by Timothy Lee
Wed, Dec 26th 2007 12:54pm
PCWorld alerts us to an application filed by Apple for a patent titled "Run-time code injection to perform checks." In a nutshell, it covers an operating system periodically checking running applications to determine whether they're pirated, and shutting them down if they are. Now, it should be kept in mind that the fact that Apple has filed a patent application doesn't prove that it will be used (or that it will be granted). To the contrary, companies routinely patent ideas they never intend to implement just so they will have more ammunition in future patent battles. As Microsoft discovered, systems like the one described in the patent inevitably produce false positives, and disabling a paying customer's copy of your product is much worse than allowing a non-paying customer to use it. Moreover, such tools do little to stop piracy, because inevitably someone finds a way to get around them, and news of the workaround quickly spreads around the Internet. So as a result, these kinds of "anti-piracy" programs mostly serve to annoy paying customers, who have to endure slower system performance and periodic "piracy checks" to verify that, yes, they're still paying customers. Thus far, Apple has differentiated itself from Redmond by declining to incorporate significant copy protection in its operating systems. That's given them a key marketing advantage, and I rather doubt Jobs would want to throw that advantage away in a futile attempt to stop piracy.
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