There are companies who don’t like it too much when they find that their products are being pirated and shared over the internet, understandably enough. We mostly hear about the actions of the Music And Film Associations of America (RIAA and MPAA) here, and how they react by sueing both the living and the dead. Reactions so out of proportions that few have sympathy with them, even if they are the wronged ones.
But — what if the MAFIAA and their helpers react by doing things on the wrong side of the law? There has been suspicions that such is the case, and at least one episode where this has been claimed, though I believe the (US) court sided with the
money music industry in that one. However, recently emails have leaked from MediaDefender, a company used by the MAFIAA in their fight against file sharers, and these emails have been shared and scrutinized by many. What have been found?
Well, the guys at the Pirate Bay have found enough to go to the police, reporting several companies. Oh, the irony. The companies behind the earlier attempt to take down the Pirate Bay find themselves on the wrong end of the stick? But — no one should be above the law.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
If we listen to RIAA, it sounds like the only sensible stance to take against piracy and file sharing is to sue your own customers, and with the exception of several of the artists themselves, this seems to be the view of the rest of the music business, too. Except – it’s not so.
Canadian artist label and management company Nettwerk Music Group has joined the fight against the RIAA on behalf of consumers who wish to download music. This happens after RIAA sued a man for alleged file sharing of 9 tunes, including one by Avril Lavigne, a Nettwerk Management client.
“Suing music fans is not the solution, it’s the problem,” stated Terry McBride, C.E.O of Nettwerk Music Group.
I wonder if RIAA will ever see it this way…
Not many days have passed since Sony got negative attention for its DRM protection of Copy Protected CDs, to which they were quickly issuing an update to remove it.Or – did they? The update is 3.5 MB, seems to update all the files, and leaves some more files there, according to Ed Felten, who had looked a bit closer at it:
The update is more than 3.5 megabytes in size, and it appears to contain new versions of almost all the files included in the initial installation of the entire DRM system, as well as creating some new files. In short, theyâ€™re not just taking away the rootkit-like function â€” theyâ€™re almost certainly adding things to the system as well. And once again, theyâ€™re not disclosing what theyâ€™re doing.
No doubt theyâ€™ll ask us to just trust them. I wouldnâ€™t. The companies still assert â€” falsely â€” that the original rootkit-like software â€œdoes not compromise securityâ€ and â€œ[t]here should be no concernâ€ about it. So I wouldnâ€™t put much faith in any claim that the new update is harmless. And the companies claim to have developed â€œnew ways of cloaking files on a hard driveâ€. So I wouldnâ€™t derive much comfort from carefully worded assertions that they have removed â€œthe â€¦ component .. that has been discussedâ€.
But, there’s more – related to the rootkit, unrelated to the “fix”.
Use the rootkit to cheat other companies
Players of World of Warcraft don’t like the game makers, and the controversial tactics to avoid cheating in the game. (To my limited understanding – I don’t play it myself.) The program ‘Warden’ scans the players’ PCs, to make sure there’s no processes running tohelp cheating in the game.
Sony to the rescue – their rootkit DRM helps War of Worldcraft hackers to fool the Warden. After all, with the DRM rootkit installed, all that is needed to hide a process is to start the filename with $sys$ – right?
When it was discovered that Sony took its DRM-implementation too far it was something that didn’t escape the news. It was discussed all over the place, and didn’t give Sony high thoughts.
Sony has reacted, and posted a service pack/update that removes the cloaking technology. But does it apologise? No – instead it downplays the problems, saying it wasn’t malicious and didn’t compromise security.
Funny. I thought the previous article showed how easy security could be compromised…
Bad move, not to apologise. If Sony doesn’t regret the actions, what can we expect from the company later?
Today I was made aware of an article called Sony, Rootkits and Digital Rights Management Gone Too Far by Mark Russinovich – and it’s scary news. Mark had bought a Copy Controlled CD made by Sony, and as a result from playing it on his PC, Sony had taken the liberty to install software on his computer – and hidden it.
One thing is to try to limit what can be done with the music on the CD, but trying to hide that you’ve installed software, and make it very difficult to uninstall, that’s going too far. Especially as the software in question takes up resources, poses a security risk, and may also be unstable in itself. This sounds too much alike what is commonly known as malware.
Another question that begs to be asked is: Is what Sony has done here legal? Sony may write about this in their EULA, (but it is not certain that they actually do this, even after they updated it after the fact,) but an EULA can’t override laws – not everywhere at least – and may even be known before the product is bought to be valid.
Maybe it’s time for consumers to sue?
Here in Norway the discussions have been hot after a law proposal that would make it illegal to copy a copy-protected CD to your MP3-player. One commented: With such a law, who would buy CDs? Needless to say, suggestions to get the music straight from the web flourished, and it could be burned to CDs afterwards – but where from? Digital music with DRM isn’t something consumers are too fond of, either…
One site recommended by some, was a Russian site: AllOfMP3.com – cheap, DRM free, and lot’s of formats, even lossless. While some already had tried it and felt it as a positive experience with no problems, it still didn’t take long before the words “russian mafia” were heard (or read) in connection with that site. Is it because of prejudice, or the truth? Museekster has made a review of Allofmp3, answering the legality and safety of using this site, and some more.
So it may be a great service (I haven’t tested it) for getting hold of well-known artists, but what about the lesser known and unknown artists out there? There are more sites out there, that offer DRM-free music. I’ll list up some I know here:
Well – there are lot’s more, of course. I don’t know them all 😉