Copyright OSTA 2001
All rights reserved.


Author's Notes
Physical, Logical and File
System Standards

Recording Hardware
Recording Software
Recording Speed
Physical Compatibility
Disc Size and Capacity
Audio Recording
Digital Pictures on CD
> Duplication, Replication
and Publishing
Disc Labeling
Disc Handling, Storage
and Disposal

Disc Longivity
Disc Testing and

Disc Construction and

Appendix A - Further
Reading and Resources

Appendix B - Industry
and Product Contacts
About OSTA
About the Author

  CD-Recordable Glossary


  White Papers

  Archived Storage (COSA)

  Optical Websites


What alternatives are available to copy CDs?
There are several different methods available to make one or multiple copies of existing CDs ranging from single CD-R and CD-R/RW recorders to specialized devices that automatically duplicate and label discs and, for large runs, commercial mass replication. Options are distinguished by cost, speed, convenience and capability. When dealing with commercial software and audio discs keep in mind copyright laws and that copy protection systems may be employed to hinder straightforward duplication.

Computer CD-R and CD-R/RW Recorders
By far the quickest and least expensive way to duplicate a disc is to simply copy it using a computer outfitted with a CD-R or CD-R/RW recorder combined with off the shelf writing software. In addition to creating discs from scratch many basic writing software packages duplicate most standard CD formats. Specialized copying software is also available with more sophisticated capabilities such as the ability to make backups of copy protected discs and even the power to simultaneous duplicate to multiple recorders. But remember that the ability of a system to copy specific disc formats depends upon the individual capabilities of the software, reader and recorder used. It is therefore advisable to check with the respective manufacturers for specific information.

Typically, discs are duplicated CD to CD by using the computer’s CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive as the master source feeding the copying recorder. In cases where a separate reading drive is not available the master is first downloaded to the computer hard drive using the reading ability of the recorder and later written back to a blank disc using the same recorder. Employing the hard disk as an intermediate copying step is also a common tactic used when dealing with poor quality source discs or other situations where computer systems are not fast enough to keep up to the speed set on the recorder.

CD Duplication Systems
For copying larger numbers of discs various dedicated CD duplication solutions are available including machines that function by themselves or with the assistance of an operator. These configurations can either sit as standalone units or may be attached as computer peripherals. The most common devices are hand-fed tower systems which employ a number of CD-R or CD-R/RW recorders chained together for simultaneous duplication from either a master CD or from a hard drive. Also widely used are automated products incorporating robotic disc handling systems which mechanically load and unload one or more recorders. Sometimes disc label printers are included to produce a handful or even hundreds of finished discs per hour. Historically large and expensive, many CD duplication systems are now compact and affordable and within reach of many for personal and office use. A number of companies also offer commercial CD duplication services to perform short run work in quick turnaround times.

CD Mass Replication
In contrast to CD duplication which is usually performed on a small scale at the desktop level, CD mass replication is typically used to make huge quantities of discs such as commercial audio CDs and software CD-ROMs. These prerecorded (pressed) discs are manufactured from a mold in a factory setting and are created using a series of industrial processes including premastering, mastering, electroplating, injection molding, metallization, spin coating, printing and advanced quality control. In addition to manufacturing discs many replication companies offer companion services including packaging, printing, distribution and fulfillment.

What is CD publishing?
Somewhat like CD duplication equipment, CD publishing systems employ CD-R or CD-R/RW recorders but are used to create quantities of unique discs from different computer files rather than just to make multiple copies of a single master disc. Employing robotic disc handling systems and integrated label printers, many of these devices can be accessed over computer networks and shared much like office laser printers. Examples of CD publishing applications include retail audio CD vending kiosks, creating CD-Rs containing cheque images or monthly banking records, archiving computer-generated billing records to disc in place of microfilm and accepting conventional 35 mm film resulting in digital pictures on CD-R discs.

Can CD-R and CD-RW discs be protected against copying?
Historically, copy protection technologies were only available to protect prerecorded (pressed) discs but a variety of methods are now available to deter copying the contents of CD-Rs and CD-RWs, to authenticate media and even to forensically trace the origin of discs. Such capabilities are included in some CD-R and CD-R/RW recorders or may be offered as features in software tools as well as duplication and publishing systems.