Is there an optimal piracy rate?

I've recently been struggling with a number of racing sims I bought to use after work hours in our new racing cockpit. I'm a big believer in supporting developers. I'm a developer myself. But digging around for CDs or DVDs is impractical for dedicated gaming rigs, so I install no-cd patches when I can.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

I couldn’t agree more with the statement:
“Piracy helps seed technology markets.”

When I was a poor broke college student, I would steal every piece of software that I could get my hands on. I never felt guilty about it because I couldn’t afford to pay for the software even if I wanted to.

Now that I’m a developer and I actually have money to spend of software, I tend to buy the programs that I pirated in my college days because I’m already familiar with them.

I think most of the time when software is pirated, it is from someone who couldn’t or wouldn’t pay for the software anyway. So software companies aren’t loosing any money, but they are gaining market reputation.

Instead of game-specific no-CD cracks, you might want to try Game Jackal ( ).

That’s a very clever program that inserts a stub on the Windows driver level between the CD/DVD drive and the application. First you start up your game normally, CD in drive, and let GJ record the data that’s transmitted through the driver. Later you just let GJ play back the recorded data for that game, and no longer have to insert a CD!

Cheap, easy to use, and works very well for Civ4 and Star Wars Battlefront 2. Caveat: I think GJ still has trouble with StarForce – check the forums on their website for discussions on that subject.

The whole copy protection thing (not just for games, but also for audio cds, etc.) is bullshit. I am completely within my rights to make a backup disc and use that to play… or make a backup image and use that to play.

Not to mention that copy protection can make even legitimate copies/computers not work. I’ve had problems with the low-level drivers that StarForce installs, as well as other protection schemes (namely it completely breaking my DVD burner’s burning support…) I remember when I couldn’t get “Battle for Middle Earth” to play… it kept telling me to insert the disc. Pfft.

It makes me wonder how much consumers are going to take before they just all start pirating the games-- the warez release groups seem to have no problem cracking most games and making them “NOCD” within a few days at most.

I think GJ still has trouble with StarForce

That is clever, but GameJackal doesn’t work at all with semi-recent versions of StarForce as well as a few other types of protection. That’s because these protections talk directly to the IDE hardware via a driver themselves; they don’t use the OS calls.

the warez release groups seem to have no problem cracking most games

This isn’t true, though. Many starforce games are NEVER cracked. A handful are, but most aren’t.

I worked at a company once (long enough ago that it was the era of supposedly copy-protected floppy disks) where the president’s attitude was that he’d rather have people pirating our software and using it than using the competitors’.

Nice post, but I have to disagree with the statement about the DVDs. Maybe, in the USA, they are cheap… according to the average salary - I worked in the USA.
But for example in the Czech republic, where I live, the average month salary is about 800 USD (that means 520 USD minus taxes) and average DVD costs 32 USD… cheap? No, thanx. That does not mean I dont buy a DVD from time to time (I bought Stanley Kubrick collection recently), but I have to think twice.
The same situation is on the field of software, as the prices are not made according to the purchasing power parity, but simply by currency conversion. You cannot buy Visual Studio 2005 Prof from one salary, Windows Home cost half the salary and for Windows Prof You cough all your salary.
That is Czech Republic, Central Europe… imagine the situation more eastwards where salaries are much lower…
About 80 to 95 percent of software is pirated in Russia, but that is simply because the people cannot afford it.

the prices are not made according to the purchasing power parity, but simply by currency conversion

Obviously this is a bad way to do business, since income and salaries are very different in other parts of the world. I know drugs, for example, are not priced this way:

About 80 to 95 percent of software is pirated in Russia, but that is simply because the people cannot afford it

I agree with you, and this is exactly what the post says-- the economic bottom is ceded to piracy.

plus an additional IDE Jammer (which is supposedly built-in to the coming version) punctures StarForce’s protection

Actually, it doesn’t. The newest versions of starforce fix this hole by “un-jamming” the IDE channels at startup, if they are in a jammed state.

Remember, if it can be done in software, it can be undone in software as well…

The real solution is for Daemon Tools (or whatever) to emulate an IDE drive. All existing emulators emulate SCSI drives, which cause a problem since SCSI optical devices are all blacklisted by StarForce if even one IDE optical drives is found.

Damn, I’m glad I don’t play PC games anymore so I don’t have to put up with this BS. I would never buy a game that came along with some funky kernel-mode driver crap like that. Sony root-kit anyone?

Well, starforce isn’t a rootkit. It’s a device driver… they run in kernel mode by definition. And the device driver ONLY runs when the CD is validated; there’s nothing that sticks around in memory or anything like that.

Sorry, I could have been a little more clear in my post.

Well i was not an gammer ohter then the lara 99 time to time i play it from cds or from my hard now that i heard that new lara 2005 dvd but it got starforce wow after reading this i think i m good and best at the lara 99 , this is way too over to do things like this that i don’t have time well
if some one do it let me know by e-mails or what ever thanks in advanced ,
have fun ,

i hope daemon tools beat starforce. I want to backup my Toca RAce 3 and i cannot… IDE drives may eclipse in the future. Is satrforce going to blacklist even usb sticks? :slight_smile:

Worms 4 is starforce protected and i’ve got a crack and that goes for rainbow six lockdown Nananananana!!!

Since most no-cd hacks involve decoding the exe and removing all links to the cd testing code entirely, starforce can be as agressive as it likes. If it is removed from the EXE, it can’t run.

New methods usually only gain companies 6-12 months from the hackers.

Frankly, I hate having to risk my originals and having my fair use rights violated by preventing me from producing a backup (and using it in place of the original as an expendable media). I prefer the No-cd hacks as they don’t require me to forever be fiddling with my drives as I change games AND they allow me to lock up my originals nice and safe, only risking them during install.

Jeff: “And the device driver ONLY runs when the CD is validated; there’s nothing that sticks around in memory or anything like that.” - oh, does it mean my hdd driver is in memory only when i’m working with file system? And when I finish opening file it uloads itself from memory.
And whe I want to access HDD again… hell, where do i get the driver from now? :slight_smile:

I don’t think it works this way…

This is a great discussion. I learnt a lot. Starforce seems to be one of the toughest protections ever made. The other day, I tried Prince of Persia T2T but it didn’t run at all. Tried that simple age old trick of removing the CD cable and it worked like a charm. What not… Starforce failed on one of my laptops… While on one side, I get so excited upon knowing that I’ll be able to play the game, the other side, I feel a little uneasy too… For, these programmers spend day and night coding these games and well, what to say? The next day or even before release, they are pirated. Guess it can’t be helped. These games are too costly for a normal individual to afford. I used to play video games in my childhood for roughly 10 cents an hour(it turns out to be 20 units in my currency)… When AOE was released… It was priced at around $60(601002 units in my currency)…

Why would I buy such a costly game? I didn’t. After an year, one of my friends gave it to me… I got it for free… Guess piracy can’t be avoided after all…

I used to manage an internet cafe, and copy protection software was a complete nightmare. We owned legitimate copies of all our software, not just one copy, but one copy for every PC that had that title installed in the stop.

Letting the customers get hold of the individual CDs/DVDs was out of the question, and many games refused to work with noCD cracks online. Because of this we had to use Daemon tools to mount an image of each game stored locally on the PC, meaning each PC needed 60GB of HDD space just for the images.

Storeforce protection was so good on one racing game we had, that it was impossible to crack, so in the end we had to remove that game from our systems.

This is a prime example of too much copy protection.

Besides all: I AM TOO FUCKING POOR TO PAY FOR WINDOWS! I’m still a high school student, my parents are not poor, but they can’t afford giving me a computer that is capable of running games, genuine windows, genuine office, 50$ per computer game, and I like music and books and going out too. This things cost a lot.

I want to be a game designer, and I would love to pay for games and for my music but I don’t have the money. Sorry, I just don’t have it. I am not a fucking thief. There are two options: either I download windows or I don’t use windows. Either I download your band or I won’t hear it. You are just fucking yourself, I’m a decent guy and if I had the money I’d buy your software, you are just losing word of mouth from me about how awesome your music is or making your OS standard with me and many pirates using it.

Now my windows is stuck and I can’t play COD2. Thank you.

I am not a fucking thief

yes, yes you are. a self justified thief, but a thief nonetheless. I don’t want to get into some BS about how different software is from actual goods (on account of it simply being data at the lowest level), but it costs money. Wether or not you can afford it is not a justifiable excuse for pirating.

I’ll admit it- I pirate software fairly profusely. But you don’t see me jumping on a soapbox claiming that what I’m doing is justified. I don’t. Ideally, if you couldn’t afford something. You wouldn’t use it. Can’t afford a computer? Don’t get one. I didn’t have one until I was in grade 12 of high school (that being only 5 6 years ago, and the computer was a 286…). Can’t afford the software to run the computer? Go ahead and pirate it, just don’t jump on a pedestal claiming that what your doing is actually good for the products publishers. Even if that was the case, it wasn’t the reason you pirated it, now was it. You didn’t think, hmm, I think I’ll pirate this OS, not because I want it, but rather because I agree with the ideals of the company that produced it and would like for them to expand and grow, which I can supplement by giving them free publicity. Heck, they should be paying me to use their software… No. You pirated it because YOU wanted it, not because of any vested interest in the company that produced it.