San Franciso startup ByteShield has developed software anti-piracy technologies that may be of interest to software and game publishers. Protected software is distributed to consumers minus a small portion that is required to enable execution. A connection with a server is required to pay for use in accordance with the business model established by the publisher. The small missing piece is then downloaded to the computer and effectively integrated with the much larger portion, thereby enabling execution of the game or other software.
According to ByteShield's white papers and web site, they combine what I would call a software dongle with code randomization and software obfuscation techniques to make it very difficult for users to circumvent ByteShield's copy protection. A dongle is typically a hardware device that may plug into a USB or other port that provides certain cryptographic information and authorization. High valued software and/or databases sometimes require the use of publisher provided hardware dongles.
Software obfuscation refers to the use of a variety of encryption and other techniques to obscure the sequence in which instructions are executed and/or the branching between different sections of code. Software obfuscation raises the work factor on reverse engineering.
Code randomization is another technique for ensuring that each instance of the software is different from all other instances. Although this also makes reverse engineering more difficult, both software obfuscation and code randomization may make technical support more difficult.
ByteShield is just coming to market with their antipiracy solution. The key question will be market adoption.