Apple Strikes Back At PyMusique

Apple disables iTunes hack

Apple Computer has closed a security hole that allowed an underground program to tap into its iTunes Music Store and purchase songs stripped of antipiracy protections.

The PyMusique software, created by a trio of independent programmers online, emerged last week as a copy protection-free back door into the popular iTunes store. One of the creators was Jon Johansen, the Norwegian programmer responsible for releasing DVD-copying software in 1999.

Apple released a statement Monday saying the problem had been fixed, and that some iTunes customers would need to upgrade their software.

“The security hole in the iTunes Music Store which was recently exploited has been closed, and as a consequence the iTunes Music Store will now sell music only to customers using iTunes version 4.7,” the company said in a statement.

Also see Apple plugs PyMusique iTunes ‘hole’

For background, see Hacking Itunes/Hacking Copyright

Drinking the Kool-Ade?

An echo of some past revelations from ILAW 2002 – Nesson’s session: Converting Users Into Creators

Yahoo Inc. is buying a year-old photo-sharing site, Flickr, as part of the Web giant’s attempts to open itself up to more user participation, Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang said yesterday.

[…] In announcing the acquisition at a gathering of technology executives here, Yang said the move illustrates the company’s eagerness to give Yahoo users more ways to participate in and create content, not just consume it.

“We don’t think we can just be the place you can watch short films or listen to radio,” Yang said. While he acknowledged that his company is licensing plenty of traditional Hollywood fare these days, he said Yahoo is trying to encourage communities where users can discuss and create new kinds of content.

U. K. Channel 5 Takes The Plunge

Five offers programme downloads

TV channel Five has said it will be the first UK broadcaster to offer parts of its shows for sale as legal downloads.

From Monday, viewers of motoring show Fifth Gear can pay £1.50 for “DVD quality” downloads of car reviews.

Legal music download sites have become hugely popular – but TV companies have so far not used the same technology to put programmes online.

But British viewers illegally download US shows in relatively high numbers, recent research suggested.

Slashdot: British TV Station Offers Downloads

Anther GPL Case Settled

A GPL Win in Michigan – DrewTech v. SAE [via Slashdot]

The case involved software written in part by Drew Technologies, Inc., to which others contributed, in reliance upon the GPL. DrewTech, an engineering firm in Michigan, develops custom vehicle communications solutions for the automobile industry. DrewTech released the software at issue on SourceForge, under the GNU General Public License (“GPL”).

I never thought I’d find cars fascinating. But this case changed my mind. It’s a struggle over ownership of software written and released under the GPL but later claimed as a copyrighted work by a publisher of standards for the automotive industry, the Society of Automotive Engineers. But on a deeper level, it addresses a new issue. With cars now being computerized, can manufacturers assert copyright and trade secret rights over software? Over standards? Before you answer, did you know that there is proposed legislation, the Motor Vehicle Owner’s Right to Repair Act?

The Register: DMCA helps Right to Repair campaign score big win

Good (And Not So Good) for the OII

I’ve got to register for something at the Oxford Internet Institute and, as I swung by their WWW page, I found this announcement about “Z:” Jonathan Zittrain elected to Professorship of Internet Governance and Regulation

Internationally-known cyberlaw scholar Jonathan Zittrain will become the first holder of the Chair in Internet Governance and Regulation at the Oxford University’s Oxford Internet Institute (OII) this autumn.

[…] He will coordinate a significant research and teaching relationship between the two centers, and become the Berkman Visiting Professor at Harvard. […]

[…] Zittrain has also been named a Professorial Fellow of Oxford’s Keble College, which has developed particular interest in computer science and public policy.

As for the “Not So Good for the OII” side of things, I would have excerpted more, but the OII’s PDF press release will NOT allow me to copy content from the PDF — something that I expect Jonathan will try to do something about when he joins them!

OT: Jack Balkin on Schiavo

Now that the Schiavo bill has become law, Jack Balkin’s views are worth another review. (Yes, this is off-topic, but, unlike Jacko’s trial, Congress’ actions really do merit consideration by us all.)

In The Schiavo controversy, the pro-life movement, judicial restraint, and federalism, Balkin makes this point:

I think the proposed bill is unwise, but that reflects my priors on the underlying policy question. My point is that Congressional Republican leaders seem to have lost any concern about “activist” federal judges interfering with the State of Florida’s legal system.

It is not surprising that Congressional Republicans are fair weather federalists when it comes to these issues, and that they want the federal courts to get involved in right to die cases like Schiavo’s. Few national politicians are seriously interested in federalism or judicial restraint when this would interfere with something they really care about. The Schiavo controversy demonstrates, I think, that pro-life values are likely to trump federalism values and concerns about an activist judiciary when the chips are down; they will even trump them when politicians think they can gain something from grandstanding, which appears to be what is going on here. Cultural conservatives may talk loudly about decentralization and rail against activist judges, but, like just like most liberals, they believe that activist federal judges who decide things they way they like aren’t activist at all. They are judges who uphold important rights.

Finally, the Congressional Republicans’ moves also suggest that if Roe v. Wade were overturned, the matter would not be left to the states, as so many pro-life politicians have advocated in the past, but would quickly become a fight over federal legislation outlawing abortion nationwide. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

For a useful timeline on the Schiavo case, with extensive online references, see The Terri Schiavo Information Page. Draw your own conclusions.

Later: Reuters News Wire – Poll: Most Think Congress Wrong on Schiavo Case [pdf]; Reuters – Schiavo Case Exposes Political Divide in U.S. [pdf]; Slate – Who’s paying for her care, how long can she live without food, and what’s with the bill written just for her?; Salon – When public opinion doesn’t matter; Scott Rosenberg – Terry Schiavo, political football; this screencap (@1:21) from this CBS News report shows a brain scan comparison [via Mercury Rising’s A Tale Of Two Scans].

Later: Dahlia Lithwick’s excellent, if exasperated, Activist Legislators; Judge Whittemore’s March 22 denial of injunctive relief

Even later: GYWO chimes in

March 23 — 11th Circuit Denies request; FindLaw coverage

ASCAP and Podcasting

In response to a question from class last week: Podcast Music Licensing Not as Financially Daunting as Bloggers Surmise [via DarkNet]

It is true that podcasters, in order to play popular music in their podcasts, must pay a fee for the right to play these tunes. If you are a podcaster playing popular tunes during your podcast but have not paid for a music license then, yes, your podcast may already be illegal. However, the article’s quote that the cost to obtain a license is more than $750 is over-inflated.

[…] Licensing music for podcasting is a perfect example of how real world legal models must be reformed in the wake of emerging technology. As the Cyberspace community members’ ability to create a podcast increases with time and technology, the explosion of podcasting is imminent. So is the expectation that performing rights organizations would want to tap this new revenue stream for their members.

ASCAP recently added podcasts to their Experimental License Agreement For Internet Sites & Services – Release 5.0. This is particularly telling, as podcasting is still a relatively new concept. “I’m so excited to see a word that didn’t existed barely half a year ago show up in legal documents,” said Podfather Adam Curry. “The terms are debatable, but that fact that it’s shown up now as ‘podcast’ on a license is such good news (for the industry).”

NOTE: I can’t find the word “pod,” much less “podcasting” in the PDF, so I’m not sure what they’re talking about.

Economics of Piracy

Fighting video piracy in Russia still leaves much to be desired [via CoCo ]

Q: Why do you think this illegal business has been flourishing in Russia despite the efforts of the government aimed at fighting piracy?

A: Selling pirated CDs and DVDs is probably the second most profitable business on the black market at the moment. Only the drug dealers make more money then we do. You can do your own math while I will give you a few facts and figures. The production costs are very low. A kilo of plastic costs $4. This quantity is enough for pressing 120 CDs. These days the net profit can be even higher because the Russian pirates invented a two-side DVD which can hold a few movies. The films on videocassettes are actually on the way out due to that invention. Besides, the majority of illegally duplicated products on today”s market are manufactured by the same plants that make perfectly licensed copies at “daytime”. I know for sure that at least two of such plants are up and running in St. Petersburg. They kind of work “around the clock” putting out lots of stuff. So the quality of an illegal copy equals that of an licensed product since both are manufactured using the same equipment.

Q: In other words, those who talk about the lousy quality of pirated DVDs are not right?

A: Well, a copy quality may suffer from some irregularities or errors occurring during the duplication process. You know, haste makes waste. Or when some technical requirements are not properly met. But as a rule the quality remains the same. The same goes to the quality of two movies recorded on a two-side DVDs. It is pretty decent as opposed to the quality of those 4 or 5 movies crammed in one DVD.