The USB-eLicenser (formerly Steinberg Key) is a copy protection unit (sometimes called dongle) which is needed to use Steinberg's software range. With the host applications Cubase, Nuendo and WaveLab, the USB-eLicenser is already included in the product package. The USB-eLicenser is also required to run Steinberg VST instruments, but is not included in the product boxes and must be purchased separately if no USB-eLicenser/Steinberg Key is already present on the system.
The USB-eLicenser is actually a tiny computer which stores licenses for Steinberg products, and is connected to a USB port on your computer. All current Steinberg products that use a copy protection device use exactly the same system. The Steinberg copy protection system allows the storage of several licenses on the same USB-eLicenser. Licenses can also be transferred between USB-eLicensers with certain limitations. This can be very useful, for example in the unlikely event of a Steinberg customer wishing to sell a product.
The eLicenser platform is used by Steinberg in its software products, and is successfully used by many other audio software manufacturers including Algorithmix, Vienna Symphonic Library, Virsyn, Waldorf and many more. The eLicenser system comprises both a USB- and software-based eLicenser. The USB eLicenser hardware is cross-compatible with all manufacturers utilizing the eLicenser system, allowing for easy management of licenses issued by multiple manufacturers.