>                        Their product inserts program code into 
> existing applications to make those applications monitor and report
> their own usage and enforce the terms of their own licenses, for 
> example disabling themselves if the central database indicates that 
> their licensee's subscription has expired or if they've been used 
> for more hours/keystrokes/clicks/users/machines/whatever in the 
> current month than licensed for.
> The idea is that software developers could use their product instead
> of spending time and programming effort developing their own license-
> enforcement mechanisms...

Many people have had the same idea before.  The "software license
manager" field is pretty full of little companies (and divisions of
big ones).  Your prospect might be able to find a niche in there
somewhere, if they study their competition to see what's missing and
how they can build up an edge.  But customers tend to hate software
that comes managed with license managers, so it takes an exceptional
company to fight the uphill sales battle to impose them.  (And having
a company switch from License Manager A to License Manager B requires
reissuing licenses to every customer, an extraordinary customer-
support hassle.)  Only in markets where the customer has no effective
choice (of a competing DRM-free product) does it tend to work.

My last startup, Cygnus, sold un-license-managed compilers,
competiting with some entrenched companies that sold license-managed
compilers.  We kept seeing how our own automated overnight software
builds would fail using our competitors' compilers because the license
manager would screw up -- or merely because the local net or Internet
was down.  Or it would hang overnight awaiting an available license,
and doing no work in the meantime.  Our compiler always ran when you
asked it to.

We got tens of thousands of people to switch to our (free) GNU C and
C++ compilers, and enough of them paid us for support and development
that our company kept growing.  Our best selling point against Sun's
compilers, for example, was that ours didn't use any license manager.
Once you bought or downloaded it, it was yours.  It would run forever,
on as many machines as you liked, and you were encouraged to share it
with as many friends as you could.  It was simple for us to invade
their niche when they had deliberately forsworn a feature set like that.

        John Gilmore

PS:  Our trade-show giveaway button one year was "License Managers Suck";
     it was very popular.

PPS: On a consulting job one time, I helped my customer patch out the
license check for some expensive Unix circuit simulation software they
were running.  They had bought a faster, newer machine and wanted to
run it there instead of on the machine they'd bought the "node-locked"
license for.  The faster their simulation ran, the easier my job was.
Actually, I think we patched the Unix kernel or C library that the
program depended upon, rather than patch the program; it was easier.

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