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Piracy detection

I'm cash strapped. I can't afford Visual Studio .NET. If I used a pirated version to develop a prototype of an application to send to potential clients, what chances do I have of being caught?

Of course if my app succeeded and I acquired costumers I would go legit - being caught at that time would be a deadly move.

But for now, and as we're still exiting this depression, what chances do I stand of being caught?

Dan Savage
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Hello Dan,

This is Microsoft.  You have been caught.

Have a lovely day.

The MS .NET Team

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

How about using GCC instead? It's free, after all. Or MinGW. Or  Bloodshed.

There's plenty of free C compilers out there. Or use Python, Ruby, Perl. There's plenty of free other languages besides C, too. Or use Eclipse/Java, if you want something mainstream.

There's no reason to steal if you want to develop software.

Robert 'Groby' Blum
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

The only consolation to this it that you controlled the speed and venue at which you were outed. Didn't even need 60 Minutes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

IT's not just about developing an application. It's a special app written in an MS language.

Dan Savage
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

You want to borrow some money?  I'll charge you 3 points.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I want to start a cab company but I don't have money for a car. Is it OK to steal one?

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

"IT's not just about developing an application. It's a special app written in an MS language."

You don't need a MS language to write a Windows App. You can write it in any language you want.

Oh, you want to do .NET? That's fine, because MS ships the .NET compiler for free. You don't get the fancy IDE, that's all.

Let me repeat that - There is NO need to STEAL to do SW development for Windows.

Robert 'Groby' Blum
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

What about using Sharp Developer ?

Or, how about trying to get an Educational Edition of .net?

You can WRITE your app using that then when you get your first sale, run out and buy the full version and compile it and burn a disk for your customer.

Lastly, there's the Empower program from MS (Google is your friend here)

Mr. Analogy
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Theres a "free" C# IDE, Sharpdevelope that you can use....not sure of the licensing issues with commerical code production but you at least get started with it

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Oh and....

I like your new app. Can I use it for free until I decide I can afford it?

Another suggestion:

Buy Virtual PC for $150.

Install a trial of .net.
Every 45 days, revert back to your original Virtual PC O/S and reinstall .net.

Crude but utterly legal.

And, yes, I'd be OK with my customers working this hard to extend thier trial period.

Mr. Analogy
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I wonder how long it will be before companies producing this sort of tool start giving away free "not for profit" versions. Already seen it in the graphics (3d) market...

It's in there interests surely? I know it's the old argument about does it hurt them if it's not a sale they would have made, but... surely the more programmers out there that love VS.NET and then are likely to buy it when they are working for cash...

Not only that, it stops the creation of a "warez mindset" - if no-one ever stole software because it was free for non-commercial use, I think people would frown a lot more on business users committing "piracy"...

Andrew Cherry
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

there = their -- long day.

Andrew Cherry
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

What language(s) are you writing the prototype in?

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

An old copy of VB6 I got in college.

But the final product would ideally be developed in C#

Dan Savage
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

What prevents you from doing the prototype in VB6?  Will the people you're showing it to care what language it's written in?

If you're serious about making money with this, why not write up a business plan, go to the bank, and get a loan?

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Well, if its C# why not give sharp develop a go? The c# compiler comes free with the .net sdk so you actually only need a text editor beyond that.

Eric Debois
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Second the Empower program suggestion... $375 for 5 developer licences of ALL MS dev software (for 1 year)

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Just develop the software using a trial version of Visual Studio .NET.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

  Or maybe you could buy Visual C# alone.  There's no need for the whole Visual Studio package right now.

Ricardo Antunes da Costa
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

sharpdevelop is not stable.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Am I the only one bothered by such a brazen attitude of would-be thieves?  It's incredulous to me that one could be *so* unashamed as to publicly post such an intent – even if they _are_ posting anonymously.  And it's not a matter of me being judgemental, Dan clearly states his desire – complete with justification.

Dan, do you really think that even if you don't get caught it won't have any effect?  You seem to know your intended actions are wrong, yet you don't appear to have any qualms about it – except as it relates to actually getting caught.  I'm sensing a distinct lack of ethics on your part.  Perhaps your potential clients would do better to deal with someone more principled.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Some ppl already mentioned sharpdevelop. I used it and it seems ok.

But if you want more, Borland offers a free personal edition of C#builder here:

The download (needs free reg) is here:

Note: C#Builder is for non commercial use only...

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

You can use any shareware text editor to write C# programs. Most of them have syntax definitions for the language by now. The GUI debugger comes with the SDK, and you can download NAnt for free to build your projects. Exactly what is the problem here?

Chris Nahr
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Is it ok to use a pirated version of MS Office? I've looked into StarOffice but it just doesn't have the same brand name power.

I think it is OK. Microsoft is a big company and look at me I am so poor. My computer is almost a year old. Poor little me. I have no choice but to steal.

Poor Me
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

What amazes me is that every single one of you lambasted the guy and *no one* answered his question.

I think this says a lot  about ethics in the real world. You guys really surprised me.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Of course it says something about ethics.  Dan asked how likely it is that he'll get caught.  None of us know because none of us release commercial products built using with pirated compilers, so we've never had to worry about getting caught.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Fine then. To answer your question, info about the compile environment is encoded into the executable, so yes, it can theoretically be traced back to you using a pirated copy. It works the same way for many of MS's applications - products assembled using the MS product have embedded tracking information.

Mystery Man
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

You can get a version of Visual Studio.NET restricted to a single language for about $100, I think. It's a lot cheaper than the complete Visual Studio.

So just buy Visual Studio for C#.

Mr Helpful
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

You guys do all realize that you can buy VS.NET with any one of C#, VB.NET, or C++.NET for $89, right?

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Keeping in mind, of course, that the $89 version has some limitations which _might_ make it unsuitable for your prototyping purposes:

Thursday, April 15, 2004

He could join the Empower program for 300$ and about 5$ for hosting for the obligatory product page if he needs the whole Microsoft toolset.
There is lots of free stuff (SDK, Sharp, Borland, ...)
There is the standard editions for 89$
There is Sql Server Developer licence for 49$

Stealing is a choice, not a necessity. As for chances of geting caught: extremely close to 0.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, April 15, 2004

Your chances of getting caught are virtually nil, and the consequences of getting caught would like be: having to buy the product which you say you'd plan to do anyway.

Many Games companies do not have legal software, and they're trotting along just fine.

Mr Jack
Thursday, April 15, 2004

Most companies are not fully compliant with the licenses of all the products they use.

How many applications have you heard of getting the company that made them busted for piracy?

Think about those two things, and your own question is probably answered.

Sum Dum Gai
Thursday, April 15, 2004

As Robert 'Groby' Blum mentioned (amongst others), - you don't need Visual Studio .Net to write .Net applications.

Download the SDK:

I get by ok using emacs + nant (+ nunit etc.).

Gordon Hartley
Friday, April 16, 2004

i feel bad for you people.

Friday, April 16, 2004

As do i...

Friday, April 16, 2004

i do As...

Friday, April 16, 2004

moogly boogly

Al Queda
Friday, April 16, 2004

Although stealing software is both unethical and illegal, I'd add two things for people to think about.

1) Sometimes piracy can drive the sales of a product. For example, there is evidence to suggest that illegal downloading of music drives music sales, because it allows people to try a broader range of music without cost to them. Of course, the RIAA would disagree with this. It's common for people to come across an illegal copy of a piece of software, find it to be good (or just get used to using it), and then buy it in the future. This is one reason why Microsoft (and others) set such low prices for educational software -- get the kids hooked, then reel them in once they can pay the big bucks. For example, I just paid £35 for a 1-year license of Mathematica (non-educational price (not time-limited) is around £2000).

2) Software licenses (especially those from Microsoft) are not particularly fair in terms of what people expect from a product. For example, according to memory: you can't transfer a license of Office when you transfer 'ownership' of a computer (e.g. you sell it or pass it down to a more junior member of your org.); one person is not allowed to use one license of Office on two computers if they are used non-concurrently (e.g. a desktop and a laptop). People think these are reasonable rights to expect for a product that they paid for, and consistent with everyday items, but the licensing terms are not coherent with this intuition. To just understand the licenses you need to be an expert in IP law. In fact, software licenses are often so complex that, if a typical organisation was audited by the (evil) BSA, they'd be found to be breaking the law.

For users of software, there has to be a practical trade-off between behaving legally (very difficult under complex and obfuscated licenses) and ethically (behaving in a way that is consistent with the spirit of the society).

The best solution would be for software vendors to change their licensing schemes to be fair (e.g. one person can use one license on two computers non-concurrently) and transparent (reduce the legal mumbo jumbo).

C Rose
Saturday, April 17, 2004

You can use Office on two computers non-concurrently if you have a full retail version. Of course almost no private individual does, as the full retail value is simply an imaginary figure that MS uses to make people think they have got a bargain when they pay for the OEM or educational version.

Corporate licenses of Office used to allow you to use the principal user of a computer at work to install office on one computer at home, provided the two were not used concurrently. Corporate, and indeed educational licensing, is now so complicated that I have no idea what or where I can install.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, April 18, 2004

What you must remember is that it doesn't make any difference what MS put in their license you still have all the rights given to you by the laws of your country. Their license cannot take from you: the right to sell the product to otherwise, or the right to make copies for personal use - in the UK anyway.

Mr Jack
Monday, April 19, 2004

sample of commercial software currently installed on pc:
MS Visual Studio.Net 2003 EA
MS Windows XP Pro
MS office professional 2003 (includes frontpage, access,publisher,project)
MS Encarta 2004 Reference Library
Adobe Premiere Pro 7
Adobe Photoshop 8 CS
Adobe Audition 1.0
Maple 9.01
Mathcad 11
Mathematica 5
Macromedia Authorware 7.01
Macromedia Director 10
Macromedia Dreamweaver 7
Macromedia Fireworks 7
Macromedia Flash 7
Macromedia Freehand 11
Ulead Mediastudio Pro 7
Corel Graphics Suite 12
Pinnacle Studio 9
Several 100s of Comp Sci Ebooks

Total cost of software:
Dunno , several thousands of $

Total income:

So what is a comp sci student to do to learn to use not just the latest languages, but the latest software and IDEs, to compete ? LINUX ?!!! I think not, at least not exclusively.

Would I buy these things if I used them comercially ?
heck yes

Am I comfortable with using full versions during my studies until I actually have an income?
heck yes

Am I really robbing any software company of income by doing this ?
Nope, since I could never afford to buy the products as a student anyway, and by learning to use them now for free, I'll want to buy them when I can afford them.

Am I sure I'd want to tbuy them when I can afford it?
You bet, in fact I already buy small software that I can afford.


Hani Obaid
Tuesday, April 20, 2004

FYI, for a year or so until I purchased the Empower subscription from Microsoft (which includes MSDN Universal), I was using multiple copies of the Trial version. It only costs $5 including shipping (I think) per copy, and it lasts for 60 days. But, make that 90 days, because it expires at the END of the third month. You can uninstall it, then install a new Trial.

Totally legal. No pirating, no warez, no cracks, just Microsoft-issued trials.

Jon Davis
Tuesday, June 29, 2004


It never seems to amaze me how people justify to themselves being a common thief.  You are no different from the guy who breaks a shop window during a riot and grabs a TV, or breaks into home and steals property.

I have a lot more respect for a common thief who admits to themselves that they are that,  than a common thief who finds some rationalization to justify what they do.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Mr. Jack

Remember that US common law sprung directly from British common law.

But court rules do change, it does not hurt to put limitations in the license even if they would not hold up in court.  You see that a lot on warranties.  They try to disavow the implied warranty of merchantablity, which cannot be done.  But right, people may be unaware of this and be intimidated.

Still this brings up a question.  I am the only user of software that I own.  But some companies restrict the license to only one machine.  I wonder if this has ever been challanged.  I understand the reason for it, they are really focusing on businesses using more copies than they have licenses for.  But in my case only one license will ever be used at a time.  I would think this restriction could be challanged in that case.  I know you can move the license from one machine to another, but that places undo efforts on the user.  I wonder what a judge would say, or if this has been challanged in court?  Probably not.  but I am not a lawyer.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Hi Dan,
try some online auction place.

Martin Betram
Monday, August 2, 2004

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