Feb 3rd, 2015

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Piracy — the illegal downloading or sharing of digital goods — is an issue that has plagued developers, artists and other types of professionals for years. The biggest companies can usually sweep the negative effects of it under the rug as their bottom line is big enough to take a hit, but what is a smaller developer to do when the app they poured their heart and soul into isn’t being paid for by a majority of people who download it?

For the developer of Today Calendar Pro, the solution is about as cool as they come. Jack Underwood revealed that of all of Today Calendar Pro’s installations, only 15% of them are legit. A whopping 85% of the people who use Today Calendar Pro have downloaded it and sideloaded it onto their Android device. That’s not chump change at $6 per user and an install count between 10,000 and 50,000.

Underwood surprisingly responded to the statistics with a very level-headed approach. He’s one of the few developers who believe the app’s high rate of illegal installations isn’t actually hurting his pockets.

“Fighting piracy in a traditional way is a waste of time in my eyes, it’ll get cracked anyway,” said Underwood speaking to Phandroid. “The majority of people who pirate it wouldn’t have bought it anyway, so it’s not as if I’m losing 85% of my revenue.”

Instead, Underwood says he prefers to use his time to make his app even better. It’s this viewpoint that allows him to step back and think about the issue of privacy in an entirely different manner by asking himself several questions:

  • Why don’t people want to buy the app?
  • Is it too easy to pirate?
  • Is it too pricy?
  • If it’s not worth $6, how can I make it worth $6?

It’s his hope that improving the app with new killer features is the key to converting those pirates to paying customers. But despite being unwilling to go on a crusade against piracy and resort to tactics such as pursuing legal action (which is very expensive and probably not worth a small developer’s time), he does want to do something about the current situation.

today calendar pro pirate

“The key to bringing the percentage down is to make the $6 worth the convenience, that means annoying the users who pirate. Pirate themed events, random pirate popups, that sort of thing – and that doesn’t take long to implement,” said Underwood about a possible course of action. The ideas originated from Reddit and Underwood decided to run wild with it.

It didn’t take long at all — users with cracked versions of the app will soon find that things aren’t as they should be. From wacky pirate-themed calendar events popping up (like Tharrrsday pirate parties) out of nowhere to images depicting an unstable plank situated above a pack of sharks’ feeding grounds suggesting you “walk the plank,” the app will one day shove the fact that you’re a pirate back into your face, and it will do so relentlessly.

It’s at that moment a pirate will have to decide why they really downloaded the app without paying for it. If the app was valuable to them then they might feel compelled to pay up the $6 for a pirate-free experience.

If not, well, they’re free to either put up with the barrage of pirate-themed antics, pay the $6 to legally obtain rights to use the app, or find someone else’s app to steal. Or, you know, just download this handy ad-supported version that will help compensate the developer for his hard work.

Only time will tell if this tactic will end up working out, but we certainly have no problems applauding Underwood for coming up with a unique and funny way to help stop the bleeding.

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