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Important: Protecting Chromanator and DigiGrade from piracy

Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 6:05pm

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Joshua Davies

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Hi Guys,

We were wondering if you could help us with a little problem to do with the security of our new programs and protecting your investment in our software.

As you probably know, many people try to steal AlamDV2 - in many cases they actually message AlamDV2 gold users on the forum asking for usernames and serial numbers. Luckily for us you guys are great and very few serials ever get out into the open world. If they did the consequences on a small company like CSB could be terrible. AlamDV2 also has a second line of defence as the program is nothing without its plugins. Even if someone managed to get the program working it is more than likely that Malone would have already blocked the serial from the community and plugins pages, making the program quite useless.

So AlamDV2 is fairly well protected, but our other programs won't be. Chromanator and DigiGrade will not rely on downloadable plugins which doesn't give us many options to protect ourselves and the community from piracy.

Here is the idea we have had - it seems to be the most simple way to protect your investment and assure the future development and support of the software.

Every couple of weeks we will put up a new Chromanator or DigiGrade installer on the server which will lock out all the dodgy serials we know about. These installers will install a version of Chromanator or DigiGrade on your computer that will be valid for 3 months, after which it will prompt you to upgrade to the latest version – if you do not upgrade within a month the program will stop working until you do upgrade.

This might sound quite harsh but if you look at previous CSB history we seem to bring out major updates to our programs about every 2 months therefore you would never get to the point where the program stopped working as you will have already installed a newer update or there will be one waiting for you to install. To make this easier we intend to release all Chromanator and DigiGrade updates as patches which should be a very quick download at just 40KB - 2MB.

Once the patch is installed you won't have to do anything time consuming like installing plugins in AlamDV2 – you would be ready to go. This would not only be a very simple and quick way to update (about 5 minutes every couple of months) but it would also protect CSB-Digital, your investment in our software and the community we have created together.

Thanks for reading, we look forward to your comments.
Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 6:12pm

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er-no

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I didn't like the sound of that to begin with, however the more I think about it the more it makes sense for you to implement such an idea.

I however have a few questions? Would you be willing to help someone if they didn't upgrade for a month or two (through one reason or another) but you know them to have legitimatly purchased the original copy.. ?

I can see this happening in a few cases where you have legitimate customers. Also, knowing me and my long spells away in the summer holidays I would probably miss out on an update? What would happen?

Overall though, fair play, you are doing what you feel you need to. Nice idea.
Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 6:13pm

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Animaster

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what about the good old register online? so that it connects to your server when it installs checking if it has a dodgy username and serial?
Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 6:16pm

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Joshua Davies

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Animaster - Many people are unwilling to use programs that send infomation like that. It would be a problem for people that don't have an internet connection on their editing machine.

Er-no - All updates would be avalible for an unlimited amount of time - they would just lock out dodgy serials. As long as you hadn't given out your serial you would always be able to update easily. We are even trying to make it so the program will tell you what updates you would need if you ask it to connect to the internet and find out. If you went away for a year you should still be able to update quickly and easily when you get back - just a case of a couple of patches to download (probably only 10minutes).

Last edited Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 6:20pm; edited 2 times in total.

Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 6:18pm

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Simon K Jones

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Yeah, even if you had left it too late, it wouldn't be a problem. Even if the program had been 'locked out', the automated upgrade facility would still work, so you could just click 'download patch' or whatever and get going again straight away.
Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 6:31pm

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b4uask30male

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(edit, sorry most of these points had been answered while i was typing )

what stop someone putting it on a file swapping site every 2/3 months.
i'm not saying that to be funny, i'm just asking the question. ( if i may answer that a bit myself ) i have looked on kazaa for your program and have never found it, so You could be safe )

would there be a time limit to re-apply for the next update, and what happens if you miss 2 or more updates.

The contact server idea is good, but i can use a firewall thing to stop my pc connecting to csb.


This idea would not work for selling a boxed version as some people might not have an internet connection.
( an idea for the boxed version, if you do one. is: if you remember back to spectrum days they had some very clever idea's eg:
include an instruction book then have a random word on a page
( page 6, paragraph 3, line 4, word 7 ) that stopped me backing up games.

another thing was a little piece of plastic that had a bends and slips in it.
you would place that at the screen, and the jumbled words then appeared correct. )

So the only downside i can see is, if i was using your product the time ran out, it stopped and i had no interent connection.
i would have to ask a friend to download the patch ( and give him my password etc ) so i could carry on with my film.
Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 6:47pm

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Joshua Davies

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Yeah, I think most of those were answered before b4 smile

People could just put the installer on p2p programs, but if this all works right the serials will have been locked out so unless someone else gives out their serial then the installer will be no use or it will be an old installer which has expired or is missing new features.

You wouldn't have to give anyone any details to download the patch - it would be just like the AlamDV2 download page is now - anyone can do it but if they don't have a serial then it is no use to them. So you could go to a cyber cafe download on to disk and take it home with no problems at all. But almost everyone that buys our download version does have instant access to the internet.

This would only be for download versions - we are not sure about boxed versions yet or where we are going with those. The downloads will be the most important to us in the coming months.
Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 6:56pm

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b4uask30male

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Hi
( sorry i guess i should have pm'd about the bit you took off redface )

I didn't think about the person that uploads it to a p2p would have to give his serial, and then you would block it.

that answers my questions. i'm happy
Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 7:01pm

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Joshua Davies

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Na thats cool, just didn't want to give bad people ideas biggrin
Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 7:16pm

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er-no

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schwar wrote:

Na thats cool, just didn't want to give bad people ideas biggrin
There are bad people here?
Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 7:34pm

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Simon K Jones

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There are bad people everywhere. Just because they don't post doesn't mean they're not looking....


But don't worry, for the Great Eye is ever-watchful....
Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 7:37pm

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er-no

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Rating: +1



Indeed be warned BAD people who read this. The great eye is watching.
Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 7:50pm

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cal361

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I purchased ALAMDV when it was still in version 1. I used to chat with you guys about business when the IRC server first went up. I was the guy to recommend mod_gzip to Malone, that's how long I have been lurking. I believe you have become a fabulous company and truly believe you are poised to rule the market for a long time to come. Heck, you created the market!

However, I know that I personally would not purchase your software if I was required to download it every few weeks. I would rather pay more to purchase a USB or parallel port dongle such as http://www.des.co.uk/

Honestly, the type of protection you are speaking of is just as trival to brake as getting a serial number from someone.

The worst part of this idea is what do we do if, heaven forbid, you go out of business suddenly and do not get a chance to distubute a version that doesn't time out. (Again you could do the typical time cracks to fix this, but I am assuming most people don't have this knowledge.)

There really is no easy solution for you. I feel bad about that, however I know that many people wouldn't like to be forced to make upgrades. I'm still running ALAMDV with the second update because I keep losing my serial number and I don't like bothering you guys by asking for it.

I would like to add that locking out serials in the patches is a good idea, I just don't the the requirement to upgrade.

Good luck finding a solution.

------Just a thought------

How about the possibility of two versions of copy protection. In the system. If a dongle exists, then the upgrades aren't required. That way if someone opts to pay more for the program and dongle they won't have to deal with upgrades.
Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 8:07pm

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JediMaster33

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Would that mean we would have to pay every three months to upgrade to the current version? If so, what will the cost be for each upgrade every three months? Any info would be appreciated. I guess that I wouldn't be against this if the cost was reasonable!

Thanks
Paul cool
Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 8:26pm

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Simon K Jones

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To answer a few of the points raised above -


The patches would be entirely free. You would not have to pay again. You pay once for your program, as you do at the moment. Every 3/4 months you would have to download a patch/update file that would confirm that your serial is still fine and enable you to continue working.

Note that you wouldn't have to download these patches every few weeks - it would be months apart.

The crucial thing to realise is that we'd almost certainly have released a normal update in that time period at any rate, adding new features or fixing problems that arise - so, the piracy issue aside, you would want to update the program at any rate, probably would already have done so.

If the system worked, the 'lock out' issue would never actually become an issue; it would be invisible. As far as anyone was concerned, the situation would be exactly as it is now. You only come across a problem if you are using an illegal serial number.

I'm sure schwar can elaborate on the issue. Feel free to ask more questions or for us to clarify things.

Thanks for all the comments so far...
Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 8:28pm

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davlin

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Seems straight forward to me...just a patch every couple of months.....at least it not like ALAMDV2 with all plugins and reinstalling every few months.....gets my vote.
Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 8:43pm

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Joshua Davies

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Good to see this is going down well. The lock out issue should never be an issue with any gold users for the reasons tarn stated. We've always only supported the most recent versions of our software and we should be adding so many cool things to these new apps that it'll be in your interest to keep up-to-date.

Thanks for the support guys.
Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 9:07pm

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Kid

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The only problems I can foresee with that are the confusion over patches and people without good access to the net to download it all the time.

With the patches if you keep all of the patches on the server then you are gonna end up with tons of patches for people to look through and get confused with. Otherwise if you only keep the latest small patch and full install then people will get the problem I get with updating counterstrike. If I miss a single one of the little updates I have to download the big file again even if I am only a couple of patches back. This is a nuisance on a slow connection.
Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 9:45pm

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moebius

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I personally don't see a problem with this arrangement, but idealism aside, I think you'll (CSB, i.e.) will have to brace yourselves for a tide of complaints / remarks / concerns from irked users biggrin Perhaps you could carry out a pilot test (sort of like a beta run) to assess the possibility of it remaining feasible in the long run?
Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 10:34pm

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Joshua Davies

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We should only have a 5 or 6 updates in the year so it shouldn't be that bad as the full installer for these apps is tiny anyway - the update will only replace a few files so it probably won't have to patch from the previous version - I expect we can make it so you can update from any version to the latest version quite easily.

If you vote "No" then please post and tell us why..

Last edited Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 10:38pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 11:08pm

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Hajiku_Flip

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There wouldn't be multiple files, there would be just 1. Which makes me wonder, why even make new files to download? Why not just create something that comes with the program that makes you submit your serial in order for the program to continue working. Like XP's activation system. You'd just have to get online, and it'd take a few simple moments. With a 3 week warning, this shouldn't be so bad as 95% of the people that use Alam have internet connection.
Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 11:15pm

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chadp

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Overall I think the idea is a good one. The main problem i see is sometimes when you have released an update the program doesnt function properly for a small amount of the users and it can take awhile to find and address the specific problem. I had a problem with Alam in the early 2.1 phase and it took a while to fix it. I had to use a previous version for a project i was working on at the time until my problem was resolved. Maybe you could put the bad serials into the current version along with the updated patch so if the new patch doesnt work for someone they could redownload the old version and still be able keep running.

Other than that im leary about installing new or updated software just to do it because you never know what will cause your system to become unstable. There is only so much testing you can do on new code for a patch before release.

Also If i was a new customer i would be wary about buying a program i had 2 patch every 3-4 months. I dont mind cause ive been around for Alam sense the beta was out and know that this will be worth it. But to a new customer who has not been around to know the quality of your programs i would think twice about buying the software, because as cal361 said, if you guys went out of business the software would be unusable.

I know that sounded negative but it was more what i think would go thru potential new customers minds. I Cant wait to see the new software and if its half as good as Alamdv im sure we will all be blown away. biggrin
Posted: Sun, 19th Jan 2003, 11:52pm

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Joshua Davies

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We can't do that because some people have no way of hooking up there video editing computer to the internet. The patches won't only be for the sake of removing bad serials, we will be updating the programs to add great new features as well. CSB have always only supported the most recent version of there software so keeping up-to-date is very important.

The patching won't be hard, the file you download will be small so you can stick it on a disk or cd to move it to another computer. Unlike the development of AlamDV2 we intend to beta test a lot more this time so there shouldn't be any problems with the updates.
Posted: Mon, 20th Jan 2003, 3:58am

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picturehouse

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schwar wrote:

Hi Guys,

Every couple of weeks we will put up a new Chromanator or DigiGrade installer on the server which will lock out all the dodgy serials we know about. These installers will install a version of Chromanator or DigiGrade on your computer that will be valid for 3 months, after which it will prompt you to upgrade to the latest version – if you do not upgrade within a month the program will stop working until you do upgrade.

Thanks for reading, we look forward to your comments.
hi i'm fine with that as long as my program doesn't just stop working all of a sudden.

is it possible to build in an auto update so i don't need to remember to download and install patches on a regular basis (sorry i'm lazy smile)

erm, will alamdv2 gold members get discounts on chromanator and digigrade?
Posted: Mon, 20th Jan 2003, 5:10am

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BDOG

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I think everyone supports your fight against piracy.

Just make sure you post an update plenty of time before the old one expires. With many programs people will use a previous update due to stability etc and it would be a crime if people all of a sudden could not use the current version due to a bug and the stable version due to a timeout.

I would say though that people seem to be able to come up with cracks for timeouts very quickly.

Good luck.

PS Hey I notice I am coming up to my 1 year Alam Forum Birthday! Anyone going to send me a cake??? biggrin
Posted: Mon, 20th Jan 2003, 5:14am

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BDOG

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BTW any forecast on when these programs will be released? Anymore teasers on what will be in them?

Cheers
Posted: Mon, 20th Jan 2003, 7:39am

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anonymous

when would the time limit start:


from the day you put the patch on your site. ?
or

from the day we install the patch ?
Posted: Mon, 20th Jan 2003, 9:24am

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Simon K Jones

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The system would be automated - probably be a preference as to how automated - so that you probably would never even know the process was happening. Or if you had set it to alert you, it would let you know a month in advance and then keep reminding you (again, the frequency of the reminders would be a preference probably).

And, yes, AlamDV2 users do get a discount on Chromanator and DigiGrade.
Posted: Mon, 20th Jan 2003, 12:31pm

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Spike

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Discount heaven biggrin yeppppiiieeeeee! It's going to be shopping in Asda/Tesco's on a sunday afternoon lol

Where do we sign and when do you think it's going to be released?

Rich cool
Posted: Mon, 20th Jan 2003, 1:44pm

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Kid

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If it was from when you installed it people would just reinstall it to get round the limit!
Posted: Mon, 20th Jan 2003, 3:46pm

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Hajiku_Flip

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Hmm..good thinking Kid.. Same with if it goes by dates, they could just set their computer back. confused
Posted: Mon, 20th Jan 2003, 3:52pm

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Joshua Davies

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It would be a limit on the installer - a specific date. It won't just be as simple as changing the date on your system, even if some people manage to get round it they will have to change their date and muck around for ages everytime they use it and that might be annoying enough to either stop them using it or, if they like it, they might come and buy it like a normal person.

They also wouldn't get any of the updated features we add to newer versions.

There is no perfect answer, but we can make it as hard as possible for people that have no interest in supporting the community and the software.
Posted: Mon, 20th Jan 2003, 5:06pm

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sidewinder

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I think it'd be best if you could download the latest patch, even if you missed a few, and haven't used the program for a while.

Is that possible? Do we even have to worry 'bout that?
Posted: Mon, 20th Jan 2003, 5:12pm

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Joshua Davies

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Na, that will be fine. I think we can probably make it so you will always be able to update from your current version to the latest version with a single update. Even if it ends up being a couple it will always remain on the site so even if you went away for a year you would still be able to update.
Posted: Mon, 20th Jan 2003, 5:23pm

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X

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I think it sounds very fair.

I have no idea on this but can you pass on the dogy serial number's ip holder to anyone?

P.S.

Sorry I have been away so long got my knee operated on and work is too busy so internet time is like quickly check the boards and hop off! Hope to be back soon.
Posted: Mon, 20th Jan 2003, 11:54pm

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averagejoe

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An update here and update there, with the possibility of automation. Not much different than it is now. I will support what ever solution you guys bank on. Until I joined this community I really did not have an opinion on piracy. Protect yourselves and dont feel bad about it. I am still amazed at how you guys really interface with endusers when changes come about. TOP BLOKES everyone of you!

Sheesh my post is starting to be an arse kissing, long winded, ramble crazy
Posted: Tue, 21st Jan 2003, 12:33am

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Joshua Davies

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Thanks guys - I'm so happy you all want to support us so much, hope you really enjoy the new programs and the new website biggrin
Posted: Tue, 21st Jan 2003, 12:45am

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Hajiku_Flip

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Aww..quit it now! Your making me blush... redface
Posted: Tue, 21st Jan 2003, 2:08am

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sidewinder

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Your best protection against piracy is to maintain good relationships with members of the community. This breeds loyalty, and loyalty prevents priacy.

the updater would just be an exra safegaurd.
Posted: Tue, 21st Jan 2003, 3:48am

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Magic_man12

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One question....

The whole locking out a serial number etc.....
When someone else tries to use that # how do you find out?

Maybe a new solution

make the persons credit card number their serial! and have expiry date on the end or something...that way NO ONE will tell anyone!

that could work...maybe


edit- Im sure no one would give away their credit card numbers...especiall yif its their parents'......
I dont know what kind of problems would come up of setting that up...but that may be a solution....for those who wouldn't want to dl an update all the time
like for example sum1 with a CRAP computer......if they had to dl it sumwhere else and stick it on a disk then install it...could take a long time on a SLOW computer.......



-MAGIC
Posted: Tue, 21st Jan 2003, 5:09am

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Phage

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good idea magic
Posted: Tue, 21st Jan 2003, 6:50pm

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Kid

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I don't think CSB ever gets your credit card number does it? Also thats not a very secure way of doing things.
Posted: Tue, 21st Jan 2003, 7:31pm

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unclepain

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Schwar, I don't have a problem with what you've suggested. I just can't imagine why someone would pirate your software since it's so economically priced. If you can't afford 60 bucks for the program, you need to spend less time on your computer and go get a job. Anyways, I say go for it- I'm warming up my credit card for chromanator.
Posted: Tue, 21st Jan 2003, 11:08pm

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Joshua Davies

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Thanks again people. The Kid is totally right, all your credit card transactions are secure with Netbanx, they take the money from your card and pass it to us - thats by far the safest way.
Posted: Wed, 22nd Jan 2003, 2:20am

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av11d

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No, sorry:

While i'm sure no one who participates in the alamdv community would post their serial, and wouldn't mind updating every once in a while, new customers are going to be wary about buying the product. I think a decent amount of people were reluctant about buying MS XP because of the whole online thing. This is like that, but more annoying.

This won't really be an issue if you guys pound out an update every couple of months and have the serial blockers in the update. However, the update won't be required. 90% of warez people aren't going to buy the software even if they can't find a serial. And even if a serial gets out, and you guys keep delivering updates (non-required updates), a big portion of that 10% will buy the product because they realize they keep having to wait forever to get the new features from the upgrades (since it has to be cracked each update by the cracker).

Or just have that cool thing where each piece of software that is downloaded has a unique ID, so you have to register that ID online, and THEN you get the serial. So this way, a person doesn't have to have their editing machine online, just some kind of way to access the internet once. 3ds Max and Maya have this. I know that on mac you could just use the host ID. On pc there is that CDILLA software that is sorta like that.

Ok, now just to play a little devils advicate on myself, your idea is also helpful another sense. If the person has to visit your site every couple months, they may tend to become more involved in the whole community, or may find a new product on your site that they want to buy. This could prove very successful for you guys.

Anyways, good luck with all the piracy protection!
Posted: Wed, 22nd Jan 2003, 9:51am

Post 46 of 54

davlin

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The uniqueness of AlamDV2 is the constant requirement to keep in close contact with the site for the plugins etc. this obviously helps everybody..more members ..more info...more help and so on. If one had Alamdv2 without regular visits to the site would in effect render the app almost useless cos the "plugins" are what its all about.
So back to the new apps.I don't see any problems whatsoever as far as going frequently on line to get patches etc.......we all spend hours downloadiong our free plugins its part of the app.and as av11d says its good for the community too.
Lets face it our plugins expand daily in quite big numbers and size but we don't think twice about downloading them do we and some of us are only 56k.
The piracy bit... I'm not tech. in that dept. but I'm sure the CSB team will sort it and if they think the patch update system will do I do not see any problems at all.
Goodluck lads

O'l Dav
Posted: Wed, 22nd Jan 2003, 10:08am

Post 47 of 54

Joshua Davies

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Its very different to XP as we are not sending any data about you or your machine at any point. So its totally different really.
Posted: Wed, 22nd Jan 2003, 12:03pm

Post 48 of 54

Kid

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Yeah things which generate unique id's and then get a serial are just as vunerable as serials themselves. This is demonstrated by crack programs for 3dsmax and divx for example which take the unique id and generate the corresponding serial.
Posted: Wed, 22nd Jan 2003, 11:33pm

Post 49 of 54

av11d

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Well, if you think about it in that sense, your way doesn't protect it either! If someone made a keygen, you would be destroyed no matter what protection you had.

davlin: i was reffering more toward the new apps which don't have plug-ins.
Posted: Thu, 23rd Jan 2003, 8:53am

Post 50 of 54

Kid

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Well no because updates would force a new keygen each time whereas an online activation thing wouldn't. It could be dealt with one time.
Posted: Thu, 23rd Jan 2003, 7:38pm

Post 51 of 54

av11d

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wait, huh. Everytime a new required update of alamdv came out, you would need a new serial?
Posted: Thu, 23rd Jan 2003, 9:15pm

Post 52 of 54

Simon K Jones

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No, you wouldn't need a new serial.
Posted: Thu, 23rd Jan 2003, 10:07pm

Post 53 of 54

voiceoverwizard

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I think the register online approach is probably the best. Anyone who is unwilling to do so is well S*%t unsure out of luck let them find an alternate program to do the same job for the same $. Based on what I have seen from ALAM DV that is unlikely, and they will be back registering in a couple of weeks, or else they can just use there computers to download and watch all the great projects that those willing to register are making.

That being said the main concern I would have with the Idea of downloading the newest 30 or 90 day version is what if I lose the internet access or at least my ability to pay for it should I lose the prgram that I have already paid for? Also GOD forbid what if some thing happens to CSB if some one comes along with a butt load of money and buys it out then burns it or decides it's not profitable etc. our programs would only be good for another 30-90 days, That would suck!
Just the first things that came to mind.

EDIT HERE>-- I should point out that I already have a chromakey prog.(hollywood FX PRO for Pinnacle studio cool and don't know what the other is.
Posted: Thu, 23rd Jan 2003, 10:16pm

Post 54 of 54

Joshua Davies

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We can't make it so it registers online with your computer details as many people don't have their editing systems linked to the internet. If its a small patch that can be moved on disk or cdr then its quick and easy for anyone.

We are not planning on going anywhere, and if the worst was to happen we would make sure we released a version free from the time limit, thanks for all your support guys.

You've given us the answer we needed...