The prevention of unauthorized copying of software or media. From the 1950s to the 1980s, software copy protection was not an issue. Vendor support for mainframes and minicomputers had always been vital, and only legitimate licensees could receive it. As desktop computer software became more complex, technical support became just as important, but could be obtained from many sources, not just the vendor of the product.
Software Copy Protection
In the early days of floppy disk-only computers, some software copy protection methods were used, but "copy buster" programs were quickly developed to break them. When hard disks became the norm, software copy protection was abolished. In order to defragment a hard disk, files had to be easily copied from one part of the disk to another.
The Internet has provided some assistance with software copy protection. In order to receive automatic patches and updates, the software is registered with the vendor at time of installation, and the same update will only be sent once to the same account. Other methods are used to ensure that software is always running in the same machine (see Windows Product Activation
). See hardware key
for an unpopular, but effective, method.
Media Copy Protection
Copy protection for music and movies is a constant dilemma for the publishing and broadcasting industries. Every recipient that receives a digital file can make a perfect copy of it unless the content is copy protected (see DRM
). See DMCA
and peer-to-peer network