October 09, 2003

SunnComm v Alex Halderman (MediaMax CD3 Copy-Prevention System), DMCA notes

The following is some examination on the DMCA portion SunnComm Press Release about threatening to sue Alex Halderman for his paper Analysis of the MediaMax CD3 Copy-Prevention System. Remember, I'm not a lawyer, but have studied the DMCA extensively. They say:

In addition, SunnComm believes that Halderman has violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by disclosing unpublished MediaMax management files placed on a user's computer after user approval is granted. Once the file is found and deleted according to the instructions given in the Princeton grad student's report, the MediaMax copy management system can be bypassed resulting in the copyright protected music being converted or misappropriated for potentially unauthorized and/or illegal use. SunnComm intends to refer this possible felony to authorities having jurisdiction over these matters because: 1. The author admits that he disabled the driver in order to make an unprotected copy of the disc's contents, and 2. SunnComm believes that the author's report was "disseminated in a manner which facilitates infringement" in violation of the DMCA or other applicable law.

It sounds, from the above, that they're trying to work-up charges both of "1201(a)(1)", doing circumvention, and "1201(a)(2)", trafficking (in "technology", not "device"). I think of these as possession and dealing, though the drug analogy may not be the most felicitous.

That quoted phrase "disseminated in a manner which facilitates infringement" is an attack on using the "1201(g) Encryption Research" exemption, which is a very narrow DMCA exemption for doing circumvention:

o (3) Factors in determining exemption. - In determining whether a person qualifies for the exemption under paragraph (2), the factors to be considered shall include -
+ (A) whether the information derived from the encryption research was disseminated, and if so, whether it was disseminated in a manner reasonably calculated to advance the state of knowledge or development of encryption technology, versus whether it was disseminated in a manner that facilitates infringement under this title or a violation of applicable law other than this section, including a violation of privacy or breach of security;

Later, they state:

The act of publishing instructions under the cloak of "academic research" showing how to defeat MediaMax such as those instructions found in Halderman's report is, at best, duplicitous and, at worst, a felony.

Besides the general ranting here, it's also possible a swipe at the following exemption factor:

+ (B) whether the person is engaged in a legitimate course of study, is employed, or is appropriately trained or experienced, in the field of encryption technology;

I've seen this playbook before, since the censorware companies ran it against me in the DMCA exemption proceedings

Part of the playbook is flaming, lots and lots of flaming, and this PR piece is no exception:

Concluded Jacobs, "This cat-and-mouse game that hackers and others like to play with owners of digital property is over. No matter what their credentials or rationale, it is wrong to use one's knowledge and the cover of academia to facilitate piracy and theft of digital property. SunnComm is taking a stand here because we believe that those who own property, whether physical or digital, have the ultimate authority over how their property is used. Owning copying technology is not an unconditional 'free pass' to replicate or distribute protected work."

Just savor it: "hackers ... cover of academia ... facilitate piracy ... theft of digital property ...". I wonder if they get PR help from Jack "Boston Strangler" Valenti.

For many reasons, right now I'll offer no statement about whether this will succeed.

This moment seems like a good place for me to use the following joke:

When I describe my reasons for quitting censorware research, sometimes people say to me that I've won an EFF Pioneer Award, and thus am so honored, I shouldn't worry about prosecution. Sad to say, there are companies - and maybe judges - who will regard that as akin to being honored by the Order Of Lenin in the Soviet Union. They won't be impressed.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in dmca , legal | on October 09, 2003 10:44 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
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Why does nobody comment on your weblog? It seems so lonely.

Posted by: Osaka at October 10, 2003 03:35 PM

Because almost nobody reads it. Maybe it needs cats.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at October 10, 2003 03:53 PM

Maybe it's because Michael cast you as a loonie. (Sorry, I was Googling about for other stories on Michael and found that instead.) You really ought to mirror his "essay", because it looks like he's taken it down.

You wouldn't need to add your comments much:

"Note that we (the other five of us) all knew at the time that Seth was mentally unstable"
(Repeat after me, michael... I am not a Scientologist... I am not a Scientologist...)
"So, you followed a link from somewhere or another and you came to this page. You may have been expecting something to do with censorship or censoring software - software that censors someone else's internet access. Instead you've gotten an essay about some people trying to do good works on the net, and a net-loon."
(Well, that was nice of you, michael, wasn't it? Denying your audience the actual website, and putting up a fantasy story with you as the hero instead.)

And wait, there's this:
"Seth continued to send his hate to me and the other members of the group, and to various mailing lists dealing with legal issues or censorship."
OK, from now on I'm just straight-out boycotting Slashdot. They certainly aren't choosing their editors on the base of ethics.

Posted by: Osaka at October 10, 2003 04:01 PM

Ah, I see you've got a quick thing about that on your censorware.org page-- I missed it after reading the original essay. Still, people are linking to Michael's page as if it were gospel.

I can't believe he shelled out about $50 for a new domain (stalkedbyseth.com) all about you. *deletes Slashdot bookmark from toolbar*

Posted by: Osaka at October 10, 2003 04:05 PM

The attacks from Michael Sims are indeed a major factor in my marginalization. It works like this: Almost nobody comments in my blog, because almost nobody reads me. Almost nobody reads me, because I'm marginalized. I'm marginalized IN PART because of Slashdot's de facto support of Michael Sims.

Note, again, it's not the only reason. I'm not doing a "but for him" statement here. It's a reason. Over the years, I made some absolutely enormous mistakes in terms of not looking out for myself, and willingly letting other people take credit or get recognition for my extensive work. I regret it now.

E.g. I took on Mike Godwin. I got backstabbed from trusting Declan McCullagh (long issues there). Basically, while there are people who think well of me, and people who think ill of me, the people who think negatively of me were/are willing to attack me much more readily than the people who think positively of me were/are willing to support me.

And eventually, in sum, the snipers won. That's just what happened. Many times, in my writings, I talk about the power of journalism. Michael Sims' theft of the Censorware Project domain is the most public and unarguable example here. People used to say to me that he was insane, that there had to be something mentally wrong with him for doing the domain-hijacking. I never agreed. As a simple statement of fact, I though his reasoning was extremely clear - with Slashdot's support, he could be destructive and abuse anyone, and get away with it, so he did. It wasn't nice, but it wasn't incomprehensible.

Note since almost nobody reads me, almost nobody will read any rebuttal.

I have no solution to this. As I've been writing, the legal risk and lack of support and attacks regarding my censorware research finally caused me to quit.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at October 10, 2003 05:53 PM

SunnComm accused Halderman of wrongdoing for exposing their weak copy protection. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone". Is SunnComm without sin?

In December 2000, SunnComm announced a $20M deal with Will-Shown, who they described as a major Pacific Rim CD Manufacturer.

SunnComm Inks $20+ Million Copy Protection Deal With Major Pacific Rim CD Manufacturer


People are asking who is the Will-Shown Technology Company. Why would a CD manufacturer license copy protection? It is not a record label. Why would it commit so much to an untested product by a penny stock with no track record? How could a major Pacific Rim CD manufacturer not have a web site? How come it is not even mentioned on the web by anyone else? The stock price tripled in the days after the announcement. Who can find Will-Shown and clear up the mystery? A major Pacific Rim CD Manufacturer couldn't just vanish like that, could it?

SunnComm was previously named Desert Winds Entertainment. The SEC found a little problem with them: http://www.sec.gov/litigation/complaints/complr17462.htm

Paloma appointed Jacobs as president and Jacobs, who accused Halderman of wrong doing, was the person responsible for the Will-Shown press release.

Posted by: ataboy at October 17, 2003 09:55 AM