Mac protecting mac software from being copied

mrjacobs

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Jan 22, 2012
1
0
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 only this is for windows and I need it for mac. Or for example the tool on 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

Moderator
Staff member
May 3, 2009
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Boston
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.
 

maflynn

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May 3, 2009
66,400
33,041
Boston
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

macrumors 6502
Mar 6, 2011
257
16
Mid-Michigan
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

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Staff member
Aug 16, 2005
19,366
978
New England
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.

B
 

andiwm2003

macrumors 601
Mar 29, 2004
4,343
402
Boston, MA
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

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Aug 16, 2005
19,366
978
New England
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

macrumors 604
Jul 29, 2003
7,754
1,013
Silicon Valley
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

Moderator
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Aug 16, 2005
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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 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

macrumors 68030
Aug 14, 2009
2,602
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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

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Staff member
Aug 16, 2005
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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

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Jan 28, 2003
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Less lost in L.A.
I haven't heard of such companies selling to the Mac developer community. I've heard of the AquaticPrime framework, 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.

A good overview of opinion on piracy. 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.
 

larswik

macrumors 68000
Sep 8, 2006
1,552
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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

macrumors 68020
Jan 25, 2009
2,136
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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

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 16, 2005
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978
New England
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

macrumors 68020
Jan 25, 2009
2,136
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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

macrumors 65816
May 10, 2009
1,002
16
Des Moines, WA
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

Moderator
Staff member
Aug 16, 2005
19,366
978
New England
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

macrumors 65816
May 10, 2009
1,002
16
Des Moines, WA
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

macrumors P6
Nov 25, 2005
16,830
3,649
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

macrumors 68000
Sep 8, 2006
1,552
11
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

macrumors 68030
Aug 14, 2009
2,602
988
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.
 

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