A History of Copy Protection

Illustration for article titled A History of Copy Protection

There's a nice look back on various forms of copy protection and games. If you make it, they will pirate it - and it's an entertaining look back at some of the ways companies have tried to outsmart the piraters, sometimes somewhat successfully and sometimes not at all. But is there ever going to be an end in sight?:

With bandwidth expanding and more and more games publishers exploring digital distribution, there's little doubt that we're entering a new phase in the history of copy protection and those who would defeat it. What's more, the demand for games as a chosen form of entertainment has never been higher. All this considered, it's impossible to believe that the cat-and-mouse game of piracy and copy protection will not reach new levels of intensity, with new technologies deployed on each side, and that some of them will surely create new hurdles for even those who simply wish to purchase and play the newest games. Ah, for the heady days of the code wheel.

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I'm always entertained to see what new forms of copy protection crop up in weird places, but when watching surreptitious deals going on in Taipei or even seeing the amount of odd stuff one can find on the internet, it does seem like something of a losing battle, no? At least the old school manuals and inbox extras required to complete a game were creative, if nothing else.

A History of Copy Protection [Next Generation via PlayNoEvil]

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DISCUSSION

Wasn't it Penny Arcade that pointed out that publicly owned companies basically have to put some form of copy protection, however futile? You try explaining to hundreds, if not thousands of angry shareholders that you're powerless to stop the value of their investment falling.

Remember, this is the general American public we're talking about here. These are the people who have successfully sued a lawnmower company for not having a safety device on one of their products, despite the lawnmower in question being made before said device was even invented.