[Openmcl-devel] CCL images, consumer apps, and piracy

Brandon Van Every bvanevery at gmail.com
Fri Apr 8 11:36:34 PDT 2011

Hi, I'm pretty new to Common Lisp and Clozure CL.  I'm using Windows
Vista.  I have been reading a lot of materials to try to understand
how CLL produces standalone apps.

Let's say I write a commercial app for a consumer audience, such as a
game.  Aside from a few system .dlls accessed by CFFI, it is written
entirely in CL.  I save-application with prepend-kernel to create a
standalone .exe.  What's to stop some hacker from extracting my Lisp
image from the standalone .exe, loading it with a CCL kernel of their
choosing, and then using my code in any way they like?  It seems like
not only could they pirate my game, they could mod it in any way they
like, and easily distribute their own derivative works.  If there's
something about the internals of a CCL image that would make this
difficult, I would be grateful for an explanation.  Or, if it's easy
by default but can be made difficult, I'd welcome that too.

I'd rather not get into a big discussion about the merits / demerits
of worrying about game piracy in the first place.  Recent evidence
from Stardock's "Sins of a Solar Empire" suggest that up to a certain
number of sales, piracy is not worth worrying about.
http://forums.sinsofasolarempire.com/post.aspx?postid=303512  Their
philosophy is to concentrate on their core paying customers, who are
not pirates and are annoyed by anti-piracy measures.  However, the
evidence from other sources is that once one is selling millions of
copies of a game, piracy is rampant.  There's a smaller market of
conscientious consumers who just pay for stuff, and a mass market of
cheapskate consumers who love to get everything for free.  Suffice it
to say that "I am ambitious," so I keep my eye on such issues.

Brandon Van Every

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