Why the Change?
So, what's new? We've recently rolled out a licensing check system for our software. Now, before you can use our software, it checks in with our server, zofzpcb.com, and issues a node-lock token, limited to one or two per license key. Even the free version now requires registration, using the same mechanism as our premium features' one-month trial.
This shift comes with its ups and downs, and I'd like to be candid about them.
- Better License Management: This change allows us to be more flexible with our return policy, as we can now revoke keys, and the node lock will expire in just one month.
- Enhanced Security: The new mechanism makes accessing our software more challenging for unauthorized users.
- It is more annoying.
- Internet Connection Required: This new setup means that our program needs to reach out to our server over the Internet. We've prepared USB keys as an alternative for users who can't connect online.
We've been rolling out this new licensing system gradually over the past month, and it's been fully operational since October 1, 2023. As a result, we've seen an increase in registrations, tempting me to explore email marketing a bit.
Taking a Stand: Implementing Sanctions (October 2022 - a year ago)
So, why did we decide to implement sanctions on our software downloads? The idea behind it was to show our support for Ukraine and our disapproval of Russian attacks. We implemented IP-based redirection, which sends users located in Russia, Belarus, and Iran to an information page about sanctions instead of allowing them to download the software.
Did it Work?
From a technical perspective, the redirection is doing its job. We haven't observed new registrations from Russian email addresses; a few followers have unsubscribed. The redirection page has been accessed 3100 times in the first six months but from only 650 unique IP addresses. It seems like some users are trying to find workarounds.
Recently, I received an email response from someone who took our redirection a step further. They created a modified version of our sanctions-info page with a new logo and menu (see below). They admitted to using a VPN to bypass the redirection wall and are republishing our program on their website hosted in St. Petersburg, with the marketing done on a Russian social network.
Staying True to Our Values (or Being Stubborn)
Originally, I considered engaging in a conversation with them, but upon further reflection, I see no sense. Our enhanced license key system now makes it more challenging to bypass our restrictions.