Failures

by Timothy Geigner


Filed Under:
copyright, drm, piracy

Companies:
corel



Corel Manages To Accuse A Totally Legit Customer Of Piracy

from the oops dept

While piracy and ways to combat it may be weighing heavily on the minds of many a software producer, it's quite unfortunate that more of them don't consider conversely how their anti-piracy efforts will impact their legit customers. You can see this sort of thing all over the place in the software world, most prominently when it comes to DRM, which tends to stop almost no piracy but manages to annoy legit customers.

But DRM isn't the only method out there for combating piracy. Corel came up with a patented approach that detects pirated versions of its software and attempts to get the pirate to pay up.

Earlier this year we reported on Corel’s efforts in this space after the company obtained a patent for a system which is able to offer an amnesty to illegal users via a popup.

“The amnesty offer may, for example, agree not to bring criminal charges in exchange for the user purchasing a legitimate copy of the product,” Corel’s patent reads. “In this manner, the user of the pirated version is given the opportunity to purchase a legitimate copy which, if acted on, increases revenue for the manufacturer.”

It's not the worst strategy in the world, even if it harkens back somewhat to those copyright troll threat letters that have been on the rise for the past few years. Still, if the system can accurately detect a pirated copy of the software, and if the messaging requesting payment isn't too heavy-handed, it's not a bad way to try to reach out to pirates for payment.

But what if it isn't so accurate? And what if legit customers are suddenly told they're pirates? And what if Corel then treats that person with something less than a full mea culpa? This all already happened, of course.

Earlier this week, TorrentFreak was contacted by an angry Corel customer who was witnessing first hand what can happen when a piracy detection system blows a fuse.

“I am a valid and licensed user and Corel support has records of my license key and right to use this software on my work PC,” he told us.

The user got a popup accuses him of using "illegal" software before requesting payment, at a discounted rate no less. His Corel software, used at his place of work, was also disabled. Suddenly, this user couldn't get access to his or her work product, all because Corel's anti-piracy system crapped the bed and called a customer a pirate. After a lengthy back and forth -- the user was unable to operate for at least a full day -- Corel managed to correct the issue, albeit in a manner totally opaque to the end user. The customer has no idea if his software is now correctly licensed, if he got a new license, or if Corel just put him on some whitelist so as not issue more threats.

Oh, and Corel also hasn't bothered to apologize.

“I’m not sure how [the steps Corel took] corrected my license issue or if it just took me off the ‘hit list’ of victims of what I still feel was some kind of scam. Still no apology from Corel for the problems caused or the delays it forced on me,” he added.

Reached for comment, a Corel rep made a great deal of noise about unlicensed resellers causing all of these problems. TorrentFreak went back to the affected user to ask where he had bought his copy of the software. The answer? Corel's website. This was verified by a review of the purchase receipt. After all of this, Corel finally relented and, I suppose as something of an apology, offered the customer a 5% discount on future purchases.

“I want to ask them if that 5% is good for Photoshop,” the customer commented dryly.

And that really should tell you everything you need to know about the dangers of a crappy anti-piracy system annoying your customers.


Reader Comments

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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 21 Nov 2018 @ 12:38pm

    "I want to ask them if that 5% is good for Photoshop"

    Ouch. In an era of always online DRM (subscription model) this can be a matter of flipping a switch.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 21 Nov 2018 @ 1:38pm

    Wait, what?

    Corel is still around?!?

    The last time I heard anything about them, it was 2000 and I read an article that mentioned how no one was using Corel products anymore!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 21 Nov 2018 @ 3:17pm

      Re:

      Corel is still around?!?

      Yes, but not for lack of trying apparently.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Nov 2018 @ 4:19pm

      Re:

      I'm not surprised that the software is still around. I'm just surprised that there are legitimate customers that pay for it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Nov 2018 @ 5:26pm

        Re: Re:

        It's all low hanging fruit that would rather license software they know will run rather then spend a modest amount of money on infrastructure upgrades. It wouldn't be the first time I've seen it. Corel and dBase are signs that you're going to hate your job.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 21 Nov 2018 @ 11:58pm

        Re: Re:

        "I'm just surprised that there are legitimate customers that pay for it."

        Corporate licensing strategy is a hell of a thing. Many managers & accountants would rather you pay over the odds for inferior tools because they know the brand name or because "that's how we've always done it" than risk switching to something that would be a better fit, cost much less over the long term and/or help attract better talent.

        Of course, it could actually be in this case that Corel's solutions actually *was* the best tool for the job, in which case their failure is extra dumb.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      M.U., 23 Nov 2018 @ 10:43am

      Re: Corel

      Corel owns Paint Shop Pro, an otherwise pretty decent Photoshop-alternative. Just guessing, but I suspect that's the software in question. (Me, I still use PSP 9, the final version before Corel bought it out and loaded it up with DRM.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sehlat (profile), 21 Nov 2018 @ 1:40pm

    Thanks for the heads up.

    My wife and I have used WordPerfect since about version 1. It looks like we're going to have to find something else for our word processing needs. Our livelihoods depend on getting documents right and ready quickly, and we seriously don't need to risk a disaster.

    Bye, Corel!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Nov 2018 @ 2:42pm

      Re: Thanks for the heads up.

      Yep. Wordperfect was pretty good.

      You can always use Libreoffice https://www.libreoffice.org/ for free (and maybe make a donation once you realise how good it is). The integration between the different products is way better than the expensive options. You can place a graphic exactly where you want it to go on a word-processing document, and it will stay where you put it / behave like you want it to.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Scote, 21 Nov 2018 @ 3:09pm

        Libre Office Suite Limitations

        The Libre Office suite is a great value, and a vital alternative to the Microsoft virtual monopoly. However, it is not, to my mind, superior to office, rather it works pretty well for a program that has to deal with undocumented Microsoft formats, but it lacks some basic features.

        Impress, for instance, lacks the ability to copy slide master pages from one presentation to another, making it difficult to format extant slides to a common slide master, which is a common task in slide creation.

        The more you use Libre Office, the more you can appreciate what a tremendous task making it and maintaining it is, and what basic features are missing when you need them.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Nov 2018 @ 3:14pm

          Re: Libre Office Suite Limitations

          Impress, for instance, lacks the ability to copy slide master pages from one presentation to another, making it difficult to format extant slides to a common slide master, which is a common task in slide creation.

          Impress supports the use of templates, which is a better means of achieving the same ends.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 26 Nov 2018 @ 12:19pm

          Re: MS Office Suite Limitations

          Microsoft Office is showing its age. Its “ribbon” UI originated before today’s widescreen monitors became popular. Because documents tend to be laid out in portrait mode, the ribbon reduces the area of the screen available for viewing your document.

          LibreOffice, on the other hand, has the Sidebar, which takes advantage of the available space to the side of your document. This is a more efficient, more modern UI.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Nov 2018 @ 5:49am

        Re: Re: Thanks for the heads up.

        Yep. Wordperfect was pretty good.

        Unrelated to anything Corel did. They bought it in 1996, by which time it was already in decline.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 23 Nov 2018 @ 2:36am

      Re: Thanks for the heads up.

      I use GIMP with G'mic extension for my raster graphics and Inkscape for the vector ones (logos, etc.). The Adobe suite may be the industry standard for graphic design, etc., but I usually get the results I want from the open source alternatives.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Thad (profile), 21 Nov 2018 @ 1:47pm

    Another outlier! God damn there sure are a lot of these outliers!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Nov 2018 @ 3:15am

      Re:

      Another outlier! God damn there sure are a lot of these outliers!

      When the exception confirms the rule it only follows that a rule confirmed by so very many exceptions must be confirmed beyond all doubt.

      And that rule would be "Selling software copies as 'licenses' works" in this case.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gary (profile), 21 Nov 2018 @ 1:54pm

    But...

    Does anyone else find it hilarious that the hacked copies don't have this "feature"? It is almost like they special designed a flaw that only affects the paying customers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Nov 2018 @ 3:16am

      Re: But...

      "Does anyone else find it hilarious that the hacked copies don't have this "feature"? It is almost like they special designed a flaw that only affects the paying customers."

      DRM, like many other forms of malware, is a bit like that. Piracy is in no danger of dying out when the legitimate offer is inferior to the cracked version.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Nov 2018 @ 2:39pm

    Their ant-piracy software's word was not perfect.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ysth (profile), 21 Nov 2018 @ 2:43pm

    discount

    "I want to ask them if that 5% is good for Photoshop"

    It's definitely good for GIMP.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 23 Nov 2018 @ 2:40am

      Re: discount

      I love GIMP. One time on Twitter this graphic artist was showing off a gradient image with bevelled text. I reproduced it in GIMP and replied with the image I had made, explaining the steps I took to make it.

      I find the interface is more intuitive and there are lots of tutorials about to help with complex projects. It's limited to raster images but that's okay unless you need them to scale without losing quality. I use Inkscape for the vector work.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Châu, 23 Nov 2018 @ 3:30pm

      Re: discount

      Also have Krita!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 21 Nov 2018 @ 2:49pm

    Yeah, they'll remember...NOT!

    I desperately want to be a fly on the wall when he tries to collect that 9% discount.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ted the IT Guy (profile), 21 Nov 2018 @ 2:52pm

    Corel vs their customers

    I've been using CorelDRAW since it was first released for Windows 2.x - so, coming up on 30 years. I am currently using the latest version, CorelDRAW 2018, which is basically version 20. Probably needless to say, I have been a huge fan and something of a booster for the software over the last three decades. I've used Adobe Illustrator in the past, but it always seemed to come up short compared to CorelDRAW.

    That being said, I've given a lot of thought recently to kicking CorelDRAW to the curb after my last couple upgrade experiences. The latest version has the gall to pop up obnoxious animated advertisements for other Corel products as desktop notifications. Combined with the really obvious 'always on' (Protexis/Arvato) copy protection and less than optimal software stability, it's hardly my favorite software anymore.

    They also used to have amazing customer support, but in the past several years, they have taken to treating even their most loyal customers as just numbers. There was a day when a call to the support line for a damaged install disk would net you a surprise boxed copy of the latest version just because they were out of replacement disks.

    Those days are long gone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rekrul, 21 Nov 2018 @ 6:30pm

      Re: Corel vs their customers

      That being said, I've given a lot of thought recently to kicking CorelDRAW to the curb after my last couple upgrade experiences. The latest version has the gall to pop up obnoxious animated advertisements for other Corel products as desktop notifications. Combined with the really obvious 'always on' (Protexis/Arvato) copy protection and less than optimal software stability, it's hardly my favorite software anymore.

      They also used to have amazing customer support, but in the past several years, they have taken to treating even their most loyal customers as just numbers. There was a day when a call to the support line for a damaged install disk would net you a surprise boxed copy of the latest version just because they were out of replacement disks.

      Those days are long gone.

      Software companies start out being customer oriented, but the larger they get, the more cold and impersonal they become. Back in the 80s, I wrote to EA several times with questions about their games and always received a personal response mailed to me. Today, they can't even be bothered to answer email with anything but a boilerplate answer.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Christenson, 24 Nov 2018 @ 9:50am

        Re: Re: Corel vs their customers

        I don't think that bit about caring less and less about customers as they grow larger is unique to *software* companies by any means.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Nov 2018 @ 2:56pm

    I think the most surprising thing about this whole situation is that Corel is still around.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 21 Nov 2018 @ 3:28pm

    Looks official, better break out the credit card

    “The amnesty offer may, for example, agree not to bring criminal charges in exchange for the user purchasing a legitimate copy of the product,”

    And what could possibly go wrong by conditioning people to believe that popups demanding payment unless they want to be dragged to court are legitimate?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Nov 2018 @ 3:29pm

    But DRM isn't the only method out there for combating piracy. Corel came up with a patented approach that detects pirated versions of its software and attempts to get the pirate to pay up. … But what if it isn't so accurate? And what if legit customers are suddenly told they're pirates?

    That means their anti-piracy method acts just like DRM, in that it punishes the innocent while doing nothing to stop the guilty. Imagine that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Nov 2018 @ 5:15pm

    Mike Masnick just hates it when copyright law is enforced.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Rekrul, 21 Nov 2018 @ 6:33pm

      Re:

      Mike Masnick just hates it when copyright law is enforced.

      You didn't bother to read any of the article, did you? Corel flagged a completely legitimate user as a pirate, disabled his copy of the software for most of a day, costing him business and then didn't even admit that they screwed up.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Nov 2018 @ 9:48pm

        Re: Re:

        Pirates defending a pirate, what a surprise. This is Mikey is such a laughing stock.

        Bawk!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Rekrul, 26 Nov 2018 @ 11:26am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Pirates defending a pirate, what a surprise. This is Mikey is such a laughing stock.

          Please go cancel your internet service. You're too stupid to be on the internet.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 21 Nov 2018 @ 5:17pm

    Protexis Licensing Service is renowned in the Corel community.

    Protexis supplies COREL its DRM software, and it is so notorious for false positives of piracy it is commonplace for licensed end users to give up trying to negotiate with COREL's distrustful customer service, especially when the DRM flag (which eventually blocks file saving) creates a delay for professional work.

    The alternative is to circumvent the DRM or pirate a COREL application despite having allegedly legitimate license for it. Piracy or circumvention restore functionality a lot faster than does trying to get COREL support to an end user. And that can make the difference of meeting or exceeding a deadline.

    Also, like Windows 10's integrated spyware, the Protexis system raises privacy concerns that are never fully addressed. It gathers a bunch of data about the system it is on and squirts it home, including data that identifies the license and the computer it is installed on.

    It surprises me this incident made news. DRM failures around COREL products are a norm, not an exception. This sort of hoop-jumping for COREL is commonplace.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    John Smith, 21 Nov 2018 @ 6:42pm

    Strong penalties for copyright legal "mistakes" would go a long way towards curbing enforcement abuses. Nothing wrong with that.

    Microsoft doesn't include a 16-bit emulator with Windows anymore because it's too easy to pirate those programs, and many of them are just fine for basic document creation, while the DOS-based databawse programs are extremely memory-efficient and give the users much greater control, though they require some knowledge of how to write code or macros to fully exploit.

    My main concern with piracy is the mass-marketing through sites like Pirate Bay, not some individual downloading a "demonstration copy" of work. Often they lose those copies and want to replace them and if the marketing isn't there then they do in fact wind up paying.

    What I don't want to see is the letter of the law weakened, though its spirit and enforcement are certainly fair game for more equitable treatment of those who don't cross lines on either side (including enforcement), and effective curbs on those who do (like the trolling law firms).


    I do think an IP address should be sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss in a piracy case but that costs should shift in cases where it can be demonstrated affirmatively that the IP owner is not the pirate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Nov 2018 @ 7:21pm

      Re:

      O_O

      Da'Faq are you going on about?

      This is about a corporation spying on users with shitty DRM to "protect" their IP that punishes paying customers.
      They then blame everything but their shitty DRM, then in the face of proof they screwed the pooch offer a half hearted oopsie how about 5% off your next round of us fucking you over?

      They lock paying customers out of their program, causing them to lose time, money, and hey maybe they can get someone fired to with copyright fear... because they can't be bothered to have a decent DRM program. And you somehow can't understand why customers paying or not goto TPB to get the program sans the shitty DRM that can get you fired.

      You obviously have NEVER read any of the filings from trolls, even when there is no evidence of the file every having been on any of the electronics or online drives or every visitors for the last 3 years to the home who plugged in a flash drive... they claim the lack of finding anything is evidence they managed to delete it in such a way their expert could find not a single trace of it.

      Firms that 'accidentally' release the accused name in violation of court orders, who keep a copy of all of your data & have passwords to all of your online accounts... and you think that isn't an undue burden in the face of we have a record, in germany that we will never produce or allow the system to be vetted by a 3rd party, of a millisecond of a transaction which represents nothing usable. You have to roll with the assumption that the single millisecond is proof of a full download, that if you have a penis you are guilty, if your name is on the bill you are guilty (even if you learn the person doesn't live at the location), that people in hospice care & bedridden and lacking in all technical skill are huge pirates because we generated a list of these thousand other things we claim they stole... but we don't own that content and can't prove it but hey we listed beastiality and child porn videos so they will settle rather than connect their name to those things.

      In closing... please try to stay on the fucking topic you moronic shill.

      KTHKSBAI!!!!!!!!!!!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Nov 2018 @ 8:16pm

      Re:

      I do think an IP address should be sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss in a piracy case

      No. No, it should not. Much like third-party hearsay, an IP address alone should never be—on its own—enough to support a legal case against someone accused of copyright infringement. Someone could have left their router open by default without knowing it, or had a friend or relative grab a song or three on their own device. Your logic would put the burden of proof on the defendant rather than on the plaintiff—in other words, you would ask the defendant to prove a negative rather than ask the plaintiff to prove a positive. If you cannot see the inherent unfairness in such logic, you have more issues than your made-up Bezos-level success.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Christenson, 23 Nov 2018 @ 10:44pm

        Re: Re: But Stephen!

        But Stephen... what about my hacked within 3-seconds of being online IOT camera being used for a bit-torrent relay?? Or better, my router from my ISP?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 22 Nov 2018 @ 12:08am

      Re:

      "Microsoft doesn't include a 16-bit emulator with Windows anymore because it's too easy to pirate those programs"

      Yeah, that's it... it's not because the technical debt involved in supporting those is too expensive to maintain in a modern operating system, because the user base for those programs has shrunk to nothing proportionally or because FOSS projects like DOSBox make it easy to emulate them without input from Microsoft (or even requiring Windows at all). It has to be those scary, scary pirates!

      No wonder you hallucinate so much lost income, you have no concept of obsolescence and community.

      "My main concern with piracy is the mass-marketing through sites like Pirate Bay"

      Interesting how you say "mass marketing" rather than "mass "stealing" " or "mass infringement":. Almost as if you're admitting something...

      "I do think an IP address should be sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss in a piracy case..."

      You know, "I don't know how IP addressing works" takes less words to type and communicates the same ideas.

      "the IP owner is not the pirate"

      I don't think that the top level ISP is ever the pirate in these cases, so thanks for saying that every one of these cases should be dismissed out of hand.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Nov 2018 @ 3:27am

      Re:

      "I do think an IP address should be sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss in a piracy case"

      Great. Most modern network technologies dealing with dynamic address allocation will now have to be shitcanned because a guesstimate as factually solid as the fingerpainting of a five year old should be, according to your argument, be considered court-admissible evidence.

      "What I don't want to see is the letter of the law weakened, though its spirit and enforcement are certainly fair game for more equitable treatment of those who don't cross lines on either side..."

      You realize that according to that argument you've basically discarded as irrelevant, among other things; women's suffrage, the abolition of slavery, most of Martin Luther King Senir, Jr. and Gandhi's accomplishments, while upholding the jim Crow laws and the institutional anti-semitism of the third reich as being "legal"?

      The letter of the law should always be weakened where the law in question fails in proportionality, harmful side effects, and reason.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Nov 2018 @ 4:37am

      Re:

      Your first line might be considered reasonable if not for the fact that you have routinely demanded that things be made easier for such "mistakes" to be brought to the court and believed at face value.

      Have a SESTA vote.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    tracyanne, 23 Nov 2018 @ 1:15pm

    Once bitten...

    "And that really should tell you everything you need to know about the dangers of a crappy anti-piracy system annoying your customers. "

    It also tells you everything you need to know about Proprietary Software.

    Sooner or later, it bites you on the arse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Nov 2018 @ 2:02pm

    Fortunately there's an answer.

    Corel hasn't really produced ANY software worth having since the late 90s.

    Dump their shitty malware ridden, keylogger heavy data-stealing, poorly written buggy crap, buy something with more features thats slimmer, faster and more stable.

    i.e. pretty much anything else on the market.

    Hell at this point MS PAINT has better features. and runs faster.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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