CD-i FAQ 2020 | Back to Index
Section 10. Copying CD-i discs
10.1 Are CD-i titles still copyrighted?
Yes. It is a common misunderstanding that software for a platform that is no longer available through regular retail channels is released from copyrights. This is not the case. The same goes for other defunct game platforms and consoles. All CD-i titles are copyrighted and may not be copied for purposes such as loan, retail, or rent as long as the copyright owner has not officially declared that a particular title has been released into 'public domain'. Philips sold its entire consumer CD-i catalogue to Infogrames Entertainment (now: Atari) from France in 1997, which now owns the rights of virtually all consumer CD-i titles.
However, it might still be a good idea to backup some or all of your CD-i titles, since it might be increasingly harder to replace them once they got scratched or broken. Therefore, this section of the FAQ gives you some information on how to do this.
10.2 Are CD-i discs copy-protected?
No, there is no copy-protection mechanism for CD-i implemented either in software (CD-i titles) or hardware (CD-i players). Almost all CD-i titles can be copied, and any correct copy of a CD-i title can be played on any CD-i player. A CD-i player can read CD-R discs as if they were normal CDs, they do not need to be modified to accept these discs as is the case with some game consoles.
It may however occasionally occur that a disc can not be copied. This has nothing to do with a possible copy protection, but is the result of the structure of the disc. Refer to Why can't I copy a particular CD-i title? for more information.
10.3 Will every CD-Recorder be able to write CD-i discs?
Most CD-recorders can write a CD-i discs without any problems. Since CD-i uses mode 2 sectors, which is a common sector format for other CD-based disc formats (it is also used in for example Video-CD and Photo-CD), most recorder support the writing of mode 2 sectors (refer to What's CD-i's sector format? What about mode 1 and 2, form 1 and 2? for more information about CD-i's sector format). Furthermore, the CD-recorder must be able to write CD-i's specific TOC (Table of Contents) section on the disc. Contrary to most other CD-formats, CD-i discs do not contain an entry to the data tracks in the disc's TOC.
You might check the support for writing CD-i of your recorder by looking on its packaging or in its manual for one of the following indications: Mode 2, CD-ROM/XA, CD-XA, Photo-CD or Video-CD. If the recorder supports one of these formats, it can write mode 2 sector and is likely to be able to write CD-i discs.
10.4 What software can be used to copy a CD-i title?
You can use most CD-recording software that allows you to make one-on-one copies of CDs, as long as this software can make an exact sector-replica of a disc and it supports the reading and writing of mode 2 sectors and the creation of a TOC (Table of Contents) according to the CD-i specification.
Due to CD-i's realtime behaviour and the interleaving of audio, video and program data, it is very important that the software makes an exact copy, and does not reformat the data again by itself, for example by simply copying data per file, as would be common in copying files from and to a regular CD-ROM.
It is also not possible to only copy parts of a particular CD-i title, nor is it possible to combine several CD-i titles onto one CD-R disc. This is due to the fact that the software on a CD-i discs refers to absolute sector addresses elsewhere on the disc, which must be present at the exact same location for the disc to be played correctly.
You might want to use ISO Buster to create a disc image (exact copy of the entire disc contents) and then burn this disc image to a CD. The latest version of ISO Buster and information about its CD-i specific functionality is available from the ISO Buster web site.
If you load a CD-i disc and no tracks are displayed indicating that the disc would be empty, or only red CD-Audio tracks are shown, you might suffer from the problem that is explained in Why can't I copy a particular CD-i title?.
10.4.1 How can I create a disc image from a CD-i title?
The best way to create a disc image (that is, an exact copy of the entire disc contents) is by using the ISO Buster program. It was specifically designed to support CD-i's disc structure, sector layout and track/TOC (Table of Content) format. ISO Buster includes specific measures to correctly read CD-i discs on CD drives that might have difficulty with CD-i's anomalies from more common CD formats. The latest version of ISO Buster and information about its CD-i specific functionality is available from the ISO Buster web site.
10.5 Why can't I copy a particular CD-i title?
In some circumstances it might be impossible to copy a particular CD-i title. This might have several reasons, but the two most common reasons are:
- The discs is slightly 'out of spec'. Due to some technical issues, the CD-Recording tool is unable to read the contents of the disc (for example the session is closed as CD-Audio instead of CD-i, so the CD-ROM drive does not return data the proper way).
- The disc contains CD-Audio tracks.
Especially CD-i discs with CD-Audio tracks can cause a lot of troubles when trying to copy them. There are two different methods of including CD-Audio tracks on a CD-i disc. The first is by adding CD-Audio tracks after the initial CD-i data track, the second is according to the CD-i Ready format (refer to What is CD-i Ready?). Especially the latter one is difficult to copy, since the CD-i data is included in the pre-gap (the pause sectors) preceding audio track 1. This makes the CD-i data invisible to most CD-Audio players, since they usually skip the pause before track 1. However, most CD-recording tools also just look at the TOC (Table of Contents) of a CD to investigate what the contents of a particular disc are, and asy such they don't see this "hidden" CD-i area.
There are some tools that can be used to read all sectors of a disc from the beginning until the end in a raw manner, and then write an exact replica of it. ISO Buster is known to correctly handle most CD-i disc variants, including discs with CD-Audio tracks. The latest version of ISO Buster and information about its CD-i specific functionality is available from the ISO Buster web site.
10.6 Can I copy a CD-i title's video to a video recording device?
Yes you can. CD-i does not incorporate an analogue copy protection scheme like Macrovision that is used with some video cassettes and in DVD-Video. Just hook up the video output of your CD-i player to the analogue video input of your video recording device. If your video recording device accepts RGB component input, use the RGB output of the player (like the SCART connector on European models) to connect to your recording device. Your second option might be Y/C if available on the player and recording device. Otherwise, use the CVBS output of the player.
Video quality will be greatly reduced when copying video from a CD-i player using this analogue copying method. When recording to a digital source, the input from the CD-i player will also be re-encoded, resulting in multiple layers of compression being applied.
If possible, extract the audiovisual data directly from the disc. Refer to Section 9: CD-i on other platforms for more information on methods and tools to do so.
Needless to say, all interactivity will be gone when you copy a CD-i title's video output to a video recording device. Make sure you remove the menu from the screen whenever this is possible. Also, take a close look at the cursor. Remove it from the screen, or point it completely to the side to make its appearance as little disturbing as possible.