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Thread: Countermesaures against unauthorized android conversions

  1. #1
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    Default Countermesaures against unauthorized android conversions

    Hello all.

    As with some others on this forum, i'm having some issues with users converting my content to trainz android, without any authorization or even crediting me.
    These users are not members of the official trainz forums (nor of any other trainz forum in fact), they do not have a website and the vast majority uses a cracked trainz android version, downloaded for free from one of many "free" app stores (such as Aptoide).

    They redistribute content via Google Drive, with the link to the .RAR folder (wich is locked with a password) posted on a YouTube video wich showcases the done conversion (usually with awful-tier music in the background). The link is usually posted in the description of these videos and will remain avaible for a limited time, usually 1-2 weeks, after then, the converter will edit the description and remove the link to the folder, however the video will still remain avaible.
    As i mentioned, the .RAR package of the converted content is locked with a password. Said password will be usually displayed for a split-second in the video itself, forcing you to watch the video usually in it's entirety, thus counting the "view" for YouTube. Of course, all these videos are also unbearably filled to the brim with the "Like & Subscribe" crap.

    Now, since they aren't members of the official trainz forum and they don't have a registered trainz version, unfortunately there's little that N3V can do about them. Often the only way to contact the converter is via a facebook group (wich is of course closed and invitation-only) or by commenting on their videos, asking them to stop. Some converters will ignore you and carry on, others instead will delete your comment and lock the comment section on all their videos (past, present and future ones) and posts, effectively clamming themselves up and making further communication impossible. Often, the only thing you'll be able to do is to leave a "dislike", wich of course is useless.

    This is a good example of one of the most recent unauthorized conversion of my rolling stock, specifically my Amtrak Budd Metroliner electric multiple units.



    ^ note that the package is incorrectly named "Penn Central Budd Metroliner" (wich is the name of another of my Budd Metroliner versions) and the password is displayed "in pieces" in yellow words on the video at different intervals.
    In full it reads "Penn centrall bud metroline anndrro [sic]", wich appears even to be the wrong password as it isn't accepted by the .rar (neither with or without the spelling errors!)

    These conversions are particularily frustrating, as evry average idiot can come and steal all the work you've done (and in the case of the Metorliners, i'm particularily angry as i've worked a lot on them) without crediting you, not even with a link to your website or even mention that that content was made by someone else. Furthemore, during conversions, most of your work is horribly mangled, and many fetaures are missing, such as the animated doors (in the video above).

    Therefore, ever since my content started being converted to android, i put in place a strict "nothing for android" policy:
    - No new content for trainz android
    - No conversions of existing content to trainz android
    - No interactions with trainz android converters outside "cease and desist" ones.
    - No requests from any trainz android users

    Of course, this hasn't stopped these people from going on with their unauthorized conversions.

    Now, since the converters aren't member of the official trainz forums, nor have a registered trainz number, there's little N3V can do about them, and threats of legal actions are frankly ridiculous, as you're going to sue someone from another country for freeware redistribution of your freeware content. There could be copyright grounds in case of payware content instead, however i don't think this will still be sufficient for a lawsuit (as i've seen some on this forum rightly threaten to do). The other option is to have YouTube block these channels by reporting them, however YouTube is notoriously sluggish in these cases (and they'll mostly ignore these kind of reports), and even if the channel gets closed, nothing stops the converters from opening a new one.



    Therefore i decided to change my strategy: if redistribution of converted content can't be stopped, i'll make my content as hard and frustrating to be converted to android as possible.

    As i've observed from "inspecting" my own converted addons, trainz android is unable to "read" .cdp files and thus all android add-on content will be packaged as a folder. These texture must be .JPG files as trainz android seemingly can't read other files. In this regard i'm quite lucky as i use sketchup to make my models and then use RubyTMIX to convert the models to .IM meshes and textures, and given that RubyTMIX exports .TGA files named "rtm0XY.tga", these converters will have to manually convert each .TGA to .JPG, for a frustrating work of sometimes 30-40 textures on some of my more detailed models, wich is something good to know.

    To further reinforce my theory, one of the converters even had the nerve to write me an e-mail asking (seemingly and roughly) if i could make his unauthorized conversion process simpler by making my models with .JPG textures instead of .TGA!

    For reference, here's the verbatim e-mail:

    "Hello there i recommend Render To Texture(RTT)your add-ons if your PC is strong and please the RTM file is .jpg file because IM Hate add-ons I'f the RTM is TGA the size is not Friendly to trainz android [...]"

    Thank you for letting me know. I'll be sure not to follow your request.

    One more thing, as shown in the Budd Metroliner video, is that converters seemingly can't export animations (.kin files specifically) to trainz android. This makes an interesting case: if we can find a way to have a .kin animation connected to the bodyshell (there doesn't need to be something "moving", it can be as well a "static animation") the converters won't be able to import .im files without having to convert .kin files as well, else they'll only get an "invisible train".


    Now, i'll be releasing soon (on my website and on the DLS) these 5000 Series trains of Cairo Metro's Line 1, wich have been requested to me by a friend.


    As i'm sure many android converters (specifically egyptians ones) will be immediately "jumping" on this, i've decided to implement some countermesaures:
    i've made sure to put a good number of extra "decoy" .TGA files to waste the converters' time and frustrate them as much as possible.

    If they'll succeed in their conversion however, i've still prepared some "watermark-like" things:
    Inspired by real life rolling stock, i've made my own "manufacturer's plates", fitted in the passenger compartment:






    These are intrinsic to the bodyshell 3D model and cannot be erased. Given that sketchup texturing works as a "bucket fill a cetrain polygon", i've made sure to paint the plate with the "main" textures of the bodyshell. The dark blue and light blue of the plate are the same textures of the livery of two left 5000 Series trains in the first picture, wich means by altering the colours of the plate, you'll also automatically alter the colours of the boyshell itself. The only way to to "erase" the logo and my website's name is to change the two colors to the same one, wich however will mean that the whole livery will be changed; and even if they go on with the livery alteration, the lettering and the plate itself is written in relief, and the sides are painted with yet another colour. In short, to fully make the plate disappear, you'll be forced to have a train painted of a single colour.

    However, there is also another option: i could "bite the bullet" by changing my policy of "nothing for android" and start making my own content for trainz android as well, in an attempt to try to "steal the market" to these converters. This could be a very interesting option, and perhaps more effective that all the other "solutions"...

    So, what could be more countermesaures against unauthorized android conversions?
    Last edited by AlexMaria; October 13th, 2021 at 03:44 AM.
    My trainz downloads are here and my youtube is here.

  2. #2
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    Would making your assets compatible with TRS19 only and its exclusive features stop them being converted to Android?

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    That would actually be a good idea, as most of these people are using the original, 10-year old version of Trainz Android. I just have a question - why?? Why do people try and convert these models? And yes, I know people would want this content in Trainz Android, but… if they have a LAPTOP that is powerful enough (of which I would assume most of these converters are part of the GlOrIoUs Pc MaStEr RaCe - that’s a joke), they can just:
    1. Buy Trainz (whichever version they want)
    2. Buy an FCT (if they want)

    Aaand… you’re done! Now you don’t have to pirate all of this content. I’m probably missing something, but… still…

    Anyone got something else to add, or to elaborate on my argument?

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    2 reasons, because they can and BUY isn't in their vocabulary

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    Hah, they don't even realize they can get T:ANE for the price of Minecraft, which most of these converters have on their 'tablets' that they play games on. Speaking of your Metroliners, they look awesome! Shame they are being converted to Android. I'm a content creator myself and this'll probably happen to me eventually.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by grazlash View Post
    Would making your assets compatible with TRS19 only and its exclusive features stop them being converted to Android?
    I don't know for sure, but seems a possibility. Probably PBR textures would be nearly impossible to convert, so it could be a way.

    However, my problem is that the vast majority of people i know that use my content on a regular basis are almost all still using Trainz 2012 (of course, regularily bought and registered), so i fear if i start making my content for TZ19 only, i'll miss a sizeable part of my "customer" base.



    Quote Originally Posted by SRKing783 View Post
    That would actually be a good idea, as most of these people are using the original, 10-year old version of Trainz Android. I just have a question - why?? Why do people try and convert these models? And yes, I know people would want this content in Trainz Android, but… if they have a LAPTOP that is powerful enough (of which I would assume most of these converters are part of the GlOrIoUs Pc MaStEr RaCe - that’s a joke), they can just:
    1. Buy Trainz (whichever version they want)
    2. Buy an FCT (if they want)
    Aaand… you’re done! Now you don’t have to pirate all of this content. I’m probably missing something, but… still…
    Anyone got something else to add, or to elaborate on my argument?
    Quote Originally Posted by grazlash View Post
    2 reasons, because they can and BUY isn't in their vocabulary
    Quote Originally Posted by DARTrider View Post
    Hah, they don't even realize they can get T:ANE for the price of Minecraft, which most of these converters have on their 'tablets' that they play games on.
    Converting something from the .cdp package of "desktop trainz" to an android-compatible package surely requires both a PC (of any kind) and a "desktop version" of trainz installed (mostly pirated in these cases, but i don't rule out that someone might even have "legally" bought his copy). "Converters" don't work for themselves, they "work" for "others", as i said, being able to convert something implies you have a desktop trainz installed. All these converters could've just downloaded my stuff (or the stuff of other people for that matter) and use it on their PC by themselves. However, they still go on converting stuff, because they have "customers"; hence the problem is two-fold: we have one converter that steals stuff and converts it to android for (a rough estimate) of 50-60 android trainz users* with mostly pirated versions that will use the converted content made avaible by a single individual

    *by my rough estimate, each converter's "customer base" is around 50-60 users per each "converter account" (judging by the likes and comments on the youtube channel).

    There is also a frustrating addendum. Each of these "share addons" video is monetized and has adverts active, most of the download links use an url shortener (with adverts ovbiously) and often multiple "chained" ones and each and evry single of these youtube channels is always bloating about liking and subscribing, thus implying that these converters are actively trying to squeeze out as much money as possible from their unauthorized conversions, wich is something that infuriates me beyond belief, as i've always had in place a policy of "free-of-charge, free-of-hassle" content download (as the vast majority of freeware modellers here), then this completely unknown stranger comes, converts (and mangles) my content, redistributes it in a way that is the exact opposite of "free-of-hassle" and has even the nerve to earn money from it, while i (and all the other modellers here that get their stuff stolen and converted) get absolutely nothing.

    I have no adverts on my website, i don't use ad shorteners and i don't make payware, donationware, freemium or watherver else content. I just very recently added a "donate" button to my website by suggestion from a friend, yet i'm not expecting and i'm not forcing anyone to donate, not even a single cent.

    And this furhter angers me, because those lowlives of converters earn money parasitizing on the time and effort i've spent to make my models.



    Quote Originally Posted by DARTrider View Post
    Speaking of your Metroliners, they look awesome! Shame they are being converted to Android.
    Thank you. I wanted to make them for quite a while and finally got around to make them this summer. I'm sure they'll look even better if you downlad them and place them on a correct North-East-Corridor route!

    Quote Originally Posted by DARTrider View Post
    I'm a content creator myself and this'll probably happen to me eventually.
    Exactly, we're in the same boat. That's why i made this thread, to discuss possible countermesaures if this happens to someone else.
    Last edited by AlexMaria; October 13th, 2021 at 08:04 AM.
    My trainz downloads are here and my youtube is here.

  7. #7
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    I think you could DMCA the channel, I don't know how to do it but you could ask around and see what you can do. They'll likely make a second channel but for most users, one channel done is enough.

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    is that converters seemingly can't export animations (.kin files specifically) to trainz android. This makes an interesting case: if we can find a way to have a .kin animation connected to the bodyshell (there doesn't need to be something "moving", it can be as well a "static animation") the converters won't be able to import .im files without having to convert .kin files as well, else they'll only get an "invisible train".
    This is interesting, are there any performance reductions in using .kin as opposed to .im? Due to PC issues, I'm currently stuck with TS12 and have just started making my own things so I can't save my mesh files as .trainzmesh or something like that.

  9. #9
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    The requester of my 5000 Series has just notified me that, with bewildering punctuality, my Cairo Metro 5000 Series has been converted to android and is now being redistributed trough a closed facebook group.
    Exactly as the Budd Metroliner above, this conversion lacks the animated doors, furthering my theory that android converters can't convert animated fetaures.
    This conversion has come to be not even a week after the 5000 Series was made pubblicly avaible on my website.

    The facebook group in question is the following:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/4402...5584989232749/

    Images taken by the requester - posted here with permission.





    My trainz downloads are here and my youtube is here.

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    wow bummer
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexMaria View Post
    However, my problem is that the vast majority of people i know that use my content on a regular basis are almost all still using Trainz 2012 (of course, regularily bought and registered), so i fear if i start making my content for TZ19 only, i'll miss a sizeable part of my "customer" base.
    I would agree with this.

    Quote Originally Posted by DARTrider View Post
    I think you could DMCA the channel, I don't know how to do it but you could ask around and see what you can do. They'll likely make a second channel but for most users, one channel done is enough.

    This is exactly how to handle this. For those who don't know, Youtube will DMCA an uploader for the slightest reason, or even no reason at all.
    Last edited by RRSignal; October 19th, 2021 at 11:11 PM.
    Eat More Popsicles.

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    RRSignal-

    Yep. One of the Youtubers I watch got a DMCA on nearly all of his videos because of his 7-second outro music. (If you know him, we should be friends) So yes, a DMCA notice will be great - especially considering there’s an actual reason for it.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by RRSignal View Post
    ...
    This is exactly how to handle this. For those who don't know, Youtube will DMCA an uploader for the slightest reason, or even no reason at all.
    Just be careful with terminology. Youtube themselves don’t do the DMCAs. You need to initiate the takedown. You may also get confused with Content ID claims which is an automated system that typically detects music. Having content ID claims on your channel does not equal strikes. Strikes are only given if someone issues manually a complete DMCA takedown notice.

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