I still see no functional difference what so ever. Both options in your example are identical.
Publisher takes the servers offline?
Then no you can't download the software from them anymore.
If you have a copy of the downloaded software, you can't activate it because the servers are down, and it is useless.
If you have a copy of the software on disc, you can't activate it because the servers are down, and it is useless.
They look functionally the same to me so far.
In order to get either copy to work, you have to modify the software in a way deemed illegal to do.
But legality aside let's say we go down that path.
I can go to the pirate bay and download the patch to modify the software to run without activation.
That patch will apply to the software you have on disk.
That same patch will apply to the software from the download servers, which will be on the pirate bay included with the patch.
In both cases the software would then work. Again they look functionally the same to me so far.
The only real difference is if you refuse to download anything, including the modification to patch the software to work.
In THAT case, my downloaded software can be fixed with the downloaded patch and will work.
Your software on disk will still require that patch to work, which you refuse to download.
Downloaded version works, disk version does not.
In any realistic situation both versions of the same bits are identical.
Only in an idealistic world where you never download anything is your method of having the software on disk worse off in the end and leave you with non-functional software.