If you are a publisher like me you will notice that the things you create will appear on torrenting sites every now and then which allows anyone to download your addon for free. Personally I don’t fight piracy by filing DMCA notices, asking to have it removed and such. I believe that doing something like that is only a waste of my time and someone will probably upload everything again once it is taken down. By letting it be it allows users to test my creation and I believe that those who truly like what I do will purchase what I have created.
Now building on this idea that people want to test my creation, what if I give out free samples or test versions? What if I do this via torrents? There is nothing illegal about torrents themeselves and you are free to distribute your own work. This will also flood the torrents with real versions and test versions making it harder to actually steal your creation but still allowing those who want to test your creation to test it in a way that you can control it without it costing anything for the user.
A while back I created a simple addon which has had a few small sales and I decided to use this as an example to show you how to do marketing with torrents to fight piracy. So to get started, my addon is called MyMail Better Export which is a WordPress addon for the plugin called MyMail which is used to send out newsletters.
So let’s begin, I will take the files for my addon and make some modifications. The main aspect is the export function of my addon, for this example I am completely going to remove that page and instead show a promt that thanks the user for trying my addon and encourages the user to buy the addon from my CodeCanyon page.
If you create videos or something like that you could cut out important parts of a video and show the user where to pay for the video. Another option if you want to support learning for those who can not afford your videos is to simply heavily water mark the free version but still allow users to see the material and learn from it.
Anyways, after my changes I put everything in a zip file and downloaded BitTorrent which is completely free to use to upload and download torrents. We will use this to create our torrent file. Simply go to File->New torrent in the menu in the top left corner. This should bring up the following page.
So here you need to select the file or directory which contains all of your creative work. In my case this is a simple zip file. For the trackers section i used a list of public trackers which can be found here: Torrent Tracker List 2016. I also added a comment that described what this was, “MyMail Better Export WordPress Addon”. I don’t make a mention of a test version as we want to make it hard to tell a difference between our test version and the illegal versions uploaded by others (the piracy we want to fight). Check the box “start seeding” and you will automatically start sharing your test version. If you want you can also register an account with some of the popular torrent sites that are out there and add your torrent to their trackers.
There is your free marketing and it is not a completely original idea by me, many have done it before I published this post such as this game development company called Greenheart games. They make a game where you run your own game development company and they created a different version of the complete game and uploaded it to torrent sites, the only difference being that the torrented version had a hidden feature causing the player to go bankrupt towards the end of the story because so many users would pirate their games. You can read more about this story here: What happens when pirates play a game development simulator and then go bankrupt because of piracy?
Some things to keep in mind when you are uploading your test version is to keep it the same file size as your original version or at least very close. No one is going to download a full hd movie which is smaller than a short mp3 file. Also keep the same names of files and the same structure as your original, you should simply be changing the content.
I wish that more companies would take this approach rather than pursuing huge lawsuits and DRM which sometimes makes pirating easier and faster than buying the actual creation. I am definitely not saying pirating is ok but I believe there is a middle ground that can be reached in order to make things better for everyone.