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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Evaluation of activation based software license enforcement Afonin, Oleg

Abstract

Software piracy, software licensing and license control are all important issues to software developers. Small software developers did not have access to a system available to control a number of installations of licensed software products. A company could obtain a single license and use in among the network, or there could be a breach of security allowing multiple users to use fully licensed software on many different computers. Tying software installation to hardware is the most common way to prevent or restrict those illegal activities. Hardware tying, however, has a drawback to software publishers: a user has to pass a Hardware ID to the software manufacturer at the time of ordering, which might affect his willingness to purchase that product at all. With the development of the Internet it became important to control software licensing and distribution online to protect revenues from losses incurred by both intended and casual software piracy. An online license management system helps reduce both forms of piracy by ensuring that each copy of the software product being installed is legal and has been installed on a PC in compliance with its license terms. Installations beyond those allowed in the license agreement will fail to activate, thus preventing both casual and intended piracy. The main question of this research is whether or not online software license activation is a effective solution of reducing software piracy. It was interesting to figure out if its direct or indirect benefits prevail over its disadvantages. This research presents an in-depth evaluation of ActivateSoft.NET, a software activation system. It describes software activation policies as sets of parameters that allow precise control on how software end-user license agreements are enforced. Finally, an experiment is designed and run, and raw data is collected on the usage of real-world software. Collected data is analyzed to find out how online license management can affect software usage patterns, providing a hint to answering the key question: whether or not the use of software activation reduces software piracy.

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