Copyright vs free speech

By curtailing the powers of the spy agencies, we could restore the internet to its original functionality and openness while maintaining the right to privacy and free speech – but maintaining a 20th-century copyright/IP model at the same time is impossible. Or we could give up our privacy and other civil rights to allow specific protected industries to carry on coining it in. A last option would be to switch off the internet. But that is not realistic: modern countries could not survive a day without the internet, any more than they could function without electricity.

As a society, we’re going through the painful realization that we can only have two out of the three options. Different corporatist interest groups would no doubt make different choices but, along with the vast majority of the people, I opt for the internet and privacy as both a free channel for communication and the free transfer of useful information.

Like any social change (the abolition of slavery, universal suffrage), this is also accompanied by heated arguments, legal threats and repression, and lobbyist propaganda. But historically, all this sound and fury will signify…precisely nothing. Maybe at some point, basic civil rights will make a comeback, upheld by the legislature and protected by law enforcement.

The choice is simple: internet, privacy, copyright. We can only choose two, and I know which I choose.

Annie Machon — RT Op-Edge

Virtually Unbreakable

 “We apply our BrainTrust™ proprietary video encryption to your movies before we upload them to our servers. If someone ever was able to gain access to your content, the files would be useless and unplayable, because they are stored in a scrambled, encrypted format. Once downloaded to the user’s hard drive, the files are still encrypted and only readable via the MOD Machine Player by a legitimate owner. We are not aware of a better DRM scheme than ours. Where Windows Media DRM is easily crackable, and doesn’t run on Macs, BrainTrust™ works great on Windows 8, Vista, Windows XP and Mac, and is virtually uncrackable.”

Virtually uncrackable? Well, since they load the file from a Python script, it’s easy to make a copy of the “decrypted” file before it’s reverted. Having done so, I was curious to see the encryption scheme. By comparing the binary files, I discovered the “proprietary video encryption” algorithm: for the first 15kB, each 1kB block has its initial bytes xor’d with the string “RANDOM_STRING”. That’s the “scrambled, encrypted format” that leaves these files “useless and unplayable”.

Asher Langton – Google+

I fail to understand how reasonable knowledgable people can think that there’s some way of delivering information to a person without actually “Delivering the Information”! If you’re providing me with the video/music/text, in whatever format, in whatever encryption, and then you provide me with a key and/or player program, you ARE PROVIDING ME WITH THAT DATA!

The “security” around my content can be broke, it will be broke and there’s no way in hell that anything built under this logic is unbreakable. Because you’re not trying to keep the information safe from me, you’re just trying to control how i can access it. So you’re forced to surrender a way of rendering it “readable” but then you try to control when or how i can read it. Does any of this seem any logic to anyone?

“Hey, here’s my encrypted book, and here’s a key for decrypting it, but be advised you may only read it at daytime.”

What will stop me from reading it at night? Even if the letters in the decryption key or book were only visible at daytime due to some magic ink, why couldn’t i just make a copy of it at daytime and read it at night? If this kind of reasoning and problem thinking seems ridiculous to you, congratulations, you’re a giant step ahead than the entire Media Industry executives, worldwide. (( And some software executives as well. Specially the Gaming executives… ))

Everyone that has given this two minutes of serious thinking will tell you that the only way to curb piracy is to offer a good service and value for money. Or simply abandon the current line of business and try to make your revenue in other related service line such as Support or Merchandising. It strikes me as unbelievable stupid that this kind of “unbreakable security” myth lives on and is relied upon.

In Technology Wars, Using the Patent as a Sword

When Apple announced last year that all iPhones would come with a voice-activated assistant named Siri, capable of answering spoken questions, Michael Phillips’s heart sank.For three decades, Mr. Phillips had focused on writing software to allow computers to understand human speech. In 2006, he had co-founded a voice recognition company, and eventually executives at Apple, Google and elsewhere proposed partnerships. Mr. Phillips’s technology was even integrated into Siri itself before the digital assistant was absorbed into the iPhone.

But in 2008, Mr. Phillips’s company, Vlingo, had been contacted by a much larger voice recognition firm called Nuance. “I have patents that can prevent you from practicing in this market,” Nuance’s chief executive, Paul Ricci, told Mr. Phillips, according to executives involved in that conversation.

Mr. Ricci issued an ultimatum: Mr. Phillips could sell his firm to Mr. Ricci or be sued for patent infringements. When Mr. Phillips refused to sell, Mr. Ricci’s company filed the first of six lawsuits.

Soon after, Apple and Google stopped returning phone calls. The company behind Siri switched its partnership from Mr. Phillips to Mr. Ricci’s firm. And the millions of dollars Mr. Phillips had set aside for research and development were redirected to lawyers and court fees.

When the first lawsuit went to trial last year, Mr. Phillips won. In the companies’ only courtroom face-off, a jury ruled that Mr. Phillips had not infringed on a broad voice recognition patent owned by Mr. Ricci’s company.

But it was too late. The suit had cost $3 million, and the financial damage was done. In December, Mr. Phillips agreed to sell his company to Mr. Ricci. “We were on the brink of changing the world before we got stuck in this legal muck,” Mr. Phillips said.

New York

Pinch-to-Zoom and Rounded Rectangles: What the Jury Didn’t Say

How did so many get this so wrong? I fear it betrays something ugly about the way tech reporting works–and doesn’t work–these days. Depth, expertise, and reflection are all lacking. So is serious research. If you are going to write about a patent case, it’s a good idea to read the patents in dispute. Reading patents is not a particularly pleasant business. The language is tedious, legalistic, and often deliberately obfuscatory; you want to give the Patent Office the required information while giving away as little as possible to your competitors. But reading the claims, the critical section of the patent, isn’t all that difficult. There are a total of  101 claims for the three patents and they fill about five printed pages. Yet I suspect very few of the people who wrote about the trial actually made the effort. If they had, they would have known that the range of gestures covered was much narrower than has generally been reported.

I’m not sure where the idea that pinch and stretch was at stake originated. It seems to have crept  into the trial coverage at some point and become part of the folklore of the case. And when the jury announced that it had found infringement by Samsung on all three utility patents, a large number of writers seemingly assumed that one of those covered the gesture. In the case of rounded rectangles, Samsung’s obfuscation certainly contributed. So did a general hostility toward the entire patent system in the tech community, including tech writers, which created a readiness to believe in the most absurd interpretation of the outcome.

Steve Wildstrom – TechPinions

Releasing Outside the App Store

Scary piracy

My perception: Apps will be pirated.

The reality: Yes, that will happen, no matter what you do. Guaranteed. Can’t stop it. Can’t prevent it without (unreasonable, for most cases) amounts of effort. It happens to App Store apps too, all the time.

Suggestion: Seriously, don’t worry about it. Most people don’t pirate stuff unless it’s trivially easy to do so, and/or you make legitimate purchasing unduly difficult or expensive (see The Piracy Threshold).

Just accept that it’s going to happen, and don’t lose any sleep over it. Take it as a compliment that hacknerds want your stuff. As long as enough people do actually pay for your software, what do you really care anyway?

How long it’ll take: To not worry it? Zero minutes. Do something fun instead.

Notes: Maybe read a book? Not a technical book. A novel. Or head to the pub for a while.

Matt Gemmell

This is probably the sanest thing about piracy i’ve heard in a long time. It’s gone happen, you can’t stop it, just make some minimum level of protection so that most honest/regular people can buy it and stop worrying about it.

The whole insane level of protection of big developer house games / software that makes you jump through 99 loops before you can play is not only insulting to honest buyers but mindlessly useless. If it can be built, it can be hacked and it will be. The only persons you’re inconveniencing are the ones that actually bought your game and didn’t got it already cracked from the web. Those who did got it cracked from the web, actually manage to get a better gaming experience, essentially due to the developers efforts to screw its paying customers. Does that make any sense?

For a personal anecdote, let’s say hypothetically that i once managed to get hold of one of those cracked games downloaded from the web somewhere… Let’s say hypothetically, that i loved the game so much that i went and bought the game in a promotion due to me wanting the full experience, the nice box and manual, and also so that i could give back to the developers. Let’s also say hypothetically, that the game had a CD verification system that required that i carried the optical disk all the time with me if i wanted to play. Let’s say hypothetically that this was somewhere in the last 4 years, where laptops are omnipresent and over the internet verification / activation where already the norm. Let’s also say hypothetically that it mainly wasn’t even an online multiplayer game but a regular single player offline game.

See the problem here? If i wanted to play the legitimate legal copy of the game, i had to carry a CD and insert it, and spend battery just spinning the thing so that the game could start. (( also increasing the physical damage to the media disk. )) If i just went and played the illegal downloaded copy, i wouldn’t have such limitation and could just enjoy the game whenever and wherever i wanted. Let’s say hypothetically, that for the first months i didn’t even played the game because every time i remembered and had time to play, i wasn’t even near the physical media. Do you wanna take a wild guess how much time it took me to go back and just download the illegal copy again so that i could play the game when i wanted? (hypothetically, off course…)

A proposal for Copyright Reform

Today’s copyright legislation is out of balance, and out of tune with the times. It has turned an entire generation of young people into criminals in the eyes of the law, in a futile attempt at stopping tech- nological development. Yet file sharing has continued to grow ex- ponentially. Neither propaganda, fear tactics, nor ever harsher laws have been able to stop the development.

It is impossible to enforce the ban against non-commercial file sharing without infringing on fundamental human rights. As long as there are ways for citizens to communicate in private, they will be used to share copyrighted materials. The only way to even try to limit file sharing is to remove the right to private communication. In the last decade, this is the direction that copyright enforcement legislation has moved in, under pressure from big business lobby- ists who see their monopolies under threat. We need to reverse this trend to safeguard fundamental rights.

The Pirate Party Copyright Reform Proposal

Why Do Copyright Industry Profits Get To Be The Yardstick For Civil Liberties?

“The role of any entrepreneur is to make money given the contemporary constraints of society and technology. They do not get to dismantle civil liberties, even if – and perhaps especially if – they are unable to make money in the face of sustained civil liberties.”

Rick Falkvinge – Techdirt

“Now they resort to logic! By God man, where will this end?” – says the Big Media executive…