Is Closed Source bad practice?

Hi Guys,

I’d like some of my PHP software to be fully customizable with all the source code, but I’ve run into a few problems over the years.

1: The torrent/nulled sites.
2: Customers re-branding and selling it off as their own.

I’ve done the DMCA’s, but with file-sharing sites it’s a never ending struggle because files can be mass shared across multiple sharing hosts. And, the Re-Branding can be hard to detect until it’s been going on for some time.

1: I don’t want to spend my days worrying about these things, they also take a lot of time to go through.
2: I’m concerned people are turned off by encoded PHP.
3: I can’t afford all legal things if it were possible to do, and I’d rather not!

Any suggestions?

If I’m totally honest I really cannot see any way to keep popular files away from file-sharing. It’s a battle that no one will ever win because for the consumer that doesn’t want to pay it is the best place to go. Also, many people learn how to use certain tools (e.g. vBulletin, Photoshop, etc) through pirating them and paying for then when they start to earn through them.

One good way to keep piracy off your radar is a quick release cycle. People will be more inclined to buy your product if you release often and add new features along the way. People won’t want to pirate an old product when the new product coming up very soon will have plenty of new features or bug-fixes. This worked rather well for scripts like vBulletin when forums were able to beat their rivals by having access to new versions and the chance to install newer mods.

Obviously, if you’re building smaller tools and planning to sell them on you probably don’t have to worry too much about piracy. Yes, there will be some who pirate your stuff (I once had a “RPG Level Mod” pirated for vBulletin 2) but as harsh as this sounds most people probably won’t use it, and your version will always be more popular.

The best thing you can do is to not worry about it and occasionally check some defining characteristic of your work to see if someone has copied it. If they have then send them an email asking them to stop, and if they continue post something on this forum or on your website calling them out as cheats.

My advice in any matter like this is to always focus on the good, genuine customers. That means creating the best product you can, and providing customers with the best experience in all aspects of the process.

You know that customers hate encoded products, as most wish to customise as they please. And they hate jumping through hoops just to give you money, so implementing anti-piracy measures can only mean less legitimate sales, or unhappy customers.

You know you can’t stop piracy, it’s here to stay. But you also know that 95% of it is from people who have no intention of buying your product anyway. So why waste your time trying to stop them. I would suggest that if you do wish to focus on this group, look at ways in which you can turn them into paying customers - you can’t pirate technical support services for example.

As for ‘re-branding’ - do you mean people who actually buy a license but then re-brand it and sell it on to a single client? Or do you mean companies re-branding and selling multiple copies to many customers?

Either way, these can be stopped, but again, it’s time consuming, costly and gets in the way of you working 100% for your genuine customers. You need to decide just how much it will pain you to let them slide. No point winning little legal victories while the rest of your business crumbles.

fully customizable

Are you going out of your way to explain you, being an expert in the code you write, offer customization services?

Point being, focus more on added value outside the code itself rather than locking down the code. Open source is more than releasing source code, it’s a different model, with a different mind set, and a different way of generating revenue.

Programmers thought that giving their stuff away would eliminate the need to market. It didn’t.

We actually don’t have a lot of problems. We send out a wave of DMCA notices every couple of months, and it works for us. When people spend a lot of time developing a site with our software, it is major hassle for them to deal with losing their hosting and going offline. We have found that DMCA notices are very effective throughout the world.

There are also some great ways to add value where it is worthwhile to have a license for the software, and even difficult to do certain things if you don’t have an account. This is an area we are developing more in 2011. I am not giving specifics yet, but we have cool stuff ahead. :slight_smile:

Thanks for replies.
I agree that piracy is unavoidable, but in a few situations some people re-branded the software and sold many copies for 1/10th the price. So I was competing with myself.

Could you not leave some kind of “watermark” to identify what customer leaked the script in the first place, and then find them responsible for any profit made from copies of your script.