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Software Licensing vs DRM - What's The Difference?

Software Licensing is generally the term used for ensuring a EULA is adhered to (End User Licensing Agreement). The Licensing Model fits around that, so with a traditional Perpetual licensing model, it means once paid, you can use your software forever, although the EULA will likely state how many computers you can use the Software on.

Modern Software Licensing takes care of who gets to use what, so compliance is assured, which works both for the Software Vendor and its customers who purchase Software from them.

Perpetual Licensing, whilst still around, is less and less the norm. Fuelled by modern devices such as cellphones and tablets, and the world of SaaS (Software as a Service), Subscription Licensing is increasingly common. Top names such as Adobe and Microsoft now sell this way not only with effective monetization but with customers now actively wanting to buy in this manner, with its advantages of low cost of entry and direct attribution to operational expenditure.

Business Customers now live in a world where keeping an inventory of a great number of licenses is made much easier by modern Multi-User Licensing techniques and Concurrent Licensing based on a number of seats.


DRM stands for Digital Rights Management and was born from the need to protect digital content - music, video, photos, eBooks, Satellite TV transmissions are some examples.

Unauthorised distribution of otherwise very easy to re-distribute content saw massive revenue loss through the 1990s and early 2000s with the intellectual property of artists and creatives being compromised.

There is an argument that DRM does not prevent intellectual property from being stolen, while it does inconvenience some legitimate purchasers when backing up or using media across devices.

DRM has been seen as a technique used to restrict IoT usage, such as smart light bulbs being only connectable to home controller lighting software if the light bulbs are 1st party and have the appropriate expected light bulb DRM in place in their firmware.

However, this kind of DRM for hardware can be replaced by Software Licensing using a simple method of only letting controller software talk to devices with known serial numbers. Zentitle by Nalpeiron helps Hardware Manufacturers control and license the usage of the hardware they sell. If you’d like to know more, please contact us for a quick 20-min Discovery Meeting.

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