Clumsy copy protection puts TurboTax franchise at risk

This year, Intuit decided that its entire customer base needed to suffer in order to shakedown a small percentage of low-lifes (a.k.a “potential customers”) who were using TurboTax without paying for it. Intuit’s customers are questioning their loyalty to the company, and I don’t believe it’s an exaggeration to say that the once-unshakable TurboTax franchise is now vulnerable. From an email to ExtremeTech:

I’m one of the long time TurboTax users who will use it no more. I shouldn’t have to wait for what Intuit laughingly refers to as “Customer Support” to get help when the program will not activate. I shouldn’t have software installed on my machine without my knowledge. I shouldn’t have to worry about a hard drive failure forcing a re-purchase of a license.

It turns out that when you install this year’s TurboTax, you’re also unknowingly installing Macrovision’s SafeCast, a.k.a. C-Dilla, on your computer. SafeCast is an invasive monitoring service that’s always running in the background, even when TurboTax isn’t. When you enter your TurboTax serial number, SafeCast registers your computer on a server. The upshot is that you’ll be unable to use TurboTax on a different machine or make significant changes to your own machine without having to prove to Intuit that you’re legit. As a customer on puts it:

If I need to amend a return 12 months from now, I am screwed unless I jump through hoops with Intuit.

Although most TurboTax don’t realize that SafeCast is now watching what they do, Intuit is currently being hit with complaints from a small but significant portion of their customer base. So far, Intuit has responded by including software that uninstalls the SafeCast monitoring services from Windows. Meanwhile, many customers are responding by moving to H&R Block’s well-reviewed alternative to TurboTax. | Intuit pours oil on TurboTax woes | Complaints mount from TurboTax customers | PC Magazine: Intuit’s TurboTax activation scheme irks users