Why anti-piracy measures do not work

October 25, 2008

Thank you Nintendo, for your glorious all-IOS-update. Thank you for putting legitimate users of your product in discomfort while not at all affecting the pirates you want to fight. If you want to lock out homebrew because it enables users to pirate, think before you design a system update.

You see, the Shop Channel was a terrible choice to force the update on users. A pirate, and I think those are the group you are after, has no use for the shop channel. They can get their VC and WiiWare games by other means, exactly those you are trying to seal off. So why would a pirate care if he gets locked out of the shop channel if he wants to continue installing pirate downloads? After all, not using the shop channel is what he has been doing all the time in the first place.

The same thing happens with anti-piracy measures on the PC by the way. I am looking at you this time, EA! Does SecuRom prevent the use of unlicensed copies? No. Does it piss off all the other users? Oh sure it does. SecuRom, or SUCKurom as it has come to be known, installs traces of itself all over your system, barely removable, a phenomenon reminiscent of, and “enjoyed” like, a malware infection. The Spore-type is even better. If your system is damaged or has decayed enough and you need to re-install, you can ask for permission to install another time… how nice, you have bought the game and you cannot use it without asking nicely. Yes, I know, multiple installations are permitted, but in some cases, you might run out of them rather quickly.

And although this is so much of an annoyance for legitimate customers, it does not even affect pirates. Even back in the days of SafeDisk 2, pirates have used No-CD cracks in most cases, disabling any of these protections. As soon as the pirate scene gets hold of a game, you can be sure it is cracked in no time. Just checking for the CD/DVD alone is an annoyance in the name of “anti-piracy” measures a pirate does not have to deal with.