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Dictionary apps try to shame supposed pirates, plan backfires

A series of Dictionary apps recently took an, um, "innovative" path to fighting software piracy, though it didn't quite work out as expected. Enfour is the developer of quite a few dictionary-style apps on the store, and it recently implemented an anti-piracy system that hijacked the pirate's Twitter account, and posted an anti-piracy message with the #softwarepirateconfession hashtag. That's a cute way to deal with piracy, you might think, except that the measure erroneously attacked quite a few non-pirates, not to mention invaded a user's public identity via Twitter. Oh, and auto-Tweeted on behalf of a certain Mr. Teller.

A representative from the company says on Twitter that the attacks on people who hadn't pirated the apps were the result of a bug, which has since been fixed. But the company is still unapologetic about trying to out pirates -- it says that only 25 percent of its apps in the wild are legitimate copies. It's also not elaborating on this "bug," although to call a purposely built shaming mechanism into your app a "bug" is a bit inaccurate.

Developers have tried to stop piracy in interesting ways before. Croteam, the makers of Serious Sam, recently added a huge, immortal monster to the games of any users they'd determined to be software pirates. But invading a user's Twitter feed (especially when there's a chance of accidentally calling out innocent people) isn't the right way to do it. The reviews and comments on the American Heritage Fourth Edition app are a good example of what happens when you make a mistake this big.