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Fighting software piracy in the Cloud

By Jean-Claude Elias - Nov 17,2016 - Last updated at Nov 17,2016

Fighting software piracy is the hidden side of the Cloud. It is not necessarily a bad thing, per se, except for the fact that it comes somewhat insidiously.

You can argue about trusting the Cloud with your data. You can say that this is not necessarily the perfect solution for you because your Internet connection is not fast enough or reliable enough. You can criticise several of its aspects, the fact remains that it is such a powerful trend that it is really becoming hard to go against it.

Five or six years ago a relatively minor part of our digital work and computing activity was done in the Cloud. Today that part is about 50 per cent, on average. In a very few years it is going to be in the 90 to 100 per cent range; this is a certainty.

Regardless of how much you like the Cloud, trust it or find it technically suitable for your needs, for your data and for your computing devices of all kinds, it is also here to protect the rights of software developers by ensuring that no one anymore can use software or digital services without paying the fees, and apart from and in addition to all the benefits the Cloud provides and the advantages it comes with.

Using pirated software while offline may ensure some form of temporary impunity. Once connected, however, it becomes another story and the software owner becomes empowered with blocking you or demanding you pay the licence fees that are his, by law. The control becomes even greater if data and software are totally in the Cloud.

A growing number of software “makers” have already stopped providing local copies of their products, the kind that you would install once and for all, the old-fashioned way. They now only sell Cloud subscriptions. Among the most famous is Adobe with its leading photo processing Photoshop, alongside Illustrator, InDesign and Acrobat Pro. Today, the only way to get these products is through a Cloud subscription, and it’s aptly called Adobe Creative Cloud so you get the message alright. It’s simple, it’s efficient and it’s smart.

Designers of antivirus and Internet security software have adopted the same approach to the client. Whereas some still give you the option between locally installed products and Cloud-based ones, like for example Kaspersky, others like Bitdefender give you little choice and strongly push for exclusively Cloud-based software — at least in their corporate products range, not that intended for home users. Kaspersky is based in Russia and Bitdefender in Romania.

As for Microsoft, the attitude is still balanced and reasonable. While at the same the company is recommending using its Cloud and subscription-based Office 365, you can still buy the regular Office Suite and install it on your computer once and for all, if you prefer. But even in the second case, the company can still check whether your copy of Office is legal or not, though not as surely as it can do it with Office 365.

When it comes to services, the solution and the product are de facto totally, inherently Cloud-based. From e-mail and web hosting (Godaddy, Hostgator,…) to backup and data sharing (Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive,…) and mass-bulk e-mailing (YMLP, Getresponse, Reachmail), the customer has to pay the fees, or else… In such configuration and context there is no place to hide and no way to cheat.

 

Again, it is not necessarily a bad thing. It is just worth being aware of the situation and realising how the customer is controlled.

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