The Pirate Bay and other sites may still be a potent vehicle for software piracy, and plenty of businesses still share installation discs on multiple workstations, but the days of rampant software piracy are numbered.
Software developers such as Adobe (News - Alert) Systems and solutions providers such as Business Intelligence 101 claim to have strong faith that the cloud and software-as-a-service will turn the tables on unauthorized software use, according to a recent article at the Cloud Times.
But the devil is in the details.
“The answer really depends on who runs the software in the cloud and how publishers in that context make money,” noted Bashyam Anant on the Flexera Software blog.
While in many cases SaaS (News - Alert) may cut down on unauthorized installs, in another sense it is easier than ever to share software. Whereas once upon a time it took sharing an installer, users now just need to share a username and password in many cases to pass a colleague unauthorized access to a SaaS service.
In a recent study conducted by the Business Software Alliance, nearly 42 percent of users surveyed in 33 countries admitted to sharing login credentials to paid cloud computing services with other people, noted the Cloud Times article. And this percentage might increase as more software moves to the cloud.
But software piracy in the cloud depends largely on the licensing model, according to Anant.
“In our experience, developing software license policies that allow a given user to access the software from a set of registered devices is an important strategy to minimize credential sharing abuse, as Salesforce.com (News - Alert) and Netflix.com exemplify,” wrote Anant in the Flexera blog post.
When login credentials are paired with particular devices, it is a lot harder to share login credentials.
Another consideration in the battle to stem software piracy with SaaS applications is a license model based off of usage, which is something 31 percent of SaaS publishers employ, according to Anant. He wrote that usage can be effective as a piracy deterrent, but only if SaaS publishers are meticulous about monitoring actual usage—something that not all publishers do.
Piracy also continues to be a problem in the cloud when it comes to private clouds and dark clouds.
Dark clouds are when “an unauthorized party obtains a copy of the publisher’s software, deploys it in the cloud and either uses it or charges for it,” wrote Anant. Software enforcement solutions need to be in place to avoid such situations, he noted.
With private clouds, the old issue of using software beyond the number of licenses purchased comes back into play.
“Enterprises that deploy software in private clouds also run the risk of going out of compliance with the publisher’s software license terms,” noted Anant in the Flexera blog. “This is because virtualization technologies that are at the heart of private clouds make it very easy for an enterprise to clone software and over-deploy it.”
“Publishers and enterprises can and should look for a win-win,” he suggested. “Enterprises should be able to move virtual machines unfettered by software license enforcement while publishers should be able to monetize the value they deliver. Compliance management solutions that track usage of software in virtual environment and report it back to the publisher hold the key to ensuring a seamless experience for enterprises while protecting the interest of publishers.”
Software piracy might be set to decline due to the cloud, but software publishers still need to take a thoughtful approach to the issue.
Flexera Software's FlexNet Licensing (composed of FlexNet Publisher and FlexNet Embedded) makes it easy for application producers to monetize, secure, enhance and grow market share through the flexible pricing, packaging, and licensing of applications, intelligent devices or equipment using embedded software. FlexNet Licensing also gives organizations the power to protect IP and rein in unauthorized software use to prevent revenue loss.