MSFT: Our DRM licensing is there to eliminate hobbyists and little guys
A Microsoft spokesman has described their DRM licensing scheme as a system for reducing the number of device vendors to a manageable number, so that the company doesn’t have to oversee too many developers.
Yesterday, I spoke at a DRM conference in London. Just before me was the opening keynote, from Microsoft’s Amir Majidimehr, Corporate VP of the Windows Digital Media Division, which oversees licensing and deployment of Microsoft’s DRM.
Amir’s presentation kept referring to Microsoft DRM as “open,” which was curious, because it’s actually the opposite of open. An open platform is something like an electrical outlet: if you want to design something to plug into an electrical outlet, you can — you might have to satisfy a regulator that it won’t burst into flames, but you certainly don’t need to talk to General Electric or any other potential competitor.
Microsoft’s DRM requires that device makers pay Microsoft a license fee for each device that plays back video encoded with its system. it also requires every such vendor to submit to a standardized, non-negotiable license agreement that spells out how the player must be implemented. This contract contains numerous items that limit the sort of business you’re allowed to pursue, notably that you may not implement a Microsoft player in open source software.
The bombshell was Amir’s explanation of the reason that his employer charges fees to license its DRM. According to Amir, the fee is not intended to recoup the expenses Microsoft incurred in developing their DRM, or to turn a profit. The intention is to reduce the number of licensors to a manageable level, to lock out “hobbyists” and other entities that Microsoft doesn’t want to have to trouble itself with.
I was pretty surprised to hear an executive from Microsoft describe his company’s strategy as intentionally anti-competitive and intended solely to freeze out certain classes of operators rather than maximizing its profits through producing a better product and charging a fair price for it.
Isn’t that why the Justice Department and the EU went after Redmond in the first place?
StarForce threatens to sue me for criticizing its products
A company that was criticized on Boing Boing has threatened to sue me, and claims to have sworn out a complaint against me with the FBI.
Yesterday, I posted about StarForce, a harmful technology used by game companies to restrict their customers’ freedom. StarForce attempts to stop game customers from copying their property, but it has the side-effects of destabilizing and crashing the computers on which it is installed.
Someone identifying himself as “Dennis Zhidkov, PR-manager, StarForce Inc.” contacted me this morning and threatened to sue me, and told me that he had contacted the FBI to complain about my “harassment.”
If you’re looking for reasons to boycott StarForce-crippled games (besides the obvious ones), you might add their use of bullying legal threats to your list.
From: “Dennis Zhidkov” <email@example.com>
Date: January 31, 2006 9:55:40 AM BST
To: “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>
Subject: StarForce Response to Cory Doctorow
StarForce Inc. response to Mr. Cory Doctorow
Dear Sir, calling StarForce “Anti-copying malware” is a good enough cause to press charges and that is what our corporate lawyer is busy doing right now.
I urge you to remove your post from http://www.boingboing.net/2006/01/30/anticopying_malware_.html because it is full of insults, lies, false accusations and rumors. Your article violates approximately 11 international laws. Our USlawyer will contact you shortly. I have also contacted the FBI , because what you are doing is harassment.
Here’s my reply: “Thank you for your response. I have appended it to my original post and have forwarded it to the Chilling Effects project to be part of the permanent record of abusive attempts by companies to silence their critics.”
This is the original post:
A group of gamers has started a site to spread a pledge to boycott video-games that come with a dangerous anti-copying mechanism.
Starforce is an anti-copying program that some games covertly install when you install the game. The software causes system instability and crashes. The company that makes Starforce refuses to address the damage their software causes; instead, they blame the people on whom their malware has been forced: “According to our research those of users [sic] that do run into compatibility problems are beginner-level-hackers that try to go around our protection system.”
The list of games infected with Starforce is long and depressing — there are dozens of these. If you’re a gamer, you owe it to yourself to have a look and check to see if Starforce might have damaged your PC. What’s more, you should join the boycott of any game that comes with this malicious software onboard.
For example, here’s one of the common problems brought by Starforce: under Windows XP, if packets are lost during the reading or writing of a disk, XP interprets this as an error and steps the IDE speed down. Eventually it will revert to 16bit compatibility mode rendering a CD/DVD writer virtually unusable. In some circumstances certain drives cannot cope with this mode and it results in physical hardware failure (Most commonly in multiformat CD/DVD writer drives). A sure sign of this step down occurring is that the burn speeds will get slower and slower (no matter what speed you select to burn at). Starforce, on a regular basis, triggers this silent step down. Until it reaches the latter stages most people do not even realise it is happening.
Moreover, the Starforce drivers, installed on your system, grant ring 0 (system level) privileges to any code under the ring 3 (user level) privileges. Thus, any virus or trojan can get OS privileges and totally control your system. Since Windows 2000, the Windows line security and stability got enhanced by separating those privileges, but with the Starforce drivers, the old system holes and instabilities are back and any program (or virus) can reach the core of your system by using the Starforce drivers as a backdoor.
If the only way they can keep their customers by threatening everybody who has something to say about their software, it’s clear that the starforce software must be utter crap. It’s interesting to see that the research confirms this.
Oh, and as far as I know, Sony is still a customer at star
If you hate folding your t-shirts after doing your laundry, check this.
Before the football match between Argentina and Brazil, an Argentinean condom company came up with this ad to show the Brazilians what they were going to do to them.
Brazil won the match and their Football organization replied to the ad.
They’re clearly filtering for keywords, as the search for tank square massacre shows.
As part of the What The World Thinks of America programme, 11,000 people in the UK, France, Russia, Indonesia, South Korea, Jordan, Australia, Canada, Israel, Brazil and the US responded to a poll asking their views and opinions on America.
The respondents were asked about their general attitudes towards America and US President George Bush.
The poll also posed a range of other questions on America’s foreign policy, military power, cultural influences and economic might.
The White House sided with the terrorists in the UN.
A man takes a shower at a frozen hot mineral spring in the Black Sea town of Varna, some 280 miles north-east of the capital Sofia. The arctic cold wave dropped temperatures to 20 below Centigrade (4 below Fahrenheit) in north-east Bulgaria
Ever since her rise to fame on the international party circuit, the debate has raged in the gossip columns from Los Angeles to London. Is the heiress Paris Hilton really the most air-headed socialite the world has ever seen? Or, as her supporters claim, is her dizzy bimbo act so outrageous that it can only be a deliberate, if off-beat, self-marketing ploy?
Now, it seems, a leaked transcript of a legal statement she made in private may have proved the prosecution case beyond doubt. Her responses to a series of lawyers’ questions reveal that the heir to the Hilton Hotel fortune admits not knowing some of her friends’ names, thinks that everyone in Europe speaks French, and believes that London is not in the United Kingdom.
Dutch TV programme Nieuwslicht (Newslight) is claiming that the security of the Dutch biometric passport has already been cracked. As the programme reports here, the passport was read remotely and then the security cracked using flaws built into the system, whereupon all of the biometric data could be read.
The crack is attributed to Delft smartcard security specialist Riscure, which here explains that an attack can be executed from around 10 metres and the security broken, revealing date of birth, facial image and fingerprint, in around two hours. Riscure notes that that the speed of the crack is aided by the Dutch passport numbering scheme being sequential.
The process is explained in greater detail by Bart Jacobs, Research Director of the Institute for Computing and Information Sciences, University of Nijmegen, in presentations to be found here. These make it clear that a skimming exercise could potentially yield all biometric data from a passport (or indeed a biometric ID card), giving ID thieves and would-be forgers a considerable leg up in the construction of fakes.
According to the Dutch Interior Ministry ways to improve the security of the passport are being looked at. But note that they say “improve”, not “fix”.