Fighting software pirates – The Minty Way

19. Februar 2006

Mint, as every piece of software on earth, is not payed for by everyone who uses it. This ain’t no big surprise as Mint is delivered with full source code and freely redistributable from a technical point of view.

Its creator Shaun Inman is justifiably annoyed, even more as those so-called pirates seek support at the Mint forum. In a recent blog post he sketches a solution to discover these revenue constricting pirates:

  • He would develop and distribute a pirate sniffing Firefox extension.
  • Loyal customers and other friendly souls are solicited to install this extension on their PCs which will silently check for the existence of an unlicensed Mint installation on every website they visit…

... and if found, sends a ping to a central server. The server could then validate the domain against a list of licensed domains and flag any offenders.

Distributed informers

Shaun Inman christens this “a kind of neighbourhood watch”.

Up to now tens of commenters have dropped their supportive comments and even added complementary ideas on the subject matter.


If Microsoft plead its loyal paying customers to install a piece of software on their IIS webservers and silently sniff into all their visitors’ PCs for unlicensed copies of Microsoft Office or any other Microsoft product, how would you call this?

Who would stand up first and claim his right for privacy?


  1. The suggested neighborhood watch extension is subtly different from your example—and in a very important way.

    It is not the Mint software that would be doing the sniffing (as in your Microsoft example) it is the optionally installed extension (that even non-Mint license holders could install).

  2. What, if Microsoft offered a free-for-all piece of software which ran on an Apache webserver and let this piece sniff into visitors’ PCs?

    Would this make any difference?

  3. Ahh.. endlich kann man mal nach Lust hier kommentieren :)

    On the one hand i do understand Shaun very well. On the other hand i never would sniff for someone else – not even for my best friend.

    Adhead of that: imagine the administrative effort to post to all the abusers….

    Other solutions shold be found here.