Wibu-Systems Blog

Does MegaUpload closure mean the end of software piracy?

Posted by John Browne on Feb 1, 2012 11:30:00 AM

With the FBI arresting seven managers of Megaupload and shuttering the website--said to be the 13th most popular website in the world at one point--does this mean the beginning the end for software piracy?

Not likely, methinks. The timing of the raid, coming on the heels of world-wide protests against SOPA legislation in Congress one day before, highlighted how divided people are on the issues of IP protection and ownership vs. web freedom.

The facts remain that unprotected software--whether movies, music, or executables--is easy to pirate and distribute. The security that most companies use (when they use any at all) to prevent illegal copying is usually easy to circumvent or non-existent. The worst cases of all are when a company makes life difficult for its legitimate users without actually strengthening its protection--sort of like having 11 deadbolts on your front door next to a window that is perpetually open.

The degree that it makes sense to protect any asset is in direct proportion to the value of that asset. The gold in Fort Knox is guarded with far greater security than your safe deposit box, which in turn has more safeguards than the mayonnaise jar full of loose change in the bedroom.

Whether Megaupload did something legal or illegal will be settled in the courts. Regardless, shutting down the site won't do anything to stop piracy; if anything it will simply move it to places where it's harder to stop. There are laws against stealing bicycles, yet they get stolen anyway. Only a good chain and padlock will deter the bad guys, and even that won't stop the most determined.

Fact is, if someone wants your bike, they can get it. Ditto your car, your wristwatch, and your software. But you can make it really really hard to steal your bike, your wristwatch, or your software.

Topics: software copy protection, Anti-piracy, software piracy, Copy Protection, SOPA, MegaUpload