I think it was the RISCOS Expo 2003 when I spoke to Paul Middleton about their RISC OS licencing, because I was very surprised when the MicroDigital Alpha was launched - after all, it was only an "emulated system", and RO Ltd. always refused to licence RISC OS for emulators.
He explained very precisely the restrictions of RISCOS Ltd.'s RISC OS licence. One of those restrictions was that it was only allowed to licence RISC OS for a complete hardware package - like the RiscStation, the Mico and the A7000(+)/RiscPC machines before. There was no restriction concerning the hardware itself. So licencing RISC OS for the Alpha laptops was within the rights granted by their RISC OS licence, but there could never be a general "software only" licence for use with emulators.
Another important restriction PM told me about was that every hardware manufacturer wanting a RISC OS licence needed an official approval for their hardware. PM said that it was necessary that Pace authorised every piece of hardware before it could be sold with a RISC OS licence. This was independantly verified when talking to David Atkins (for the Mico) and Roy Heslop (for the RiscStation).
If RISCOS Ltd.'s licence hasn't changed since then (and I haven't heard any rumour (yet) that it has), it looks like Paul Middleton himself confirmed that John Ballance was 100% correct in his Usenet posting. In 2003.