Often times these piracy/anti-piracy discussions come up, and insane copy protection methods are mentioned. Well, I have a real world example for you that happened to me. I'll be nice, though, I won't mention the developer.. but needless to say, I think their copy protection method sucks and is pointless. Why? Because pirates wind up cracking it anyway. The people that get hurt are the honest folks.
So, I bought this sample disc early last week. Relevant to the explanation, I'll say it's a soft synth. I opened it up, popped it into my DAW... waited... a bad sound comes from the drive: "sssssss"... "sssssssssssss". Nothing. Dead silence. I opened up "My Computer" and the name of the disc didn't even register. This is bad, because I was really counting on having this set of sounds for a project I'm auditioning for. I ran into the other room and booted up the laptop to see if it worked there. It did.. that's odd. My DAW's drive is an NEC DVD+/-RW, totally solid, never burnt a coaster, reads EVERYTHING. No prob, I figured I'd just copy the files from the CD to the laptop, then use the wireless LAN to transfer the files to my DAW.
I started copying. It got to a particular file that was about 640-650MB in size.. copying, copying... boom, CRC error. WHAT?! To shorten the story, I spent a whole week trying to get a replacement copy. The company that makes this software didn't respond, and it was last Friday I wrote them. This is inexcusable. The vendor I bought it from gladly got me a new copy, and guess what? It exhibited the same behavior!
My theory was that the master disc used to duplicate this batch was corrupt, so all the copies were corrupt. I figured all was lost, there's no way I could get a VERIFIED working copy in time for my deadline.
Then, a fellow NS'er I was talking to offered a theory: that maybe this large file was just a copy protection scheme set in place on the disc. I think he's right. And the developer stupidly made it ruin the CD-ROM's filesystem's integrity, INTENTIONALLY, so people couldn't copy the file off the CD (hence the CRC error). The problem is, of course, that my DAW won't even register the disc at all. The laptop does, but I don't want to install it on my laptop. So basically I've wasted a week over the wrong issue, trying to get a new CD to me, when the real issue at hand was... copy protection.
Copy protection had me waste a whole week thinking I was being given corrupt copies. Could I have done something to remedy this sooner? Sure, I could've pirated the damn software. Not that it would've mattered if I did, because I own it legit. But it just goes to show that this copy protection is USELESS, because this software is available out there on P2P networks.
My plea to developers: DO NOT USE COPY PROTECTION SCHEMES THAT COMPROMISE THE CD-ROM'S INTEGRITY. You run the risk of your media NOT working on certain drives. And my drive isn't bad, or old, or anything. It's a new model, with rave reviews, and great media support. Ironically, it's the crappy drives (my laptop and another machine I tried this on) that were able to read this disc OK.
Now, I have two plans to try out tonight: #1, put the disc in my laptop, share the laptop's CD-ROM over the network, then go on the DAW and install using the networked CD drive. Failing that, plan #2, use Alcohol 120% on my laptop to create an image of the disc, transfer that image to the DAW, and use Alcohol to burn to a CD-R. Maybe that will work.
This just goes to show, copy protection in many cases (but not always) winds up hurting the honest consumer. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that EVERY f'ing sample library out there is available, cracked and pirated, for download. Pirates don't care how tough the protection scheme is. It's fun for them, it's challenging, to take a product and break its security measures. So, while I'm not suggesting to get rid of copy protection entirely, I AM suggesting to KEEP IT LIGHT, and don't do anything that would risk the integrity of the media. I really don't mind re-activating my products once in a while, or being prompted for a serial# once every few months. Fine. But this corrupt media bit is just pure nonsense.
End of rant.