A Teaspoon of Sewage

There is an old adage: If you take a barrel of sewage and add a teaspoon of wine, you get a barrel of sewage; if you take a barrel of wine and add a teaspoon of sewage, you get a barrel of sewage.

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is crap. A good part of my living is made setting up computers for end-users, making sure everything "just works" for them. I make a good living so I shouldn't complain too much about DRM; it is, after all, job security for me. But, I've grown to loath it with a passion. The majority of my time is spent dealing with arcane DRM systems like FlexLM, web activation, system IDs, and the like. It's all a load of crap.

I know that I could easily go off to the web and download cracked versions of nearly all this DRMed software that I'm fighting with and get them up and running for free. What's more, it would be easier to do than actually staying legal and fighting with the DRM. What kind of morons make it harder to legally use their products than it is to steal them? The people that are paying for their software are the people that want to stay legal, that have to stay legal for various reasons.

Yes, license management is a good idea for institutions because, honestly, sometimes we loose track of just how many licenses we're using. Even better, make them concurrent with a license server that stops too many people using them at the same time. But, why not just have a license server that asks "how many licenses do you have?" Why go through some arcane song and dance to get "activated" licenses when stealing said licenses would be easier. The people that actually pay are going to put in the right number of licenses when asked. The people that pay are the honest ones that want to stay legal. Why punish your paying customers by treating them like theives? Why make them do more work to pay you and use your product than the theives have to do to use your product for free? It makes no sense.

DRM is crap. If you add it to your software application, your application is crap. It makes no difference how good your code is otherwise, if you pollute it with DRM then you will accomplish nothing but piss-off your legal customer base. The theives don't care; DRM-stripped versions of your applilication will be out soon enough. People strip out DRM because it's fun; the stronger the DRM, the bigger the challenge. Only your legal customer base has to deal with DRM; it gets in the way of using what they paid for. If you release DRM-restricted applications, then you are releasing crap and people like me will write nasty things about you. What's more, we'll moan and complain to everyone that asks us to install your crap and suggest that they find something better. We'll also support and promote any free and open-source product that remotely competes with the crap you're releasing, just so we don't have to deal with DRM.

Yes, I've just spent the better part of my day dealing with one stupid crappy application that won't work with our new license server. Writing this is my way of venting; it beats yelling at the poor woman on the other end of the phone. She can't do anything about it; I can't do anything about it. Everyone is pissed-off because some idiotic managers demanded that their company's software be protected from theft - an impossible goal. It doesn't make it harder to steal; it just makes it harder to use. Why do you do this to your paying customers? Why?

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