[24hoursupport] Re: Transferring licensed application software

  • From: Ron Allen <chizotz@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Paul M. King" <24hoursupport@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 27 Oct 2004 21:12:59 -0500

Hello Paul,

If I understand you correctly, your friend is giving his daughter a
computer from which all of his commercial applications software has
been removed. He has bought a new computer on which he wants to load
all of his application software that was on his old computer.

If that is the case, then there is no problem at all with any
licensing that I'm aware of. He purchased a license to use the
software. If he buys a new computer, as long as he destroys any copies
on the old computer he can load the new machine up with his existing
application software. I have done this myself, numerous times. For
example, my computer currently has a properly licensed copy of
Microsoft Office 2003, which has been upgraded through every version
since Office 95. I originally installed Office 95 about 4 computers
ago. I just moved the license from computer to computer as I acquired
new ones, destroying the copy on the old machine each time, so I am
100% legal.

On newer software, Microsoft, and perhaps other vendors I don't know
about, do have a process that requires you register the software
during installation. When your friend does the installation, he may be
asked about this. All that should be required is for him to explain
that he is transferring the license to a new machine. When I built my
latest computer about 18 months ago, I installed Office 2002 on it,
which I originally registered with Microsoft on the computer I was
replacing. I never even was asked about it. The install went
flawlessly, and the registration process didn't even blink at the
change in hardware.

Now you pose an interesting question in "...code which indelibly links
one piece of application software to one computer and no other". The
short answer is, when installing from CD that is not possible. In
order to do this, the installation would have to write information
back to the installation disk and commercial CDs are not writable. I
did have one piece of software that came on floppy disk (this was many
years ago) that did write information to the install disk. In that
case, it limited you to a total of three installations before the
install disk was rendered useless. The way around it? Simple. Copy the
install disk, put the original away safe and sound, and install from
the copy. When the copy ran out of installs, copy the original again
and off you go for another round of three installations. I found out
about this because I routinely write-protected my install floppy
disks. When the install complained about not being able to write to
the disk, I said to myself "why does it want to write to the
installation disk?" So I copied it, and let it write to the copy
first. Then, after successfully installing, it told me I had two
installs left. So after saying "Ah HA!", and seeing if I could
determine exactly what it wrote to the disk (I couldn't at that time,
I probably could now if I were determined enough), I just wrote a
tally mark on the label of the copy and moved on about my business.

The other point I should make is about the operating system. He can
give his daughter the computer with his validly licensed copy of
Windows already installed, but he must also transfer the Windows CD
to his daughter with the computer and he must not be running a copy of
Windows installed from the same installation CD. His new computer must
be running a different, also legally licensed copy of Windows to be

As far as companies being vigilant about piracy, most companies do
make an effort of some sort to combat it. Some companies are more
diligent and pro-active about it than others. While larger companies
are targeted more often for software audits to ensure they are legal,
it is not unheard of for a small-time pirate to get caught. Many
applications do "phone home" these days, and it's conceivable that if
your friend does engage in a bit of "skull-and-crossbones" software
acquisition or distribution, he could get caught and have to pay a
fine. How likely that is I truly have no idea, but my guess would be
fairly low. I have never heard of an individual pirating software in
small numbers and on a casual "convenience" basis (i.e. he has two
computers and loads each with a copy of software he has one license
for) to be caught and prosecuted. That doesn't mean it hasn't or can't
happen though. The only software that I know for sure reports back
home to make casual pirating more risky is Microsoft products
including Office and Windows itself. I am very much anti-piracy and
strongly advocate buying the proper licenses for all software,
regardless of the risk (or lack of risk) of getting caught.

Hope that helps,


Wednesday, October 27, 2004, 6:30:07 PM, you wrote:
PMK> A friend is giving an old computer to his daughter after
PMK> reformatting the hard disk and reinstalling WIN98SE. She owns
PMK> little application software and much of what she has is freeware,
PMK> shareware or in the public domain.

PMK> On the other hand, He has several hundred dollars worth of
PMK> commercial application software he would like to move to a new
PMK> computer. It is currently on CDs. He is unsure of the status of
PMK> it and reluctant to reread all the registration agreements to see
PMK> what's legal and what isn't. Most likely, he wouldn't understand
PMK> it all if he does.

PMK> Can we have some opinions on practical approaches to this
PMK> problem since everyone is affected at some time with similar
PMK> problems?

PMK> Are there serious risks to  associated with downloading the CDs to a new 

PMK> Are there problems with code which indelibly links one
PMK> piece of application software to one computer and no other? 

PMK> Are many companies vigilant about pursuing and punishing
PMK> individuals who disregard licensing agreements or only the
PMK> biggies?

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