If the experience of the world’s largest software vendor is any guide, the industry’s best hope for reducing piracy rests with anti-copying technologies rather than in policing the legalistic user agreements that restrict how software can be used.

While a copyright crackdown by the Business Software Alliance and other industry players has been in force for years, piracy rates — as measured by BSA-commissioned studies — have stopped falling. So a few years ago, Microsoft Corp. began concentrating harder on locking software down through a program it calls its Genuine Software Initiative.