A recent post by jailbreak developer Filippo Bigarella really hit me. Filippo is a relatively well-known developer in the jailbreak community, and his most recent app, Springtomize 2, has been making huge splashes since its public release yesterday.

We have a great relationship with Filippo at iDB, and I consider him a friend. He’s a good guy who makes incredible software. His stance on pirating Springtomize says a lot about how piracy hurts the jailbreak community.

What Filippo had to say:

I’m 17 now, and I develop tweaks because I like doing so and because I’m earning money for my future studies at university. I spent a lot of time working on Springtomize and its copy protection, and now, after 24 hours, thousands of people are getting all this work for free (I started working on it almost 4 months ago).

Also, I always tried not to charge too much for any of my products, because I know that spending more than $3-4 may sound expensive.

If you want to start figuring out what I lose, just calculate (let’s say) the 10% of all pirates (assuming that’s the lowest part of them that would have bought the program legally). The rate is 1:80 = legit : pirates.

I’m not saying I’m the first dev whose stuff gets pirated, I know, this is how things happen every time. I just thought I had to spend these 3 minutes writing this.. Now, back to work (even If my motivation is really low at the moment).

Here’s a 17 year-old genius who makes jailbreak apps (PasswordPilot, SMSPlus, FlashLock, Springtomize, etc.) to help pay for his future schooling. He behaves more maturely than most adults I know, respects the community, and even gives free copies of his apps away on sites like iDB.

Heck, he even realizes that asking more than $4 for an app is unrealistic because people don’t want to pay that much for software anymore. That doesn’t mean that the cost of producing great software has really changed, just that developers like Filippo must accommodate the new market.

I feel like many people must think that the developers behind apps we use every day are mindless drones that sit in their basements coding all day. That’s not the case. They’re people like Filippo. People like you and me. The only difference is that they know how to make awesome software and we don’t.

I’m not going to get into the “morality” issue of pirating, because hairs start getting split and it doesn’t really make a difference. I don’t care why you pirate. Popular responses are usually “I don’t have any money to spend on little apps, “I’m a teenager who doesn’t have a job,” “I only pirate apps to try them out,” “It doesn’t really make a difference if I pirate, the dev still makes money,” etc.

In the case of Filippo, there’s a huge chasm between Springtomize’s legal and illegal users — 1:80, to be exact. Other jailbreak developers have echoed such figures from their download statistics. Piracy runs rampant in a community that pretends to be unified against the “big bother,” Apple.

Frankly, people that say they belong to the jailbreak community and then pirate apps are hypocrites. Pirates help no one accomplish anything; they’re digital parasites. Developers like Filippo have to deal with support emails from people who are complaining about a cracked version of Springtomize malfunctioning. That’s wrong.

If anything, Filippo’s last statement should hit home the most. Piracy doesn’t just steal the product of hard work, but it also demotivates. If, like me, you’re waiting for the “next big thing” from the jailbreak community, piracy could very well be the reason. If brilliant developers like Filippo are discouraged to create stuff because people are stealing their work, we (the users) have nothing to do but blame ourselves.

Don’t pirate apps because it’s “wrong,” choose to not pirate because you want to be a decent human being.

[image via Flickr]

  • hmm. at one point filippo dared fab1us to crack springtomize 2 on twitter and apparently, they sounded like good friends trying to out do each other (filippo making springtomize harder to crack and fab1us eventually cracking it). i think what’s pissing filippo off the most are the people using the pirated version and having the guts to email him and complain that it’s not working for them.

  • There is no excuse for stealing and if you do steal, then no way trying to explain it. He is a young student just like us and he also DOESN’T have a credit card but that doesn’t mean we start to steal.. That’s the problem with people all our the world, WHEN they get AUTHORITY, they start to MISUSE it. Specially like our great politicians from PAKISTAN!

  • Anonymous

    I am a Great Fan of Fillipo Biga and realy admires His Efforts in Jailbreak Tweaks. People will discourage him because that is the work for them but So Great Young Developer should avoid that thing by onlt not to think and concentrate homself in His Work. He is the real genious of only 17…….

  • He was nice enough to give me a free copy because I didnt have enough money due to some reason and he understood and especially since I bought his other stuff he was more than happy to give me a free copy. He is a great and understanding developer and I support his purchases all the way 🙂

  • Anonymous

    1 Pirated app != 1 Lost sale.

  • Anonymous

    one tip kid; work on a new tweak, not on crack protection…
    as you guys know, he was the one who challenge fab1us who eventually cracked springtomize 2.

    • Anonymous

      And why not work on crack protection that protects a tweak built upon the original Springtomize from being cracked?

      • Anonymous

        cos nothing is crack-proof in digital world

  • creed waters

    heres my problem with paying for apps.

    1. once brought the developer stops updating the app = money lost
    2. if its a jailbreak app, apple has a hissy fit and files a cease and desist = money lost
    3. developer gets greedy and randomly adds ads to the app = money lost
    4. cost per app is a very expensive buisness modal for an end user, devs say “its only £1.99/$2.99” well ive got 200 apps atm and at an avg of £1.99 each thats allot of money for something i dont really own paid out to some random dev from the app store.

    if people pirate your apps its because the pay per item model isnt financially viable for most people.

  • Releasing multiple versions of the same tweak is a rip off. For example, Springtomize for iOS 4 was released around 8 months ago for $2.99 (?). I realize it took a complete rewrite but to charge returning customers even $.99 more is not right.

    A ton of devs start this trend. The developer of iRetina release 2 other versions, iRetina+ and iRetina++, all within 3 months of one another. No free upgrade. But an additional fee. Another example, the developer of YourTube also has 3 different versions for different iOS versions. It’s absurd.

    There are developers that avoid this despite high pirating rates. Lockinfo and Adblock developers have never done this. In fact I’ve used lockinfo through two major OS changes, iOS 3/4/5 without not so much as a dollar more than the original pricing. That’s how it should be.

    Who’s to say Springtomize 3 won’t come along for iOS 6 in 5 months with another price increase. I’m not saying devs shouldnt ask for more money after their hard work BUT only after the app has matured and lasted at least a year on the market with supported updates. If lockinfo 2.0 or etc was released I’d gladly drop 2,3, or even 4 bucks on it because it would last.

    Sorry 😛

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think you noticed that there are more features and you can get more as well.

  • Mohamed Nabeel

    What i think is that all cydia apps should be free. Coz it all starts with jailbreaking. And there should be an easy way to donate them. So no one will be stealing their work and the ones who really appreciate and thanks them for their work will donate handsomely.

  • Jesus Badia Closa

    I totally sgree with you. Although I think all apps should offer a trial period, so we could try it before we get it. How many times you have had the feeling of having wasted a couple bucks on an app or tweak? Yes, it’s just a few bucks, but it still sucks.

    So if piracy was all about “trying before you buy it” I guess I wouldn’t be against it. Unfortunately, it isn’t.

  • Piracy always existed and always will…learn to live with it…and btw…if ios 5 does not get any better jb than now…forget about cydia, tweaks and etc….the only place you will gonna get your stuff will be the apple store…do like me…got sick of all this apple cat and mouse race screwing its customers shit…get an android and be happy

    • android suuuuuuuuuuckkkkkkksssssssss!

    • Painman

      I did, it arrives tomorrow 🙂

    • One downside to android is the fact that many of their apps are not scanned so it’s at your own risk. I plan to try an android at sometime.

  • Well, I think Alex has already said everything. Let me just say a couple of things.

    First of all, I posted what you read above in response (as Mike said) to 3-4 people, to make a couple of them understand what I was thinking in that moment. For the general purpose, the scope is not to make you think “poor Filippo, he wants money”, no, not at all. The main focus was to send an important message: while pirating software, you’re not only damaging the developer, but yourself.

    Again, I’m not the first dev whose stuff gets pirated, I know. Many of you just say “hey, work more on your copy protection” or stuff like that. While I think protecting our products is important, I also think that is *much* important to concentrate and spend time on the product itself, not on the copy protection method. The best thing you can do is to retard crackers, but sooner or later they will find a way around that.

    Finally, as I said, I’m not here to cry for money, at all. I could have just charged $5 or more for it, and don’t offer an upgrade price. Just to be more clear, even if I said I would have raised the price after a week or so, no, they will always be the same. $0.99 for the upgrade from Springtomize 1, and $2.99 for normal buyers.

    Now, really back to work.

    PS: If you have any problem, email me. I usually reply in a couple of hours (except when I’m sleeping).

  • Anonymous

    What’s the point of jailbreaking and than even paying for everything than u would be doing the same thing as apple. Some times it’s not that we don’t want to pay for the tweek or app is that we might be young kids or we not live in USA so paying for the app is like too expensive and we can’t afford it. But still I am still very thankful to all the jailbreakers and the jailbreak team so that we can also enjoy such great things but sorry to hear about alex and thanks for working hard!

    • Anonymous

      Then get your parents to, find a job for your age, etc.

      That point has been brought up multiple times and shot down the same way.

  • Great article, i have purchased all of my 30 tweaks installed via Cydia, i actually 1 day removed all of my pirtaed Cydia tweaks and the pirated sources like Xsellize, insanelyi etc… and purchased all of them legaly.

    From the AppStore i sometimes purchase and sometimes using installouse but from Cydia i’m clean!


    If You go and buy a vehicle brand new and then you tweek it with after market products like wheels, crome accessories, and even a program to change how the vehicle opperates, thats completely 100% legit. I pay to have the best user options available.

  • Filippo, I promise I have my springtomize legally purchased!! 🙂
    Truly, when I found an applicaction useful and wthink it worths the money I pay for it like callbar, springtomize, sbrotator, etc.

  • These tweak makers have to remember they are piggy backing on Apples devices and tacking money from them just the same. For me I don’t jailbreak because like now ( no jailbreak for the 4S) you are out of the coast of the tweaks that you git via Cydia until a new (Exploit) is available. If Ut was in the app store I would consider it. If I did jail break I would deffinatly pirate what ever I could.

  • Ok.. I gaurantee everyone on here pirates something of some sort. Either music, app store apps, iPhone themes, movies, jailbreak tweaks.. Something. Even the developer and author of this elementary article. It is ridiculous that some people try and act better than everyone else. It is almost like I’m at church again.. Stop being hypocrites and get off that high horse. Yes I’m sure that some people will say that they don’t.. But at some point in their lives they have pirated something. Call me a theif, ban me, whatever.. We all know the truth.

  • zach heaton

    pirate for life

  • zach heaton

    sorry i feel its a moral sin to pay for software….we all have our beliefs

  • So I take it everyone here doesn’t download music/video/software on their PC/MAC off torrents? Why try to make a profit off a JB community? Do it for the love not the $$. Want the $$ go become a dev for Apple.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think you understand the devs are human beings as well and literally need the money. Not to be greedy, but because they need funding or other things. I don’t get your perspective, because it’s retarded being perfectly honest.

  • So I take it everyone here doesn’t download music/video/software on their PC/MAC off torrents? Why try to make a profit off a JB community? Do it for the love not the $$. Want the $$ go become a dev for Apple.

  • hey there, we are selling unlock-iphonesoftware (.com) contact me please cruize_id@hotmail.com

  • Great article indeed. Now that you’ve brought this up, I’m wondering how @iRealSMS keeps his/their apps pirate-free. I think, the developers should help each other out on this one since they can’t control each and everyone who pirates stuff. C’mon guys, if you still want to see more GREAT apps/tweaks in the future, I suggest we start behaving like adults and buy the great apps the developers has to offer.

  • Anonymous

    Look!!!! A dead horse…let’s kick it!!!

    This and iPhone rumors are the two topics I get tired of hearing about. Piracy is wrong, but a choice. Enough said. Oh, and next year a new iPhone comes out. There, that’s done too.

  • I used to use pirated apps, as well as Cydia tweaks when I first jailbroke my iPhone 2G, then on my 3G too. Not because I wanted to save money, because I didn’t have money, in other words, I didn’t have a credit card to at all. Now I have a couple as I have a decent job “Finaly”.
    Ever since the iPhone 3GS, I never installed any pirated apps, my Apple account has $90 worth of credit that I’m not sure what to do with. I spend around $30 on apple’s gift cards a month, but still don’t use the lot, that’s the price of 1/3 cup of coffee/day. Same with Cydia, I even buy themes that I use for a week and it sits around.
    I don’t only believe that we SHOULD pay for paid apps, but we also SHOULD donate to the dev team who’s spending endless hours to give us a FREE jailbreak. If every jailbreaker would donate 1$-3$ the jailbreak team can spend a bit more time on their work and get the jailbreak gone in no time.
    Wake up people!

  • Anonymous

    This may sound kind of lame, but the thing is that, I usually don’t pay for this stuff tho I would like to, but I just don’t trust the way to make online payments I think they are too risky and kind of complicated, there should be other possibilites to pay.

    • That’s what I’m saying. Like if I could get a “Cydia” card from Target where my money is on that card and upload it to an account. It would help other defer costs of paying for tweaks by allowing it to be gifted.

  • I would suggest that he offer a free trial with his apps. This may reduce the number of people pirating slightly.

  • I would suggest that he offer a free trial with his apps. This may reduce the number of people pirating slightly.

  • I would suggest that he offer a free trial with his apps. This may reduce the number of people pirating slightly.

  • Imahottguy

    It’s real simple. If you pirate apps, you are going to find a way to justify it. Installous or whatever it is called, xsellize – it doesn’t matter. If you cannot spare a couple dollars, then you cannot join the party. I pay for all of my apps, my tweaks- everything with my hard earned dollar. It is not fair to these developers that work their asses off for some 13 year old or 31 year old to make some excuse for themselves and then download software illegally. I would love to see a bunch of developers get together to create a mechanism that checks to see if the user has paid for the software. I am studying to be a Dev, and plan to offer a lot of free tweaks, but some paid ones too. And my default response to those who try to get support or use my apps/tweaks illegally will not be nice. Seriously guys, the Internet has made us all become detatched morally. Apathy is not the answer.

    PS shame on all of you pirates… Yes I am judging you. I am not better than anyone, but come on. “Thou shalt not steal?” I personally am not religious, but doesn’t that mean something to anyone?