Arrgh! If you've developed any software, template, extension, or digital product then you've worried about your digital rights being pirated. You've worked long and hard and lost countless hours of sleep on your 'baby' and here it is out in the open on some warez site for free! Here are some basic thoughts to consider that may help ease your worrying and put things into perspective. And maybe you'll gain some insights for when it happens to you, because more than probably will.

Don't Panic

The first reaction is to panic- your precious work lies open and exposed for anyone to take. But don't panic. Take a couple of deep breaths and think about the implications. Anyone that is trolling these warez sites probably is not interested in purchasing your work in the first place. They are simply looking for a way around the system because they lack integrity and a moral compass. Is that the type of person you want as your customer? Probably not. They are not likely to ever come to your site to purchase your product because they don't want to support your business or spend their money for what they think they can get for free. They don't value your time, your product, or your support, and that is not a good customer.

Don't Over-React

Your second emotion will probably be anger. How can you get revenge? Don't do it. Trying to flame a pirate on their own warez site will always end badly. You've stepped into their world and they love the challenge. Instead, carefully plan your next moves and strategically protect your business, your work and your reputation.

Do Take Action

I've advocated not panicking and not over-reacting in anger, but that doesn't mean I think you have to sit back and passively let it happen. Instead I recommend several key steps that should help decrease the amount of piracy that you experience.
  • Twitter is a good place to start. If you're not on twitter already, Join. Once you are on twitter consider using a desktop client like TweetDeck, or another service such as HootSuite (both have free solutions). With these tools you can easily track and monitor keywords and hashtags. Setup one for your software as well as your industry. You might be surprised at what you find out.
  • Google has some great features. If you have never experienced Google Alerts then you should definitely take a look. Google Alerts lets you setup searches that will grab results and email them to your inbox each day. Setup a search for your software name. This will actually help you in multiple ways - not only will you be able to see what other people post about your product but you'll also find out how well Google indexes your own site and how fresh your own content is!
  • Update your software. Every good product has bugs. Regardless of how perfect you think it is - there is always something that needs improvement. Release updates frequently; you'll make it difficult for pirates to keep up to date with your latest version AND your software will become better with each release.
Lastly, once you realize you've been pirated you can send the appropriate "cease and desist" letter. Most of the larger sites have an email address or a form where you can submit a request for removal, and in most cases, they will take the necessary action within 24 hours.

Move On

It's important to keep moving forward. Don't dwell on piracy problems or stew over it. In the long run you have to come to terms with the fact that it will happen and continue to happen. Use the tools above to minimize the spread but most importantly use it as motivation to become better. Remember, consistently updating your software not only makes it more difficult to pirate but will also make your business better. And ultimately you'll attract the kind of customers you really do want!

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