Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Holland Thinking About Banning DRM and Legalizing File Sharing -- Implement Internet Tax Instead?

It looks like the Netherlands might be jumping on the "European DRM is teh SuX!" bandwagon by offering their own proposal to ban DRM. But here's the twist, lawmakers want to tax the general public for using the internet in order to compensate media companies, thus legalizing file sharing and free use of MP3's:

Martijn van Dam, a member of one of the bigger political parties in The Netherlands said, “Taxing Internet traffic is great way to compensate the Music Industry for the loss in sales by illegal filesharing”. He added that a prerequisite would be that DRM and copy protection should be abandoned. The battle against piracy is lost according to Van Dam, he says that the Music Industry has to accept that their products will be traded over the internet.

The article notes that, in the past, Holland had discussed the possibility of taxing MP3 players themselves to create a similar solution, but that the proposal was eventually dropped.

But would the general public support a law that taxed them for use of something they've managed to get for free just to promote compliance? I'm not sure how government works over in Holland, but this idea seems dead in the water to me.

Via torrentfreak

Customized Billboards and RIFD

I heard about this on NPR a few days ago and decided to look it up. Turns out that Mini Cooper owners can now sign up to have the billboards lining their daily commutes customized by personal RIFD "keyfobs". The pilot advertising campaign is now running in four cities (San Fran, New York, Chicago and Miami), with plans to expand pending the program's success. I found this explanation on http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/01/11/2021244&from=rss:

"When that MINI owner drives by the billboard, a targeted message appears. Each owner tells MINI what to show when they drive by, such as 'Jim, you are one sexy beast.' If the pilot program is successful, MINI plans to put up more billboards in more cities and allow every owner to participate. MINI swears that no personal information in contained in the keyfobs and that all communication between the MINI and the owner is subject to their privacy policy and thus the program is completely safe. But how well will they keep their billboard logs away from the prying eyes of law enforcement or private detectives? And what are they doing to prevent 'hackers' from changing the personal messages to insults, such as 'Jim, nice to see you finally emerge from your mother's basement'?""

Interestingly, a contributer to the slashdot blog posted a comment about how it would be fun to put up fake terror warnings.
As much as I disagree about the "fun factor" of such a prank, I have to admit that he brings up a good point: there are a million ways these billboards could be misused.

Then again, giving the average consumer the means of production on such a platform is novel and potentially very liberating, with regards to constructive social and political discourse...assuming the "editors" at Mini USA permit the medium to fulfill this potential.

Vista upgrade invalidates your XP key

Hot on the news that you will be unable to do a clean Windows install with a Vista Upgrade, new EULA news states that:
13. UPGRADES. To use upgrade software, you must first be licensed for the software that is eligible for the upgrade. Upon upgrade, this agreement takes the place of the agreement for the software you upgraded from. After you upgrade, you may no longer use the software you upgraded from.
This means that you would not be able to dual-boot Windows XP (or whatever you upgraed from) or run it in a Virtual Machine. But this also means that if you do not like Vista you will be unable to revert back to Windows XP.


Norway declares iTunes Illegal

In a bold move against iTunes’ DRM, called Fairplay, the Norwegian Consumer Council has deemed it illegal in Norway, with France and Germany possibly following suit.

Norway isn’t happy with Apple’s DRM technology that restricts play of files downloaded from it’s iTunes Store to only iPods [when away from the computer]. Because other portable players are not allowed to play the files, Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman Bjørn Erik Thon has declared Apple’s Fairplay technology is anything but.

But will this really do anything? With only 4.6 million citizens (.07% of the world population) and a declining birth rate will Apple really see this as a threat?

In the past, France decided to ban the Apple DRM and Apple pulled out of the country.

Does this really matter or is this the beginning of an European backlash against DRM?


YouTube to share ad revenue with its users, says co-founder Chad Hurley

YouTube founder Chad Hurley recently confirmed to the BBC that users will soon see a revenue share of the advertising surrounding their videos. However:
The offer applies only to people who own the full copyright of the videos that they are uploading to the YouTube website.
While it is clear that users uploading Colbert and Family Guy will not be paid for their services, I'm a bit curious about this "full copyright" jargon. Take the example of Dilpreet and Minhaws:

Minhaws is riding his bike on campus. Dilpreet happens to have her video camera rolling when . . . suddenly . . . Minhaws bikes straight into a campus golfcart! And Dilpreet caught the whole thing on tape! Obviously, Dilpreet uploads Minhaws to YouTube, where he soars to the top of the user ratings! And oh is Dilpreet happy, because the $$ is rolling in . . .

But Minhaws happened to be wearing his favorite James Blunt tee-shirt that day. . . and last time I checked, Warner Bros has the exclusive rights to Señor Blunt, including his name and likeness. So, does Dilpreet own the full copyright? Is Dilpreet an infringer? Would YouTube honor a Warner take down notice in this instance? Granted, I have been continuously editing this poor example for over thirty minutes and it's time for bed . . . but there is a real issue here:

How will the entertainment industry react to individual users profiting from videos they deem as infringing? And what about Minhaws . . . after all, HE hit the golfcart! Doesn't he deserve a share of the profits . . . . (nevermind)

(via BBC News)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Microsoft Attempts to Patent Plagiarized Design

From /.:

BlueJ is a popular academic IDE which lets students have a visual programming interface. Microsoft copied the design in their 'Object Test Bench' feature in Visual Studio 2005 and even admitted it. Now, a patent application has come to light which patents the very same feature, blatantly ignoring prior art.

Just another reason MS is evil...

Jewish Porn Isn't Kosher

Israeli pornographer Oren Cohen put a well-recognized symbol meaning "kosher" on his film "Assraelis" to help increase sales. But the symbol is trademakred by the food company Kof-K, which sent a ceast-and-desist letter to Cohen. From the New York Times article:

“As a leading company in the area of kosher food certification, companies are only contractually authorized to utilize the Kof-K trademark to promote and/or market their food products,” the letter said.

Mr. Cohen, the son of a Moroccan Israeli and the third generation of his family involved in the pornography industry, was a bit perplexed.

“I thought, what — they own a letter?” Mr. Cohen said in an interview.

They do. And they have for more than 30 years, said Rabbi Yehuda Rosenbaum, the administrative director of the company.

On the contray, says an anonymous Boing Boing reader:

"Kof-K" isn't *the* kosher symbol, it's *one company's* kosher symbol. It's not "a letter," as the porn producer indicates; it's a great big Hebrew letter with a tiny little English letter inside it, something that doesn't appear anywhere in any language. While the bounds if intellectual property laws have often been stretched to the breaking point, this one seems pretty cut-and-dry. It's their brand, and they don't approve of it's use. I'm sure Good Housekeeping would feel the same way if their symbol was used to promote Mop Porn.

See Boing Boing for the offending image.

Twentieth Century Fox Seeks Identity of "24" Video Pirate

With the ever-growing popularity of YouTube and other video-over-internet websites, it's no surprise that more and more illegal content is being uploaded daily. However, while most pirated content is simply removed from the site, Twentieth Century Fox is taking it one step further. News Corp.'s Twentieth Century Fox has subpoenaed Google's YouTube to reveal the identity of a user who uploaded several clips from unaired episodes of "24" and "The Simpsons."

If Google, the parent company of YouTube, surrenders the identity of it's users, it will set a potentially dangerous precedent for video based websites. However, despite the outcome, we'll soon know who is to be held responsible for the content on YouTube; the company or the user.


Does ANYONE want Vista? - M$ Vista Hate Roundup

I thought it was just us drm-savvy people who understood why vi$ta sucks so bad, but everywhere i look today its just hate from all sides.

1) I thought this was hilarious; BadVista has been encouraging people to tag all the versions of Vista with 'defectivebydesign' and 'drm' in the amazon marketplace. There are now over 750 products tagged as such.

2) Vista DRM Cracked, but for the rest of us yet.
*update* - different kind of crack available... Activation Cracked

3) Vista undergoing dirty installs.

4) Fine print analysis of the EULA.
Vista's legal fine print includes extensive provisions granting Microsoft the right to regularly check the legitimacy of the software and holds the prospect of deleting certain programs without the user's knowledge. During the installation process, users "activate" Vista by associating it with a particular computer or device and transmitting certain hardware information directly to Microsoft.

5) Users hacking annoying vista prompts.

And the Rest:
APC Magazine: 10 Reasons not to get Vista
Windows Vista February 2006 CTP (Build 5308/5342) Review, Part 5: Where Vista Fails

DRM is Dead. Long Live DRM.

There is a great article over on the Freedom to Tinker blog about how many of the major labels are getting ready to release their music DRM-free.

Itself a response to a NYTimes article, The Freedom to Tinker guys astutely point out two very important things. Firstly, a huge fuss is being made over allowing MP3s to be 'unrestricted' (i.e. sans DRM). In reality, MP3s (and almost every other creative work) are protected by copyright law, the granddaddy-of-them all in terms of content security (theoretically speaking). This use of questionable rhetoric in turn leads to the second interesting point: in the minds of record labels copyright law was simply not enough - a more closed system (DRM) was a necessity to thwart 'untrustworthy' consumers.

As such, why would you sell anyone something they can't be trusted with? Record companies have continually told everyone (consumers and artists alike) that consumers can't be trusted with 'unrestricted' MP3s, that the few who purchase such 'unrestricted' files will simply distribute them freely. As a result, a culture surrounding the 'untrustworthy consumer' (whether correct or not) has been perpetuated by the very companies that now will attempt to sell 'unrestricted files' to 'untrustworthy users'. Getting consumers to be trustworthy will be doubly hard than it should be and getting artists to feel comfortable selling unprotected MP3s will be equally as difficult.

Corporate short-sightedness again rears its ugly head. Had the recording industry , in the words of the FTT folks, "embraced the Internet early and added MP3 sales to [their] already DRM-free CDA (Compact Disc Audio format) sales, they would not have reached this sad point. Now, they have to overcome history, their own pride, and years of their own rhetoric."

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Windows Vista Causing Upgrade Confusion

With Microsoft launching Windows Vista tomorrow (1/29) to parties and celebrities, confusion is sure to follow with the great number of versions of Windows Vista that are available. Now, Microsoft has announced that if you purchase an Upgrade edition of Windows Vista you can not do a "clean install" instead you must have another version of windows on the computer, XP for example and then you must install Vista as an upgrade. While this may seem OK, it means that there will always relics from the old operating system mixed in with the new Vista.

In older versions of Windows, 2000, XP, etc, there was an upgrade checking mechanism in which you could either choose a clean install or authenticate an older version of Windows by inserting the CD. Why would Microsoft want to control this part of the operating system install process?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Interview With Mastermind of HD-DVD Crack

With the break of the HD-DVD implementation of AACS - and the imminent break of the BluRay equivilent - the man known as "musilix64" has become something of web celeb in the past few weeks. This interview goes into a nice description of his methods, his fears about future legal problems, and, most interestingly, his motivations:
With the HD-DVD, I wasn't able to play my movie on my non-HDCP HD monitor. Not being able to play a movie that I have paid for, because some executive in Hollywood decided I cannot, made me mad...

After the HD-DVD crack, I realized that things where "unbalanced" by having just one format cracked, so I did Blu-ray too.
Not exactly the malicious, devious hacker the MPAA is undoubtedly going to portray him as.

Link. (Via arstechnica)

Gutmann Responds to Microsoft's "Response"

Peter Gutmann, the author of the original Windows Vista Suicide Note article, has posted a response to the blog entry that the Vista team posted on their blog. In the response he outlines, question by question, many of the glaring contradictions in Microsoft's responses.
Some of the material was new and interesting (for example clarifying just what actually gets revoked when a driver revocation occurs), other parts seem more likely to have come from Waggener Edstrom (Microsoft's PR firm) than Program Manager Dave Marsh (The Inquirer wasn't too impressed by it either. I'll be updating the body text based on some of the clarifications, but for things that aren't directly relevant to the main text (which means the PR-spin items) I'll comment on them here.
An interesting read.

(via the inquirer)

Circuit Court Rejects Challenge for Access to "Orphaned Works"

Timothy Lee writes in arstechnica about the dismal outcome of Kahle v. Gonzales, the latest legal challenge to copyright law. In the suit, Brewster Kahle (of the Internet Archive) and Richard Prelinger (of the Prelinger Film Archive) sought public domain status for "orphaned works," works whose owners were no longer available.

Before the Copyright Act of 1976, creators seeking copyright were required to claim copyright in order to gain and preserve the legal benefit. Sometime after, the law was changed by Congress--all works were automatically copyrighted upon creation. (To the best of my reading, the automatic copyright was retroactively applied to works created between 1976 and 1992.) Kahle, along with Larry Lessig, argued that the change from "opt-in" copyright to "opt-out" copyright was significant enough to require Constitutional review under the 1st Amendment.

The district court and circuit court rejections were written on the basis of the earlier Supreme Court case Eldred v. Ashcroft. In 2002, the Supreme Court rejected the argument that extending copyright to the life of the author plus 70-years was unconstitutional, writing that the law had not changed "the traditional contours of copyright protection."

From arstechnica:
"The district court dismissed the case in November 2004, ruling that the Supreme Court had already addressed Kahle's arguments in Eldred. On Monday, the Ninth Circuit agreed and upheld the lower court's dismissal. In its opinion, the Ninth Circuit accused the plaintiffs of making "essentially the same argument, in different form, that the Supreme Court rejected in Eldred." Neither court was persuaded by the contention that the switch to an opt-out regime changed the "traditional contours" of copyright law."

Link to arstechnica article
Additional commentary: The Center for Internet and Society, Wired Blog

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Norwegian Consumer Council Declares Fairplay Illegal

The ombudsman and Norwegian Consumer Council have agreed - Apple's Fairplay DRM is illegal in Norway, citing a lack of interoperability between iTunes purchases and competitor's portable devices.
"It doesn't get any clearer than this. Fairplay is an illegal lock-in technology whose main purpose is to lock the consumers to the total package provided by Apple by blocking interoperability," Waterhouse told OUT-LAW.COM. "For all practical purposes this means that iTunes Music Store is trying to kill off one the most important building blocks in a well functioning digital society, interoperability, in order to boost its own profits."
Given Apple's ongoing issues surrounding DRM in France, there seems to be mounting pressure from European consumer groups for Apple to open up iTunes in Europe. It will be interesting to see how Apple would react to a court mandate to remove Fairplay from their products; after all, I can't imagine that iTunes Norway contributes too heavily to Apple's bottom line (i.e. not at all) - so would Steve comply or just shut down the store? The music industry can't control him - since when does Norway have any clout?
(via Out-Law)

C|Net News
Mac Daily News

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Crazy EULA #1: Paypal doesn't allow complaints--to anyone

In Paypal's User Agreement, one of the website's 10--yes, count them, 10--EULAs, provision 9.1.k states:
...you will not... Conduct your business or use the Services in a manner that results in or may result in complaints, Disputes, Claims, Reversals, Chargebacks, fees, fines, penalties and other liability to PayPal, a User, a third party or you...

In other words, by using Paypal you agree that no transations you make now will result in a complaint later. So, apparently, by using Paypal's advertised Buyer Protection, not only are you violating the terms of agreement, but you are also causing the seller to violate the agreement.

Wired's Leander Kahney: Why I Want a Locked iPhone

Today, Wired's Leander Kahney posted an article about why he wants a locked iPhone, an argument in obvious contrast to Cory's earlier post. Kahney's post certainly brings up valid and engaging points, the central notion that the iPhone is a consumer phone, just as the iPod was a consumer mp3 player, and by keeping it all in house, Apple can ensure a successful user-expierience.

Kahney agrees with what most see as gross exaggeration by Steve Jobs that one phone could take down the whole Cingular network if infected by malicious third-party software, but does note that it could take down one phone, and in Apple's mind, that is damage enough. Kahney claims that Apple long ago ceeded the 'bussines market' to Microsoft, and instead is attempting to capture the entertainment-consumer market. In such sense, 'user experience', as Kahney puts it, is absolutley key.

While I agree with Kahney to an extent, I find his rhetoric worrisome. Yes indeed, power-users may still gravitate towards products such as the Blackberry and the Treo while users looking for a simple yet powerful interface will gravitate towards the iPhone. Perhaps they won't intend to use it to download third-party software, but isn't the fact that they can't a little disturbing? In his book From CounterCulture to CyberCulture, Fred Turner outlines how computers went from the Orwellian manifestation of all social-ills to the utopian savior of generations. Assuming that the user doesn't know how to use his product, and thus restricting their use, seems like a very large step backwards, especially from a digital trend-setter such as Apple.

Blu-Ray DRM is Useless Too

How much money did they spend creating the DRM for HD-DVD and Blu-Ray again?
"The plaintext exploit used to partially crack HD-DVD a couple of weeks ago was brought to bear on Blu-Ray by the same gents this weekend—and it worked a treat."
Via Wired.

Wikileaks a Little Too Naive?

A new site, scheduled to come out in March, Wikileaks.com will put millions of leaked documents from governments and various corporations on the web. It's supposed to be a safe outlet for whistle-blowers. The site will be a wiki (as clearly suggested by its name) and users will be able to view the documents, post anonymously, and analyze them. However, as Time.com writes in an article that came out Monday, there's a lot of questions brewing around the legitimacy of the site. They wrote:
Yet the speculation that Wikileaks might a front for an intelligence agency is understandable, considering the recent arrival of "Intellipedia" — an internal wiki system used by 16 U.S. spy agencies. Steven Aftergood, director of the Project of Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists and writer of the blog Secrecy News doesn't buy that theory. "I just think they're naive," says Aftergood, who was contacted by Wikileaks via e-mail in late December to join the site's advisory board. "They have a very idealistic view of the nature of leaking and its impact. They seem to think that most leakers are crusading do-gooders who are single-handedly battling one evil empire or another." Aftergood declined their offer.

It seems that the idea is generally a good one, but there are still many questions to be answered before its launch in March. Another blogger, John Young (who writes Cryptome.org) also refused their offer to become a part of the advisory board. I just wonder who is behind the site and what would happen if a particularly powerful document was posted? What about IP addresses? Is it really anonymous? It's a noble idea but I agree that it can become just another "intellipedia".

Monday, January 22, 2007

Beta Testing DRM on the Public?

There's an interesting op ed about HDCP and its implications for the public over at arstechnica today. The article essentially summarizes the complete idiocracy that created AACS and HDCP. An excerpt:
On occasion we hear reports of HDCP snafus, primarily from readers who are upset with HDCP/HDMI implementation on their cable boxes. As it turns out, this stuff doesn't work reliably for even the basic stuff like showing video flawlessly, let alone securing outputs. I even have a HDCP/HDMI issue with my TiVo, which decides that my TV is no longer secure about once a month, requiring a reboot.
Is HDCP ready for prime time? It certainly doesn't seem like it. If these problems are occurring with certified equipment, imagine the problems that consumers will be having when they start trying to play high definition movies on their PCs. Windows Vista requires end-to-end HDCP support in order to play at anything but a lowered resolution, how often do you think the software is actually going to work?

Article at Arstechnica
HDCP and Windows Vista (arstechnica link)
A Cryptanalysis of the High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection System

Big Four Considering Ditching DRM?

An article over at iht.com is reporting that media industry officials were looking into ditching DRM requirements for MP3s on the internet. John Kennedy, IFPI head says:
"Each of the majors is wrestling with the advantages and the disadvantages of going with MP3s without any restrictions at all."
With the recent decision by Virgin to distribute music in an unrestricted .mp3 format, this comes as no surprise. The article goes on to say that punters can expect one of the big four record labels to move towards the sale of DRM-free music within the next couple of months.

This shift is entirely logical given the trend set by independent labels allowing fans to download mp3s for free off of their websites.

(via the inq)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

DRM-free iTunes on Your TV (from Netgear)

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Netgear unveiled a device that will stream YouTube content directly to user's TVs. In addition, the Digital Entertainer HD, as Netgear calls it, will also stream audio files, including iTunes. From the iTNews.com.au article:
The Apple Fairplay option is remarkable because Apple doesn't support its DRM on third party appliances. The company claimed that proprietary technology allows it to transfer the music, but declined to provide any details. One possible scenario to transfer the music would be to stream the actual audio signal from iTunes directly to the media adapter, thereby evading the DRM.

Of course, Apple's Fairplay DRM has been broken already (plus, one could just burn a music CD and then rip it again), but good to know there's yet another option.


We've heard it all before: DRM doesn't stop hackers from piracy, and only really affects those honest, average consumers by limiting their rights and applying huge inconveniences. But what happens when inconveniences escalate into products that do not work? From the arstechnica article:
On occasion we hear reports of HDCP snafus, primarily from readers who are upset with HDCP/HDMI implementation on their cable boxes. As it turns out, this stuff doesn't work reliably for even the basic stuff like showing video flawlessly, let alone securing outputs. I even have a HDCP/HDMI issue with my TiVo, which decides that my TV is no longer secure about once a month, requiring a reboot.
HDCP (link to Wikipedia), or Hi Def Content Protection, already imposes ridiculous limitations by requiring the content, the content device, and the display device to all be licensed to play content; any missing link means no video. The fact that the companies (Sony is not a big surprise) are making its consumers through hoops, let alone faulty, overpriced, and prohibitive hoops is a shame.

CEA to RIAA: you make yourself look evil

PaidContent has a great set of notes from a monster debate between the heads of the Consumer Electronics Association, MPAA and RIAA at Midem in Cannes. The zinger comes when the RIAA rep accuses the CEA of making the entertainment industry look evil:
Bainwol said the CEA president, because of his pleas to abandon restrictions and liberalize fair use policies, sometimes resembled “a fringe, ideological leader”: “We are in a very, very significant transition,” Bainwol said. “Technology is the basis of our future. We have to be able to monetise product and, every time we try, you want to make it available for free so people can buy devices. Gary stretches the concept of fair use to the point where the notion of ‘fair’ has been eliminated. You have to protect the market value. [Gary] wants to morph fair use into a concept that justifies any consumer behavior to the point where you eliminate the value of property. Kids grow up not understanding that music and movies are intellectual property. You teach disrespect for intellectual property. Gary takes a concept, morphs it, makes us look like we’re evil.”

Shapiro countered: ”I don’t make you look evil - your lawsuits against old people around the country make you look evil. You’re very good at paraphrasing things I never said.”

Link(via Michael Geist)

Vista Team Responds to "Longest Suicide Note Ever Written"

Posted yesterday, a blog entry by Windows Vista Team member Nick White appears to address sidestep some of the concerns raised in the previously published paper "Longest Suicide Note Ever Written." Here's a piece of the entry:

Windows Vista includes content protection infrastructure specifically designed to help ensure that protected commercial audiovisual content, such as newly released HD-DVD or Blu-Ray discs, can be enjoyed on Windows Vista PCs. In many cases this content has policies associated with its use that must be enforced by playback devices. The policies associated with such content are applicable to all types of devices including Windows Vista PCs, computers running non-Windows operating systems, and standalone consumer electronics devices such as DVD players.

Now, computers can play DVDs, but it is upsetting to think that this technology can reduce my computer to the functionality of a standalone DVD player. The paper goes on to answer twenty questions regarding DRM and media playback in Windows Vista. While the questions do directly relate to concerns brought up in the previous paper, often the answers sidestep the issue at hand completely. It is a good read nonetheless.

(via somethingawful)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

MySpace Spyware?

In response to harsh criticism that MySpace doesn't do enough to protect its under-18 users from sexual predators, the networking site is developing its own brand of "spyware for parents." According to the BBC website,
"The project, codenamed Zephyr, would alert parents to the name, age and location details entered by
the youngster on the profile of his or her homepage. Even if they tried to change these from another
computer, the home PC would be alerted."
"But," the article notes, "the programme would do nothing to prevent adults posing as teenagers, or stop children running an entirely separate profile from outside the home."

Now, I don't use MySpace...and I understand the desire to shift the burden of responsibility for underage users from the networking site to the parents...but if this software is easy enough for a technology-illiterate parent (such as one unable to create their own MySpace page and check out their kids'...) to use, doesn't that open up a whole new world of danger for the privacy of other MySpace users? As the title of the BBC article so forebodingly asks, "is the MySpace net closing in?"

Lowest Weekly Album Sales . . . Ever

The Dreamgirls Soundtrack was the #1 record in America last week -- and yet, it only scanned 60,000 units. According to Digital Music News, this is the lowest weekly total for a number one release since Soundscan began tracking such stats in 1991.

As a point of reference, NSync's No Strings Attached set a record for the fastest selling album ever back in 2001 with 2.4 million scans in its first week on the market. And as Chris Anderson predicted, "it’s altogether possible that NSync’s first-week record may never be broken."

In 2006, album sales dipped nearly 5% from the previous year. Will 2007 mark a tipping point for the major labels ?

(via Digital Music News)

Friday, January 19, 2007

Own a MacBook or MacBook Pro? Pay to activate your PreN.

Rumors have been spreading across the web over the past few days that Apple would be charging their MacBook and MacBook Pro customers for the firmware upgrade that would allow their network cards to connect to wireless PreN networks. The cards already happily connect to A, B, and G networks. One would assume that Apple would want to sell more of the new AirPort Extreme Base Stations and thus would push out the updates for free just like they push out iPod firmware updates for free.

However, the news today is that Apple will be charging $2 for the firmware for "accounting purposes"...

Is it just me or should Apple be charging some of their most recent customers and many of them "switchers" $2 so that they can use faster wireless networks? Why not give the software out for free?

(via cnet BuzzOutLoud)

Universal and Sony disallow Zune "Squirt"

One of the features of the new Microsoft Zune is the ability to "Squirt," or send songs to a friend's Zune which will play 3 times in 3 days and then disappear. To make their Zune platform even more palatable to the record labels, Microsoft gives Universal $1 for every Zune sold.

But, through the magic of some tricky DRM and a little back-biting, Sony and Universal are now disallowing squirting of selective songs. Heaven forbid that you let someone else listen to a popular track for 3 times and then they have the option to buy it.

(via engadget)

DJ Drama & Producer Timberland in DRM Mess

A popular mixtape artist DJ Drama has been cuffed and jailed for allegedly violating copyrights. The RIAA, upset over his "Gangsta Grillz" releases, tipped off the police to the situation. More than 80k CD were confiscated, along with vehicles and his recording gear.

DJ Drama makes mix tapes of other rappers and is generally viewed positively by those who participate in his projects. However, the record companies by whom the songs are recorded are usually not consulted upon the release - most don't care due to the high level of publicity afforded by the mix tapes.

On the other side of the world, high-profile producer Timberland has been accused of violating the copyright of a Finnish demo used in Nelly Furtado's song "Do It." The song, "Acidjazzed Evening," has been freely distributed up to this point - but the owner has never actually given up his rights to the song. The owner has enlisted the help of a law firm but has given no details about what his plans are.

(via arstechnica)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Difference is DRM

Aside from hygiene practices, car to bicycle ratio, and trucker hats vs. berets per capita, what is the difference between the US and France? The attitude toward DRM, apparently. According to this article, 4 U.S. senators are pushing to make DRM mandatory for podcasts and internet radio. One of them, CA's own Dianne Feinstein, discusses how people "do more" than just listen to music:

"What was once a passive listening experience has turned into a forum where users can record, manipulate, collect and create personalised music libraries.

"As the modes of distribution change and the technologies change, so must our laws change."

Contrast that attitude with this one of media giant VirginMega of France. After losing a suit with Apple to use their fair-play technologies, Virgin has decided to forego the whole DRM thing altogether and allow for the download of 200,000 256kbps mp3s without it.

My quandary is this: considering that Virgin is directly connected to profits of its label's music, and a senator's well-being and is, far as I know, not entirely contingent on any label profits, why do they care so much? How many DRM-afficionado votes do they need?

President Bush Signs Anti-Pretexting Bill Into Law

President Bush today signed into law a bill that outlaws Pretexting, or the act of posing as someone else to discover personal information. This is a technique often used by the MPAA to find out from a given ISP the personal information of alleged filesharers.

Pretexting began to come into the public light after the investigation by and eventual resignation of Patricia Dunn, a chairwoman of HP. The scandal that ensued was enough to drive media acceptance of the story, and from that point this bill was introducted (and passed) in the house in February 2006.

As was expected, there was a large backlash when this bill fully cleared congress in December, with the MPAA arguing that it needed the ability to use pretexting "...to stop illegal downloading." Lobbiests paid by the MPAA were confirmed to have been lobbying against the bill.

(via arstechnica)

First Pirated HD DVD Movie Weighs in at 19GB

It's only been a few weeks since Muslix64 bypassed HD DVD's DRM protection and now it appears the first HD DVD movie has made its way onto BitTorrent. The movie of choice is the sci-fi flick Serenity, which weighed in at 19.6GB. The .EVO file is playable on most DVD software packages like PowerDVD, the question is will people be willing to download such a hefty file and how will the Hollywood honchos respond? Either way it looks like it's score 1 for the Pirates, 0 for DRM.

Linux Creator Echoes Schneier

Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux, recently went on record calling DRM "hot air", claiming it "actually makes it harder for people to do what they want to do" with their computers and in the long run, is incredibly unsuccessful. Torvalds went on to argue what is essentially Bruce Schneier's point in The Futility of Digital Copy Prevention, that although DRM exists to halt consumers and computer-aficionados alike from doing waht they please with their purchased bits and bytes, breaking DRM is and always will be a surmountable obstacle. In this light, Torvalds claim that DRM doesn't "really matter that much" seems appropriate - although perhaps mildly dangerous in terms of rhetoric. (via slashdot)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Why It's Not Called DPM - Digital Piracy Management

A quick post on this Monday holiday: A fantastic and succinct argument on why and how DRM has little to do with piracy from arstechnica:
In a nutshell: DRM's sole purpose is to maximize revenues by minimizing your rights and selling them back to you.
The article goes on to illustrate this point with real world examples. One topic it does not broach, however, is how to reform DRM (or, in a prefect world, dismantle it) when those in charge of the content are also in charge of our rights. Any thoughts?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

iPhone - the roach motel business model

Randall Stross has a great op-ed in today's New York Times about how Apple's iPhone comes chock-full of DRM that will restrict your freedom and your consumer choice. He makes the great point that although Apple claims it adds its DRM (which locks you into buying Apple products) at the behest of the music industry, that many of the copyright holders whose work Apple sells in the music store have asked it to switch off the DRM. An Apple lawyer has gone on record saying that Apple would use DRM even if the music industry didn't want it.

It's ironic that a company whose name is synonymous with "Switch" has built its entire product strategy around lock-in. The iTunes/iPhone/iPod combo is a roach-motel: customers check in, but they can't check out.

And it doesn't stop with the iTunes DRM. Apple and Cingular have been trumpeting the technical prowess they've deployed in locking iPhone to the Cingular network, to be sure that no one can switch carriers with their iPhones. Even the Copyright Office has recognized that locking handsets to carriers is bad for competition and bad for the public.

There's another thing you can't switch with the iPhone: the software it runs. You can't install third-party apps on handset. Steve Jobs claims that this is because running your own code on a phone could crash the phone network, which must be news to all those Treo owners running around on Cingular's own network without causing a telecoms meltdown.

Lock-in isn't good for you. Does anyone really believe that Apple will make better products if its customers aren't free to switch to a competitor? Or that Cingular's network and pricing will be improved by lock-in?

Even if you are ready to pledge a lifetime commitment to the iPod as your only brand of portable music player or to the iPhone as your only cellphone once it is released, you may find that FairPlay copy protection will, sooner or later, cause you grief. You are always going to have to buy Apple stuff. Forever and ever. Because your iTunes will not play on anyone else’s hardware.
Link(Thanks, Robby and Craig!)

(Thumbnail of image taken from an illustration by Christophe Vorlet)

See also:
Apple sued for iTunes/iPod monopoly tying
Anti-iTunes DRM demonstrations across the USA tomorrow
Apple steals iTunes customers' paid-for rights to stream
Apple to iPod owners: "Eat shit and die"
How iTunes is bad for the music industry and the public
Why Apple is to blame for iTunes DRM
Indie band pulls out of iTunes, cites "crippled DRM"
Hillary "RIAA" Rosen: iPod DRM is cruel and unfriendly!
iTunes phone gratuitously crippled by DRM
Music labels: DRM makes you into iTunes' love-slave
Protect your investment: buy open

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Vista "suicide note" researcher interview on Security Now

The excellent Security Now podcast just aired an interview with Peter Guttman, the security researcher who wrote the celebrated "A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection" (this is the paper whose "executive executive summary" read simply, "The Vista Content Protection specification could very well constitute the longest suicide note in history").

Guttman has really dug into the crazy extremes that Vista -- the next version of Windows -- goes to in order to restrict how you use high-definition video. The operating system has been essentially rendered useless by a set of deliberately introduced malfunctions. For example, the if your computer detects erroneous data in its registers, or voltage fluctuations (both of which are typical of PCs whose parts have been manufactured by dozens of companies), it will restart major subsystems, hanging up while it flushes all your data -- just in case those errors were part of a hack-attack on the system.

Vista is a disaster. Microsoft is so desperate to get the entertainment industry locked into its platform that they'll destroy themselves to get there. This is an operating system that, when idle, will have to check itself every 30 microseconds to make sure nothing is still happening, and no hackers are attacking it. It acts like an unmedicated paranoid. If Vista catches on, hundreds of millions of computers will be burning heptillions of cycles and tons of coal just making sure that no one is putting a voltmeter on the traces on its motherboard.

And those are its good points.

And what it means is that so many aspects of our PCs, which have been fully documented, been public domain, been anyone could develop a display card, for example, that’s no longer the case. If you’re going to have any foot in this next-generation game, you have to sign up and apparently pay hefty license fees just to participate. And if you don’t get certificates, which are subject to spontaneous revocation, if you then subsequently misbehave, or in fact I read one of the AACS organization documents said that you could be revoked if you failed to pay your annual dues.

See also:
Great information-security weekly podcast
Windows Vista: Suicide notes, nerdcore rap MP3

Doom9 Forums Posters Find First Crack for AACS-Encoded HDDVDs

Using a Japanese version of WinDVD HD, Doom9 forum-goers (with an extremely helpful tip from Muslix64) have uncovered a way to determine the title and volume unique keys of any AACS encoded HD-DVD. While this is not permanent, it will allow users to decrypt any movies that are currently in release.

The trick is based around the "known-plaintext attack" that allows users to find the volume and title keys in predictable places in memory every time. Using these keys and BackupHDDVD, users can decrypt any AACS-encoded HD-DVD.

There will be a fix for this released by media companies. The current DRM scheme will allow them to disallow new discs to be decrypted by players it deems untrustworthy, so with the next set of releases there is no doubt that this specific version of WinDVD will be put on the playback blacklist.

Update: There appears to be a similar weakness in the recently released PowerDVD 7.1

Friday, January 12, 2007

PirateBay Plans to Buy Sealand and Become Own Country

Once again via digg, it looks as though the pirate bay folks are (very) interested in purchasing a man made island a few nautical miles off the coast of England.

Bittorrent tracker PirateBay.org, currently based in Sweden, plans to purchase the man-made island-country, Sealand, off the coast of the UK. Sealand is its own country, and the PirateBay would not be subject to the jurisdiction of any nations if it relocated to the island. TPB is seaking donations to help go through with this plan.

I'm having a hard time making sure that this is for real. The site and news regarding the possible purchase seem legit, but the asking price of the nation seems way too high. I'm guessing they're at least somewhat sincere about this, since the current TPB splash page displays an image of Sealand itself. Still, I can't help but think that this is a huge joke. Either way it's super cool.

jam + crescendo = jamendo

jamendo is one of several new sites attempting to flip the script on the gasping, grasping music industry by providing free, Creative Commons-licensed music to a community of listeners who can donate and support artists that they like. jamendo's unique distribution system minimizes their bandwidth overhead by providing album downloads via BitTorrent and eMule. Much of the site content reflects its French origin, but there's an honest effort to globalize the site by encouraging translation and narrow-by-language options. As an electronica fan with few options in a narrowing media environment, I was honestly surprised by the quality of electronic music being presented on the site.

From the Jamendo FAQ for Artists:
"Why put my music online for free? That is the most important point, also the most obvious! To convince you, we let yourself answer to these questions [sic]:
What is the share that an artist has on its CD sales?
How many artists can really make a living from the sales of their albums, without making concerts?
Among general public, how many young people still buy CDs?"


Thursday, January 11, 2007

MPAA Caught Uploading Fake Torrents

Via digg, the guys over at torrentfreak recently posted this story regarding industry released torrents used for IP logging/tracing which have been spreading out across torrent search engine sites for some time now (including ones that aren't being blacklisted by peerguardian as of yet). However, torrent users are quickly finding ways to thwart the MPAA's plans:

One of the btjunkie admins has found a unique way to identify trackers that host these fake files, which makes it easy to efficiently remove them.

Virtually all the servers that spread these fake files are located in Southern California and Las Vegas. The administrators of these servers follow patterns that make it easy to identify them. The content of the trackers and seed amounts make them stand out. There are more unique characteristics, but we wont reveal all the tricks because they could take counter measures...

Be sure to check the "UPDATE" on the bottom of the page for the MPAA's smoking gun.

Provider-Free Cable Boxes

According to this /. article, the FCC ruled that "starting July 1st, cable boxes distributed by cable companies must not be tied directly to a cable provider via internal security features." Now if only mobile phones (::cough:: iPhone ::cough::) and their providers followed the same rule...

Apple vs. Cisco or: The Tyranny of "i"

On the surface, the Apple vs. Cisco snafu over the former's lack of regard for the latter's possession of the "iPhone" trademark might appear to be simple matter of two bickering tech companies, but a look at the reporting done by ZDNet reveals a couple of interesting tidbits:

You may wonder, is Cisco doing this just to try to get more money from Apple? They claim that all they want is interoperability. In the company blog, Mark Chandler, Cisco's SVP and General Counsel writes:

What were the issues at the table that kept us from an agreement? Was it money? No. Was it a royalty on every Apple phone? No. Was it an exchange for Cisco products or services? No.

Fundamentally we wanted an open approach. We hoped our products could interoperate in the future. In our view, the network provides the basis to make this happen—it provides the foundation of innovation that allows converged devices to deliver the services that consumers want. Our goal was to take that to the next level by facilitating collaboration with Apple. And we wanted to make sure to differentiate the brands in a way that could work for both companies and not confuse people, since our products combine both web access and voice telephony. That’s it. Openness and clarity.

While Apple's negligence in obtaining the "iPhone" name comes off as pretty arrogant, the idea of using copyright to, for lack of a better word, extort interoperability is an interesting proposition. It's not the same as the patent troll corporations who acquire patents and copyrights for the sole purpose of suing other companies (à la SCO vs. Linux); Cisco seems to have a rather reasonable goal. It's hard to argue against the merits of interoperability. I'm curious to see how this plays out.

PS: How wed to that i is Apple? When the iMac came out it stood for "internet," but its now lost any real significance. How about a little more creativity?

AACS Proclaimed "Obsolete" by Alex Halderman et al.

Following Muslix64's recent release of BackupHDDVD on the doom9 forums, Alex Halderman and several of his students have touted the software as the first step in rendering AACS obsolete.

BackupHDDVD is designed to, with an already determined key, strip high definition media (HDDVD or BRD) of its encryption and allow a user to copy the data any way (s)he wishes. Each Blu-Ray or HD-DVD movie has a key that must be known in order to decrypt and play the movie - as of yet there are no known ways to determine a key from a specific disc.

It's only a matter of time before the community rises to the task.

Top 40 Song Only Available by Download

According to a BBC News article, early reports show that Koopa could become the first unsigned group to make it into the UK top 40, thanks to a song of theirs that is currently only available by download. Their place on the chart would be due to new chart rules that count all single sales, not just singles released on physical media.

Further, their manager estimates that most sales are conducted by SMS, not online store. All I can say is: RIAA, Clear Channel, take note--the times they are a-changin'.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Google Books Team seems Confused

First they caught all sorts of heat from authors and publishers for scanning copyrighted works (not from Cory, though!).

Now the people at Google Blogoscoped are reporting that the usage guidelines for Google Book Search may impose copyright-like restrictions on works that aren't copyrighted! They state:

Google Book Search allows you to download full PDFs of books which are in the copyright-free zone of the public domain. I think Google, as well as the libraries which offered their books to be scanned by Google, deserve credit for this. However, Google wants to impose some restrictions for those books, and in their usage guidelines ask you to:

Make non-commercial use of the files ... we request that you use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes. ...

Maintain attribution ... Please do not remove [the Google “watermark"].

Upon further investigation, however, this seems like more of a problem with unclear language than an actual copyright issue. This post from the Blogoscoped article's comments section seems reasonable to me: What it says is that Google isn't trying to stop you from copying the content, which is in the public domain, but from copying and profiting from the scans they made.

There is actually a lot of good discussion going on in the comments section—definitely worth checking out. I have to admit, though, if Google Books seems confused, I'm beyond perplexed.

Apple TV device doesn't use DRM

An anonymous friend at an MPAA member-company sez,
Now that my NDA issues are gone, a little tidbit for you.

The Apple TV device has HDMI and component outputs. As of the launch, it doesn't have the HDCP anti-copying technology.

As you might imagine, this is an issue to media companies
and they aren't sure if they'll supply HD content.
They want money but they want 'security'.

Consider that the Xbox 360 has video component HD out (no HDCP) and
the Apple TV will have HDMI and component out (no HDCP).

Is the de facto standard now set by Apple & Microsoft?
Funny to hear that Apple is refusing to put DRM on its high-def TV offerings -- expecially after Steve Jobs told the entertainment industry never to release HD material on DVD, unless tech companies promised not to make HD-capable DVD burners.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Amazon ebook DRM - changing the deal

Mark Pesce suggested I let you know about an
Amazon.com DRM incident. I had contacted their
Customer Service to recover some Adobe eBooks
downloaded in 2005 that had been lost to
computer crashes that destroyed my drive and
backups. However, Amazon.com had pulled all
Adobe & Microsoft-related content from customer
Digital Lockers around August 2006, after it
made a deal with Mobipocket.

Amazon.com's Customer Service claimed its
current policy was that the DRM content was
only available for 30 days after purchase, and
that these "limitations" were to "protect the
copyrights of the authors and publishers
involved with the title."

I pointed out that:
- The 30-day policy wasn't in place when the
material was purchased, and that it had been
available until Amazon.com's Mobipocket deal.
- The Adobe & Microsoft DRM---very problematic
to use---had been designed to protect authors
& publisher rights.
- Amazon.com made the policy change without
informing its customers, who had used the DRM
scheme in the first place because of Amazon.com,
Adobe & Microsoft's reputations.
- The policy illustrates customers' concerns
that DRM purchases are no longer available if
problems occur.

Thought this might interest you. Thanks for
your great BoingBoing work and projects.


Alex Burns

-- Alex Burns (alex@disinfo.com) Editor, Disinformation (www.disinfo.com) Senior Researcher, Smart Internet CRC (www.smartinternet.com.au

AllOfMP3 - the model forDRM-free music stores?

So, my remaining credit at AllofMP3 ran out today after a buying splurge that included several bands I never head of, but liked the names of...sort of the way I used to buy $5.00 albums back in 1985. Ah, the awesome cover of the Damned's "Grimly Fiendish", which I bought song unseen based on the covered, was briefly disappointed by, then loved ,and now love even more knowing it's connection to an old British comic thanks to Alan Moore's "Albion" series.

My point is that I had previously put 70 bucks into an AllOfMP3 account, and I blew it all either checking out bands (13 purchases), or buying stuff I used to have and love on vinyl. I have never spent any money on a DRM-based system, and wouldn't because, well, I am not a chump. But I will certainly blow reasonable money for songs, if it were going to the artists. Oh, music companies...I have bad news. My legal, ripped from CDs music collection is over 6,500 songs. I know that you don't realize this, but my huge (legal) music collection actually reduces the value of future music. Let's say I buy a new 10 song collection from a band...it's a tiny, tiny fraction of my collection. I will listen to it a little, but not more than about a dollar's wroth to me - low quality recoding, no packaging or media. Grow up and realize that your product is worth about a dollar per album, but you have a market of millions willing to pay that, and it costs you about 8 cents (assuming that you automate Pandora style "Like this?/Like this! recommendations. ) I know that it really, really sucks to be replaced by computers, but I can't help you there...I work in Sarbanes Oxley compliance, where I tell people everyday that I could replaced with about 340 developer hours of log report automation, but no one will listen, so I keep getting paid $120K to copy shit out of reports and manually review logs.

We all have problems.

If you use this, attribute it anonymously, to cult@shinra.com, and with a url link of www.shinra.com. My cult needs members - none of these bastards donate a thing. Will one of you at least bother to look at Shinra.com. a cult that is way better than any dumb pasta based deity that expects to believe in a particular thing, while we encourage people to believe any stupid thing they want, so long as their checks clear?

I have yet to even think twice about an ALLOFMP3 purchase. They are all spur of the moment, I don't regret them, and god bless their souls, I even bought a copy of Pink's "Get This Party Started". Grow up, tune in, drop ownership barriers.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Vital stats

This class is held on Tuesday afternoons, from 3:30-6:10PM in the Annenberg School for Communications, Room 232.

Office hours are by appointment. Email me to set up an appointment.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Do this today

Welcome, students! (Others, ignore this). Here's your first assignment -- get set up on the course mailing list, blog and file-repository.

Email me your email address right away. I'll sign you up for the class blog and the private class Yahoo! group.

BLOG: The whole world can read the blog. You're expected to post here with news and tidbits and thoughts based on our readings.

MAILING LIST: Only students (and me) can read the mailing list. It's a place to have off-the-record conversation.

FILE REPOSITORY: This is where you'll find some of the unpublished and offline readings, such as Hacking the Xbox, The Anarchist in the Library and Copyright's Authorship Policy.



Is everyone on this campus a copyright criminal?

Cory Doctorow, doctorow@craphound.com


Computers present a myriad of possibilities for your average totalitarian megalomaniac, whether he be a despotic ruler, a corporate overlord, or merely in charge of the local IT department.

Computers attained ubiquity because they were flexible tools that even moderately skilled users could modify to suit their needs, fit them to their own hands. This flexibility fostered an incredible Cambrian explosion of sub-tools: programs, services, even culture and art-forms built around the idea of configuring the world. The new freedoms offered by computers beggared even the most starry-eyed Utopian: not only could a smart tinkerer whip up a tool that did just what she needed, she could instantaneously share it with the whole world in seconds at practically no cost. Entire new modes of industrial production -- what Yochai Benkler calls "commons-based peer-production" (open source, free software, collaborative art and media, etc) -- sprang up.

Every garden has a snake: computers aren't just tools for empowering their owners. They're also tools for stripping users of agency, for controlling us individually and en masse.

It starts with "Digital Rights Management" -- the anti-copying measures that computers employ to frustrate their owners desires. These technologies literally attack their owners, treating them as menaces to be thwarted through force majeure, deceit, and cunning. Incredibly, DRM gets special protection under the law, a blanket prohibition on breaking DRM or helping others to do so, even if you have the right to access the work the DRM is walling off.

But DRM's just the tip of the iceberg. Every digital act includes an act of copying, and that means that copyright governs every relationship in the digital realm. Take a conversation to email and it's not just culture, it's copyright -- every volley is bound by the rules set out to govern the interactions between large publishing entities.

Playing a song for a buddy with your stereo is lawful. Stream that song to your buddy's PC and you could be facing expulsion and criminal prosecution.

Every interaction on the Web is now larded over with "agreements" -- terms of service, acceptable use policies, licenses -- that no one reads or negotiates. These non-negotiable terms strip you of your rights the minute you click your mouse. Transactions that would be a traditional purchase in meatspace are complex "license agreements" in cyberspace. As mere licensors, we are as feudal serfs to a lord -- ownership is conferred only on those who are lucky enough to be setting the terms. Our real property interests are secondary to their "intellectual property" claims.

When the computer, the network, publishing platforms, and property can all be magicked away with the Intellectual Property wand, we're all of us pwned, 0wnz0red, punkd. Our tools are turned against us, the law is tipped away from our favor.


Attendance and Participation (10%): Overall attendance and participation in class discussion will be accounted for in the final grade.

Research Project (30%): Students will choose an area from the seminar and conduct an exhaustive review of key literature, presenting a comprehensive overview of the key texts, debates, and issues of controversy. Topics will need to be approved by the course instructor and students will be encouraged to utilize new media and technologies to present their research in alternative formats and in a public forum.

Weekly Assignments (60%): Students will be responsible for a semester-long project which analyzes the history, use, and trajectory of property and ownership in the digital era.They will trace and contextualize that technology by completing weekly assignments which track its use and development.


WEEK 1: 1/9/2007


An overview of the course's themes, objectives and assignments.

WEEK 2: 1/16

Security basics:

Lecture, discussions and readings on the basics of information security, from Augustus Caesar to Alan Turing; from the crypto wars to the DRM wars.

Bruce Schneier, Everybody Wants to Own Your PC

-, The Futility of Digital Copy Prevention

-, Protecting Copyright in the Digital World

Peter Biddle et al, The Darknet and the Future of Content Protection

WEEK 3: 1/23/2007

Reverse engineering:

The legitimate case for reverse engineering in the academy and industry from a UCSD engineering prof whose award-winning work focuses on the use of reverse engineering in pedagogy and as a tool of social analysis.

Bunnie Huang, Hacking the X-Box: An Introduction to Reverse Engineering
No Starch Press, 2003 (1593270291)
Chapters: Readme.1st, Reverse Engineering Xbox Security, Caveat Hacker

Ed Felten, Alex Halderman, Freedom to Tinker (blog)

Feral Robotic Dogs (website)

WEEK 4: 1/30

Use restriction: Stories of DRM breaks, from DVD-Jon and the DeCSS break against DVD players to Microsoft's Palladium and Seth Schoen's Owner Override proposal to restore control of "trusted" PCs to their owners.

Mark Stefik, Trusted Systems (article)

Cory Doctorow, Microsoft DRM speech

Cory Doctorow, HP DRM speech

Peter Gutmann, A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection

WEEK 5: 6/2/2007

Present day DRMs:

HDCP, AACS, Blu-Ray, DVD-HD, CPRM, Fair Play and beyond.

Seth Schoen, Owner Override paper

Seth Schoen, report from WinHeck

Halderman and Felten, Lessons from the Sony CD DRM Episode

Project DReaM -- An Architectural Overview

WEEK 6: 2/13/2007

History of copyright 1: The history of copyright and its industrial applications. Critical readings stress the dynamic tension between copyright and technology and the way that they have co-evolved. Class discussion will talk about the role of anti-Japanese sentiment during the VCR wars in setting Zaibatsu lobbying strategy in the US.

Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture
Read chapters 1-5: http://www.free-culture.cc/freecontent/

Siva Vaidhyanathan, Anarchist in the Library
Basic Books, 2005, 0465089852
Read chapters 2, 4, 6 ,7 and 10

WEEK 7: 2/20/2007

History of copyright 2: The history of copyright and its industrial applications. Critical readings stress the dynamic tension between copyright and technology and the way that they have co-evolved. Class discussion will talk about the role of anti-Japanese sentiment during the VCR wars in setting Zaibatsu lobbying strategy in the US.

Tim Wu, Copyright's Communications Policy

Pam Samuelson, Towards More Sensible Anti-Circumvention Regulations

WEEK 8: 2/27/2007
Copyright and new business models:Internet-era businesses sometimes thrive in the face of copying. Readings include works on effective Internet-era business-models.

John Buckman, Magnatunes Manifesto

Neil Leyton, FadingWays manifesto

Cory Doctorow, Introduction to electronic edition of Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town

WEEK 9: 3/6/2007

Copyright and new business models (cont'd)

Tim O'Reilly, Piracy is Progressive Taxation

Debian social contract

Neil Stephenson, In the Beginning...Was the Command Line

Tim Wu, Copyright's Authorship Policy

Long Tail readings:
The Long Tail, Chris Anderson, Wired, Oct 2004

Long tail and copyright, Chris Anderson

Death of the Blockbuster

Life-Expectancy of Bestsellers

WEEK 10: 3/20/2007

Standards and treaties part 1

Standards and treaties: The actions of international consortia, treaty bodies, and standards groups have far-reaching effects on law, technology and commerce. Yet the action of these bodies is obscure and little-regarded. Recent activist participation in these bodies has shone the first light into their activities. This is public diplomacy for the rest of us, storming the gates of the UN.

Cory Doctorow, et al: DRM: A Failure in the Developed World, a Danger to the Developing world

Access to Knowledge treaty draft

Adelphi Charter

Geneva Declaration

Declaration on the Development Agenda

WEEK 11: 3/27/2007

Laws: How copyright and related laws get made and passed.

EFF's Annotations to the MPAA Broadcast Flag FAQ

MPAA Content Protection Status Report

RIAA/CEA exchange on digital radio


WEEK 12: 4/3/2007

Laws, part 2

Jack Valenti 1982 Congressional testimony on Betamax

Lehman Report to the 1995 National Information Infrastructure commission

Pam Samuelson, The Copyright Grabhttp://www.wired.com/wired/archive/4.01/white.paper_pr.html

WEEK 13: 4/10/2007

Command and control dystopia: What it could mean to live in a world of ubiquitous command-and-control devices that respond to others' wishes instead of your own.

Richard Stallman, The Right to Read

Cory Doctorow, 0wnz0red

Ed Felten, Rip, Mix, Burn, Sue (transcript)

Wendy Seltzer, The Broadcast Flag: It's Not Just About TV

WEEK 14: 4/17/2007

Modern copyright and technology: Technology restrictions in practice -- Broadcast Flags, next-generation DVDs, Coral and other DRM consortia. Critical readings stress the unintended consequences of these laws for competition, innovation and freedom of expression.

Joint Report of the Chairs of the Broadcast Protection Discussion Group

EFF response to above

CPCM Blue Book

WEEK 15: 4/24/2007

Modern copyright 2

Fred von Lohmann, Unintended consequences

Tom Giovanetti, IP Blog

Coral Alliance site

Presentation of major papers


The Annenberg School for Communication is committed to upholding the University's Academic Integrity Code as detailed in the campus guide. It is the policy of the School of Communication to report all violations of the code. Any serious violations of the Academic Integrity Code will result in the student's expulsion from the School of Communication.


Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP. Please be sure the letter is delivered to the instructor as early in the semester as possible. DSP is located in STU 301 and is open 8:30 am - 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. The phone number for DSP is (213) 740-0776.