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Our Two Cents on SOPA

by Alex Yumashev · Dec 24 2010
Jitbit Software has just transferred all of it's domains away from GoDaddy because of their SOPA bill support.

That's the least I can do. I'm outside the US, so I don't have a congressman to contact. If you are - sending a letter to your congressman is the only way to prevent the bill from being approved.

If you’re not sure what the "Stop Online Piracy Act" is - visit this link and read SOPA For Dummies

Now, there's a question that haunts me these days. Lots of non-tech friends, ex-colleagues, even some fellow hackers keep asking me:
"If you're selling downloadable software online, you're supposed to support SOPA, right?"

1. No, software companies don't benefit from SOPA

I've said this many many times and I'm gonna say it again: if you're a software company - stop worrying about "pirates". Stop throwing piles of money at a complicated top-notch software-protection system. An "ok" system is just fine, just to keep kids from messing around with your licensing system and writing key-generators. But beware of the "unbreakable" systems.

First of all, "pirates" don't pay anyway. These users have already made their decision. They'll keep looking for a way to get your app free of charge. Nag screens and functional limitations will only annoy them.

And if your app is "unbreakable" - they turn to a competitor and you lose a user. In fact, making your app "unbreakable" brings other risks as well - eCommerce fraud, stolen credit cards, chargebacks etc.

So, one or two cracked packages floating around on torrent-websites are just fine. In fact, we have tons of customers who bought our tools after trying the pirated version and loving it.

2. Guess what - SOPA won't even work

SOPA targets HTTP and DNS protocols. Leaving behind the torrent-protocol. Which utilizes neither HTTP or DNS. And which has the 99% of the world pirated traffic. My cracked packages will still be out there somewhere.

Here's what will happen: huge corporations get a new way of suing and shutting down competing websites. Lots of young companies and startups move their websites, servers, domains outside the US to minimise the risk - just like they're moving away from GoDaddy right now (see GoDaddy lost 21k domains in one day). Online businesses switch to European payment-processing gateways. End-users experience longer latency. US hosting companies, data-centers, domain-registrars lose their customers just like GoDaddy loses it right now. Google won't be able to crawl "blocked" websites, moving the crawlers to data-centers overseas (still making "bad" websites appear in its cache). The majority of online sales moves from away from the US to the outside world. Etc.

And guess what the pirates are still there. Outside the HTTP/DNS protocol scope.