"Your app's anti-piracy module, it's not working"
November 29, 2012 1:40 PM Subscribe
An iOS application developer has come up with an extreme way of fighting software piracy—by auto-posting "confessions" to its users' Twitter accounts. "...Enfour, the maker of a variety of dictionary apps, is auto-posting tweets to users' accounts to shame them for being pirates. But the auto-tweeting seems to be affecting a huge portion of its paid user base, not just those who actually stole the apps." Follow-up. A personal account: Can’t spell “pirate” without “-irate”: on DRM and punishing the customer
Enfour has since launched a “crucial maintenance release” to iTunes, and the issue has seemingly been resolved...
I found Enfour’s accusation especially insulting given the price I paid for the software—US$55. That is to say, the iOS version of the Oxford Dictionary of English costs the equivalent of a dense printed-and-bound volume of the very same. Worse, I grumblingly upgraded from the 3G to the 4S a year ago explicitly to purchase this expensive dictionary software (in fact, it was the very first purchase I made in iTunes once I was home from the AT&T store). I have frequently taken to Twitter to manufacture arguments over the cost of Enfour’s Oxford application, always defending my purchase.
...I remember seeing the app’s request pop up, and I’d simply assumed the dictionary had added some sort of social networking functionality, something like “share this crazy new word with your friends!” or whatever. (Enfour’s software integrates very nicely with another app, the excellent Terminology, which does indeed include a “Twitter” button along with each definition.) At no point did Enfour disclose its intention to “post to Twitter on [my] behalf,” however. The request seemed perfectly innocuous.
One user did deny Enfour this permission request, and he discovered that Oxford booted him from the software entirely. This is to say, he could not use Enfour’s Oxford at all unless he granted the dictionary permission to humiliate him publicly.
Enfour has since admitted there was a “glitch” that caused “false positives” in the software. What’s especially harrowing, though, is that Enfour apparently mined the data in the iPhone itself in an effort to determine, not whether Enfour’s own software is pirated, but whether any software on the iOS device is pirated. This is ominous news for anyone with a jailbroken phone; for my own part, my device is perfectly legal (to a fault), but I do have a copy of TestFlight, a type of software that allows me to test beta builds of developers’ apps.
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