Blog Entry

Mar 28
2012 

Do software vendors intentionally allow ways to bypass their enforcement mechanism?

This is a juicy question was posed on Quora (http://b.qr.ae/HmF392). I was intrigued by a couple of the responses and added my own.  Here is my view…

The answer is yes but mostly no. Confused?

Here’s how it usually works…

First, software vendors separate compliance strategy from piracy prevention because they are inherently different beasts. This can be done by placing their customers along a compliance continuum.  On the left you have customers who go to lengths to be compliant and will gladly pay for software they use regardless of whether the software has license enforcement or not. On the right you have users who intentionally use pirated software and wouldn’t pay for it if they couldn’t steal it. The vendor’s focus is clearly on the left end of the scale since this offers the largest revenue opportunity.  The right is often nothing more than noise.

When vendors introduce license enforcement, the most common philosophy (by far) is to consider the enforcement a tool that will help keep their honest customers doing the right thing and to facilitate creative licensing models. All software license enforcement tools have some level of vulnerability. However, the software market usually considers the higher-end commercial enforcement products more than adequate to cover ~90%+ of their continuum, working from left to right.

That 10% is essentially the topic of the original question posed in this post. The software vendor asks itself if it really cares about investing additional time and resources making the enforcement more air-tight to further prevent piracy by users who would never pay them.

All said, there is always a point of diminishing return and vendors choose to not care a whole lot about usage where they’d never see any revenue.

I agree with the premise that many companies would rather see users stealing their software than paying a competitor. However, applying the notion of the compliance continuum, the real money is typically on the left end of the scale with companies that wouldn’t use pirated software in the first place so the revenue in question is likely a fudge factor at best.

What do you think?