Inexpensive Copy Protection for CD-ROM

August 11, 2010 at 20:29:50
Specs: Windows Vista
Hi Everyone,

New poster to the forum, so if you "flame", please do it with a safety match rather than a flame-thrower.

I'm trying to create what is essentially an e-book, but is really a bunch of pdfs. I intend to sell this to make a little side cash -- it's a study guide for introductory math, and almost everyone who has seen it so far agrees that it is good enough to sell. If at all possible, I'd like to publish and sell this myself by simply selling the CD-rom, with an option to print out one hard copy at a local printer if I send the printable pdfs to a printer shop of their choice, although I'm open to suggestions about using other venues to market this.

I have a bit of systems programming knowledge and I'd like to engineer my own copy protection into my CD-R, without spending thousands, if that's possible to do.

First of all, I'm well aware that creating data of any type on any media that can be easily viewed by anyone but copied by no one is essentially like saying "I'd like to tie a knot in this rope that is self-locking and can never be untied by anyone, ever" -- there is no such knot. I am merely trying to create obstacles to keep novices from copying my CD to everyone in the world. I am also aware that creating too much copy protection makes it difficult for inexperience users, with no ill-intent, to read the data at all or use it in the ordinary fashion, thus being bad for business.

My strategy for copy protection goes like this:
1.) Create executables that have code that, when clicked, will lead the users to the desired pdf, which has a random name such as yrftg84rfed.pdf, and is located amongst hundreds of other similarly named pdfs containing meaningless data. This code would only be executable from a removable drive (if I'm not mistaken, I've seen a few such commands in various languages that will do all this.) This would be a rather big obstacle to keep people from simply cutting and pasting the pdfs to their hard drive from the CD -- you'd have to have the cd to view the data more or less.

2.) I have downloaded a copy of WTM Copy Protector, which will write files to a disk such that the disk is uncopyable by ordinary software. The problem is that whoever wrote the instructions on how to use the software has such poor english that it totally obscures the meaning of several crucial instructions on how to correctly create the file. I have nothing against those whose English is weak (my Commanche, Swahili, and Ancient Hebrew are terrible ;-) ), but I can't make use of instructions that are this poorly written.

3.) As for viewing the pdfs, there is plenty of software out there that will create pdfs in such a way that they can be viewed, but not saved, moved, or printed, but yet have little impact on the end user experience except that the save button and print button are mysteriously grayed-out. One such piece of software is FileOpen, among other. These create pdf's that are only copyable and printable with rather advanced technology. However, most such software for creating these pdfs is prohibitively expensive (i.e. in the thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars, I think).

Finally, I find it easy to imagine (oh gosh, here we go . . ) that there is some software that will convert MS Word (or other editor) documents into some custom file format that can only be read with a particular reader that doesn't have a save or print option. Obviously, stating what ought to exist doesn't make things poof into existence, but I wonder why this technology isn't out there at all, at least that I can find.

Can anyone give me any kind of feedback on this issue? Does anyone know of any instructions for WTM Copy Protector that are written in an understandable fashion? Even any (legitimate) suggestions about how I might take a different approach to the whole thing?



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August 13, 2010 at 09:13:56

Wow! This info was definitely helpful. I think that at some point in my searching I had come across writing ghost, but didn't realize it's capacity to do what it does.

This should keep me busy for a while.


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August 13, 2010 at 16:27:29
That's Ok the_photon/


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