As far as I can see, Comet is offering a service and rightly charging £14.99 for it.
A customer buys a PC/Laptop that has a hidden partition with the recovery software and as a service, an IT provider or IT retail shop offers to make the recovery cds and charges for the service that as customer can either accept or decline.
It seems Comet were offering a service that the computer suppliers had stopped (to save money). So Comet were charging a modest fee to new users to make sure they had backup CD's. As I see it both the computer manufacturer and Microsoft were cutting corners at the expense of the user and Comet were supplying a necessary service to the user. Well done Comet! Microsoft should be ashamed.
Unless Comet paid a licence fee to duplicate the recovery software they were making illegal copies.
When I worked at Time the company wrote their own ghosting software, so they were free to make as many copies of the recovery CDS as they liked and I sent them on to customers who asked for them FOC, but the driver software for printers etc were copyrighted, so if a customer needed these we had to make a charge for them, we couldn't even put the driver files on our website without permission, so we generally posted links to the files on the manufacturers sites