Jeff, great article! Regardless of what some comments said - it is an interesting and valuable read (especially for developers/designers/publishers)
Just a thought: I think that it is not possible to discuss piracy and bundle applications like Adobe Suite , etc with the general usage (i.e., games) applications in the same argument.
Apps like Adobe Photoshop, Apple’s Final Cut Studio, and alike are Pro Tools and designed for professionals that make money with the help of these apps. The cost of these applications is bargain for any professional using them. I, for example, never met any pro graphic or video designer who would question Photoshop’s $699 or Final Cut Studio’s $1,299 price tag. Within a few days of usage these applications become free and paid for. And I believe this would be applicable to majority of pro-tools used by pro-users.
I completely agree with comment by Bruce Bullis (above) that amount of innovations, engineering hours, rd, etc that went into designing such tools are simply so staggering that their prices are bargain to say the list! Should applications like such be protected - I do believe that they should. A pro-user, would be OK (I think) with what ever licensing/activation process company would through at him/her. Should such process be as painless as possible - of course! But it is a very fine line between strong protection and licensing and one-click-and-go activation process. Having used quite a lot of pro-tools myself - I have not found even one application that would force me into an unbearable activation process.
Also, one thing to keep in mind: usually licensing and activation processes have very very short life cycle. The process initiated at some point of app installation and usually never needs to be re-done again. Of course I am talking about pro-user where workstations are not being changed in a weekly bases and apps do not require to be reinstalled over and over…
General usage apps (especially games) - well… there is a different story. Of course, game developers (I do believe) should protect and license their intellectual property as well. At the end of the day this is their bread-and-butter. However, different rules, approaches, etc should probably be applied to their product as their user-base quite different from the pro-users using pro-tools.
I do not want the following to sound like a shameless plug (mentioning here to illustrate the point). I have not met a single software company that designs and sells commercial software and would not care about implementing licensing and protection into their application. I work for jProdctivity, a company that develops and sells licensing toolkit called Protection! This toolkit is designed for software developers/publishers that would like to add licensing and protection into their application. I had numerous situations where in talking to our customers (current or perspective) we are trying to calm down their urge to protect their application so tight that their paying customers will suffer.
The bottom line: Developers/Publishers need to protect their software. Their licensing plan needs to minimize casual soft piracy and prevent people from passing their software around to friends, family, and coworkers. And it needs to lock out the serious piracy that involves running key generators and passing around stolen unlock codes. Even if developer offer a free application, it is worthwhile to license its use. Licensing freeware lets such developer keep track of users, and build a valuable house list that can be used to offer upgrades to the paid versions of software.
Software licensing and protection are not just ideas to consider as someday/maybe tasks. Protecting your software is crucial to protecting your income stream.