June 16, 2005

Sony BMG Explaining How To Circumvent Its Own Protections? [5:00 pm]

This Reuters news article on the copy protected BMG CDs coming out, Sony BMG hinders music pirates with protected CD [pdf], includes this amazing assertion:

The copy-protection technology is also far from ironclad. Apple

Macintosh users currently face no restrictions at all. What’s more, if users go to a Web site to complain about the lack of iPod compatibility, Sony BMG will send them an email with a “back door” measure on how to work around the copy protection. [emphasis added]

Isn’t that against the law (§1201 and §1204)?

Later: Ernest offers his analysis - Ask Nicely and They’ll Tell You How to Bypass Their DRM

Related: A consumer experience - Burners’ Bummer [pdf]

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P2P Marketers Into BitTorrent? [3:52 pm]

Does this mean, as the eWeek newsletter teaser said, “Alas, Torrent, we hardly knew ye”? Spyware Floods In Through BitTorrent

BitTorrent, the beloved file-sharing client and protocol that provides a way around bandwidth bottlenecks, has become the newest distribution vehicle for adware/spyware bundles.

[...] According to Chris Boyd, a renowned security researcher who runs the VitalSecurity.org nonprofit resource center, the warm and fuzzy world of BitTorrent has been invaded by a massive software distribution campaign linked to New York-based adware purveyor Direct Revenue LLC.

“This is the marketing campaign to end all marketing campaigns,” said Boyd, the Microsoft Security MVP (most valuable professional) known throughout the security industry by the “Paperghost” moniker.

In an e-mail interview with Ziff Davis Internet News, Boyd said rogue files have popped up occasionally in BitTorrent land but those were usually just random executables. “This is the first time I’ve seen a definite money-making campaign with affiliates, distributors and some pretty heavy-duty adware names,” he added.

A key Chris Boyd blog entry on the topic: Direct Revenue: My Response

Slashdt: Spyware Floods in Through BitTorrent

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Mark Cuban on Macrovision [11:12 am]

What am I missing Macrovision? [via BoingBoing]

So just what is the purpose of having Macrovision copy protection on DVDs? To raise the price to consumers? To make things more difficult for them? To make sure its illegal to backup DVDs we have purchased?

Am I missing something here?

I could see if the stuff worked and it kept the bad guys from doing bad things. Then it would have to be a price consumers paid. Publishers have a right to protect their content. But, it obviously doesn’t work. If it did, there would be nothing to sue anyone over. Instead they would be taking out ads saying how they kicked all the bad guys’ asses. But they aren’t. They are suing companies and admitting their software sucks.

So hows bout we cut consumers a break and get this shit away from our DVDs.

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EMI Joins In [8:22 am]

Via Digital Music News, the news that EMI is also looking to “combat piracy” by crippling product: EMI targets the ‘mix-tape’ with ’secure CD’

UK record label EMI announced yesterday it plans to introduce anti-piracy technology to its CDs that will restrict consumers’ ability to burn tracks to blank CDs. The technology, from DRM solutions firm Macrovision, will allow CD owners to copy only three full copies of a CD’s songs, and the burned discs themselves cannot be copied.

[...] The technology also prevents CDs from being transferred to an iPod.

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BusinessWeek on iTunes [8:07 am]

iTunes: Still the Sweetest Song

The Good Easy to use, elegant, and free.
The Bad It’s hard to copy music from your music player onto your computer.
The Bottom Line Can’t beat it with a stick.

[...] Jobs & Co. also helped shift the debate over digital music beyond the legal status of controversial free file-sharing services like the original Napster and followers such as KaAaA. By creating a legitimate channel for distributing music online, it put the recording industry on notice that the days of charging $15 or $20 for a CD in a bricks-and-mortar store were coming to an end.

But iTunes isn’t alone anymore. Rivals such as Microsoft (MSFT ), RealNetworks (RNWK ), and Yahoo! (YHOO ) are giving Apple competition in the world of online music. They’ve added music stores of their own and improved the usability of their music-management software. However, after spending the last few weeks reviewing the alternatives, I say iTunes still has the edge.

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Web Comics [7:41 am]

Comics Looking to Spread A Little Laughter on the Web

Like everything else online, the funnies want to be free.

[...] Even though revenue models remain fuzzy, increasing numbers of artists are using the Internet to reach readers directly and break into a business that historically has been limited to the lucky few who get syndicated in newspapers or picked up by comic book publishers.

“On the Internet, anybody can put an image up on the Web site and it can theoretically be viewed by everybody with a connection,” said Pete Abrams, who started the Sluggy Freelance Web comic seven years ago and now draws more than 100,000 daily readers. “With newspaper comics, editors decide who gets noticed. And on the Web, readers decide. If they find a good site or a funny comic, they pass it along to their friends.”

[...] “The online market for comics is still very much in its formative stages,” [King Syndicate editor in chief Jay] Kennedy said. “We know when large numbers of people enjoy something there should be ways to derive revenue from it so the art form can be sustained. The trick is figuring out what those mechanisms will be.”

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OT: Sticking it to Dr. Frist [7:34 am]

The NYTimes shows some guts: Autopsy on the Schiavo Tragedy

The medical examiners found Ms. Schiavo’s brain “profoundly atrophied,” only half the normal size, and said that “no amount of therapy or treatment would have regenerated the massive loss of neurons.” Although the autopsy could not definitively establish that Ms. Schiavo was in a persistent vegetative state, the findings were deemed “very consistent” with that diagnosis. She was completely blind and could not have swallowed food or water safely on her own. Those conclusions underscore how shallow and cynical were the judgments-from-afar by the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, who is a doctor, and by other Republicans in Congress who contended that Ms. Schiavo looked responsive and that her condition might be amenable to treatment.

USAToday, on the other hand, goes for the throat [pdf]:

“It’s rare that you get such a total repudiation of one side,” said Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. He said it underlined that “all these politicians pretending to practice medicine, including one doctor pretending to practice medicine” — a reference to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist — were driven by “ideology and partisanship.”

Frist, a surgeon, had questioned a court ruling that Schiavo was in a persistent vegetative state. He said he based his assessment on watching “an hour or so” of video in which the woman appeared to respond to stimulus.

Frist did not respond to reporters’ questions Wednesday as he entered his office, saying he hadn’t read the pathology report. His spokeswoman, Amy Call, said he had never made a diagnosis.

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Mixtape Crackdown [7:28 am]

Mixtape Crackdown Sends a Mixed Message

Late on the night of May 13, a hip-hop promoter named Justo Faison died in a car crash in Virginia. And last week, on June 8, the East Village record and video shop Mondo Kim’s was raided by the New York Police Department. What do these two stories have in common? Here’s a hint: it’s cheap, popular and illegal.

Faison was the industry’s most energetic promoter of hip-hop mixtapes, the unlicensed compilations (almost always on CD, despite the name) of unreleased new songs, current hits, never-to-be-released freestyles and unofficial remixes. To keep (or get) hard-core listeners excited, rappers are expected to maintain a mixtape presence by supplying DJ’s with tracks and also by collaborating with them to release “hosted by” mixtapes. [...]

[...] While artists and record labels were celebrating Faison’s life and work, the Recording Industry Association of America was finding another way to pay tribute to the popularity of mixtapes. On May 12, the day before Faison died, it announced a crackdown on stores that sold “pirated CD’s,” a term that refers to “mixed tapes and compilation CD’s featuring one or more artists,” among other products. (The association’s taxonomy of piracy defines “counterfeit recordings” as illegal knockoffs of existing commercial CD’s, and “bootleg recordings” as illegal recordings of live performances or broadcasts.)

[...] “Retailers who are making money on the backs of musicians and record companies by selling pirated CD’s should know that this is absolutely no way to conduct a business.” Reached by telephone yesterday, Mr. Buckles confirmed that an association representative was present during the raid.

Note that phrase “musicians and record companies.” In its war against illegal music distribution, the association has often treated these two groups as one and the same, arguing that piracy-happy fans are hurting the artists they love. But when it comes to hip-hop mixtapes, it is in a trickier position: the artists themselves often help produce the same mixtapes that the association is trying to squelch, and shrewd record labels long ago figured out that mixtapes can help drive sales of conventional CD’s.

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Another Boucher Interview [7:17 am]

Lawmaker Revs Up Fair-Use Crusade - a push on HR1201?

Do I have sympathy for them? Not when they’re clinging to a relic and when that’s getting in the way of making good current business decisions…. They can make a fortune if they do that.

The other point to make is, they are asking us to do something that not only is it unwise from a policy standpoint for us to do, and that is inhibit file sharing, which has legitimate uses. But even if we thought it was wise from a policy standpoint, they are asking us to do something that we really can’t.

We don’t have — within the reach of American law — control over these networks. I mean, if we control one who happens to be a resident of the U.S., or people who generate the software … it won’t be a matter of weeks until a network like that would arise in some island nation where we don’t even have commercial relations, much less extradition treaties.

And so we can’t at the end of the day do anything that’s really meaningful to help. We can make ridiculous laws but we are not going to be able to stop the problem….

The other thing that makes sense is for the industry actually to consider some kind of compulsory license….

Slashdot: Lawmaker Revs Up Fair-Use Crusade

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