Friday, June 6, 2008

The Software Licensing Dilemma

From the software vendor's perspective, there are many and varied opinions when it comes to licensing schemes. Personally, I've experienced the hassles involved when a software product is tied to a specific PC; when my PC was upgraded, the software no longer worked and the pain that ensued was significant. OK, I know, I should have been aware of the ramifications of an upgrade before it took place!

For any software vendor, attending to support issues like this is at the very least a nuisance; if that software vendor happens to be a sole operator, the implications can be more serious. As one of these sole operators, anything I can do to minimise support calls is desirable. To that end, I've decided to heed the advice of Infralution, the developers of my license system software, and issue individual license keys with few restrictions. The key is issued to the original purchaser on the understanding that the product will be used only by them and installed on a maximum of two computers. There's nothing to stop a dishonest purchaser from ignoring this restriction, but if they're keen to rip me off, I guess they'll find other means to circumvent a more restrictive licensing scheme anyway. As Erik Sink says in his excellent book "Erik Sink on the Business of Software", the best and most realistic approach is to provide the means to keep the honest people honest.

The CodeProject website has an interesting article entitled Piracy and Unconventional Wisdom which lends weight to the theory that an overly restrictive licensing policy may just turn out to be a rod for your own back. Let the vendor beware!


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