How CD, DVD, Blu-ray Copy Protection Software Works
The software and movies you buy on a CD, DVD or Blu-Ray are often copy protected, meaning you can use the content on them but you will be unable to copy them onto another medium. In other words, the production houses will equip the CDs, DVDs and Blu-Rays with Digital Rights Management (DRM) to discourage sharing of the content, which improves their sales. Although the content production houses are always fond of DRM, it has often been the single most irritating factor for consumers who buy content on CDs, DVDs and Blu-Rays who basically want the independence to copy their content onto their own digital mediums or play their content in different countries and on different devices. The following are some of the most popular copy protection techniques employed by Hollywood and Software Production companies over the years.
Region Locked Copy Protection
Region Locked Copy Protection enables the content distributor to control the regions where the content could be consumed. The DVD/ Blu-Ray discs will be encoded with a region code and they will work with players that have the same region code as that of the DVDs/ Blu-Rays.
Region Locked Copy Protection is often employed by film distribution companies for the main purpose of price flexibility in different regions. This type of copy protection enables them to charge different prices in different countries for the same movie. However, this technology is outdated and the copy protection can easily be circumvented by the popular video players available online.
The information written on the disc is encrypted using encrypting software. This is most common on Blu-ray discs. The content on the disc can be read only if the player is equipped with a valid set of encryption keys. Unauthorized users will not be able to read or copy the content since it has been written as unreadable code that cannot be deciphered without a valid set of encryption keys. However, since disc encryption is not dynamic, hackers often reverse engineer the encryption and post the encryption keys or decryption software online which destroys the purpose of the encryption.
Online Product Activation
Software houses have been relying on ‘Registration Keys’ copy protection, where you will have to enter a registration key provided by the software distributor into your computer after installation to activate your software. This method became obsolete soon since registration keys were often generated using a particular algorithm which would eventually be deciphered by hackers and posted online. Therefore, large software houses such as Microsoft and Adobe started making online registration mandatory for software activation. Since online activation is dynamic, it would minimize the reuse and self generation of registration keys to a large extent. Online Product Activation has proved to be one of the most successful DRM techniques.
Device Driver Copy Protection
Primarily used by game production houses, when equipped with Device Driver Copy Protection, during installation of software from the disc, the software will install a hidden driver in your computer whose only purpose will be to protect the content from copying and sharing in the computer. Although this method has proved to be very effective, users see it as an intrusion into their privacy and fear that the driver can eventually harm their computer. There have been a number of communities online urging boycott of games that employ Starforce, a Device Driver Copy Protection tool.
High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection
Developed by Intel, the technology aims equip devices such as Display Port (DP), Digital Visual Interface (DVI) and High-Definition Media Interface (HDMI) with HDCP. When you attempt to play any of HDCP enabled media on any of these devices, you will be checked if you are authorized to consume the streaming content. HDCP enabled media cannot be played on non-HDCP devices. Critics have noted several practical problems with this technology and has not gained universal adoption.