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I purchased perpetual license to this software (NitroPDF) and the version I have continues to suit all my needs. I began to have problems when I updated to Win10 as the installation would no longer work. They refused to help at that time. I got around this problem by updating to Win7 first, installing the SW and then migrating to Win10. Now I am moving to another computer and when re-installing the SW it goes fine (maybe Win10 improved compatibility), except the required server activation is now no longer maintained by the SW company and there is no way to activate my legally purchased SW. Their position is you buy a new copy for a much higher price than it was when I purchased my existing copy.

They have effectively stolen from me the ability to use SW I had a perpetual license to use. How is this legal?

From their web site: "If you're on Nitro Pro 12 or an older version such as Nitro Pro 11, Nitro Pro 10, or Nitro Pro 9, you might run into an instance where you're not able to re-activate your software (Error message "There was a connection issue."). This is because our activation servers no longer support older versions of Nitro Pro so your software needs to be upgraded to either the latest build of Nitro Pro 12, or to Nitro Pro 13."

This would be fine if they don't want to maintain the license server and they offered reasonable terms for existing users to update, but they do not.

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  • Here's a fairly relevant discussion link: linustechtips.com/topic/…
    – dbur
    Mar 13 at 3:11
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    I'm assuming NitroPDF comes with an EULA or some other written document which might constitute of a contract of sale. Does that document say that the company is obliged to make license servers available and usable for some amount of time after the sale? If so, it'd probably be relevant here.
    – David Z
    Mar 13 at 8:25
  • "License" by itself refers to having legal permission to use the software. You still have that; you can (attempt to) run the program as much as you want and not be sued for copyright violation. Whether the software actually works, or does anything useful, and whether the vendor is required to take steps to ensure that it does so, is a separate question. I will bet a lot that your license agreement with them does not oblige them to do anything of the sort. Mar 13 at 16:23
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    Whatever else this may be, it certainly isn't theft. That would involve actually depriving you of property, and "having my software work" isn't property. At most they are failing to provide a service which they (perhaps) contracted to provide. That could be breach of contract, but not theft or any other sort of crime. Mar 13 at 16:24
  • Does the EULA provide for the transfer of licenses to a new system? It is not uncommon to charge for this service.
    – doneal24
    Mar 16 at 22:14

3 Answers 3

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You purchased a perpetual license to the software. They gave you one. You are allowed, under that license, to run the software without any expiration date. Had you keot the computer on whch the software was already installed, you could have continued to use it.

Now the rest of this will depend on exactly what your license from and any other agreements with the vendor say, and I have not read them. So I am making assumptions about throe documents here.

Unless the vendor (V) specifically promised otherwise, V has no obligation to keep its activation servers up and running. Nor is it obliged to provide you with a new service, nor with a new version of the application that allow it to be installed now on a new computer for free or at a low cost, unless they clearly promised to do that, and I very much doubt that they did.

Whether you own a copy of the software or not is not very reelvant, you don't own the servers, and you don't own the iht to modify the software to bypas the call to the servers, even if yu knew how, whuch they are unlikely to tell you.

All this seems to be legal, if my assumptions about yourmagreemwnts with V are correct. One might argue the ethics, but not the legality.

I suppose you could sue, claiming that they are obliges to keep your instance of the software working, or upgrade it for free, perhaps on a warrantee theory. But I doubt that you would win such a suit.

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  • The specific TOS allow the user to purchase discounted upgrades (or the company to offer free upgrades).
    – Dale M
    Mar 13 at 22:01
  • I assume the activation server would have to be kept running if the license is checked regularly and I can’t use the software on the same computer anymore.
    – gnasher729
    Mar 23 at 7:15
  • @gnasher729 As I understand the OP, the server is checked only when installing or reinstalling the software. Mar 23 at 14:23
  • @DavidSiegel Yes
    – dbur
    Mar 28 at 21:17
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The license allows re-installing and on a second computer. There is no term stating they have the right to render my license useless. The license self deactivates if you re-install windows, which is what it has done. And now they have deprecated the ability to re-activate the license. There is a long discussion here about this very thing with respect to game software, and it seems the law and international copyright treaties do not allow this to be legal. https://linustechtips.com/topic/953835-you-own-the-software-that-you-purchase-and-any-claims-otherwise-are-urban-myth-or-corporate-propaganda/ Read the linustechtips link above. It's long but goes in to great detail why software is considered the same as durable property.

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  • I am afraid that the linked thread relies on legally unsound analogies, and on the Nice classification for purposes it was never intended to support. Mar 23 at 2:49
  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Mar 23 at 7:04
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Q: What did you purchase?

A: The right to use a specific bit of software for as long as you liked.

You also had various consumer rights which come with such purchases.

If the software 'broke' in some way then you may have had a claim under consumer law. (Often suppliers provided bug-fixes and updates as part of their service but unless explicitly described in the T&C etcetera, you're not entitled to that.)

Unless there was a specific term of sale including something like 'free updated for ever' you're not entitled to that. When say for sake of argument, your model 100 car is totalled in a crash, you wouldn't expect to get the new shiny model 200 as a replacement because the deal was 'Enjoy your model 100 for as long as you like.' not 'A car for the rest of your life.'

HOWEVER, in the natural course of things, it happens all the time, consumers will change computers and will want to TRANSFER a license from one device to another. If they can't do that then they have been shafted. (I think this is what you're complaining about.) A reputable company which offers 'lifetime' support should take this into account and make reasonable efforts to enable it. (Not upgrades for the reasons above, but continuity.)

All I can suggest is ask them how to activate your legally purchased software and when you have an answer spread your result or displeasure around the sorts of places NitroPDF is advertised and research alternatives.

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  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Mar 16 at 20:41

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