Dale Dietrich
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Posts from — August 2006

Microsoft’s PlayForSure DRM Successfully Hacked

Categories: DRM Arms RaceDRM Circumvention

Like Hymn did to iTunes' "FairPlay" in the past, FairUse4WM does to Microsoft's PlayForSure DRM. Engadget and others are reporting that FairUse4WM successfully strips out Windows Media Player's DRM 10 and 11, but not DRM 9. There is little doubt that Microsoft will quickly address this issues as Apple did before it (see "Apple Brings Discord to Hymn" on January 13, 2005).

Dale's Comment: With Hymn, the purchaser of music was able to strip out iTunes copy-protection technology so that the purchaser can exercise their fair use rights with their purchased content on any device. To the extent FairUse4WM does this for purchased content I believe the law should permit its use. However, use of FairUse4WM on songs accessed through music subscription services (such as Napster) hardly seems fair. The idea behind these services is that users are paying for short term rentals only – not purchases. As such, there is no credible fair use argument that can be made in the music rental case. The user is not purchasing the songs and therefore has no fair right to continue using the music after the subscription period is over. While I oppose DMCA-like Technological Protective Measures (TPM) restrictions on the consumer's use of content that is purchased by consumers, contrary to argument made in Engadget's open letter to Mirosoft, I wholly support it in the context of content rented by consumers via subscription services. In any event, I suspect like Apple before it, Microsoft will quickly send out a patch to nullify FairUse4WM.

Sources: Engadget | Engadget 2 (open letter to MS) | Gizmodo | eHomeUpgrade | techdirt

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Blockbuster Anti-Trust Countersuit Against Netflix to Proceed

Categories: AntitrustNew Business ModelsPatents

In response to Netflix’s patent infringement lawsuit launched against Blockbuster last April, Blockbuster filed an anti-trust counter suit against Netflix. Netflix asked the court to dismiss the counter suit, split the suits in two and/or postpone discovery on the second until the first was resolved. U.S. District Judge William Alsup rejected all three motions.

Sources: ars technica | CNet | San Jose Mercury News (AP) | Out-law.com | Hollywood Reporter, Esq. | Hollywood Reporter | Reuters

Other Netflix-related Posts

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iMesh Raises BearShare from the Dead and Takes it ‘Legit’

Categories: BigMedia v P2P ProvidersNew Business ModelsSettlements

Back on May 9 I reported that the Free Peers had settled with the RIAA for $30M, shut down its BearShare P2P service and sold the BearShare assets to iMesh owner Musiclab. As it turns out, like Kazza before it, iMesh is re-introducing a new version of Bearshare (version 6 – currently in beta). BearShare 6 includes a “ToGo” portable music subscription, compatible with Windows Plays for Sure portable music players, as well as social networking features. The service will not be compatible with iTunes, iPods or the forthcoming Zune service from Microsoft. Subscribers will have access to 15 million songs, including 2.5 million from major labels. It will start with a free 30-day beta trial and eventually start charging a monthly fee.

Sources: MP3.com | TechWeb | Business Wire | ZD Net | Reuters | iTnews Australia | P2P Weblog | BetaNews

Related P2P Going ‘Legit’ Posts:

Related iMesh/Bearshare Posts:

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Could Google’s Mountain View WiFi Be a Response/Solution to Net Neutrality?

Categories: Net NeutralityWiFi Access

The often controversial John C. Dvorak makes an interesting point in his August 21 PC Magazine editorial – “The Google Ploy – A Revolution“. Google, an ardent supporter of Net Neutrality, has recently completed wiring Mountain View (it’s home city) with free municiple WiFi. The first such successfully wired city in America. Google is also wiring San Francisco. In his article, Dvorak makes the point that Google could very-well profitably monetize this free service and use it as a profitable model for city-by-city WiFi rollouts nation-wide. While perhaps not Google’s original intention, as the cable companies and telephone companies have been talking about the need for tiered services (along with tiered pricing for the likes of Google and Microsoft), if Google were to pull this off, this could result in the ultimate end-run around local telco/cable-co duopolies and, in so doing, do away with the need for net-neutrality legislation altogether. He makes a very interesting argument.

Source: John C. Dvorak Article: The Google Ploy – A Revolution?  |  The Register

Google Wires Mountain View Articles: Google’s Mountain View WiFi Support Page  |  Wired  |  San Jose Mercury News  |  San Francisco Chronicle  |  Palo Alto Online  |  PC Magazine  |  PC Pro  |  Gizmodo  |  Mac Newsworld  |  GigaOM  |  Playfuls

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Weird Al Yankovic’s New Single: Don’t Download this Song

Categories: Artists Against DRMDRM-Free ServicesHumourNew Business Models

Click Here to Download the Song (MP3)

To a melody quite reminiscent of "We are the World" (hum… any copyright violations there?), the irreverent Weird Al Yankovic has come out with a new single entitled: "Don't Download this Song" and promptly makes it available for download without any DRM/TPM restrictions. Some choice lyrics:

"Cause you'll start out stealing songs, but then you're robbing liquor stores and selling crack and running over school kids with your car"

"It doesn’t matter if you’re a grandma or a seven year-old girl, they’ll treat you like the evil, hard bitten criminal scum you are."

Sources: Don't Download this Song Website | Wired Blog | MP3.com | Cinema Blend | MP3 Newswire | P2PNet

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TiVo Wins Injunction Against Echostar – Appeals Court Grants a Temporary Stay

Categories: InjunctionsPatents

Text of Injunction Order
Note: I’ll post a better version of the order when I find one.
Following on TiVo’s $73.9 million victory at trial against Echostar last April, Echostar has been ordered to disable DVRs used by several million of its customers within 30 days. TiVo did NOT win the treble damages order it requested but it did win an additional $5.4 million in interest and $10.3 million more in supplemental damages bringing the amount to nearly $90 million. While Judge Folsom denied Echostar’s request to stay the injunction pending appeal, within hours of the ruling Echostar reports that the order has been temporarily stayed by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

Sources: ZDNet | Davis Freeberg | M.C. Smith Blog | MSNBC | Red Herring | Bloomberg | L.A. Times (AP) | Engadget 1 | Engadget 2 | MacNewsWorld | CNet (Reuters) | SiliconValley.com | TheStreet.com | Houston Chronicle (AP) | CIO | MarketWatch | CBS | HD Beat | PVR Wire | ars technica | Broadcasting & Cable | The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. | Multichannel News

Engadget Podcast (first 8 minutes) on the topic.

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Music Industry Targets Guitar Tab Sites

Categories: Big Media v InternetDMCA-like Laws

In response to DMCA take-down letters sent by the NMPA and the MPA, guitar tablature sites “Guitar Tab Universe” and the “Online Guitar Archive” have shut down their online tab sites. This follows recent successful efforts by the music industry to shut down music lyric websites.

Sources: ars technica | | New York Times Pittsburgh Tribute-Review | Cybergrass | Lowellsun.com | Audiophile Audition | Music Student & Teather Org | Guitar Tab Universe Statement | Music Publishers’ Association Statement

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Music Industry Sues Limewire

Categories: BigMedia v P2P Providers

Text of Complaint
Text of LimeWire’s Counter Claim
Like Napster, Kazaa, Grokster, Streamcast, Bearshare and others before it, the music industry has set its legal sights on LimeWire, a leading P2P content distribution service. In a suit filed in Manhattan federal court, the record companies accuse LimeWire of profiting from illicit downloads of their music, saying “the scope of the infringement is massive”. In the complaint they are accused of contributory copyright infringement, vicarious copyright infringement, and, uniquely, common law copyright infringement. In September of 2005, Limewire and other P2P software providers were served with cease and desist letters. Since then BearShare, eDonkey and WinMX all ceased operations as a result of the letter. LimeWire continued.

Sources: CNet | Slyck | L.A. Times (AP) | DRM Watch | ZDNet | Silicon.com | Afterdawn | CD Freaks | Reuters

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John Edwards Uses BitTorrent

Categories: Big Media Makes Progress

John Edward’s use of BitTorrent to distribute his speeches and campaign materials hopefully demonstrates his awareness and understanding of the usefulness/importance of emerging distribution technologies.

Sources: TorrentFreak.com  |  Scripting.com
Dale’s Comment: As was the case with Al Gore before him, we could use more people in office who understand how the Internet works. Then again, all this may prove is that John Edward’s handlers understand how the Internet works. In any event, his use of BitTorrent gives me greater comfort than Senator Ted Steven’s ‘series of tubes’ understanding of how the Internet works. On a related note, I have been listening to Senator Barack Obama’s podcasts since I first started listening to podcasts last October. He too clearly understands the importance of emerging technologies.

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Millionaire Shawn Hogan to Fight Back against the MPAA

Categories: BigMedia v. P2P UsersCases

Last November the MPAA accused millionaire Shawn Hogan of illegally downloading Meet the Fockers over BitTorrent. Hogan denies the accusation and has vowed to fight the MPAA's "abuse" of the system. Many defendants to such RIAA/MPAA driven actions pay up because they can't afford the legal bills to fight them. According to Hogan:

"Someone has to stand up to these clowns… their scare tactics make them sounds pretty foolish IMO. First of all, I would rather spend $US100,000 and not pay them $US2,500 than to just give them $US2,500 (it's about the principle)."

Sources: Wired | Shawn Hogan's Blog | Fool.com | The Age | Slate.com | Bit-tech | Afterdawn.com | DVD-Recordable.org | Neoseeker | Filmfodder News

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France’s Diluted iTunes Plan Becomes Law

Categories: DRM as Market LockDRM Restricting UseInternational Legal Reform

The final watered-down law requires that Apple and others with proprietary music DRM formats merely respond to competitive requests for information necessary to make their products compatible with proprietary formats – at the expense of the company requesting interoperability. This is very different from the original proposed law that would have permitted consumers to break the proprietary DRM if Apple (or others) did not permit/work with competitors to develop interoperable products.

Sources: CNet | Engadget | Silicon.com | Macworld | FT.com | San Jose Mercury News (AP) | CBS | MSNBC.com | Out-Law.com | ZD-Net | DRM-Watch

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HD-DVD and Blu-ray Reportedly Successfully Hacked via PrintScreen

Categories: DRM Arms RaceDRM CircumventionHD-DVD/Blu-ray

Like DVD's CSS before it, it appears that HD-DVD and Blue-ray have, at least partially, been successfully hacked by a relatively low-tech means that has been discussed in various Internet forums for the last few weeks. Specifically, Windows' PrintScreen function was used by a scripting program to capture each frame of both an HD-DVD and a Blu-ray movie. The resulting approximately 162,000 frames were stitched together in real time to create a viewable 324 GP HD movie. No word yet on whether they were able to successfully synchronize the movie's audio with the resultant movie. Presumably, this process could be further refined to compress the resulting file to a more manageable size. 

[January 1, 2007 Update:  Paul Thurott mentioned on one of his late 06 or early 07 Windows Weekly podcasts that Vista has disabled the "print screen" function when HD-DVD and Blu-ray movies are played at full resolution within Vista – thus removing this hack possibility from Vista-based PCs. But, this is hardly a solution. All it takes is for one person using an XP-based PC to hack an HD title in this way and it will be circulating the globe within minutes through BitTorrent and other P2P technologies.]

Sources: ars technica | HDTV UK

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Southpark’s Take on Free Music Downloads

Categories: BigMedia v. P2P UsersHumour

In this Southpark clip, the South Park gang learns an important lesson on how downloading music from the Internet harms recording artists – :)

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RIAA Drops Open WiFi Case – Virgin v. Marson

Categories: BigMedia v. P2P UsersCasesWiFi Access

Text of Order to Dismiss (Jan 24, 2006)

In an earlier post I had noted that an open WiFi connection could act as an affirmative defense against the RIAA's IP-centric lawsuit tactics because anyone could have been using a defendant's open (ie: non-encrypted) WiFi connection to download P2P content. It appears the RIAA dropped a case on that exact basis back on January 24, 2006.

Sources: Recording Industry v. The People | Bit-tech.net | P2P-Weblog | P2PNet | Techdirt 1 | Techdirt 2 | ars technica | Register | Neoseeker

Related Article: Salon.com

Dale's Update [Aug 4, 2006): The original reports about this case mentioned that Ms. Marson had an open WiFi and that was the basis of the dismissal. The later reports, see for instance the ars technica report, are now saying that Ms. Marson a cheerleader teacher that had hundreds of girls come to her house, anyone of which could have used her computer to download music. Some reports (eg: the register) say both defenses were used. The net result, however, still seems to be the same. When you can show evidence that someone other than the IP address owner/user had access to Internet connectivity through that IP address, that may very well be an affirmative defense – as would be the case with a computer with open WiFi. While ars technica is quite right that no judgment has yet turned on this point, it seems to me evidence of an open WiFi would be at least as compelling a defense. And who knows, the RIAA may already have dropped open-WiFi defense cases without disclosing this to the public.

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NYTimes: New File Sharing Techniques Are Likely to Test Court Decision

Categories: BigMedia v NewTechBigMedia v P2P ProvidersNew Tech