Security: Avoid piracy, fraud and fake sales!

By Kathy · Jan 22, 2004 ·
  1. Kathy
    Be smart! Avoid piracy, fraud and fake sales!

    Disclaimer:
    We hope we got all the facts and info correct, however we are human and humans make mistakes. Feel free to inform us if there is a mistake. Also note, we are not responsible for any loss in sale, or anything else that may or may not occur as a result of this document.
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    I want to point out a few things to members who want to purchase and/or sell a vBulletin license. If you suspect a site/license is stolen, pirated, or fake please read the following tips, as it may be.


    Buying a vBulletin License:


    - A new one
    If you wish to make a purchase of a vBulletin license, make sure you are really getting a valid license. How? You should purchase it only through the official web site(s) of Jelsoft (www.vbulletin.com and www.jelsoft.com), they have a secure on-line payment system and it will give you official access to the member area where you will be allowed to download the most recent version of vBulletin which is available to the public. You can also purchase a license through an affiliate link listed on sites that are not official. Make sure this affiliate link is the real one (from Commission Junction (cj.com)). Only by purchasing through these two methods are you guaranteed access to the member area and a non-pirated/stolen/fake license.

    - Beware of fraudulent sales
    Another option is to purchase a second-hand license; however, here is where the danger lies. There are always users that try to sell their license through their own web site or a third party web site. Be aware that these sales are often scams to steal your money. Always make sure you get all the details: The type of license (is it owned, or leased? there is a big difference), the date of purchase and expiration, and the license number. If you have an interest in buying a second-hand license, you can always contact sales@vBulletin.com and request them to verify that the license is valid.


    - Buying secondhand? Think twice!
    Jelsoft carries a policy with which a license owner may make a chargeback if they decide vBulletin is not for them. This means that if you buy a license from someone who recently purchased it, then they request a chargeback, your newly purchased license becomes invalid and this person gets his money back plus your money. If you suspect a user of making a fraudulent sale, please gather his (or her) details and inform the abuse department of the hosting provider which hosts their site, their internet provider, their credit card company and/or PayPal. Also notify Jelsoft’s abuse department. Fraud is a serious offense and will be dealt with accordingly. If you want to purchase a license second-hand, make the sale over a website where a valid email is required for registration and every post contains a logged IP. This is always much safer than discussing and purchasing over an instant messenger conversation such as on MSN or AIM, where one can become completely anonymous and impossible to trace.

    - Instant Message Services (icq, yahoo, msn, irc)
    Many users attempt to sell their licenses through instant messenger services. Be wary of these types of fraudulent users. They may even impersonate vBulletin staff members to try to sell you a fake license. Do not believe them. Jelsoft employees will never sell their licenses.

    - Purchase completely? Really?!
    If you have made a first- or second-hand purchase, make sure you keep a valid and up to date email address registered to your member area account. Make sure you are the person in the contact details and make sure the member/pass combination is secured (for instance, do not save it to anywhere on your computer) and do not share it with anybody. If you received access to someone else's member area after a sale, they can still access it and download a new version. In order to make any second-hand sale complete, the seller needs to request to have their license transferred to your new account, on your name, with a new member name and password. Many people don't do this, as a trick to have you renew the license so they can login and download the new version without having to pay for it.


    - Price?
    I have purchased and sold a few licenses, and I think I have a pretty good idea about the price of a second hand license. So here is what I think of it:

    Please note that there are two license types, leased and owned.


    Leased License:
    Please be aware that it will expire within 12 months or less and that renewing requires that you pay the total price of a leased license. A new leased license costs $85, so I personally do not think it is worth much more then anything between $25 and $50 - if it has about 6 months left. Remember that you can only upgrade to an owned license at a reduced price in the first 30 days; afterwards, it is the full price. So don't let anybody tell you otherwise.
    Owned License:
    A new owned license costs $160 and gets 12 months free access to downloads in the member area. To renew this access costs $30/year, and will permit you to download the most recent version of vBulletin and receive some technical support. Anyone can renew at any time. A renewal adds 12 months member area access to any particular license. A second-hand purchase of an owned license which will require you to renew this download access shouldn't cost you more then $50 to $75 (because you will still need to pay $30 to renew it). An owned license with anything between 6 to 12 months left, shouldn't cost you more then $80 to $120, and if there are less than 6 months left, it shouldn't cost you more then $80. Keep in mind that someone who already holds owned license(s) can buy more owned licenses at a reduced cost. On several sites users will try to sell their license for around $100 or more, but the average sale ends up at $90 even with quite some months left to download it. Of course, there are always exceptions for licenses with more than 12 months of member area access remaining, or licenses purchased in bulk which were later found to be unneeded. No matter what is presented, use the safety tips listed above, research what you are about to buy, and always check with Jelsoft!
    - Inform yourself and Jelsoft
    All license and sales questions are done through sales@vBulletin.com. Don't be shy in asking for help or advice, or in reporting suspicious actions. It would be a shame to help others with their piracy, it would be a shame to help Jelsoft lose money, and it would be a shame to find out you have been ripped off, and worst of all, it would be a shame for the pirates to get off scot-free at your expense.


    Selling your license?



    - All of the above applies to you too!
    If you have the intention of deceiving a user, be aware that you are breaking the law, and just because it happens on the internet doesn't mean you are safe. People will report you to authorities, PayPal will freeze your account over a dispute, you will be taken to court, and lawyers will try to make you an example for the rest. This is not an .mp3 song you download - this is computer fraud and will be dealt with accordingly. And if you have no bad intentions, then be on the lookout for users who say they paid you, and just need to wait to clear a check or some other excuse, before you give away your license to them. Request your license to be transferred to this person as a new account by the details he provided and request to have the transfer confirmed. Be clear to the person what you are selling, but don't give out too much details to avoid this person abusing it for reasons you wouldn't expect.

    - Where?
    You can't sell your license on the official vBulletin web site(s). Their sites are not a marketplace. Search for sites that have a marketplace for software, or place an ad on sites that allow this. You must always request permission to sell your license on a site that is not yours, or does not explicitly state that you can sell such things on it.


    - Done!
    Once the sale is completed and you are enjoying your bling bling, make it clear that the sale has completed successfully; if it is an ad, contact the webmaster and remove it, or if it is a post, edit it and mention that it is no longer for sale.


    - Inform yourself and Jelsoft
    All license and sales questions are done through sales@vBulletin.com. Don't be shy in asking for help, advice, or in reporting suspicious actions. It would be a shame to help others with their piracy, it would be a shame to help Jelsoft lose money, and it would be a shame to find out you have been ripped off, worst of all, it would be a shame for the pirates to get off scot-free at your expense.


    Piracy


    - Are you a valid license holder?
    If you are, congratulations! This is the way it should be. Please make sure you are a valid license holder. One license per instance of vBulletin is how it should be. So running a site of a .zip file that a friend gave you, even to test - without it being your own license, is not legal. Downloading vBulletin from p2p networks (such as what Napster was), ftp servers, websites, and/or over an IRC Network IS NOT LEGAL. Even if you have one legal license, the only place to get it is from the official members’ area at www.vBulletin.com or www.vBulletin-Germany.com

    - You got it from another site?
    THIS IS NOT LEGAL! If you run more than one domain name, but redirect them all to one domain name, which uses vBulletin, that is fine; but if you have one license, and install that one copy on more than one database, that is not legal. So make sure you have enough licenses, and are running the ones you have downloaded from the official member area. Remember: Each downloaded license is compiled specifically for the web site registered with that license. When you are caught running it on another web site Jelsoft will contact you about piracy and may, at their discretion, revoke that license. If you have doubts or questions, contact Jelsoft at sales@vBulletin.com
    Example of what is stated above:
    If you goto www.mechnation.com, it sends you to www.xboxunderground.com. www.xboxunderground.com is a licensed site. Therefor, this setup is LEGAL.
    If you own www.piratesite1.com and run an instance of vBulletin on it and if you own www.piratesite2.com and run an instance of vBulletin on it, but only own 1 license, this is NOT LEGAL
    - Copyright notice in footer
    Yes, there is one, there has to be one! The user agreement specifically explains that you can not and are not allowed to remove this copyright notice. So don't! If you really want to remove it, go to the member area and pay for the branding free license for $120 per license. Then you are allowed to remove it for that license. If you think you've found a site which removed it without paying for the branding free license, report them at http://www.vbulletin.com/contact/piracy.php and understand that they will not respond to you for privacy reasons. If the site is not legally running without a copyright, Jelsoft will deal with them accordingly and as soon as possible.

    - Suspect a site of not having a license?
    It is possible that you have reason to believe that a web site that has a forum powered by vBulletin has not paid for their license. You can report them on http://www.vBulletin.com/contact/piracy.php - as above, they will not respond to you personally, so please only report a suspect site once.

    - Sites that distribute vBulletin files?
    It is possible that you may find a chat channel, a web site or ftp server that publicly or privately distributes vBulletin files. Of course, this is against the law and you can report them through piracy@vBulletin.com

    - What will happen if someone reports me?
    If you have a valid license, then they should not contact you. Jelsoft will match up your license details against the report issued against you or your site and if they think there is no reason to contact you, they will not. However, if they think they should, they will ask you to quickly contact them to clear up a few things. If you don't have a valid license, they will contact you and offer you to cut a deal by which you would be required to either delete the vBulletin files and database or purchase a valid license. Running without a valid license is a crime, so if this is your case, you should feel lucky you aren't served court papers on the spot.

    - What will happen if I report someone?
    The Jelsoft anti-piracy team will investigate and take action accordingly. You cannot find out the results of the investigation, as it is a breach of privacy and is against the law.

    ALL REPORTS ARE INVESTIGATED! If the site is pirated, legal action will be taken.

    --author: floris copyright 2003
    --credits and help: Tony, fury, Martin, and Apoco

    This article is used by permission of the author. Floris is a member of The Admin Zone and manages and admins a fast growing vBulletin Fan site:
    http://www.vbulletin.nl/community

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