How To Protect a CD from Copying

 Woman preparing to copy CDs

Technology has become so advanced that practically every aspect of production can be done on the computer. From the creation of proprietary videos, music and books to distribution of these materials, all you need is your personal computer and some supporting software applications and you are your own producer and distributor. And what better way to make copies of your creation than by putting them on CDs. Here are simple steps to copy-protect CDs on a Windows-operated computer so that you are assured the materials will not be disseminated without your authorization.

  1. Know the things needed.  Firstly, a personal computer with the latest version of Windows such as XP or Vista should be used. Next is to have Nero, one of the more popular CD burning software applications, should be installed. Add to that CloneCD which is a disc duplication tool. Lastly, at least two pieces of a reliable brand of recordable discs.
  2. Burn the material onto the disc.  Firstly, you have to make a list of all the materials you want burned onto your very own copy-protected CD. If you will be burning copyrighted songs, it would be good to download from Creative Commons. This is a website that allows copying of music legally. Afterwards, open Nero Burning ROM and start a new Audio CD project. Just highlight and add all the files you want included. These can be songs, videos, or documents. Once you are prepared to record, just click on the Burn button on Nero’s toolbar. Check the tab in Burn to make sure that the box that says Finalize disc is not checked. Once certain, open the optical drive and insert a CD and then click Burn.
  3. Include some data session.  If you wish to include some more data files, say for instance the lyrics of the audio tracks you have included, then it would be necessary to include some data session onto the CD. Do this by opening one more Nero compilation. Make sure that you select CD-ROM ISO for the project type. Click on Start Multisession disc from the Multisession tab. Check the ISO tab to ensure that Data Mode in Mode 2 / XA is selected. Once you have selected all the additional data session you want included then you’re ready to burn this onto the disc. From the toolbar you have to click on Burn. Once again, open the optical drive and insert the CD you have burned a while back following Step 1. Click on Burn and a pop up window will appear to inform you that the CD you have just inserted isn’t empty. Just click on Yes and the new data files will be added.
  4. Modify the CD content to CloneCD image file.  Open the CloneCD application while making sure that the CD is still in the drive. Select the button that says Read to Image File. Choose the drive then click on Next. Click on Multimedia Audio CD and then Next again. Better to save the file on the desktop for easier access. Afterwards, click on OK for the ripping to start. The CloneCD file will be saved in three formats namely .ccd, .img and .sub.
  5. Copy-protect.  The .ccd file can be modified to give the CD passive protection. One can create changes to this file by opening it in Notepad. This will involve a little knowledge in programming. To automate and bypass this process, you can use this online application developed by J. Alex Halderman. It is located in this URL: What you need to do is completely cut all the contents in the .ccd file (opened in Notepad) and paste it on the online application. Click on the 'Upload' button and a modified version will replace the original content. Copy this modified version and paste it back on Notepad, save it and then exit.
  6. Burn the new image.  Put a blank CD and restart CloneCD. Choose the 'Write From Image File' option. Select the modified .ccd, the appropriate optical drive and then click Next. Choose the 'Multimedia Audio CD' option and then click OK. The burning process will begin and when that's finished you now have a copy-protected CD.

This method of copy protecting a CD is called passive protection. When you modified the .ccd file you actually created two tracks of it. Because of an oddity in Windows CD audio drivers when it comes to multiple sessions, the audio tracks of a multimedia CD with passive protection will remain invisible to most media player software applications.


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