I got burnt by copy protection today. I hate it though honestly I can't hold the companies completely responsible for it. They only put it in because so many people pirate. Sure maybe only 2% of the people that pirate it actually use it but those 2% probably would have bought something if they couldn't pirate and those 2% probably are a larger group than all the people that actually did buy depending on the product.
Still, it sucks. Today I took my notebook to school to sample a tape. We were assigned to write lyrics to a song and make them about the school. Each student sang one verse of their lyrics and I volunteered to mix it down into a song. Anyway, it being hot and sweaty in Tokyo it's not that fun to carry a 4lb computer around. When I got there I asked to borrow a tape player (I don't have a cassette player at the moment). I set it up, connected all the cables, qued the tape and then when I went to use the recording software and it spewed forth "This software is not installed properly. Please re−install" which is a code word for "We believe you are a thief unless you can prove otherwise". So, I was basically screwed. I just had to put it all away and decide to do it another day after I "re−install" the software and hope that it doesn't go bad again between the time I install it and the time I use it.
This is only going to get worse very soon. For those of you that don't know it, Microsoft is making Windows XP and already Office XP require you to either connect to the net or call them up in order to use the software. You give them some number that came with your software, they give you some number to enter into the computer and then you can use it. If it goes bad or you put a new harddrive in or you buy a new computer and want to install your software again or if you decide to re−install Windows or you get a new version, well, you have to *register* it again.
I understand why they did it since so many people pirate but I wonder, how long before they get legally in trouble for it. When you have a million dollar meeting the next day and you can't access your documents or update because the software won't run is there any legal obligation on their part? If a hostpial can't look up your records in their Access datebase and therefore check your allergies how's gonna get blamed? With unprotected software I doubt the software developer carries much if any liability because he didn't put a bug in on purpose but with protected software, if the reason it broke is because of the protection then it's now arguably the software developer's fault. When you are writing an App if it breaks that's a bug. But if your protection fails and doesn't let a legit user use the software then a feature you, the developer, specificly wrote to make the software stop functioning is to blame. That seems different then a bug in which you did not intend.
Kind of like the phone company. The can shut off your phone service if you don't pay your bill but they still have to allow 411 calls for a certain period of time or they hold some kind of liability of you have an emergency.