A few days ago, we wrote about the story of Enfour, an app developer that’s specialized in a bunch of dictionary apps, who recently tried to shame pirates of their apps over Twitter, in a plan that caught too many legitimate users and didn’t end up so great. Ars Technica went to chat to Enfour about the problem, and got a little more context on the issue and how Enfour is fighting it.
First of all, it turns out the problem wasn’t merely that Enfour was targeting iPhone jailbreakers — the company does realize that lots of “legitimate” iPhone users do jailbreak their devices. Instead, the company is trying to figure out a way to nail down pirates outside of the standard Objective-C code that apps are created with. They’re trying to watch core system files and Apple’s own verification files, to see when those are tampered with and the app is pirated.
Unfortunately, says Enfour, some old code that shouldn’t have been run did get run, and that’s what caused the false positives to appear in the Twitter shaming. Enfour has revised its anti-piracy policy completely, and while it will continue to fight pirates, Twitter shaming probably won’t be part of the deal any more.
You can’t really blame Enfour for fighting people who it believes have stolen its software. Piracy is certainly a problem on the App Store, and even a process that should be completely legit, in-app purchases, is riddled with less-than-legitimate users grabbing content and in-app currency that they have not paid for. Of course developers need to fight piracy, because it can directly attack the livelihoods that allow them to make apps for us in the first place. But it’s an ongoing battle — for every antipiracy measure that developers come up with and put in place, there’s often a go-around method for pirates out there to circumvent it with.