Should copy protection schemes like iLok and PACE be boycotted?

PACE logo

There seems to be a never ending discussion about PACE/iLok and copy protection in general.

Some people dislike these methods so much that they will not even consider buying a product anymore if it has one of these protection schemes.

Adam from Audio Damage is one of them.

He writes on his blog:

PACE doesn’t stop piracy; any copy-protection system can, and will be, defeated. What PACE does do is prevent legitimate users of software products from using products which they’ve paid for.

Very similar to Microsoft’s WGA; it fails to stop piracy, but causes lots of problems for legitimate users…

So, are you going to keep buying products with PACE/iLok, or are you going to (as Adam puts it) “keep doing business with companies that assume you’re a criminal and treat you as such”?

Peter Kirn posted about this at CDM as well. Check the comments there and at Adam’s blog for more opinions.

  • edsoniq

    I am so glad to see that this problem did realy heat up as mush as serious it realy is.

    PACE is what made me avoid ALL products having it because of many many many halts in production due to windows crahses, fails to power off, fails to start etc.

    I a an owner of a huge soundtrack production studio with midi hardware of over thousand voices from every serious synthesizer and fx vendor.

    Well – seeing that so many people use DAWs based on computers wanted to give it a try.

    Glad to see tht such a miserable (by functionality and quality) almost-production almost-processing tools and plugins are not realy that usable because of such reliability issues like stupid pace.

    Installing plugin should not stop production studio for several hours for computer maintenance orchestra and vocal performers sitting and waiting till something works.

    I’ve got great computer guys in my company, so fixing things turned out to be a breeze (4 hours of stress)

    Storyline is simple:
    – computer room rack got reinstalled and was getting its software back on day by day
    – than somehow rack started to refuse to shut down and had problems with page file when booting
    – Connected rack A/D D/A converter hardware started to behave strange and jittery
    – computer terminal slowed down a lot
    – people from various places of world are waiting for recording, but multi channel multi mic setup cannot be used because of failure
    – computer guys rushed in, but got no idea what’s wrong with it.
    – four hours and we are running low on coffe, tea and patience
    – bingo and brute erasing helps

    To get problems (by installling Pace) you just need to install someting with iLok or whatever Pace.
    To get rid of the problems (and Pace) uninstalling software and/or plugins – you also need to MANUALLY delete registry enties with “TPKD” as well as two TPKD.* files under windows

    Switched to hardware Roland multitrack machine since then, anyways.

  • CoreCode

    Citing from wiki about iLok and PACE:


    * The PACE iLok is often found responsible for computer software problems, including boot failures, shutdown failures as well as hardware malfunction. Such problems are not easily resolved due to the fact that additional “Copy Protection Drivers” (TPKD.SYS and similar) are not uninstalled when associated product is being uninstalled.

    * Due to the problems that the protection introduces to legal costumers, companies such as Prosoniq and Audio Damage had to stop using it.

    * The iLok often comes under fire in software user groups since the user must purchase the physical key itself in addition to whatever software the user is licensing. Software manufacturers have the option of providing the physical key to their users as well and some companies such as MOTU do include the key with their software. Additionally, there is a per license charge that the software vendor must pay to the iLok manufacturer which would have to be included in the software purchase price.

    * Some software covered by InterLok requiring an iLok has been cracked by several different cracking groups.

    * Some users of the software it restricts question the point of having a restriction which can make legal customers suffer while illegal users can use the software it covers.

    * The PACE protection scheme is sometimes viewed as malware, as it installs itself to a kernel driver level unknowingly to a software user, does not uninstall along with the associated product, and contains many mechanisms that cause the computer system to misbehave. It is even stated on the official PACE website that it might sometimes cause random comuter reboots or halts whenever the iLok drivers detect certain debuggers or similar software running.

    * Due to its physical size, the iLok can be a burden to users having a limited number of USB ports. This is particularly true for users of notebook PCs, where space between ports is limited, and USB devices are frequently being swapped.

    * Some applications will crash or behave erratically if launched accidentally while the iLok is not present.

    * The whole protection relies on the fact that it continuously monitors all computer activites at all times, even while “protected” software is not running or is uninstalled, and to crash, reboot or halt the computer whenever it detects a threat such as a debugger, analyzer or memory monitor tool being run. This significantly slows down the operation on any computer environment, and makes computers crash on various unrelated occasions. However, for PACE to be an effective protection, it requires hackers to have only one computer running all tools and software being hacked on, what is completely absurd. Even computer science students for hacking experiments use two computers – one clean with the software in question, and another one – with all the necessary dissasembly tools. Computer with software in question gets hibernated at the interesting points, and the harddrive with hiberfile is connected via USB to another computer to collect and analize memory dumps.

    * PACE is not compatible with products restricted by rival method ASProtect. ASProtect has been used with certain pro-audio products including those from Alien Connections.

    ~~~~~~ end of citation

    Enough information for avoiding this yet-another-unstoppable-unbreakable-copy-protection-revenue-improving technology

  • Klemperer

    I’m with Adam from audio damage here. Pace and iLok don’t work for the companies they use this copy-protection, but hurts the customer. Initially I avoided too buying challenge/response products, but if companies use it with care, it is not THAT much of a problem. Still, whenever I can I prefer buying my audio-software with a serial number or the “trust your customer”-idea behind it, like so many developers still release their products (to name just a few besides audio damage: Zynewave Podium, Reaper, linplug, synapse audio, bigtick, u-he and so on).

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