Yes, it is idealism. I don't have any numbers to back me up, I only have the experience I've gathered throughout the years. I just don't believe in hiding the code so that people can run away with it. "Forgetting to pay" is a different issue altogether and one that can not be solved with a technical solution from my point of view. Just blocking access to people who accidentally didn't pay doesn't solve your direct problem, and it doesn't make your customer feel any better.
If they "forget to pay", pick up the phone and ask them what is wrong. Perhaps there's something you can do to help them, maybe they're in a slow season. They'll love you for that, and that love will be spread. I'd rather have a 100 customers that stick around for 10 years, than 300 customers that stick around for one or two years. The "no payment equals no service" philosophy will get you into conflicts, not into solutions. Or at least, this is my take and my way of doing business.
I do realise that this is situation-bound. I'm fortunate enough to have personal contact with most, if not all, of my customers. Admittedly, this might also be affected by the country you're operating in, the kind of businesses you're involved with and the type of software you sell. I just seem to be in the right situation to be able to afford this way of thinking, I guess.
Counter question: I believe the above statement, but do you have any numbers about the results in the long run? Increasing your income by a factor of five is incredibly interesting, no-one will deny that, but for how long? I have had a telephone provider that tells me I have to cancel my subscription three months before the (automatic) renewal of the subscription and I think it's retarded and their decision to do business that way has negatively impacted my opinion of the company. First change I had (and remembered ), I left to the slightly more expensive competition that allows me to stop the subscription every month, over the internet.
This was 2004. In 2010, most of the telephone-providers in the Netherlands now have the option to stop your subscription each month, and adjust the subscription over the internet, free of charge. Unless of course, you get a phone with it, in which case they'll want you to stick around for at least $x years, and then provide the strategy above. The "silently-renewing-for-a-year" strategy just didn't work out to be what they hoped in the long run.
I might have it wrong though, and I too, would like to see concrete numbers on this, although completely off-topic, as we were talking about obfuscating code
Excellent point. To be honest, I didn't even consider the possibility of using HipHop as a way to make sure your code doesn't get stolen. Probably because it's not marketed that way.