Cinavia is one of the things that the “universal backdoor” of forced software updates is capable of imposing.
So, I noticed this new-ish form of DRM, called “Cinavia”.
It’s basically an audio watermark that can be embedded into the soundtrack of a movie in theatrical release, or on Blu Ray and DVD discs.
Yes, I said DVDs. It can be “backported” onto the DVD format without changing the specification, and Blu Ray players or playback software that recognizes the Cinavia DRM will recognize it.
DVD players, Blu Ray Players that have not been “updated” to recognize it (yet), and software that does not know what Cinavia is will just ignore it.
If the firmware/software does recognize what Cinavia is, and thinks that you’ve pirated the movie, it will let you get about 20 minutes into the movie file, and then it will either stop the movie or tell the device/software to forcibly disable all audio outputs. Don’t bother trying to remove it, as it is resilient to added noise, as well as popular audio compression codecs such as Ogg Vorbis, AAC, and MP3.
Right now, it seems that only some individual Windows software programs recognize Cinavia and comply with its order to cut the audio outputs, but eventually this could easily be made global through the Windows audio subsystem itself. If you try to use open source media player software, such as VLC or Media Player Classic on Windows, the audio subsystem could still detect Cinavia and comply with the request to disable the entire audio framework. I suspect that this is coming to Windows, and that when it does, it will be trivial for Microsoft to backport it to previous releases of Windows as a non-removable Windows “update”.
The real bitch of this is that they won’t even have to tell you that’s what it does. They have been known to lie and call things like this a high priority “security” or “reliability” update in the past, and then they can make it so that you can’t remove it later. (And even if you do, it will be in the next Service Pack or version of Windows, so you’ve just bought yourself a little time.)
It’s just as likely that Apple will do this as a global operating system “feature” as well at some point.
In fact, part of the reason for the War on Free (as in freedom) software is because they can’t reach into your computer and force it to do things like this when you run a Free Software operating system.
I have a feeling that in five or six years, after ancient crap such as Windows XP goes out of support, that “Secure Boot” will be fiddled with to remove the ability of the user to turn it off. From that point, when you buy a PC that runs Windows or Mac OS, that’s what you’re stuck with, DRM and all.
Where this Cinavia DRM is the worst at the present time is Blu Ray Disc players with firmware that supports it. Since regular firmware updates are essentially forced on the user to enable the new DRM keys that ship with new Blu Ray Discs, it’s probable that Cinavia will eventually be retroactively added onto your existing player, even if it does not know what Cinavia is right now.
There’s no real way to “refuse” firmware updates when you use a Blu Ray player. Either you apply them, or you start running into new discs that will refuse to play.
That’s what got me thinking about when Richard Stallman called Windows (and all proprietary software with automatic forced updates) a “universal backdoor”.
“This means that any malicious feature which is not in Windows today can be remotely installed tomorrow by Microsoft. So Windows is not just malware, it is a universal malware.” -Richard Stallman
Just replace “Windows” with “proprietary software/firmware” and “Microsoft” with any company that sells proprietary software/firmware or “consumer electronics” that utilize them, and you get to the root of malicious anti-features such as Cinavia.
So, the first thing that many people will do when they hear about malware like Cinavia, is to search to see what hardware is affected, but that is irrelevant now that the malware can be grafted onto systems that shipped without it.
The only way to avoid things like this is to only use Free (as in freedom) operating system software with Free (as in freedom) media playback software, and to avoid any computer hardware that comes about, which will not let you run it.
If you would like to read more about the Cinavia malware, Anandtech wrote a very detailed article, titled “Cinavia DRM: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Blu-ray’s Self-Destruction“, which is very informative.
For kicks, I loaded up the Windows 8 “Consumer Preview” in VirtualBox.
I was expecting the usual. More crap that nobody asked for. More anti-competitive Microsoft tie-ins. More lock-in with Microsoft services. More EULA mess. More spyware. I found pretty much all of this.
The setup process was much like Windows 7 up to a point, except there are now three entire pages full of toggle switches where the user must agree to sacrifice their privacy to use Windows 8 fully, in addition to a EULA written in legalese that goes on forever, which nobody who isn’t a lawyer will fully understand. If they don’t, then there will be huge swaths of missing features. (And since it is proprietary software, you absolutely cannot trust anything it says or does, so the choice is misleading anyway.)
As Dr. Richard Stallman has said, Windows is malicious software. Their privacy policies open up the user to all kinds of abuse for simply agreeing with the EULAs (which are mandatory if you wish to use Windows), and in the EULA you agree that Microsoft can slip in updates or change the EULA at any point in the future. So, if there is something malicious that Windows currently does not do, then it would be very easy for them to slip that into an update and push it out tomorrow.
They’ve done this sort of thing before, countless times. Anyone remember how “Windows Genuine Annoyance” wasn’t originally part of Windows XP?
Anyone remember when Windows XP and Vista would simply lock you out of your computer and forbid you access to anything even if the software was legally licensed and Microsoft just happened to screw up?
Idiot Exploiter being in Windows 98 without an uninstaller got Microsoft some DOJ attention, but it’s literally EVERYWHERE in Windows 8, and it’s more malicious than ever.
Here’s what you agree to send to Microsoft now to get a fully functional copy of Windows 8 if you take the default settings (Some of these have been a requirement of various Microsoft apps and Windows in the past, some are new. This is in addition to anything mandated by their EULA, so you can’t opt out of all of it even if you tried):
Every site you visit in Internet Explorer.
Everything you download with Internet Explorer.
Every URL you click on in an application from the Windows store, regardless what browser it opens in.
Every web resource that an application loads.
Every application you have installed on your computer, regardless of where it came from.
Your EXACT location. (Via IP geolocation or GPS coordinates.) when you use an app that uses this feature. Note: GPS coordinates are accurate to within a few inches.
Crash data for any application that has a problem, including a memory dump. (Those can include personal information like passwords, site login data, your bank account information, truly any information the app had in memory when it crashed.)
Which parts of Windows Help you have read, and what URLs you clicked on in that.
You agree that they can force application updates on you, silently, even to install malicious features,even if you didn’t want the update.
You agree that they can update Windows, including for the purpose of stuffing in more malicious features, even if you didn’t want the update.
Applications can use your name, account picture, location data, and various Windows Live features, as you.
Perhaps most disturbing at all, the Windows Store and many of the applications that come with Windows that can’t be removed, like their messenger program that censors its users and spies on what they say, require you to sign up with a Microsoft Account (which is, I guess what they’re calling Passport these days), and to fully utilize the software store, you have to link a major credit card/debit card to your account and agree to anything Microsoft or apps you use try to charge to it.
You agree in the EULA that Windows can update things like their Windows Media Digital Restrictions Malware and you won’t try to stop it.
The US DMCA makes it illegal to try to break their Digital Restrictions Malware, even if it’s because it fucked up and you’re just trying to use the content you “bought”. Or because Microsoft’s latest DRM’d music store flops and they take down their license renewal server. Happens.
If you use any of Microsoft’s “Cloud” features, you agree explicitly that they can share your information with advertisers or the federal, state, or local government units with or without a valid search warrant, and you also agree that you hold Microsoft harmless if they fuck up and delete your data. So don’t upload anything expecting to ever get it back out. But, these are problems with most cloud services, which is why you shouldn’t use them.
We live in an age where the government doesn’t even need warrants because people tell them everything they want to know, willingly. How many criminal cases has the government been able to make out of data that Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Facebook have turned over? We might never know.
These reasons, and many more are why it’s time to consider making the move to Free and Open Source software. There’s no 20 page EULAs, no “activation”, no spyware, fewer headaches, and no bullshit.
Big companies have proven time and time again that they are not to be trusted with your information. Why do people agree to give them more and more of it all the time in light of this abuse?
If you need a starting point in learning about Free and Open Source software, what it is, and more reasons you should be replacing your proprietary software with it, here’s some places to read up about it.
In short, there’s probably a suitable free and open source replacement for almost everything you use, even for operating systems such as Ubuntu and Fedora, office suites such as LibreOffice and Caligra Suite, even replacements for Photoshop, like The Gimp. Of course that’s just naming a few.
Switch now, and you will not only have the peace of mind that nobody is using your computer against you or effectively leasing your own computer out to you, or using your software to censor or spy on you, but also that they can’t rack up fraudulent credit card transactions from an app that is targeted to your children which sells them pretend apples and hay to feed imaginary animals with.
One Apple customer was recently in the news, horrified, that his seven year old daughter managed to rack up the equivalent of about $350 US dollars to his credit card, which Apple simply allowed to go through. If you think Microsoft will be treating customers any better, I would suggest that you’re in for a painful life lesson.
One more disturbing trend….
Each version of Windows comes in yet more “editions”. “Edition” is just a nice way of saying they cripple it a bit more and a bit more to segment the market and create price points. This is something else you never see in Free and Open Source Software, because it would be pointless. Nevertheless, Microsoft has decided that Windows 8 will not play a DVD or Blu Ray without the “Media Pack”, which will be an additional fee.
How much? They declined to say. For reference, adding DVD playback to Windows Media Player in Windows XP cost $25, and adding Blu Ray support to Windows has typically meant a MONTHLY RECURRING SUBSCRIPTION fee because it requires downloading the new content restriction keys every month, so if you stop paying, your discs stop playing. Isn’t that cute?
Benjamin Mako Hill wrote about this deliberate software crippling in an essay about Windows NT 4. He called the disabled features anti-features. The point he made, quite concisely, was that if you pay Microsoft for anything other than the most expensive version, you’re literally paying them to remove features from your software. He also made a list with more examples of products with antifeatures.
There’s much more detail I could go into, but this is yet another wake up call that you deserve Freedom, and Free Software gives you the Freedom you deserve. The Free Software Foundation defines “Free” (as in freedom!) Software as giving the user these four freedoms.
- The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
- The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
- The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
- The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
In short, you are free to study, modify, redistribute, and use the software, for any purpose, and you are never “under surveillance” by it or unable to help your friend by sharing the software with him or her.
Microsoft and Apple both have something in common; they try to make the user overlook all of the things they have to sacrifice just to use their software, by making it pretty on the surface. That pretty surface is only skin deep, and underneath it, the internals of the system are as bug-ridden and as DRM-encumbered as ever. Just because you paid for a license doesn’t mean they can’t come back later and terminate it, for any or for no reason, without a refund.
What’s most disturbing, above and beyond anything else I’ve talked about, is when the software is so tied to the hardware that the hardware is useless without their software (such as Windows on ARM or the iPad). What do you do if they throw you out? I guess you have a really expensive door stop. (Did someone say, Plasma Active? Yes, you should use Plasma Active.)
Windows 8 gives you a choice. You can keep surrendering more of your freedom to Microsoft and other malicious software companies every year, or you can get off their slippery slope right now.
The uEFI Forum is largely a bunch of SOPA promoters hoping to turn your PC into a locked platform using DMCA anti-circumvention laws.
Unfortunately, the next generation boot firmware for the PC not only fails to completely replace the PC BIOS (which will continue to be used for power on self test and hardware initialization). Those in the know, beyond the corporate media spin doctoring, know that uEFI is just a layer of DRM and corporate lock-in that rides on top of the 30 year old legacy BIOS that starts the computer in real mode just like it did in the 1980s.
uEFI is not a next generation PC boot firmware, we’re being sold a bill of goods. The biggest particular problem is “Secure Boot”. Users are being mislead into believing it has something to do with securely booting a computer while its true purpose is to lock the user into running whatever corporate-sponsored OS that came with the computer, and turning them into a criminal by forcing them to commit a US federal felony by circumventing it to install free software as the computer’s operating system instead.
For the latest lies from the corporate-sponsored media, we go to The H Online which has declared that “Securely booting Linux [is] a “difficult” proposition”. The H is becoming less of a legitimate news source about free and open source software, and becoming more like just any other anti-free and open source rag that mindlessly recites anything that Microsoft pays for. The Register is another example of such an occurance. Over time, Microsoft starts writing their Linux news and you get libellous headlines instead of information. It’s not like the Red Hat employee that they cite is helping dispel this propaganda. (more in a moment)
uEFI “Secure Boot” (which should be called Restricted Boot since it is designed to lock you into an ISV’s operating system software), is is a complex specification. It relies on a nebula of assumptions about the state of the hardware and the bootloader that are not necessarily true and are easily forged. Even if that was not the case, it relies on an assumption that there are no firmware bugs which can be used to subvert and bypass it. It will not provide any meaningful level of additional security to users of any PC operating system, even if it agrees to boot the operating system that the user is trying to use at all. It is designed to turn anyone who cracks it into a criminal, by forcing them to violate Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and being liable to be sentenced to prison for trying to use their computer in freedom.
Cited in the contemptible malarkey is Matthew Garrett, a Red Hat employee. Red Hat is a member of the uEFI forum so that they can sign RHEL and won’t be stopped by Restricted Boot on any workstation or server that comes with their software. I’m pretty sure that this is why we won’t be seeing the GRUB 2 bootloader on RHEL any time soon. GRUB 2 is licensed under the GPL version 3, which protects users from what the FSF refers to as “Tivoization”, which refers to the practice of using free software in a manner that locks the user out of their system with free software, by using DRM in that software.
If Red Hat shipped GRUB 2 and did not disclose their signing keys as teh GPL 3 requires(to protect the user from exploitative hardware/software vendors), they would be in violation of the GPL. The Free Software Foundation could revoke their rights to use the GRUB 2 software. Red Hat has a lot of resources and can probably maintain their fork of Grub 0.97 indefinitely so that they can cooperate with hardware makers to restrict the user. Red Hat benefits from user lock-in just as surely as Apple and Microsoft do if only their signing key is in the uEFI Secure Boot implementation on hardware that ships with their operating system, because there won’t be any of that pesky competition on any system that comes with RHEL.
So right off the bat, I don’t think Matthew Garrett can be a trusted source of information because he is obviously tainted by his employer, and has the same reasons to lie and mislead you as Stevan Sinofsky of Microsoft.
Canonical (Ubuntu) is also a member of the uEFI forum and can probably use Secure Boot on embedded ARM systems to trap people in Ubuntu. They can’t use GRUB 2, but there are bootloaders for ARM, some of them proprietary, which can be used instead. They can probably also sign Ubuntu LTS releases and get their signing key into workstations and servers that ship with Ubuntu, for much the same end result as the RHEL situation I described above. They could even use Grub Legacy in that situation. It didn’t just disappear, it’s still being carried by them if you look up “grub” in their software repository.
A better news flash would be that there never was, is, or will be a way to securely boot a PC, and that corporations are salivating at the prospect of using it to lock end users into their operating system software, to keep the user trapped with whatever their computer happened to come with. The headlines designed to smear Linux are just paid for by Microsoft. The “bootloader attacks” that Secure Boot is supposedly meant to deal with are mostly attacks on the Windows Activation system that rely on bootloader exploits to make Windows believe it is an OEM copy that came with the PC so that the user may use a copy of Windows without paying for it.
Microsoft isn’t interested in stopping the malware of the week from stealing your identity or subverting your system and using it to display (sometimes pornographic) advertisements, which are just two of the things that Windows is known well for. They are interested in stopping the user from being able to run their own software on their private property and from getting away with using a less crippled version of Windows than what came with their computer without forking over more money through the Anytime Upgrade scam.
I don’t believe the corporate ambitions of Red Hat or Canonical are any different.
This work by Ryan Farmer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Just because United States lawmakers won’t stop until we’re a banana republic doesn’t mean that we should turn a blind eye to the MAFIAA’s crimes in other countries:
In Germany, the RIAA has apparently been some busy little beavers, sending pay up or else extortion demands to customers over:
Amy Winehouse, Blink 182, Bon Jovi, Eminem, Florence And The Machine, Jamiroquai, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Take That, The Black Eyed Peas, The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Alexandra Burke, Alica Keys, Avril Lavigne, Backstreet Boys, Beyonce, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Foo Fighters, Kasabian, Kesha, Kings of Leon, Leona Lewis, Michael Jackson, Ozzy Osbourne, Pink, Pitbull, R. Kelly, Shakira, The Strokes, Bryan Ferry, Coldplay, David Guetta, Depeche Mode, Good Charlotte, Gorillaz, Katy Perry, Snoop Dogg, U2, and Pink Floyd -source Torrentfreak
If these are the most patrolled “musicians” (and I use that term loosely), in the United States as well, it could explain why I’ve never been harassed by the MAFIAA. With “artists” so utterly intellectually devoid, not entertaining, and many of them unable to even produce a satisfying tune, it’s no wonder that they have to resort to extortion to make any money these days.
The only true disappointment is that apparently, Ministry of Sound has joined in the harassment/extortion campaign. Every so often, they put out a decent compilation.
These kinds of extortion demands didn’t start out with the RIAA/MPAA, they started out……with producers of gay porn. The scheme was apparently successful there, perhaps because nobody wants others to find out they’ve been downloading such fine art as “Harry Squatter” and “Everyone Does Raymond”. Over time this method started being picked up by movie producers who had made such cinematic suppositories as “The Hurt Locker”, although that one eventually fell apart last month after the judge had already thrown out many of the defendants due to the court not having jurisdiction over them. They even managed to sue a dead person and a bunch of people who don’t even have a computer in the house, even though the RIAA has done worse, so it’s hardly worth mentioning.
Over in France, and again according to Torrentfreak, the MAFIAA succeeded a while back in getting a law passed that boots people off the internet after three “accusations” of copyright infringement, with no way to get internet service again. In that period of time, 165 people have apparently gotten their third strike and have lost internet access permanently. The United Nations considers internet access to be so crucial that they declared that it should be a human right. I guess it is a right, until you piss the wrong people (the ones with money) off at you.
To pour salt in the wound, in the time passed since the French law went into effect, iTunes business in France has increased by 22.5%, or 14 million Euros. That’s money that is leaving France, not creating any French jobs, and heading to Apple and the RIAA/MPAA in the US, which is a branding company that creates few honest jobs, and a couple of content cartels which create no honest jobs. On top of it all, it is the French taxpayers who pay for their government to police them on the behalf of wealthy plutocrats in the United States.
As difficult as it is for me to want to believe it, people really must be this stupid. Apple is a patent troll and a bully, and the RIAA/MPAA are organized crime. When people ask me what I think about Steve Jobs being gone, I tell them that I think it was a good start. To reward them with higher iTunes sales in exchange for coming in and paying off your elected officials to boot your fellow citizens off the internet over a stupid Lady Gaga album, is mind numbingly stupid. I guess I’m just afraid that this news will encourage the rich business criminals here in the US to keep pushing SOPA/PIPA in the hopes that people will see fit to hand them millions of dollars to avoid being thrown in prison for some MP3s.
This work by Ryan Farmer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
The FBI picked yesterday to raid and take down MegaUpload.
In what was, obviously, intended to say “Fuck you America, we don’t need SOPA to do this”, the jack booted thugs at the FBI, acting upon orders from their commanders at the MAFIAA (A catch all term that is commonly used to refer to RIAA/MPAA/BSA type cartel organizations), seized the MegaUpload domain, arrested the owners and administrators, and replaced it with the standard finger wagging “This domain has been seized” banner.
Anonymous responded by taking out the DoJ, FBI, and some cartel websites with a Distributed Denial of Service attack. (Windows malware-controlled PCs can do something productive I guess.)
Sure, MegaUpload probably had some files that were violating copyright. I know Twitter does. So does Facebook, Google Docs, Amazon “Cloud”, the Ubuntu One skin for “Amazon Cloud”, and many others. Incidentally, they all oppose SOPA, not because it’s the moral and just position to be in (it is), but because it would cause them an undue burden to ceaselessly monitor their users. Under SOPA/PIPA, legitimate websites can be taken down by the government because one of their users posted a link to copyright-infringing material. SOPA/PIPA is clearly designed to discourage sites from allowing user-generated content. (I guess that means that if SOPA/PIPA get passed into law, you won’t be reading any more blogs.)
If you think about it, MegaUpload was in the same “cloud storage” business that companies like Amazon and Microsoft are in, it is my firm belief that the US government only picked on MegaUpload because they made the government come back with a warrant when they wanted private user data, and Amazon and Microsoft are all too eager to comply with them with no court supervision required.
While I’m on the subject of major “cloud” storage sites, I’ve noticed a lot of “pirated software” on Microsoft Windows Skydrive, including materials to crack Microsoft software. Go figure.
The Federal Government has generally left certain “cloud” storage companies alone because they comply with warrantless sneak and peak searches, authorized not by the Constitution, but by anti-terrorism legislation rammed through in the aftermath of 9/11, when people were so frightened that they let the government pass anything and everything that claimed to “protect” them. The legislation hasn’t caught one terrorist in 11 years, it has not stopped a single terrorist attack anywhere in the world.
What it is doing, is enabling the US government agents on the MAFIAA payroll to take down sites without even bothering to give lip service to constitutional “protections” like freedom of speech, freedom against self-incrimination, the right to due process and equal protection of the laws, etc.
If anything is enabling “terrorism” on Americans, it is laws like the PATRIOT ACT, DMCA, proposed SOPA/PIPA, companies like Apple and Microsoft, and products like iTunes.
Companies that write and push these laws are terrorist organizations. Wiktionary defines terrorism as “A psychological strategy of war for gaining political or religious ends by deliberately creating a climate of fear among the population of a state.” The fear inspired by possible SOPA violations is designed to get the population of a state (the United States) to censor themselves. When the day comes that you can’t even talk about things they don’t like, you’re being censored, regardless of what SOPA proponents like MPAA scumbag Chris Dodd will tell you. (Now should we go after the MPAA/RIAA with cruise missiles, or should we take this opportunity to try out Prompt Global Strike? It would be the best use of my tax money in a long time either way.)
When you buy things from Microsoft, Apple, iTunes, RIAA labels, the MPAA, or various other censorship promoters, you’re not supporting American jobs, you’re supporting draconian laws like the PATRIOT ACT, DMCA, and the proposed SOPA. These things don’t just come out of nowhere, the promoters of them use a lot of money (some of it may even be from you) to grease the wheels. I don’t even believe it is just campaign contributions either. I think there’s plenty of cash under the table going to our elected officials from these outfits. Mexican President Felipe Calderon said at one point that part of the reason so many illegal drugs were getting across the border was because American politicians were taking cash money from drug cartels to make sure that certain smugglers got through without any issues at the border. Why would anyone have a hard time believing that American politics works differently elsewhere?
I haven’t bought any new RIAA-labeled music since the RIAA sued Napster. (I have bought some used CDs, mostly of stuff I listened to in the 80s and 90s. In compliance with the First Sale Doctrine.) I have not purchased any MPAA-labeled movies since they got on the lawsuit wagon. I specifically refuse to buy anything from Adobe, Apple, or Microsoft. As these companies started to openly work against my interests, I cut myself away from them. I could ignore them no longer. Will it stop them? No. It will never stop them as long as people think it is socially acceptable to spend money on cartel-promoted intangible items like MP3 files and ebooks and movies. The only thing I can do is apologize for my part of funding them and not do it again.
On so-called “Piracy”? I have no ethical problems with sharing information to help your friends. Unfortunately the MAFIAA has the finest government money can buy in the United States, and sharing information to help your friends can be illegal.
I’ve posted before what my thoughts are on “digital purchases”, they’re just a sneaky way to remove ownership from you and allow the MAFIAA to never let your “purchases” out of their sight. “Content” on “the cloud” is even worse because then you’re not even in possession of the file. It is the ultimate Digital Restrictions Management, cloaked as a kind of convenience.
“What about stores selling files? They got rid of DRM years ago!”
A common misconception exists around that. The only reason Apple doesn’t use DRM on their proprietary AAC files, and why many MP3 stores such as Amazon’s don’t do so either, is due to the obvious argument that the Red Book CD standard never had DRM. The argument can still be made, as long as CDs are still for sale, that the customer could theoretically buy and rip their own CDs. Thus there’s no reason to DRM-cripple the digital stuff until they cease making CDs. (Though it didn’t stop Apple from attempting this, they didn’t back off of it for years, and then they forced all their customers to buy the files all over again to get a clean copy) Then it will be back. Take my word, it’ll be back. Notice how there are precisely ZERO online movie stores with no DRM? Blu Ray has about half a dozen layers of DRM, and you have to crack them all before the disc plays on a non-”authorized” device. Since, barring violation of the DMCA, it’s impossible to make a clean copy of n HD movie, Apple and other stores don’t have to provide you with a clean copy of a movie that you have nominally “bought”. (They can take it away at any time thanks to their Foulplay DRM).
What companies are going for with SOPA and other “anti-piracy” laws is no less than the death of the free and open internet where all (regardless of government and corporate approval) are more or less free to voice their opinion and make their own websites and host their own material, and to turn it into something that more closely resembles America Online or the Microsoft Network from the 1990s. Full of nothing but tons of corporate-controlled push content and advertising, and the pack of pedophiles that lurk around that they’re really not interested in doing anything about. (They never have been interested in stopping pedophiles. Pedophiles don’t cost companies any money and provide a great excuse to raid sites they dislike.)
I don’t disagree with what Anonymous does. They are striking back at an oppressive, extralegal, and anti-constitutional cabal of government gone bad and out of control corporations. If anyone from them reads this, I’d like to put in a request. Next time, DDoS those parasites over at Apple, take down iTunes, do something that stings. Godspeed and good sailing!
This work by Ryan Farmer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, there was a class of malicious software called a “dialer”.
The “dialer” malware type was Windows software that either tricked the user into running it (trojan horse)with the promise of porn or something, or found its way onto the system with minimal interaction from the user, like most malware for Microsoft platforms does. When launched, the software would typically pick up the modem and dial a foreign country or a 1-900 number, and instead of blocking the call, the phone company would let it go on and on as long as they could because they could pass along the bill and share in the ill-gotten profits.
The phone companies also partook of another scheme unrelated to computers, but which I will mention because it serves to point out the general pattern I am discussing. Remember those “free” psychic reading advertisements that came on the TV? The phone company would really start billing you $4 a minute after 3 minutes. (Fun fact: The psychics were fake. (duh) According to the FBI and FTC investigations of the so-called psychics, they were using a technique called cold reading. They had script that branched out like a tree and were designed to keep the victim on the phone and racking up charges for as long as possible.) The phone companies, again, sat back and shared in the ill-gotten gains.
Now the year is 2012, and more and more ISPs are imposing bandwidth caps. They claim that users using bittorrent heavily are among the reasons they need to overcharge. In reality, most of the traffic on the internet is generated maliciously by Microsoft Windows malware doing one of three things.
Worms trying to spread and shotgunning random IP ranges with port scans to try and “get lucky” and find infectable hosts. Since most Windows users use ineffective antivirus/no anti-virus and/or don’t install their updates, this is pretty easy to do.
Botnets sending spam. Microsoft Windows malware is responsible for over 95% of the spam emails and spam instant messages.
Botnets sending tons of garbage data in a coordinated attempt to bring down a web site running Linux or a BSD, which the attacker would likely never take down in a direct attack on the server itself. In fact, it’s not even the OS that crashes due to the onslaught (unless it’s Windows Server), it’s usually just that the site’s internet connection is swamped and no longer able to fit in any real requests.
I don’t use Microsoft software, but because many people do, I am still in danger if someone decided to DoS me.
Back on point, this traffic is immense, and many people leave their computer on for a great deal of time or 24/7. So if the malware floors their internet connection, even if only while they’re away from their computer to avoid suspicion, you will overrun your cap fairly soon and the meter for overages starts running.
AT&T DSL has a cap of 150 GB. Windows malware could overrun that entire allotment in 1-2 days, and have the rest of the month operating in your overage use, which AT&T silently sends you into at a rate of $10 per 50 GB. You could spend the better part of the month paying $30 a day + your $45 monthly fee for the DSL line simply because you use Windows. (That’s a bill of over $900 for those not bothering to fire up their calculator).
Ouch. The tragic part about this is that technically illiterate people like my mother will just blame “the damned computer” like they do so often when Windows causes them problems.
If you would rather not pay for spammers to use your PC to send me spam emails might I suggest Android or a GNU/Linux distribution?
Open source software tends to be more secure. For a variety of reasons. Closed source is not just about controlling the customer, it’s also about controlling the perception of a product. Hiding source code makes it easy to cover up bugs, work arounds for bugs, security problems, and inefficient, bloated, and downright incompetent code. Microsoft does this a lot, but it isn’t just them. Apple is a false choice that is much the same.
The idea that a sucker is born every minute is not only true, it’s the only way phone companies, cable companies, psychic hotlines, malware writers, and proprietary software companies stay in business and make so much money.
My uncle reminded me of that old Microsoft Car meme that went around several years ago, so I decided to update it using the original as a template. Enjoy.
1. For no reason at all, your car crashes itself several times a day.
2. Occasionally, attempting to adjust the controls causes your car to shut down and refuse to restart. The solution is to reinstall the engine because the car’s settings registry is corrupt.
3. When your car dies on the freeway for no reason, you simply accept this, restart, and continue driving.
4. Microsoft introduced Car Starter Edition to compete with lower cost options such as Car GNU/Linux. Car Starter Edition only manages 30 miles per hour and gives the buyer no choice of paint color unless they buy Car Premium or Car Professional.
5. Apple provides no real advantages to the user compared to Microsoft, and can sometimes manage to be worse, but claims to be competition. Apple’s cars cost three times more than Microsoft cars. The free and open source software community makes a car which is several times more fuel efficient, much more reliable, much faster., and allows the user to do anything they want with it. It is usually available without paying an exorbitant amount of money. Apple and Microsoft fanboys and PR agents routinely get away with promoting the myth that these people are Communists and part of the lunatic fringe.
6. All warning lights are replaced by a blue light and a message that changes with every model. In Car 95 and 98, your car performed an illegal operation and will be shut down. In Car Me, your car had a vague problem that Microsoft was sorry about. Car NT, 2000, XP, Vista, and 7 all seem to prefer throwing stack and register dumps on the screen.
7. The new seats in Car 8 are flat and have no lower back support.
8. The airbag in Car Vista and Car 7 would say ‘Are you sure?’ before going off. There are no airbags by default in Car XP an they can not be fully installed in the Home edition. The airbags in Car NT were mandatory and didn’t allow the user to change their radio clock.
9. Occasionally, your car locks you out and refuses to let you back in. Burglars would have no trouble getting in because there are literally thousands of ways past the Microsoft car alarm. Microsoft issues a recall every month and fixes two or three of them.
10. (Internet Explorer) Microsoft requires all car buyers to also purchase a set of Microsoft road maps that they do not need, insisting they are really a part of the car. The maps are frequently wrong, they tend to lead you through the high crime area no matter where you’re trying to go, and they lack the features that competing maps have provided the user with for years. The Department of Justice would go away after letting Bill Gates perjure himself over it for a few hours.
11. When going through the high crime area, the owner of the Microsoft car has to pay private security agents called Norton and McAfee to protect them, though they frequently fall asleep after eating all the food in the user’s refrigerator at home, and allow the owner of the car to be mugged anyway.
12. Every time there is a new model, Microsoft makes sure to introduce problems for users who insist there is no reason to get rid of their old model. Car buyers need to learn how to drive again every few years because nothing in the new car resembles anything in their old car.
13. If you’re still using Car XP, you press the ‘start’ button to shut off the engine. If you use Car Vista or Car 7 you fumble around and accidentally hit the “lock me out and require password, but keep running” menu option.
14. Every once in a while, the car insists that you are not the owner, and that you stole it. Even though you still have the receipt, Microsoft tells you that the only option is to pay for your car again.
15. (Graphics cards and the buggy Windows drivers that tend to be introduced) Every year your car would get slower and slower. You have to upgrade to this year’s alternator design and deal with a car that spends the first few months getting used to it. Eventually the entire car is too old and you need to replace everything, including the alternator your new car comes with.
16. Users of Microsoft Car have to pay a toll for almost every road they attempt to use.
17. In spite of all the problems that the user will have with the Microsoft car, all the dealerships seem to recommend it, and barely support it after the sale.
In #techrights on Freenode, a URL just came up that I feel is worth commenting on.
“CD-format to be abandoned by major labels by the end of 2012″ says the headline of the Side-Line Music Magazine.
Get ready for the return of Apple FoulPlay, Microsoft PlaysForNow/FailsForSure, and maybe even the “labels” having a repeat of their own incompatible DRM formats. They still kick that one around now and then before it goes away for a while.
Without legitimate products like the CD, a clean copy which the user can make non-corrupt music files from, these companies will be free to return to doing whatever they want to the consumer… They all agree they want DRM.
Apple and Microsoft like DRM because it means you can only use the content with things you buy from Apple and Microsoft. Their DRM scams are even mutually incompatible helping them stay off each others turf in their ongoing collaboration-competition set up.
The record companies like DRM because they’re smoking something that makes them think every new DRM scam they introduce will magically work this time (even when it never does), and that they can work around this by making it illegal to circumvent it no matter how laughable it is, sending people to prison at taxpayer expense (not the expense of tax evaders, such as big businesses) for doing nothing but either using the content they paid for in the manner they choose, or by helping their friends by sharing information that costs nothing to reproduce.
I’m not even sure what to say to this. I’m certainly no proponent of “piracy”. Granted that this is because most works promoted by companies like Microsoft and Apple are too inferior to want to steal, and most “new” music promoted by major labels really sucks. (Send in Justin Bieber!)
I already use Jamendo and Magnatune a lot. I do buy some “major label stuff”, but always on CD so I have a good, high quality, DRM-free copy to encode into non patent-encumbered media formats like FLAC and Ogg Vorbis. And since I’m having a little uncompensated link party here, I use KDE, Kubuntu, and Amarok. Worth mentioning is that Amarok has spectacular Jamendo and Magnatune integration. If you subscribe to Magnatune, part of that money goes to develop KDE.
To sum this up: I’m not a hippie or anything, but I do know a carrot on a stick when I see one. They have something you want (the carrot), and DRM and bought and paid for laws like the DMCA, and soon to be PROTECT IP Act (the stick).
While we’re at it, please sign the Demand Progress petition against the so-called Protect IP act which would allow the US government to destroy the internet to protect old media cartels and intellectual monopolies.
Thoughts about software license abuses. No benchmarks, the practice of patenting and copyrighting formerly free software, and NO BENCHMARKS! (Did I mention no benchmarks?)
(Abusive clauses in software EULAs, and the frequent abuse of permissive non-copyleft software and “content” licenses)
I see “no-benchmark” clauses in proprietary software a lot…it makes me stop and wonder “What kind of crazy messed up shit are you making if you don’t want anyone to benchmark it?”.
If your software was good, you would probably want people to benchmark it and tell others how good it is, and how much of a fool they are if they don’t use it.
So it’s probably no surprise that the kind of software with these clauses are mainly from companies such as Microsoft and Apple.
I wish I could say such a stipulation was the biggest problem of using non-free(dom) software and “content”, but if you think about it, it is the most amusing. The presence of such a term implies that the product in question is inferior and that the only justification for such a term of use is as a preventive measure against exposure. (Internet Explorer, Windows, and DirectX prohibit public benchmarking without Microsoft approval, but it has never stopped anyone)
They’re like an insecure man at a urinal that shouts “STOP LOOKING AT MY TINY PENIS!!!!? DID I TELL YOU YOU COULD COMPARE MY TINY PENIS WITH YOUR MASSIVE PENIS!?!?” “DON’T LAUGH AT ME!!!!!!!!” “STOP IT!!!!”
They get to hide all their performance problems under a “thou shalt not benchmark our crappy products or we shall surely sueth thou” clause.
Microsoft and Apple EULAs have these in almost all of their products. Apple EULAs forbid developing nuclear weapons with their software. The BSD and MIT licenses let you benchmark anything you like and even use their software to make nuclear weapons to drop on Australia (hooray!).
Unfortunately, “permissively” licensed code often ends up buried under Microsoft and Apple EULAs. A recent example exists in AMD porting the open source Linux/X11 drivers to Windows CE.
Although these practices sometimes have indirect benefits to free(dom) and open source software, the users of the resulting non-free(dom) products usually don’t get the software under free(dom) or open source terms.
If they ever do, it’s almost always under a more restrictive license that serves the parasite company’s own interests, and not the interests of the people who contributed to it in good faith while it was free(dom). Any contributors to AMD’s drivers, for example, can have their work hijacked and put into Windows for profit of Microsoft even if their only goal was to improve free(dom) and open source software.
There are more nasty surprises with non-free(dom) software from such companies. For example, you can’t run any version of OS X under emulation or on a non-Apple PC. You can’t virtualize any edition of Windows, spare the most expensive “Ultimate rip-off” edition.
It is for these reasons, and many others, that most of the people arguing in favor of permissive non-copyleft licenses actually represent the type of company that wants free labor for their their own proprietary software offerings. The BSD, MIT, and other “permissive” licenses have nothing to do with freedom or open source software. Unfortunately, there are a lot of rather Dalek-like promoters of these licenses promising your work will be “more free” if you use them. It won’t be. The software and “content” under these licenses are not so much free(dom) as they are a staging area for your next iPhone or a future Verizon advertisement.
There are also people who are essentially zombie-like promoters (today is Halloween, I need to work in a zombie reference) of non-free(dom) software and “content” (including the re-wrapped formerly-free software that populates most Apple products) that seem to add a sort of quasi-legitimization to these societal problems, though they too can be, and often are, the victims.
I could probably go on and on and on about this, but I’m off to go benchmark Internet Explorer DirectX acceleration in Windows Starter running under Parallels in Mac OS X under VMWare while making nuclear weapons to drop on Australia.