Solve piracy problems? How about we scare people?

New Music Strategies posts about how threatening legal action against filesharers has not resulted in reduced filesharing among students, but has increased political activism.

What’s going on with the music industry is similar to what’s going on with software. Particularly, things like authentication.

I had a hardware failure on a Mac and need to sort out authentication problems with Adobe. Adobe’s license agreement states that you can only install their software on 2 machines at once. Their authentication attempts to enforce that license.

So right now I have 1 license on the Mac I use, and another on a Mac that doesn’t exist anymore because it’s made up of old parts that a technician took with him after he fixed the Mac.

Big problem? No. Inconvenience? Yeah. Now I have to call Adobe (you can’t sort these things out over the internet) prove I’m not a thief, and reset the authentication.

Of course, that’s not what Adobe wants you to believe:

Adobe claims its authentication system is not a burden to users

I think this is where the problem lies: developers and music labels set on trying to solve an unsolvable problem instead of making their customers love them and make them want to shell out their credit cards every time they release products.

The war on piracy is like the war on terror. It consists of broad, vague goals that are too open-ended to have a measurable result. It’s rhetoric.

And the software business isn’t any better than the music business when it comes to threatening customers. Take a look at what Adobe tells people:

Copyright information on Adobe's website

And if you’re browsing around on Adobe’s site, keep a mental count of how many opportunities they give browsers to rat out potential piracy.

I don’t condone piracy, but trying to end it isn’t as effective as making loyal customers. Instead of fighting piracy, developers and labels need to pull WITH their fans instead of against them. And yes, it’s possible. Just look at Apple and Radiohead.

And while there’s no huge activism when it comes to software piracy, mistreatment of customers with inconvenient authentication procedures and expensive software is creating a market for indie developers to come in and sweep away users. There are lightweight replacements of Photoshop and Dreamweaver, and I’m betting that some developer is working on a lightweight Indesign, and it’s not Adobe.

3 Responses to Solve piracy problems? How about we scare people?

  1. James says:

    I’ve been following a similar discussion surrounding the game Bioshock which shipped with almost the same type of authentication that you described adobe using. I’d agree with you that I despise this type of annoyance to users, but I think the community is confusing a potential problem with a real problem. Sure it’s possible that a person could have two sets of hardware failure and I’m sure a few will, but I have a hard time believing that the mass majority of users are going to be experiencing that much hardware failure. Then consider how often new products are released and it seems even less likely in that time frame. We’ll probably just upgrade in front of the authentication curve.

  2. Dan says:

    I think the #1 thing that bothers me about authentication like this is that it puts the onus on users.<br/><br/>Say you finish Bioshock. You thought it was so-so (which I’ve heard will probably NOT be the case) so you want to sell it used. If you had the XBox 360 version it’s no problem since there’s no authentication process.<br/><br/>But if you bought it for Windows now you need to De-Authenticate before you sell it? What happens if you don’t? You need to transfer the license. And how many times can you do that? The person you sold it to might not be allowed to sell it again.<br/><br/>I’m hoping that’s not the case.

  3. James says:

    I agree, reselling a game becomes a huge problem with authentication but I think key codes have already put a damper on a persons ability to resell games.