back to article Down the Digital River, into the heart of download darkness

Before the internet, software distribution was cumbersome. While it was relatively cheap to reproduce computer code once it was written, sending floppy disks and CD-ROMs about created friction. Now, with heavy adoption of high speed connections, you can easily buy software and download it over the tubes. Bytes are bytes, no …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Why the language

    I understand the issue being raised here, I myself use Steam but Why all the obscenity, the repeated use of the F word is not conducive of well thought out commentary, and reduces the missive to someone's private rant because they have been hit with the extra charges, I thought the reg was much better than that and this article has severely reduced my respect for the publication.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Why put money in DR pocket?

    When TPB have it all for Free, Arrrrrr.

  3. E

    WTF, Ted?

    Digital River has been doing this for perhaps 10 years. What's the big fucking deal now, Ted? Did you get burned?

  4. Martin Lyne

    Same old

    If you lose a cd they won't send you a new one becuase they treat it as a product.

    If you want to use the software on more than one machine you can't becuase in this instance tehy treat it like a license.

    If their software screws up your shit, it's your fault, becuase they protect themselves with the EULA.

    Aren't we all used to getting boned these days?

    Steam/Impulse are the closest things to fair you can get, so they get my money everytime. Massive kudos to their post-release support (Galactic Civilisations+ has to be the best supported/expanded software I've ever seen. Kudos)

  5. Michael

    Whats the worry?

    DL it, save it on to your HDD or Flash Drive/Burn to DVD... Job done! They dont get $ and you aint got to worry about the 2nd DL..

    P.S. All the F'ing and all that aint very pro now is it? I dont think you'll get a job on Watchdog somehow but the swearing back at the naughty company would be good to watch lol...

  6. Kris Chaplin

    Mind the language

    I echo ACs point - no need for all the profanity!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @Why the language

    Agreed, this guy seems to spend an inordinate amount of time swearing, and talking about his balls. Frankly, I could do without it.

    Afterall, THINK OF THE CHILDREN!?!

  8. JP Strauss

    Kick them...

    ...right in the vajayjay.

  9. Will Leamon


    I love your articles - please more F bombs - but it saddens me to think of you wasting your life away on those formats/reinstalls.

    Nlite FTW!

  10. Ian K
    Dead Vulture

    It's so unfair!

    Presumably Ted's exhausted his list of marginally interesting vaguely dev-related topics, so has moved on to take pops at general IT non-issues. And the expletives are back, I guess to try to divert us from the fact that he's not actually writing about anything interesting. Yawn.

    I look forward to his future turdspurts against edgy topics like "Hard drives - never fucking big enough, eh?", "Scroll Lock - why are we fucking paying for that lame key?" and "MS Paint - fucking terrible art program". No, wait...I don't.

  11. Jim Coleman

    Oh for fuck's sake

    Why is everyone so fucking hung up about swearing? It's just a word! Jesus* won't send you to hell** for writing a few expletives, you know. Jesus H fucking Christ onna bike, grow a pair of hairy nuts and take off that blouse!

    *Or indeed any other conceived-by-a-virgin*** deital offspring, for that matter

    **Which only exists in the fevered imagination of the indoctrinated, and in Peckham

    ***At least, that's what she told Joseph.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Save to file

    I assume the windows users haven't heard of saving the download to a file that can be stored on a cd or usb stick. Who in their right mind downloads and installs any program directly off the internet?

    Sorry I forgot - these are windows users - myself, I use OS/2.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I for one...

    ...find the writing style a refreshing change of pace, and it entertained me.


  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    I think the big deal is that Ted has a weekly column to write, and was struggling desperately to think of something to write about that would allow him to adopt his signature rant-and-rave approach to writing. Apparently the notion of keeping your own copies of software installation packages is alien to people, and this is the fault of Big Business or The Man or something, rather than the fault of the person who didn't keep backups of something they might need in future.

  15. jacob

    @Why The Language etc.

    If you are offended by the language or content you are free to stop reading and move on to another article.. Bunch of whiny fuckwits

    Unless I missed some obvious sarcasm, and in that case... carry on.... fuckwits..

    Mines the one with the George Carlin book in the breast pocket.

  16. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: mod +1 for swearies and fuck the haters

    Most erudite, The Other Steve, but ironically enough I can't let that comment through because of something naughty in the last line that messes with people's filters and that. Try again, pantymouth.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not big or clever

    Echo others and especially Ian K's top comment. I can't understand why you need to swear so much! It seems a little immature. Did you just get conned? You remind me of Kenny Everetts "Angry of Mayfair"!

    My understanding is that Digital River's business model is to take a percentage of sales. So about 90% of your anger should be directed to the brand - as they approve the T&Cs and presumably had a hand in wanting the extra revenue.

    Also, under the EU Distance Selling Act, you can get all your money back anyway by moaning enough - failing that under the UK Consumer Credit Act of 1973 (I think that's the year) your credit card is liable for the debt so just ask them to cancel the payment.

    Ted, sorry if you can't follow this comment as I left out the F words.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    @AC (@E)

    " Apparently the notion of keeping your own copies of software installation packages is alien to people, and this is the fault of Big Business or The Man or something, rather than the fault of the person who didn't keep backups of something they might need in future. "

    Well, Big Business or The Man, or maybe just Digital River is encouraging this behaviour, for profit. The "holding a backup" argument is flimsy, as I don't believe for one moment that they maintain an individual copy of the software for each user, I suspect instead they have one single copy that thousands of users all share.

    They're promoting ignorance. This is snake oil sales tactics, make no mistake.

  19. zenon3
    Thumb Up


    "Apparently the notion of keeping your own copies of software installation packages is alien to people, and this is the fault of Big Business or The Man or something, rather than the fault of the person who didn't keep backups of something they might need in future."

    Yes, that's exactly it. However, wouldn't it be nice if companies worked with you on this one rather than bending you over at every turn? You could be vigilant and backup every piece of software you own (onsite, offsite, etc), or they could do it for virtually zero cost in the name of.. oh... what's that phrase again... it's so rare these days... CUSTOMER SERVICE?

    That's right, a sure way to win my business, nickel and dime me the whole way because it's within your rights while I try and figure out how to screw you back. That's my favorite game.

  20. Martin Gregorie

    Wrong target, Ted

    As others have said, you can always save downloaded file(s) on a CD, USB-disk or whatever. If people don't do that they lose. Their fault. Their problem. No difference from all the retards who don't make backups and then whine when they have a disk crash.

    Your correct target, Ted, is the computer makers who only supply the backup software on the hard disk.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Spot on

    I've just spent 10 days trying to get my "30-day no questions asked refund" via Digital River. Their customer service is a maze of auto-replies and forms. Their refund form automatically rejects your order number (copied from the order page) forcing you to navigate auto-replies until finally - finally - you get through to a human and they refund you. If you survive the preceding war of attrition.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Suck up the bandwidth

    You should use your 30 day window to setup an automatic, repeated download of the program (assuming your own Internet connection does not have any bandwidth caps). Then you waste their bandwidth and also don't pay anything extra.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Not all's lost

    If you have a quick google around, you can usually find the file you need and download it from their servers -- they obviously keep a single file for everyone. For example, they wanted me to pay another 38 quid to download Microsoft Office again for which I have a perpetual license! But google quickly pointed me to

  24. Gareth

    To the complaining prudes

    Intercourse Off.

  25. Warhelmet
    Black Helicopters

    Apocalypse Now

    "The horror, the horror"

    The whup-whup-whup of the ceiling fan as Martin Sheen smashes up his hotel room.

  26. Anonymous Coward


    Not enough sleep & too much coffee? B->

    To all the folks who said "what's wrong with a little language?" or some such, I should mention that while I have no issue with swearing (apart from the fact that it usually indicates a restricted vocabulary and normally signifies that the swearer has just lost whichever argument they were participating in), the slightly draconian BOFH's at my current client get various warnings whenever someone reads a web page with more than a certain number of expletives and I got a visit from the thought police this afternoon about the 'dubious content' I was reading during my lunch break (when personal use of t'Interweb is allowed).

    I pointed out that it was an industry news site, which happened to have far more than the usual number of F-bombs than usual and they skulked away, back to playing Halo or 'Delete the user's files' or whatever they had been doing before they goose-stepped into my office.

    I've been a constant reader of the site for over 10 years now, visiting several times a day normally - from now on, I suppose I'll have to wait until I get home.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Whine, bitch, moan.

    There's the bandwidth costs. There's also the costs for servers. Power and cooling for the servers and network equipment. Paying for the people to look after them. All of that costs money... rather than bitching about the $8 optional fee, I'd wonder more about how Valve is paying for their 'free' Steam service.

    God forbid that a company tries making money with an optional service...

  28. Chris Shewchuk
    Thumb Up

    I hate titles

    Love the writing style. Don't let the dissenters sway you Ted... there are more of us who want to read a good fuck-riddled rant on a Monday than those of us still hung up on minding our tongues.

    And believe it or not, the man's got a point; as zenon3 said, why is it considered normal to expect to be screwed over by a company that could, with very little effort, provide an experience that's overwhelmingly positive instead of just sufficient?

    "You didn't make a backup, and being an AVERAGE consumer (read: not IT) the thought never crossed your mind, so you deserve to pay out the nose for another stream of bytes."

    "Hey, you wore that skimpy clothing without thinking the consequences through, so you deserved what happened in that back alley at night."

    See any parallels here? And to anybody who says they're not the same thing, I never said they were. They're both shitty, misinformed attitudes about shitty situations that the victim never asked to be in. Shitty, misinformed attitudes don't fix problems.

    Shitty, well-informed attitudes, like Ted's, tend to at least inspire debate.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I understand your pain

    I know what it is that makes you rant. I understand and I agree.

    It's not the fact that some company is making money.

    It's the fact that some company is offering a service that is utterly un-justifiable and unnecessary but imposed on the buyer (it may be optional but still imposed because if you don't buy it, you can't re-download).

    But, I suspect what is most annoying to you is the fact that people buy it because they are stupid and don't know any better, they are being fleeced and ripped off and you don't like it. If that assumption is true, then it is testament to your integrity......anyway its good to post an angry rant on the internet. Especially when something really pisses you off such as tha fact that Vista is crap or something.

  30. theotherone


    more swearing please, this article doesn't have nearly enough euphemisms for genitalia and fornication ...

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    The Stephen Fry viewpoint on swearing

    Personally I like Ted's articles, but then I don't hold with the argument against swearing. Stephen Fry put it much better than I ever could when he said:

    "The sort of twee person who thinks swearing is in any way a sign of a lack of education or of a lack of verbal interest is just fucking lunatic," he says. "Or they say, 'It's not necessary.' As if that should stop one doing it. Things not being necessary is what makes life interesting."

    The full thing is here:

    I feel sorry for those whose internet "thought police" see fit to intervene and prevent the viewing of a few F words on an office computer. Unless you work in a primary school I can't honestly see the problem. It's not as if you are forcing anyone else to view it, and from a metre away Ted's articles (oo-er) look like anyone else's.

    The Reg is a robust and diverse site and it's intended for adults. Long may it stay that way.

  32. George Oommen
    Thumb Up

    Refreshing honesty

    Loved the swearing! Keep it up...far less stuffy here!

  33. Pierre

    @ Whine, bitch, moan.

    "There's the bandwidth costs. There's also the costs for servers. Power and cooling for the servers and network equipment. Paying for the people to look after them."

    Mister AC at 19:21, you didn't read the article. Or do you fecking assume that Amazon gets the bandwidth, the servers, the leccy, the staff and the cooling for facking free?

    Good article about an old problem.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    More easy money with the registration backup service

    Now download protection is one thing, and you can drop it of your shopping cart. But hey, DR has another "easy money" service: Registration Backup Service. If you pay an extra 2-3 bucks per item in the shopping cart, they keep your registration code for the software for one full year ( I mean, wow! If the download has some associated costs, the 25 characters code (or less) doesn't have any storage and distribution costs! So if you're really stupid and don't know how to request the code from the software producer support or you didn't had the decency to write it down, then you have to pay for it!

    My guess is that this is just pure exploitation of stupidity, nothing else.

  35. KenBW2

    +1 for stopping swearing

    Is Ted 12 years old?

  36. Anonymous Coward

    @Martin Lyne

    "Aren't we all used to getting boned these days?"

    Nope, not yet!

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    fuck me to tears

    who else?

  38. Dafydd Lawrence

    That's not even the start of it

    Digital River are just crap anyway. Whether they add inflated fees or not. The amount of hassles I have with them trying to even just buy software and their useless customer service being ... well.. useless.

    Their custom sites are full of coding errors which can make you go around in circles as it bumps you back to the beginning over and over. The layout is poor and the user interface is laughable.

    This even for customers like Microsoft. This is what I can't get - why would Microsoft need to use DR to supply their software and not write a system in house. The lack of quality control at DR and the terrible user experience reflects on these big companies.

    I've been involved in building pretty sophisticated e-commerce systems before for a private company which also allowed us to sell our partner's goods using a custom skin and we managed to complete the project in a short enough timescale.

    Digital River have never failed to provide me with a bad experience!

  39. Steve

    What problem?

    Many of the big brands use DR as a payment/download provider. Not only do they handle all fulfillment and customer service, they also provide valuable tracking and cart services. Many companies are happy to have a 3rd party handle this sort of thing, it's the way the world is going and allows companies to focus on their core product instead of all the BS of order fulfillment. So if Ted feels that only stupid companies outsource then I think he may need to get in touch with the real world and take a look around him. Ted, adding services like extended download to the checkout are of course just a way of making money, but isn't that what business is about? If people can't simply make a backup instead of paying then they probably need the extended download because they may not know much about how a PC works.

  40. Michael Hitchins

    dont people read

    the article said it wasnt talking about techies getting ripped off, and comments are being shot off left right and center about how this isnt the target audience for this rant.

    gee, you think. most people here would use tpb to get a second (if not first) copy of the software. he is addressing joe the user who doesnt know he's being ripped off. just like his examples about a mechanic upselling something you dont need when you get the car serviced. if you are being offered something you dont need but dont know any better, and the company is playing on that gullability, well you're getting ripped off - its simple.

    sorry that some people would prefer companies dont rip off the plebs. compassion isnt everyones strong suite

    and i dont mind the language at all. its nice to see someone with a different style

  41. Peter Fox
    Thumb Down

    A mistake

    It's not clever, it's not funny and the subject is hardly worth getting worked up about.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice article

    But why all the swearing... think of the children... lazy use of language... adult discussion... blah, blah, blah.


  43. Michael

    Yay prudes!!

    As has been noted on several occasions, the "Fail and You" column may contain foul language. If you don't like it, don't read the fucking column!!!

  44. Carl Colijn

    DR is obvisouly going down...

    To shed another light on this issue: I'm running my own independant software company, and I also employ an e-commerce shop to handle the orders for my software. It's not that I'm lazy or stupid, but for me it really makes sense to offload the order process, credit card transaction details, VAT issues, purchase order and phone/fax purchases etc. This way I end up with more time developing my products, so I'm happy to pay them a percentage of the revenue for it.

    That being said, I am also quite disgusted by the latest Digital River tactics. I used to use SWREG and was very happy with them, untill they got bought up by Digital River (like so many other e-commerce shops) and started pushing these scams into my shopping basket. Sure, I could opt out of this crap by parting with a bigger share of my revenue, but then the word got out they added this stuff to the ordering pages of some vendors anyway. WTF? It caused a big riot in the private vendor groups, and that was the moment I left them and searched for an alternative. Which I have found with Avangate by the way; a nice and honest company just the way I like it to be for my customers.

    And, as a side-note: my customers can download their software -including license keys- 'till days end from my server for free as well; no 'download insudance' and all. After all: what's the cost for me? The cost would probably even be higher (support-wise) if I didn't offer this. Shows at least some companies do care about the customers and the customer service quality they provide.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    la plus ca la change

    Digital River are absolutely famous for shafting their customers (the software companies) and, worse still, their customers' customers (the end user). The download insurance is pretty mild compared to the 'reservation rewards' stunt they pulled a while ago. Just Google "swreg reservation rewards scam".

    Once they have pissed off enough people they just buy another company and start shafting the new customers.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Software developer

    Are you totally clueless about what it takes to run a software company?? Do you think your readers are that clueless too?

    When you buy software and download it, whose job is it to back that software up? Yours, or is it someone else's responsibility? When people buy our software and download it the order email tells them to back that software up right away. We also offer to sell them a CD with the software on it. The choice is *yours*. Don't blame us later when your computer blows up and you did not back the software up AND you did not order a CD. We are not your mother, cleaning up after you.

    Why do *many* software companies out source their ecommerce? Clearly you don't understand the business. Here are some reasons:

    1) Fraud screening. A large ecommerce company can provide much better fraud screening than a small company.

    2) Taxes. We sell all over the world. If we sell the software to European customers we are responsible for paying VAT. Any idea how complicated that is for a US company?

    3) Wire transfers- many customers in countries other than the US want to pay by wire transfer. Guess what that costs in the US? It's free with an ecommerce company.

    The list goes on, but I don't think you will get those points, let alone others.

  47. Francis Fish

    Yeah guys, I keep a copy of everything I have ever downloaded


    "you can burn it on a CD", "you can keep it on a data pen"

    Where will the CD be when you need it 2 years later? The data pen will have fallen down a grid somewhere - it's a backup - you lose it you buy another one.

    Maybe I'm just less anal than a lot of you seem to be. Bet you've all got pockets with colour coded pens and your CD's on alphabetical order too.

    Work stuff I might have a copy, but things I do at home? I'll back up the documents and stuff.

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