Anti-piracy for mods? No, community is more important

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Mooncat
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Anti-piracy for mods? No, community is more important

Post by Mooncat » Mon Nov 07, 2016 2:53 am

Recently, someone, who was happy with the cracked version of Factorio, came to our official forum and asked for the download link of a mod. Apparently he is not very happy about the introduction of Mod Portal. It is doing a great job to avoid piracy on Factorio. (The subject has been closed by admin, so don't worry.)

But as you know, many of us modders are managing the source code in a open-source manner, meaning that everyone can access it. When I look back my repos, oh, man, it is so easy to grab the folders! You can actually see the structures of mods. All they need to know are the URLs of those repos, or simply, my username. It is not a problem with search engine. :?

And after the v0.2 update of Creative Mode, I need to find a better place for proper documentation. I have tried wikia, it is good. Here is a preview of what I have done: http://factorio-creative-mode.wikia.com ... enu/Cheats. But the downside is it has ads which sometimes can be distracting.
aubergine18 suggested the Github wiki, and I have checked that. It is good. But I don't like the feel that I will be inviting people directly to the repo. It is like "here is the wiki, and there is the mod you can download. Don't need to use Mod Portal." :|

So, an idea came up in my mind: how about changing the repos from public to private? Since GitHub doesn't offer free private repo and I don't want to pay just because I need to avoid piracy for the mods, it means that I will have to find another service provider. :geek:

Before submitting this post, I have read an article about the differences between the well-known service providers: GitHub, GitLab, BitBucket, Coding. Here is the link: https://medium.com/flow-ci/github-vs-bi ... f2b43888a1, and you should be mostly interested on the Free Plans and the Summary. ;)

Since my company is using BitBucket (but I didn't know it supports free private repo :shock: ), I think I will migrate my repos to there and set them to private (except the Color Picker mod because it is a library). I understand that this cannot completely stop people from sharing pirated mods, just like the game itself, but as a modder and also a player of this amazing game, I want to participate on anti-piracy for Factorio. And it is the best move that I can think of and I can do myself. :P What's your idea?

Edit: fixed typo on the subject. :P

===================================================================

Edti2: after a chat on IRC, jcranmer and UncleDrax made a good point:
if there is enough demand, even not-publishing souce won't stop someone
And I rethought about Factorio.... this game is amazing, that people share the pirated copies of it on various websites. If my mods are good, making my repos private won't change anything because people with bad intention can still get them from Mod Portal and share to everyone, just like how they do to Factorio.

As self-same-spot and Ranakastrasz pointed out, anti-open-source can be harmful to the modding community. And Rseding91 also showed his concern for doing so.

So, I think it is enough for me to make my decision: I will keep my repos public and open-source. ;)
Last edited by Mooncat on Mon Nov 07, 2016 5:09 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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Re: Anti-piracy for mods

Post by self-same-spot » Mon Nov 07, 2016 7:10 am

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Last edited by self-same-spot on Thu Nov 24, 2016 11:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Anti-piracy for mods

Post by Supercheese » Mon Nov 07, 2016 7:27 am

self-same-spot wrote:While I understand the desire to support the devs in any way possible, this suggestion is way too anti-open source for my taste and has the potential to hurt the game more by making the whole modding ecosystem around it less accessible and welcoming. The ability to watch how mods are evolving by viewing commits and to participate by sending PRs does wonders for the health and growth of the community, which indirectly may bring (and IMO indeed does so) more sales than a walled garden. And those sales will be appreciation-driven too, as compared to inconvenience-, guilt- and limitation-driven.

On top of that, pirates (and legit users) are already sharing mod packs for multiplayer. In my view, it's a futile fight.
My thoughts exactly. :)

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Re: Anti-piracy for mods

Post by Zeblote » Mon Nov 07, 2016 7:35 am

It doesn't matter. Really, it's that simple - if someone wants to waste time collecting mods from github, how does that affect anyone else?

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Re: Anti-piracy for mods

Post by Mooncat » Mon Nov 07, 2016 8:27 am

self-same-spot wrote:While I understand the desire to support the devs in any way possible, this suggestion is way too anti-open source for my taste and has the potential to hurt the game more by making the whole modding ecosystem around it less accessible and welcoming. The ability to watch how mods are evolving by viewing commits and to participate by sending PRs does wonders for the health and growth of the community, which indirectly may bring (and IMO indeed does so) more sales than a walled garden. And those sales will be appreciation-driven too, as compared to inconvenience-, guilt- and limitation-driven.

On top of that, pirates (and legit users) are already sharing mod packs for multiplayer. In my view, it's a futile fight.
hm... I haven't been interested on watching the evolution of mods, or maybe I have witnessed the evolution of certain mods, but I did that by reading forum posts. It would be much easier when there are images about their old versions. :)
And although I know some people have been "watching" my repos, I haven't received any pull requests yet. (Don't send me one because of this. :P ) So I have no idea that keeping it open-source is important. I meant, people can already participate the development by giving me suggestions on the forum. So I thought there is no need to make the repo to be public. In case someone is interested to be a contributor, I can still invite him, after validating his identity manually.

Yea, you can see I am not a professional git user. I just use it to store files. I rarely use its other features like pull request, opening issue, etc. If keeping mods open-source is really that important, please bear with me. I will reconsider my decision. :mrgreen:
Zeblote wrote:It doesn't matter. Really, it's that simple - if someone wants to waste time collecting mods from github, how does that affect anyone else?
My thought on this was that Mod Portal has greatly stopped people from playing cracked version of Factorio by requiring an official account. But keeping the mods open-source seems violating this whole thing. Getting cracked version of Factorio is already easy, Mod Portal becomes the last barrier and I think I should do something to protect it.

That said, if such solution causes more harm than benefits, I won't do that. ;)

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Re: Anti-piracy for mods

Post by bobingabout » Mon Nov 07, 2016 9:01 am

Well, if you don't want to have the code public, don't use a public site.

I for example basically just use my drop box folder as my code repository. but then I'm the only person who edits the code.
This works for me, only people who have access to my drop box can access the files... and if I did want to add someone to the project... Shared folders! Simply add the drop box folder to someone elses dropbox account, and they can access it to.

It works... for me.

The problem there is, once someone has the zip file... they have the source. So anyone who downloads the mod, via mod portal, or via my drop box download, have access to the source anyway, there is no protection from someone unzipping the mod.

If the issue is letting only legal owners of the game grab it, fair enough, mod portal works.

If it is a case of trying to ward off other modders from grabbing my mod, editing it, and rereleasing it as their own *Caugh* Andhag and Andrew's mods *Caugh*, there really is no protection against that.

Worst part about Andrews mods... Not only are they rip-offs of my own, but his edits cause them to be incompatible with my own. Which leads to many people posting bug reports about getting Andrews mods to work with mine. A lot of his code even has a bob- prefix in it. I just blatently tell people who ask for help that I refuse to support mods by people who've used my code without permission, and my recommended action is to uninstall Andrews mods.
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Re: Anti-piracy for mods

Post by Zeblote » Mon Nov 07, 2016 9:38 am

Mooncat wrote: My thought on this was that Mod Portal has greatly stopped people from playing cracked version of Factorio by requiring an official account. But keeping the mods open-source seems violating this whole thing. Getting cracked version of Factorio is already easy, Mod Portal becomes the last barrier and I think I should do something to protect it.
Buying factorio is also easy. They've already sold over 600000 copies on steam without any advertising, I don't think piracy is an issue here :D

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Re: Anti-piracy for mods

Post by Mooncat » Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:35 am

bobingabout wrote:Well, if you don't want to have the code public, don't use a public site.

I for example basically just use my drop box folder as my code repository. but then I'm the only person who edits the code.
This works for me, only people who have access to my drop box can access the files... and if I did want to add someone to the project... Shared folders! Simply add the drop box folder to someone elses dropbox account, and they can access it to.

It works... for me.

The problem there is, once someone has the zip file... they have the source. So anyone who downloads the mod, via mod portal, or via my drop box download, have access to the source anyway, there is no protection from someone unzipping the mod.

If the issue is letting only legal owners of the game grab it, fair enough, mod portal works.

If it is a case of trying to ward off other modders from grabbing my mod, editing it, and rereleasing it as their own *Caugh* Andhag and Andrew's mods *Caugh*, there really is no protection against that.

Worst part about Andrews mods... Not only are they rip-offs of my own, but his edits cause them to be incompatible with my own. Which leads to many people posting bug reports about getting Andrews mods to work with mine. A lot of his code even has a bob- prefix in it. I just blatently tell people who ask for help that I refuse to support mods by people who've used my code without permission, and my recommended action is to uninstall Andrews mods.
It is not about getting copied by other people. As you said, the zip already contains all necessary source files. It is just about disallowing non-legal owners of the game to download mods. ;)
It is good to know that there is another approach about this. But now I should really think about whether I should make my repos public or private. :geek:
Making them private will be anti-open-source. But I really have no idea how the result will be. On the other hand, your mods are running well and I see no problem from it. I will hear from more people before making the decision anyway. :mrgreen:

Sorry to hear about the Andrew mods. Have you contacted Andrew, or even Klonan and Rseding for this? Andrew has obviously violated your mod license and I guess the devs will help you to deal with it? :?
Zeblote wrote:Buying factorio is also easy. They've already sold over 600000 copies on steam without any advertising, I don't think piracy is an issue here :D
To some people, it is difficult. :) Although piracy is not a big issue, there is never too much money, right? :lol: If it is said by a dev, it will be a different story though.

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Re: Anti-piracy for mods

Post by self-same-spot » Mon Nov 07, 2016 1:19 pm

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Re: Anti-piracy for mods

Post by Ranakastrasz » Mon Nov 07, 2016 2:04 pm

I would never have gotten to start modding Factorio without open source mods. So, 5 less mods would exist.
My Mods:
Modular Armor Revamp - V16
Large Chests - V16
Agent Orange - V16
Flare - V16
Easy Refineries - V16

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Re: Anti-piracy for mods

Post by Rseding91 » Mon Nov 07, 2016 4:52 pm

You're never going to beat pirates and if you have to make the experience worse for the legitimate customers that just gives more reason to pirate things.

Reminds me of this: http://i.imgur.com/GxzeV.jpg
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Re: Anti-piracy for mods

Post by Mooncat » Mon Nov 07, 2016 5:03 pm

Rseding91 wrote:You're never going to beat pirates and if you have to make the experience worse for the legitimate customers that just gives more reason to pirate things.
Understood. I know your concern now. I will obey the devs on this subject. :mrgreen: Thanks for your time.

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Re: Anti-piracy for mods? No, community is more important

Post by aubergine18 » Tue Nov 08, 2016 4:31 am

All my modding is open source, and will remain that way. I certainly don't want to start putting shite in to my mods just to pander to an obsolete socioeconomic paradigm.

Piracy isn't really the issue here - people who pirate the software aren't going to pay for it, regardless of what is done to try and make that happen. In recent years, there's also a trend of pirates actually giving back to the community via non-monetary means, such as making mods (ISTR that there's one notable mod already where this is the case), hosting servers, or just generally being active in the community in a positive way.

My main worry is how Factorio will generate long-term recurring revenue for the team at Wube Software. I'd very much like to see the devs continue the amazing and frequent updates, but I don't know what their longterm plans are. At some point they will have to diversify in to other games to keep roof over their heads and food on the table.

I feel the game engine, which they developed themselves (I think?), could potentially become a source of revenue in its own right, by licensing it to other game devs. With some fairly minor tweaks, it could power a whole new generation of 2.1D games, particularly in RPG and RTS genres. It has some very notable technical merits that other game devs would benefit from.

I also hope that some DLC is added post 1.0 release, particularly if it adds new modding abilities for those of us wanting to really take advantage of the surfaces feature of the engine. Notably, this would involve new entiteis for transferring power, items, fluids, etc., between surfaces in a performant, and ideally trivial to implement, manner.
Better forum search for modders: Enclose your search term in quotes, eg. "font_color" or "custom-input" - it prevents the forum search from splitting on hypens and underscores, resulting in much more accurate results.

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Re: Anti-piracy for mods

Post by bobingabout » Tue Nov 08, 2016 12:16 pm

Mooncat wrote:Sorry to hear about the Andrew mods. Have you contacted Andrew, or even Klonan and Rseding for this? Andrew has obviously violated your mod license and I guess the devs will help you to deal with it? :?
I was considering contacting someone when it was first brought to my attention, but decided not to when the people who did reported that they basically flamed the crap out of him in his own forums to the point where he removed most of the graphics he took from my mods, and used recolored base game graphics instead.

I still haven't decided if it's worth the hassle to do anything about it yet. I think the main thing that bugs me about it is that not only did he use functions from my library in his own, but that they conflict with mine.

I'm just watching what he's doing for now.
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Re: Anti-piracy for mods

Post by exi2163 » Mon Dec 05, 2016 3:18 pm

Rseding91 wrote:You're never going to beat pirates and if you have to make the experience worse for the legitimate customers that just gives more reason to pirate things.

Reminds me of this: http://i.imgur.com/GxzeV.jpg
Exactly. There is a way to get people into buying: Make it easier for customers. Nowadays you can buy a typical game on Steam, head over to the workshop, click on some mods (automatic multiplayer server mod matching would be nice) and play away. A pirate might be annoyed by having to hunt down the game (preferably without trojan horses included) and the mods but it will not stop him.
There might be some people who simply cant afford to buy a game and give back otherwise. I think if you are honest many people can relate with that.

@bobingabout: To be honest if i was modding stuff i would have copied your code, refactor it to a new namespace and release as your license is pretty uncommon in game mods and i would not have looked for it. I expect mods to solely use a nc-by-sa license (like GPL but in most cases commercial use is forbidden by the game developers anyway) which will allow other people to pickup in case you quit/vanish or create derivative works which open source (which your license is not, it is closed source) is all about. However i would respect it and would delete the upload (including wishing you to hell and probably quit modding factorio). Thankfully for both of us i'm not into modding factorio (yet) and now that i know your license we will never have that "pleasure" anyway.

So please @ll: Keep it open and accessible for everyone.

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Re: Anti-piracy for mods

Post by Mooncat » Tue Dec 06, 2016 2:23 am

exi2163 wrote:@bobingabout: To be honest if i was modding stuff i would have copied your code, refactor it to a new namespace and release as your license is pretty uncommon in game mods and i would not have looked for it. I expect mods to solely use a nc-by-sa license (like GPL but in most cases commercial use is forbidden by the game developers anyway) which will allow other people to pickup in case you quit/vanish or create derivative works which open source (which your license is not, it is closed source) is all about. However i would respect it and would delete the upload (including wishing you to hell and probably quit modding factorio). Thankfully for both of us i'm not into modding factorio (yet) and now that i know your license we will never have that "pleasure" anyway.
I think the main issue there is that Andrew broke Bob's mods by copying the scripts without properly changing the IDs, causing troubles to Bob. No one will be happy no matter what the license is. :roll:
Of course the license is also a problem. I agree with you that Bob's license is uncommon. But if every license is the same, then there is no point to have the license field for each mod.

About the topic, just to make sure everyone got it right: I was talking about the mods' source code, not the mods themselves. The mods are always available on Mod Portal, so everyone who has access to the Mod Portal should also have access to the mods. I was just wondering should I keep the source code open.
Don't talk to me about "not having money to buy the game". I started this topic because I saw someone who didn't want to pay but somehow got the full version, then came here to ask for more, ask for the download links of mods. This is insane.
In the end, I will keep the source code open. It is not about piracy, but to keep the source code more accessible so people can learn from them. :)

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Re: Anti-piracy for mods? No, community is more important

Post by Nexela » Tue Dec 06, 2016 3:35 am

I am pretty sure bob is more upset about the obvious theft of the whole code and graphics. I.E this was bobs mods and now its Cheesymods and the "author" still denies it was copied.

Chances are If someone took a piece of code or some fancy function from another mod to use in their mod, The author probably wouldn't mind (or mind as much) (more kudos if you actually comment on where it came from). Copying the whole code base and doing a (horrible) find and replace and calling it your own is another story. If you think about it there are only so many ways per language to do something and this gets even harder if you have already seen how someone does it :).

In a nutshell copyright and licenses only really protect big business who can afford lawyers to pester someone into dropping it.

Moving on to pirating software. Sure go ahead. The next big "hack" needs more trojans in their bot-net. When you read about these DDOS "hacks" that take down sites (or even dns servers!) the code behind it is really simple.

Code: Select all

for Everyone_Who_Downloaded_Our_Pirated_Program do start_spamming_site end
A DDOS attack is about as much "hack" as saying your Facebook account got hacked because you left yourself logged in.....

And that is just trojans, not stuff like adware, actual damaging viruses, etc.

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Re: Anti-piracy for mods? No, community is more important

Post by Rautherdir » Fri Dec 15, 2017 7:26 pm

Noticed this and decided to make an account just to share my piece on this topic.

I approve of open source projects, but I also know that certain elements and projects should not be open source (Generally for security reasons) My take on this is that you can, to an extent, hinder piracy and mod-stealing in this way by having the graphics/audio/etc of your mod be closed source, but having the rest be open. In other words, having the release versions include graphics inbuilt to the release but the build versions reference another folder outside of the project (Guess I should note that I'm more familiar with modding in Minecraft and not Factorio, so I'm not sure how simple that would be in practice) When working with multiple people or workstations where you would want the graphical assets to be shared between them, either making use of a private repo or using encrypted graphics files (And probably Gradle to allow automated decryption using a key when getting a commit or when creating a release version) would allow sharing the graphics files without releasing them to the public. While the code for a mod is definitely something that should be in the open if you want to allow others to easily learn, the resources for a mod (other than demonstrations for how to implement resources, and/or dummy versions if not having the files would prevent running it in a development environment) do not really have to be in the open for people to still be able to learn from your mod.

Edit: Saw December 5th and thought it would be okay, didn't notice the year wasn't 2017
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Re: Anti-piracy for mods? No, community is more important

Post by Koub » Fri Dec 15, 2017 7:56 pm

I'm not sure it your post adds something to the debate (too technical for me ^^), but I'd at least like to point out you're reviving a 1 year-old topic, so I hope it does.
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Re: Anti-piracy for mods? No, community is more important

Post by Templarfreak » Wed Dec 20, 2017 3:02 am

I get this is a year-old topic and I don't want to be that guy that continues the conversation after someone bumped it, but I'm going to be that guy. Obfuscation of any kind does not help anybody. Short of making it overly obscenely difficult and complex to near impossible to mod for new-comers, there is no way to create effective anti-piracy/content stealing in this modern world. Anyone who wants into your code and to learn from your code and change it and steal from it will get in almost no matter what except something along the lines of a 64+ bit encryption, which would just be overly secure and be a huge performance impact on the game. Obfuscation does not make your software more secure. 90% of the time it's not the newbies and the idiots who try to steal everything, it's the people with the experience and knowledge to do so. And any other time someone else wants to look at your code, it is to learn from it. I would not know anywhere near as much about Factorio modding right now if I didn't look into making my own personal expansion to BioTech by looking at BioTech's code. If BioTech was obfuscated, I would not be here right now. I would have given up a long time ago because it would have taken me weeks to months to learn some of the most basic concepts to modding this game. Next, there is kind of this thing called Fair Use. Something deemable as transformative is not stealing. If I take your graphics and change them to such a degree that they are pretty different, even if you could still tell it was your graphic, I am totally in the right to do that. It is different. It is changed to a degree that is considered Fair Use and Fair Use is protected by law across a pretty decent portion of the world (Pretty much only Asia is the only area of the world that doesn't have strong, solid copyright laws -- Japan has no Fair Use what-so-ever and China has almost no copyright protection at all). To top that off, big stealing/piracy problems are really few and far between especially in modding communities and for small-team-indie games like this. Most people have enough respect to not steal. Sure, you could point at examples of this but they are the exception and not the rule. They are few anecdotal examples at best and are not indicative of the entire community. Finally, when these people do get caught stealing content from other modders, they get ostracized and shunned from the entire community anyway, then most people who come into the community learn about this and then don't want to do that because they want to make mods that people enjoy and not be seen as a villain stealing someone else's mod.

So to break the points down:

1. It hurts people that want to learn
2. It's almost impossible to fully 100% protect your stuff from the people that actually want to steal anyway, and the methods that can majorly negatively impact not only development and performance but the play experience as a whole
3. Most people probably won't actually steal your content anyway or if they do "steal" your content they are using it for personal use and probably don't intend to release it because they have a respect for the community and the people behind the content
4. It's a violation of Fair Use
5. Mods that do get stolen are anecdotal examples at best. Not everyone looking into your code or wanting to ask about your code are trying to steal from you. In fact, most of them probably aren't.
6. People get heavily punished by the community itself for stealing anyway.

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