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March 8, 1999 - March 21, 1999
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Copyright Risks Loom
As Cost of CD Burners Falls


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By Trey Csar
Independent Florida Alligator
U. of Florida
Published Mar. 8, 1999


(U-WIRE) Gainesville, Florida —
As the price of personal CD–ROM recorders continues to fall, the University of Florida’s 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 anti-piracy group.

"(CD recorders) are a concern, along with the popularity of the Internet," she said. "The combination makes piracy very easy."

Elsen, however, admits it is difficult to discover pirated software.

"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.

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