Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Forgive us our warez

What do you do when your software license is posted on warez groups? You sit back and observe, noting how it spreads and who uses it.

It seems that, while condoms may be evil, homosexuals to be abhorred and stem cell research the work of the devil, software piracy is okay:

A single licence for Avast security software has been used by 774,651 people after it went viral on a file-sharing site, according to the company.

Avast noticed that a license for its paid-for security software, sold to a 14-user firm in Arizona, was being distributed online. Rather than shut down the piracy, the company decided to see how far the software would spread.

The Avast Pro licence showed up on file-sharing sites, and a year and a half later it had topped three-quarters of a million active users.

“We found our licence code at a number of warez sites around the globe,” said Vince Steckler, chief executive of Avast Software. “There is a paradox in computer users looking for ‘free’ antivirus programs at locations with a known reputation for spreading malware.”

The licence is being used in 200 countries – and has even been installed on two computers in the Vatican City, Avast added.

Avast is now pushing popups to users of the pirated software to urge them to buy the product. This also seems aimed at the Vatican City users:

While Frink had no data about exactly how many pirates had chosen to go legitimate, he said there had already been “some conversions”.

Meanwhile, PZ Myers discusses the difference between the Vatican and the Mafia (hint: not much).

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