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Single software licence shared 774,651 times

piracy

By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 6 Dec 2010 at 12:21

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.

“It was quite interesting how fast it went, but at some time the party has to end,” Avast spokesman Lyle Frink told PC Pro.

The company is turning the piracy into a marketing opportunity, looking to flip users of the pirated version to genuine software by popping up a notice on machines with the illegally-shared edition offering a link to the free or paid-for versions.

While Frink had no data about exactly how many pirates had chosen to go legitimate, he said there had already been “some conversions”. He added: “It’s going according to plan.”

Steckler told PC Pro that the Arizona firm has had their license replaced. "We also reminded them to keep their licenses secure."

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User comments

Excellent idea

Now that's what I call using a marketing opportunity.

Although, still rather silly of the users - I wonder if they downloaded the suite with the key, or just the key on it's own?
Either way - really stupid way to get security software.

By greemble on 6 Dec 2010

Making Lemonade

They could have cried about being dealt lemons, but didn't. Good for them!
Great idea. Treat freeloaders as reluctant customers that need a gentle nudge, rather than criminals to be flogged.
I'd love to know what the uptake is.

By cheysuli on 6 Dec 2010

Software Piracy Business Intelligence

We help software vendors to do this. Trying to control piracy by attacking distribution channels is like playing "whac-a-mole." Enlightened software vendors realize that there is a significant opportunity to turn businesses using their software without a license into paying customers. Recovering millions in license revenue is huge, but the customers also benefit from access to support, training, feature requests, and a real relationship with the vendor.

Michael Goff
V.i. Labs
www.vilabs.com

By mgoff on 6 Dec 2010

Piracy vs Privacy?

While I cannot agree with software piracy, this idea of violating "consumers" privacy by business' has, IMO, really gotten out of control.

"The company is turning the piracy into a marketing opportunity, looking to flip users of the pirated version to genuine software by popping up a notice on machines with the illegally-shared edition offering a link to the free or paid-for versions."

If I was to monitor and invade their business systems in the manner and to the same degree they have to these "pirates", they would seek prosecution and literally scream foul.

1) They shouldn't have been aware of this piracy. That level of intrusion on private citizens and their computer systems is simply unacceptable. How about I hack into their systems just to make sure they are not using any of the software I have written. They are a security company and I specialize in that. My concern would be just as legitimate and I have just as much right as they do. Doesn't anyone see the irony of a security company using their software to compromise systems?

2) Such illegal monitoring can not come without some compromise in the user's system. They can monitor the user's system, someone can break any preventative measure they have in place and do the same. Instead of protecting, they have now created the breach, all in the name of ensuring they get paid? I, for one, will not be using any Avast software.

3) “It’s going according to plan.” What plan is that exactly? And things have gotten so far out of control, people actually applaud their efforts. "Excellent idea
Now that's what I call using a marketing opportunity." I will agree that it is silly of user's...using software from a vendor more concerned with the bottom line than the service they advertise. It is so alarming for me to read articles like this and see the feedback. Since I am a "user" I know longer have any expectation of the same rights as business' demand? My security software is monitoring my computer? What else are they monitoring? Since they have complete administrator access now? And I am supposed to believe in their "good intentions", because of their "privacy policy" (our manufactured statement to assure you that George Orwell is not alive and well, we do pay our attorney's well for good reason). Goodbye constitution, democracy, freedom of any kind. And we are so desensitized, we hardly notice anymore. I didn't serve my country and risk my life for this. (Of course someone will probably accuse me of being communist for making these statements about freedom). Wonder where this all ends, where, we the people, stand once this roller coaster ride stops. Just a thought

By Antares on 7 Dec 2010

Re: Piracy vs Privacy?

Privacy is an important issue and many software vendors have it squarely in mind when adopting a software piracy business intelligence approach.

Best practices here include:

- not collecting personally identifiable information and restricting data collection to organizational data, etc.

- updating the End User License Agreement (EULA) and click throughs to give notice to the user that this type of data collection is occurring

A strong argument can also be made that software vendors owe it to their customers to make sure that their customers' competitors do not gain an advantage by using pirated software.

The notion that software vendors should not be measuring the scope and impact of piracy on their businesses is a bit naive. Any business decision on how to deal with piracy should be data driven.


Michael Goff
V.i. Labs
www.vilabs.com

By mgoff on 7 Dec 2010

Antares is an idiot!

I had to make this account to reply to this idiot!

1)The reason they know how many people have this installed is by how many users connect to their servers for updates with the same key! Why do they check the key? to make sure your subscription is valid!

2) You are installing a security software from Avast! Do you not think people have sniffed information coming and going to Avast? If there was a fowl someone would of screamed it already!

3) um..yeah! any company's plan is to make money! At least they aren't taken all of the IPs finding the owners and trying to sue them like other corporations we know.

Avast has an awesome Anti-Virus and i have used it for years and installed it on many customers computers! Their product is worth the price...free or paid!

This is has nothing to do with our freedom, this is about a company who gives away a free version of their anti-virus because they know the more people open to attack the worst it is for everyone!

You have the choice of what Anti-virus software to use. Go use ClamWin if you want FOSS!

By damnitpud on 7 Dec 2010

Antares is a troll.

At least I hope he is or at least I hope he is...

By Will2010 on 7 Dec 2010

Antares is an idiot!

I had to make this account to reply to this idiot!

1)The reason they know how many people have this installed is by how many users connect to their servers for updates with the same key! Why do they check the key? to make sure your subscription is valid!

2) You are installing a security software from Avast! Do you not think people have sniffed information coming and going to Avast? If there was a fowl someone would of screamed it already!

3) um..yeah! any company's plan is to make money! At least they aren't taken all of the IPs finding the owners and trying to sue them like other corporations we know.

Avast has an awesome Anti-Virus and i have used it for years and installed it on many customers computers! Their product is worth the price...free or paid!

This is has nothing to do with our freedom, this is about a company who gives away a free version of their anti-virus because they know the more people open to attack the worst it is for everyone!

You have the choice of what Anti-virus software to use. Go use ClamWin if you want FOSS!

By damnitpud on 7 Dec 2010

Antares is an idiot!

I had to make this account to reply to this idiot!

1)The reason they know how many people have this installed is by how many users connect to their servers for updates with the same key! Why do they check the key? to make sure your subscription is valid!

2) You are installing a security software from Avast! Do you not think people have sniffed information coming and going to Avast? If there was a fowl someone would of screamed it already!

3) um..yeah! any company's plan is to make money! At least they aren't taken all of the IPs finding the owners and trying to sue them like other corporations we know.

Avast has an awesome Anti-Virus and i have used it for years and installed it on many customers computers! Their product is worth the price...free or paid!

This is has nothing to do with our freedom, this is about a company who gives away a free version of their anti-virus because they know the more people open to attack the worst it is for everyone!

You have the choice of what Anti-virus software to use. Go use ClamWin if you want FOSS!

By damnitpud on 8 Dec 2010

Antares is an idiot!

Ok I think we get it now; I think he misunderstands how software licenses work.

By urmaster on 9 Dec 2010

Avast Ye Harties

It's ironc that with a name like 'Avast' they have so much piracy don't you think?

By mykeblack on 9 Dec 2010

A common business model!

Does anybody think Microsoft could not have locked down Windows and Office far earlier than they did. By letting a package go "viral" to the extent that it becomes a a core essential business tool is a sure fired way to lead to high levels of repeat business even when the free time ends.
The people who downloaded it were looking for something at an attractive price (free) and would have only paid if it was impossible to find.

By MIssingLink on 9 Dec 2010

Antares - WTF?

"If I was to monitor and invade their business systems in the manner and to the same degree they have to these "pirates", they would seek prosecution and literally scream foul."

What, by counting how many times a licence key has called called home to activate their software, they've invaded peoples' systems? You sir, are a chump of the highest order!

By mspritch on 9 Dec 2010

Antares?

Shame the moniker isn't an anagram of 'Ass ranter'.

By trgzbaby on 10 Dec 2010

Some people just never think things through..

Mate of mine thought it was clever to get a torrent of some anti virus software (Eset in this case) one day his pc was running like a dog and he scanned the drive in another PC and found whole heap of viruses and Trojans, how I laughed, given that there are a number of free AV products, why bother going to torrents and Warez sites, at least download the software from the proper site before you run that trojan riddled keygen, then perhaps you might realise the error of your ways.

By Lorribot on 12 Dec 2010

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