How To Combat Software Piracy

Recently it came to my attention that my buddy Glen Allsopp had one of his WordPress plugins being “sold” or offered with request of a donation, without his permission. To make matters worse, Glen gives away this plugin for free and no one should have to pay for something when the product’s creator intended this to be a giveaway in the first place. The product in question is called ViperBar and it was designed to provide a solid alternative to using another plugin known as Hellobar. The concept of the plugin is to increase email opt-ins without being annoying. Glen did a fine job with his plugin; too bad some affiliate marketers are taking advantage of Glen’s hard work.

Lessons learned here

Demonstrating the power of a strong following and dedicated community, Glen currently has some of his fans contacting the likes of Google, Plimus.com, among other affiliate entities informing them of the violation. Because Glen lives in South Africa, making any needed calls directed here in the States can get pretty pricey quickly. But by utilizing social media to put the word out about this theft, he will likely see this problem resolved quickly as I’m sure both Google and Plimus.com have no intention of allowing techbold.blogspot.com‘s activity to continue any longer.

How To Combat Software Piracy
Click to enlarge photo of bogus website

What Glen did right

Rather than flying off the handle at the person who committed the violation, Glen instead opted to seek out productive ways of taking on this problem head on. Locating the Web host, whomever is handling payments for the stolen goods, along with anything else that can be reported will in the end pay off. What is truly amazing is that the download link the scam artist appears to be using is actually the actual plugin download link (or so I thought at first). But then the guy selling the plugin makes the claim that you can lose the branding of the product by simply making a “donation” via a button provided on the TechBold page. Unbelievable.

Where things get fuzzy

At first pass, the download link looks legit. After all, it’s a WordPress hosted plugin! But when you download the plugin and examine the readme file, you’re suddenly exposed to just how sleazy the thief really is here. He re-packaged the toolbar and gave himself partial credit for its creation! Seriously, this is one for the record books. Because it’s common knowledge that this is of Glen’s own creation, the thief had to leave Glen’s branding in place.  So by asking for donations, this guy makes the entire thing seem legit. Too bad he blows it when he tells people the branding can be removed with a donation to him.

My advice to Glen in hindsight: get a copyright and license added to the plugin zip package immediately. While not critical in this instance, it will help in the future I imagine.

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Wale Falade is Nigerian. A Business Systems Analyst, Technology Enthusiast and a Linux Server Administrator. He engages actively in improving online visibility of Nigerian brands. Follow him on twitter @diaryofageek