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Why I like Dongles
When I purchase my software I like to know I'll be able to use it in the future, regardless of when, whether I stopped using it years ago, or whatever.

NOTE for 2010 - evidently, the courts have upheld the ability of megamanical software companies to lock you into their dismissal of "Quiet Enjoyment" and basically lock you out of your own IP.  So much for "disaster recovery plans" in the event they go out of business. See bottom of this page

I don't mind copy protections schemes as long as once I go through the gyrations of getting thru the unlocking process, I know I can restore the installation:
- regardless of which machine I use
- if my machine goes up in flames and I have to restore my original, licensed install media on a Sunday at 11:00PM
- whether or not I have connectivity to the Internet and their server and/or the "cookie jar"  check it in/out server
- whether or not I have changed replaced hardware
- and the main reason : Whether or not the software vendor goes out of business (I've had this happen)

I want to be assured that the work that I've done, my Intellectual Property that I designed using their software, is safe for future use regardless of my relationship with them or their ability to perform, including infrastructure issues out of their control.

So therefor, I prefer  a simple "I trust you" unlock code that isn't referenced to my current hardware, or requires me "checking in with them" - typically a license file.

But for those paranoid software developers, I'd prefer they make a dongle available.

I know, dongles suck. The audio industry has it's version, the ILOK, which in the main point above is actually a good thing - if the software vendor can no longer support the product installation in the future.  And I know it sucks, Adam's BSOD issues (Google it).

But any copy scheme, dongles and even the "phone home if the user grows another pubic hair" license schemes are crackable. Seriously. Again just Google it. Kid's in Malaysia and Indochina, as well as the potato fields of Russia, are very adept at it.  Torrents are flooded with it.

Maybe what the vendors need to do is to really add value after the sale, not just brute force "it's mine and you can't have it unless I know what your doing/who you are" to make it worth the purchase.

Wow, what a concept - actual value in dealing with the vendor. Amazing. Who'd of thought of it? I know in my biz, using that software, I have to dance real pretty for my clients - else they go away. And I actually like dancing (not literally - recall I'm a musician).

As to having to maintain a full time internet connection so I could unlock after a repair, hardware mod/upgrade, or disaster recovery
("most people have full time internet" I recently heard from a software vendor)

This is a common occurrence as the infrastructure ages and competing services proliferate - no fault of the carrier - this can happen anywhere

"So now I can't unlock my IP, my work, because a landscaper hit the temporary line?"
As the infrastructure ages, reliabilty will diminish... no one can change that.
Things happen.
To the credit of most crews working for carriers, the outages are minimal.
But the risk is still there. This is engineering... you never really solve a problem, you just kinda move things around until you can live with the outcome.

Here's what I send to those that don't see it that way and would rather lock it to my current PC and/or "call home" a lot, and why that SUCKS:

Dear megla-maniacal Software Company:
Thing is, I really want a dongle version - here's why:

I hate soft locks 'cause if you go out of business, your registration website is down, or I upgrade hardware on a weekend, I'm screwed.

Say four years from now I'm called to rework a previous design I did using your tool.

Now, I haven't used that tool since we now (four years later) have di-lithium, whiz-bang powered DSP/FPGA/ costs 0.10 USD MCU's. So I've since upgraded hardware, and moved on....

Well, Donald Trump wants millions of these old designs built but needs a hard-coded pre-nuptial that prints on the LCD. So I try to reload the old program.

It's Sunday on Christmas holiday. And there's a major riot of trophy wives-to-be that knocked out all the Internet connectivity 'cause they're pissed that Donald is selling these things.

I find the old installer, run it and ----

--- lo-and-behold it's useless.

Then lets say you guys go bye bye 'cause you hit the jackpot, they don't make the stuff anymore 'cause the aforementioned di-lithium W-B chips are now in vogue, and you now backpack across Europe eating just whole wheat toast and coffee. You married a Sports Illustrated model and don't want bothered.

So now I got files written for your specific tool and all my work is now lost forever... Donald's house gets over run with angry trophy wives... Tom Cruise is jumping up and down on my couch like a crazed orangutan.... not a pretty scene. And it's Christmas...

So I like USB dongles ...

In fact, having no way to re-enable the software without intervention from a manufacturer that goes belly up is a violation of the Fair Use/Quiet Enjoyment:

“Quiet Enjoyment
Licensees, having paid for the right to use licensed technology, generally seek to ensure that nothing interferes with the benefits they have received. For example, licensees are concerned with their ability to obtain assistance from the licensor in fixing defects that are discovered in the technology, to have the right to fix the defects themselves if the licensor is unable to do so, to obtain periodic upgrades and other maintenance services from the licensor, to transfer their rights if they sell their business and to continue enjoying the technology even if the licensor becomes bankrupt."

Most people inaccurately associate ownership to the technology as  "... that's the reason they license software..." but that ain't so...

You see, one of the first "licenced" forms of technology was by none other than Ray Dolby. The reason they license it is to forgo "selling" ( and the inherent issues of capitalization/export/tax issues) so that all sales are considered licensed works which are considered as royalty income - therefore taxed as income.

See this:

So a dongle version would be nice....

OH - and if you want to see how well that tested out in courts of law - Google the recent ruling on First Sale Doctrine against Autodesk, makers of AutoCAD.

From Wikipedia:

"In 2008, in Timothy S. Vernor v. Autodesk Inc.[3], a U.S. Federal District Judge in Washington rejected a software vendor's argument that it only licensed copies of its software, rather than selling them, and that therefore any resale of the software constituted copyright infringement. Judge Richard A. Jones cited first-sale doctrine when ruling that a reseller was entitled to sell used copies of the vendor's software regardless of any licensing agreement that might have bound the software's previous owners [4]."

Also see

NOTE: as stated above this is now overturned. You're now at the mercy of their ability to perform:

So if a company sells their business and IP, that's in some software vendor's proprietary format, the purchaser now has to engage said software firm (if possible) to allow them to enjoy the IP they just purchased.

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