Stupid Business Tricks – StarForce

I’m filing this one under “Made Me Laugh”, mostly because you’d think they’d know by now.

StarForce, who apparently tried to install crap-tastic DRM software on my computer when I bought Silent Hunter 3, decided that they would threaten Cory Doctorow over his post which called them on their, well, crap-tasticness. Seems the wonderful piece of software they wrote tends to cripple if not outright break some CD and DVD drives. (Nice work, by the way StarForce.)

What’s a company to do in the face of this? Talk to the author and plead their case? Post their own rebuttal on their website or blog? No! Threaten to sue someone! Which, in this case, turned out to be an author on one the most heavily trafficked blogs in the world. Brilliant. Since StarForce hasn’t caught onto this whole Internet thing, I’ll put this in terms they can understand. Instead of talking to their critic, they implied that Vinny, their legal goon, would come and break the critics fingers. (Note to actual StarForce Vinny; that’s called sarcasm and a metaphor, respectively.)

The outcome of this brilliant strategy? Well, I’m talking about it. I realize I’m like 7,430,882th on the list of importance on this topic, but I heard about from Boing Boing (2). And Nelson Minar. And Darren Barefoot. And the Consumerist. And Broadband Reports. It has over 1500 diggs right now. It made the front page of Slashdot. And TechDirt. And Kotaku.

By the way, if you run into any problems with their software, it’s your fault. To wit: “According to our research those of users [sic] that do run into compatibility problems are beginner-level-hackers that try to go around our protection system.” That’s Dennis Zhidkov, StarForce PR Manager. PR Manager?!?! Who the hell hired this idiot. Let’s see, our business model includes selling products to companies that target high-end computer users. That group has, well, high-end computer systems, which these days normally includes some type of high-speed Internet connection. With all that bandwidth, those people might read lots of websites. Good thing no website will dare publish how craptacular our software is after we threaten to sue them. From Russia. *hand to forehead*

Note to whoever runs StarForce: Fire Mr. Zhidkov. He cost your thousands of sales today and you deserved to lose every one of them. You certainly lost mine. You can find a list of games that contain this ridiculous software here. Removal tool is here. If you’re feeling particularly grumpy, you can email Dennis Zhidkov at

If you feel like trashing a system for $10,000, StarForce is running a contest for you.

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