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Thread: Student faces suit over key to CD locks

  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Sep 2003

    Student faces suit over key to CD locks

    SunnComm Technologies, a developer of CD antipiracy technology, said Thursday that it will likely sue a Princeton student who early this week showed how to evade the company's copy protection by pushing a computer's Shift key.

    Princeton Ph.D. student John "Alex" Halderman published a paper on his Web site on Monday that gave detailed instructions on how to disarm the SunnComm technology, which aims to block unauthorized CD copying and MP3 ripping. The technology is included on an album by Anthony Hamilton that was recently distributed by BMG Music.

    On Thursday, SunnComm CEO Peter Jacobs said the company plans legal action and is considering both criminal and civil suits. He said it may charge the student with maligning the company's reputation and, possibly, with violating copyright law that bans the distribution of tools for breaking through digital piracy safeguards.

    "We feel we were the victim of an unannounced agenda and that the company has been wronged," Jacobs said. "I think the agenda is: 'Digital property should belong to everyone on the Internet.' I'm not sure that works in the marketplace."

    The cases are already being examined by some intellectual-property lawyers for their potential to test the extremes of a controversial copyright law that block the distribution of information or software that breaks or "circumvents" copy-protection technologies.

    Several civil and criminal cases based on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act have been filed against people who distributed information or software aimed at breaking through antipiracy locks. In one, Web publisher Eric Corley was banned by a federal judge from publishing software code that helped in the process of copying DVDs.

    In a criminal case, Russian company ElcomSoft was cleared of charges that it had distributed software that willfully broke through Adobe Systems' e-book copy protection.

    Both of those cases dealt with software or software code, however. The issue in Halderman's case is somewhat different.

    In his paper, published on the Princeton Web site on Monday, the student explained that the SunnComm technique relies on installing antipiracy software directly from the protected CD itself. However, this can be prevented by stopping Microsoft Windows' "auto-run" feature. That can be done simply by pushing the Shift key as the CD loads.

    If the CD does load and installs the software, Halderman identified the driver file that can be disabled using standard Windows tools. Free-speech activists said the nature of Halderman's instructions--which appeared in an academic paper, used only functions built into every Windows computer, and were not distributed for profit--meant they would not fall under DMCA scrutiny.

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  2. #2
    AO übergeek phishphreek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    ROFL Yeah... right. Like they are going to sucessfully sue someone for somthing like that.

    Now... if they wrote software or something to disable the software...

    I'm not sure of the limits of the DMCA....

    Guess I'm off to read more bout the DMCA.

    I'm wondering if this company can be sued because they are installing software onto your computer without your concent. If it is automatically installed, and you don't agree to the terms of use, etc.

    Another qustion I have... I disabled the auto-run feature for ALL my CDs. Not specifically to bypass the protection that this company installs on your computer. Can I be sued for that?!

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    <(bearly) sarcasm>
    In other news, all keyboard and computer makers will be sued for making and shipping computers with a shift key as well as microsoft for making it possible to turn off the auto-run feature. Other operating system makers that do not have a auto-run feature or is not enabled by default will also be sued...
    </(bearly) sarcasm>

    Credit travels up, blame travels down -- The Boss

  4. #4
    AO Ancient: Team Leader
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    I dunno.... It sounds like a lame "security" company producing _really_ lame "security" and then whining like a three year old when their Auntie Martha breaks it......

    C'mon.... Holding down the <shift> key disables half of M$' products..... Why do they think that someone wouldn't try it????? Utter Morons........
    Don\'t SYN us.... We\'ll SYN you.....
    \"A nation that draws too broad a difference between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools.\" - Thucydides

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    So if you don't press the shift key then the software is installed without your concent? hmm
    Or is there a note saying that by playing the CD you concent to having thier software installed?

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    well the fact that they are invoking the DMCA is a bad thing, and most likely means they will go forward with this suit.

    waverebel - the files are undisclosed BUT installed at the users express consent.

    I found another article on this on yahoo

    Give a man a match and he will be warm for a while, light him on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Jan 2003
    As far as I know linux has never autoplayed a cd without asking me? So would they sue me for listening to it on my linux computer and not clicking yes to autoplay?

    the Open Source model doesn\'t offer any great benefit in
    terms of reliability and security. -Bill Gates

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    They don't have a chance of winning that law suit

  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Although i want to agree with crashburn...but something is telling me they might have a chance with the suit, ridiculous as it may sound. The wording on the DMCA is so vague that it seems to cover everything related to copy protection. even if the copy protection in this case is very lame. it so easy to break, my grandmother could break it. and they try to protect it using the DMCA. they just realised that they are not gonna make any $ from this so they try to sue a student who is showing the flaws of the protection.

    They already conned BMG into using their method and BMG probably paid for it. they were thinking that more record companies will pay them and then someone showed the flaws on the system and they are pissed.

    I think the DMCA should be scrapped. if the protection is so easy to break people should be able to publish ways around the protection. we can read books on lock picking but how come no one is sued for publishing those books. isnt it the same thing?

  10. #10
    they really are wasting their time
    click here to hack my computer and delete all my important files

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