The content of Final Cut Pro, and really the complete Final Cut Studio as a whole, is what you pay for when you purchase the physical
package. Inside the Final Cut Studio are discs that you will then extract the software from, permanently placing it onto your computer. This is done so that you do not need to physically run the CD-ROM every time you want to use these programs, so what you are actually purchasing is just the software itself. These software installation files are easily downloaded from the internet using Bit Torrent or P2P sharing programs, and downloading Final Cut Pro for free is a relatively common occurrence. Part of what Apple uses to protect their merchandise from those that want to download Final Cut Pro for free is to assign a Final Cut Pro serial number to it.
Each copy of Final Cut Pro has its own Final Cut Pro serial number. This Final Cut Pro serial number is used to identify this specific version so that it validates that you have a fully paid for copy and did not just download Final Cut Pro for free or install it from another copy. This Final Cut Pro serial number is like an address, and with the constant connection to the internet this Final Cut Pro serial number system can actually force the rule stating that your copy of Final Cut Pro can only be used on one computer. This is going to ring true for the other programs in the package such as DVD Studio Pro, Color, and Motion.
Entering Your Final Cut Pro Serial Number
When you are installing your Final Cut Pro version on your computer you are going to be asked to enter your Final Cut Pro serial number. This serial number will allow your copy to be identified and the software to be completely installed. If you do not enter in your Final Cut Pro serial number then the installation is not going to be complete and the software will likely not work after a period of time. This is part of how Apple ensures that each copy of Final Cut Pro in use is legitimate.
The Final Cut Pro serial number for your copy will be apparent and included in the package, but is not something that should be either lost or shared. The Final Cut Pro serial number is a major commodity online and is really what you pay for since you could download Final Cut Pro for free in terms of files. The Final Cut Pro serial number should then be put away in a safe place where it is not going to be accessed by others. You need to retain ready access to the Final Cut Pro serial number at all times as you are going to need this during updates at different times.
Lost Final Cut Pro Serial Number
Losing your Final Cut Pro serial number is a major problem, but there are some systematic solutions that you can try step by step. First, if you have lost your Final Cut Pro serial number you will find that it is actually embedded on your computer. Search for /Library/Application Support/ProApps/Final Cut Pro System ID, and this should be there backed up to go to in this situation.
This is not going to be there after all installations, especially those with found Final Cut Pro serial numbers. If you actually have lost your Final Cut Pro serial number concretely you need to go through the step by step process of serial number replacement. Apple is going to require that you show proof of purchase of Final Cut Pro and they will generate a new serial number for you, which is why it is important to save everything from your product of Final Cut Studio including the purchase receipt. You are going to have to provide Apple with quite a bit of information including your full name, product name, product price, invoice number, purchase date, and reseller information.
Serial Number Lists
Different websites, especially those used for Bit Torrent or software piracy, include whole lists of Final Cut Pro serial numbers. Often times people download the relatively small Final Cut Studio files and then utilize a Final Cut Pro serial number found online. This is still an illegal appropriation of the software, and you will also need to be careful that you are not using a serial number that is already in use. If this is the case then you will likely find that the Final Cut Pro serial number is either invalid or will limit your use during times when the other stations using the same serial number is in use. As one of the most popular of all the non-linear video editing programs, you will actually find that these links dominate much of the online discourse about Final Cut Pro.
This post is part of the series: Professional Final Cut Pro
Here are some articles on how to use Final Cut Pro in your profession.