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  • Skin encryption survey

    Hello all,

    I am doing an informal survey of end users of BBS GUI skins. If you were in the market for a skin, non-custom, would you have a problem purchasing a skin that was encrypted until license verification? To further that, would you purchase said skin if it had a "call home" feature similar to vBulletin's that further confirmed that license once installed even though you were still permitted to do all the customizing you can now to images and code?

    There is tremendous fraud in the GUI skin market, typically via chargebacks once the product is delivered. This not only hurts developers, but end users as well in the form of higher prices...such as auto insurance rates are effected by bad drivers. I am trying to guage how this scenario would be perceived.

    Thanks for taking part!
    15
    Probably
    0.00%
    0
    Never
    80.00%
    12
    Perhaps, if I had more details
    20.00%
    3
    RazorThemes ~ Cutting Edge Designs


  • #2
    I wouldn't buy one at all.
    --filburt1, vBulletin.org/vBulletinTemplates.com moderator
    Web Design Forums.net: vB Board of the Month
    vBulletin Mail System (vBMS): webmail for your forum users

    Comment


    • #3
      No, and I don't see how it could be encrypted realisticly anyway.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by filburt1
        I wouldn't buy one at all.
        encrypted or not?
        RazorThemes ~ Cutting Edge Designs

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Zachery
          ...I don't see how it could be encrypted realisticly anyway.
          You and I should talk
          RazorThemes ~ Cutting Edge Designs

          Comment


          • #6
            No. And if it were encrypted, even less of a chance. Many things on a pre-purchased skin need to be customized, and encrypting hampers the ability to do this.

            A call-home feature will be completely ineffective. It is always easy to remove those, especially if it's in a third-party downloadable package.

            And plus, I am a strong opponent against skin vendors selling messy code. If your skin is pretty, that's great. But if it's pretty because you used hundreds of nested tables and horrible coding practices, then we need to talk. "Encryption" techniques will in no way make code easier to read nor will it make it more standards-compliant.

            And really, I don't see how you can "encrypt" a skin. The first thing that popped into my mind was using Javascript to power the layout. Completely impractical, given the high client-side overhead. And then the idea of actually encrypting data and using a plugin with key to decrypt it. Good way to prevent distribution of skin's source files, but doesn't prevent anybody from either A) writing the templates from scratch or B) writing a simple function in the PHP code that sits and catches the output. Again, rendering your methods ineffective.

            And let's be realistic here. Those pirating your skins are probably running illegal copies of vBulletin in the first place. Most likely, they wouldn't have paid for your skin in the first place. It's not necessarily lost customers. It's more like an operating cost. There's no effective way to eliminate piracy without putting an undue amount of burden on your existing customers. And with visible-source software, this is even more so the case.

            One thing I would recommend doing is generating a dynamic skin package that dynamically generates file names for a couple of images. This way, you'll at least be able to track the distribution of pirated files and minimize your losses in the future by denying sales to those who have pirated your packages.
            Last edited by DirectPixel; Thu 12th Jan '06, 1:33pm.
            :)

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by smackLAN
              encrypted or not?
              Either. It shows more dedication to make your own style.

              Plus you can't ultimately encrypt or otherwise protect it. The markup and graphics will have to be sent to the browser, and whatever the browser see, I can see.
              --filburt1, vBulletin.org/vBulletinTemplates.com moderator
              Web Design Forums.net: vB Board of the Month
              vBulletin Mail System (vBMS): webmail for your forum users

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by smackLAN
                There is tremendous fraud in the GUI skin market, typically via chargebacks once the product is delivered. This not only hurts developers, but end users as well in the form of higher prices...such as auto insurance rates are effected by bad drivers. I am trying to guage how this scenario would be perceived.
                Welcome to selling software on the Internet. Probably the most fraud ridden market there is in the world.

                Though I do find it interesting that someone is so concerned about their rights when they use copyrighted and trademarked images in their work without proper attribution.
                Translations provided by Google.

                Wayne Luke
                The Rabid Badger - a vBulletin Cloud demonstration site.
                vBulletin 5 API - Full / Mobile
                Vote for your favorite feature requests and the bugs you want to see fixed.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by filburt1
                  Plus you can't ultimately encrypt or otherwise protect it. The markup and graphics will have to be sent to the browser, and whatever the browser see, I can see.
                  Very true. Create a new link on your links toolbar (Firefox only), and type this in:
                  Code:
                  javascript:h=document.getElementsByTagName('html')[0].innerHTML;function disp(h){h=h.replace(/</g, '\n&lt;');h=h.replace(/>/g,'&gt;');document.getElementsByTagName('body')[0].innerHTML='<pre>&lt;html&gt;'+h.replace(/(\n|\r)+/g,'\n')+'&lt;/html&gt;</pre>';}void(disp(h));
                  Clicking it on any page will reveal the decoded Javascript contents.
                  Last edited by DirectPixel; Thu 12th Jan '06, 1:41pm.
                  :)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If it is theft and fraud... don't even have to do that. Just go to his online demos and choose "Save As..." from the file menu of your favorite browser. His online demos are not encrypted or rather obfuscated in anyway.

                    As stated, you cannot encrypt HTML. You can obfuscate it with Javascript and make it more difficult to read. If the browser can render it, it can be read by humans. You can encrypt the ZIP file and not provide that but how long do they have to wait? You can do a charge back up to 6 months after purchase. Anyone willing to commit fraud and theft will just wait until you give them the password anyway.

                    The only true way to cut your losses is to be a lot more diligent in accepting orders. Don't allow free email addresses to order, deny fraud heavy countries, double check your Address Verification, require "Verified by Visa" and "Securecode" from customers and other things.
                    Translations provided by Google.

                    Wayne Luke
                    The Rabid Badger - a vBulletin Cloud demonstration site.
                    vBulletin 5 API - Full / Mobile
                    Vote for your favorite feature requests and the bugs you want to see fixed.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Wayne Luke
                      Though I do find it interesting that someone is so concerned about their rights when they use copyrighted and trademarked images in their work without proper attribution.
                      Now there's a disconcerting statement to me...truely. There is not a image or line of code on my site that I do not own exclusive rights to, other than links to other sites. I strive and have spent a tremendous amount of energy and resources to run a legitimate business, so I really would like to know what you're refering to.

                      As to the other comments, all very good input and I appreciate the feedback! The idea is born out of a desire to not skirt tried and true methods of copyright protection and wise sales practices, but as a way to automate the process, strengthen it to a degree and still provide a safe and valuable product to the buyer. Your last post Wayne is probably the most practical advice.
                      Last edited by smackLAN; Thu 12th Jan '06, 2:01pm.
                      RazorThemes ~ Cutting Edge Designs

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by smackLAN
                        Now there's a disconcerting statement to me...truely. I strive and have spent a tremendous amount of energy and resources to run a legitimate business, so I really would like to know what you're refering to.
                        Well in particular this style here:
                        http://www.vbskinworks.com/forum/index.php?styleid=176

                        Do you have explicit permission to use and resell Sony's property expressed in the use of the Playstation and PSP logos?
                        Translations provided by Google.

                        Wayne Luke
                        The Rabid Badger - a vBulletin Cloud demonstration site.
                        vBulletin 5 API - Full / Mobile
                        Vote for your favorite feature requests and the bugs you want to see fixed.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Wayne Luke
                          Well in particular this style here:
                          http://www.vbskinworks.com/forum/index.php?styleid=176

                          Do you have explicit permission to use and resell Sony's property expressed in the use of the Playstation and PSP logos?
                          Point taken...although your implication in your statement was one of broad copyright theft on my part and was uncalled for and patently wrong. That was once a custom design created for psplounge.com which the owner sold to me some time back...and to be quite honest, has always been a concern for the very reason you mention. I will remove the logo's...it's the right thing to do and won't impact the style I don't think.
                          Last edited by smackLAN; Thu 12th Jan '06, 3:51pm.
                          RazorThemes ~ Cutting Edge Designs

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I was pointed to this thread by a friend to give an opinion and so; here I go....


                            There are reasons for encryption... What I see here is a method of piracy prevention - Nothing else. Now... How can anyone here say that piracy should not be frowned upon?

                            If someone could come up with a method of piracy protection that:

                            - Allowed the legitimate owner to edit the HTML freely
                            - Allowed skin backup to the legitimate owner
                            - Prevented un-authorised redistribution
                            - Prevented editing by unauthorised parties
                            - Reduced the file sizes envolved with skins (Minor thing, but every bit counts)
                            - Doesn't use JavaScript, HTML encoding or any other falsification of client-rendered files

                            would you be interested as either a skin buyer, or a skin distributor?

                            Remember; those that make their own skins are not applicable to the question as they own their own copyright... Only those that deal with either making 3rd party skins or buying 3rd party skins should really respond to the tally.

                            Piracy will never be stopped; we all know this... But surely the purpose is to make it as difficult as possible and as user friendly as possible... Surely developers should not encourage piracy... And those that encourage piracy for free advertising... Well... IMO you must be on a power trip and only interested in seeing your name in lights; and you should not call yourself a businessman - Business is about making money for "you"... Remember; not all pirates are distributing your files for free... Many make $$$'s a year selling off illegal software... You are; in effect working for free... Think about it... Because the minute you condone copyright theft for marketing... You are; in effect cancelling out what copyrighting is really about... Why not just offer a free promo for a week...? Keeping the purpose of a copyright valid.
                            Last edited by ccModsUK; Thu 12th Jan '06, 3:08pm.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Well, I don't recall anybody here encouraging piracy. Just stating that the original poster's "encryption" was impractical.

                              If you could indeed find a way to protect a skin while still allowing users to freely customize the skin and not obfuscating the output in any way, then I'm sure that'll be a revolutionary system that, if you could obtain a software patent for, will literally make you millions.

                              However, with what knowledge I have of the Internet, HTML, PHP, and how vBulletin works, I don't know of any method where you can still protect the integrity of the skin while outputting clear HTML code.
                              :)

                              Comment

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