A Moral Dilemma

Posted by bb on Friday 29th of August 2008 at 4:55 pm;.
Filed Under Misc 

I have a passion for reverse engineering – specifically software reverse engineering. Though in all honesty, I do it mainly for intellectual reasons rather than to get free stuff – after all, that’s what torrents are for 🙂

Occasionally though you will come across software that doesn’t spring readily off the first page of isohunt and I find myself having to reverse the application to see if it fits my needs.

A good example, hypothetically of course, would be something like iArtwork. A handy little utility for grabbing Album Art for your iPod without the need to sell your soul to iTunes and open an account there. However, it has a limitation of a maximum of 50 albums. Understandable really but it seemed quite slow on 50 albums so what was I to do if I, hypothetically of course, wanted to do a speed check on several 100’s of albums?

Since I couldn’t find a crack for iArtwork on the ‘net (at the time – don’t know if there is one now – probably is as this was a few months back) I had to crack iArtwork myself – a lovely introduction to reflexil – an essential companion to reflector if you want to look at .NET reversing.

In the end I decided it was too slow and removed it (or would have if this example was not a complete piece of fiction) from all of my computers.

But I digress. My moral dilemma is this – what if one finds a piece of software that is very useful, actively supported, actively developed and great value for money? It goes without saying that one should purchase it of course, but that is not the cause of the dilemma.

Do I approach the author and explain how it is possible to subvert his protection system? Do I let him know how to improve and fortify his protection? Do I just register my copy legitimately and hope no-one else discovers (to be fair – the HUGE GAPING HOLE) the same as I did and invalidates all his hard work?

If I knew I had a safe way of approaching him to ask – I may do that. But there are infamous examples of companies suing individuals who have approached them about security flaws in their networks and offering to help – even with no fee demanded.

My paranoia is such I litter even this piece with hypothetical examples and disclaimers about it being fictional to hopefully prevent any DMCA action from those involved.

So what to do? Really – I have no idea – I’m looking at using a disposable email address and using TOR to contact them but it is reliant on them replying within 24hrs. All suggestions gratefully accepted 🙂

PS. In the interests of fairness, the author of iArtwork can contact me here and I will explain how hypothetically his protection can be subverted and offer suggestions on how it may be improved. Though since I’ve never actually done it, they will have to give me permission to look at it in the first instance 😉

There will be no fee for this service, nor guarantee. But I’m hopeful I can find a way.

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