Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

Browsing Posts in DRM

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An overview of copy protection and DRM schemes used in computer gaming, covering the most notable and interesting methods from the late 70’s on up through today!

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In addition to all the garbage we already have to sit through to get to our movies on DVD and Blu-Ray, ICE and the FBI have come up with new logos that you will be forced to sit through every time you want to watch your legally purchased movie.

The US government yesterday rolled out not one but two copyright notices, one to “warn” and one to “educate.” Six major movie studios will begin using the new notices this week.

The main change is that Immigrations & Customs Enforcement (ICE) has, in the last several years, made itself a key player in the copyright wars. The FBI has shown extremely limited interest in going after individual websites, but ICE has done so with gusto; it has so far seized more than 750 domain names after rightsholder complaints. This new prominence is reflected in the broader logos used.

ICE now appears on both notices. The first notice shows the traditional FBI seal and a warning that “the unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement is investigated by federal law enforcement agencies and is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.” The logo for ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations unit now appears beside the FBI’s.

The second notice shows the logo for the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, which involves 20 different US government agencies. It features one extremely angry eagle who would probably pluck your eyeballs from your sockets if he could get those talons near you. “Piracy is not a victimless crime,” says the notice. “For more information on how digital theft harms the economy, please visit www.iprcenter.gov.”

The order of forced watching ridiculousness is as follows:

  • You will watch the previews. On some DVDs, these can’t be skipped.
  • At the main movie screen, you think everything is over and push play.
  • You’ll then be hit with the movie rating.
  • Next up is the IPR Center warning for ten seconds.
  • Immediately following that, the FBI warning appears for ten seconds.

As ICE Director John Morton announced in a statement yesterday, “Law enforcement must continue to expand how it combats criminal activity; public awareness and education are a critical part of that effort.”

And pissing off paying customers is, apparently, how they’ve decided is the best way to combat criminal activity. Meanwhile, anyone who knows how to will either make a rip of the movie themselves without the warnings or rely on their favorite pirating site to get the movie sans repetitive garbage tacked onto their movie.

As usual, the pirates will get more “customers” because they don’t annoy customers and have a better product than the DRM-laden offerings of the MPAA.

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Rhapsody has announced that they will be shutting down their RAX DRM encumbered music system and that users will have until November 7, 2011 to convert any music downloaded before July, 2008.

On November 7th, 2011 Rhapsody/RealNetworks will no longer support certain music files you purchased before July 2008. These songs will continue to play after November 7th unless you change to a new computer or substantially update your current computer. However, we strongly recommend you back up these RAX tracks to audio CD to ensure you can continue to enjoy your music.

Once you take this small step, you can continue to play these tracks on your audio CD or rip them to any format you desire and play them on your PC.

Please don’t delay – after we shut off support for RAX files, you will not be able to play them if you move to a new computer or upgrade your operating system.

While Rhapsody is allowing its customers to back up and convert their music, it is not as easy as they claim. If you own a few tracks, it might by easy, but if you own hundreds or thousands of music tracks, it becomes a cumbersome and time-consuming task.

There is also a question of legality. While Rhapsody is telling people how to circumvent the RAX DRM, it may not legally be able to. According to US law, unless Rhapsody owns the copyrights to the songs that use RAX DRM, then they are actually aiding others in breaking the law.

Section 103 (17 U.S.C Sec. 1201(a)(1)) of the DMCA states:

Q No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.

….

(A) to 「circumvent a technological measure」 means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner; and

(B) a technological measure 「effectively controls access to a work」 if the measure, in the ordinary course of its operation, requires the application of information, or a process or a treatment, with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain access to the work.

In the closing of Rhapsody’s RAX DRM, we see, yet again, how the music industry is punishing those who wish to legally purchase digital music. There are so many of these companies that have shut down over the past ten years that it is difficult to fault those who turn to piracy. By doing so, users do not have to worry about the DRM. They also do not worry about making upgrades to their computers and risking the loss of their music. They also do not have to worry about the limits of how many computers they can keep their music on. They simply listen to their music where ever and whenever they want. After experiencing ten years of attempting to do the right thing only to be screwed over again and again, why would anyone want to return to unhelpful DRM schemes?

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Today is the Day Against DRM.

Awareness is a key part of defeating DRM. Whether protesting outside Apple Stores in Hazmat suits as we have done in years past, handing out leaflets in front of public libraries, or sending direct complaints to senior executives at Sony, action gets attention, and creates space for change.

Take some time to read my posts about DRM, why it’s counterproductive, and how it only seems to affect legitimate users.  You can also read the numerous posts from last year about DRM.

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