Re: ECON: Intellectual Property Again

Grant Sparks (
Sat, 30 May 1998 07:56:52 +1000

I don't know what OS and hardware combination you are using Michael, but
this is not the case for PCs.
I thought we'd already cleared this up;

1) Any copy protection scheme can be defeated in theory, and almost
certainly will be in practice if there is a high enough benefit for doing
so. If your protection doesn't go at least as far as chip-specific
licensing and hardware dongle then you ain't even trying - and these have
proven to be ineffective. To date, the cost of hacking any copy protection
has proven to be minuscule compared with the benefit of doing so. Nothing
in any of the schemes you have mentioned (or any I know of) fix this
problem, or in fact offer any significant additional cost to the hacker.

2) To quote Gary Larson, "On the internet, no one knows you're a dog." The
only way I can think of where you could possibly ensure that you can catch
the customer who broke your contract and began distributing pirate copies is
if you took physical biometric data from each one of them and encoded it
into the software at the time of purchase. Needless to say this rules out
any selling of your software on the internet, and is not very useful if you
are looking for something to keep the cost of IP enforcement down. Also not
something I'd like to see a libertarian arguing in favour of :-)

IP is going to have to get along without needing any of the above if it is
going to have any chance of 'efficiency' in the info-economy. Anything else
will carry a massive overhead that dwarfs any supposed benefits to the owner
of the IP. <cliche> Information wants to be free </cliche>


Grant Sparks

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Lorrey <>
>As far as I can tell, any time you put a CD in a drive, or any other
>disk in a drive, the drive checks the boot sector of the drive. This is
>how you can get a virus from an infected floppy simply by sticking the
>disk in the drive. You do not need to 'look at it' in order to give the
>virus a go at your system. Granted you could use a specially rigged CD
>copying machine, but these are expensive devices, not likely to be owned
>by the casual pirate. This cost of entry limits potential pirates to
>those with the capital to take the risk. Thus this limits the potential
>pirates, and eases enfocement.