V.i. Labs Turns Software Piracy into a Lead Gen VehicleV.i. Labs Turns Software Piracy into a Lead Gen Vehicle
Few things are more important to ISVs than making sure their software is locked down and protected from piracy. It is, after all, their bread and butter. But what about hacked software, illegal downloads and exploited product keys? The VAR Guy has found an interesting solution in the form of V.i. Labs. Inject the company's code into your software and suddenly you can track whether your software product is being pirated. What's more, the company aims to turn piracy into lead generation.
March 18, 2011
Few things are more important to ISVs than making sure their software is locked down and protected from piracy. It is, after all, their bread and butter. But what about hacked software, illegal downloads and exploited product keys? The VAR Guy has found an interesting solution in the form of V.i. Labs. Inject the company’s code into your software and suddenly you can track whether your software product is being pirated. What’s more, the company aims to turn piracy into lead generation. Read on for the details …
It’s a simple idea: V.i. Labs provides the code, which an ISV embeds it into its software via an update or a new version. Then, from V.i. Labs’ dashboard, the ISV can track and monitor where all the cracked and pirated copies of its software go to determine who is using them.
Victor DeMarines, vice president of products for V.i. Labs, noted no personal information is obtained through use of the code. “It only runs in a certain condition during piracy use,” he said. “No personal information is transferred, [but] we can find out, ‘Is this an organization?'”
Beyond that, DeMarines pointed out that reverse DNS lookup and the domain information of the network running the pirated software actually can be used to generate leads — an idea that caught The VAR Guy’s attention straightaway. If the offender is just one user behind an ISP’s IP address, then likely no action will be taken. But if the reverse DNS or domain turns up a big corporation — ISVs now have a real lead.
It can also be determined if the offense is not piracy but rather a smaller licensing issue, such as using the software on more than the licensed number of computers. Again, this information can create leads, DeMarines said, because now the ISV can go to the company and posit itself to either work something out, sell an upgrade version, cut a deal or — worst case scenario — initiate legal action should the offending company not cooperate.
V.i. Labs also embedded in the EULA for the software information regarding this method of detection in the event of piracy. “It helps build a compliance program,” explained DeMarines.
So what other kind of information can an ISV get regarding their software? V.i. Labs can look at activity times, event logs, history of uses and proliferation of pirated software keys and licenses. Currently, it’s cross-platform for Windows and Linux with Mac support expected later in the 2011 year, DeMarines said.
“We’re bringing to market a new strategy that turns the piracy problem into new revenue,” he said.
DeMarines noted that cracked versions of the software likely will appear on traditional piracy networks within 30 days of an update that includes V.i. Labs’ software. An ISV can then start to take action and see revenue within six months, he said.
A subscription can cost anywhere from $25,000 to $100,000 based on the size of the ISV and the style of deployment. V.i. Labs also has a SaaS version for smaller vendors priced at about $5,000. Plus, the company gets a percentage of leads generated with its detection software. Not exactly chump change, The VAR Guy thinks, but compared to the amount of money an ISV could be losing through pirating, it’s a cost that may well be worth emptying the corporate penny jar.
Sounds like a good deal for ISVs, but what about VARs? “I think the VARs themselves have seen the result of piracy and have had to manage that more in a social way than forensic way,” DeMarines said. “[V.i. Labs gives] information for VARs to go in there and have a real talk.” He also thinks the company’s approach to piracy as lead generation instead of discovery for prosecution creates an atmosphere of amnesty and removes the possibility of negative press.
Thus far, V.i. Labs claims ISVs have saved nearly a billion dollars in revenue through its technology. The VAR Guy has to agree, it’s an incredibly novel approach.
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