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mrjacobs
Jan 22, 2012, 06:07 AM
Hello people,

I created an mac application and I want to protected it from being copied.
I was wondering if anyone knows a system which can protect your mac applications from being copied. I don't want to use the app store from mac but rather my own mechanism. I need something like the tool on exesecure.com (http://www.exesecure.com) only this is for windows and I need it for mac. Or for example the tool on logicprotect.com (http://www.logicprotect.com) would also fit my needs. I need this kind of mechanism for MAC. Has anyone got any experience with such a system for mac? Please let me know...



maflynn
Jan 22, 2012, 06:16 AM
Why don't you want to use the MAS?

There are many benefits, and I'm pretty sure many Mac users like that better then having to deal with software activation.

miles01110
Jan 22, 2012, 06:24 AM
I created an mac application and I want to protected it from being copied.


Then don't distribute it. This is a fool's errand.

maflynn
Jan 22, 2012, 06:35 AM
Then don't distribute it. This is a fool's errand.

Agreed, copy protection only impacts the honest consumer. People who steal software find ways around any and all protection mechanisms. Just look at windows, ms office, adobe products. All easily found on the net.

jekyl
Jan 22, 2012, 07:46 AM
Agreed, copy protection only impacts the honest consumer. People who steal software find ways around any and all protection mechanisms. Just look at windows, ms office, adobe products. All easily found on the net.

The problem is that some of most interesting computer activities involve breaking software. It can be much more interesting and challenging than most games. Add to that the fact that once the copy protection is removed the end result is software that is more valuable than the copy protected versions and you can see why copy protection itself is a flawed system. It's better I think to give more value to paying customers through added support and appropriate pricing. In a world where 99 cent apps are becoming the norm, $500 software packages are going to only appear to be more and more outrageous. Also, $100 software doesn't look the same to customers these days as they did when most computers cost in excess of $4k.

balamw
Jan 22, 2012, 08:00 AM
It really depends on the type of software. Who is the target audience, what is the target market size, app price etc...

If it's broadly applicable and relatively low cost, the MAS approach is the right one for the Mac platform. The cost of the MAS registration and % Apple takes is well worth it in exchange for the access to the market of all Mac OS X machines with Snow Leopard and Lion on them.

If it's a high value, small market "vertical" app you may want to look at the tolls the big boys use like FlexLM (http://www.flexerasoftware.com/products/flexnet-publisher.htm).

B

andiwm2003
Jan 22, 2012, 08:23 AM
maybe you should ask this question in the developer forum to focus the discussion on the technical question at hand rather than the philosophy of copy protection................

balamw
Jan 22, 2012, 08:26 AM
maybe you should ask this question in the developer forum to focus the discussion on the technical question at hand rather than the philosophy of copy protection................

I'll move it, but my argument would be the same there too.

B

firewood
Jan 22, 2012, 11:29 AM
Then don't distribute it. This is a fool's errand.

Not necessarily. There are 2 groups of people that might copy an app. You are partially correct in that the second group (containing a lot smart motivated kids with near-infinite time) will eventually be able to copy anything to which they have complete physical access.

However the first group consists of ordinary people who don't try hard and don't even know enough to find anything from the second group. Call them lazy and ethics challenged. This group may be surprisingly huge in size. Even a simple, easy-to-defeat mechanism, such as used by a basic Mac App Store download, will pause them enough such that they might either move on to something else, or simply buy the app if they have sufficient spending money.

This first group is one of the many reasons why the App store makes a whole lot more money for the typical developer than a paypal donate button on an app with absolutely zero DRM.

balamw
Jan 22, 2012, 02:40 PM
This first group is one of the many reasons why the App store makes a whole lot more money for the typical developer than a paypal donate button on an app with absolutely zero DRM.

Exactly, different models for different apps and markets.

I've bought every single Humble Bundle (http://www.humblebundle.com/) at 150% the Mac average donation at the time specifically so as to support their DRM free distribution model. Usually only one of the games catches my interest, but I still get my money's worth.

MAS provides a certain amount of copy protection for users in your first group along with a convenient distribution point.

If the app is too vertical for MAS and justifies a higher level of protection something like FlexLM may make sense.

B

jlc1978
Jan 22, 2012, 03:17 PM
I've bought every single Humble Bundleat 150% the Mac average donation at the time specifically so as to support their DRM free distribution model. Usually only one of the games catches my interest, but I still get my money's worth.

Same here, although I have yet to play one.


If the app is too vertical for MAS and justifies a higher level of protection something like FlexLM may make sense.

Another thing to consider, especially in a vertical, is where is the money. Is it in application sales, or after sales support and service. If the former, while DRM is one solution it'll only likely piss off your paying customers. I'd go with simple serial number schema.

OTOH, if it is an expensive package that requires a lot of support, I'd stay away form DRM and concentrate on support options. You're paying customers will need help and be willing to pay; the thieves will still steal your app but won't have the support needed to really use it.

balamw
Jan 22, 2012, 03:32 PM
thieves will still steal your app

And this is what miles01110 was saying. The only way to be sure that your app will not get stolen is to not distribute it in the first place.

It's a delicate balance. Price vs. volume, control vs. ease of use, happy customer vs. secure developer, ...

It's far easier to stay ahead of the thieves as you say with support or adding new features etc...

B

xStep
Jan 22, 2012, 03:55 PM
I haven't heard of such companies selling to the Mac developer community. I've heard of the AquaticPrime framework (http://www.aquaticmac.com/), but I thought I also read that it was weak. I think there is another one out there, but can't remember it.

You could build you own via SSL (http://sigpipe.macromates.com/2004/09/05/using-openssl-for-license-keys/).

A good overview of opinion on piracy (http://wilshipley.com/blog/2005/06/piracy.html). In short, don't go overboard on protecting your software. You simply want to keep the honest people honest. The pirates may be a source of marketing to their honest friends.

FYI: For easy updating of your app, the common framework to use has been use Sparkle (http://sparkle.andymatuschak.org/).

larswik
Jan 22, 2012, 04:03 PM
Someone here a while ago said something interesting that I remember on this topic. Instead of trying to make it so it can't be pirated. Put bugs into the software that will cause it to crash or not work right if it is pirated. Hackers will feel like they cracked it but the users of the hacked copy will will experience poor performance while legit users have no problems.

Build some gray area into your app.

LostSoul80
Jan 22, 2012, 04:14 PM
Someone here a while ago said something interesting that I remember on this topic. Instead of trying to make it so it can't be pirated. Put bugs into the software that will cause it to crash or not work right if it is pirated. Hackers will feel like they cracked it but the users of the hacked copy will will experience poor performance while legit users have no problems.

Build some gray area into your app.

That's useless. The point is that it is always possible to make the app believe it is not pirated.

balamw
Jan 22, 2012, 04:17 PM
That's useless. The point is that it is always possible to make the app believe it is not pirated.

Not useless, just another approach.

The limited feature-set for non-paying customers is very close to the support approach jlc1978 was referring to.

e.g. Tie the app to a website and control some features by access to that site.

EDIT: i.e. reward your paying customers rather than punish non-paying pirates.

B

LostSoul80
Jan 22, 2012, 04:31 PM
Not useless, just another approach.

I don't think that's useful anyways. Cracking an app would be more "interesting" if that represents a challenge, such as a developer trying to make fun of the "cracker" himself.




The limited feature-set for non-paying customers is very close to the support approach jlc1978 was referring to.

[snip]

reward your paying customers rather than punish non-paying pirates.


I totally agree with this logic.

lloyddean
Jan 22, 2012, 04:32 PM
Sure, now they have a seemingly valid reason for not paying for it in the first place as well as bad mouthing it to anyone asking about the quality of product. This one will kill sales as well.

balamw
Jan 22, 2012, 04:44 PM
This one will kill sales as well.

You've got to be more specific about what you are referring to by "this one". ;) The thread has been all over the place.

like with FairPlay, I really do think Apple's combination of DRM and ease of use make MAS a great compromise. Sure it's not perfect, but what is?

B

lloyddean
Jan 22, 2012, 05:03 PM
You're right, sorry. This was meant to be posted immediately following the 'larswik' post #14 - that the way to keeping sales up would be to add bugs.

gnasher729
Jan 22, 2012, 06:14 PM
Someone here a while ago said something interesting that I remember on this topic. Instead of trying to make it so it can't be pirated. Put bugs into the software that will cause it to crash or not work right if it is pirated. Hackers will feel like they cracked it but the users of the hacked copy will will experience poor performance while legit users have no problems.

See the number of complaints here when people who have no business doing it download iOS beta versions, and then they complain loudly when things go wrong (ignoring that if you are not a software developer then it is copyright infringement, and if you are a software developer then you are under NDA).

No better way to get a huge amount of negative publicitiy. Made worse by the fact that you know all the people who complain so loudly and damage your business haven't even paid for your software.

Reality is: There are people willing to pay money, and there are people who aren't. Those who don't want to pay, you can stop them from making copies, but you can't make them pay you money. So you can just ignore them. Look after the people who are willing to pay, and make it as easy as possible for them to hand over their money. Mac AppStore seems a good idea.

larswik
Jan 22, 2012, 07:34 PM
Don't kill the messenger here :) I read that in a reply and thought that was interesting idea. I absolutely see the backlash that could happen but it was interesting concept. But having it tied to a website for services is also a great way of limiting the app use.

jlc1978
Jan 22, 2012, 08:05 PM
Someone here a while ago said something interesting that I remember on this topic. Instead of trying to make it so it can't be pirated. Put bugs into the software that will cause it to crash or not work right if it is pirated. Hackers will feel like they cracked it but the users of the hacked copy will will experience poor performance while legit users have no problems.

Build some gray area into your app.

I don't think that is a good idea as you could potentially open yourself to a lawsuit. What happens if, for some reason, the app deciders a legitimate user has a pirated copy and crashes, causing them some sort of problem. I could see a case being made that the developer is liable of damages, since they built that functionality into the app.

admanimal
Jan 22, 2012, 08:56 PM
Here is a blog post about piracy from Wil Shipley, who is probably more successful than any of us will ever be at developing and selling Mac software:

http://wilshipley.com/blog/2005/06/piracy.html

balamw
Jan 22, 2012, 09:24 PM
Here is a blog post about piracy from Wil Shipley, who is probably more successful than any of us will ever be at developing and selling Mac software:

http://wilshipley.com/blog/2005/06/piracy.html

IF YOUR BUSINESS MODEL IS TO SELL SOFTWARE TO 15-YEAR-OLD BOYS, YOU ARE SCREWED ALREADY.

LOL.

Note that this is from 2005, before Apple had a Mac App Store.

B

Nikh
Jan 23, 2012, 01:26 PM
Mac App Store has one other advantage - it allows huge auditory to see and access your application. Without that you'll have hard time on advertising your application to customers.

Spending a lot of time on protecting your app from stealing also isn't a good idea - people who don't like to pay for apps will not buy it anyway.
I checked some not cheap successful apps, and they protect their apps just by creating file with somehow encoded trial start date - removing that file resets trial period. However, they have successful business.

Also, MAS protection is not ideal too, and apps from MAS can be copied to other computers after some tweaks.

maflynn
Jan 23, 2012, 01:31 PM
Also, MAS protection is not ideal too, and apps from MAS can be copied to other computers after some tweaks.
No copy protection is fool-proof and I think that's the gist of the thread.

How locked down does a developer want to impose on his apps, which could actually affect sales as people wouldn't want to be bothered.

I'd like to see the OP chime in again. There's been a lot of talk from others that's really useful, but to get a clearer picture of his needs and why he doesn't want to use the MAS, we need further input from him.

xStep
Jan 23, 2012, 01:42 PM
No copy protection is fool-proof and I think that's the gist of the thread.

True, but the OP wanted to know about what options are available, not opinions about copy protection.


How locked down does a developer want to impose on his apps, which could actually affect sales as people wouldn't want to be bothered.

I'd like to see the OP chime in again. There's been a lot of talk from others that's really useful, but to get a clearer picture of his needs and why he doesn't want to use the MAS, we need further input from him.

Little of the talk has been useful to the question at hand. A clearer picture is only helpful if people stay on-topic; What are the available copy protection options for OS X apps?

Consultant
Jan 23, 2012, 01:58 PM
Not possible, even if you are billion dollar company such as Microsoft or Adobe.

Even Steam games or subscription based game such as WOW are pirated.

But if you price it right and have it easy to buy (such as the Mac App Store), you'll likely to get a larger audience.

joshua.segall
Aug 26, 2012, 10:23 PM
I think there are a bunch of options out there for this. Search digital rights management software or software licence management, maybe keygen or license key software and I think you'll find what you need.