Dale Dietrich
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Category — DRM & TPMs

Microsoft Issues Takedown Notices for Sites Hosting FairUse4WM

Categories: DRM Arms Race

Microsoft & Viodentia Play Cat & Mouse with DRM-Circumvention Tool FairUse4WM

Categories: DRM Arms RaceDRM Circumvention

Microsoft has been playing cat and mouse with the creator of FairUse4WM, a lone programmer who calls himself Viodentia. FairUse4WMV was first released by Viodentia on the Internet on August 19. Engadget first broke the story on August 25th. Microsoft released its first fix on August 28, but that was thwarted three days later by the release of an updated version of FairUse4WM. As of this posting, no new Microsoft fix has been released. In the mean time broadcaster BSkyB has stopped its broadband movie download service until Microsoft secures its DRM system. Other content download services such as Movielink, RealNetworks and MTV's Urge service use Microsoft's PlayforSure technology and are equally vulnerable.

Sources: New York Times | CNet News | Top Tech News | L.A. Times (AP) | CCRC | ZDNet Blogs | Times of India | Engadget | ZDNet | WindowsITPro | Ireland Online | Inquirer | Redmondmag.com | Physorg | DailyTech

BSkyB Suspends Use of Microsoft DRM: Times Online | The Register

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Hymn is Back with QTFairUse in an Ongoing Tit-for-Tat with Apple Over iTunes DRM

Categories: DRM Arms RaceDRM Circumvention

In the last few weeks both iTunes Fairplay DRM and Microsoft's PlayForSure DRM have been under a tit-for-tat attack by QTFairUse6 and FairUse4WM respectively. Within hours of Apple's updated iTunes 7.0 to counter an earlier version of QTFaireUse6, a new version 2.3 was released to counter the update. QTFAirUse6 strips songs purchased through iTunes 7 of their DRM permitting honest Apple music purchasers to play their music on any device of their choosing.

Sources: ars technica | CD Freaks | SDA India | Inquirer | ZDNet Blogs | macnn | Wired Blogs

Earlier Pre-iTunes 7.0 Launch Stories About Emergence of QTFairUse6: Engadget | ars technica | ZDNet | ipodnn | CNet | Information Week | iTnews | CD Freaks | Tech Web | Macworld | Inquirer

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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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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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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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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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Implications of Microsoft’s Zune Buy-out of iTunes Music

Categories: BigMedia v NewTechDRM Analysis

The current rumour has it that to compete with iTunes, Microsoft’s pending Zune service will scan the users’ computer for a list of all songs purchased from iTunes and then repurchase the songs in Zune’s proprietary format for new Zune customers – effectively buying-out iTunes. In this “Rethinking DRM Dystopia” piece, David Robinson is optimistic about the free market’s ability to overcome the lock-in affect of iTunes “Fairplay” DRM system. I am not!

Dale’s Comment: I am decidedly less excited about this prospect than Mr. Robinson. If copyright law does require a competitor to “buy-out” users from a competitive service, that only does a disservice to consumers. Once a consumer purchases a song, copyright law should protect that consumer’s right to play that song on any device. A system of copyright laws where ONLY the behemoths of an industry can compete hardly leads to innovation and competition. The very fact that, owing to the DMCA, Microsoft may have to resort to such extreme measures in order to compete with iTunes is one of the reasons I created this iMedia law website. This is bad policy, bad for consumers and ultimately bad for the music industry.

Source: David Robinson – Freedom to Tinker

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YouTube Sued by L.A. News Services

Categories: Big Media v InternetBigMedia v NewTechCasesDMCA-like Laws

Motion for Summary Adjudication (Nov 2006)

This is amusing. Minutes after posting the Von Lohmann story below about how the DMCA is shielding YouTube from law suits, I come across this new story that YouTube is being sued by an L.A. news service over its users' posting videos containing its copyrighted coverage of the 1992 L.A. riots on the YouTube service.

Sources: Hollywood Reporter Esq | EFF Deep Links | ars technica | Silicon.com | P2PNet | MTV

Other YouTube-Related Posts

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How YouTube Avoids the Internet Copyright Police

Categories: Big Media v InternetBigMedia v NewTechDMCA-like Laws

In this interesting set of articles, the EFF and ars technica explain why YouTube, for now, seems safe from the Internet police in that it takes advantage of the safe-harbour provisions of the much hated, fair-use inhibiting, DMCA.

Sources: EFF's Fred von Lohmann's Article in Hollywood Reporter Esq | EFF Deep Links | ars technica

Other YouTube-Related Posts

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EFF: Frequently Awkward Questions for the Entertainment Industry

Categories: BigMedia v P2P ProvidersBigMedia v. P2P UsersDRM Analysis

In this fun article, the EFF suggests a dozen or so questions that should be asked of the Entertainment Industry when challenging their legal/technological tactics used to thwart emerging technologies that they perceive as threatening their business models.

Source: EFF

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France Rolls Over on DRM Rights Law – Fails to Mandate Interoperability as Hoped

Categories: DRM as Market LockInternational Legal Reform

The original proposed French legislation would have, among many other things, forced Apple to open up iTunes DRM to third-party licensing (or legal hacking) so that consumers can play purchased in one on-line music site on portable music devices and computers that are designed to work with another music store. The final bill out of committee settled on a system keeping DRM technologies entirely proprietary and unlicenseable when the copyright owner approves. This final bill is expected to be voted on in parliament on June 30.

Dale’s Comment: Apple and the RIAA/ifpi have one another victory in the ongoing war over consumer rights in electronic music purchases. With the control over the online music distribution industry that Apple and the music labels have, its unlikely that even the most successful artists with the most leverage would ever disapprove of this system. If an artist disapproved of the online distribution system, they’d likely be shut out. It’s hard to imagine Apple and the music industry would create an alternative rights system for such copyright owners to use if they “disapproved” of the current consumer unfriendly system. Denmark, Norway, and Sweden will be the next battle grounds.

Sources: ars technica | New York Times | Wired | Silicon.com | Pocket-lint | CNet | Washington Post (Reuters) | Boston Globe (AP) | Reuters | Playfuls | ZDNet | Out-law.com | MP3.com | CD Freaks | The Register | DRM Watch

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New Canadian Coalition of Canadian Art Professionals on Copyright Reform

Categories: Artists Against DRMFair Use/Dealing

500+ members of Canada’s art community have formed a new coalition, the Coalition of Art Professionals, arguing for three principles to be enshrined in Canada’s copyright policy: (i) fair access to copyrighted material lies at the heart of copyright; (ii) artist and other creators require certainty of access; and (iii) anti-circumvention laws should not outlaw creative access.

Sources: Coalition’s Press Release  |  Michael Geist  |  Digital Copyright Canada  |  P2PNet
 
Note: The Canadian Music Creators Coalition was also recently formed with a similar copyright policy reform agenda.

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British MPs call for DRM Disclosure on Products

Categories: DRM AnalysisInternational Legal ReformPolicy Analysis

Text of Committee Report
A British Parliamentary Committee is recommending regulations that require digital content packaging/websites to clearly inform consumers as to exactly what they can and cannot do with digital content “protected” by DRM. At present, details of the DRM restrictions applied to digital content are typically buried deep within legalese-laden license agreements that are unpenetrable by the average consumer.

Sources: ars technica | BBC | P2PNet | The Register | Silicon.com | PC Pro | vnunet.com | ZDNet | Cathy Kirkman

Dale’s Comment: It has been my belief from the day iTunes launched, that its success has been largely due to the fact that consumers have no idea that the songs they purchase on iTunes will not be playable on competitive devices they buy in the future, that they cannot legally sell their music, give it away, or will their music library (purchased for thousands of dollars) to their heirs when they die. A requirement that a company stamp a warning label such as “Not Playable on Your iPod” on the back of locked-down CDs would go a long way towards ensuring content owners think twice before imposing restrictions that are clearly counter to the reasonable expectations of their customers.

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Movie Industry May Drop HDCP/ICT Until 2010/2012?

Categories: BigMedia v NewTechDigital TVDRM Restricting UseHD-DVD/Blu-rayHDMI/HDCP/ICTPiracy

The leading German newspaper Der Spiegel claims to have information on an unofficial agreement struck between the movie studios, Sony, Microsoft and others which will see HDCP, and the Image Constraint Token (ICT), being consigned to the scrap heap for at least four years. This move would mean that all movie content produced until 2010 at the earliest, and possibly as far as 2012, will not carry the ICT – a security feature which restricts/down-rez’s high-definition playback only to equipment with HDMI ports and HDCP encryption.

Sources: ars technica | GameIndustry.biz | Daily Tech | Next Generation | IGN | Gamasutra | Xbit | Joystiq | Engadget | Der Spiegel (Google’s English Translation)

Dale’s Comment: This is a remarkable development if true. I have been participating in online forums for years where this has been a major subject of contention for early HDTV adopters. With the constant delays of HD-DVD and Blu-ray and the many competing HD standards appearing on the horizon, this may spell the demise of HD down-rezzing and the ICT. Recently, Professor Ed Felton suggested that HDCP is Eminently Crackable. All this said, since main-stream press has not yet picked this up, I question its veracity. But, its fun speculation in the meantime.

Update: October 15 2006: Save for one or two titles, the first couple hundred Blu-Ray and HD-DVD releases have been released without HDCP/ICT activated.

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Sony Rootkit DRM Settlement Passes Final Legal Hurdle

Categories: Intrusive TPMs - RootkitsSettlements

Text of Settlement Agreement
A U.S. federal judge approved the proposed December 28 settlement between Sony and consumers who filed a class action lawsuit over copy-protection root-kit software installed on music CDs. Consumers who bought the CDs will receive replacement discs without the anti-piracy technologies and will let them choose one of two incentive packages that provide cash or free music downloads. Sony will also provide consumers with a patch to remove the rootkit software from their computers.

Sources: Silicon.com | Reuters | PC Magazine (Reuters) | TechNewsWorld | CBS (AP) | Engadget | PC World (IDG) | BBC ZDNet | CNet | LA Times

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French Pro-Consumer DRM Law Reportedly Gutted by Senate Committee

Categories: DRM as Market LockInternational Legal Reform

Translated Text of Key Article 7 of Bill
(courtesy Freedom-to-Tinker.com)
After much fuss, Article 7 of France’s new Copyright Bill introduced by the lower house on February 21, may have been gutted by the Senate Commission on Cultural Affairs. Among other things, that article had required DRM makers to allow anyone to build interoperable technology.

Sources: ars technica | Boing Boing | Inquirer | Engadget | MacDaily News | EE Times | ZD Net | Techweb | DRM Watch | PC Pro

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Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies Interviewed about CMCC

Categories: Artists Against DRM

Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies was interviewed about the new Canadian Music Creators Coalition on the TV program Canada A.M. this morning. Click on the picture to watch the interview. To quote Steven from the interview:

The other thing that we are seeing happening a lot with the major labels is they are putting what is called DRM, digital rights management, on their tracks. So if you download a track from the iTunes music store or you buy a CD, quite often there is copy protection, which stops you from listening to your music in the way that you want to listen to it. That’s really frustrating as a musician and as a fan. So if I buy a CD and its doesn’t work on my car stereo or I can’t listen to it on my computer at work, that’s messed up!

Source: CMCC Website | Stephen Page Op Ed in National Post (May 1, 2006)

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Consumer Electronic Association Runs Pro-Consumer Ads on Capital Hill

Categories: DRM AnalysisDRM-Free ServicesFair Use/DealingLobbying

Full-Sized Ad Copy
The Consumer Electronics Association has created a new ad, that will run in two Capitol Hill publications today. The add argues that it is time the content industry learns the difference between real pirates and average consumers and that consumers of lawfully acquired music should be able to use it however they wish.

Sources: EFF | Related CEA Fair Use Press Releases | Engadget

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Proposed “Perform Act” to Restrict Satellite & Web Streaming Recording

Categories: Big Media v InternetBigMedia v NewTechCopy RestrictionsFair Use/DealingLegal ReformSatellite Radio

Text of Proposed Perform Act
The PERFORM Act (“Platform Equality and Remedies for Rights Holders in Music Act of 2006“) was introduced into Congress yesterday. The bill prohibits satellite radio from offering its subscribers devices capable of recording off the air unless royalties are paid and content is locked with DRM. The catalyst for the bill was new devices XM Radio is bringing to the market that allow customers to save songs on the receivers. Sirius had already made deals with the major record companies that compensate them for downloads on its S-50 receiver.

Also in the bill is a provision that would effectively require music webcasters to use DRM-laden streaming formats, rather than the MP3 streaming.

Sources: EFF Deep Links | ars technica | BBC | TMCNet | Reuters | Billboard | CNet | Tech News – HRCC’s response | Red Herring | Hollywood Reporter | Washintgon Times | Techdirt | PublicKnowledge | Cathy Kirkman

Dale’s Comment: Aspects of this bill have merit. I agree that anyone wishing a permanent, transferable copy of a song broadcast through XM or Sirius should pay for it. If, however, the device does not permit the user to copy the song to an external device, then the concept is more akin to a PVR such as TiVo and fair use rights should allow the user to enjoy the song within the specific device for a reasonable period of time without an additional royalty payment – remember, XM and Sirius subscribers already pay compulsory royalties via their subscriptions to these services. To the extent an additional royalty payment is made to purchase a song, the user should have the right to copy/transmit the song off the XM/Sirius device to any other device owned by the user and, of course, all the other incidents of fair use for purchased music that I advocate for on this site should apply – the right to of the owner to transcode it to any other format, the right to play it on any device owned by the consumer, the right to sell/give-away/alienate the purchased copy (without retaining a copy) etc. If, however, this bill results in an obligation to pay for music that can’t be removed from the device or otherwise fairly used by the user, it should not be adopted.

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Canadian Music Creators Coalition Formed to Counter CRIA/RIAA

Categories: Artists Against DRMFair Use/Dealing

Many of Canada’s most prominent recording artists, including the Barenaked Ladies, Avril Lavigne and Sarah McLachlan have formed the CMCC to have their “voices heard about the laws and policies that affect our livelihoods”. Contrary to the lobbying efforts of the CRIA/RIAA, the CMCC believes that: (i) suing fans, as is done by CRIA and the RIAA, is destructive and hypocritical – “the government should repeal provisions of the Copyright Act that allow labels to unfairly punish fans who share music for non-commercial purposes with statutory damages of $500 to $20,000 per song”; and (ii) digital locks enforced by DMCA-like laws are risky and counterproductive – “laws should protect artists and consumers, not restrictive technologies – consumers should be able to transfer the music they buy to other formats under a right of fair use, without having to pay twice.”

Sources: CMCC Press Release | CMCC Website | Michael Geist | Howard Knopf | Globe & Mail | ars technica | P2PNet | Digital Copyright Canada | Wired Bogs | Tech News World | Linux Electrons | CD Freaks | EFF

Dale’s Comment: As Howard Knopf so eloquently says: “This is music to my ears”. The CMCC is essentially calling for copyright reforms similar to those passed by the French Legislature on March 21 (see story here). Let’s see if American recording artists follow suit.

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Congress Readies Broad New Digital Copyright Bill

Categories: BigMedia v P2P ProvidersBigMedia v. P2P UsersDMCA-like LawsLegal Reform

Text of Bill
According to CNET, Rep. Lamar Smith, and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI), backed by the content industry, is about to introduce the Intellectual Property Protection Act of 2006 which would expand the DMCA’s restrictions on software that can bypass copy protections and grant federal police more wiretapping and enforcement powers. Loosely, quoting from the article, the proposed law:

  • Creates a new federal crime of just trying to commit copyright infringement. Such willful attempts at piracy, even if they fail, could be punished by up to 10 years in prison.
  • Boosts criminal penalties for copyright infringement from five years to 10 years (and 10 years to 20 years for subsequent offenses). The Act targets noncommercial piracy including posting copyrighted photos, videos or news articles on a Web site if the value exceeds $1,000.
  • Creates civil asset forfeiture penalties for anything used in copyright piracy. Computers or other equipment seized must be “destroyed” or otherwise disposed of, for instance at a government auction. Criminal asset forfeiture will be done following the rules established by federal drug laws.
  • Says copyright holders can impound “records documenting the manufacture, sale or receipt of items involved in” infringements.
  • Permits wiretaps in investigations of copyright crimes, trade secret theft and economic espionage. It would establish a new copyright unit inside the FBI and budgets $20 million on topics including creating “advanced tools of forensic science to investigate” copyright crimes.
  • Amends existing law to permit criminal enforcement of copyright violations even if the work was not registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Source: CNet | ars technica | Professor Ed Felton | IPAC

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Ubisoft Drops Starforce Piracy Protection

Categories: Big Media Makes ProgressCopy RestrictionsMilestonesPiracy

Amidst growing complaints of potentially harmful security breaches and the recent filing of a class action lawsuit, French publisher Ubisoft has officially ceased its use of Starforce copy protection.
 
Sources: GameIndustry.biz  |  ars technica  |  MoneyControl.com  |  PALGN  |  afterdawn.com  |  Legit Reviews  |  neo seeker

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HDCP is Eminently Crackable Says Professor Ed Felton

Categories: Copy RestrictionsDigital TVHDMI/HDCP/ICTPiracy

Princeton Professor Ed Felton, famous for revealing that SunComm’s DRM for music CDs could be defeated by holding down the shift key while inserting the music CD into your computer, says completely breaking/cracking High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) is “eminently doable”. HDCP is the DRM standard developed by Intel to control access to high definition content as in travels across DVI and HDMI connections (eg: between your HD set-top box or HD-DVD player and your HDTV).

Sources: Prof Felton’s Freedom to Tinker Blog | Prof Felton’s Freedom to Tinker Blog II | Engadget

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