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Obsolescence of Software Piracy Potential


Superior Architecture


Rough Draft



Computer Architecture




David B. Robert

11 March 2000


Obsolescence of Software Piracy Potential Through Superior Architecture



The Business Software Alliance is the preeminent advocate against software piracy for software publishers worldwide. A visit to their internet site at:  reveals a wealth of information concerning software piracy.  This statistic, “Worldwide Software Piracy Losses Estimated At Nearly $11 Billion In 1998: Study Finds More Than One-Third of Applications Are Pirate Copies” reveals the current extent of the software piracy problem. 


This photo shows two ubiquitous parts of practically every software purchase.  The EULA or End User License Agreement has evolved into the predominant means of protection against software piracy, while the System requirements reveal the necessary operating system and hardware components the software needs to function properly.  As computers have increased in complexity and efficiency the system requirements list has typically grown in size.  But, what is missing from this list?  Under copy protection in The Computer Desktop Encyclopedia by Alan Freedman the reader is told that, “A system… (to prevent piracy) designed into the personal computer from day one should have been established.”  This system should be boldly announced on every System requirements list, yet it is sadly missing.  The current extent of the software piracy problem hints at the impotence of the EULA.  The advancements made by hardware over the years is truly remarkable, however the System requirements list has failed to produce a single component dedicated solely to the prevention of software piracy.


 The one who controls the software controls the war.” -Katsuhide Hirai, Fujitsu Ltd., Quoted in Northeast International Business (November 1989)[Softwars]


Hardware and software complement each other.  One without the other is worthless.  Hardware provides the necessary platform for software to be able to do its magic.  But, software provides the raison d'être for hardware.  It is software that animates hardware and makes it useful and fascinating.  Without meaningful software to imbue hardware with life a computer is about as useful as a pair of eyeglasses without lenses.  While neither can meaningfully exist without the other, software’s reason for being is not the computer.  Software exists for a myriad of purposes of which none are solely for the purpose of propping up hardware.  Software has propelled hardware through its successes in the marketplace.  Software availability has determined the success or failure of certain makes of computers.  Yet as crucial as software is to the very existence of hardware, software has an intrinsic weakness that hardware has failed to protect.  Clapes in Softwars puts it like this, “Computer programs suffer from an essential vulnerability: they are easy to copy. In contradistinction to the case of hardware products, copying of computer programs requires no research laboratories, no factories, no chemical formulas, no strategic materials.  Copying a computer program is no more difficult than duping an audiotape or plagiarizing a story.  What can be freely copied cannot form the basis of a business if the copying can be done with impunity.  Thus, the nature and extent of society’s rules against such copying actually dictate the boundaries of the software business.  Further, because buyers of computers make their hardware purchases in large measure because of the software available for such computers, the rules against copying of software strongly influence competition for computer hardware.  Hirai-san was right: the one who controls the software controls the war.” [Softwars]

Software piracy is a problem of monumental proportions.  The spectrum of piracy covers a broad band.  Anyone who has anything to do with computers has undoubtedly been offered illegitimate copies of some software product by someone thinking they are rendering you a favor instead of committing a crime.  Companies should be concerned with and have policies against employees loading unauthorized copies of software onto the company computers. "Companies are responsible for any unlicensed software that resides on their office computers It's therefore essential that businesses commit the time and money to educate employees about the importance of abiding by the company's software usage policy. Bottom line, it costs less to educate employees about the risks of copyright infringement than settling a software piracy claim with BSA," said Bob Kruger, vice president of enforcement for BSA. [EMPLOYER BEWARE BSA WEB site]    An employee may be told by his boss to load up a pirated copy of some software, and when the crucial moment comes to click “I Accept” the employee may wonder who is really responsible.  When was the last time you read a EULA in its entirety before clicking  “I Accept”?   A search of the keyword, “piracy” in Microsoft’s help feature even produces a laundry list of topics; “Are there different types of software piracy? Is one type of piracy less damaging than any other? , What is software piracy? Why should I be concerned about it? ,  What should I do if I suspect I have unknowingly purchased illegal Microsoft software products?” , including a piracy hotline phone number: “Microsoft Piracy Hotline at 1-800-RU-LEGIT”; illustrating the corporate concern over this problem.  Large scale pirate operations often operate in the open overseas where much of the loss occurs.[Record(Bergen County)].  Software piracy is as common as speeding, and is thought of with the same degree of seriousness if it is thought of at all by the average person.

The attitude of many is apathetic toward software piracy.   Richard Baker in “Scuttle the Computer Pirates” writes that,  “in some circles it’s considered fashionable, not dishonest, to copy programs and to give or sell them to your friends.”  When piracy is brought up as an item of conversation it is relatively easy to find these views expressed.  Baker concludes his social factors by pointing out that “all the effort you expend to obtain copyrights and other protection, and the precise legal language of a license agreement aren’t worth a public domain utility program when it comes to stopping a nation full of individual pirates who feel fully justified in what they do, and who are hard to catch in any event.”  [Baker, Scuttle the Software Pirates]

Baker’s comment suggests just how impotent the legal means of protection are in preventing software piracy.  Yet the legal means of prevention has gained the dominate position as a method of choice for protection.  Volumes have been written covering every aspect of legal protection.  Up to now, hardware, in spite of all of its grandiose ingenuity has failed to provide a universally acceptable means of piracy prevention.  Davis in “Software Protection” points out that, “all existing schemes have significant drawbacks to universal use in place of legal remedies.  Until an infallible technical solution is devised, the software industry will have to rely on legal remedies, and suffer from the imperfections of an imperfect legal system devised for imperfect humans.” 

An infallible technical solution for piracy prevention has long been sought after since the early days of software existence, however finding something successful has been as illusive as the quest for the Holy Grail.   A search of The IBM Patent Database Server at for software protection devices yields a myriad of technical solutions for piracy prevention, yet very few of these devises have seen the light of day.  Technology thresholds, ill devised schemes that bred bad will among end users, failure of the computing community to collectively support a method of merit have all contributed to the lack of a universally accepted system to protect the lifeblood of the computing industry. 

“This picture (on the left), taken in 1956, shows half the CPU of the UNIVAC I.  Imagine yourself watching this awesome sight and someone says to you, "in 20 years, everything you see being wheeled up the ramp will fit on the tip of your finger."  Would you have believed it?” [Freedman, The Computer Desktop Encyclopedia]


The progression of hardware from its beginning through the 8088 machines to the current day marvels has been and will continue to be remarkable and life changing.  As the need arose many peripheral devices have been invented to supplement the computer.  The monitor, the keyboard, a mouse, speakers, floppy drives and now CD-Rom drives are visible components whose importance and usefulness are readily understood by the casual user as compared to the mysterious black magic of the inner workings of the computer where data buses, caches, the CPU, look aside buffers, and many other esoteric components all work together through binary arithmetic to give the computer its remarkable ability and attest to the capabilities of the design experts.  Yet, the total architecture of the machine has failed miserably to produce a ubiquitous device with the acceptability of a CD-Rom drive to safeguard the producers of software and the legitimate users of software who are reduced to clicking “I Accept” if they want to experience the magic that brings a computer to life and makes it meaningful. 

Existing And Tried Protective Methods.

Although it is deplorable that no such protective means has arisen to prominence, the industry cannot be blamed for not trying.  Too many methods to fully discuss have been tried.  Some have had limited success while others have fallen on the trash heap of consumer rejection.   Davis in Software Protection: Practical and Legal Steps to Protect and Market Computer Programs  says it like this, “Let’s examine, briefly, what technological means may be available in software or hardware to physically protect the software from being copied illegally.  Most such attempts have been technologically unsuccessful for a variety of reasons, and most consumers appear to resist them, aggressively.  Such devices must either be in or connected to the hardware, or be an integral element of the software.” [Davis, Gervaise G. III]

 Software keys appeared on the scene for a short period of time.  A specific disk called the key was required to be inserted into the computer anytime the user wanted to use a particular program.  If the disk was misplaced, lost, or destroyed the user was simply out of luck.  The added hassle of keeping track of these disks did not sit well with many users who want to sit and go immediately into a project rather than hunt and search and then take the time to go through the initialization process these keys required.

 Hardware keys or locks also known as dongles improved upon the software keys.  Hardware locks are still in use today.  Rainbow Technologies Inc. is one such company that provides these devises and has been in existence for some fourteen odd years.  Hardware locks generally connect to the computers parallel port.  The protected software looks for the lock.  If it is present the user is able to seamlessly utilize the software with out any concern to find something to stick into the computer to make the software work.  The hardware lock is basically transparent.  Once it is stuck in place, the user no longer has to worry about it.  With Hardware locks the user is free to sit and go immediately into his desired project without the concerns of the software key.  Hardware locks are usually found with high dollar software such as Intergraph’s MicroStation, and Autodesk’s, Autocad.   Mark Straley with Rainbow Technologies Inc. said that programs generally need to retail for around $500.00 before a producer of software should consider a hardware lock as a feasible means of protection.  Straley said this threshold might eventually be lowered. [Phone Conversation]  However, if every thirty-dollar program could utilize a hardware lock, how would the user manage to hook them all to a single parallel port?  One or two jutting out of the backside of a computer usually present no problems, but a dozen or more of these devices sticking out the back would certainly be unwieldy.  Hardware locks have also been cracked in the past, however Straley said since the Sentinial Super Pro they have not been cracked.  If only they were more readily affordable with a compact means of stacking them, this is proven technology that has and does work.  It is interesting to note that Freedman in The Computer Desktop Encyclopedia states, “The only copy protection system that works is the hardware key, which is a plug and socket that is attached to the computer's parallel port with a unique serial number that the software identifies. Hardware keys are used to protect high-priced software, but users are generally not fond of them, because it requires unplugging the printer cable, inserting the hardware key, and plugging back the printer. 

  A system similar to the hardware key designed into the personal computer from day one should have been established.”[Freedman]

Copy protection can be considered as a legal means such as copyrights and patents or a mechanical means such as methods that prevent the duplication of disks.  Freedman puts it like this, “copy protection: The ability to prevent unauthorized copying of software.”[Freedman]  Rather than preventing unauthorized copying of software, a hardware lock actually prevents the unauthorized use of software.  A user can make as many copies as he wants, but only the copy connected to the hardware lock will fully function.  The mechanical means have largely been rejected because a user often has legitimate needs requiring the copying of some software.  The legal means of protection, despite its inefficacy, has eclipsed all other methods of piracy prevention.  The EULA or end user license agreement is now a main part of practically every software sale.  These complicated legal documents have evolved with increasing complexity from their beginnings.  It was common to find the term, “like a book” in the early simpler agreements.  Software is meant to be utilized like a book the agreements described.  I cannot read your copy at the same time you are reading it.  The like a book theory is nice in context, however the mentioned ease of duplicating software leaves it in reality nothing like a book.  You may use a copy machine to duplicate some book you want to share with another, but it takes a considerable amount of time to run off a copy of each page.  After the copy is made, the Xeroxed paged copy is considerably substandard compared to the original.  Whereas it is quite easy to make a copy or several copies of some software and the copied product’s quality is the same as the original minus good technical support and good documentation.  Now with the move toward more excellent online documentation, the good documentation is practically a non issue.  A book has practical implications that prevent it from being commonly copied, while software does not.  So while “like a book” was a nice analogy, it did not fit the situation like a glove.

Mechanical copy protection has strived to make software truly like a book, however mechanical methods have largely failed.  With the right technological solution, software has the potential of being better than a book.  Hardware keys permit the software to be simply a demo version, if the key is absent, that can be freely passed around.  A user is then able to savor the qualities of the software while not being able to utilize its full potential.  This enables the user to make an informed choice in deciding to go for the full purchase.  This prevents a user from buying a completely untried product only to have his expectations shattered once it is installed.  If a user has tried a demo and then buys the full course it is unlikely that he or she will be dissatisfied. 

The EULA or end user license agreement has become a major part of every software purchase.  A notice stating that “you must accept the enclosed License Agreement” before you can use the product can be found near the System requirements on many software packages.  A typical installation generally displays a copy of the EULA and a message box with the now ubiquitous “I accept” button pops up for the installer to click.  Failure to click the “I accept” button negates the installation and leaves the particular software unusable on the computer in question.  It is strongly recommended that the installer read and understand the EULA prior to acceptance, however there is no means to indicate that you did read and do understand the EULA prior to clicking the “I accept” button.  Also, there is no way of knowing if the responsible party clicked the button or the boss simply had a subordinate do the dirty deed.  The EULA is a legal and binding document, and clicking the “I accept” button is considered the same as signing your name to a legal document.  A typical EULA is shown in its entirety below.  Note the admonition to READ CAREFULLY on the first line.


License Agreement ("EULA") is a legal agreement between you (either an individual or a single entity) and Microsoft Corporation for the Microsoft software product identified above, which includes computer software and may include associated media, printed materials, and "online" or electronic documentation ("SOFTWARE PRODUCT"). The SOFTWARE PRODUCT also includes any

updates and supplements to the original SOFTWARE PRODUCT provided to you by Microsoft. Any software provided along with the SOFTWARE PRODUCT that is associated with a separate end-user license agreement is licensed to you under the terms of that license agreement. By installing, copying, downloading, accessing, or otherwise using the SOFTWARE PRODUCT, you agree to be

bound by the terms of this EULA. If you do not agree to the terms of this EULA, do not install or use the SOFTWARE PRODUCT; you may, however, return it to your place of purchase for a full refund.



The SOFTWARE PRODUCT is protected by copyright laws and international copyright treaties, as well as other intellectual property laws and treaties. The SOFTWARE PRODUCT is licensed, not sold.


1. GRANT OF LICENSE. This EULA grants you the following rights:

* Applications Software. You may install, use, access,  display, run, or otherwise interact with ("RUN") one copy of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT, or any prior version for the same operating system, on a single computer, workstation, terminal, handheld PC, pager, "smart phone," or other digital electronic device ("COMPUTER"). The primary user of the COMPUTER on which the SOFTWARE

PRODUCT is installed may make a second copy for his or her exclusive use on a portable computer.


* Storage/Network Use. You may also store or install a copy of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT on a storage device, such as a network server, used only to RUN the SOFTWARE PRODUCT on your other COMPUTERS over an internal network; however, you must acquire and dedicate a license for each separate COMPUTER on which the SOFTWARE PRODUCT is RUN from the storage device. A license for the SOFTWARE PRODUCT may not be shared or used concurrently on different COMPUTERS.


* License Pack. If this package is a Microsoft License Pack, you may RUN additional copies of the computer software portion of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT up to the number of copies specified above as "Licensed Copies." You are also entitled to make a corresponding number of secondary copies for portable computer use as specified above.


* Reservation of Rights. All rights not expressly granted are reserved by Microsoft.



* Academic Edition Software. If the SOFTWARE PRODUCT is identified as "Academic Edition" or "AE," you must be a

"Qualified Educational User" to use the SOFTWARE PRODUCT. If you are not a Qualified Educational User, you have no rights under this EULA. To determine whether you are a Qualified Educational User, please contact the Microsoft Sales Information Center/One Microsoft Way/Redmond, WA 98052-6399 or the Microsoft subsidiary serving your country.


* Not for Resale Software. If the SOFTWARE PRODUCT is labeled "Not For Resale" or "NFR," then, notwithstanding other sections of this EULA, your use of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT is limited to use for demonstration, test, or evaluation purposes and you may not resell, or otherwise transfer for value, the SOFTWARE PRODUCT.


* Limitations on Reverse Engineering, Decompilation, and Disassembly. You may not reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble the SOFTWARE PRODUCT, except and only to the extent that such activity is expressly permitted by applicable law notwithstanding this limitation.


* Separation of Components. The SOFTWARE PRODUCT is licensed as a single product. Its component parts may not be separated for use on more than one COMPUTER.


* Trademarks. This EULA does not grant you any rights in connection with any trademarks or service marks of Microsoft.


* Rental. You may not rent, lease, or lend the SOFTWARE PRODUCT.


* Application Sharing. The SOFTWARE PRODUCT may contain Microsoft NetMeeting, a product that enables applications to be shared between two or more COMPUTERS, even if an application is installed on only one of the COMPUTERS. You may use this technology with all Microsoft application products for multiparty conferences. For non-Microsoft applications, you should consult the accompanying license agreement or contact the licensor to determine whether application sharing is permitted by the licensor.


* Support Services. Microsoft may provide you with support services related to the SOFTWARE PRODUCT ("Support Services"). Use of Support Services is governed by the Microsoft policies and programs described in the user manual, in "online" documentation,

and/or in other Microsoft-provided materials. Any supplemental software code provided to you as part of the Support Services shall be considered part of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT and subject to the terms and conditions of this EULA. With respect to technical information you provide to Microsoft as part of the Support Services, Microsoft may use such information for its business

purposes, including for product support and development. Microsoft will not utilize such technical information in a form that personally identifies you.


* Software Transfer. The initial licensee of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT may make a one-time permanent transfer of this EULA and SOFTWARE PRODUCT only directly to an end user. This transfer must include all of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT (including all component parts, the media and printed materials, any upgrades, this EULA, and, if applicable, the Certificate of Authenticity). Such

transfer may not be by way of consignment or any other indirect transfer. The transferee of such one-time transfer must agree to comply with the terms of this EULA, including the obligation not to further transfer this EULA and SOFTWARE PRODUCT.


* Termination. Without prejudice to any other rights,  Microsoft may terminate this EULA if you fail to comply with the terms and conditions of this EULA. In such event, you must destroy all copies of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT and all of its component parts.


3. UPGRADES. If the SOFTWARE PRODUCT is labeled as an upgrade, you must be properly licensed to use a product identified by Microsoft as being eligible for the upgrade in order to use the SOFTWARE PRODUCT. A SOFTWARE PRODUCT labeled as an upgrade replaces and/or supplements (and may disable) the product that formed the basis for your eligibility for the upgrade. You may use the resulting upgraded product only in accordance with the terms of this EULA. If the SOFTWARE PRODUCT is

an upgrade of a component of a package of software programs that you licensed as a single product, the SOFTWARE PRODUCT may be used and transferred only as part of that single product package and may not be separated for use on more than one COMPUTER.


4. COPYRIGHT. All title and copyrights in and to the SOFTWARE PRODUCT (including but not limited to any images, photographs, animations, video, audio, music, text, and "applets" incorporated into the SOFTWARE PRODUCT), the accompanying printed materials, and any copies of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT are owned by Microsoft or its suppliers. All title and intellectual property

rights in and to the content that may be accessed through use of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT is the property of the respective content owner and may be protected by applicable copyright or other intellectual property laws and treaties. This EULA grants you no rights to use such content. If this SOFTWARE PRODUCT contains documentation that is provided only in electronic form, you may print one copy of such electronic documentation.  You may not copy the printed materials accompanying the SOFTWARE PRODUCT.


5. DUAL-MEDIA SOFTWARE. You may receive the SOFTWARE PRODUCT in more than one medium. Regardless of the type

or size of medium you receive, you may use only one medium that is appropriate for your single COMPUTER. You may not RUN the other medium on another COMPUTER. You may not loan, rent, lease, or otherwise transfer the other medium to another user, except as part of the permanent transfer (as provided above) of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT.


6. BACKUP COPY. After installation of one copy of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT pursuant to this EULA, you may keep the original media on which the SOFTWARE PRODUCT was provided by Microsoft solely for backup or archival purposes. If the original media is required to use the SOFTWARE PRODUCT on the COMPUTER, you may make one copy of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT solely for backup or archival purposes. Except as expressly provided in this EULA, you may not otherwise make copies of the SOFTWARE

PRODUCT or the printed materials accompanying the SOFTWARE PRODUCT.


7. U.S. GOVERNMENT RESTRICTED RIGHTS. All SOFTWARE PRODUCT provided to the U.S. Government pursuant to solicitations issued on or after December 1, 1995 is provided with the commercial rights and restrictions described elsewhere herein. All SOFTWARE PRODUCT provided to the U.S. Government pursuant to solicitations issued prior to December 1, 1995 is

provided with RESTRICTED RIGHTS as provided for in FAR, 48 CFR 52.227-14 (JUNE 1987) or FAR, 48 CFR 252.227-7013 (OCT 1988), as applicable.


8. EXPORT RESTRICTIONS. This SOFTWARE PRODUCT has been classified by the US Government as exportable under License Exception TSU. Therefore the following terms apply: You agree that you will not export or re-export the SOFTWARE PRODUCT, any part thereof, or any process or service that is the direct product of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT (the foregoing collectively referred to as the "Restricted Components"), to any country, person or entity subject to U.S. export restrictions. You specifically agree not to export or re-export any of the Restricted Components (i) to any country to which the U.S. has embargoed or restricted the export of goods or services, which currently include, but are not necessarily limited to Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria, or to any national of any such country, wherever located, who intends to transmit or transport the Restricted Components back to such country; (ii) to any person or entity who you know or have reason to know will utilize the Restricted Components in the design, development or production of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons; or (iii) to any person or entity who has been prohibited from

participating in U.S. export transactions by any federal agency of the U.S. government. You warrant and represent that neither the BXA nor any other U.S. federal agency has suspended, revoked or denied your export privileges.





If you acquired this SOFTWARE PRODUCT in the United States, this EULA is governed by the laws of the State of Washington.

If you acquired this SOFTWARE PRODUCT in Canada, unless expressly prohibited by local law, this EULA is governed by the laws in force in the Province of Ontario, Canada; and, in respect of any dispute which may arise hereunder, you consent to the jurisdiction of the federal and provincial courts sitting in Toronto, Ontario. If this SOFTWARE PRODUCT was acquired outside the United States, then local law may apply.


Should you have any questions concerning this EULA, or if you desire to contact Microsoft for any reason, please contact the Microsoft subsidiary serving your country, or write: Microsoft Sales Information Center/One Microsoft Way/Redmond, WA 98052-6399.










SOFTWARE PRODUCT will perform substantially in accordance with the accompanying written materials for a period of ninety (90) days from the date of receipt, and (b) any Support Services provided by Microsoft shall be substantially as described in applicable

written materials provided to you by Microsoft, and Microsoft support engineers will make commercially reasonable efforts to solve any problem issues. Some states and jurisdictions do not allow limitations on duration of an implied warranty, so the above limitation may not apply to you. To the extent allowed by applicable law, implied warranties on the SOFTWARE PRODUCT, if any, are limited to ninety (90) days.


CUSTOMER REMEDIES. Microsoft’s and its suppliers’ entire liability and your exclusive remedy shall be, at Microsoft’s option, either (a) return of the price paid, if any, or (b) repair or replacement of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT that does not meet Microsoft’s Limited Warranty and which is returned to Microsoft with a copy of your receipt. This Limited Warranty is void if failure of the

SOFTWARE PRODUCT has resulted from accident, abuse, or misapplication. Any replacement SOFTWARE PRODUCT will

be warranted for the remainder of the original warranty period or thirty (30) days, whichever is longer. Outside the United States, neither these remedies nor any product support services offered by Microsoft are available without proof of purchase from an authorized international source.









LIMITATION OF LIABILITY. To the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, in no event shall Microsoft or its

suppliers be liable for any special, incidental, indirect, or consequential damages whatsoever (including, without limitation, damages for loss of business profits, business interruption, loss of business information, or any other pecuniary loss) arising out of the use of or inability to use the SOFTWARE PRODUCT or the provision of or failure to provide Support Services, even if Microsoft has been

advised of the possibility of such damages. In any case, Microsoft’s entire liability under any provision of this EULA shall be limited to the greater of the amount actually paid by you for the SOFTWARE PRODUCT or U.S.$5.00; provided, however, if you have entered into a Microsoft Support Services Agreement, Microsoft’s entire liability regarding Support Services shall be governed by the terms of that agreement. Because some states and jurisdictions do not allow the exclusion or limitation of liability, the above imitation may not apply to you.


Unless you are an extremely strange member of our human race, it is unlikely that you read this EULA carefully or in its entirety.  In spite of the admonition to  - READ CAREFULLY:  at the beginning of most EULAs, in all likelihood, neither does the average person continue to take the time to read a EULA in its entirety when installing a new software product.  Yet, if you or your company violates the terms of the EULA and you are brought to account for this violation the grief that can be precipitated upon you will certainly make you wish you had not committed the violation. 

Even those who conscientiously desire to fully comply with a EULA can easily find them to be a headache.  William Brandel says,  “Tracking software licensing from a single-vendor source can be a headache.  But trying to comply with software agreements can get downright complicated for managers who must manage licenses from multiple sources and at the same time administer a group of users who work with different applications at different times.” [Computerworld 04-18-1994 “New technology may ease licensing headache”]  Fortunately some steps are being taken to ease this burden.  BSA Offers A New Anti-Piracy Software Audit Tool” is one such item taking a step in the right direction.  However, more can and should be done.

Just wading through the legalese that makes up the typical EULA and trying to remain in compliance can be a headache.  An example is the digital camera owner who goes on vacation.  This owner may not own a notebook computer in which he can conveniently down load the pictures taken.  Digital cameras have limited storage, so they are not really practical to use during a vacation where there is no computer available to down load the pictures.  Packing a desktop PC around with you during a vacation probably entails more inconvenience than most people are willing to put up with.  However, if you know someone on the vacation end with a PC, it is a simple matter to bring the necessary software along and have it installed on his or her computer.  Yet, are you in compliance with your EULA?  If the software is only being used on one PC at a time then you probably are.  However, you might ought to check your EULA to be sure.  Should you uninstall the software from your PC before leaving for the vacation?  When you are finally through with the vacation and ready to head home you will need to uninstall the software from the friends computer to remain in compliance with your EULA.  These are all nitpicking little details that the average person really doesn’t want to have to be concerned with.  Yet the failure of technology to establish a better system condemns all of us to the headaches of dealing with or ignoring the EULA.  Even if a user chooses to mindlessly click the “I accept” button and then ignore any conscientious compliance details, the EULA still hangs over their head silently waiting for an opportunity to make them accountable.

A Workable Solution.

 Superior computer architecture can and should take steps to make the software piracy problem obsolete forevermore.   ·PDB required should become a ubiquitous line under System requirements.   A Piracy Deterrent Bar would have a visible part like a CD-ROM drive, a floppy drive, a keyboard, a monitor, an external modem, a set of speakers, or the mouse.  The visible part provides a matrix of easily accessible sockets that can receive a specially coded ROM chip for each authorized software product.  The PDB could be designed to attach to the parallel or serial port, but this should be an important enough new item that, like the video monitor, it should rate its own specially designed port and plug in card. 

The visible part would soon become as acceptable and expected as the previously mentioned components.  The PDB’s internal parts would complete the interface with the existing architecture.  In a nutshell the PDB would be most like an improvement of the hardware lock with a few changes.  Rather than being able to only connect to a single parallel port, the PDB would offer a matrix of sockets that special ROM chips matched with the protected software product could be inserted into.  The socket matrix would solve the problem of no convenient way to stack all the hardware locks out the back of the computer off of the parallel port.  The computers that need to be upgraded would require the PDB card to be installed and the actual bar that contains the bank of sockets to be connected.  A single bar would have a finite number of sockets that could accommodate the typical number of software applications found on most computer systems.  Sometimes this typical number will be exceeded, so a key feature of the PDB would be the ability to stack bars by offering an additional port on each bar that another bar could attach to.

Chip technology has improved dramatically since they were first created.  The price of the average chip has dropped substantially.  In addition to burning all the necessary CD’s when a software publisher was ready to offer a new product, the publisher would order the necessary number of chips to go with each individual software product.  The software product with out the accompanying chip would only be a demo version, or the number of times the software could be used without the chip would be restricted.  Products downloaded from the Internet could have a limited number of uses available that provided enough time for the chip to be delivered.  When the chip is inserted into the PDB, the software would be fully functional.  For cheaper software, all the chips for a particular product could be identical so that as long as any chip for the product was available, the product would be fully functional.  For more expensive software, an individual chip could be coded to match only an individual product.  The chip could also contain the information indicating that the product was an upgrade and establish whether or not the other components were present.  Upgrades could require that the previous chips were present so that the previous products could not be used elsewhere.  A user could be free to load his software wherever he wanted.  However, when he left his friend’s PC he would have to retrieve his chip if he wanted or needed a fully functional version elsewhere.  This would make it more like a book than ever, except better.  The friend would have a demo version that he could fully evaluate to make an informed purchase decision. 

CD cases could be made with a convenient niche to safely hold a chip during transport.   New computers would soon have fashionable Piracy Deterrent Bars as an integral part of the system unit case or the monitor.   Drive bay models could be standard.  When necessary, an external stackable PDB would be available for upgrades on pre-generation machines and expansion on machines with an extremely large software inventory. 

Besides activating a software product as fully functional when its chip is present the PDB could also perform an inventory service and generate reports detailing which software is available, what socket its chip and related chips if present are located in the matrix, and what is its status, i.e. upgrade, standard version, professional version, premium version, or academic version.  How often does software get installed and forgotten about now?  The PDB would be a convenient source for keeping the user aware of which software resources are available. 

An ideal size for the PDB ROM Chip would be approximately the same as a stick of Dentyne chewing gum.  This would allow a satisfactory number of chips to fit into a relatively small area while keeping them large enough to handle easily.  The connectors would be on the end inserted into the socket while the other end should be designed to facilitate extraction when necessary. 

Internet Security with Positive User Identification When Necessary.

A PDB can provide the necessary logistics for additional features.  A major issue of keen interest today is Internet security.  The PDB could supply a convenient location for a user to insert a personal identification chip into the current computer in use.  These chips, properly packaged, could be worn as Chip jewelry until needed.  For increased security, the chips could be used in combination with a fingerprint reader, an iris scanner, or a facial recognition system that would authenticate that the chip does indeed belong to the user.  When a match is made with the on chip data and the user’s personal feature of identity clearance would then be provided for access to sites requiring the protection.     No longer would an Internet site have to allow a stranger inside unless they wanted too.

Transition Mechanism from CISC TO RISC.

CISC is a moribund technology.  The RISC technology is far superior to CISC.  In his book, The Microprocessor: A Biography, Michael Malone states that “Practically speaking, eventually when RISC architectures reach the point when they can duplicate (“emulate”) the CISC instruction set at about the same speed as CISC machines, while still executing their own instruction set faster than CISC, then the RISC approach will begin to dominate the PC market.  When will that occur? Probably about the turn of the century.  Until then, total sales tell the story ¾ and CISC machines, thanks to their compatibility and strong software support, dominate the business.”  [Malone, Michael] The major problem here is that the large number of software products that currently run on CISC machines need to continue to be supported.  This has been a mainstay of the CISC success.  Rather than RISC attempting to simulate the CISC instruction set, with the Piracy Deterrent Bar system a directing post can be maintained inside the computer.  The PDB system can be designed to know what resources are available inside a computer.  With the technology available today, there is no reason why a computer cannot contain more than one architecture at a time completely separate from each other yet connected by the directing post.  The PDB ROM chip can contain information as to what systems the software is compiled for.  Multiple compilations can be provided with each software package.  The directing post matches up the most efficient means of running the software given what is available.  If a RISC compilation is available and the RISC architecture is available, the directing post instantiates the RISC version.  If antiquated software does not have a PDB ROM chip, the CISC architecture would be defaulted to.  This method would eliminate the need for RISC to emulate CISC architecture.  Once in place CISC improvements could terminate with all the effort aimed at improving the superior RISC technology. 

The Piracy Deterrent Bar is an idea whose time is long overdue.  The major players in the industry need to collectively unite and rally behind this method.  A set of standards should be agreed upon and worked out.  When the PDB is a common element of the system requirements list we can all press on to better concerns.  For the industry to neglect to solve this problem when it is technologically within its means to solve it can only cause disaffection among the ranks of the honest end users who do their best to abide by the EULAs they are burdened with.