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Re: Closing Perl Source

by Dr. Mu (Hermit)
on Apr 03, 2003 at 05:25 UTC ( #247682=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Closing Perl Source

Didn't use strict, huh? Lotsa globals? Yeah, I've got a "special" one like that, too. But it works. So do I hide the source in shame, take the time to fix it, or just throw it out there and duck? ;-)


Comment on Re: Closing Perl Source
Re: Re: Closing Perl Source
by hakkr (Chaplain) on Apr 03, 2003 at 08:43 UTC

    I think you guys have all mostly been a little unfair. It is usually the commercial and legal people that want to protect the code. If you invest all that money in patenting some code to stop people copying it then they are gonna want to invest money in technically stopping people copying it.

    I have personally seen big companies reject systems because they were written in Perl for this reason.

    Programmers have to be paid for their work and companies have to protect theirs investments. Stopping people copying years of hard toil can sometimes be the only way to stop the unscrupulous

    licensing is often poitnless as I have also seen companies abuse and sell open source software as their own

    open source is not always the answer

      In a sense, you're right. But there's a big BUT.

      Apparently the poster wants to close his source to make money from it. That's his perfectly good right to do. The problem is that he's asking how to do that in a forum which thrives on openness. If you're stupid enough to do that, you deserve to get flamed. Especially if he doesn't even do some research on this site which would have learned him that asking questions about ways to close the source is a no-no.

      So, if he wants to close the source to make money off of that particular piece of code, he wouldn't mind shelling out some money to achieve that goal, right? Well, whaddayknow! Take a look at Stunnix Perl-obfus. Perfectly unreadable code for only $879! Seems like a bargain to me.

      Arjen

        Yeah, it really looks like a good tool, thanks for the link!

        Ha, Stunnix is a joke. It seems more like a psychological experiment than a business. I think their meetings must go something like this:

        droneOne: we need a new product, ideas anyone? droneTwo: well we have no programming ability. droneSix: and no original ideas droneTwo: or no artistic skills drone1-9: ... droneOne: I know, we'll come up with something entirely stupid... droneTwo: and put a huge price tag on it... droneSix: then people will think it must be good droneOne: excellent, hey lets call it a "Perl obfuscator" droneTwo: I like it droneOne: meeting ajourned

        Bankruptcy imminent.

      I have personally seen big companies reject systems because they were written in Perl for this reason.

      And it's an extremely valid, if not the most valid, reason to do so. Companies exist to make money. If you want otherwise, go work for a charity. You simply aren't going to make as much (if any) by releasing the source and letting everyone do as they please with it. If you can't understand this basic concept, I recommend you stick to programming and never get into management (heaven, I know ;).

      I have personally seen big companies reject systems because they were written in Perl for this reason.

      True. On the other hand I have also seen companies reject systems because they do not have access to the source. Depends on the client. Depends on the job.

      Languages like Perl and Java running on a relatively high level VM are far easier to de-compile than something that compiles down to machine code. So, don't use them for projects when simple access to the source code is an issue. Any "compilers" or "obfu" generators that leave the VM code around are pretty trivial to get around.

      Personally, I do the vast majority of my commercial work in areas where access to the source isn't an issue - indeed it is usually required.

      How does protecting the source code of the program protect it from being copied? The protection comes through legal means like licenses and patents. Anyone that just wants the binaries, will just copy those. Anyone that wants the algorithm, can disassemble the machine code. Perl just makes it easier to figure what is going on. Anyone who isn't afraid of legal means won't be stopped by an obfuscator.

      In some ways, Perl source could be better from a legal standpoint because it is explicitly available. The competitor who looks at your product has a harder time proving they didn't look at the source code because it was sitting right there on their hard drive. With a binary C program, they can claim legitimate reverse engineering. It is also likely that their source will be written new using the algorithm and concepts. With Perl, they are more likely to get caught copying the source directly and producing a derived work. Then your attack laways take them to court and win the big bucks.

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