Copy Protection For Digital Media

Copy Protection and Copy Protect Software

The term "Copy Protection" has been around since the early days of software development and was used to describe the means by which software could be protected from unauthorized distribution. Like every software author has found, without some form of protection, a software is likely to be forwarded to other persons and even be provided as a free download to the public, thus, depriving the author of any chance to retrieve his production costs and make a living.

The initial forms of Software Copy Protection included the requirement for a key code that is only provided to paying users. This is then used to activate the software, which otherwise would operate as trial version by limiting or impairing some features. Unfortunately, the forwarding of license codes amongst friends was still possible and while professionals and companies would not like to be identified as the original distributors (from purchase records), there was little deterrent for the average user, since running after them is usually an expensive and possibly fruitless legal challenge.

Then the software dongle was introduced, which was a piece of hardware that is usually connected between the printer port and lead. Dongles are still used today as pieces of hardware and they do limit software distribution that can otherwise be maintained solely via the internet.

Exploiting Copy Protection

It seems that for everything that is created, that there is always someone that wants to destroy it and so it goes with copy protection. To distribute license codes that cannot be associated with an original purchaser, software hackers reverse engineer the software to study its workings and create key generators. Thanks to the ingenuity of software developers who created their key code validation based on auto generation by formula because it has become possible for hackers to create a key generator to produce acceptable key codes.

No software was safe from key generators and it wasn't until after 2001 that Internet users started experiencing the effect of computers being fingerprinted and tagged to the ownership of license codes. Whereas applications like Windows 2000 were openly distributed to millions of users and sometimes sold on CD, obtaining a pirated license for Windows XP was made much more difficult by requiring online activation of each installation before it expired in 30 days. As Microsoft's activation process matured, they were able to update each computer because any computer connected to the web could not defend itself against the new threats as they emerged. Whether those threats were orchestrated by Microsoft or not is already irrelevant because if it weren't them, someone else would have exposed the flaws in security out of mischief.

Protecting software today is most difficult and it is big business. So too, is the attraction to circumvent any protective techniques, and software authors who leave protection to third party components need to fully test them and prove that they live up to their makers; claims.

Copy Protection for Digital Media

If digital media such as videos and audio recordings distributed by download and on CD could be securely copy protected, the livelihood of the artists and producers or those who created that media for everyone's enjoyment can be protected. But digital media has suffered the same fate as the software industry and whenever a new protection technique is devised, there is a rush to be the first to exploit it.

Because DVDs are played on numerous and different types of DVD players, it is virtually impossible to copy protect them. Some media distributors, the ones that provide the blank diskettes, have devised many different techniques to embed copy protection into hidden tracks on the disks, but even that has been circumvented. The only digital media distributed on disk that has been successfully copy protected has been games that play on proprietary players like Wii and Mbox that ensure that the disk is an original and not a copy.

It is not feasible to distribute videos and music that is limited to proprietary players and publishers play a number game by hoping for adequate sales returned from mass distribution to survive.

Copy Protection for Web Content

There is less demand for copy protection of web content mainly because websites displaying images and information were deemed not as important as displaying music files and video clips and the losses though piracy is much less significant. Moreover, there is the problem of securing such a portable media and its accessibility from many different tools, including a variety of web browsers, each designed to enable its user to easily obtain a copy.

Solutions for the copy protection of web content appeared much later than those utilized for other media. However, they have similar fate in the sense that there will always be millions of people who will be interested in how to exploit copy protection techniques rather than see a solution succeed.

ArtistScope has been most instrumental in the innovation of copy protection software to protect web content. They first began their research and development to provide image encryption in 1997 and up until now are involved in developing methods to lock down web content without leaving any avenue exposed. But as with software and other digital media, the integrity of that protection is enhanced only when binding it to hardware, a requirement that may be too severe for informal publication.

Copy Protection for Documents

Again, document protection has been less important to the major developers. Documents are difficult to protect using a single solution that satisfies everyone's requirements. Some companies have developed sophisticated content servers to manage DRM tokens that are distributed with protected documents but while these solutions have been user friendly, they have also been easily exploited.

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a term that was coined to differentiate between the protection of digital media and the protection of software, although when you get down to it and do it properly, there is really no difference at all.

Up until recently, DRM tokens took the form of digital certificates associated with registry keys that were distributed with the document. But because both the certificate and the means of validating it (the reader) is downloaded to the user's computer where it is vulnerable to mischief, the hacker has everything he needs and one only has to perform a web search on the topic of "how to remove DRM" to realize how popular that activity is.

ArtistScope DRM does not use tokens or document readers that can be exploited. 

The Future of Copy Protection

ArtistScope has been in the copy protection industry since its early days and introduced the first copy protection solutions for use on the Internet. It is one of the few companies that have survived the ever changing Internet and the vulnerabilities introduced by new software and services designed to cater for whims. The most popular of these vulnerabilities is the ability to copy and plagiarize.

As soon as new developments are released, there will always be someone who is ready to exploit it either by undermining or plagiarizing it to sell as their own. And the copy protection industry, itself, is not safe as all newcomers have more expertise in intellectual property (IP) theft. There are many ways to accomplish this such as plagiarizing someone else's concepts, reverse engineering their technology, rewriting their documentation and stealing their keywords to promote what is essentially "stolen property".

Copy Protection Solutions That Do Work

The following list includes applications that were developed by ArtistScope that are 100% original innovations. These are also the most secure solutions available/possible today:

If you see similar applications offered by other vendors who are not agents for ArtistScope, please be aware that most of the copy protection providers of today are merely intellectual property (IP) thieves.