iPhone app-cracking software gets pirated

If only there were more poetic justice in this world. Unfortunately, those of us who revel in such karmic resolutions have to take our kicks where we can get them. Those who live by the sword all too often don’t die by the sword—but then again, sometimes they do, and rather spectacularly at that. As they say, Justice may be blind—but she's got a wicked sense of humor.

Crackulous is a free application for jailbroken iPhones that allows you to strip the encryption on iPhone apps bought from the App Store, thus allowing you to, in the words of its developer, “share them with the community.” For those of you following along at home, this is a little thing we like to call “software piracy” or, if you prefer simpler terms, theft.

Now sure, the Crackulous team might pitch a rationalization for why cracking applications is okay:

By using the cracked .ipa files found here, you are not stealing from Apple! Use them , and if something suits you, buy the app. Support your local developers!

And, indeed, some have framed this debate in terms of the App Store’s lack of demos; you can’t try an app before you buy it. It’s true that not letting customers check out applications before purchase is a shortcoming of the App Store. But just because you can’t go into a drugstore and take a bite of the candy bar you're thinking about buying doesn’t mean that it’s okay to steal it.

But oh—the delicious irony. As it happens, some industrious person or persons decided that this sounded like a great business opportunity, so they helped themselves to the Crackulous application, and have started selling it for $10 a pop. Better yet, they added the following warning:

As of right now Crackulous is not free. You may come across websites that claim to have a free version of Crackulous but these versions have viruses which log all your information including passwords, phone numbers, contacts, and send it to people so it’s best to stay away from these shady copies. A lot of hard work and development went in to making this brilliant application. It would be unfair if it was given for free.

I don’t know if there’s a sound that poetic justice makes, but if so I hope it’s just a really loud gong. Somebody should let the Crackulous developers know that petards are really only good for one thing: namely, being hoisting by one's own.

The moral of this story? Don’t steal software. From the biggest software company to the individual developer, applications are products that people—real people—have invested their own time and money in. If you’re not the kind of person who’s going to go around boosting car radios—I mean, outside of Grand Theft Auto—why would you want to be the kind of person who nicks software?

Of course, that raises the question: what about the people who stole Crackulous? I won't condone what they did, especially after I just got through saying that piracy is wrong, but that doesn't mean I'm not amused by it. After all, like the man said: live by the sword, die by the sword. And we all know how much pirates love swords.

Update: It appears that the person behind the fake Crackulous Web site, an anonymous iPhone developer, has put up a blog post explaining his (or her) motivation—to make the Crackulous team see what it felt like to have their work stolen. The post also clarifies certain details—for example, no copies of the program were ever actually sold.

Thanks to reader fribhey, below, for the tip.

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