Anti-DRM tide rises inside Sony; Scotch tape defeats rootkit

Anti-DRM tide rises inside Sony; Scotch tape defeats rootkit

Summary: Just a few quick hits on the still evolving Sony rootkit story.  Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow claims to have received an e-mail from a highly placed source within Sony BMG indicating that record label heads may be rethinking DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) as a part of their business.

TOPICS: Tech Industry

Just a few quick hits on the still evolving Sony rootkit story.  Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow claims to have received an e-mail from a highly placed source within Sony BMG indicating that record label heads may be rethinking DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) as a part of their business.  According to Doctorow's blog entry, several artists are furious because of how Sony's faux pas may hurt their relationship with fans who are doing the right thing buy purchasing music.  DRM was applied to certain CDs without the approval of the artists.  Doctorow also has a two part round up (part I, part II) of the Sony rootkit timeline. 

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the Net,  Gartner has issued a research note that talks about how all that's needed to defeat Sony's rootkit DRM, as well as DRM that has been applied to other CDs, is to use nothing more than an opaque piece of tape on the outer edge of so-called protected CDs.   The "outer edge" technique for uncorking protected CDs is nothing new, having first surfaced back in 2002 when similar copy protection technologies from Cactus Data Shield (CDS) and Key2Audio were defeated in pretty much the same way.  I took a walk down ZDNet memory lane to look at the CD copy protection headlines of that time and here's what I found:

Ah, deja vu all over again.  How does the saying go?  History will repeat itself?

Topic: Tech Industry

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  • Another good article...

    ... on the subject, though the author makes the mistake of thinking that piracy has cost the record companies any money.

    The first quote is given because I enjoy seeing others make the point I've been posting for a long time:

    Phil Leigh, analyst for Inside Digital Media, said the debacle shows just how reluctant the labels are to change their business model to reflect the distribution powers - good and bad - of the Internet. He believes that rather than adopting technological methods to try to stop unauthorized copying of music, record companies need to do more to remove the incentive for piracy.

    But, more to the point, no matter how many disasters overtake the RIAA companies in trying to use technology to close their great new distribution channel, they will still keep trying:

    Although the episode could not have gone worse, it's unlikely to lead other music companies to abandon copy-protection technologies.
    One rival, EMI Group PLC, is moving ahead with digital rights management from Macrovision Corp. that lets users burn three copies of a disc and "rip" it onto a computer seven times. While it's safe to assume hacks around these rules could emerge, EMI will try to enlist consumer support for the software by having it include bonus features, like album art, liner notes and videos.

    That's the way to sell CDs despite the internet as a competitive channel, not a way to make people amenable to restrictive DRM.

    But stupid is stubborn.
    Anton Philidor
  • EXACTLY, an answer to the ARTISTS question i asked back when this began

    THERE is the answer to my question. my question was, just how long will it take for the artists who's cd's featured this spyware CRAP get annoyed enough at their lackluster sales and dropping place in the charts that can be directly attributed to this rootkit debacle to stand up and start yelling at sony?

    if i were one of these artists it would have taken me about 30 minutes before hitting the phones.

    Valis Keogh
  • One more worth reading

    Also found through BoingBoing, an economist's study of the financial impact of p2p sharing:
    tic swayback
    • Discerning.

      The article that you quote is worthwhile, but more for pointing out the problems caused by assumptions than for definitive conclusions.

      The study the author likes best because of access to a lot of proprietary data (Blackburn) is based on the assumption that suits filed by the RIAA immediately cause a change a downloading behavior.

      Quoting from the source Blackburn study:

      Doing this reveals that as a result of the lawsuit strategy followed by the RIAA against users of file sharing networks, album sales increased by 2.9% over the 23 weeks in the data sample after the strategy was announced.

      So many people heard of the strategy and guiltily went out and bought albums during that period? Sigh.

      The article's author criticizes the $0 piracy study for this reason:

      The main shortcoming is to estimating the interaction of illegal downloading and legal sales by looking at contemporaneous changes, i.e. what effect downloading in week X has on sales in week X. However it seems clear that substitution can occur across time not simply contemporaneously.

      ... but then fails to accuse the Blackburn study of the same flaw.

      And the article's author points out that the basis for the estimate of the market without piracy is ludicrous:

      Some reservations about estimates of financial harm. Most notably extrapolation of point estimates of elasticity to substantial changes is dubious and might be the reason for the (slightly incredible) size of the effects on sales (seems implausible given competition from other areas such as DVDs and internet generally that music sales should continue on a trend extrapolate from 1996-1999).

      Though the article's author respects the Blackburn study more than the others, the only significant observation to me is the fact that the author can duplicate the $0 impact of piracy finding, but chooses an alternate method which produces a certain amount of lost sales.

      From the article:

      Quoting for context only:
      Blackburn focuses on issues related to aggregation of data (ie. regressing all sales on all downloads rather than sales for an individual artist or album against downloads) and suggests that is a source of significant bias.

      The most significant finding in the Blackburn study:

      He uses his data to reproduce the 0 effect result of Oberholzer and Strumpf ...

      The result is not allowed to stand:

      ... but then goes on to show that disaggregation changes this result.

      How something is "disaggregated" and the true representativeness of subsets of data can affect the result, yes.

      I think the $0 lost to piracy conclusion is standing up well.

      Worth noting that all answers are guesses. But put it this way, if the null hypothesis in this case is that file sharing had no impact, then none of the studies discussed shows a compelling reason to reject the null hypothesis.
      Anton Philidor
      • Yeah, actually....

        "So many people heard of the strategy and guiltily went out and bought albums during that period? Sigh."

        So what's your problem? That's exactly the right way for the bigs to stop piracy - instead of using DRM, bring those who are guilty of theft to court.
        • My problem is the behavior identified.

          The RIAA starts bringing Court cases. The response to that action: people buy albums.

          If the Court cases frightened people, they might stop downloading. If that did occur we wouldn't know confidently because of the difficulty in tracking file sharing activity, particularly over a short period.
          But it's a reasonable possibility.

          The question is, why would people buy albums as a result of the Court cases brought?

          The only apparent answer is because people who were frightened away from sharing promptly bought whole albums instead.

          Doesn't sound to me like the most likely behavior.

          And even if it were true, the fact that these people bought the albums so readily confirms that the RIAA companies are targetting their best customers with their legal attacks.

          Only the RIAA companies would consider suing their best customers to be a good business move.
          Anton Philidor
          • Well said

            Anton, thanks for your cogent points on the subject. Measuring
            these effects is nearly impossible, so it's valuable to take claims
            from both sides, about horrible losses due to p2p or about
            increased cd sales, with a grain of salt.

            I'll also add in to the poster above that going after infringers is
            all well and good, but the methods employed by the RIAA have
            been extremely distasteful. Their attempts to do things on the
            cheap, going after huge swaths of people without actually doing
            any research to identify the actual infringers, their extortionist
            tactics and bullying threats, their constant demands of newer
            and more harsh laws from Congress (without even attempting to
            enforce the laws already on the books) are surely not the best
            way they could be doing this.
            tic swayback
  • corporate greed

    I think there is corporate greed involved here for the presant and future. Sony doesn't think
    Itunes or all the rest are paying enough royalties on their music. There is a big hassel now with Apple. Sony wants more than copy protection ---Control of market . Now think of this-- They say profits are up due to schemes and law suits ( and their underhanded actions) HMMMMMMMM wasn't it back when all this started that Itunes --Walmart and all the rest sold very affordable songs -- you can buy the one you wanted---not forcing you to buy 15 crappy songs and one good one. There is a lots of greed in that. Suppose you had to go to the store to purchase a tooth brush and you had to buy 13 crappy tooth brushes and one good one to make the purchase ---and crappy ones at the same price as the good brushes. Would YOU?? The whole smear is about greed and control. AND ITS YOUR COMPUTER AND MONEY THEY ARE TRYING TO CONTROL NOW. I thought I owned my computer and the rest of you to. Soney is saying UH UH you are full of beans .WE own part of it too Sony can and will have part of your operating system.
  • History will repeat itself?

    it's not "History will repeat itself?", it's "Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it." i'd say sony is ignorant of the history here.