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There was a rumour going around the EE department that if you tried to crack Eagle or use a keygen'ed license, the software would slowly start corrupting the circuits you were working on. After a month it would tell you that you had pirated the software, but not before you'd created a fair number of non-working PCBs. Devious!

I'm not sure if this is true or not, but it kept us all on the straight and narrow. :)

From what I remember, the copy protection on Eagle was conceptually simple and seemingly effective. Basically it put the license ID into all saved files. Updates to the software would include an updated blacklist which prevented loading of files from old pirated versions. Crackers wouldn't bother with fixing the load functionality as everything would work fine for the current iteration.

There were of course ways to work around it (load then save with the same version under the free license, or export the entire design as text using a ULP and then import in the new version). But on the whole, it struck me as frustrating the process just enough to encourage users who would possibly pay, to pay. (I wonder if Cadsoft made even more from unlocking design files. "You are having trouble opening that design because your fly-by-night consultant used a pirated version of Eagle. We'll happily unlock it for the cost of a deluxe license.")

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