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CDRW drive technology has been written about extensively elsewhere on the Internet. We decided to examine in more detail the process of making a back up copy of some of the more challenging current game and audio titles. Software publishers are supposed to follow published standards to which the data and audio CDs must adhere, given that it should be possible to back up almost any data CD using a typical CDRW drive, at least in theory. However, read on to find out what we discovered.
Some of the new, advanced protection schemes that commercial software products employ to protect their product rights fall outside of the established "Red Book" and "Orange Book" industry standards developed by Sony and Philips for data and audio CDs. Naturally, this can present quite a challenge for the typical CDRW drive user. The level of protection that these copy protections provide varies depending on the method and extent of protection that the software developer chooses. Some data CDs can be easily backed up using the most primitive of CDRW mastering software, while more advanced copy protections require more advanced and specialized back up software. Primitive copy protection schemes that do not employ sophisticated methods are based more on the theory of preventing casual unauthorized copying than anything else. On the other extreme, the "brute-force" methods employed by some software developers suggest a full throttle reaction to prevent all attempts at duplication.
This situation is a far cry from just a few years ago, when most commercial software CDs were unprotected and fairly simple to duplicate. Some companies have chosen an alternative approach, which is to use little or no protection, but to rely instead on the use of activation keys and serial numbers to provide the majority of the software protection. The requirements of activation keys and serial numbers, along with Internet-based activation and registration information provided by the licensed users to the software company, have met some resistance from the user community. This was never more apparent than with the recent release of Microsoft's Windows XP and Office XP. Microsoft is not the only company bombarded by user complaints, as some game developers have also met with complaints regarding their use of this type of protection approach.