As the price of personal CDROM recorders continues to fall, the University of
Floridas increasingly technology-savvy students are buying them for a number of
different purposes, leaving the software industry to worry about copyright violations.
The $200 to $300 piece of equipment allows users to back up
their hard disk and duplicate computer CD-ROMs, audio CDs and CD-based video games.
"I use (blank CDs) to back up my files,"
freshman Mike Ossenbeck said. "Almost every computer has a CD-ROM drive. Not everyone
has (other storage devices such as) Zip or tape drives."
Blank, recordable CDs cost about $2, and the
technology is simple to use.
But the computer software industry is worried the
cheap drives will increase software piracy, which cost the industry $11.7 billion in 1997,
said Karine Elsen, director of marketing for the Business Software Alliance, a nonprofit
"(CD recorders) are a concern, along with the
popularity of the Internet," she said. "The combination makes piracy very
Elsen, however, admits it is difficult to discover
"It's illegal and you can be sent to jail.
It's like copying a video the big FBI warning still applies," she said.
"But is anybody going to be sent to jail for copying? I don't think so."
Sophomore Travis Schrock, however, sees CD
recorders as an important tool for independent musicians. "It's a great opportunity
for local bands to spread around their music," he said.
Schrock used a CD recorder to make a master CD for
his friend's band, then sent the CD to be duplicated.
And now, with new DVD recorders and rewritable
DVD-RAM drives on the market for less than $1,000, movie studios may soon be thrown into
the anti-piracy struggle.