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Copy protection - protecting against legitimate use?

Copy protection – protecting against legitimate use?


The reason why audio and music software developers use copy protection is because people would simply copy their products and use them without payment.

And if you can say that you've never once used software without paying for it it, then obviously you'll be first in the queue at the pearly gates come judgment day.

But the fact remains that software developers need to make a profit, otherwise they would have to do something else for a living. And many products these days are priced very reasonably so there is no excuse.

Copy protection however has never been easy to implement. Ideally a copy protection system should allow a legitimate user to enjoy their software in whatever way suits them, immediately from purchase for as long as they like, changes of computer included.

However, things don't always go this smoothly. Take for example a recent problem where a college of education (which will remain nameless) needed to install ten copies of a particular software (also nameless, and by no means inexpensive).

The copy protection system of this software works by interrogating the machine that it is installed on and generating a file that identifies that machine. This file is then e-mailed to the developer who sends back a file in response, a day or so later. When this is installed, the software will function. There is a 30-day period during which the software can be used before authorization.

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The problem was however that the IT department of the college refused to give each machine its own e-mail address. That meant that files had to be generated for each machine and then e-mailed separately.

The chances of the response files getting mixed up was judged to be pretty much a certainty. So the machines are currently being authorized one at a time.

OK, so the job will get done eventually. But the world still needs a copy protection system that genuinely works and imposes no restriction nor inconvenience on legitimate users. And easily lost or stolen dongles – not in a college environment thanks!

David Mellor

Acoustics & Studio Design

Acoustics & Studio Design

The NLE AudioPedia series, our video-based audio encyclopedia, is an invaluable resource for sound engineers, musicians, students, educators and all audio enthusiasts. This second installment is about Acoustics & Studio Design.

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David Mellor