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Photoshop Fails At Counterfeit Prevention 712

Posted by timothy
from the but-the-secret-porn-filter-works-great dept.
JediDan writes "Wired reports that the 'Anti-counterfeiting provisions in the latest version of Adobe Systems' flagship product have proven little more than a speed bump, but company representatives insist that including them was the right thing to do.' Kevin Connor, Adobe's director of product management for professional digital imaging said, 'As a market leader and a good corporate citizen, this just seems like the right thing to do.' Maybe if they didn't spend R&D time and money on useless features, their products would be more affordable."
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Photoshop Fails At Counterfeit Prevention

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  • They thought it couldn't be bypassed?
    • by mutewinter (688449) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:54AM (#7974464)
      Hmm sounds just like software companies that are conned into spending boatloads of money on elaberate copy-protection schemes which are broken in days instead of hours.
      • by brokencomputer (695672) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @12:23PM (#7974851) Homepage Journal
        This feature was asked for by the US government. Adobe is probably being reimbursed by the goverment and in return, Adobe promises to include this feature. In otherwords, it would probably make the product less expensive to produce.
      • by Greyfox (87712) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @12:30PM (#7974963) Homepage Journal
        You can talk about copy protection all you want, but if the bits can be displayed by your machine, some wise-ass kid in Sweden will figure out how break your copy protection in next to no-time, completely destroying your R&D "Investment." Those wise-ass kids in Sweden are like badgers, they'll just keep gnawing on the problem until they solved it. The harder you try to make it for them to solve, the harder they'll try to figure it out. You may as well just xor all the data with the name of the CEO's poodle and save yourself the money.

        Development effort for protection scheme: $150,000
        Cost in added crypo components (100,000 units): $1.2 Million
        Look on CEO's face when some kid in Sweden breaks the copy protection 12 hours before the product is officially released: Priceless

        There are some things money can't buy, for everything else there are gullable shareholders.

      • "Hmm sounds just like software companies that are conned into spending boatloads of money on elaberate copy-protection schemes which are broken in days instead of hours."

        I wouldn't call this 'copy protection' in the sense that you're describing it. Adobe's trying to keep their ass out of the fire. If Photoshop were suddenly used to do a great deal of counterfitting, Adobe can fire back and say "we made a good faith effort to let people know that it's illegal."

        Frankly, I don't see how Adobe could have
    • It's not their responsibility to fight terrorism, so any attempt to prevent it whatsoever is a good faith effort on their part. Adobe should in no way be faulted for this.
  • by Trigun (685027) <evil@NOSpAm.evilempire.ath.cx> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:53AM (#7974448)
    Maybe if they didn't spend R&D time and money on useless features, their products would be more affordable.

    Maybe they should just skip the product and go directly to printing the money.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @12:03PM (#7974590)
      You cant do that on Photoshop :D

      Unless you work around via ImageReady :D

      Really, theyre devs are smart :D Just not on things like blocking and anti copying :D
    • Maybe the submitter should try reading the article. The article makes it very clear that Adobe didn't write the conterfeit dection software. It came from the "Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group, an organization established by the governors of the G-10 central banks to promote the use of anti-counterfeit devices in the computer industry."

      Adobe doesn't even know how it works (it is a black box), not to mention having wasted any effort on it.

      • by j-turkey (187775) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @12:40PM (#7975079) Homepage
        Adobe doesn't even know how it works (it is a black box), not to mention having wasted any effort on it.

        I see where you're coming from, but in my experience, development doesn't work like that. Nobody just drops some mystery code into their product and releases it (can you imagine this code breaking some other feature and Adobe tells their customers "well, the Fed. told us this code would work...sorry 'bout that"?). Features like this are typically worked into design specs and engineering specs. It also needs to be integrated into their codebase (even if they were just a bunch of precompiled methods) -- it needs to interface with their software somehow, no? Code like this also has to be tested, which can be a pretty major undertaking. Furthermore, for every change that's made to any part of the code, features like this (and all others) are usually tested in regression.

        While Adobe may not have spent time developing the code itself, I'm fairly certain that this code adds to the bottom line of development costs...which also adds to the bottom line of the product cost to the end user (unless they tack that expenditure onto some other product).

        In the end, we all pay for a "feature" that we don't want...even though we do pay for it, we'll never notice (unless we're counterfitters, in which case, we'll either use a different product, or find a way to easily circumvent the "feature"). It's downright lame and it's not their job to enforce the law. Besides, what's illegal about scanning in a $20 bill? I can think of 10 legitimate reasons to do just that right now.

        What's next, anti kiddie-porn protection? At least the code will actually prevent a law from being broken (unless you're taking baby pictures and your kids like to be nude...it happens).

    • "Adobe Photoshop CS: $649.00, $0.00 after rebate"

      "Print your own US$649.00 rebate in CASH on the included currency paper sheets."
  • by The I Shing (700142) * on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:53AM (#7974451) Journal
    "From Adobe's standpoint, all we're concerned about really is that it doesn't have a performance impact on customers, that it's stable and doesn't cause crashes and that it's not going to produce false positives -- that it's going to tell someone that a picture of someone's grandmother is a $20 bill," Connor said.

    That's good, because there's nothing like having a top-of-the-line imaging program tell you that your grandmother looks like Andrew Jackson. Yikes!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:54AM (#7974455)
    Let's all forget about counterfeiting, and concentrate on Photoshop's real purpose: pasting celebrities' heads on nude bodies.
  • Digital artist Kiera Wooley circumvented the restrictions simply by cutting and pasting a bank-note image from another graphics utility into Photoshop.

    how else would you open an image of currency?
    • Perhaps Kiera is taking advantage of the difference between opening a graphic in Photoshop and starting from a new graphic and pasting content in. If this is the case, the currency recognition algorithm only seems to be running when opening docs, or scanning new items directly into photoshop and NOT when pasting items from memory.
  • by fugu (99277) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:54AM (#7974461)
    great, another protection mechanism that's easily sidestepped by the real crooks but manages to irritate legitimate users
  • Economics (Score:3, Informative)

    by FortKnox (169099) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:54AM (#7974463) Homepage Journal
    Maybe if they didn't spend R&D time and money on useless features, their products would be more affordable

    Please, stop making comments on what they should price their software until you take some rudimentary economics courses.
    • Re:Economics (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Mr. McGibby (41471) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @12:03PM (#7974581) Homepage Journal
      How about, instead of insulting people and their intelligence, you give us a easy to understand explanation of why this person is wrong since you imply that you know so much about economics.
    • Agreed. I just checked... Photoshop CS (the subject of the article) is available for $650. That's a freaking drop in the bucket for anyone that actually needs those kind of photo editing capabilities.

      Most of the people whining about the price are people who wouldn't use Photoshop's power anyway, and could easily use a much less expensive package. And, heck, there's always The Gimp -- which offers most of Photoshop's power for absolutely no cost. And yes, it runs on Windows too.
  • R&D time and money? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ZiZ (564727) * on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:54AM (#7974466) Homepage
    The article says the counterfeit detection scheme was provided to them as a black-box piece of code. They didn't even develop it, and don't actually have any idea what it does or how it works! (Didn't a previous article include a fairly detailed explanation? Something about circles in the blue channel or something? Their solution? Request approved images directly from the government.
  • by bartash (93498) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:54AM (#7974467)
    This comment [slashdot.org] has a description and a useful link.
  • by trb (8509) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:55AM (#7974473)
    This just in, the GIMP is providing an optional anti-counterfeiting plugin, for people who want it. Seems fair.
    • This just in, the GIMP is providing an optional anti-counterfeiting plugin, for people who want it. Seems fair.

      Hah ha! If you would like to stop yourself from counterfeiting, download this module and install it for use in Gimp. If you are a counterfeiter, please download and install the module. Then do not attempt to bypass it's security in any way.
    • Re:GIMP plugin? (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by Bagels (676159)
      It's fairly pointless unless it can be made password-protected (so that other users can't disable it). Does anyone know whether that's the case?
    • Re:GIMP plugin? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mark-t (151149) <markt@ l y n x.bc.ca> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @12:03PM (#7974587) Journal
      Can GIMP plugins be closed-source and still be compatible with the GPL on the GIMP?
    • Re:GIMP plugin? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BeBoxer (14448) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @01:02PM (#7975366)
      What I want is the Gimp plugin that adds the "Eurion Constellation" or whatever it is to my picture so that Photoshop won't open it. I think it would be quite funny to start trying to put the magic watermark as many places as possible, making Photoshop break as often as possible.

      I personally have zero respect for companies that go out of their way to cripple their product in one way or another. Software has enough unintentional bugs without the developers deciding to break it on purpose.
      • Re:GIMP plugin? (Score:4, Informative)

        by sjmurdoch (193425) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @03:05PM (#7977015) Homepage
        What I want is the Gimp plugin that adds the "Eurion Constellation" or whatever it is to my picture so that Photoshop won't open it.
        I checked this, and the "Eurion Constellation" is not in fact sufficient to get an imaged blocked as money. Also even images of currency that have had the "Eurion Constellation" removed are still detected as currency. It is not clear how this new currency detection works, but it is more complex than the "Eurion Constellation" test built into colour photocopiers.
  • by fjordboy (169716) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:55AM (#7974476) Homepage
    That's awesome...let me fire up my dot matrix printer and I'll be in the money in no time! Woo!
  • The trick is (Score:2, Insightful)

    by chadw17 (308037)
    somewhat clever, but nothing too impressive. Import needed currency image from another program, even earlier versions of Photoshop, then use, save, print as usual, no more image checking is done.

    Rather than blast Adobe for including this, a better idea in my opinion is to be somewhat grateful that there's no constant checking in place to waste CPU cycles, or slow down graphic developers everytime an image is saved or loaded.
  • by Doesn't_Comment_Code (692510) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:55AM (#7974481)
    Maybe if they didn't spend R&D time and money on useless features, their products would be more affordable.

    No kidding. And that only starts the downward spiral. Once your software is over a couple hundred dollars a lot of people who would like to pay for it can't afford it. Those people either use it without paying for it, or don't use it at all. Either way, they aren't paying, which leads to a further increase in cost to the remainder who are buying. And on and on...

    I almost choke when I see the prices on some of the software bundles, especially Adobe.
    • by Chess_the_cat (653159) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @12:03PM (#7974583) Homepage
      Nonsense. Photoshop is a tool for professionals. Professionals can afford it. If you're not a professional you don't need it and it's not being marketed to you anyway. Get Paintshop or become a graphic artist.
    • by GoofyBoy (44399) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @12:14PM (#7974725) Journal
      The anti-counterfeiting part of the application was not developed by Adobe.

      From the article:
      The anti-counterfeit software in Photoshop CS was developed by the Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group, an organization established by the governors of the G-10 central banks to promote the use of anti-counterfeit devices in the computer industry. ...

      The inner workings of the counterfeit deterrence system are so secret that not even Adobe is privy to them. The Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group provides the software as a black box without revealing its precise inner workings, Connor said.

  • It seems that it would take one hell of a scanner to produce a passable currency note with the really, really tiny writing. Shouldn't that be enough of a deterrent for a while longer? I don't doubt that some people have that sort of equipment, but it's not like you can go to Best Buy, pick up a scanner on sale, and start counterfeiting money.
    • by Doesn't_Comment_Code (692510) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @12:12PM (#7974698)
      but it's not like you can go to Best Buy, pick up a scanner on sale, and start counterfeiting money.

      I want to BestBuy last week, and sure enough, right there next to those little photograph printers, was an illegal currency printer. The side of the box said,:

      HP Illegal Currency Printer (USB)
      Plug and Play technology
      System Requirements:
      Pentium II 200 MHz or better
      128 MBytes Ram
      Windows 98/NT/2000/XP
      Note: Does not work with Adobe Photoshop CS

      Don't forget HP Bank Note Paper and Ink Cartridges (HP-ICP-701).
  • Good faith effort? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dustmote (572761) <fleck55&hotmail,com> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:55AM (#7974484) Homepage Journal
    I'm sure they weren't really trying to make it impossible to counterfeit, because it would make so many other image processing tasks more difficult, or at least increase the program's overhead. All they have to do is make a cursory effort to sort of say that they tried. Then again, I'm not too clear on the reasons for doing that either, maybe good PR? Still, it seems like it should be pretty readily apparent that this is an impossible task. They probably stopped all the fourteen year old kids counterfeiting perfect 20s, though.
  • umm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Coderstop (701079)
    "Maybe if they didn't spend R&D time and money on useless features, their products would be more affordable"

    They didn't spend any R&D time on the anti-counterfeiting aspect of Photoshop CS.

    From the article - "The anti-counterfeit software in Photoshop CS was developed by the Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group"

    Also, their products are priced fairly for the power they have. Photoshop in particular is an invaluable tool, and it's easily possible to get back the money you've invested in it b
  • What R&D money? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sklivvz (167003) * <marco,cecconi&gmail,com> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:56AM (#7974495) Homepage Journal
    From the article: The inner workings of the counterfeit deterrence system are so secret that not even Adobe is privy to them. The Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group provides the software as a black box without revealing its precise inner workings, Connor said.

    So Adobe just plugged in an OCX in their program or something similarly easy. It's not this "feature" that bloats the price tag, I'm afraid.

    Also, why all this secrecy on the "inner workings" of the software, when it's so easily circumvented (e.g. copy and paste from another app)? Why should scanning money be illegal? It's ridiculous - it's like banning knives because they could be dangerous. It's not the technology, it's the use you make of it. I don't understand why politicians fail to understand this simple concept: technology is not evil or good, it does not pose new moral problems. It's always the same problems, just with a different twist in the details.
  • Photoshop (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mrmcwn (566272)
    It was third party code, no? Thus it had little effect on their profit-making.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:57AM (#7974505)
    The fact that Adobe's products aren't affordable is yet another anti-counterfeiting feature. Users who can afford Photoshop have more money (and thus less need to counterfeit) than the general population.

    The next version promises to be even less affordable, to the degree that no matter how rich you are, you'll have to counterfeit money just to buy it--thus ensuring that you don't use it to make the counterfeits!
  • by djupedal (584558) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:57AM (#7974511)
    Tens years ago, while working for a tech firm in Tokyo, I was around when new color copiers were delivered that supposedly had the ability to detect currency.

    Took about a minute to foil them...

  • Photography boards (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mtrupe (156137) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:57AM (#7974512) Homepage Journal

    I am an amatuer photographer. Its really funny how just about EVERYONE I know who is into photography has a copy of photoshop. Hmmm... They can't afford a new $500 flash, but they can afford $500 for Photoshop.

    Its obvious to me the Photoshop is way, way overpriced. Now, Adobe is free to charge whatever they want for it, but the average Joe is not willing to dump $500 on software.

    True, counterfeiting software is not a "right", but its bound to happen when companies overcharge. Why do you think people are so quick to download music and copy CDs?
  • Is secure and anonymous digital cash, not stupid gimicky features or restrictions on technology. The Chaum patents expire in 2005, so we only have a year or two to wait for someone to make a good implementation of them.

    Stupid patents. Do more to stifle innovation than they do to help.

  • I doubt there's ever been as much scanning & loading of bank notes into Photoshop and as much awareness that this was possible. All thanks to Adobe's nannying attempt to stop it. One wonders how this happened. I mean did the Secret Service ask them or did they do this all on their own, it seems very strange that they'd instigate this feature by themselves unless they were trying to head off legislation.

    Oh well, looks like we have another counterproductive attempt to control what people do with technolo
  • Price (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RealityMogul (663835) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:58AM (#7974531)
    Maybe if they didn't spend R&D time and money on useless features, their products would be more affordable

    First off, every company spends time/money for R&D on features or products that never even reach the consumer, let alone generate a profit. Any company that hasn't done so would take over the entire planet in a short amount of time.

    Secondly, Photoshop has been expensive for the last decade. Do you really think they sat down 10 years ago and budgetted 50 million dollars to add an anti-counterfeitting feature? You charge what the market can bear. And the market has been able to bear a $700 price tag (or whatever they're charging). As proof of this, I submit the fact that Adobe is still in business.

    It's fine to whine about MS charging $XXX for products that aren't anywhere near the best tool for any job, but Photoshop is an incredible tool and worth every penny.
  • The inner workings of the counterfeit deterrence system are so secret that not even Adobe is privy to them. The Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group provides the software as a black box without revealing its precise inner workings, Connor said.

    Wow, I'm sure Adobe has NO idea what's going into its own products, they just copy and paste government code in like THAT without even looking at it.
  • by mekkab (133181) * on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @11:59AM (#7974534) Homepage Journal
    When the counterfeit deterrence system detects an attempt to access a currency image, it aborts the operation, displays a warning message and directs the user to a website with information on international counterfeiting laws.


    That sure beats a Goatse redirect.
  • "Maybe if they didn't spend R&D time and money on useless features, their products would be more affordable."

    I'm sure they are just printing their own money anyway.

  • Does it only detect features on American currency? I would much prefer to bootleg money from a country that wouldn't hunt me down with a "Secret Service", if I were a criminal.

  • Other Photoshop CS users said they had successfully imported bank-note images by ... scanning an image in pieces and reassembling it in Photoshop.

    I don't even want to think about the reasoning here...
  • Well counterfeiters will use something other than Photoshop or will use Photoshop 8. As there aren't enough raster graphics programs out there. This isn't going to stop crooks so I guess it's a useless measure. Making money counterfeit proof is the answer. They wasted precious programmer hours to do it and the final costs are also supported by the people who actually buy Photoshop. So I suppose this is how Adobe is cutting down costs. They failed to make any new innovations and this is what they do to justi
  • by rastakid (648791) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @12:08PM (#7974640) Homepage Journal
    This 'feature' is already trespassed! Take a look in this forum [dutchphotozone.com] (Dutch, sorry). It says there that when you scan multiple bills you won't get an error, and even when you crop them one-by-one, you're still not stopped in your job. Screenshots available.
  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @12:10PM (#7974664)
    Maybe if they didn't spend R&D time and money on useless features, their products would be more affordable.

    Anyone who believes this must also believe that Microsoft is trying hard to lower costs but just can't do it. Face it, this software reflects what they think the market will bear, not what it costs to develop. A few years ago when Photoshop 5.x was out, they also had a "Lite" version that cost about half as much as full Photoshop. Thing was, you could also get the exact same licensed software free with a $100 Maxtor hard drive. Anyone who paid the full price for the "Lite" version was a real chump, but I'm sure there were plenty who did, and thought they were saving money after seeing the cost of the "Full" version.

    Also, several years ago I had a friend who bought a scanner that came with a bundeled and fully licensed copy of the full version of Photoshop (NOT the "Lite" version). At the time scanners were expensive, but he still paid about half of what it would have cost to buy just Photoshop for a good scanner and a Full, legal, upgradeable Photoshop. (he got the Kai with it too!)

    They could spend 1/10 of what they now spend on R&D, but they are not going to drop the product price by a penny while they think they can still get current prices. On the other hand, if you shop around you can sometimes get it at a much fairer price.

  • by microcars (708223) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @12:13PM (#7974708) Homepage
    from the article:
    "...U.S. law, which allows color reproductions of U.S. bank notes so long as the reproductions are smaller than 75 percent or larger than 150 percent of actual size. The reproduction must be one-sided, and all materials, including graphic files that were used to make the reproduction, must be destroyed afterward. "

    I used to work on Television Commercials and the Ad Agencies would all go nuts over those rules anytime we did a commercial that showed ANY US Currency (think Lottery Commercials...)

    Fairly Realistic "Fake" Money Exists that can be used for showing huge piles of Cash and it's handy when you do need to have the appearance of money blowing around all over the place.

    But sometimes the job entailed filming a SINGLE US banknote and the Ad Agency would insist we use "Fake" money because they did not want to get in trouble with the Treasury dept. Never mind that the image was going to appear on a TV screen, it existed on 35mm film before going to videotape.

    What really pissed me off one day was when -on set- the Art Director was complaining that the "Fake"Money we were using did not look "real" enough. *sigh*

    The "fake" money we were using was as real as the US Treasury allowed. There is a printing company in California that comes up with this stuff for the Film Biz and they had been through many generations of "fake" styles. Each generation looked better than the previous one.
    Apparently one of their "styles" of "fake" bills went too far and the US Treasury confiscated the printed bills AND the plates used to print them.

    I've made a bunch of "REAL" money over the years in overtime and other things thanks to the Ad Agencies confusion over the interpretation of this law.

  • I blame the US Mint (Score:3, Informative)

    by greenhide (597777) <jordanslashdot@c ... m ['y.c' in gap]> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @12:17PM (#7974756)
    Try making a damn $20 bill that doesn't look like Disney money, and maybe it'll be more difficult to counterfeit.

    Seriously, the US was like, one of the last countries to finally put watermarks in their bills. Even Turkey had watermarks before we did. Turkey!

    Of course, their money is made out of crappier fibers; it doesn't hold up nearly as well as a US bill. From some people who are world travellers, I'm told the people in other countries don't even bother spot-checking a bill to see if it's genuine. They feel it with their hands. Apparently, tt's pretty easy to distinguish the real paper from the fake.

    So, ultimately, I think that intricate designs are no longer going to stop counterfeiters. What's going to work is making the composite materials more difficult to mimic. What I think they should do, and I think this would probably work, is to weave the fibers so that there is contrast built into the paper weave itself which spells out the denomination: twenty, ten, etc. All you'd have to do is look at it from an angle or hold it to the light to see the weave. That would make it much, much more difficult to counterfeit.
  • by teamhasnoi (554944) <(teamhasnoi) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @12:18PM (#7974779) Homepage Journal
    (Note: I posted most of this in the last PS story.) Concerning the money check - Any checking is annoying and unacceptable as it assumes you are a criminal. Counterfeiters will *absoulutely* be able to get around this.(Done!) Photoshop 7 doesn't check for this AFAIK, and that will run on a G5. All Adobe has done is inconvience users, assume that they are all criminals, hurt the performance of their product, and taken it upon themseves to police what their customers scan.

    Taken to extremes, will Adobe build in Child Pornography checking? Or scan your hard drives for incriminating pictures or files? Where does it end? And why is something I buy for editing images checking and deciding what I can do with the files I create?

    At least, this could open Adobe up to legal problems - if their checks fail and someone is 'allowed' to do what should have been 'prevented'.

    All in all, it sucks. If I wanted a counterfeit currency checker, I'd buy a 4.95 felt tip pen.

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @12:21PM (#7974823) Homepage
    What gripes me and frightens me about technical means of enforcing legal requirements is that they are ALWAYS wrong. They always overreach in the direction of whatever large interest asked to have them put in. As the article makes clear, "Adobe is actually exceeding the requirements of U.S. law, which allows color reproductions of U.S. bank notes so long as the reproductions are smaller than 75 percent or larger than 150 percent of actual size."

    There are probably other rights, as well. If, for satirical purposes, I want to produce an altered image of $20 bill with a portrait of George Bush or Bart Simpson or my grandmother on it, I believe that is legal. As long as the final product isn't a counterfeit, the fact that there may be intermediate images in RAM that would be counterfeits if printed shouldn't matter.

    Similarly, DRM systems don't check to see whether what you want to do is fair use, whether the supposedly copyrighted material is actually in the public domain, etc.

    No, these systems are always quick, dirty, and one-sided. And it's always "prior restraint." The software stops you from exercising what may well be your legal rights without due process, without imposing any burden of proof on the entity on whose behalf it is acting, without any appeal (other than returning the software for a refund)...

    There is no way to accurately map the complexity of the legal system, which is designed for processing by human brains, into a software specification, for a program to be executed by a computer. All attempts to do so are injurious to the rights of one party or the other. Oddly enough, the injured party always seems to be the consumer.
  • by morcheeba (260908) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @12:23PM (#7974866) Journal
    Between 1995 and 2002, the proportion of counterfeit bills that were digitally created grew from 1 percent to 40 percent

    Correction: The proportion of counterfeit bills detected grew. I'm guessing that digital copies aren't as good as what the professionals use, and they're more easily detected -- the well made bills stay in circulation. Here's a cool pdf from the GAO [globalsecurity.org] that illustrates many types of counterfeits, including the superdollar.
  • Prices (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hamsterboy (218246) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @12:30PM (#7974964)
    Maybe if they didn't spend R&D time and money on useless features, their products would be more affordable.
    Many people have the misconception that the price of something is usually related to how much it costs to produce it. While the price charged is usually greater than the cost to produce (well, post-dotcom-boom, anyway), that is where the association ends.

    Software (and to a lesser extent, hardware) prices are based on percieved value. When Microsoft charges $400 for Office, do you really believe that R&D cost them $350 for every copy? The upfront cost was in the tens of millions, but the cost to print the CD, box and manual is right around $5. Does that mean that we should be paying $10 for office? After all, a 50% profit margin is pretty good, right?

    Adobe doesn't charge $650 for PS-CS because their costs are high. They charge that much because that's what the market will bear. That's what it seems to be worth.

    -- Hamster

  • by RalphTWaP (447267) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @01:15PM (#7975516)
    Cracks me up.

    The ease with which people seemed to be eluding the anti-counterfeiting software left some wondering why Adobe had included it in the first place.

    The answer to this wonderful question is knowable through the simple process of "Ancedotal Induction."

    At some point during the development of the mentioned version of the application, someone in product management induced a design constraint along the lines of "don't enable counterfeiters." None of the other product managment types cared because "we'll get that for free from the Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group."

    Product managmeent gave this new design constraint to a behind-schedule-implementation-manager. This poor guy said "sure", because, well... they're paid to agree with product managment. Especially since it was something "we'll get for free from the Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group."

    So the behind-schedule-implementation-manager went to the engineering team and said "we need to add counterfeit deterrence, give me the schedule impact, but I've already decided it shouldn't take _any_ time at all, because we'll get it for free from the Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group."

    The engineers decided immediately that actual counterfeit deterrence would require software slightly more capable than the average bartender, and that there was no good place in the image processing design to hook in something like that anyway. However, since it wasn't their code that'd take the blame when it didn't work... who cares. They told the implementation manager that it'd add as many hours to the schedule as they were currently behind and went back to work.

    Eventually, the component (let's be realistic: an old version of a dll, and the wrong typelib, and a corrupted Word document claiming to be the "design document and manual) shows up in an engineer's inbox. He hacks it in on a branch to one part of the image import processing logic, fires up the build, and doesn't see it crash. It gets merged back to the main line immediately.

    The last it was ever heard from before shipping was when someone from the test team called some friends over to "hey, look at this"--whereupon he showed them that you could get really good quality images of currency... but only if you used the "raw" settings from the twain image capture page.

    Next stop /.
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @02:55PM (#7976881) Homepage
    The European Union is considering legislation [ecb.int] to require technologies in digital image processing software to limit counterfeiting:
    • In the context of protecting euro banknotes against counterfeiting the European Central Bank (ECB)invites manufacturers based in the European Union (EU)and importers or distributors of products capable of handling digital images (hereinafter 'the industry ') to submit comments in connection with the ECB's request to the Commission of the European Communities to initiate legislation making it mandatory to incorporate counterfeit deterrence technology into such products.Such legislation would apply to products produced, imported or distributed in the EU.Any individual,organisation or group of organisations may submit comments. [mailto]
    The comment period closed December 19th, but it might still be worthwhile to send in comments if you're in the EU.
  • by kobotronic (240246) on Wednesday January 14, 2004 @08:37PM (#7980851)
    So the "good corporate citizen" Adobe have inserted ANOTHER perfectly useless black box into the graphics production pipeline of its users.

    They say it's not going to hurt performance, and I'd like to see this verified by comparing load times of large hi-res images (as used by graphics professionals every day) between previous photoshop versions and this new crippled version.

    Even if such a test turns out to reveal whatever might arbitrarily be perceived as a 'reasonable' performance hit, it doesn't leave me overly inclined to upgrade (I am a licensed user of Photoshop 7.0.)

    No matter how you bend it, such a black box is by any definition yet another a crippling feature, an abomination to productivity even if you never need to scan currency.

    But what if you do? No law says you can't use currency texture for e.g. a finance related site. The mentioned two-week 'maybe' turnaround time on the written permission and dubious-quality sample set from the Bureau of Engraving is laughable for anyone in the graphics biz with deadlines measured in hours, not months.

    While the black box spews a browser window [with a traceable referrer? someone post the URL please] and stops the load and does nothing more, you CAN evidently bypass the 'feature' without problem after this initial nuisance as described in the article. You just need to WORK a little more and your smooth graphics pipeline has suddenly become crippled and bent with a couple needless ninety-degree turns as bothersome as those in the Breezewood, PA I-70/I-78 interchange (but without the tacky motels).

    So why is the black box even THERE? It's just ANOTHER performance retarding stopping block. Back in the day when Adobe first started bundling the annoying Digimarc watermark stuff with Photoshop, I was bristling over the substantial performance hit it had on everyday photoshop work. I DOWNGRADED to the previous version and stayed on that for several years.

    Eventually the PCs increased in CPU muscle enough that it was no longer an 'issue' for me, and perhaps the digimarc stuff in the latter versions of photoshop was optimized, or whatever. All I'm saying is, THAT useless black box was there in the first place, so THIS is just another. Which one comes NEXT? Where does it END?

    Will Photoshop, the good corporate patriot citizen, commission additional black boxes to detect things like:

    • Drivers' licenses and passports
    • All government-issued papers
    • Corporate trademarks (with database of associated legal depts)
    • Barcodes (cue:cat redux)
    • Celebrities imagery of which subject to royalties
    • Heads of state and top bureaucrats (to stem the fark.com floods of Dubya photoshops)
    Gotta love feature creep. But no worry, soon as PCs clock 10 GHz, you will barely notice the extended load times.

As in certain cults it is possible to kill a process if you know its true name. -- Ken Thompson and Dennis M. Ritchie

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