Apple DMCA sends iTunes DRM decryptor offshore

I recall reading about the start of this before I left town. It will be interesting to see how Apple elects to respond: Apple DMCA sends iTunes DRM decryptor offshorer

PlayFair uses Jon Johansen’s iTunes circumvention to remove fair-use restrictions from iTunes Music Store files. Apple allows buyers to play the files on three authorized Windows or Macintosh computers and an unlimited number of iPods, and to burn up to ten CDs with the same playlist, which many Apple users have no problem with. However the circumvention allows you to play the files on a Linux machine, for example, or a smartphone or any other MP3 player that supports AAC playback. The new location for PlayFair is at Sarovar, a hosting company for software libre projects based in Trivandrum, India.

Note that, once again, a decision not to support the Linux platform leads to reverse-engineering of a standard, with the accompanying loss of the purported DRM benefits of the format — despite the "protections" of the DMCA. So far, firms have decided to ask for even more draconian legislative and enforcement remedies — but what about just supporting the platform, taking away the incentive for the coders to develop in the first place?

Of course, this is what Stallman worries about when he rails against “open source.” So far, few firms have figured this out (nVidia, for example). But they can’t stay dumb forever, can they?

DRM Interop?

From The Register: Time Warner invests in ContentGuard

With buddies like Time Warner and Microsoft, the company is politically well positioned to continue to lead in the DRM standards process. Faultline has speculated in the past that DRM interoperability is the best way around the impasse between Consumer Electronics (CE) manufacturers reluctance to pay homage to Microsoft owned technology. Now they can write their own DRM systems to arms length public standards and have no complaint about co-existing in a DRM regime shared with Microsoft technology.

Michael Miron, CEO of ContentGuard said: “Together with Microsoft and Time Warner’s input into our company’s direction, we can accelerate the pace of development for the new standards and technologies that we champion.”

It will be lost on few scholars of digital media that the Microsoft Time Warner axis now has colossal influence over standards in DRM but also in codecs and digital media players. Recently Time Warner was voted a vice-chairmanship seat at the DVD Forum which is driving the future standard for high density Blue Laser DVDs, just as the Forum passed a vote to include the Microsoft codec in the Blue Laser standard.

And, of course, Microsoft squares Intertrust DRM suit for $440m

The VoIP Gauntlet Is Thrown

Sen. Sununu is planning to plant a stake in the ground:

Sen. John Sununu announced on Friday long-awaited Internet phone legislation that would effectively eliminate state and local authorities’ ability to tax and regulate broadband phone calls.

The bill, which is expected to draw fire from state governments, says all authority over regulating VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) services is “reserved solely to the federal government.”

The measure, VoIP Regulatory Freedom Act, also imposes some curbs on the Federal Communications Commission’s ability to extend to VoIP much of the thick quilt of rules and requirements that govern the traditional phone network. For instance, it bans imposing certain “access charge” taxes, but does require the FCC to levy VoIP universal service fees that will be redirected to provided discounted analog phone service to low-income and rural Americans.

This from a New Hampshire "live free or die" senator! A fight with the states is expected.

NYTimes Book Review of Free Culture

‘Free Culture’: The Intellectual Imperialists

The biggest issue in intellectual property today is how to handle Internet file-sharing, and Lessig has some interesting thoughts. Most analyses wrongly lump all file-sharing together as piracy, he says, when there are four distinct types: a) downloading content, like a Madonna CD, instead of buying it; b) sampling content before buying it; c) downloading content that is no longer commercially available; and d) downloading content that is not copyrighted, or that the rights owner wants to share. Only type d) is currently legal, but Lessig contends that b) and c) do not do any harm. The Napster problem can be solved, he suggests, by finding a way to deal with the harm that type a) file-sharing does to copyright holders.

After taking us to this critical point, however, 300 pages into his analysis, Lessig fails to deliver. There is, he says, a ”relatively simple way to compensate” copyright holders who are hurt by the more harmful kinds of downloading. He proposes a fund to pay creators whose work is shared, to be underwritten by ”an appropriate tax.” But after a brief description of the idea, which sounds on its face both impractical and politically unattainable, he refers the reader to another law professor’s book — one that has not yet been published, in fact — for a fuller explanation. Given the importance of ”Napsterization” to copyright today, it is hard not to feel cheated by this tease of a conclusion.

If Lessig’s views prevail, however, it will be far easier to produce derivative works that build and improve on existing expression. In that case, it is entirely possible that a future theorist will produce a book that starts with Lessig’s erudite explication of intellectual property law, and adds an equally thoughtful proposal for addressing the most difficult issue confronting it.

How To Win Friends and Influence People

US-Visit Spares No One — does anyone know if this system actually works yet? The NYTimes article: Millions More Travelers to U.S. to Face Fingerprints and Photos

From the Wired News article:

Under changes in the US-Visit program that will take effect by Sept. 30, they will be fingerprinted and photographed when they enter through any of 115 international airports and 14 seaports. There are no changes in unique rules covering visits by Canadians and Mexicans.

The Bush administration made the move after determining most of the so-called “visa-waiver countries” won’t meet an October deadline to have biometric passports, said Asa Hutchinson, undersecretary for border and transportation security. Such passports include fingerprint and iris identification features that make the documents virtually impossible to counterfeit.

The Times article suggests, unlike the Wired News article, that the Bush Administration would actually encourage other countries to institute similar rules:

He said he did not believe the move would deter tourists from visiting the United States, but acknowledged that some countries might retaliate by instituting tough new requirements for Americans traveling abroad. He went on to say the Bush administration would applaud such decisions from foreign leaders.

“We welcome other countries moving to this kind of system,” Mr. Hutchinson said at a news conference on Friday. “We fully expect that other countries will adopt similar procedures. We recognize that it’s a two-way street.”

I had assembled some materials in US-VISIT for a general exam question posed this January — here seems to be as good a place to put it:

The general exam question with links to the rather surprising RFP – read Section C for the scope of the task being considered.

Prof Susan Crawford @ The Copyright Office

Her talk is getting discussed all over: EFF, CopyFight

The copyright office serves the nation and communicates to the public about copyright policy.

[…] But I’m here to tell you during this peaceful lunchtime in this lovely setting, right here at the intersection of 12th and 5th, that copyright policy is being taken away from you

And you may never get it back; and if you’re told that you’re in charge of it, as you assist with international negotiations, you’re not being told the truth.

[…] But the polemics of copyright policy has become these days like a threat — if you’re not with us, you’re against us. There’s the rising perception that copyright owners have control over all unauthorized uses. As if the mere right to control is the ultimate end of copyright policy. It’s the new normal.

But you know that this new normal isn’t reflective of actual copyright policy as was intended in the Constitution or by the framers. And that the enlistment of neutral third parties in the implementation of this new normal (manufacturers, ISPs, software companies) is overreaching.

A key part of the copyright policy response has to be resisting the claimed “newness” of this situation. The same arguments are still being made over and over again about bad generation of internet users feeling they have an entitlement to listen to music while, meanwhile, new business models are taking off — and the video guys will have the same experience.

[…] You, the copyright office policy makers, are the keepers of the flame. Don’t let this happen. Don’t let copyright policy be made without you.

A Look At Janus

Microsoft’s iPod killer? (Slashdot discussion: Microsoft Preps ‘Janus’ Music Copy-Prevention Scheme)

Microsoft is expected to unveil copy-protection software this summer that will for the first time give portable digital music players access to tunes rented via all-you-can-eat subscription services–a development that some industry executives believe will shake up the online music business.

[…] Few online music subscription plans have enjoyed great success to date, but some music company executives said they believe Janus will make renting music more attractive to consumers and eventually give a la carte download services such as Apple Computer’s iTunes Music Store a run for their money.

Device makers, too, see the software as a way to take on Apple and its industry-leading iPod player, which for now offers no support for rented music. Anticipating the Janus release, MP3 player makers including Samsung have already begun advertising support for the technology in a handful of high-end products.

[…] David Card, a digital media analyst with Jupiter Research, said he doesn’t expect Janus to drive dramatic growth in online music subscriptions, adding that it could take years for music rentals to challenge CD and download sales, if they ever do.

“I think this is good, but it’s not as if this is a silver bullet,” he said. “It is important in adding another feature to the ultimate goal of creating the ‘celestial jukebox,’ but it’s probably not going to jump-start the market.”

[…] Although Microsoft plans to get into the retail music market, its primary ambition is to be a technology provider and ultimately make its software the de facto industry standard for encoding and playing back digital media files–goals toward which the company could take a big step if subscription services based on Janus catch on.

Microsoft has worked hard to establish its Windows Media file formats in the industry and has won converts among record labels and music services. But it has struggled to win over consumers, having made relatively little headway against the dominant MP3 file format even as it has drawn antitrust scrutiny over its digital media plans.