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Restricting Web Application Distribution
How do I license client web tools to limit usage?

 1:23 pm on May 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

From time to we create nice tools for our clients. In the event of the client leaving our management (hosting etc) we provide their stuff on a CD for them. I don't want them to sell/distribute such tools.

How do you create a 'user licence' (valid in the UK) so that only the owner of the application is allowed to use it (and one copy of it).

Is there such a thing as a basic licence template to follow?



 4:56 pm on May 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

No response? :(


 5:42 pm on May 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

It all depends on how secure you want to make it.. No one can prevent piracy, just take a look at Microsoft and you will see that even the big boys with all the money get copied..

If you are handing them source code, there is nothing you can do to stop them from redistributing it.. If you are handing them a compiled program you could develop a security algorithm (key-gen) and then they need to call you to install it every time..

Tons of options, but it really comes down to how much effort you want to put into policing it and follow up.. In most instances, it's not worth the effort to stop them for most things.. Just go with a copyright and then sue them if you see it in the wild being pirated..


 2:46 pm on May 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

...Just go with a copyright

I think I need to draw up some kind of licence agreement. Can anyone point me to a basic template for this kind of thing?


 5:16 am on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

You could always have the web application hit one of your web servers... To authenticate it.. Granted, this could be disabled by a person looking for it. I think cPanel and plesk use this method. You could limit it to a single IP address.

I know the vBulletin install script verifies your license through one of their servers.



 12:39 pm on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

..have the web application hit one of your web servers... To authenticate it

I like this idea, any info on where I can look to see how its done?

Mainly I was hopeing for some direction on writing a licence agreement.

Manish Singh

 1:53 am on Jun 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Actually I made such a system for an affiliate script that we sell online. After being fed up dealing with scammers selling our script (with resale rights) on ebay and other places.

Basically you need to do the following.

1. Separate the design (template) and coding (logic)
2. Encrypt the logic using any of the encoders available in the market. In our case, we went with sourceguardian.
3. Code a small license system in the install program which makes a connection to your website and verifies the license.
4. After installation, the script may make random connections to your license server to verify the license (say when the admin logs in). Eg. Cpanel. If license is found to be invalid, the script is locked and admin password reset.

Including point 4 means you may cancel the license anytime for violation and the script becomes useless.

Hope this helps. If you have specific questions, let me know and I will sticky you my site URL where I have implemented this solution :-)


 4:57 pm on Jun 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks Manish Singh :)

Anyone got any direction on writing a licence agreement?


 6:16 pm on Jun 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Anyone got any direction on writing a licence agreement?

You really need to talk with a lawyer competent in software licence agreements or minimally in general contract law, preferably international contract law. This is not an area to "wing" it.

To give yourself some background simply do the following:
* One: read the agreements with the software you use.
* Two: do a search for "software licence agreement" (with or w/o quotes) or similar and read til the cows come home.

You can cut and paste sections that you see that would apply to your product. Then haul it in to the law-type-person for comment and adjustment.

Repeat: I strongly urge competent legal advice in this area.


 6:44 pm on Jun 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Id support mad penguins idea - hard to beat


 7:06 am on Jun 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

I've been working on an open source class for this kind of problem. check it out


It's called PADL - PHP Application Distribution Licensing System

It is still under dev however it is stable and i am constantly updating it. It has no gui yet but does include sql for a license server.

It generates license strings that can bind PHP applications to specific servers or can only be executed during limited time period or to restrictions placed on a home server.

The binding to server process attempts to use the server network card MAC address. This feature was tested on servers are Mac OS X (Darwin), Linux, Windows XP, although it may also work for FreeBSD, NetBSD, Solaris.

The class also attempts to use information from $_SERVER variable to encode that server name, server IP, server user path and server url to the application folder. This server binding can be disabled if required, and it also possible to block the key being generated for the localhost address (

The time limiting of the license uses a start period (and a given start offset to allow for time discrepancies) and an expiry date if required.

If required when validating a key it is possible to dial home to check the license key on your own server.


 6:27 pm on Jun 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

stated in contract that they will have to pay royalties or rights of usage fee, if in the event they choose not to host with you or maintian a business relationship with you.


 1:34 pm on Jun 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

stated in contract...

I was hoping for some help/template on how to create a such a contract i.e. something that says, 'You can use this software for this domain only, You can not copy it, sell it, use it on another domain...'.

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