I think we're discussing two questions at the same time that should be seperated:
1. Should licenses be transferrable?
2. Should MH support license transfers.
On 1: Most comments on this questions are too MacHeist-centric. Developers have to make this decision with the long-term success of their business in mind, and a bundle sale is not the only thing to be considered. People are used to selling and buying material goods, they can also do this with most boxed copies, so it's quite logical that some of them offer their customers the same possibilities. It's also MacHeist-centric to discuss this question as if only MH buyers ask for license transfers. Regular customers do that too, and for legitimate reasons in almost most cases, I suppose.
On 2: I can perfectly understand that you disapprove of this forum as a place for license trades for the reasons you stated. And I agree that is a reasonable decision.
Nonetheless, some of your arguments don't convince. You offer full licenses, and if the devs agree to sell those and offer transfers for regular customers, they also have to do so for bundle buyers (and they do). If they don't want to allow your customers license transfers, nothing prevents them from offering special MH licenses (except the Directorate, MH licenses wouldn't sell as well as full licenses). That's also true for loot. Furthermore, compare the number of offers in the thread to the number of bundles sold, it's just a minuscule fraction. The devs are mature enough make their own decisions, and if you think they didn't know what to expect, well, you could have told them. The phenomenon wasn't new. And, as stated above by strangetpwn, the piracy argument isn't very convincing either.
Again, I think your decision not to support license trade is okay, but attacking those transferring licenses in such a general way just doesn't work...
This is true that people do this outside of MacHeist, and we certainly can't impose rules or policy on those people / their activities outside the forums. But you should understand that transferring licenses is VERY different from something like the market for used games or books. There is no hard copy to trade, and thus no way to cleanly verify an honest trade unless both parties actively check in with the developer. Then, there is no guaranteed way to transfer or guaranteed support to do so from the developer – I realize a handful of particularly nice developers will respond to emails and change your licensing information, but trust me, that's a level of service you should be thankful for, rather than expect from every indie dev. And unlike a book, the very way you own a piece of Mac shareware is by personalizing your copy.
Now, on a related but different point, some of you here have been asking for perspective from developers. I'm not going to name names, but I did check in with several developers out of curiosity, and these were the main points:
• Two of the developers try to entertain such requests, but at least one of them does it on a case to case basis, depending on how annoyed or pleasant he is at the time
• None of them have some automized license transferring mechanism set up
• One developer specifically noted that they have no check on max use of individual licenses, which is pretty common. (There's a lot more business done on trust in the Mac shareware community.)
• License transfer requests are not common. They are very uncommon, and two of the developers specifically pegged it as 80% / 95% from MacHeisters respectively, though they estimate there's more going on without developer communication. All the developers I hit up specifically commented that they are uncommon requests.
What it comes down to is there is no clean, global system or market set up for used shareware license trading. This means that all the things you can typically count on in a regulated market goes out the window, unless someone steps in to regulate it themselves. And I think it's safe to say we do not have the time or interest in either becoming Ebay for software licenses, or letting an unregulated version of Ebay spring up unchecked in our forums.
In terms of an overall stance on license transferring/trading, I think it could be a positive thing. But I see it as something that would only really work nicely and dependably if everyone's supporting it, which is definitely not the case right now.
I find the timing of this new policy "highly convenient" since it comes nicely after most other bundle organizations have finished their activities but before Macheist holds its flagship event. If trades and bundle splits are ruining the bundle market (the Directorate's analysis not mine), why did they sit back and say nothing while the practice was rampant last month?
Secondly I find the accusation that piracy is the root of this problem and the blame being shifted to "a few bad apples" completely laughable. As said above, anyone interested in pirating software will just go to the usual places and do so. There is absolutely no reason to complete such a transaction via the Macheist forums since you are then involving an innocent third-party and so greatly increasing the risk of being caught. If Macheisters are frequently being defrauded in trades, why is there little evidence or complaints about it on the forum?
By the same token it would be much more profitable to relieve school children of their dinner money, than it wold be to try and con someone in a license trade here, since with the former you don't get stung for PayPal fees.
The Directorate should have just said bundle splits are funding terrorism, that would have been more believable.
A few days ago one of the moderators started a thread in our internal board flagging and documenting several cases of members being conned in the trades thread and being traded pirated licenses. I don't think the victimized members wanted to really yell in the thread about how they got ripped off, but trust me, at least a couple members have gotten screwed so far. Could the offender have just gone and found a pirated license to use? Sure, but apparently this pirate prefers trading away his pirated licenses for clean, legitimate ones.
I don't know if this was a rampant problem – we assume it wasn't, and that most of you were behaving fine. But it has happened, and MacHeist members getting screwed by other members in a MacHeist thread is something we have zero tolerance for. As soon as we found out, we started working on this policy change.
And your conspiracy theory about us implementing this policy as some kind of an anti-competitive move is... well, straight up paranoid. I don't think bundle-split threads have ever significantly affected our own bundle sales, but they were definitely infecting and taking over every single competing bundle's thread. And to be clear, piracy and conning did not factor into the policy change for bundle splitting. Only for used license trades.
EDIT: This part is pretty random, but the situation reminded me of the history of the Haight/Ashbury district in San Francisco. During the 60's, it became a haven for the hippie movement, and a place for open trust, free love, blabla. Something of a paradise sprawling over a few city blocks. Over the next ten years however, gangs like the Hells Angels swooped in to exploit the group and ran the place to the ground with meth, etc., attracted by what they perceived as easy targets.
When you have a group of people creating a thriving, unregulated market based on honesty and trust, it becomes something of a beacon for shady, selfish and evil people to come in and exploit this trust. It's unfortunate that this kind of thing happens so regularly like clockwork, or air filling a vacuum, but the swing of momentum seemed similar in the license trading thread.
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