Hey Mr. RIAA, this is how you treat pirates

There was a great post over at Techdirt the other day about an iPhone developer, Chris Baker, who found out that someone was trying to find a cracked version of his app: F***ing Word Of The Day.

Typically when developers find out that their applications have been cracked they tend to get all pissy and start lashing out at anyone associated with doing, or asking for a cracked version but Chris took a really cool, and refreshing approach.

Once he had found out about the request for a crack of his app, Chris headed to the forum thread where the request had surfaced and wrote the following message to the thread:

Hello! I’m the creator of the ******* Word of the Day website and more particularly the F-ing Word of the Day App. First of all, this is a huge compliment! As a person who pirates content, I’ve always placed the moment people are pirating MY goods as the exact time of my arrival, as it were. So congratu-*******-lations to me. With that said, I’d like to just offer that while I’m employed with a decent salary in the city of New York, I am by no means rich…I write all the sentences myself and find the words to use myself and I do this in my own personal time and essentially for free. Sure, I learn a few words too, but I was already a pretty well-read guy, and could have done without the site.

What’s my point in all this? Go ahead and pirate the app. It cost me 1500 bucks to have programmed. It’s not even a month’s rent for me. But if you think the site is cool, and you want to pay for one eighth of a Stella Artois for me, hook me up with 99 cents. The rapture will be here soon, I could use the drink.

Now in normal developer/cracker/pirate conversations this is a point when either the pirate or cracker gets their back up and the war of words escalates but in this case the person who wanted the crack and who Chris replied to wrote back that if he had a credit card or some other way to pay for the app he would have been more than willing to buy it.

Turns out as well that the person appreciated Chris’ response so much that he took down the request for a crack and would redouble his efforts to find some way to pay for the app, even if it ended up costing more.

This in turn brought Chris back with this comment:

Sir, you’ve warmed the cockles of my heart. I believe Apple allows you to gift apps to people, and I’m feeling charitable so if you want to email me your address or whatever in the hell they require to complete such a transaction, I will buy the app for you. I only ask that you give the ******* thing a good rating. I hope this comment thread goes down as one of the more unexpected things that happens to you online. I like the unexpected. And I like making people happy, even when something stupid like learning vocabulary is involved.

One of the interesting side effects of this conversation was that people following the thread turned around and started buying Chris’ app – even though, as some as they pointed out, they didn’t have any use for the app.

Too bad more companies didn’t act the same way.