If you steal source code, don’t ask for help fixing it

While doing some research for my decompiling session at Flash on the Beach, I came across this gem of a post on the Adobe ActionScript 3 message board. Someone posts a block of code and asks “I’m getting 3 compiling errors when I test my flash movie: could you guys give me some advice on how to sort out these issues and correct them. its driving me crazy trying to resolve the problem.”

And then he posts the code. And if you have ever decompiled any ActionScript code, it’s painfully obvious what the guy is doing: he’s ripping off someone else’s code, then complaining in the Adobe forum that he can’t figure out why it won’t compile, and asking people to fix his broken, stolen code.

Here’s a snippet of his code:

public function BEShell()
1  0 39            instance = this;
            Logger.target = new FirebugTarget();
            var _loc_1:* = loaderInfo.loaderURL;
            if (_loc_1.indexOf("env1") != -1 || _loc_1.indexOf("Akqa") != -1 
                        || _loc_1.indexOf("dev.site.com") != -1)
                Logger.mode = Logger.PRODUCTION_MODE;
                stage.addEventListener(KeyboardEvent.KEY_UP, keyHandler);
            }// end else if
        }// end function

That’s very clearly, without question, decompiled code. It even has some extra line number information included in the dump! And that’s what was tripping the guy up. He couldn’t understand why that beginning line that starts with “1 0 39…” wouldn’t compile!

Sometimes I’m just amazed by people. Like, really? You have the balls to steal someone’s code, then post it in a public forum and ask for help?

And of course maybe I’m totally off base, maybe the guy works for the company that originally wrote the code (seems to be a Flash agency called AKQA) and maybe he just got pulled in to fix some co-workers work and they lost the original source and they need to use decompiled code since that’s all they have… yeah… maybe…


51 thoughts on “If you steal source code, don’t ask for help fixing it

  1. Omg, i was about to fall off my chair when seeing this. Mostly because i recognize the code, as i’m one of the guys who was working on the project in question. Haha :) I can say for a fact that the guy asking this is not anybody from AKQA.

    But yeah; it’s amazing how lazy people are getting. Also if you can’t figure out why the “1 0 39″ is causing a problem, you should probably start with an easier project to steal..

  2. Anonymous says:

    That’s pretty funny, but I don’t see any problem with what he’s doing. There’s no such thing as “stealing” source code. He was reusing code that was made available to him, which is a reasonable way to build software.

  3. anonymous2 says:

    No… He stole code. He DECOMPILED an existing program. He didn’t copy and paste source code. The code wasn’t “made available to him.”

  4. Tempura says:

    That ‘maybe’ at the end, is’nt so unrealistic at all. There are always smaller companys which buy some crap from some designer and want change things years later.

  5. Doug. here positive and negative aspects of this particular code stealing. if he is doing for himself only, yea, could be considered as fine, i remember myself hacking into someone’s code in 1990-91, back that time documentation or code tips were something rather exotic, although Usenet and some BBSs been been around for something, so hacking brings a lot of good results for self education, you struggle, you learn, there is always some Grand Master that will get your ass around and tell you a fairy tale about how to write code…

    another aspect, decompiling someone’s code… if it would be just a hack for himself and he will sort it out quietly, i don’t have anything against it, not even taking moral principles, but hey, when guy throws this thing into public forum, that’s truly suck.

  6. i think most coders have at one point or another indulged in the great educational experience offered by decompiling; many of us have done it, and many won’t admit it. It’s also a widely held belief that you ought not to turn around and try to profit off that activity even though doing it for “educational purposes” when you’re 16 and profiting off it when you’re 26, though very different, is very … similar … if vastly more tolerated.

    clearly, as this example demonstrates, a person who *needs* to decompile others’ work to get the job done simply can’t compete with someone who doesn’t (or no longer needs to). AKQA has absolutely nothing to worry about. And if that argument holds water, then it doesn’t matter, there isn’t anything wrong with it, because (mostly) it doesn’t actually hurt anybody.

    That said, the dumbass deserves to be made fun of. Someone that green shouldn’t even have access to a decompiler in the 1st place — he might hurt himself!

  7. hassan says:

    someone who disguises others code to be taken for his could as well disguise his comments to be taken for someone else to defend himself :)

  8. Anonymous says:

    “No… He stole code. He DECOMPILED an existing program. He didn’t copy and paste source code. The code wasn’t “made available to him.”

    I do not accept this false concept of “stolen” for information. If anything, running a decompiler on a binary produces a new work; it’s not even the original sourcecode. The decompiler makes this new code available to him, out of a binary that was available to him. I see no problem.

  9. Matt says:

    “Stealing” is a poor word for this sort of thing, in my opinion. Sure, he may have infringed someone’s copyright, but many people learn to code by copy and pasting snippets and getting it to work for themselves. Who is harmed, exactly?

  10. dak says:

    @Anonymous, it doesn’t produce a new work, it produces a derivative work. The decompiled source code is quite obviously derived from the binary; you said as much yourself. So there’s no difference in this than in translating a novel from one language to another.

    Under your desired set of rules, I could take something like Photoshop CS3, decompile it, recompile it, and sell it as my own work. I can’t think of a single person who would honestly support that. Advocates of the GPL certainly wouldn’t, as that license and its community rely on the copyright owner having the exclusive right to authorize the creation of derivative works and to specify the terms which authors of derivative works must follow (namely, the derivative work must also be released under the GPL).

  11. Al says:

    @Anonymous & @Matt:

    There is a problem and we are all harmed by those that try to sell our work. Ultimately, as long as someone is re-selling your work, expect to earn less money. Unless of course you work for free?

  12. Anonymous says:

    There’s not even any evidence that he’s going to be selling “your work”. And not everyone subscripes to the business model that instances of software need to be sold under license agreements preventing their distribution.

    What he did might be considered copyright infringement where you live, or it might not. He’s not even using the whole sourcecode of the other project, only a part. “So there’s no difference in this than in translating a novel from one language to another.” — I’m allowed to translate a paragraph of a novel, post it to a translation forum and ask if I did it right. That’s how people learn to translate. In most if not all places, copyright law has provisions for people using pieces of another work; like sampling from a song.

    Also just because someone’s doing something that you think may cause you to earn less money, doesn’t mean what they’re doing is illegal or immoral :-) I think it’s very unprofessional to accuse someone of “stealing” when the word stealing _does_not_apply_ here. Copyright infringement, maybe, but noone can say that unless a legal case is made and a court makes a decision.

  13. Alright, I’ve gotten called out on the use of the word “stealing” and I think that my position on decompiling came off stronger than I intended. I’m giving an entire talk about how to decompile source code, so clearly I don’t think that people who decompile code should be in jail. I’m all about using the tools that you have, including decompiling, to enhance your knowledge and advance your skillset. I decompile all sorts of shit all the time. I do not, however, use decompiled code in any project that I create. Decompiling is a fantastic way to learn new things, to explore unknowns, and to keep up with the industry. But it is not OK to try to roll decompiled code into your own work. EVER.

    In this particular case, the original poster was clearly not well educated in ActionScript 3, otherwise the obvious compiler errors would have been easy to spot. This means that the original poster was trying to use decompiled code, in its entirety, as a solution to a problem he or she was trying to solve. That’s simply ridiculous and offensive.

    So all I was trying to do was point out the ridiculousness of the poster, and to make fun of how absurd it is to ask for help when you haven’t even written the code to begin with. That’s absurd, and does not deserve any help whatsoever. Let the guy learn AS3 if he wants to learn AS3. But nobody who legitimately wants to learn starts by decompiling code and asking for others to fix it.

  14. eddie says:

    It really bugs me people who use director or flash to hide their incompetency and make big words because decompilers do exist. If it runs, it can be copied, it you can watch/listen to it, it can be copied, no exceptions.

    action script to flash is a bijective application, just like windows programs and machine code. It will be copied, it will be used. A decompiler is a trivial yacc/token-table/generate-code/dragoon-book task. Making a mess about it is ridiculous and pointless.

    About the “stealing” word, it is pathetic if you are a MAFIAA dipshit, but it is even worse when the person rambling is a “no real programmer”. Go fuck yourself.

  15. David Côté says:

    I’ver never used a decompiler of any kind and I don’t feel like I’m missing something. Sure it could help a lot to learn new stuff, but in my opinion, there is enough Open Source project out there to learn without having the trouble of decompiling others code.

    The story of the guy here who can’t figure out what the (obvious) problem is with is code looks to me that is not the kind of guy who will make you lost some money. For me, the real problem comes when a company who is working on similar projects than another one (like components development) starts to rip off complex pieces of codes. I can clearly see myself getting frustrated if I would launch an innovative component and few days later, the exact same component appears on the market –and with further examinations– with pieces of my own well worked code copy-pasted. That’s bad.

    Anyway… we can’t stop people from doing it. So just keep on doing what we do best, and hope for those who “steals” unconsciously that they will get better to the point that their code is “stealing material” too.

    But like I said, it’s my opinion ;)

  16. Laughs… I love people’s reaction to this…

    Stealing code from developers is the same as stealing music from musicians… it’s just that code hits closer to home for us.

  17. Anonymous says:

    @Doug: Okay, glad you know why the word “stealing” was misused here. And I agree that the poster is absurd beyond reason, for asking for help about something like this :) Admittedly, I don’t believe that a system of copyright should be allowed to discourage one from using decompiled code; which is why I don’t find anything ridiculous or offensive about what the poster has done, in fact I see it as a reasonable way to develop software. Although asking for help on code you didn’t write is pretty dumb.

    @Clint: You don’t know what you’re talking about, do you? You can’t steal music from musicians….. unless maybe you’re breaking into their home and stealing sheet music… lol. Downloading mp3s is not stealing music. It *might* be copyright infringement, which is categorically different.

  18. I agree with Doug. Even though I consult for a company (simplified logic) who makes products that protect from decompilers, decompiling for educational purposes is one of the ways we learn. I myself cracked open the Discovery Earth Live globe to see how it was done. (beyond what they told me at 360 flex Atlanta). I guess it really comes down to what you or your customer wants in the area of code protection. If they want to be secure, make sure you protect your code and make sure it can’t be decompiled. You could also choose to open-source it or get comfortable with the fact that people will decompile your code.

  19. Marcus Booster says:

    He’s stealing alright. If not code then he’s wasting everyone’s time reading such a stupid post.
    What could you possibly explain to him that he is in a position to understand? He’d be better off reading a book or two then trying to read decompiled source code.

  20. Rothrock says:

    And I’m the sucker who helped him after he took those out and couldn’t understand the next error message that came along. At the time I didn’t realize what that was, but I did wonder how those would get in there. I wonder if I would have bothered to answer if I had known….?

  21. oleg says:

    I see this all the time on Actionscript boards and chats. That’s one of the reasons why there is a big obfuscator industry with software like irrfuscator and flashyncrypt, trying to prevent people like this using other people’s code.
    If you write actionscript code, you really need to use stuff like this.

  22. Greg Beaten says:

    Wow, Doug you are a fuckin nerd, you can’t embarrass somebody like that, may be this guy is learning it or not, may be the code he is using is under a reusable license, the only problem here i see is that the guy didn refer the code to somebody he took from, you in your codes i see use classes and swc used by others, so what, if somebody puts the code on internet, then he better not be angry when somebody else uses it, may be he is a student or whatever….

    wow a group of serious nerds here, these days people program using google a lot..

  23. “That’s one of the reasons why there is a big obfuscator industry with software like irrfuscator and flashyncrypt, trying to prevent people like this using other people’s code. If you write actionscript code, you really need to use stuff like this.”

    I disagree. Generally, the kind of people who decompile SWFs are like this guy that Doug pointed out. They don’t know what they’re doing. If they’re even capable of creating a finished product that is based on my work, how likely is it that the final product will be something people will want to use? If they’re copying my work, they’re probably not going to do a better job of it, so are they even worth considering?

    Now, there might be a rare occasion where someone reuses my code and builds something cool that actually gets noticed and makes a product. Assuming its an obvious knockoff, I can take legal action. This, however, is such an uncommon situation that I’d rather spend time making my code and products better than wasting time on a myriad of ways to protect them. Some random script kiddy isn’t worth the time and effort when I can make bigger gains by ignoring them and continuing to write quality code.

  24. I’ve been fairly amazed at how much arguing this post generated. Especially with the related discussion here: http://www.reddit.com/r/programming/comments/73ws0/if_you_steal_source_code_dont_ask_for_help_fixing/ where people call me a douchebag and an asshole. (BTW, my favorite part of that is that the guy says: “It’s also a douchebag maneuver to rant about it on your blog instead of confronting the person you’re accusing of a non-crime.” except he doesn’t post that on my blog himself but instead on the reddit comments, umm, ok)

    So why did people get all pissed off? Especially because the very first comment on this post was a guy who actually wrote that code, and confirmed that the guy posting it was not at all involved in that project. So yeah, I jumped to a conclusion about whether the guy had a valid reason for trying to get the decompiled code to work, but it was quickly confirmed to be true.

    So again, why all the anger? I didn’t say the guy should be arrested. I didn’t say it’s wrong to decompile code. I just made fun of someone who was so lazy or inept that he asked in a public forum to fix code that he decompiled. I whole-heartedly stick by the claim that this is worthy of poking fun at. It’s ridiculous. And yeah, in the Flash industry you do run across cases where you have legitimate needs to decompile SWFs that you’ve lost the source to. That wasn’t true in this case, we know that. This was just someone decompiling code and crossing his fingers to get it to run correctly.

    So what is it about this post? Somehow I think it strikes a chord particularly close to home with a lot of people. I didn’t expect the firestorm of arguing this generated, I just figured people would have a little chuckle and move on with their lives. I laughed when I saw the original post, and I hoped that others would get some amusement out of it as well. But I guess poking fun at ridiculous things makes me a douchebag.

    So let’s all chill out and have a little laugh.

  25. Stephen Buckley says:

    There is always a place for being able to reverse engineer a SWF to an FLA.
    You would not believe the number of times clients and agencies I work for lose an FLA

    The interesting thing is that 9 times out of 10 it takes longer to sort out that it would to refactor or write in AS3 anyway, and I get the project from some distrought project manager at the end of their rope, after the screw ups have run him round in circles for 3 months.

    Steal away boys you will not escape the law of Karma, your Director, Flex and Flash screw ups have made me a good living as a freelancer for the last 12 years long may it remain so ;o)

  26. Stephen Buckley says:

    Whats really ironic is that there is no need to steal code. The code above is a case in point.
    It uses in places the excellent thunderbolt logger which is open source and on google code.

    There are plenty of open source examples all the way up to the Flex SDK on the internet.
    So new coders are hardly short of resources to learn from. I have some sympathy with Dougs viewpoint when so many of the Flash and Flex community give there time freely to help educate others. Those with the freeloader mentality rarely:

    1) Spend the time to learn the job well.
    2) Never gain the deep statisfaction of doing the job ready well
    3) Never give anything back

  27. LOL, I’m with you Doug. That is pretty funny. I’ve come across many similar cases over the years being a Flash developer. Notice it always seems to be the script kiddies and help vampires who get the most insulted and start throwing punches.

    We all know the type: people who expect everyone to help them with anything for any length of time, to do their work for them, and then when they figure out an answer don’t tell anyone, don’t give anything back to the community. I’m not saying this guy is one of them necessarily, but it does seem likely.

    I’ve nothing against decompilation myself, used to do it all the time trying to get Macromedia’s v2 components to @#!$ work. But you don’t decompile someone else’s code and then ask for help from anyone other than the original author of the work, like duh.

    The politically correct thing I suppose would have been to “educate” the poster on the “error of their ways” and the obvious breach in nettiquette. But after you’ve done that a few dozen times over the years and gotten nothing but vitriol back for your efforts, well, maybe ridicule is easier. It’s what I would have done.

    I don’t think I would find it as funny if it were not for the indignant response of certain anonymous parties who clearly are not getting the joke, because they’ve been called out with their hand in the proverbial cookie jar.

  28. osman says:

    I think you’re unneccessarily overreacting. With big probability that is a code snippet that is published on a forum, and you know my friend people are free to use this code. And want help fixing it? That’s totally normal. If you have problems while using someone else’s code (that is free to use) you just post the code on another forum and say help me fix these bugs, probably that’s another way of saying I couldn’t use the code that I’ve got from internet. Don’t you use code snippets that goes around internet? I think you do :) Ok that’s enough for me. I hope, some day, you post a really interesting entry that will make you successful :) However, I’m not the person who is blamed for stealing this code :) I just don’t like people like you, who despises people for their low level of knowledge. Overreacting just hurts yourself. Bye :)

  29. Just one last point of clarification because more than a few people so far have made comments that are factually incorrect. People have continued to make the comment that the posted code was freely circulating on the internet and the poster just grabbed some “open source” code and tried to get help using it. This is not true. The original code was never posted online. The original author did not release the code on a blog or on a forum or anything. It was not simply code that was “out there for free use.”

    The last comment that was just posted by osman makes this argument, saying that “big probability that is a code snippet that is published on a forum, and you know my friend people are free to use this code”. No, wrong, that’s not true. We absolutely, 100% know that that is simply false. This is not a “code snippet that goes around the internet.”

    For my recent talk at Flash on the Beach I did an example where I decompiled the code from Adobe’s Photoshop Express and pieced much of it back together. If I posted that code in a public forum (or on my blog), I am absolutely certain that I would very quickly be contacted by lawyers from Adobe and they would take legal action. If you don’t think that’s true then have fun and try it.

  30. Hey Doug i am totally with you on this!

    I browse the forum more than i would like to mention but hey i like helping out where i can. i learned from peeps on the forums, so giving back.

    i did myself in the early days do a bit of decompiling to see how certain things where done in flash but never took a complete project and tried to pass it off as my own(no balls).
    I soon realised it was much easier to figure the code out for myself and get help from the forums when i could.
    some 8 years i have been flashing and browsing the flash dev forums. I see these decompiled codes all the time in post.
    I do know wheat some of the other bloggers are saying about agencies but at the same time it can take longer for a skilled developer to work a decompiled swf that it would be for them to start from scratch.

    just my 2 cents

  31. Eric says:

    Doug, I am sorry you are taking heat for what you posted, but it does look like a scene of a thief calling out on a robber. What makes you think your behavior of decompiling others’ code in a public session to be less outrageous or ludicrous than what the guy has done? (it’s not to me but it might very well be to another Doug out there) The fact that anyone decompiles any code without the consent of the person who wrote it is subject to criticism of the kind you invoked, regardless of how you justify it. To come out and define for others what’s ludicrous and what’s not based on your own behavior or standard seems like a sign of lack of self-introspection because it’s just as easy for someone with a stricter standard than you or me to come out and do the same thing to us. I say all this not as a put down and I hope you take it as a constructive criticism.

  32. Eric you have brought notthing to this post. Doug was only showing to the view public how coders can tell what decompiled code looks like. Nothing more than that.

  33. @Paul – No need for the attitude, I think Eric raises a good point.

    @Eric – I can see how there might be confusion that would lead to people calling me a hypocrite. I made fun of a guy asking for help with decompiled code, and then I presented a detailed session about how to decompile code. But in my mind these two things make perfect sense. So maybe I’m delusional, but here’s how I see it.

    I did not make fun of the fact that the guy decompiled code. I made fun of WHY and HOW he decompiled the code. In my mind there is an important moral distinction between (1) blatantly trying to rip off someone else’s work and (2) using someone else’s work to further your skillset and increase your knowledge. I decompile code to learn. I never decompile code as a shortcut to solve a problem, or as a fast way to complete a project. I consider ripping off someone’s code and using it in your own project immoral. I consider ripping apart someone’s code to enhance your knowledge acceptable. Legally in terms of copyright law I assume there’s no such distinction (except that I would never use decompiled code in my projects, thus no true legal risk).

    So if someone wants to make the argument that all decompiling is morally wrong and that I should be criticized for ever decompiling anything, they are free to do so. But that is not my position. I like to think that my distinction between what’s right and wrong about decompiling makes sense to others, but if not then I’m happy to stand on my own. It makes sense in my head at least :)

  34. Eric says:

    Thanks Doug for being receptive.

    Some people make a living based on their own technical knowledge of what they created. The fact is that you opened up their stuff without their consent, and thereby learning their “trade secrets” and cashed in on the new found knowledge indirectly later on (surely your synapses would have grown fatter after that). The act of decompiling levels the playing field, just as the act of selling pirated software in Asia do to the technical field in those areas. Pirated software have served a lot of people who flat out cannot afford to purchase those software and therefore learn it. I am sure those people can argue a lot about how they are only buying the pirated software to learn the tools and so that’s morally ok in their mind. Again, I am not saying what is right or wrong, but there are similarities in these scenarios and while you might think your idea of what makes decompiling moral and ok lies in the intent, the same argument can be applied to many things in life.

    There is a difference between taking a clock apart to figure out how it works versus decompiling a piece of code. Decompiling is close to stealing a blueprint of a building because the blueprint (in this case the code) is built into the very fabric that makes the thing run (the software). How many of the people would feel ok if they tell them flat out you have decompiled their work just so you can learn? Why is decompiling not immoral when it could be someone’s bread and butter and it’s the technical advantage that they are cashing out on? These are some of the questions to think about, to venture into an area with so many gray areas, I think one should just go about doing it quietly with the best intent at heart, but not to carry a moral yardstick and start defining what’s right and wrong based on something made up in one’s mind and poke fun of others based on that. I could very well be purchasing pirated software to learn (again good intent there), blog about what I did and poke fun of the next guy who got caught for purchasing and using it for commercial purposes. But I am not so sure if I might not appear silly to others around me when I do that.

  35. In my mind the question of whether it is moral at all to decompile code is irrelevant. Adobe has publicly stated that the SWF format is not a secure format. It is merely a compiled format, and anyone who mistakes the two is an idiot. Because something is compiled does not make it any less open than the HTML code used to make up a web page that can be accessed by right clicking ‘view source’. The tool you use to ‘decompile’ that HTML application is the browser. Or if we are to look for a suitable equivalent, the javascript in an AJAX application located in an external file(s), decompiled by the browser. The tool you use to decompile a SWF application may not be as commonly available, but there is no illegality implied in the act of decompiling code whatsoever. In the use of that decompiled code, maybe, just like an argument could be made for using “decompiled” code from an AJAX application.

    In a technology where the code used to build it is so easily accessible, crying foul over a person jumping one small, easy hurdle to get a peek at some very insecure code doesn’t make any sense to me. Because if the company is that serious about code security, they could implement a SWF encryption solution so no one can decompile the code, end of story.

    Using that code, and in what context, is a different matter. If a person went on a JavaScript forum with a snippet of AJAX code, and that javascript code had comments in it that pegged the code as originating from some well known application, and the poster was obviously trying to use the code from that application in his own project, without explaining how and why he was using those snippets, without giving due credit where credit is due, well that just stinks of parasitism.

    And that I believe, is what rubs people like Doug and myself the wrong way. Not the fact that the code was decompiled, but that an attempt was made to use someone else’s work without giving due credit. That flies in the face of all the good intentions and community building that people like Doug and myself try so hard to foster, and it gets you a bloody nose if you try to hide it. Because it’s that kind of parasitic, vampiric, “take what you can and give nothing back” attitude that destroys whole communities, whole industries.

    And that is what I will stand up and fight against with every word and in every forum that is appropriate. Because this really isn’t about decompilation at all. It’s about attitude.

  36. Pingback: The Geek Stuff » Around The Geek World - Oct 2008

  37. Eric says:

    Thanks for the feedback joe. Here is my take.

    “It’s morally ok to walk in there because their place is not secure! So please, go ahead and walk into someone’s place when they are not around and learn how they decorate their house, but don’t steal!”

    Just because SWF is not a secure format doesn’t make the morality of decompilation an irrelevant issue. SWF is a binary format after all, and if people really want to share their code with you, they can turn on View Source (in the case of Flex projects) or publish their code. With proper tools, I can decompile even native executables. Maybe I should start using your argument when I get accused of doing that? :) Please don’t equate SWF with HTML and try to turn the act of decompilation into a mere act of clicking on View Source. HTML is a file authored, saved and deployed in text format. Could you please tell me how easy it is for you to peek at the code without the use of a decompilation software? If decompilation software is like a browser and the act is so acceptable, maybe we should ask Adobe to bundle that with Flash? Just think how ridiculous such suggestion would be (or maybe not?) You simply do not have any idea of how many people out there deploying Flash apps on their sites today are oblivion of the fact that their SWF can be decompiled and their work can be peeked at.

    And lets not forget, the original intention of decompilation is for people to recover their lost work (or so they say).

    If we use real life as an example, we might see (or I hope we will) how laughable some of the points you raised are: You got yourself a lockpick so you can open your door when you lock yourself out, that doesn’t imply to you that it’s ok to go around other people’s house and try that, even though they are not home and you have the best intention of going in there just to learn how they decorate their place!

    And please stop using the argument that their place is not secure so it’s ok for you to do that! And perhaps consider refrain from calling out on the next kid who get into other’s house to steal a thief! Just let the folks who don’t even think getting into others’ house is an ok thing to do that. :)

    So my point is simply that when you are involved in something with so many gray areas, it’s probably good to just do it quietly with good intent in heart (just so you can relieve yourself of any guilt that may come of it). I find it ridiculous for people to jump out and start saying things with things like (excuse me for the extra drama added):

    “yes, I decompile the shit out of things and it’s ok because I have the purest of intention but I wouldn’t do what you do there buddy because you are doing that in a malicious way so you should be condemned or be ridiculed at.”

    “it’s harder for me to decompile than to write the code (essentially: I am too smart to decompile) even though I have and I can so you suck for not being able to do what I do.”

    “SWF is not secure and what are you going to do about it? If it’s not secure, just like HTML! If you want to hide it, obfuscate your code buddy or I might look inside and that’s morally ok by me!”

    That’s hitting my bogometer really good there.

  38. I just ran across this post, so sorry for the untimely-ness. I personally think Doug is on the right path ethically. Personally, I see decompiling the same as taking apart the VCR. You may see the gizzards on how it works, and you can see everything that makes it tick. but you will not see the schematics, the developers log, and the R&D that went into making it. You see the final product and that’s it. I can learn how they accomplished this, but in reality, in order to learn from it, I will need to invest the time and reinvent their R&D process to build it myself.

    This would be different than me getting the VCR, opening it up, taking the chip that generates the menu and sticking it into my product (not knowing how it works). That is what these kids are doing.

    I’ll leave you with a very,very,very old posting from an author known as Mentor, from an old rag called Phrack. (Doug, you may be too young to know this one).. The Hacker’s Manifesto : http://records.viu.ca/~soules/media112/hacker.htm

  39. I had to add my two cents here:

    @osman: no hate brother, but it seems that you are over reacting to this post (which was intended as a lesson rather than a sermon).

    We all live in different parts of the world. Where i come from (and judging from your name, where you come from) there is no such thing as piracy or stealing. It would be very difficult for someone to sue us over here => practically impossible though you never know (like if you blatantly ripped off something huge)

    Fact is that you can go the movie or software shop and pick up any movie or software for less than $1. Yeah less than one dollar. Can you imagine?

    What you should understand is that people in the West do not have that liberty. They have to pay for the rights => THE QUALITY! This is one of the reasons third-world countries suffer from quality apps/sites/PEOPLE. This is the reason people are careful over there. If their market openly supported piracy it might be a different story, and they would not be worldly known as the quality providers. That will never happen matey….


    The worst outcome would be to see your name plastered over the internet (like the guys who ripped off Flash Games for the Olympics). Your whole credibility would suffer, at least where it counts with the big boys in the western world.

    I like to learn from people (anyone out there who is intelligent and has something to say). Dude its not about getting dramatic or being sensitive of over reacting (as Muslims are overly dramatic and sensitive / Americans are simple with approach, logical and practical).

    All he is saying is simply: If you rip something off, cover it up real good by not posting about it in the forums. Simple as e=mc2 ;-)

    Be a good open-minded person bro…Learn from these guys and gain their respect. They will respect you if you are worth it man, that i can guarantee..

  40. Doug, I love that you are #1 on google when I search “how to steal source code.” I’m not trying to steal it I swear!! I’m investigating how others are stealing my source code :( Just makes me smile when old friends pop up in the most random places.

    muaa! :)

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