The Blockchain promise.
Since the late 1970s, software piracy has grown into a serious problem negatively affecting software developers and undermining their ability to preserve the copyrights of their digital creations. The past 30 years have witnessed significant advancements in various computing technologies. However, developments and innovations in communications technologies have catalyzed software piracy, via provision of high speed delivery, mobility and portability of software. Bandwidth is steadily increasing enabling software downloads at higher speeds. A large percentage of the world’s population is now capable of downloading data at speeds of 100Mbs, up from a maximum download speed of 2.4 Kbps in 1987. The advent of the internet in 1993 has taken software piracy to a whole new level as it enabled users to download or upload software easily from any part of the world.
In an attempt to counteract software piracy, license provenance and piracy protection strategies have moved to internet based portals which provided programmers with a platform to license and distribute the software they develop. Nevertheless, these methods cannot totally prevent software piracy; instead, they mostly lower the barrier to acquisition of software and aid in provenance. Programmers willing to avoid software piracy have to adopt their very own piracy prevention strategies, which represents an obstacle for independent and low experienced programmers, who mostly cannot afford the associated complex and costly processes.
ReSOLV – Utilizing the Blockchain Technology To Combat Software Piracy:
A recently published research study concluded that native blockchain applications (NBAs) can be successfully utilized to alleviate the problem of software piracy. The study first tested the provenance proof-of-concept (PoC) Master Bitcoin Model, yet experiments proved that it is a simplistic model that fails to satisfy the complex requirements of software licensing and protection of copyrights. The study then proposed a model, which was called ReSOLV, to solve the problems associated with the Master Bitcoin Model.
ReSOLV relies on the blockchain technology and public key cryptography to promote the confidentiality of license data secured on the blockchain, including software hash, license key, a unique field for digital signature and bootstrap loader. The ReSOLV model proved to provide a global means for prevention of software privacy and provenance of software licensing. It demonstrated that it meets the basic requirements to alleviate the world’s software piracy problem.
ReSOLV’s blockchain based software licensing method represents the main mechanism for securing and distributing data and software licenses which are needed to validate various applications. Licenses will be shielded against any form of copying or counterfeiting processes, and software programs will not run whenever any unauthorized modifications of the program’s code have been attempted. The idea of storage of the program’s bootstrap on the blockchain will secure the program at rest, as the software cannot run if it was acquired via illegal means. The main idea underlying ReSOLV’s model is that even though the software can be copied, it cannot be executed, due to the fact that authorization to run is a user centric process that relies on public key cryptography.
ReSOLV demonstrates that various software upgrading mechanisms would guarantee that all hashes of every authorized piece of software and its successive updates and patches are securely recorded on the blockchain. ReSOLV has a User Wallet Agent that operates in the form of a fully independent authority that checks and validates the hash of the program, on the basis of the hash that was digitally signed on the blockchain; hence, verifying whether or not a program has been modified.
The study attempted to identify the best cryptocurrency that can present the most appropriate base for software license verification use cases. Unfortunately, following the initial experiments, examination of existing cryptocurrency ecosystems to determine the ideal coin for implementation of the ReSOLV method seemed to need much time and effort which was beyond the scope of this research study. Nevertheless, the Vendor Provence System showed that the requirements of user privacy and data confidentiality are independent of the case coin used. As such, the ReSOLV model can be considered to be cryptocurrency neutral regarding the requirements of privacy and data confidentiality.