View Full Version : Dongle Emulators ever legal?

01-11-2005, 10:18 PM
Hi there,
I was a student at a multimedia course, and one of the software packages we were taught was Lightwave 5.5. This was on Mac OS9. There was no USB dongle, and when you started lightwave a 'Rainbow dongle emulator' splash screen popped up.

My question is, if there was NO hardware dongle attached to the computer, was the software illegal?

01-12-2005, 12:04 AM
Not necessarily. If you own a software legally, it's pretty much up to you how you get it running. Perhaps it was simply a computer with no or a defective USB port. Or the USB ports were occupied. I also seem to recall that the USB on older Macs was not fully usable for anything other than the keyboard, mouse and Apple's own products, so it could have been a compatibility problem as well.


01-12-2005, 06:53 AM
Back in the 5.5 days the Mac only had ADB dongles and maybe that was the reason, not enough ADB ports and no hubs that could be attached to it either...

01-12-2005, 10:32 AM
If you own a software legally, it's pretty much up to you how you get it running.

That is incorrect under most circumstances. It would depend on the license applied to the software... you don't "own" software, you pay for the right to use the software. This is ultimately a question best answered by the manufacturer of the program, in this case, Newtek. Perhaps the school have an agreement or approval from Newtek or... more likely, they are running it illegally not neccessarily without having paid for licenses.

01-12-2005, 10:51 AM
Most licenses simply give you a revocable right to use the software they are associated with. When shipping a piece of software, some sort of key may be given to the user, be it a serial number or a piece of hardware. With most licenses, you are legally allowed to run the software without that key, as long as you own the license to it. Note that some software licenses do require that you use their serial number/key to use the software. Read your license agreement (and ask a lawyer if you don't understand part of it). Note that some license agreements have sections that do not apply in certain states/regions, and they are usually written as such on the agreement, but not always -- again, ask a lawyer, and bring the license in question.

Note, you may also wish to read 1201(a)(1)(A) (part of the DMCA) - "No person shall
circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to
a work protected under this title."

01-12-2005, 11:22 AM
It would, I suspect, come down to the licence and any separate agreement made with Newtek.

I would suggest that in a college environment securing the dongles would be a sensible precaution, otherwise you would rapidly end up with dongle free computers (sad statement on society that it is). So I would certainly attempt a solution such as this if legal - either that or hide the dongles inside the (locked shut) case.

If neither option were possible I would not purchase the software in the first place.

Just my 2p.


01-12-2005, 11:23 AM
It is not legal to circumvent the copy protection in order to run the software. Dongle emulators are never legal since they violate the copyrights and patents of the companies that make the dongles being emulated, and dongle makers routinely prosecute the makers of such emulators.