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Should we allow questions which ask for software product license/key generators, activators, patches or cracker? And why?

Question would be of the sort say

I'm using X, version Y on OS Z. I want to cracker it in order to activate it. Which software would you recommend for this?

Btw I have tried L, M and N but they weren't able to do it.

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    hmm tempting to make a question for this. I legitimately lost my CD to one of my faverate old games while moving house. Have been ttrying to find a work out to let me start it for years. (I've actually eve ntried to buy the game again, but none sells it) – Lyndon White Mar 6 '14 at 6:49
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  • I note this question is about "asking for software that can be used to crack". In particular, this question is not about "asking for already-cracked software". I will say when the question is of the form, "Where can I get crack software to crack explicitly named software-I-want", then I think we should treat is as asking for cracked software, a different topic. – Ira Baxter Jul 30 '16 at 8:23
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Yes. The fact that some software may be intended to work around a limitation in some other software is irrelevant.

Most “cracker” software have legitimate uses. Technical limitations in software are often more restrictive than the corresponding license, and even limitations in licenses may not be valid in all jurisdictions. In any case it is not up to us to enforce license restrictions.

See also Downvoting anything that looks like “how do I write malware” and other black-hat questions on Meta Security Stack Exchange.

Stack Exchange operates under US law. Some content may be illegal due to DMCA provisions. If you wish to file a DMCA counterclaim, please follow the instructions in the “Copyright Policy” section of the terms of service — moderators are powerless to act on such claims.

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  • So, by your logic, would a question asking for a Windows 8.1 loader, crack, or other means of activation circumvention be on-topic and within the terms of service of Stack Exchange? – DanteTheEgregore Mar 5 '14 at 20:36
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    @DanteTheEgregore It would depend on the question, but in general, yes. The terms of service prohibit “content that (a) infringes, violates or otherwise interferes with any copyright or trademark of another party”. Under US law (DMCA), conveying information that helps circumvent technical restrictions that are intended to protect against such infringement is also prohibited. However 1. this only applies if the information has no other purpose; 2. it is up to the copyright holder to lodge a formal complaint. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Mar 5 '14 at 20:43
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    I don't 100% buy the "turn a blind eye" argument. If the use is really legitimate, the company that made the software can probably help you out. Saying "it's not up to us to enforce a license" can get prettttty close to "... and in fact, we'll be complacent in circumventing it." See Napster, PirateBay, etc. There should be some wiggle room (e.g., the company went out of business years ago), but I think the default position should be to not turn a blind eye to almost-certainly-illegal activity. – yshavit Mar 6 '14 at 10:31
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    @yshavit In my experience the almost-certainly-illegal questions are typically crap questions for other reasons (“best place 2 dl crack 4 windows 8? kthxbye”), so we'd nuke them anyway. The people who put effort in it are usually the ones who have a real problem (not just not paying) and who aren't doing anything clearly illegal (we're not IP lawyers to tell e.g. whether what we're doing falls under an interoperability exemption). – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Mar 6 '14 at 19:29
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    So if I post a question with almost-certainly-illegal intents, but pose it correctly (e.g. use good grammar, am specific about my needs, etc) then that's fine on this site? Relying on the proxy of "looks like a script-kiddie" to weed out these questions seems like avoidance. Maybe the criterion should be that suspicious requests include the reason why it's legitimate -- the detailed story (as you put it) behind the request. In many cases, that could even help the answer. For instance, maybe I'm trying to restore my Windows VM, in which case I have a valid key, which simplifies the answer. – yshavit Mar 6 '14 at 21:19
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    @yshavit Again: given how often I've seen people use expressions “almost-certainly-illegal intents” for things like unlocking a phone or reverse engineering, I prefer to err on the side of caution. The terms of service already ban illegal content, we don't need any extra prohibition. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Mar 6 '14 at 21:27
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    I guess that sounds like a bit of doublespeak to me. "You're not allowed to post illegal content, but you are allowed to post content that we're pretty sure will be used illegally, and we won't stop you unless <strike>we're caught</strike> a lawyer from the affected party issues a DMCA claim. But, I've said my peace, you're the mod not me. :) – yshavit Mar 6 '14 at 21:31
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Yes we should allow those questions . Crackers, patchers or keygens encompass an extremely large range of applications and goals, let's not blindly ban anything labeled as such. The DMCA is zealous enough, and users/moderators are not lawyers anyway.

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I would think absolutely not.

We don't want to be seen as a place that encourages illegal actions - and in this case it isn't even a grey area. Its a clearly illegal, and attempting to circumvent a EULA,

There's a precedent for this - SU banning hackintosh questions.

It does seem that there's a bit of disagreement on this (even between mods), but if the main purpose is to avoid paying for software, the OP should have the good sense not to say so.

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    Hackintosh was banned on SU by moderator fiat (and against the community vote). This won't happen here (or else you'll first have to get Stack Exchange to remove me as a moderator). – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Mar 5 '14 at 12:52
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The most obvious use case in this that would be allowable is "I have x software, but the company is defunct and I want to be able to use it"

I have a feeling that most users in this situation will mention that anyway and this is easy to verify. That is an easy yes we can support it in my mind.

Can we not just make it required that for cracks etc the user provide a use case? Obviously people can lie...but when there is question to the authenticity of the claim we can have a meta discussion on the topic.

I think a balance and realistic discussion on each individual use case is key here. The answer isn't Yes or No its... Maybe

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  • This is the answer I agree with most: the question is "too broad" to be answered with a clear "yes" or "no", so we have to say "depends". While I disagree with Gilles on the general allowance, I'd tend to argue "in dubio pro reo" on the reasons given (surely only few would openly admit they want a crack to avoid paying – but giving a convincing argument, I tend to decide in the poster's favor). As pointed out, there are legit reasons for which we should allow, but we shouldn't lure answerers to commit possibly criminal actions they might later be punished for. – Izzy Dec 10 '14 at 13:08

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