On the Way To Mutual Assured Destruction

Hacker strips DRM from streaming Netflix movies

The hack is the latest in an escalating technical war by hackers against DRM (Digital Rights Management) technologies, which limit how music and movies can be used in order to prevent piracy.

[…] Dizzie goes on to detail a 14-step process that includes the use of FairUse4WM, a program created by another hacker about a year ago, to remove Microsoft’s DRM from the content. He writes that the process for removing the DRM could take a few attempts, and the process does not remove the time limit imposed by Netflix on viewing the content.

Quotes To Turn Your Stomach

Forget gutting FISA — here’s something that *really* matters: Senate Joins Knockoff Battle

THE movement by American designers to ban other companies from knocking off their work has gained some momentum since the idea was first introduced last year. At a news conference yesterday at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, talked about a bill proposing to extend copyright protection to fashion that had been introduced in the Senate last week, mirroring one that has been under consideration in the House since April 2006.

“Designers spend countless hours doing and redoing, testing, creating, thinking, and then some counterfeiter comes along and just takes it away,” said Mr. Schumer. “It’s stealing, plain and simple.”

[…] Representative Jerrold L. Nadler, a Democrat who represents parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, and a supporter of the House bill, summarized the difference: “Kate Winslet’s movies are protected from pirates. Kate Spade’s handbags are not.”


Later: See The End of ‘Gown in 60 Seconds’?pdf

Even later — a little trashy humor — They Should’ve Photoshopped A Dress On Her

Direct Marketing Tools and Social Networks

Wal-Mart taps Facebook for back-to-school salespdf

Forget exchanging letters, phone calls or e-mails. This year, Wal-Mart Stores wants students heading to college to log on to Facebook to design their dorm room with their roommate.

The world’s largest retailer on Wednesday is launching the “Roommate Style Match” group on Facebook, a social-networking site that has millions of college-age users, in the hopes of grabbing a larger chunk of back-to-school shopping dollars.

Facebook users who join the Wal-Mart group will be able to take a quiz to determine their decorating style and get a list of “recommended products” they can buy at Wal-Mart to mesh their style with their roommate’s.

Students can also download a shopping list of dorm room items sold at Wal-Mart, link to Wal-Mart’s Web site promoting “earth-friendly” products, or click on Soundcheck, Wal-Mart’s Web site showing musical performances by singers like Bon Jovi and Mandy Moore.

Not Ready for Prime Time

FCC rejects device to send Net servicepdf

The government gave a failing grade to a prototype device that Microsoft Corp., Google Inc., Dell Inc., and other technology companies said would beam high-speed Internet service over unused television airwaves.

In an 85-page report [local copy], the Federal Communications Commission said the devices submitted by the coalition could not reliably detect unused TV spectrum and could cause interference.

[…] The companies say the unlicensed and unused TV airwaves, known as “white spaces,” would make Internet service accessible and affordable, especially in rural areas, while spurring innovation.

TV broadcasters oppose the use of white spaces because they fear interference with television programming and problems with a federally mandated transition from analog to digital signals in February 2009.

Later: Microsoft explains that the device was broken at the time of the test — FCC tested defective prototype device – pdf

Persistence of Vision (And Sound)

I’m reading The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900, so this one struck me: Reelin’ in the years: Cassette tapes still have their devoteespdf

The first obituaries for cassette tapes appeared more than 20 years ago, when compact discs hit the market.

Sales of music tapes plummeted from 442 million in 1990 to about 700,000 last year, according to the Recording Industry Assn. of America.

Anyone trying to impress a friend with the perfect combination of songs can probably burn a CD or assemble an MP3 playlist in a matter of minutes. They needn’t spend hours dubbing the perfect tape as the main character did in the novel and movie “High Fidelity.”

But cassette tapes still thrive in specialty markets because of the format’s enduring advantages.

Executives with the last cassette maker in North America, Lenco-PMC Inc., say the plastic cases — invented in 1964 to hold two miniature reels for magnetic tape — remain popular for at least three uses: audio books for the blind, court recordings and religious messages.

[…] “The truth is, new technology does not replace old technology for years,” Chapelle said.

[…] National Audio President Steve Stepp said the audiocassette “is still the most versatile, durable, economic recording material ever invented.”

[…] Tapes can carry a Braille label to help blind users determine what’s on them, and that wouldn’t work well on CDs because the label would interfere with the operation of slot-loading players.

[…] Cassettes are still generally popular for audio books because of a basic advantage they hold over CDs: When someone moves a tape from one player to another, the recording resumes from the place it stopped.

Ugly Trademark Stink

Johnson & Johnson Sues Red Cross Over Symbol

The dispute over rights to the symbol erupted to the surface yesterday in federal court in Manhattan, where J.& J. sued the American Red Cross.

Clearly outraged, the president of the American Red Cross, Mark W. Everson, unleashed his vitriol last night on the company, which makes Band-Aids and Tylenol.

In a news release, Mr. Everson said the company’s actions were “obscene” and “simply so that J.& J. can make more money.”

[…] The two had shared the symbol amicably for more than 100 years — Johnson & Johnson on its commercial products and the American Red Cross as a symbol of its relief efforts on foreign battlefields and in disasters like floods and tornadoes.

From time to time, the American Red Cross sold products bearing the symbol as fund-raising efforts. Jeffrey J. Leebaw, a spokesman for Johnson & Johnson, said the company had no objection to that.

But in 2004, the American Red Cross began licensing the symbol to commercial partners selling products at retail establishments. According to the lawsuit, those products include humidifiers, medical examination gloves, nail clippers, combs and toothbrushes.

“What we’re talking about here is their deviation from a longstanding partnership and collaboration around the use of this trademark and their push to commercialize this trademark in the for-profit arena,” Mr. Leebaw said. “We deeply regret that it has become necessary to file this complaint. The company has the highest regard for the American Red Cross and its mission.”

Mr. Leebaw added that the company had contributed more than $5 million to the American Red Cross in the last three years.