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Creating CD-R copy protection

by the_photon / August 12, 2010 3:28 PM PDT

Hello Forum,

I suppose this topic fits into "security" better any other, so here it goes . . .

I am currently writing what could be called an "e-book". I realize that there are many venues for self publishing, but for the time being I would like to self publish my book on CD-Rom, as my book is on a rather technical subject, and I already have a fairly large audience at a local university. I would like for the information to be in the form of pdfs, although I am open to other suggestions with regard to this format.

The problem is that I would like to copy protect the cd-rom. I am well aware of the fact that trying to create data in such a way that everyone can read it but no one can copy it ever is a bit like saying "I want to tie a knot in this rope in such a way that it is self-locking and cannot be untied by anyone, ever" -- no such knot exists. I am essentially just wanting to throw a few moderately sized obstacles in the path of any novices wanting to copy the software. Furthermore, I am certainly aware that TOO many of those obstacles make it difficult for honest users to legitimately use the software, thus being bad for business.

At any rate, my overall strategy for copy protecting the PDF's on this CD-ROM goes like this:

1.) Use the free version (at least for the time being) of "WTM Copy Protect" software to do it's magic. It creates a variety of dummy files and corrupt files that are written to the CD that confuse typical CD copying/burning software. One major problem I have with this is that the instructions that come with this software are very poorly written -- several crucial steps in the instructions are written in rather poor english, such that the actual meaning of the instructions are obfuscated. I have no problem with the fact that not everyone in the world speaks english (my Swahili, Gujarati, and Ancient Hebrew are terrible), but nevertheless I cannot make heads or tails of several parts of the instructions. Does anyone own/know how to use this software/know where I can get more clearly written instructions.

2.) In order to throw a stumbling block in the path of anyone wishing to copy and paste the files directly from the CD rom, I am going to create a rather large number of useless pdf with arbitrary filenames such as ARJG7BV4.pdf, all with meaningless data. The useful PDF's will be similarly named, and buried within these. To access these useful pdfs, the user will click on an executable icon containing C++ (or other language) code directing to the arbitrarily-named-but-useful pdfs. These icons will only execute from the CD-Rom -- if I'm not mistaken there are numerous commands in numerous programming languages that will do this.

3.) However, when the pdfs are brough up, there is no easy way to prevent the users from merely clicking on the "Save" icon in their pdf viewer. Plug-ins do exist to disable not only print, but also the save features, but software to create (ostensibly) unsavable pdfs is PROHIBITIVELY expensive. Is anyone aware of a "private use" program of any kind that can create this effect?

Finally, does anyone have any suggestions at all with regard to better approaches to this plan?

Thanks in advance,


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Let's start with this.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 13, 2010 4:58 AM PDT

"Any code made by man can be broken by man." Did you ever wonder why the latest in "secure, uncopy-able" games and DVDs seem to appear in days after release?

And if this is worth doing isn't it worth Adode's PDF creation tool? You claim that is expensive but look at what you are protecting. Did you just reveal it's not worth that much? Even the online versions at http://createpdf.adobe.com/ are not much. They even have a free trial.

After watching folk struggle with this my observation is that they lost their time to market over this area. If your book is that good why not just Kindle it? There's Kindle for PC, iThis and iThat and it's well known to be pretty secure. Also it assures your sales gets the coin to your pocket.

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There is an alternative
by Darrell / August 13, 2010 11:29 PM PDT
In reply to: Let's start with this.

Download OpenOffice.org and at the top, you can create from word, pdf files. That is an alternative way to get the PDF files at the top.
On the other part, there are CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R & DVD-RW disks, use the DVD-R disks for they cannot be copied. It is not copy-protected but it is the close to that. I did something similar for someone in the health field so they would stay intact. It is not as good as Bob Profitt's answer but it close and would be a lot of work to copy it. There are also language packs that you can install in OOorg. Darrell

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Regarding DVD-R not being able to copy.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 14, 2010 12:49 AM PDT
In reply to: Let's start with this.

I encountered this one time years ago. Turned out my DVDRW drive was beginning to fail. A new DVDRW drive and the DVD-R was then copyable.
Hope this clears that up.

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