Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Things I hate: Shinywitebox's novel DRM for iShowU

I like paying for good software. It's a quirk, I admit.

I don't even mind well done Digital Rights Management. Without copy protection the novel software I love would die. I'm okay with how FairPlay works for iPhone apps and movies. I'm fine with long software keys -- I keep mine in a Google Doc I can access anywhere.

Where I go bonkers though is when otherwise good companies decide to introduce novel DRM methods, such as key distribution methods. I can tolerate online registration and binary keys for subscription services like Spanning Sync, but I blow a capillary when vendors like Shinywhitebox, makers of the once excellent and inexpensive iShowU screencasting software, do things like this ...
Licensing & Refunds

... At purchase time, we create an account for you on our system so that you can get instant access to your purchase history and retrieve lost unlock keys if need be. You use these same account details to unlock the product (over the internet). After starting the application, click on the “Unlock ..." button that appears in the first dialog, then enter your email address and password (these are the login details you setup when you purchased from us)...

Additionally, at the time of purchase we send out an email with your current set of “unlock keys”. This is simply an alternative method, which you can use on machine that don’t have an internet connection. If you have purchased a product but have not received your unlock keys please first check your spam folders, and failing that, contact support with the transaction number of the sale.
The keys are XML files.

To add aggravation to injury, SWB has enforced this transition for version 1 of their software, now in legacy mode. When I ran my old software I accepted offered upgrades, thinking I was getting some bug fixes. Along the way I got an entirely new registration process and my old key failed. I had to request a new key (support responded within 10 minutes late at night, which is a bit beyond the call of duty).

Come on gang. Please don't do this to your customers. I like paying to upgrade products I like (in their case the new HD product upgrade fee is a pittance), but I really don't have time for this - just time to rant about it.

Please don't make registration process changes part of "free" updates to legacy products. Please don't institute unique DRM procedures that break the way I track the 200 or so software products I've purchased. Just don't.

Here's hoping SWB is reconsidering ...

1 comment:

John Browne said...

Good post. It's a fine line ISVs have to walk between protecting IP and not irritating customers.