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App Auto-Tweets False Piracy Accusations 231

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'm-spartacus dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Certain iPhone and iPad applications from a Japanese company have broken software piracy detection mechanisms that are sending out tweets on the user's own Twitter account, saying, 'How about we all stop using pirated iOS apps? I promise to stop. I really will. #softwarepirateconfession.' The trouble is, it's sending these out on accounts of users who actually paid up to $50 or more for the software and who are legally using it. The app is asking for access to users' Twitter accounts, but does not give the reason why it is asking, so the author of the article concluded (rightly) that things were being done deliberately. Would you want your legally purchased software to send out messages to all of your contacts on Twitter or on other social networks saying that you were a software pirate? Would you excuse the writers of the software if it was just an error in their piracy detection measures?"
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App Auto-Tweets False Piracy Accusations

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  • no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @07:26PM (#41975193)

    no

  • App permissions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by danomac (1032160) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @07:27PM (#41975201)

    Generally if I have an app asking for Twitter/Facebook credentials and it appears completely unrelated to the app I just remove it and move on.

  • Legal liability (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lisias (447563) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @07:30PM (#41975235) Homepage Journal

    This is character assassination.

    You know that old joke about crying "FIRE" in a crowded theater? The bottom line is that you must be damn sure the place is really catching fire before doing that.

    The software owner should be legally charged.

  • Re:App permissions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cjpa (796302) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @07:31PM (#41975245)

    This app cost 50$ and it was only when the user got an update, that the app insisted on getting Twitter credentials. So he paid heavily for an app which subsequently sent out a dodgy update. Not a very nice practice.

  • Economics (Score:2, Insightful)

    by YodasEvilTwin (2014446) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @07:34PM (#41975257) Homepage
    Regardless of whether piracy is right or wrong, people will always do it. It's an economic problem. Many people will stop if the price is low enough; for others, "free" in both senses is the only price low enough. This is reality, and it will never change. Creators and their associated industries need to get over it. There will never be a way to stop everyone, there will never be a way to catch everyone.

    That said, it may also be good economics to implement DRM in some cases; you have to weigh the benefits against the costs. (This does not appear to be one of those instances; this company is fucked.)
  • Re:App permissions (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @07:40PM (#41975321)

    Yes, but it's a fucking Dictionary. It doesn't *need* Twitter. It doesn't matter who wrote it, or how many good reviews it has.

  • Re:App permissions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by green1 (322787) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @07:41PM (#41975331)

    You don't honestly believe that bit about the walled garden protecting the users do you?

  • Re:App permissions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EGSonikku (519478) <petersen.mobileNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @07:46PM (#41975395)

    As an iOS user since the original iPhone I have a few points to make.

    Firstly, part of me wishes it were more open and that's why I've always used available jailbreaks.

    Secondly, when one looks at the amounts of malware available for each platform it does become clear that the 'walled garden' does seem to have an affect on device security.

    It really is a double edged sword, but I can see the merits of both arguments.

  • Re:App permissions (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @07:50PM (#41975433) Journal

    Exactly. The article asks if this mistake is forgivable. The mistake isn't even the problem, that the app asks for permissions that it doesn't need is already a deal breaker.

  • Regardless... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by klingers48 (968406) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @08:00PM (#41975509)
    ...Of whether or not the user has pirated the software, this kind of name-and-shame digital vigilantism on the part of the software author is just playing with fire. Especially (but not only) when it's shoddily coded and hitting false positives.

    I can imagine them sitting around their dev table brainstorming "Ok guys, what's the best possible way we can open the company up to libel and defamation lawsuits? Hey, I know... Let's even give people who use and rely on Twitter as a business tool an opportunity to claim commercial losses against us as a result of an automated piracy accusation going out to their X-million followers!"

    Sometimes things just aren't thought through very well...
  • Re:App permissions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by danomac (1032160) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @08:08PM (#41975565)

    I didn't actually realize it was a dictionary - people actually pay more than a buck or two for an app? Considering a dictionary is available online, $50 for a dictionary app seems to be kind of silly.

  • by Nyder (754090) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @08:37PM (#41975821) Journal

    and everyone that knows me knows I pirate software, music, movies, whatever. In fact, I'm the go to guy.

    See, I tell people I pirate software, so no, the app wouldn't bother me.

    But it goes to show, the only people that buy dvd/bluray's are the ones who get hit with DRM and warnings about copyright, because I sure as fuck don't get those when I download pirated versions.

    You buy goods because you like the abuse. I pirate the goods because I don't like to be abused.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @08:39PM (#41975833)

    http://notanumber.net/archives/54/underhanded-c-the-leaky-redaction

    Evil code can look completely simple and benign. You would never catch this kind of shit reviewing an app's source code. At some point, you just have to trust the developer.

  • Re:App permissions (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tftp (111690) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @08:39PM (#41975837) Homepage

    Considering a dictionary is available online, $50 for a dictionary app seems to be kind of silly.

    Perhaps not to a journalist who earns his daily bread by reviewing applications for portable devices. It's one of his tools of trade.

    The Web site approach that you talk about may work if you need one word in a month. However the browser is not a perfect interface. You need to scroll around, to zoom in, to zoom out... even a simple application that has only one input field and one output area will be a huge timesaver. This is important for journalists who routinely write articles, especially when those articles are in a foreign language (Norsk != English.)

  • Re:App permissions (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dahamma (304068) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @09:14PM (#41976143)

    Unless it's a class action, in which case he'll get a $5 coupon towards purchase of another broken app and the lawyers will get the rest.

  • by _merlin (160982) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @09:14PM (#41976145) Homepage Journal

    When I'm in a country where I have severely limited vocabulary in the local language, a good dictionary application is one of those can't-live-without things that I actually do depend on for getting by. I haven't seen how good this application is/isn't, but I'd pay more than $50 for a great dictionary app. Also, a mobile version is more valuable than a desktop version. I know from experience what it's like pulling a notebook computer out of a bag when I get stuck trying to read a sign or communicate with a stranger. I'll give you a hint: it's not as practical as pulling a phone out of your pocket.

  • by tftp (111690) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @10:11PM (#41976579) Homepage

    As I see it, the only defence for the app's author would be to prove that the user did illegally copy software.

    It wouldn't be even nearly enough. For example, an ISV cannot set fire to your house upon detection of unauthorized use. There is a specific limit to what software developers may do when they have a good reason to suspect piracy. Have a look at Microsoft's solution - MS had enough lawyers thrown at the problem, so what MS did is basically the maximum of what is legal and safe.

    In this case the software developer committed several crimes. And those crimes do not even PREVENT the piracy! What would prevent it? Simple: just don't run the software! Or run it in demo mode. Good solutions are numerous.

    One good advice that got overlooked here is this: always maintain good communication. Talk to the user. Let the user always know what is happening. Let the user make his decisions. In this case the software bypassed the communication phase and decided to become not only the detective, but also the judge, the jury and the executioner. Note that only a judge can order a convicted offender to publicly humiliate themselves. This rarely happens, but such sentencing does occur now and then - usually as an offer that can be refused (if you like the inside of a prison more, for example.) This software took upon itself the right that rare a human is entrusted with.

It is better to give than to lend, and it costs about the same.

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