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Of collectors, geeks and copy protections...

posted by Anonymous on - last edited - Viewed by 1.4K users

Note to readers: whatever you do, don't confuse copy protection with copyright. I've seen people mix them up far too often. It's not funny, as I happen to respect copyrights. :((

Anyway...

As I was practically raised by LucasArts when it comes to computer gaming, I have always strictly followed their advice (always printed in the user guide) of never using the original discs for anything other than making a backup for installation and day-to-day usage. This has enabled me to build an impressive collection of mint-condition discs that I am quite proud of. :x

Now, with the arrival of extremely hard-to-backup technical copy protections, I find myself between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, I want to support developers who make great games. On the other hand, I won't play or buy games that I cannot play from a backup, since reading the original disc only once is at the very core of my philosophies as a disc collector and caring retrogaming geek.

The one company I have always been able to trust not to add copy protections is LucasArts. They have raised me to be a careful and caring collector, and also educated me not only on consumer rights but also on how to properly take a working backup of their games (instructions are/were usually printed right alongside the advice to take a backup).

I would like some form of reassurance that TellTale will continue in this the very best of LucasArts' traditions: to produce fully compliant CD-ROMs (which means: taking a backup should not require special software/hardware other than a CDR/DVDR and a standard program like Nero or EasyCDCreator) and FAT-compliant floppies, and educate the user on how to properly take a backup to install and play from, and how to store the original safely for generations to come.

Some companies, like id Software, have taken the approach of protecting the original disc and then releasing an official patch that removes the CD-check routines. But this is an imperfect approach, as you can't slipstream the patches.
Other companies, like Codemasters, have released unprotected discs through thirdparty budget labels (Sold Out Software, most notably) but I don't like that approach since A) I don't get to support the developer as much as with a fullprice game (and when I do decide a developer is worthy of my fandom, I do want to contribute as much as possible), and B) some of my money goes towards the thirdparty distributor, which I might not really like.

One note of importance: at least in my country, the right to take a backup for day-to-day usage (in order to protect the original from harm) is one of several absolute exceptions to the copyright, and cannot be inhibited in any way by the copyright holder. If a digital media cannot be backed up, it is in direct violation of local copyright law. Of course it goes without saying that all backups taken of an original disc must be destroyed or handed over to the new owner when selling an original disc second hand.

20 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
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    Anonymous

    [quote][quote]

    [quote]Do you realise that SCUMMVM has removed the need for the mix'n'mojo wheels[/quote]
    No it hasn't. Try running the original Monkey Island or Monkey Island 2 (the floppy versions) in ScummVM. The copy protection still shows. It doesn't if you run the CD versions (Monkey Madness compilation, for example).
    [/quote]
    True it shows up, but you can enter in any answer and it still works... I think.[/quote]

    So far as I can tell, yes, that's been the case. The copy protection shows up on mine for MI2, at least, and either I've made some really lucky guesses, or you can just type in any old number.

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    Anonymous

    Why not release it as freeware after it's well gone off the market?

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    Anonymous

    [quote][quote][quote]

    [quote]Do you realise that SCUMMVM has removed the need for the mix'n'mojo wheels[/quote]
    No it hasn't. Try running the original Monkey Island or Monkey Island 2 (the floppy versions) in ScummVM. The copy protection still shows. It doesn't if you run the CD versions (Monkey Madness compilation, for example).
    [/quote]
    True it shows up, but you can enter in any answer and it still works... I think.[/quote]

    So far as I can tell, yes, that's been the case. The copy protection shows up on mine for MI2, at least, and either I've made some really lucky guesses, or you can just type in any old number.[/quote]

    Yes, the 'History quiz' and 'Dress up Sam or Max' screens are just there for historical purpose.
    It was still active in some older versions of ScummVM for PalmOS (0.3.0, as far as I remember), but even there was a walkaround for the copy protection (tap left upper part of the screen).

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    Anonymous

    i hate copy protection :D

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    Anonymous

    [quote]i hate copy protection :D[/quote]

    Well, it serves a certain purpose: at least it should remind you that you should be paying for copyrighted (quality) material.

    The convenience that it can be bypassed doesn't alter that fact.

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    Anonymous

    Let me just quote the Jargon File... by far the best description I've seen:
    [quote]copy protection: n.

    A class of methods for preventing incompetent pirates from stealing software and legitimate customers from using it. Considered silly.[/quote]
    That about sums it up, really. :D

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    Anonymous

    I actually quite enjoyed tbe oldskool copy protection. Some of them were so briliantly funny you just couldn't help laughing!

    I actually hated LA for excluding copy protection on monkey island CD versions ~_~

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    Anonymous

    [quote]I actually quite enjoyed tbe oldskool copy protection. Some of them were so briliantly funny you just couldn't help laughing!

    I actually hated LA for excluding copy protection on monkey island CD versions ~_~[/quote]
    Actually that'd be "manual protection". A "copy protection" consists of erroneous data, foreign-format sectors or other purposely introduced errors that will make a floppy drive or CD reader choke on the disc if it's not being read via the built-in access routines of the exe wrapper (or custom file system drivers). Most old copy protections used foreign-format sectors or odd timings, and those protections weren't possible to do on PC since the standard floppy controller (still) doesn't allow custom timings or other oddities (which is also why an Amiga drive can read a PC disk, but not the other way around). Hence, PC versions of games were forced to use "manual protections", there was no way of blocking a diskcopy tool from backing up the disk.

    So to sum things up, if you can copy a disk using standard disk tools such as diskcopy (on PC) or XCopy (on Amiga) or if you can copy a CD using only Nero or Easy CD Creator, the media is NOT copyprotected. No matter if the program asks for information from the manual.
    There, hope that clears things up. :D

    And I agree, the LucasArts manual protections were definitely the most well-designed ones in terms of humor and ease of use. Most other games had an annoying "please enter word X of row Y on page Z" type protections, which were totally devoid of humor and just plain annoying.

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    Anonymous

    [quote]Let me just quote the Jargon File... by far the best description I've seen:
    [quote]copy protection: n.

    A class of methods for preventing incompetent pirates from stealing software and legitimate customers from using it. Considered silly.[/quote]
    That about sums it up, really. :D[/quote]

    To mis-quote Orson Scott Card:
    How appropriate, corporate copy-paranoia fights like a cow. :))

  • User Avatar Image
    Anonymous

    [quote]
    Actually that'd be "manual protection". A "copy protection" consists of erroneous data, foreign-format sectors or other purposely introduced errors that will make a floppy drive or CD reader choke on the disc if it's not being read via the built-in access routines of the exe wrapper (or custom file system drivers). [/quote]
    I stand corrected once again! Sorry to have gotten these two mixed up. Actually the funny thing is that I never did take copy protection seriously - it ususally just didn't work ;) - I remember waaaay back when a friend was panicing that you can't copy warcraft 2 ...well, let's just say we all had the "golden CD" of it ;) ...oh, and to make things right again I did buy the original when I got enough money for it.

    And I agree - if you collect games or at least want to play it for several years, there is no other way then copy it, CDs just get worn out as everything else - you have to keep copies!

    [quote]
    And I agree, the LucasArts manual protections were definitely the most well-designed ones in terms of humor and ease of use. Most other games had an annoying "please enter word X of row Y on page Z" type protections, which were totally devoid of humor and just plain annoying.[/quote]
    Oh, yes! Good times! :D ...not now with those stupid registration keys :p

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