There's this program from a few years ago that isn't being sold anymore, and there's a simple way to extend the free trial forever by changing the expiration date in a text file.

I was wondering if it would be problematic to write and publish a guide on my website detailing how to use this exploit, since I am not distributing anything.

  • Is the program in question abandonware, i.e. the company behind it no longer exists, or is it simply not suported? Commented Nov 14, 2020 at 0:37
  • My location is Germany. And it's not abandoned, the company has moved on to a subscription based, in-browser model.
    – schinken82
    Commented Nov 14, 2020 at 0:44
  • 3
    If the software isn't abandoned, then (a) you are trying to deliberately destroying someone's livelihood, and (b) nobody will lose a single tear if this costs you a lot of money. Germany has more laws than just copyright law.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 16:33

1 Answer 1

  1. You are granted the free trial as part of a trial, not to permanently use the program. When the user downloaded the trial version of the program, he probably had to accept T&C granting a one-time only say 3‑month trial period. It is a mere breach of contract if you’re circumventing this, but you might still be liable to damages.
  2. Circumventing technological protection measures is forbidden, § 95a UrhG. However, these protection measures must be considered effective. Now, lawyers are usually no computer gurus, so they might arrive at completely different conclusions, but I guess/hope editing a plain text file, substituting a plaintext ISO 8601 date, will not be deemed “effective”. (I presume the same effect could be achieved by resetting the computer’s RTC.)
    Having said that, since you intend to “publish a guide […] detailing how to use this exploit” I suspect it might not be that trivial and thus, from a lawyer’s POV, be considered an “effective” technological protection measure.
  3. If it is considered an effective technological protection measure, you might be punishable via § 108b UrhG, but I’m not sure about that. The wording is terribly complex.

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