AP Wirestory Points Out The Obvious

Copy Protection Still a Work in Progress [pdf]

Factor in lawsuits that Sony BMG could face, and it’s worth wondering whether the costs of XCP and its aftermath might even exceed whatever piracy losses the company would have suffered without it.

That’s not even accounting for the huge public relations backlash that hit Sony BMG, the second-largest music label, half-owned by Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE – news). and half by Bertelsmann AG.

“I think they’ve set back audio CD protection by years,” said Richard M. Smith, an Internet privacy and security consultant. “Nobody will want to pull a `Sony’ now.”

Phil Leigh, analyst for Inside Digital Media, said the debacle shows just how reluctant the labels are to change their business model to reflect the distribution powers — good and bad — of the Internet. He believes that rather than adopting technological methods to try to stop unauthorized copying of music, record companies need to do more to remove the incentive for piracy.

“The biggest mistake the labels are making is, they’re letting their lawyers make technical decisions. Lawyers don’t have any better understanding of technology than a cow does algebra,” Leigh said. “They insist on chasing this white whale.”

Slashdot’s Music Industry Backlash Against Sony Rootkit

Whistling Past The Graveyard? Or Something Else?

Networks Say TV Ads Still Matter [pdf]

The 30-second commercial isn’t dead after all.

At least that’s what the six broadcast networks — CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, UPN and the WB — joined together to argue Wednesday, citing new research they contend shows digital video recorders such as TiVo don’t pose as big a threat to the traditional TV spot as once feared.

[…] The view presented by networks was undeniably self-serving since commercial spots are the bread and butter of the TV business. But executives sought to use new research to poke holes in the notion that when technology makes it easier to skip over ads, people will stop watching them altogether.

[…] The networks said their own research showed that more than half of DVR users paid attention to commercials and that they recalled spots they saw. The network studies also indicated something surprising: that 53% of DVR users have gone back to watch commercials they initially fast-forwarded through.

NBC Universal and P2P

NBC Universal, P2P firm launch on-demand films [pdf]

NBC Universal has struck a deal with technology and commerce specialist Wurld Media that will make selected movies available for on-demand downloading via peer-to-peer distribution early next year.

[…] NBC Universal added that it partnered with Wurld Media because of its commitment to carry only authorized content on its secure Peer Impact network.

Searls’ On Metaphors, the Internet and Fighting for the Future

This is too long to excerpt from, but it’s (changed my mind)

Worth reading more than once: Saving the Net: How to Keep the Carriers from Flushing the Net Down the Tubes

To sum up, the Net has all these natures:

  1. transport system (pipes)

  2. place (or world)

  3. publishing system

–and others as well. But those aren’t at war with one another, and that’s what matters most.

Right now #1 is at war with #2 and #3, and that war isn’t happening only in the media and in congressional hearing rooms. It’s happening in our own heads. When we talk about “delivering content to consumers through the Net”, rather than “selling products to customers on the Net”, we take sides with #1 against #2. We unconsciously agree that the Net is just a piping system. We literally devolve: our lungs turn to gills, our legs turn into flippers, and we waddle back into the sea–where we are eaten by sharks.

What I’m talking about here isn’t “just semantics” or trivial in any other way. It’s fundamental, especially to lawmaking and regulation.

[…] Advocating and saving the Net is not a partisan issue. Lawmakers and regulators aren’t screwing up the Net because they’re “Friends of Bush” or “Friends of Hollywood” or liberals or conservatives. They’re doing it because one way of framing the Net–as a transport system for content–is winning over another way of framing the Net–as a place where markets and business and culture and governance can all thrive. […] Freedom, independence, the sovereignty of the individual, private rights and open frontiers are a few among many values shared by progressives and conservatives. All are better supported, in obvious ways, by the Net as a place rather than as a transport system.

[Via Slashdot’s Flushing the Net Down the Tubes]

Be Afraid. Be Very, Very Afraid.

Real Story of the Rogue Rootkit

The story to pay attention to here is the collusion between big media companies who try to control what we do on our computers and computer-security companies who are supposed to be protecting us.

[…] What do you think of your antivirus company, the one that didn’t notice Sony’s rootkit as it infected half a million computers? And this isn’t one of those lightning-fast internet worms; this one has been spreading since mid-2004. Because it spread through infected CDs, not through internet connections, they didn’t notice? This is exactly the kind of thing we’re paying those companies to detect — especially because the rootkit was phoning home.

But much worse than not detecting it before Russinovich’s discovery was the deafening silence that followed. When a new piece of malware is found, security companies fall over themselves to clean our computers and inoculate our networks. Not in this case.

[…] What happens when the creators of malware collude with the very companies we hire to protect us from that malware?

[…] Who are the security companies really working for? It’s unlikely that this Sony rootkit is the only example of a media company using this technology. Which security company has engineers looking for the others who might be doing it? And what will they do if they find one? What will they do the next time some multinational company decides that owning your computers is a good idea?

These questions are the real story, and we all deserve answers.

Slashdot’s Real Story of the Rogue Rootkit; also GrokLaw’s MS’ Reaction to Sony’s Rootkit Raises Some Questions; also Slashdot’s DVD Jon’s Code In Sony Rootkit? (also Did Sony ‘rootkit’ pluck from open source?

CNet’s summary page for their coverage: Will Sony’s DRM nightmare affect future policies? (we can hope!)

Forbes Reports iTunes Flat Pricing To End?

EMI Says Apple’s Jobs Will Change ITunes Pricing [pdf]

Today EMI Group boss Alain Levy said at press conference today that he believed Jobs would introduce multiple price points for iTunes music within the next year. Apple (nasdaq: AAPL – news – people )officials were unavailable for comment. If Levy is correct, the new pricing scheme would mark a turnaround for Jobs, who has argued that a buck a song was an easy to understand proposition for consumers and a victory for the music business, which has been calling for the move for the past several months.

Slashdot’s Apple iTunes to End Flat Fee Pricing?

David Berlind on the Digital (Rights) Future

How to stop Hollywood and Congress from trampling on your constitutional rights

Between broadcast flag-type legislation and other laws that prohibit the sale of products that can make uncopyprotected, unDRM’d, redistributable copies of digital content and analog hole-plugging legislation, recording technologies as we’re used to knowing them could become a relic of the past (as too would our constitutionally granted fair use rights). But just in case that doesn’t get the message across to the innovators and Americans who are determined to preserve their fair use rights — the message that Tellywood and Congress will control the horizontal and the vertical (and the audible) — there’s also the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (the DMCA) which basically outlaws your right to exercise your constitutionally granted fair use rights by circumventing any technological measures that the manufacturer-side legislation puts into place. […]

[…] Along those same lines, and in the spirit of public outcry, write to your Congresspeople and ask them to oppose the three forms of legislation — any broadcast flag laws, the HD Radio Content Protection Act, and the Analog Content Security Preservation Act — currently under consideration by Congress. While you’re at it, remind them that your not at all too pleased with the DMCA either. Threaten to vote them out unless they not only respect your rights, but stand up for them for them as well. After all, isn’t that what our system of representation is all about?

i2hub Next To Close

I2hub latest P2P service to shut down [pdf]

I2hub, the superfast Internet service popular with college students, shut down Tuesday.

Logging onto i2hub.com (http://www.i2hub.com/) brought up a Web page with a ghostly image of a man walking away, with the words “Remember i2hub” superimposed over the image and “RIP 03.14.2005-11.14.05” written below it. I2hub was one of seven peer-to-peer services that received a cease-and-desist letter from the

Recording Industry Association of America.

The dates in the i2hub screencap above go to the following bookend articles from CNet: File-swapping gets supercharged on student network and Supercharged college P2P network closes. The other link goes to Pacific Northwest Software.

Also in today’s yesterday’s Tech: RIAA Suits Continue; i2hub Server Shuts Down

Related from Inside Higher Ed: After ‘Grokster,’ the Battle Continues [pdf] (Note that Dartmouth government majors apparently can be as confused as anyone when it comes to copyright policy and fair use.)

Joe Malchow, a government major at Dartmouth College, is concerned about moral issues stemming from the i2hub shutdown.

“The idea that a few students can come up with a highly effective medium of data transmission — which doesn’t use central file storage and doesn’t in any way advocate copyright violation — and then have their invention threatened out of existence is demoralizing to would-be college programmers,” he said. A contributor to dartblog.com, Malchow added: “To say that i2hub cannot exist because it facilitates piracy is no more rational than saying the Second Amendment ought to be repealed because guns are sometimes used for crime, or that Movable Type or Blogspot.com ought to be banned because bloggers sometimes quote, technically illegally, The Wall Street Journal.”

Even if well-publicized peer-to-peer services do continue to fold, some students argue that the ability to download free music will be a way of life for the foreseeable future.

Piling On

Boy, I’m sure that Sony is *real* happy about DRM now: Experts: Sony Plan Widens Security Hole [pdf]

The fallout from a hidden copy-protection program that Sony BMG Music Entertainment put on some CDs is only getting worse. Sony’s suggested method for removing the program actually widens the security hole the original software created, researchers say.

[…] “This is a surprisingly bad design from a security standpoint,” said Ed Felten, a Princeton University computer science professor who explored the removal program with a graduate student, J. Alex Halderman. “It endangers users in several ways.”

[…] To get the uninstall program, users have to request it by filling out online forms. Once submitted, the forms themselves download and install a program designed to ready the PC for the fix. Essentially, it makes the PC open to downloading and installing code from the Internet.

According to the Princeton analysis, the program fails to make the computer confirm that such code should come only from Sony or First 4 Internet.

“The consequences of the flaw are severe,” Felten and Halderman wrote in a blog posting Tuesday. “It allows any Web page you visit to download, install, and run any code it likes on your computer. Any Web page can seize control of your computer; then it can do anything it likes. That’s about as serious as a security flaw can get.”

Making The Most Of Video Downloading

As mentioned yesterday: Mini-Porn Could Be Mega-Business [pdf]

Apple Computer Inc. took 20 days to reach 1 million downloads of video files from its online store; the Web site SuicideGirls, offering free videos of unclothed models, hit the mark in about a week.

One of the quickest industries to take advantage of the new video iPod, and other new gadgets, is one that has often been at the forefront of other technological innovations: porn.