Part one of this article finished with the following question:
What is it fair to expect your customer to do to license their copy of your product, and so help protect your product, your sales, your livelihood and the future investment and development in a product that is important to both you ?
I believe that it is fair to expect the customer to do something to help the software developer protect their product, after all if the developer doesn’t stay in business then the product doesn’t have a future and the customer could be left high and dry.
That’s not to say the customer can be expected to jump through any hoops … the emphasis is on the developer to provide a method of licensing their product that can be done quickly and easily and thus encourage the customer to purchase and use a legitimate copy of the software rather than paying a visit to insert name of dodgy virus ridden download sites here or similar.
My opinion is that if I, as a user, purchase a piece of software for my own use, then I should be entitled to copy it onto my PC and my Mac and my Laptop for use whenever I like. I should also be able to copy it onto a USB Drive, connect the drive to a friends computer and use the product there also. I should not however copy the software to my friends computer thereby giving them the ability to use it in my absence. I expect to have to follow a documented procedure to identify to the software that I am the legitimate owner. This should be a simple and one off process.
I believe the previous paragraph is fair to both the customer and the software developer. I believe most people are honest and do not mind paying a reasonable price for a quality product. The software industry has in some ways become its own worse enemy with some companies having complex and unworkable, illogical and unfair licensing practices. ‘We need the customer more than they need us’ is something developers should be bearing in mind.
Offer a choice of license types and schemes that not only give the user choice, but also offer additional discounts for worthy establishments, education and charities for example.
The different types of software license that are necessary in order to give the customer the choice they require, can also bring additional and unwanted complexity. In order to also give the customer the licensing choice as well as the simplicity they desire then maybe cost additional license types at N * x. N is the Single User Standard Price, and x is the multiplier?
UPDATE IN DECEMBER 2023: Is this still an issue? It seems software companies have over the last few years decided to adopt the subscription mechanism for almost everything. This makes sense for some categories of software, but for many others it is just an unnecessary inconvenience and expense for the customer. We’ll see if this model is sustainable over the long term…