I can think of one more caveat that 2K could give us that would make this all easier to swallow - after some amount of time, the install limits reset.
For example, after 180 days your Windows XP key's activation resets. Yes, this means if you were devious enough then you could use it on another PC in six months but in practice, it just makes it easier for those of us who reformat semifrequently.
In the case of this game, it would alleviate the issues of "oh shit I forgot to uninstall before I wiped my hard drive" because you know it's been six months since the last time you installed, so one of your activations restored itself. And it would still alleviate the piracy issue because how many pirates do you know that could wait six months for something?
Also if SecureROM/2K could make the something-happened-please-contact-us issue automated, like Microsoft did. If you change too much stuff and have to reactivate then you call a number, punch in a bunch of digits you see on screen, then you type in a bunch of numbers that they send back to you. SecureROM/2K can still use this method to track which keys are being overused (in case the whole "release tool" thing gets hacked)