The introduction of the acronym "DRM" has drawn all the hysteria it always does.

The description you've posted much more closely matches license (or sometimse entitlement) management software than DRM. There are many companies active in this field. Many are small, but Microsoft sells some solution and there are moderately large companies around. Some of these have been around for many years.

Traditionally, license management software looked at local files or databases rather than out on the Internet. However, I'm sure Internet options exist.

The better software of this sort is challenging to crack. Certainly, none of it is *impossible* to crack - though the best dongle-based systems are probably extremely difficult (but also unacceptable for most kinds of software).

For the most part, software like this aims to keep reasonably honest people honest. Yes, they can probably hire someone to hack around the licensing software. (There's generally not much motivation for J Random User to break this stuff, since it protects business software with a specialized audience.) But is it (a) worth the cost; (b) worth the risk - if you get caught, there's clear evidence that you broke things deliberately.

Probably the greatest use for such software is not in preventing unlicensed users from running it at all but in enforcing contractual limits - e.g., you can only use this to manage up to X machines. Every company that has sold software with that kind of contract will likely find that, unless the software enforces the limitation, its customers will exceed it - often unknowingly, often by large factors.

I'd suggest that you, and the company you're consulting to, spend some time understanding the market. What kind of software vendors are you selling to? B2B is a very different marketplace from consumer. Within B2B, "high touch" sales are very different from mass market. If you go international, a great deal depends on where you think you're going to sell. If you are ultimately depending on contractual enforcement, with the licensing software just an encouragement to good behavior, you're fine in the US and Western Europe, but you're not going to have a happy time in, say, Russia and China.

A Google search on "license management software" turns up many hits, including an overview article that may be useful: (One thing to be aware of is that this phrase is a bit ambiguous, covering both software a vendor puts in to its code to manage licenses, and software sold to large end users to help them keep track of what licenses they are using. The listing in the article covers both, but is still incomplete - it misses one of the long-established companies, Acresso Software - a new name - that sells the FLEXnet license enforcement software, a business it's been in for at least 10 years or so.)

                                                        -- Jerry

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