A Comment on Copy Protected CDs - Software Piracy

This web page comments on the trend to add copy protection to CDs containing software. The point of view is that of the consumer.


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Software Piracy

Many years ago, software was delivered on floppy disks. The ease with which copies of software could be made, combined with the high profit of the unlawful duplicates, and the difficulty of actually catching the criminals, started the software piracy industry.

Various copy protection schemes came about, in an attempt to decrease software pirating. The result? Central Point Software (since purchased by Symantec) created a program called copy2pc. This program would allow an exact duplicate of most floppy disks to be created. If the software by itself wouldn't copy a floppy disk, there was a hardware add-on that would.

Other companies tried to use hardware copy protection. This would require a device to be plugged into the computer (usually on a parallel port) in order for the software to operate. Had these early devices been reliable, and not used limited resources, they would be common today.

Somewhere along the way, the consumer started to realize that the copy protection schemes were causing excessive amounts of their time to be wasted. They complained, and many software companies stopped using copy protected diskettes. The results for those companies that made the change was that their product cost less to produce. When this cost savings was passed on to the consumer, sales increased. The bottom line was that copy protection of distribution media hurt profits.

Software piracy has come a long way since, and there exist several tools that can be used to duplicate copy protected CDs. Among the best are:

A long list of CD writer software (not all of it for copy protected disks) can be found here.

It should be noted that some copy protection schemes require a high-end CDROM drive. The best of the available CDROM drives, for duplicating CDs, are made by Plextor. There are few copy protection schemes that can't be defeated by a Plextor CD-R drive and a good copy program.

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