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.
There’s news that Mozilla is considering supporting the patent-encumbered and dangerous MPEG-4 formats known as “h264″ and “aac”. LINK (As reported by The H Online)
It’s unfortunate that it has come to this, but I am in favor of doing it in the way they have described. Albeit unenthusiastically…
We know that there is a dangerous and criminal organization out there called the “MPEG-LA” that doesn’t innovate or produce anything, but acts as a “patent pool” to sue victims who try to implement media codecs without their permission. They “own” several thousand “essential” patents (meaning that you can’t implement the spec without violating them) describing what h264 with aac does.
Microsoft and Apple, which are also criminal cartels, are also members of the MPEG-LA, and are trying to wipe out the open and unencumbered VP8 and Ogg Vorbis combination known as WebM by refusing to support it in Safari and Internet Explorer.
Mozilla and Opera have so far not implemented MPEG codecs because they would be gouged by the MPEG-LA’s innovation tax.
The problem for the user, which is caught in the middle, is that sites that are out there today and insisting on MPEG-4, such as Vimeo, won’t work in Firefox or Opera in HTML 5 mode, and require the proprietary binary blob with gazillions of security problems known as “Adobe Flash” to play their content.
Mozilla is not proposing to ship the offending codecs themselves, but to just use the ones on the system, if any. On Windows, they can hook into DirectShow, on OS X they can hook into Quicktime, and on Linux they can hook into and use anything Gstreamer can play. Of course Android, iOS, and Windows Phone (with all three people who have one) all have their own media codecs.
The problem with this is that it shifts the responsibility to the user to make sure they have codecs. In most cases, the platform in question is promoted by some big company that sees the MPEG-LA siphoning their profits as a cost of doing business, but the codecs are there nonetheless and Firefox is currently not making use of them. It’s the case where a person uses free and open source software, such as a Linux distribution, and doesn’t want top be gouged and run nonfree MPEG Cartel-sponsored gstreamer codecs (from Fluendo), that they have to make a choice about whether to use the codecs that infringe US patents (such as the free and open source gstreamer codecs). In the case of proprietary software, the choice was already made for them, as most choices usually are.
Therefore, my position is… With the objection to the MPEG-LA cartel even being allowed to exist at all. That Firefox should use whatever the user has installed. Refusing to play formats for which the user already has codecs is ridiculous. The user should ideally be using software that respects his or her freedom (such as the gstreamer-bad and gstreamer-ugly codecs, which is where ones with patent problems end up). Even more ideally, the laws should be changed to invalidate every last software patent out there so that the user is free to do what they wish with their own computer, and programmers are free to make software that can compete with established monopolies like Microsoft and Apple. Until then, a couple of minority browsers ignoring those codecs won’t make those codecs go away any more than some Linux distributions not officially providing MP3 codecs has made MP3 go away. Those sites are out there, and users should not feel compelled to use proprietary software such as Internet Explorer, Safari, and Google Chrome to simply view them. Just as users who encounter MP3s, while this is unfortunate, should not have to use proprietary software to play those MP3s.
As a second point for this position, we know Microsoft slips trojan horses into competing browsers on Windows, and so if Mozilla doesn’t do it, Microsoft will wedge in another broken plug-in that is full of security problems to Firefox users on Windows. By making the change in Firefox, they can preempt Microsoft infecting Firefox with more things the user may not have approved of.
It’s unfortunate that this method will make it the user’s problem to decide if they care about using untaxed codecs, but you can thank Microsoft and Apple that someone is going to be stuck with the check.
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.
(This is made up of a set of email I sent to some of the contacts on my address book. I figured I might as well post it here too.)
A good deal of the major web sites have blacked themselves out today in protest of SOPA.
Many of them would not exist at all if SOPA/PIPA (also known as the Internet Blacklist Bills) were to go into effect, or had it been in effect at the time they had started out.
The list of sites includes Wikipedia, Google, and Facebook, some of the most popular sites on the internet. They, and other productive businesses, are under a coordinated attack from large and entrenched companies who distort the news, promote proprietary closed source software and DRM, and troll innovative companies with bogus patents issued by the United States.
SOPA/PIPA doesn’t just threaten “pirates”. SOPA/PIPA threatens free and open source software, and free and open content. It gives the US government, without any court order, the ability to remove sites from the internet. Not just in the US, but worldwide. It must be stopped.
In my personal opinion, it would blow up in the face of the proprietary software companies that are promoting it, and possibly lead to a mass exodus to free and open source software (at least until the rich business criminals at Microsoft and Apple figured out a way to shut them down with unfair legal tactics). As tempting as it would be to otherwise just not care about SOPA/PIPA because it would likely cause these companies to choke on their own greed, gloating at the prospect that the government thugs will take sites distributing this proprietary software down is not the right thing to do. An act of repression is not a good thing, even when it is likely to backfire and cause a revolt. (Besides, you’d think ICE actually had a job to do that isn’t getting done. Hint hint.)
The protest against SOPA/PIPA has forced the mainstream media to (sort of) do their jobs. They were silent on it before because many of the larger ones like MSNBC/CNN/Fox Noise actually supported it.
With sites like Wikipedia and many others gone black or having had large protest banners today, they had to come out of hiding.
The protests have done at least some good. They have raised awareness of this repressive piece of Anti-American legislation, and chased some of the supporters away from it. It lost at least three co-sponsors today as a direct result of the protests.
Many of them gave the MAFIAA (MPAA/RIAA) people a chance to attack the grassroots protests with rhetoric and smear.
Says former Senator, turned MAFIAA shill, Chris Dodd,
“Some technology business interests are resorting to stunts that punish their users or turn them into their corporate pawns, rather than coming to the table to find solutions to a problem,” says Chris Dodd, CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, which supports the bills. “A so-called blackout is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently.”
You might remember Senator Dodd, he resigned because the MPAA offered him a truckload of money to be a lobbyist working against the American public, and for the rich business criminals who make up the MPAA.
SOPA was largely written by members of ALEC. Most people don’t know what ALEC is, but ALEC is actually the government of the United States. The real one. It’s made up of corporations, lobbyists, dirty money, and private lawyers that hand off finished bills for the shills in Congress to introduce and pass. They probably figured SOPA/PIPA would simply sail through like the rest of the US laws they write, such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Normally, their attacks on education, the right to read, and the right to share and help your friends goes unnoticed. Indeed, the DMCA was mild compared to SOPA/PIPA. It managed to get rammed through back when the “social” media phenomenon of the internet was not as vibrant as it is now, or it too may have been shot down by overwhelming public outrage.
ALEC has written a number of state level laws and passed them off to their shills in state governments across the United States, including in Indiana. The “Right To Work” bills are largely their doing. An attack against living wages and jobs with good benefits. Companies wish to deal with workers on an individual basis so that they are expendable and, unable to bargain with their employer, have to accept whatever lousy pay and benefits they’re offered.
Wal-Mart (a member of ALEC) in particular is supporting that one, because it likes to hide the true cost of their merchandise. By avoiding unions, paying their employees minimum wage, and giving most of them no health insurance or benefits. You may think you’re saving money when you shop there, but those employees who work 40 hours a week end up in the line for food stamps and Medicaid. Wal-Mart shifts the difference onto state and federal tax payers, who must foot the bill regardless of if they even shop at Wal-Mart.
SOPA/PIPA is only a symptom. In fact, I’d say that we’re fighting the wrong thing. The disease of bad government remains. You can’t fight a cancer by treating only the symptoms and hoping it goes away.
Finally, I notice that Chris Dodd speaks of middle class jobs being destroyed by “piracy”. I wonder what middle class jobs a branding company full of lawyers and former US senators actually produces. Are they talking about the Mexican cleaning crew that goes over their restrooms or something? (As for Microsoft, they employ very few Americans. Most of the development on Windows and IE is done in India and China.)
Our government has been taken over by these people. When Ben Franklin was asked whether we had a monarchy or a republic, he apparently answered “A republic, if you can keep it”.
Fighting off theocrats and big business interests who want to subvert our freedom, by fighting individual acts that they commit against us, is like trying to cure malaria by swatting at mosquitoes (to borrow part of a Richard Stallman quote about fighting off software patents).
We no longer have a republic, we have a Corporatocracy.
This work by Ryan Farmer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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.
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.
Short post, just stating some obvious things.
It seems like you can’t visit a site today without people going through the motions of remembering Steve Jobs, in a positive light. We should remember him for what he was. Not a visionary, not an innovator. A malicious control freak promoting locked down proprietary software, DRM, and devices that the owner could not control or legally fix/improve.
Even Google.com has a small snippet at the bottom about this, even as Apple joins Microsoft in suing free software (such as Linux and Android, which is Linux-based) claiming it violates some rather questionable software patents.
I’m not sure how the mass eulogy for the salesman of the most expensive PC hardware ever has gotten so widespread. Please remember that this man has not done any favors for civilization, he was not an innovator, he and his company conspired (Apple still does conspire) to set back the progress of free software to replace it with their sociopathic vision.
Thanks. And no, I’m not “glad” that Steve Jobs is dead, Apple goes on without him and continues to assault freedom of speech, consumer rights, and free software. I’m merely stating that this man doesn’t deserve to be remembered fondly.