! How dare they expect to be compensated for their hard work! They should just be giving it to anyone, for free!

        Seriously, your post reeks of entitlement issues. "What? You're actually expecting me to pay for the stuff I use!?!? The nerve!"

        • Re-read what you quoted. I have nothing against treating pirates as future customers - having someone with no money pirate your software and make money, then ask them to license the software is sort of a good idea (though it begs the question why they wouldn't offer a free version until then - I know Borland used to). But up and cornering them, threatening them, and bringing them to court is not only a dick move but it's also the worst possible way to foster customer loyalty.

          Case in point: the BSA didn't ac

  • If only the RIAA paid attention: treating pirates as potential customers: why not (upon finding them) send them marketing emails and specials? "We noticed you've been listening to a lot of Radiohead lately, their latest album just came out, act now for 30% off. Help support a great band, and be a part of their art". It wouldn't work for everyone, but it would soften the RIAA's image and potential bring in some new sales in one clever move.
    • If they had only gotten the memo... [slashdot.org]

      but it would soften the RIAA's image

      Does the RIAA even care about their image? Most people don't go out choose whether to buy RIAA music or not. You buy a song that isn't indie, it's RIAA, right? They could run ads saying "RIAA: we hate the following ethnic groups..." and tell racist jokes, and unless a boycott of all non-indie was organized, I'm guessing they'd still profit just as much.

      And I'll be DAMNED if I listen to some hipster indie crap...

      (I kid, but in all honesty, I'm going to buy the nex

      • by KiloByte (825081)

        in all honesty, I'm going to buy the next Avril Lavigne single that comes out as soon as it comes out...

        Please, don't. If you can't upgrade your taste in music, at least pirate the stuff. Nearly all of the money goes to organizations that make things worse.

        If you insist on some "moral" stuff, you can mail the artist (or an awful screamer in your case :p) some cash directly. Just don't feed the RIAA.

        • "upgrade" my taste in music? I'm not going to claim that Lavigne is a respectable artist, but musical tastes are just musical tastes. There's no hierarcy there. You listen to music you enjoy, trying to change the music you like is pretentious, fake, sand for insecure people.
      • RIAA did their job well.

        I have no idea who Avril Lavigne is or what she sounds like.

        Even if I could pirate a copy, the name does not stand out enough to me to make it worth the time to download.

        RIAA, you wanted us to not share. I did not. Nor did anyone share with me. I am quite ignorant of the music scene these days.

        I still enjoy my old stuff, but its been several years since I have spent a dime on music, cause quite frankly, buying music these days is like me going into some strange ethnic res
    • by MightyYar (622222)

      If only the RIAA paid attention

      Or lawmakers! There is a quote in the summary:

      'You need to target the organizations that should have the ability to pay license versus going after individual users or the people who crack the software.'"

      This basically sums up how copyright law should be enacted. Make it commercial-only. There would still be plenty of incentive to create for artists, and regular people wouldn't need to have a deep understanding of the law to find out if they are legally entitled to sing happy birthday to their kid or not.

      • by mangu (126918) on Monday August 29, 2011 @10:50PM (#37249544)

        There would still be plenty of incentive to create for artists

        Artists already have plenty of incentive to create, the do what they love to do and, if they are good, they can earn a comfortable income from live performances.

        The big mistake is assuming that every artist deserve to become a millionaire. Let them earn their daily bread from their daily work, like everybody else.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          The big mistake is assuming that every artist deserve to become a millionaire.

          I agree with you, but I still think that copyright is important for artists. Sure, musicians can do what they did before copyright - perform. But what of a fiction author? I suppose they could get paid for signings and whatnot, but I think having exclusive commercial rights to their work would be reasonable.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Sure, for 7, 14, or even 20 years.

            Up to 200? Fuck that. There's something seriously wrong with a system that won't release copyright on anything before my great-grandchildren are dead (and I don't have kids yet!).

          • Stop talking as if copyright is the only way to compensate authors. Compensation, in order to encourage creation, is what's important, is what we want, not copyright per se. Performance may be impractical for authors, but that and copyright are hardly the only ways to compensate artists. There's patronage. There's ad revenue, endorsements, merchandising, commissions. And there are donations, prizes, awards.

            We really need better alternative systems. We can certainly do up a new, improved patronage sy

            • by Whalou (721698)
              I think every artistic endeavour that has become an 'industry' (music, books, etc.) has been filled by middlemen that takes the major share of the money and try (and succeed) to pass laws to ensure they keep getting money for a long time.

              In other art domains, artists produce pieces of art (paintings, sculptures, etc.), and sell them to make money. If they want to keep getting money, they need to keep producing art.

              Artist in non-industry domains don't seem to need the incentive to be able to profit from
              • by MightyYar (622222)

                In other art domains, artists produce pieces of art (paintings, sculptures, etc.), and sell them to make money.

                I don't think this is true. I bet Walmart sells more "art" than the whole individual art community put together, even in dollar terms. That crap is all produced in Chinese assembly lines - I don't think the "artist" is getting the bulk of the compensation.

                In other art domains, artists produce pieces of art (paintings, sculptures, etc.), and sell them to make money.

                This is not true! Decent artists sell hundreds of prints of their paintings, even if someone bought the original. Even sculptors typically make multiple copies of their sculptures, in all different sizes. As a buyer, I don't even technically have the right

                • by gl4ss (559668)

                  the trick is to make the reproduction into art. that's how prints of several artists are worth more than prints of others, and prints from certain batches are worth more than from others. if the copy is just laser printed, then it's just that.

                  • by MightyYar (622222)

                    that's how prints of several artists are worth more than prints of others, and prints from certain batches are worth more than from others.

                    Sometimes it's a quality difference, but more often it is just sentimentality. The first printing is almost often more valuable than any later series, and the lower-numbered prints fetch more - even though they all came off the machine at the same time and the order is just how the artist happened to hand-number them. This is exactly the same as comic book collecting :)

            • by MightyYar (622222)

              Stop talking as if copyright is the only way to compensate authors.

              I'm not! But I don't think it is unreasonable to say, "For a limited period of time, you cannot profit monetarily from the artistic work of others without their permission." Heck, even you mention ad revenue and merchandising... that's exactly what I'm talking about. Copyright sucks as currently implemented, but I don't think it is worth abandoning completely.

            • by Kalriath (849904)

              The problem is there will always be self-entitled dickheads. Digital distribution? Pirates will copy it (and sure as hell won't donate some cash back to support the author if they like it). Ad revenue? People will remove the ads and republish it, or block the ads if on the internet. Patronage? Very few people will be willing to stump up thousands of dollars for something they may not even like. Merchandising? What's the point in signing a merchandising agreement if XingHao Zheng Trading Co. will kno

        • by alexo (9335)

          Artists already have plenty of incentive to create, the do what they love to do and, if they are good, they can earn a comfortable income from live performances.

          Let me play devil's advocate for a moment.

          Writing music is also art, arguably even more so than performing it. What about the artists whose talent is creating new music, not performing? Your plan excludes them.

          Writing prose or poetry is also art. What about those artists? Your plan excludes them as well.

          While I dislike copyright, live performanc

        • With that logic, why should anyone become a millionaire? If it becomes as easy to reproduce a product as it is to copy a song, should the ability to make money selling something people want vanish?
          • by mangu (126918)

            If it becomes as easy to reproduce a product as it is to copy a song, should the ability to make money selling something people want vanish?

            Basically, yes. In this book [thelightsinthetunnel.com] the author analyses the trends for the future, with a rather pessimistic view. Automation in the next few decades will have a significant effect on economics.

  • nough said
    • Most of the time I read titles like this as "Turning Chinese into Westerners". Applying western values to a Chinese culture (especially business culture) and expecting it to stick is naive at best. Western companies need to adapt to Chinese way of doing things to operate in China.
      • Most of the time I read titles like this as "Turning Chinese into Westerners". Applying western values to a Chinese culture (especially business culture) and expecting it to stick is naive at best. Western companies need to adapt to Chinese way of doing things to operate in China.

        And how exactly would they do that? It's impossible to compete with somebody giving out free copies of your software when you're footing the cost for development.

        • by rubycodez (864176)
          they would charge for maintenance and support. that is why companies pay microsoft now.
  • Solution (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The United Kingdom can just pay £1,000,000,000 every year to the BSA on behalf of the Chinese people as reparations for the colonization, dealing drugs in China the Opium War, etc. And the BSA will distribute the cash equitably among impacted software development companies.
    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      You mean the BSA will suddenly have great difficulties finding said amount of cash, and will scour all the beaches and 5 star hotels in the world in private jets in an attempt to find it.
  • A lot of the time a pirate distributor will go and "sell" this software at deep discounts, pretending its the real deal.

    Problem is that a few months later when the software company comes asking for money, the owners get pissed, because in their mind they've already paid. It looks like a shakedown when you've paid $100/license, and then are told, "Oh by the way, you owe us $5000/license."

    • by brit74 (831798)
      > "It looks like a shakedown when you've paid $100/license, and then are told, "Oh by the way, you owe us $5000/license."
      "Looks like a shakedown" and "Is a shakedown" are two different things, by the way. There is no "double dipping" (as your title suggests) when you didn't pay the right people in the first place.
  • by bugs2squash (1132591) on Monday August 29, 2011 @09:24PM (#37249034)
    I'm sure emacs could have done this too, but no-one can remember the right keystrokes to make it happen.
  • by drolli (522659) on Monday August 29, 2011 @09:25PM (#37249042) Journal

    Reasonable prices and don't threat your customers like shit.

    • by kamapuaa (555446) on Monday August 29, 2011 @09:41PM (#37249170) Homepage

      No, no it is not. Legitimate DVDs/software released are almost impossible to find in China, just because bootleg DVDs are selling for around sixty cents. The various sellers reduced the cost of them greatly for the Chinese market, for less than $5 (often with a few ads in front), but they're only available in the Potemkin downtown stores made to impress foreigners (every major Chinese city has a Potemkin downtown to impress foreigners).

      Recently, even bootleg DVD sales have been hurting, because sixty cents for a disk is too much. People prefer free downloads. When quality DVDs are available on the street corner in front of your house for sixty cents, displayed in attractive packaging, and people still don't want to pay that much, obviously there isn't a mentality of paying for software because you "like" the company. There's a mentality that it would be stupid to waste the money when you can get a free version that's just as good.

      By the way, these sixty cent DVDs are either straightforward copies of the legitimate DVD but with added subtitles, or maybe they'll contain a complete season of a TV show on just a few disks. Quality is great, and even street sellers will accept returns with no questions asked if there is a problem with it not playing or the quality is unacceptable for whatever reason.

      Talk bad about MS and vista, but a great case study in how little software is actually bought is Windows Vista, which after a huge marketing campaign sold 244 copies. [newlaunches.com] Sure Vista sucked, but it was good enough that everybody still installed it. Linux and Mac are basically unused in China. Every single computer is running Windows.

      • by mooglez (795643)

        When quality DVDs are available on the street corner in front of your house for sixty cents, displayed in attractive packaging, and people still don't want to pay that much, obviously there isn't a mentality of paying for software because you "like" the company. There's a mentality that it would be stupid to waste the money when you can get a free version that's just as good.

        By the way, these sixty cent DVDs are either straightforward copies of the legitimate DVD but with added subtitles, or maybe they'll contain a complete season of a TV show on just a few disks.

        The main reason they are not selling is, that there is a superior product available (online download).

        The ease of use of an online download is greater than storing and inserting a pirate DVD to a player, which again is greater than an official DVD with10 minutes of forced commercial before the remote controller can be used.

        The sad thing here is, that the original product is worse than what the pirates are offering (both bootleg and online), and no matter how low the prices for the original product go, the s

      • by EdZ (755139)

        Quality is great

        Yeah, sure. And encoding standards for domestic DVDs and BDs aren't going down the shitter because most customers think that youtube-quality video (i.e. something that would look at home on a cheap laserdisc, but with worse audio) is acceptable.
        This is the thing that pisses me off about QuickSync: sure, it's fast. But it's fast at the expense of quality, and if you turn off all the quality enhancing bits of a decent software encoder (e.g. x.264) to get a similarly poor-looking encode, it's not all that much

    • also make site licenses work better / easier to work out.

      The windows \ CAL rules need to be better.

      Other software has license servers.

      • by mlts (1038732) *

        Even better, how about just getting rid of the concept of activation altogether in the VLK versions?

        Businesses are not going to be pirating because the BSA will turn them into component quarks as soon as one disgruntled, laid off ex-employee sends an anonymous complaint.

        The pirates will have defeated any protection mechanism altogether.

        Why even bother antagonizing the enterprise in the first place, as this is the core customer of MS these days?

    • I used to sell a software product for $11. Customers got lifetime free upgrades and lifetime free email support. Licensing terms were very relaxed and it was allowed to install the software on multiple computers and even to share it with family members. People still pirated it.

    • I absolutely agree for the american industry, for china though I would say it is more or less a lost cause, in china between the average household having so little, and a lack of any concern for any foreign companies at all in their culture (they've pretty much been surrounded by propoganda that other countries are evil), tacked on with the lack of any enforcement against piracy in their laws (in addition to being perfectly able to be sold in stores/streetcorners etc... even companies can get away with usin
  • Wait, how can you pirate vi, I thought it was open source!

    ducks
    • by Spykk (823586)
      Easy, just press ctrl-alt-insert-backspace in emacs and type vi into the dialog.
  • Perhaps this could be an opportunity for linux or freebsd support companies to reach out to companies who pirate windows.
  • PRC + IAY = PIRACY FTFY
  • The "data collecting" code isn't just collecting data from unlicensed users but licensed users as well. So in exchange for paying the license fee you get software that phone's home about how you use it. In other words your computer now works for them in addition to working for you.
  • Has anybody tried promoting the rumor that Falun Gong sympathizers are particularly fond of pirated software, and that a substantial portion of the Dalai Lama's publicity slush fund is paid for by bootleg software sales?

    Plus, allowing the price of a commodity to equal its marginal cost of production is absolutely textbook decadent capitalist behavior...
  • if they can track pirated copies, maybe they should just send out upgrades that start displaying advertisements so that they can generate revenues in a different fashion? Both parties are happy!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I may know of a company has a strict policy of licenenced software, but one of their engineers may have used a 30day demo past 30days, and were sent a nastygram saying pay $30k as one of these 'report to home' features were in the software. Now had it been more reasonably priced, or been offered as a rental, they might have seen the use in buying a licence, but even hinting at guilt could open them up to litigation, thus they couldn't even start a negotiation to purchase the software because the risk of a

  • Forget it, Jake. It's China.
  • Company: We've rigged our software to phone home information so we can identify you as an individual and/or the company you work for... but don't worry, it's only to help them become "legitimate" customers.

    The arguments in summary;

    It's an invasion of privacy.
    Counter #1: "Then don't install it."
    a. Most people install the software they do because it does what they want it to, it has a familiar interface, and it is cost effective.

    b. IP laws exist solely to create artificial markets and categories of consumers,

  • Tracking code? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Monday August 29, 2011 @11:57PM (#37249840) Journal

    My programs should only be talking to the internet when I ask them to.
    I block software that phones home at the router.

  • Just have them print the money instead of the federal reserve, they already print fake money that is such a good forgery that it takes a mass spectrometer to determine if it is real or not so they can they can pay themselves off and we can save a bundle on printing costs, win-win!!!!!!!!

  • Is getting confusing out, when only Americans get sent to the gulag for pissing the ruling elite off.

Somebody ought to cross ball point pens with coat hangers so that the pens will multiply instead of disappear.

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