Publisher anti-piracy considerations:


Q: Should we worry about piracy?

When distributing electronic contents, any publisher needs to worry about piracy. Most users will not pay if they can find the contents available at no cost - either from a friend or college, or download it from the web. The most successful publishers use some kind of protection against piracy, except for special cases such as introducing a new concept or entering a new market. If you pay for copyrights for movies or pictures for instance, you would normally pay less if you use effective security against broadcasting contents.

Q: What should be protected?

Today, in most cases, the main assets are the data files. Hence protecting executables doesn't really help much. You need to alter the data files, and this is called encryption.

A complication here is that titles today are made by standardized tools such as Adobe AIR that won't easily accept encrypted data files. You need to find a provider that can handle the way your data files are put together.

Q: What kind of protection?

If you use a simple code or password, you can be sure users will spread it around.

You can lock the files and give the user a key of some sort. This key must be difficult or impossible to copy. It can be a particular disc (CD/DVD) or USB-stick, or the user's own PC or network (web-authorization). A physical key is always nice, and it can be easily moved to another computer. Web authorization requires that the computer has online access, though another online computer can be used or a QR-code can be used to authorize via a Smartphone.

Q: Will these restrictions affect legal owners?

You have to make sure that legal owners are not taken hostage due to malfunctioning protection software. And that normal user activity such as back-ups and upgrades will stay functional. Legal users can understand the need for piracy protection, but only if this doesn’t cause trouble. Actually paying clients are NOT happy to see free riders; they will feel they are paying for them.

Support is important, and you want a protection provider that reacts fast - and is present when needed later on. We have a built-in web-based AutoSupport feature where end-user support is handled directly by us, quickly and efficiently.

Q: Which platforms can be covered?

Windows and OS X are the main platforms for Business/Education software. If you provide solutions for tablets and Smartphone’s, it is normal to make an app that is sold for a small fee. Due to the low price, there is little reason to consider protection. Software for Apple devices cannot be protected due to Apple's policy against 3rd party vendors.

High-quality protection is tied to the type of micro processor used. Both Windows and OS X use the Intel processor family. As Android devices are mainly ARM processor based, it will take some volume to justify porting our protection to this platform.

A few countries use Linux intensively, but they do this to save money and they will probably not pay much for your software. We have delivered Linux solutions several times in the past, so this is possible, at least for Intel-based PCs.

Q: Why Link Data Security?

When you start looking for copy-protection (aka DRM), you will find many providers with flashy homepages and tons of promises. You should place weight on references and many years of experience. This field is challenging both technically and psychologically, and companies tend to mature over time, learning to focus on the less obvious things that really matter.

For instance there is a lot of money in game protection, due to the high volume and the high piracy rate. Selling the same protection to both gaming companies and Business/Education companies inevitably leads to a degraded level of security. Another example is the use of OS kernel drivers that can be used to strengthen security, but can also be used by malware to bypass OS security.

We have been in this business for more than 30 years and have delivered to numerous leading Business/Educational publishers all over the world. We have also made successful game protections, but only as tailor-made solutions.

Many of the world's leading book publishers are on our customer list:

6 out of top 7 (and we have recently been contacted by the last one).

50% of top 16

37% of top 30

25% of top 50

This is based on http://publishersweekly.com's Largest Book Publishers, 2014.

Q: What is the protection cost?

It depends on the product type, the item price and the market. Basically there is an initial onetime fee and then a license fee per protected item. There is a fee for applying protection to a title which involves testing on multiple platforms. Normally this is done in cooperation with the developer. We should see a sample and have a few details for a quote.

Q: How about network users?

Without license control aka DRM you can rest assured that few users will report the correct number of installations or users.

- We have a dedicated network protection, where the installation is done only once to a common server folder. The protection will then control that only the allowed number of simultaneous users are active. The protection here is not locked to a particular computer or media, but to the local network.

- If you don’t want a true network protection, you can just give multiple installations to a license key with web authorization. The same license key can then be used on a number of client computers. You can also choose to supply a number of physical keys like CDs/DVDs or USB-sticks.

Q: Can't we find it cheaper elsewhere?

Sure, but watch out for false economy. Good protection earns you money; your increased income will exceed the protection fees. If you choose protection that is less safe and field-tested, you may both experience piracy and lose your regular users due to compatibility problems. The outcome can be a reduction in sales.

Q: How do we try it out & purchase?

- You can get a hold of another publisher’s Cops protected title and test this.

- Or you can enter a Non-Disclosure agreement with us and pay a demo fee in order to get back your own protected files for a realistic end-user test.

- If you like what you see, in order to purchase you must enter a license agreement with us and pay the difference between the initial purchase fee and any demo fee paid.

Q: How do we produce protected CDs/DVDs?

For testing, gold masters or small productions you can make CD-Rs/DVD-Rs in-house on a normal burner drive. Mass-produced CDs/DVDS are sent to a normal factory. After production a disc is measured to establish a 13 char. distribution code that the end-user must enter once.

You can also embed the distribution code on the disc using a special "CodeFree" production process that any factory can learn. It involves two glass-masters for each new production, but later reprints can be done as usual. Avoiding code entry is handy for children and non-technical users.

Q: How to produce protected USB-sticks?

It takes experience to get good-quality flash memory at a reasonable price. There is a lot of poor quality in circulation, which means dissatisfied users and high support expenses. We have a division in Shenzhen that finds quality flash and handles the stick production.

The copy-protection is applied by Link and it is tested by the publisher/developer before upload to Shenzhen.

The production process involves PCB mounting and soldering, silkscreen printing, preload of data, data verification and, lacquering the PCB. Link has delivered both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 sticks in high volume over the last 5 years.

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