Russian Anti-Piracy developer Starforce has - somewhat shockingly - posted an active torrent file trading link on it’s company message boards for the recently released Galactic Civilizations 2 from publisher Stardock.
A site admin – who may or may not be employed by Starforce – stated alongside the link, "Right now several thousands of people are downloading the pirated version only from that web-site. Is it good for the sales? Unlikely."
Well, it’s certainly not good for sales when so-called anti-piracy software houses are telling people how to obtain a pirated version for free over the Internet, that’s for sure!
The link has since been taken down from Starforce’s site here
. But the damage has been done. The Anti-Piracy stable door - the now-missing link - has closed after the free pirated game - the horse - has bolted. (Thanks Alan! - Ed)
It’s not the first time that Starforce has generated some negative PR for itself. Indeed, you might want to take a look at this Boycott Starforce site
to get a bit more background on why Starforce is not the PC gamer’s anti-piracy software of choice.
Starforce, for those who haven’t had the misfortune to install it on their PC, is a software copy protection tool installed by some PC game publishers, designed to prevent the casual copying of retail CD-ROM applications. Unfortunately it also installs as a hidden device driver, without the end-user's knowledge or consent. The Starforce drivers are often linked to system instability and computer crashes, with the end-user unaware of the cause of the problem, and thus helpless to solve it.
Galactic Civilizations 2 publisher Stardock should be commended on the other hand for its forward-thinking approach to combatting game piracy. Instead of spending money on expensive (and, as we have seen, sometimes damaging) copy-protection software and methods, it has published a more progressive approach on it’s website: "Our primary weapon to fight piracy is through rewarding customers through convenient, frequent, free updates. If you make it easy for users to buy and make full use of your product or service legitimately then we believe that you'll gain more users from that convenience than you'll lose from piracy."
Starforce responded to reports of the boycott site mentioned on BoingBoing with threats of legal action
against Cory Doctorow, author and founder of the popular website.
Starforce’s PR manager Dennis Zhidkov threatened to press charges against Doctorow, claiming that BoingBoing's reporting had violated "approximately 11 international laws" and claimed to have reported BoingBoing to the FBI for "harassment."
So, to summarise. A joke Russian anti-piracy firm publicises how to obtain pirated copies of a game on the Internet to ‘show’ the game’s publisher how much it really needs it's anti-piracy software. And when criticised for, in reality, actually making software that breaks people’s computers, the company threatens to sue anyone who says anything it doesn’t like.
The word ‘Stalinesque’ leaps to mind. It would certainly seem that the Russian Mafia's stronghold tactics are also employed in Russia's supposedly legitimate Anti-Piracy software industry.