After two long days of participating in the ESD doctoral exams, I try to catch up on some things and come to this noxious story: Labels to dampen CD burning? [Slashdot] How dumb are these guys? Now they’re going to mess with people who actually buy their products (at least at the moment)?

Tools under review by the major labels would limit the number of backups that could be made from ordinary compact discs and prevent copied, or “burned,” versions from being used to create further copies, according to Macrovision and SunnComm International, rivals that are developing competing versions of the digital rights management (DRM) software.

[…] If implemented widely, the new technology would mark a substantial change in the way ordinary people can use purchased music, possibly alienating some customers, analysts said. Given the costs of piracy, however, the labels are moving ahead cautiously in the hope of striking on a formula that works.

[…] In addition to adding a new layer of copy protection on CDs, SunnComm and Macrovision each say their CD burning limitations could be applied to digital download businesses such as Napster or Apple Computer’s iTunes, which do not put any restriction on burned CDs. That potentially could set off a new round of skirmishes between such digital download businesses and the record labels over how consumers can use the music they buy online.

“What labels have told us is that their agreements (with the download services) are relatively short term, a year or under, and so they believe that they have the capability to require (the burning tools to be added) next time around,” Macrovision Chief Executive Officer Bill Krepick said.

Copyfight comments

Hacking Your Canon Camera

Canon Digital Rebel Hacked Into A Pseudo-10D

Reverb9 writes “When Canon introduced the Digital Rebel, the world’s first entry-level Digital SLR camera, many remarked on its similarities to the 10D , its $500 more expensive big brother. In fact, the two cameras share much of the same technology and so Canon implemented a number of software-based limitations to avoid destroying sales of the professional-oriented 10D. Now, a new hack that restores a previously hidden menu along with a few additional tricks has added nearly all of those 10D features to the Rebel, with an arguably superior user interface to boot. Canon has so far said little on the hack but certainly cannot be happy with its potential effect on sales. This is, however, a reality that more corporations are having to confront. In an era where programming labour is relatively cheap and computer connectivity more frequent can artificial, marketing-driven, barriers between technology products, last?”

DirecTV Dodges A Bullet?

Court dismisses DirecTV whistleblower case

John Fisher, a former police officer, resigned from DirecTV in October 2003 after working as a senior investigator with the company for just over a year. He claims he was effectively forced out because of his former employer’s unethical tactics. Instead of acting up as a legitimate investigator tracking signal pirates he ended up “as little better than a ‘bag man for the mob'”, according to Fisher’s March lawsuit. DirecTV knew that between five and 10 per cent of its targets were innocent, according to Fisher’s suit. Through the case, Fisher sought unspecified damages and an end to DirecTV’s tactics.

But a California Superior Court judge decided that Fisher’s case interfered with DirecTV’s right to petition government. The court therefore granted the DirecTV’s application to dismiss the lawsuit citing California’s “anti-SLAPP” statute. The decision is a legal set back against Fisher, who nonetheless continues to pursue a claim of unfair dismissal against DirecTV.

Followup: DirecTV’s anti-SLAPP slap to litigant

Digging Deeper Into The Distribution Chain

Two movie studios sue online seller of DVD-copying software [via GigaLaw]

Two Hollywood movie studios have sued an online retailer, accusing Technology One of defiantly selling DVD-copying software previously barred by two federal courts.

The lawsuit, filed in New York by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. and Paramount Pictures Corp., marks the first time a movie company has sued a retailer of the forbidden software by 321 Studios Inc.

[…] The latest lawsuit, announced Friday by the Motion Picture Association of America Inc., was filed in the U.S. District Court for New York’s southern district, where a judge in March barred 321 from marketing the software.

OT: The Other First President of the US

Too weird not to cite — proponents of including the presidents of the legislature under the Articles of Confederation: Can’t Recall 11th President? Got a Dollar?

When the Articles of Confederation established the first, loose union of states in 1781, it declared for the first time “the perpetual union” of the 13 states. And during the years it remained in effect, 10 different men presided over the legislature, serving as presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled. They conducted its business, in much the way President Thomas Mifflin signed the Treaty of Paris in which Britain recognized the new nation. No one is claiming those 10 men had powers and responsibilities in any way comparable to the presidents beginning with Washington.

But as Mr. Stanley says, “It wasn’t much of a president, but it was the only one we had.” And, under this reading of history, the first presidents were not Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison but Huntington, McKean, Hanson and Boudinot.

Microsoft’s DRM for Media

Microsoft offers peek at new Media Player

The revamped Windows Media Player 10, which will be released in final form to the consumer market later this year, contains substantial changes to the way music, videos, and other media can be organized and retrieved. But the biggest changes in the new “technical beta” software will be invisible to most users until new portable music and video players reach store shelves this summer and fall.

[…] The software, which incorporates recent advances in Microsoft’s digital rights management tools and a new technology allowing computers to communicate with devices such as MP3 players, forms a key component of the company’s response to Apple Computer’s strong successes with its iPod music player and software.

[…] The new software will also support new digital rights management features that allow subscription-based content, such as that from Napster, to be played on portable devices. Similarly, those features will not be available until the release of new hardware later this year.

Although many of the new Media Player’s features will be muted until the release of new hardware, users will be able to browse through new ways of organizing media libraries and take advantage of a considerably simplified interface. The company said it wants to get feedback from “digital music enthusiasts” on those features before a final release.

Interesting that the push is on for feedback now, before the hardware that embeds the restrictions of the Janus system are widely available.