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ParkerAndKent says

Hi guys,

I really like to watch documentaries and science channels and there is this show called “Physics of the impossible” that tries to imagine how in the future humans we’ll be able to do what now is pure fantasy.

Starting from this point, I want to share some visionary :) ideas to fight what seems to be unbeatable: piracy.

We can start form some facts:

1: Our files in 100% of the cases are distributed in full version, so there’s someone that buys the files with the only intention to redistribute them illegally (piracy it’s a business if supported by ads). There is 1 or more persons behind piracy with their routines.

2: Not all the buyers distribute what they buy, so pirates do this activity constantly and is possible to recognize a routine. Usually they buy the best themes only and they download them 1 time only in my opinion (the distributed themes, everywhere, are the same files, same release version, is this a case?)

3: Being the distributed files on every mirror always the same means that the persons that are behind the whole piracy system are just a few. They buy the themes, they upload them on different mirrors and then they share the links. Internet makes the rest, the links start to be shared and you can find them on many sites. But the source is always the same.

Starting from these basic points I can imagine with some fantasy a way to really fight this:

1: Everytime someone downloads a package all the files are marked with its username in an invisible way, so then would be possible for the staff to know who distributed them at the first stage checking the illegal files invisible info. What about adding an hidden file with the user information in different positions of the package?

2: A genius developer could create a db query to investigate specific routines that belong to pirates to identify them: select all buyers that have purchased tot items and downloaded them 1 time and that have no comments in the files pages etc… With some specific criteria would be possible to restrict the numbers of the possible pirates.

3: A theme that has been distributed illegally and has a few sales is really precious. If it has sold 50 times means that 1 of those 50 buyers is the pirate, applying the investigation on their routines would help to restrict the number of possible pirates more and more and make the investigation easier and mirate.

4: Once the users are recognized they must be banned very seriously, blocking all their payment credentials (they can change the way they pay, but with a limit and all the payments methods always refers to a real name: paypal, credit cards, etc.)

5: Once these people are completely blocked we have made the 90% of the work. Bad guys are a few, not many. Blocking them with precision would solve many problems. They own the huge piracy sites with the big traffic. If we block them we block everyting.

6: Sending DMCA is really time consuming and uneffective, the links can be recreated. Disabling the persons behind this is the solution.

Envato should really invest some money to investigate this. It looks like a mountain to climb, but in my opinion it’s just a puddle of mud.

By appying some logic we can achieve a real result, it’s just matter of applying the CSI methods to the stock marketplaces :)

Fantasy? Any other idea? Another useless thread to lock? A new job for Dave Caruso? :D

Parker

DiogoRedinDevelopment
DiogoRedinDevelopment Recent Posts Threads Started
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DiogoRedinDevelopment says

Great idea!

ParkerAndKent said
1: Everytime someone downloads a package all the files are marked with its username in an invisible way, so then would be possible for the staff to know who distributed them at the first stage checking the illegal files invisible info. What about adding an hidden file with the user information in different positions of the package?

iTunes store do the same ;)

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bfintal says

Hey P&K,

Like you, I’m still thinking of ways to combat this. I have a small snippet of code that I planned to include in my theme but am still hesitant since I might get flamed by the buyers LOL !

Let me explain the logic behind it, I think it might be of some interest to you:

it has 2 components: a server and the code snippet that gets scattered across the essential files of (in my case) the theme.

the snippet simply does the following:

- asks for a purchase code (the one that comes from TF when you buy an item)

- while a purchase code hasn’t been entered yet, it blocks the admin of the theme (among others), effectively halting the usage of the theme.

- the purchase code and domain where the theme was installed is sent to the server for validation

- if validation passes, theme admin is unlocked

- snippet revalidates daily

the server does the following:

- keeps a log of all the purchase codes and the domains which are associated with it

- validates the purchase code with envato’s API

- validates a purchase code IF, 1) it passes Envato’s API , 2) less than 10 domains are associated

- purchase codes can be manually set to be invalid for piracy cases (see below)

By theory, if the purchase code is spread with the theme via piracy, then the logs would show numerous domain associations with a single purchase code and we can simply set the purchase code as “compromised,” then all the themes which had this purchase code will no longer work afterwards. The purchase code can be then traced by Envato to the user. Most likely this user is the source of the piracy.

Cons:

- validator snippet can be removed with enough effort

- if Envato changes their API , we are doomed!

Pros:

- validator is just a minuscule server call and won’t be a bandwidth problem

- I tested this with a few sample scenarios, it works great

- it takes into account instances where devs install the theme locally first then installs it online afterwards

- validation can be manually overridden just incase

The main limitation on this is purely because the downloaded packages are not invisibly marked with any kind of information. so the purchase code for me is the only alternative as of the moment :(

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wpbakery says

I totally agree with Parker and I think it’s absolutely doable, but of course some time is needed.

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UnitedThemes says

Hi Parker,

looks like we are sharing the same thoughts :)

When starting here an Themeforest a few month ago, we recognized that it only takes a few minutes until our fresh released HTML works were downloadable at different sites. Due the fact its HTML we didn’t spent so much attention to it.

But after releasing our first WordPress Theme things starting to get more complicated. Also people who did not bought item here and just downloaded stuff from one of those pages ask for support… very cheeky. That’s the reason why we set up an own support forum only for people with a valid purchase key. Each key can be only used one time and is blocked after that.

@bfintal

I also was thinking about a similar system as described by you. But the question is, how easily can this “blockade” be removed ? That’s why I was thinking about a domain based file which will be delivered by the server after registering with the purchase code. This files contains domain name and all missing main functions. But this file need to be encrypted so that no one is able to modify it. But currently not sure if this is violating the GPL ?

Best Regards United Themes

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ParkerAndKent says

@bfintal

That’s a great solution to make things harder for pirates, I would try something like that. I’ll think to the pro and cons and I’ll let you know if I have any suggestion.

@UnitedThemes

I don’t care about support, usually I’m happy when they contact me on comments or via email, in most of the cases who downloads these themes didn’t know for real that they are on sale and they buy it afterwards.

Then, not everybody needs support, especially if the theme is well documented and easy to use. So support itself can’t be a solution against piracy.

I want to start from the idea that pirates are basically stupid, my Itis theme has been distributed and still is available in a bugged version that I released for a few minutes because a mistake I made… :D

Who downloaded Itis in that 1 hour timeframe is the pirate, no doubt. I’m sure only one person downloaded that version, so investigating these situations would bring awesome results in the piracy fight.

I released a bunch of updates after it has been pirated, but the version available is always the same, so once you distribute a theme is very hard to update all the bad links.

I’m sure that who downloads pirated themes wouldn’t buy them anyway, but I still think we losa a huge % of sales and these people make money with ads stealing from us.

We can beat them.

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bfintal says

@unitedthemes

Not 100% sure if that would violate GPL , but it may be. That may be a good idea, but how about pushin it further, what if the file was not downloaded but instead an essential function would be processed in the server and the results would be the one downloaded. This would prevent the file from being copied then distributed after validation. Not sure though on what kind of function this would be, just maybe an essential one that is needed in the admin side of WP.

If this method succeeds, then one alternative for pirates would be to make an emulation of the server process. But i doubt they would go that far just for a theme haha!

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