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“Shift Key” Madness

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Is it the moon, something in the water, the Cubs and Red Sox both getting out of the first round of the playoffs? First the Tommy Chong sentence, now this.

We told you a couple of days ago about the Halderman report on the flaws in SunnComm’s “secure digital” format. Now SunnComm is threatening to sue:

    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 laws that block the distribution of information or software that breaks or “circumvents” copy-protection technologies.

    ….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.

    “This is completely outrageous,” said Fred von Lohmann, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group that has previously represented computer academics concerned that copyright law would impair their ability to publish. “This is not black hat (hackers’) exploits he’s revealing. This is Windows 101…It is relatively hard to imagine any better example of how the DMCA has been misused since it was passed five years ago.” [CNET]

The petulant pricks are mad that their elaborate “system” can be so easily circumvented. This is an academic review of the system – tough shit, it doesn’t work very well. Should Halderman have pretended it does work well? Should he have lied? Should we all remove the shift key from our computers? I don’t know how much more massively stupid shit I can take today without breaking something.

    Halderman said he’s not overly worried about the legal threat. The EFF represented his advisor, Princeton professor Edward Felten, in a lawsuit dealing with academic freedom to publish computer security information, and Princeton University supported Felten in that case.

    “I expect I will be well represented in the case of a lawsuit,” Halderman said. “If pressing the Shift key is a violation of the DMCA, then the law needs to be changed.”

Finally – the voice of reason.

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About Eric Olsen

  • Michael Croft

    If distributing tools to violate the DRM scheme is a crime, they need to sue the manufacturers of keyboards.

    The Register also takes this on. They claim that there can’t be a violation unless the report is true.

    Oddly, Mac OS X dropped the autostart feature they rely on some versions ago because it might be used to deliver a virus. There are rare cases under which an OS X mac will autostart (involving Classic Quicktime Settings), but most Macs require less than a shift-key to never see this protection…

  • andy

    Eric, please keep me in mind as I am being sued by MS because I wrote an article about how pressing the shift key makes letters capitol….

  • Eric Olsen

    This is absurd beyond reason – Andy, you probably should contact the EFF about your suit.

  • andy

    I thought it would help them gain capitol! Get it? haha

  • Michael Croft

    Geez Andy, didn’t you realize that it was a capitol offense?

  • Eric Olsen

    Just like shooting the sheriff.

    Aren’t we actually talking about “capitAl,” though?

  • andy

    look Eric, the Mennenite/Mennonite joke got ruined. Don’t spoil this one too!

  • Chris Arabia

    g’head, spoil it.

    (the mennenite guy)

  • frost@work

    oh boy… Eric and Andy, after school, behind the dumpsters.

    I seem to be egging andy into quite a few fights lately…

  • Eric Olsen

    I don’t think either joke was “spoiled” – just clarified. I’ve had to beat up too many people lately – Andy is my pal.

  • frost@work


  • Eric Olsen

    I am lean but insane and mean

  • frost@work

    well, at least one of us are lean.

  • Eric Olsen

    not as lean as I used to be – at one point I was 6’1″ 158lbs, now closer to 180 (okay, a little over)

  • frost@work

    I’m about 5’10”. I used to weigh a whopping 290, but I’m down to 220 now. So if by lean, you mean fat, then yes, I too am lean… but thankfully not as ‘lean’ as I was (thank you perscription drugs!)

  • andy

    Well Eric I’d snap you if you weren’t my pal. I’m 6’4″ 300lbs. I’m working on getting lean. I hate trying to lose weight, but I hate being fat even more.

  • frost@work

    meridia my friend. $100 a month.

  • Eric Olsen

    I could definitely lose 5-10 lbs, but most of my change has been “maturity” and working out fiendishly for 25 years (though less fiendishly over the last 5 or so). The 158 was in my early 20s.

  • frost@work

    ha! The 190 was in my early 20’s. I weigh less now than I have in years. I’m going to go back on Meridia soon. I’d like to get down to 165-170. That would be ideal for my frame (which means I’m built like a tank).

  • Eric Olsen

    good for you! Stay with it, my problem has always been gaining weight, but now it’s easy, just not the right kind of weight. When I graduated high scool I was about maybe 5’10” 140

  • Andy

    I’m determined to stick w/ it. My woman is helping me too. We’ve been walking every morning before work, which is nice for me and easier to stick w/ something. I am getting control of my eating habbits too. I figure for beint 6’4″, if I could lose 50lbs, be around 250, that would still be husky, but would be ok for my build. I’m a tank as well. Most people say I don’t look as much as I weight because I have a large frame. NOt a huge gut, just large overall(which, if you’re gonna be overweight, that’s the way to do it!)

  • frost@work

    agreed. you sound like a tall version of me.

  • ataboy

    SunnComm accused Halderman of wrongdoing for exposing their weak copy protection. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. Is SunnComm without sin?

    In December 2000, SunnComm announced a $20M deal with Will-Shown, who they described as a major Pacific Rim CD Manufacturer.

    SunnComm Inks $20+ Million Copy Protection Deal With Major Pacific Rim CD Manufacturer

    People are asking who is the Will-Shown Technology Company. Why would a CD manufacturer license copy protection? It is not a record label. Why would it commit so much to an untested product by a penny stock with no track record? How could a major Pacific Rim CD manufacturer not have a web site? How come it is not even mentioned on the web by anyone else? The stock price tripled in the days after the announcement. Who can find Will-Shown and clear up the mystery? A major Pacific Rim CD Manufacturer couldn’t just vanish like that, could it?

    SunnComm was previously named Desert Winds Entertainment. The SEC found a little problem with them:

    Paloma appointed Jacobs as president and Jacobs, who accused Halderman of wrong doing, was the person responsible for the Will-Shown press release.

  • Eric Olsen

    Ataboy, very interesting, please let us know about any further developments.