August 12th, 2002, 09:29 PM
U.S. Copyright Law Has Hackers on the Defensive.
When Adam Bresson showed how to make copies of copyright-protected videos in a speech at a hacker conference this weekend he realized he was risking arrest for violating U.S. copyright law that landed a Russian man behind bars after the same event last year.
But 28-year-old Bresson had his mother, brother and grandparents in the audience and his girlfriend videotaping his talk at the three-day DefCon conference, just in case he was accused of treading too close to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA).
"There's a fine line between creating technologies that bypass copyright protections and demonstrating them," he said on Monday. "I decided to do it because I think the message is important."
His message: people's rights to make "fair use" copies of copyrighted material for personal use are being eroded by copyright holders.
He cited as examples recording companies selling CDs that can't be played in PCs or car CD players, movie studios selling DVDs that can only be viewed by people in specific geographic regions and emerging technologies that prevent people from copying their own CDs.
In his demonstration, Bresson used a device sold online for about $200 by United Kingdom-based Canopus. The box allows people to make copies of videocassettes and DVDs even if the video is locked with software to prevent such tampering.
Bresson also announced a new company he co-founded called GetAnyGame (http://********anygame.com) based in Lake Forest, California, that rents out people's used video games for a commission.
VIDEO GAME RENTALS FAIR GAME
The trade group for the video game industry did not object to the idea of Bresson's video game rental venture.
"Many consumers use rental as a way to sample games before they buy them," said Doug Lowenstein, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Interactive Digital Software Association. However, "It's imperative that people who are renting (out) the games are renting copies that they own as opposed to copies they made."
A spokeswoman for the Motion Picture Association of America said no one was available to comment.
A spokesman for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) said the trade group stands by its claims that anti-CD copying technologies are needed to curtail piracy.
The DMCA was on the minds of many at the legendary hacker conference, particularly given the arrest last year of 26-year-old Dmitry Sklyarov.
Sklyarov was arrested after giving a talk on unlocking electronic books. He and his employer, ElcomSoft Co. Ltd., were charged with violating the DMCA by writing and selling a program that allowed users of Adobe Systems Inc. ADBE.O eBook Reader to bypass anti-piracy technology.
Sklyarov was eventually released and allowed to return to Moscow with the promise that charges against him would be dropped if he served as a witness in the trial pending against ElcomSoft. Trial is set to begin Aug. 26 in federal court in San Jose, California.
After Bresson's talk, ElcomSoft defense attorney Joseph Burton gave a talk about the ElcomSoft case at DefCon, which ended on Sunday.
"I hope he's got a lawyer and that they talked to somebody," Burton said of Bresson.
Although he believed Bresson was safe because he merely showed how to use the technology and was not marketing or distributing it, "that doesn't mean you couldn't find a prosecutor who would take on the case," he added.
Companies have been quick to use the DMCA to threaten researchers and programmers with arrest.
Just last week Hewlett-Packard Co. HPQ.N cited the DMCA in a cease-and-desist letter sent to researchers who released software that would allow someone to exploit a hole in HP's Tru64 Unix operating system. Within days HP had backed off its threat to researchers at Boston-based SnoSoft.
In late July, HP convinced an employee to drop plans to demonstrate at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention how to break coding in DVD players that prevents them from being played outside a particular geographical region.
In June 2001, Princeton University computer science professor Ed Felten filed a lawsuit challenging the DMCA, saying the RIAA had threatened to sue him over his research on technology used to prevent piracy of digital music.
Felten dropped his lawsuit in February after a federal judge in New Jersey sided with the RIAA late last year.
That was a big risk he took in saying it at the conference. What is everyone's comments and opinion's on it?
August 12th, 2002, 09:46 PM
Yep confirms yet again and thanks JC another example if hiw corps got law makers in the pocket and strong arm everyone. Gawd did not the biggest Dons in the Mafia suffer so on their estates. Will not back down it is plain simple racketeering by copyright holders what no music scouts now days why cause the artist will want his share better to have a cattle call and market fluff cause that way you keep all the money. Laws are there just that there are no tech people is office that can look at em and say BS.
I believe that one of the characteristics of the human race - possibly the one that is primarily responsible for its course of evolution - is that it has grown by creatively responding to failure.- Glen Seaborg
August 12th, 2002, 09:48 PM
Thanks for the posting. There is a great issue with fair legal use of music and leg't purchased music and video. The problem is P2P sharing. I know I have used it and most likely will use it in the future. But you know if I run accross stuff that I really like.... I buy it! I want the legal stuff. I know many people who don't but DL the entire cd and burn it in order as it is on the original and all the difference is the nice cd cover and liner notes... well that one of the reason RIAA is a hound dog on this. I hate it all of it because when we give a step here soon you wont be able to lend your legally purchased cd to a friend to listen to... because he isnt the legal owner of theright to listen to it...this can get really nutts.... I heard mind you this is second hand smoke but one of the reasons the many of the local radio station stopped streaming their broadcast is the RIAA want them to pay for the time the stream lived on you local pc as another copy if the song that was played...That's just nutts. And I know there was a big huff about advertising dollars too... anyway... thanks for the post and listening to my ramblings....
edit: you know the real way to get the point accross is to start a grass root bycot on buying any new music, video, dvd... onyl buy the stuff from used merchants... hit them where it really hurts.... anyway just another random thought...
My other Computer is a 4000 node Beowulf Custer
August 13th, 2002, 12:02 AM
I came in to the world with nothing. I still have most of it.