"But I digress. Despite being insanely aggressive and
unrestrained, none of these tactics work, and several have
backfired spectacularly. V.i. Labs' CodeArmor uses a different
approach: it reports on copies that are actually being used. The
idea is to find out who is using the software without paying for
it, and then pay them a friendly visit and turn them into a paying
customer. They're not interested in distributors of unlicensed
copies, or the odd nerd who makes a copy, uses it once, and then
never touches it again. It also protects against
reverse-engineering and cheat codes.
"As you have already guessed, CodeArmor phones home and reports
whatever data the developer has configured it to collect. The
reporting mechanism runs in userspace and does not mess with the
kernel or any system functions. Savvy nerds who are determined to
get a free ride can figure out how the data are leaving their
networks and block it. But Mr. DeMarines says this is rare. The
more common scenario is the customer purchases some licenses for
the product, and then copies are made and passed around. By
focusing on the customers who are using unlicensed copies, the
software vendor avoids all the traps that the entertainment
industry fell into-- different laws in different countries,
escalating levels of intrusiveness, becoming public laughingstocks,
and having nothing to show for any of it."
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