You Wouldn't Download a Backend

My significant win is that I’ve never personally found a need/desire to pirate something. If a piece of software interests me enough, there’s usually a free alternative that functions similarly enough. I love Blender for that reason!

But others don’t have my pristine record, and I don’t hold that against those people at all. I can easily see the objective reasoning for piracy, but haven’t seen something that I need enough to break my “moral code.” I accept it exists, and some people need to do it. In a lot of cases, it’s even justifiable. It's fortunate that it's possible.

I saw a TikTok complaining about Quizlet features becoming monetized the other day. From my perspective, I thought it kinda funny since I didn’t use the platform for anything outside of what I was mandated to during high school French class.

But for everybody else, it was an absolute travesty that the tool that carried them through whatever educational period of their lives was now extending its grasp over its plains. There was grieving all around the community, as well as many calls for somebody to make a “cracked” version of Quizlet.

Someone asking for a pirated version

Someone asking for a browser hack

Regarding a browser hack, it should be known that such things aren't possible all the time. If it's anything like most educational software, the real stuff is supplied on the fly as requests are validated to not be hacks. It's by this principle there's no "Chegg Crack" or Canvas quiz answer hack.

How in the world do you crack an API?

The web is the only platform I think could be thought of as “immune” to piracy. You can’t download a cracked version of a website. Applications made primarily for the desktop can have validation communications blocked off by a savvy and dedicated enough person, as I think is the case for Adobe cracks. Changing code on-machine for such a task is trivial. Changing the backend of a website to give you all its content is impossible.

The things I could consider closest to “web piracy” are both related to Spotify: Cracked APKs you can download for Android, which I think function à la Adobe cracks by flipping some switch in the app binary that says it’s premium, and using an adblocker on Spotify Web.

My friend actually got a popup spawning virus from downloading a Spotify Premium APK off APKMB, it was the most hilarious thing, 'till I had to give him antivirus recommendations.

Modified binaries will exist for as long as Spotify deems them unproblematic, and adblockers will exist for as long as Google deems them unproblematic. In both cases, the existence of such piracy is heavily dependent on the providing body, and as such, are existant by benevolence.

Adobe’s suite is primarily non-webapps that need to function on the desktop, thus the pulse checks on those can be trumped. But as for the Spotify APK’s, I can naively assume they would stop functioning entirely if Spotify were to beef up their auth system a bit, maybe.

Really, if they found it worthwile to put more effort into validating API access tokens and whatnot, it would be nigh impossible for things like cracked APKs for online services to exist. Ironically I think this is the case for Netflix, as you can only get its content via uploaded mirrors off site, not via accessing Netflix itself with a magical "It says I'm paying for Netflix but I'm actually not" switch flipped on the client machine.

There will never be a true way to "pirate a backend"

As such, as things move further to the web, game streaming rises in capability, etc etc, the media will be entirely in the hands of its providers. The strengthening of the web will be the weakening of piracy.


I've been playing around with the hypothetical of Adobe releasing and committing to online versions of its applications à la Microsoft's Office suite for this exact reason.