|Title of Invention||
SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR DETERRING SOFTWARE PIRACY IN A VOLUME LICENSE ENVIRONMENT
|Abstract||A unique volume license key (VLK) is provided to a volume license holder. A signed file containing the VLK and the data derived from volume license holder's submitted computing environment information is provided to the volume license holder along with the licensed software. The license file is stored in a central location, such as on an installation server, or locally on client machines, in a rather large file of any type. Upon logon, the license file is read, the data authenticated and the system is activated. If license data cannot be authenticated, a connected system either fully functions in grace period or run in reduced functionality mode until authentication succeeds. If the system is disconnected, the system is functional only with disconnected features until it joins a network again. In a completely off-line installation, the license file is generated by the volume license holder using software vendor assigned specific VLK and software vendor provided security hardware device. The distribution methods of software package, the VLK, and the license file can be flexible, including, but not limited to, single or multiple media. -19-|
|Full Text||FORM 2
THE PATENTS ACT 1970
[39 OF 1970]
[See Section 10; rule 13]
"SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR DETERRING SOFTWARE PIRACY IN A
VOLUME LICENSE ENVIRONMENT
MICROSOFT CORPORATION, a Corporation of the State of Washington
having a place of business at One Microsoft Way, Redmond, Washington
98052, United States of America,
The following specification particularly describes the nature of the
invention and the manner in which it is to be performed:-
SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR DETERRING SOFTWARE PIRACY IN A
VOLUME LICENSE ENVIRONMENT
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to the field of software piracy deterrence and in particular to
the field of volume licensing of software using a volume license key (VLK).
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTÏON
Software piracy is a worldwide problem that costs software vendors huge sums of
money every year. One form of piracy known as casual copying is sharing and installing
software on multiple computers, in violation of the end user license agreement. Product
activation is one way to reduce this type of piracy.
Product activation commonly relies on the submission of an installation
identification code and/or a hardware identifier to the software vendor. The software
vendor in response returns an activation confirmation code. In one type of product
activation, a unique product key is provided with each package of boxed software.
Typically, after some grace period, (a period of time after installation of software during
which the software will run without being activated), a customer must contact the software
vendor to activate his copy of the software. Failure to do so frequently results in
inactivation of the software or in degraded functionality of the software. Typically the
unique product key is used to generate a unique product identification code, which may be
combined with a hashed hardware-related value to generate an installation identification
code that is specifïc to the machine the software runs on. An activation confirmation that
enables the software to run is typically returned to the customer. In this regard, an
activation confirmation can also be a license file, or a binary that represents a license. At
each login the licensed software checks to see that it is running on essentially the same
hardware it was activated on. If the check fails, reactivation is required before the software
will run again.
Corporate customers commonly purchase a volume license. It is not feasible for
corporate customers who may have hundreds or thousands of machines in their domain to
contact the software vendor for each software copy installed to receive a machine-specific
activation code. Typically, therefore, holders of volume licenses do not have to contact the
software vendor to activate their software, because the software bypasses the activation
requirement when a volume license key is detected. Hence, the same volume license key
can be used on many different computers, none of which require activation in order for the
software to run, before or after the grace period has expired. This handy feature of the
volume license key makes it an attractive target for piracy.
It would be helpful if there were a way to make pirating of volume license keys
SUMMARY OF THE INVENT1ON
A software-vendor-signed file containing an enterprise-specific VLK, a license ID,
network environment binding hashes, and any policy data is provided to the volume
license holder along with the licensed software. This enterprise-specific license file can be
stored in central servers, such as on an installation server, or it can be stored on the local
machine as well. The enterprise-specific license file can be rather large (e.g.. over l .44 MB
so that the file will not fit on a floppy disk. In one embodiment an unattended installation
script can refer to the enterprise-specific VLK license file or VLK license file can be
deployed after or during install process via some other method (e.g. manual or automated
file copy operation). The script contains the locations of the enterprise-specific license file.
Upon logon, the enterprise-specific license file is read, the data authenticated and the
software is activated. If the software system is not able to verify the license data while
network-connected, the software will continue to be fully functional within a grace period,
beyond which the software will function in reduced functionality mode or the user may
request a signed extension from the software vendor. If the environment binding cannot be
verified while the machine is disconnected from the network, the system will continue to
be functional only with disconnected features until it is re-joined to a network. The grace
period flag is marked in a location unique to each operating system (OS) installation on
which the software is installed. The flag can be validated through the software.
If an enterprise cannot obtain a signed VLK license file from the software vendor,
the enterprise may generate the license file using a software vendor supplied hardware
device, e.g. a smartcard. By generating the license file itself without having to submit
characteristics of its computing environment to the software vendor, the enterprise need
not compromise the security characteristics of its computing environment.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. l is an exemplary computing environment in which aspects of the present
invention may be implemented;
FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating an exemplary environment-binding-enforced
system for deterring software piracy in accordance with one embodiment of the present
FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating an exemplary off-line system for deterring
software piracy in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; and
FIG. 4 is a flow diagram of an exemplary method for deterring software piracy in
an environment-binding-enforced system in accordance with one embodiment of the
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENTS
Exemplary Computing Environment
FIG. l and the following discussion are intended to pro vide a brief general
description of a suitable computing environment in which the invention may be
implemented. It should be understood, however, that handheld, portable, and other
computing devices of all kinds are contemplated for use in connection with the present
invention. While a general purpose computer is described below, this is but one example,
and the present invention requires only a thin cliënt having network server interoperability
and interaction. Thus, the present invention may be implemented in an environment of
networked hosted services in which very little or minimal cliënt resources are implicated,
e.g., a networked environment in which the cliënt device serves merely as a browser or
interface to the World Wide Web.
Although not required, the invention can be implemented via an application
programrning interface (API), for use by a developer, and/or included within the network
browsing software which will be described in the general context of computer-executable
instructions, such as program modules, being executed by one or more computers, such as
cliënt workstations, servers, or other devices. Generally, program modules include
routines, programs, objects, components, data structures and the üke that perform
particular tasks or implement particular abstract data types. Typically, the functionality of
the program modules may be combined or distributed as desired in various embodiments.
Moreover, those skilied in the art will appreciate that the invention may be practiced with
other computer system configurations. Other well known computing systems.
environments, and/or configurations that may be suitable for use with the invention
include, but are not limited to, persona! computers (PCs), automated teller machines,
server computers, hand-held or laptop devices, multi-processor systems, microprocessor-
based systems, programmable consumer electronics, network PCs, minicomputers,
mainframe computers, and the like. The invention may also be practiced in distributed
computing environments where tasks are performed by remote processing devices that are
linked through a Communications network or other data transmission medium. In a
distributed computing environment, program modules may be located in both local and
remote computer storage media including memory storage devices.
FIG. l thus illustrates an example of a suitable computing system environment 100
in which the invention may be implemented, although as made clear above. the computing
system environment 100 is only one example of a suitable computing environment and is
not intended to suggest any limitation as to the scope of use or functionality of the
invention. Neither should the computing environment 100 be interpreted as having any
dependency or requirement relating to any one or combination of components illustrated in
the exemplary operating environment 100.
With reference to FIG. l, an exemplary system for implementing the invention
includes a genera! purpose computing device in the form of a computer 110. Components
of computer 110 may include, but are not limited to, a processing unit 120, a system
memory 130, and a system bus 121 that couples various system components including the
system memory to the processing unit 120. The system bus 121 may be any of several
types of bus structures including a memory bus or memory controller, a peripheral bus, and
a local bus using any of a variety of bus architectures. By way of example, and not
limitation, such architectures include Industry Standard Architecture (ISA) bus, Micro
Channel Architecture (MCA) bus, Enhanced ISA (EISA) bus, Video Electronics Standards
Association (VESA) local bus. and Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) bus (also
known as Mezzanine bus).
Computer 110 typically includes a variety of computer readable media. Computer
readable media can be any available media that can be accessed by computer 110 and
includes both volatile and nonvolatile media, removable and non-removable media. By
way of example, and not limitation, computer readable media may comprise computer
storage media and communication media. Computer storage media includes both volatile
and nonvolatile, removable and non-removable media implemented in any method or
technology for storage of information such as computer readable instructions, data
structures, program modules or other data. Computer storage media includes. but is not
limited to, RAM, ROM, EEPROM, flash memory or other memory technology, CDROM,
digital versatile disks (DVD) or other optical disk storage, magnetic cassettes, magnetic
tape, magnetic disk storage or other magnetic storage devices, or any other medium which
can be used to store the desired information and which can be accessed by computer 110.
Communication media typically embodies computer readable instructions. data structures,
program modules or other data in a modulated data signal such as a carrier wave or other
transport mechanism and includes any information delivery media. The term "modulated
data signal" means a signal that has one or more of its characteristics set or changed in
such a marmer as to encode information in the signal. By way of example, and not
limitation, communication media includes wired media such as a wired network or direct-
wired connection, and wireless media such as acoustic, RF, infrared, and other wireless
rnedia. Combinations of any of the above should also be included within the scope of
computer readable media.
The system memory 130 includes computer storage media in the form of volatile
and/or nonvolatile memory such as read only memory (ROM) 131 and random access
memory (RAM) 132. A basic input/output system 133 (BIOS), containing the basic
routines that help to transfer information between elements within computer 110, such as
during start-up, is typically stored in ROM 131. RAM 132 typically contains data and/or
program modules that are immediately accessible to and/or presently being operated on by
processing unit 120. By way of example, and not limitation, FIG. la illustrates operating
system 134, application programs 135, other program modules 136, and program data 137.
The computer 110 may also include other removable/non-removable;
volatile/nonvolatile computer storage media. By way of example only, FIG. la illustrates a
hard disk drive 141 that reads rrom or vvrites to non-removable, nonvolatile magnetic
media, a magnetic disk drive 151 that reads from or vvrites to a removable, nonvolatile
magnetic disk 152, and an optical disk drive 155 that reads from or writes to a removable,
nonvolatile optical disk 156, such as a CD ROM or other optical media. Other
removable/non-removable, volatile/nonvolatile computer storage media that can be used in
the exemplary operating environment include, but are not limited to. magnetic tape
cassettes, flash memory cards, digital versatile disks, digital video tape, solid state RAM,
solid state ROM, and the like. The hard disk drive 141 is typicaliy connected to the system
bus 121 through a non-removable memory interface such as interface 140, and magnetic
disk drive 151 and optical disk drive 155 are typicaliy connected to the system bus 121 by
a removable memory interface, such as interface 150.
The drives and their associated computer storage media discussed above and
illustrated in FIG. l provide storage of computer readable instructions, data stnictures,
program modules and other data for the computer 110. In FIG. l, for example, hard disk
drive 141 is illustrated as storing operating system 144. application programs 145, other
program modules 146, and program data 147. Note that these components can either be the
same as or different from operating system 134, application programs 135, other program
modules 136, and program data 137. Operating system 144. application programs 145,
other program modules 146, and program data 147 are given different numbers here to
illustrate that, at a minimum, they are different copies. A user may enter commands and
information into the computer 110 through input devices such as a keyboard 162 and
pointing device 161, commonly referred to as a mouse, trackball or touch pad. Other input
devices (not shown) may include a microphone, joystick, game pad, satellite dish, scanner,
or the like. These and other input devices are often connected to the processing unit 120
through a user input interface 160 that is coupled to the system bus 121, but may be
connected by other interface and bus stnictures, such as a parallel port, game port or a
universal serial bus (USB).
A monitor 191 or other type of display device is also connected to the system bus
121 via an interface, such as a video interface 190. A graphics interface 182, such as
Northbridge, may also be connected to the system bus 121. Northbridge is a chipset that
communicates with the CPU, or host processing unit 120, and assumes responsibility for
accelerated graphics port (AGP) Communications. One or more graphics processing units
(GPUs) 184 may communicate with graphics interface 182. Inthis regard, GPUs 184
generally include on-chip memory storage. such as register storage and GPUs 184
communicate with a video memory 186. GPUs 184, however. are but one example of a
coprocessor and thus a variety of coprocessing devices may be included in computer 110.
A monitor 191 or other type of display device is also connected to the system bus 121 via
an interface, such as a video interface 190, which may in turn communicate with video
memory 186. In addition to monitor 191, computers may also include other peripheral
output devices such as speakers 197 and printer 196, which may be connected through an
output peripheral interface 195.
The computer 110 may operate in a networked environment usmg logical
connections to one or more remote computers, such as a remote computer 180. The remote
computer 180 may be a personal computer, a server, a router, a network PC a peer device
or other common network node, and typically includes many or all of the elements
described above relative to the computer 110, although only a memory storage device 181
has been illustrated in FIG. la. The logical connections depicted in FIG. la include a local
area network (LAN) 171 and a wide area network (WAN) 173, but may also include other
networks. Such netwerking environments are commonplace in offices, enterprise-wide
computer networks, intranets and the Internet.
When used in a LAN netwerking environment, the computer 110 is connected to
the LAN 171 through a network interface or adapter 170. When used in a WAN
netwerking environment, the computer 110 typically includes a modem 172 or other means
for establishing Communications over the WAN 173, such as the Internet. The modem 172,
which may be mtemal or extemal, may be connected to the system bus 121 via the user
input interface 160, or other appropriate mechanism. In a networked environment, program
modules depicted relative to the computer 110, or portions thereof, may be stored in the
remote memory storage device. By way of example, and not limitation, FIG. la illustrates
remote application programs 185 as residing on memory device 181. It will be appreciated
that the network connections shówn are exemplary and other means of establishing a
Communications link between the computers may be used.
One of ordinary skill in the art can appreciate that a computer 110 or other cliënt
device can be deployed as part of a computer network. In this regard, the present invention
pertains to any computer system having any nurnber of memory or storage units, and any
number of applications and processes occurring across any number of storage units or
volumes. The present invention may apply to an environment with server computers and
client computers deployed in a network environment, having remote or local storage. The
present invention may also apply to a standalone computing device, having programrning
language functionality, interpretation and execution capabilities.
Systems and Methods for Deterring Software Piracy
FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a system of environment-binding-enforced distnbution
for deterring piracy of software in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
Server 204 or vendor 202 may be connected to one or more clients 206 or 208 via a
network such as a WAN, LAN (wired or wireless), intranet, the Internet, or other suitable
network. In Fig. 2, the dotted lines illustrate alternate implementations of the invention,
illustrating that server 204 is optiona] since its role is for initial license file discovery and is
not required for implementing the invention.
A software vendor may provide a volume license holder a copy of volume licensed
software 212 on some media such as, but not limited to, a CD ROM. Accompanying the
software 212 may be an enterprise-specific or volume-license-holder-specific VLK 222. In
one embodiment of the invention, the VLK 222 is embedded within a relatively large file,
called the license file 224. The license file 224 may be constructed based upon, for
example, an identificatie n for the company and products that are licensed to the company,
and may include environmental binding information like hashes of the names of domain
controllers (DCs), active directories (ADs), etc. In an exemplary embodiment, the license
file is a relatively large system file. The particular file type selected may be any type of
file type, including, but not limited to image or audio file formats. VLK 222 may be
embedded anywhere in the data, which in one embodiment is then signed with a private
key to generale the license file 224. In one embodiment of the invention, the size of the
license file 224 is greater than 1.44 Megabytes (MB), such as, for example, 2 MB, to
prevent copying the licensé file 224 onto a floppy disk. In one embodiment of the
invention. the licensé file 224 is provided on a CD ROM containing only the licensé file
224 and having a volume label different from the volume label of the CD ROM containing
the associated software 212.
In the above-described environment in which the licensé holdefs software 212 is
distributed among clients 206, 208, etc. At logon, an activation code resident on cliënt
machines 206, 208, etc. reads the content of the licensé file 224 to verify that the licensé
file 224 has not been tampered with. As utilized herein, activation refers to a process for
validating software licensé data, nebvork environment binding and enabling the software
to be functional within a period of time without further binding validation. In this regard,
during the software installation process, VLK 222 and/or licensé file 224 can be
transmitted to clients 208, or to clients 206, e.g., via server 204. The verification process
includes checking the licensé on the local machine agaïnst the binding or policy defmed in
the licensé. It is optional to receive the licensé file from the server location.
The integrity of licensé file 224 can be verified by checking the signature of the
file. If the licensé file 224 has not been tampered with, i.e., if the integrity is verified, the
software is allowed to run. If the licensé file 224 has been tampered with, the software will
run in a reduced functionality mode.
Large scale deployments of software are typically too costly and time-consuming
for an administrator to personally set up large numbers of machines. In addition,
administrators often do not want end users to personally activate their machines. Hence,
such installations are therefore usually automated, using unattended or remote processes.
Activation of volume licensed software can be performed during setup or can be
performed at a later time. An unattended answer file is a text file that is used in conjunction
with a software setup routine to bypass normal setup prompts. An unattended file can, for
example, enter a VLK automatically, configure proxy settings and auto-activate the system
on behalf of the end user, either through the target machine's local area netwerk (LAN) or
via the Internet. Activation can also be performed after setup using command-line scripts.
When installing the volume licensed software on clients 206, 208, etc. an
installation image may be prepared with the aid of an unattended file. The unattended file
is a specialized script that performs the unattended installation. The software 212 is
installed on the cliënt machines 206, 208, etc. by executing the script. The script sets the
location of the license file 224 to a list of known locations, including server 204.
Alternatively, the license file 224 may be copied onto the cliënt machines if the file is part
of the installation image. Upon logon, the license file 224 is read, the data authenticated
and the cliënt machines 206, 208, etc, are activated. If the environment characteristics
specified in the license file 224 cannot be verified while the system is connected, the
system will continue to function in the grace period, Beyond the grace penod. the system
may function in the reduced functionality mode or the end user may request an extension
from software vendor 202. If the license data cannot be verified while the system is
disconnected, the software will continue to be functional only with disconnected features
until the system joins a network again.
In various embodiments, when in the grace period and there is network
connectivity, but the system of the invention cannot validate the environment, the system
can contact a central location that can check for leaKage and grant an additional term of
grace period. For example, a hash of license file and HWÏD could be transmitted to the
central location, and a server can check the hash agüinst a black list, and then send down to
the cliënt location a signed license with a perpetual date.
In this regard, in one embodiment, if the VLK file check fails. the result is failure.
In another embodiment, if the VLK file check fails, the VLK license file can be parsed,
and then a search may be made of various listed servers for a new license file.
In a black-op scenario, an enterprise cannot obtain a license from the software
vendor in connection with the VLK environment. Thus, in one embodiment, in the black-
op case, the enterprise can generale its own license file signed by piece(s) of hardware that
are issued by the software vendor.
FIG. 3 is a block diagram of an enterprise off-line system 250 for deterring
software piracy in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. In the off-line
system, an enterprise receives the VLK 222 and the software vendor 202 supplied security
hardware device 252. The hardware device 252 is c^pable of performing signing
operations to generate license file 225 which is identical to license file 224 in format The
installation of the volume licensed software on cliënt machines 206 and 208, the activation
process, and the license validation procedure are the same as described in FIG 2 in which
the VLK license file is signed and also from the software vendor. As with Fig. 2. in Fig. 3.
the dotted lines illustrate alternate implementations of the invention.
FIG. 4 is a flow diagram of a method of making software pirating more diffïcult in
environment binding enforced system. At step 402, an enterprise-specific VLK and its
associated license file are received. An installation image of the associated volume-
licensed software may be prepared, for installation on one or more cliënt machines. At step
404, the enterprise-specific or volume-license-holder-specific license file may be stored on
a central server or deployed to cliënt machines. The enterprise-specific or volume-license-
holder-specific license file is not freely accessible to cliënt machines associated with the
server. A specialized script may be prepared that performs the unattended installation.
At step 406, the software is installed on the cliënt machine or machines. At step
408, the script sets the location of the ïicense file in a list of known locations in the system,
either as deployed on the cliënt machine(s) or by publishing the locations of the license file
to cliënt machine(s), e.g., via windows management interface (WMI) or via a hardcoded
registry key. At step 410. upon logon, an activation routine retrieves the location of the
license file. In the case of the license file being on a remote server, the script may
optionally verify the location of the license file, e.g., by comparing Internet Protocol (IP)
addresses. At step 412, the activation routine reads the data from the license file, verifies
that the data is authentic. verifies the environment characteristics specified in the license
file, and activates the software. If the environment characteristics specified in the license
file cannot be verified while the system is connected, the system wil! continue to function
in the grace period. Bevond the grace period, the system may function in the reduced
functionality mode or the end user may request an extension from software vendor. If the
license data cannot be verified while the system is disconnected, the software will continue
to be functional only with disconnected features until the system joins a network again.
It is noted that the foregoing examples have been provided merely for the purpose
of explanation and are in no way to be construed as limiting of the present invention. It is
also noted that there are a variety of ways of implementing the present invention, e.g., an
appropriate API, tooi kit, driver code, operating system, control, standalone or
downloadable software object, etc. which enables applications and services to obtain
licensing information according to the invention. The invention contemplates the use of the
- 11 -
invention from the standpoint of an API (or other software object), as well as from a
software or hardware object that communicates in connection with a VLK licensing
technique as described herein. Thus, various implementations of the invention described
herein may have aspects that are wholly in hardware, partly in hardware and partly in
software, as well as in software.
As mentioned above, while exemplary embodiments of the present invention have
been described in connection with various computing devices and network architectures,
the underlying concepts may be applied to any computing device or system in which it is
desirable to deter piracy. Thus, the techniques for encoding/decoding data in accordance
with the present invention may be applied to a variety of applications and devices. For
instance, the algorithm(s) and hardware implementations of the invention may be applied
to the operating system of a computing device, provided as a separate object on the device,
as part of another object, as a reusable control, as a downloadable object from a server, as a
"middle man" between a device or object and the network, as a distributed object, as
hardware, in memory, a combination of any of the foregoing, etc, Whiie exemplary
programming languages, names and examples are chosen herein as representative of
various choices, these languages, names and examples are not intended to be limiting.
With respect to embodiments referring to the use of a control for achieving the invention,
the invention is not limited to the provision of a .NET control, but rather should be thought
of in the broader context of any piece of software (and/ore hardware) that achieves the
piracy deterrent objectives in accordance with the invention. One of ordinary skill in the
art will appreciate that there are numerous ways of providing object code and
nomenclature that achieves the sarne, similar or equivalent functionahty achieved by the
various embodiments of the invention. The invention may be impleraented in connection
with an on-line auction or bidding site as well.
As mentioned, the various techniques described herein may be implemented in
connection with hardware or software or, where appropriate, with a combination of both.
Thus, the methods and apparatus of the present invention, or certain aspects or portions
thereof, may take the form of program code (i.e., instructions) embodied in tangible media,
such as floppy diskettes, CD-ROMs, hard drives, or any other machine-readable storage
medium, wherein, when the program code is loaded into and executed by a machine, such
as a computer, the machine becomes an apparatus for practicing the invention. In the case
of program code execution on programmable computers, the computing device will
generally include a processor, a storage medium readable by the processor (including
volatile and non-volatile memory and/or storage elements), at least one input device. and at
least one output device. One or more programs that may utilize the piracy deterrent
techniques of the present invention, e.g., through the use of a data processing AP1. reusable
controls, or the like, are preferably implemented in a high level procedural or object
oriented programming language to communicate with a computer system. However. the
program(s) can be implemented in assembly or machine language, if desired. In any case,
the language may be a compiled or interpreted language, and combined with hardware
The methods and apparatus of the present invention may also be practiced via
Communications embodied in the form of program code that is transmitted over some
transmission medium, such as over electrical wiring or cabling, through fiber opties, or via
any other form of transmission, wherein, when the program code is received and loaded
into and executed by a machine, such as an EPROM, a gate array, a programmable logic
device (PLD), a cliënt computer, a video recorder or the like, or a receiving machine
having the signal processing capabilities as described in exernplary embodiments above
becomes an apparatus for practicing the invention. When implemented on a general-
purpose processor, the program code combines with the processor to provide a unique
apparatus that operates to invoke the functionality of the present invention. Additionally,
any storage techniques used in connection with the present invention may invariably be a
combination of hardware and software.
While the present invention has been described in connection with the
preferred embodiments of the various figures, it is to be understood that other similar
embodiments may be used or modifïcations and additions rnay be made to the described
embodiment for performing the same function of the present invention without deviating
therefrom. For example, while exernplary network environments of the invention are
described in the context of a nerworked environment, such as a peer to peer networked
environment, one skilled in the art will recognize that the present invention is not limited
thereto, and that the methods, as described in the present application may apply to any
computing device or environment, such as a gaming console, handheld computer, portable
computer, etc., whether wired or wireless, and may be applied to any number of such
computing devices connected via a Communications network. and interacting across the
network. Furthermore, it should be emphasized that a variety of computer platforms,
including handheld device operating systems and other application specific operating
systems are contemplated, especially as the number of wireless networked devices
continues to proliferate. Still further, the present invention may be implemented in or
across a plurality of processing chips or devices, and storage may similarly be effected
across a plurality of devices. Therefore, the present invention should not be limited to any
single embodiment, but rather should be construed in breadth and scope in accordance with
the appended claims.
What is Claimed is:
1. A computer-implemented method of deterring software piracy in a volume
license environment, comprising:
receiving an enterprise-specific volume license key embedded within an enterprise-
specific volume license file;
authenticating the enterprise-specific volume license file; and
activating a software package associated with the volume license key on at least
one computing device.
2. A method as recited in claim l, wherein the enterprise-specific volume
license key and enterprise-specific volume license file are associated with the software
package for installation on a plurality of computing devices including the at least one
3. A method as recited in claim 2, further comprising installing the software
package on the at least one computing device.
4. The method of claim 3, wherein installing the software package is
performed using a script for unattended installation.
5. The method of claim 4, wherein the volume license key and its associated
volume license file specified in the script file allow for a grace period.
6. The method of claim 5, wherein the system continues to be fully functional
within the grace period if the machine is connected online and the license data cannot be
7. The method of claim 6, wherein the system functions in reduced
functionality mode if the machine is connected online and license data cannot be verified.
8. The method of claim 5, wherein the end user may request signed extension
for grace period if license data cannot be verified and the machine is connected to the
9. The method of claim 4, wherein the script file sets a plain text volume
Jicense key in the registry of the at least one cornputing device.
10. The method of claim 9, wherein the plain text volume license key alone
cannot be used to activate the software package.
11. A method as recited in claim 2, further comprising storing the location of
the enterprise-specific volume license file on the at least one computing device.
12. The method of claim 2, wherein the file comprises greater than l .5
13. A method as recited in claim l, further comprising storing the enterprise-
specific volume license file in a central location.
14. The method of claim 13, wherein the central location is on a server.
15. The method of claim 13, wherein the central location is protected from
direct access by a user of the at least one computing device.
16. The method of claim l, wherein the enterprise-specific volume license file
comprises data derived from a file in which the enterprise-specific volume license key is
17. The method of claim l, wherein the enterprise-specific volume license file
is signed with a private key.
18. The method of claim 1. wherein the enterprise-specific volume license file
is provided on a fïrst CD ROM.
19. The method of claim 18, wherein the fïrst CD ROM contains only the
enterprise-specific volume license file.
20. The method of claim 18, wherein the first CD ROM containing the
enterprise-specific volume license file is associated with a fïrst volume label.
21. The method of claim 20, wherein the software package is provided on a
second CD ROM associated with a second volume label and the fïrst volume label is
different than the second volume label.
22. The method of claim l, wherein the enterprise-specific volume license file
is on the same CD ROM as the software package.
23. The method of claim l, wherein the enterprise-specific license file is
generaled by the enterprise, not the software vendor.
24. The method of claim 23, wherein the enterprise receives a specific VLK
from the software vendor.
25. The method of claim 23, wherein the enterprise .generates the license using
at least one software vendor supplied hardware device.
26. The method of claim 25, wherein the hardware device is capable of
asymmetrie key generation and digital signature operation.
27. The method claim l, wherein the system is fully functional if the license
data cannot be verified and the machine is not connected online.
28. A computer readable medium comprising computer executable instructions
for carrying out the method of claim 1.
29. A modulated data signal carrying computer executable instructions for
implementing the method of claim 1.
30. A system for deterring software piracy comprising;
a software package associated with an enterprise-specific volume license
key embedded within an enterprise-specific volume license file;
a first computing device for storing the enterprise-specific volume license
a second computing device for running the software package; and
an activation routine for activating the software package on the second
computing device in response to authenticating the enterprise-specific volume license file,
31. The system of claim 30, wherein the first computing device and the second
computing device are the same computing device.
32. The system of claim 30, wherein the enterprise-specific volume license file
comprises data derived from a file in which the enterprise-specific volume license key is
33. The system of claim 30, wherein the enterprise-specific volume license file
comprise data derived from enterprise submitted computing environment characteristics
and/or information about the enterprise's identity and products.
34. The system of claim 33, wherein the file may comprise greater than l .5
35. A computer-implemented method substantially as hereinbefore
described with reference to the accompanying drawings.
36. A system for deterring software piracy substantially as hereinbefore
described with reference to the accompanying drawings.
Dated this 23/1/2004
|Indian Patent Application Number||67/MUM/2004|
|PG Journal Number||07/2014|
|Date of Filing||23-Jan-2004|
|Name of Patentee||MICROSOFT CORPORATION|
|Applicant Address||ONE MICROSOFT WAY REDMOND,WASHINGTON 98052|
|PCT International Classification Number||H04L9/00|
|PCT International Application Number||N/A|
|PCT International Filing date|