Bits & P.C.s: 321 case, ‘fat chucks’ and serial numbers

Bits & P.C.s: 321 case, ‘fat chucks’ and serial numbers

By Richard Heller

The court case involving 321 Studios, the publisher of the program DVD X Copy and several motion picture studios, has been heard by San Francisco District Judge Susan Ilston, who said she aims to make her ruling quickly. In a partial summary judgment, she said she is “substantially persuaded” by previous cases that the software violates the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Though this may be considered a setback, there is a possible glimmer of hope for 321. Judge Ilston was clearly troubled by one legal point. If the DCMA stops people circumventing all copy protection, what will happen in the future when copyright on a movie expires, but the disks are still protected?

Were you aware that there are music CDs being sold that can actually damage your computer if they are played on your CD drive? In an effort to prevent piracy and trading of music files, many record companies are copy protecting their CDs. This copy protection can range from causing distorted audio to rebooting the computer. Even worse, some are known to corrupt the CD drive itself, rendering it unusable. On a Macintosh computer, it may lock the CD in the drive requiring a service technician to remove it.

For more information along with a list of some of the CDs that are “corrupted,” visit

One of the best-kept secrets in the software industry is that concerning different versions of a program. Many times when you purchase an “upgrade” version of a program, you are actually purchasing the full version of the product but with a serial number that only allows it to be installed if a previous version of the program is already installed on the computer.

This can be a problem if you purchase a new computer, and you wish to install the program on it. Some companies will tell you that you will have to purchase the full program while others will let you install the upgrade if you also have the original program disk.

But what happens if you don’t have the original disk? If you do a Google search for the program, you may discover something interesting. Many upgrade versions will install as a new installation if you use a different serial number.

Also, some programs will install as a different version altogether if a different serial number is entered. I’m not suggesting you should actually do anything that may violate any licensing agreement, but if you have purchased the program, you should have the right to experiment. Besides, it’s awful easy to get confused typing in all those letters and numbers.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned a program from Cosmi named “Perfect Spam Only Eliminator.” After further testing, I have discovered that the program does not work correctly. I have contacted the publisher, and I am waiting for a reply. I apologize for any problems or inconvenience this may have caused if you purchased the program based on my recommendation.

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times or e-mail

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