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Censorship Software

Adobe Uses DMCA On Protocol It Promised To Open 203

Posted by kdawson
from the by-some-definitions-of-open dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Despite promising in January to open RTMP, Adobe has issued a DMCA take down request for an open source implementation of the protocol. The former SourceForge project page for rtmpdump now reports 'Invalid Project.' rtmpdump has been used in tools such as get_iplayer and get-flash-videos. Adobe is no stranger to the DMCA, having previously used it against Dmitry Sklyarov."
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Adobe Uses DMCA On Protocol It Promised To Open

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  • Copyright law? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pieterh (196118) on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:46AM (#28052965) Homepage

    How can a copyright law be used to take down a protocol implementation? What copyrights were infringed? This would normally fall under patent law.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:53AM (#28053085) Homepage Journal

    I want to see the request so I can find out whether sourceforge was justified in "complying". Did they just knee-jerk? If so, I imagine (and hope) that a lot of developers will be leaving for someplace less likely to terminate their hosting over nonsense. Until/unless we see the request we won't know about that part, all we'll know is what we already knew, that Adobe is evil. Their response to piracy has been to steadily increase the amount of DRM, which of course gets broken almost immediately every time they "improve" it, so they're only harming their customers. So stupid, so very stupid.

  • Re:Copyright law? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 22, 2009 @09:01AM (#28053191)

    How can a copyright law be used to take down a protocol implementation? What copyrights were infringed? This would normally fall under patent law.

    The DMCA is broken up into parts. The second part talks about "anti-circumvention". When a person attempts to circumvent a "technical protection measure" this is considered to be a violation of the DMCA.

    With that being said, your point is a strong one. Copyright is to protect "creativity", Patents are for "methods and processes". So, can one claim that they wrote creative code to implement the protocol? I would say no. Clearly, the courts would say yes (CSS, Skyloc, etc).

  • Re:Copyright law? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 22, 2009 @09:15AM (#28053363)
    That's FUD on their part to sell more licenses. There is not one case-law which agrees with them and plenty that don't. Additionally, there are many interoperability cases and laws (including the DMCA) on our side.
  • Re:Copyright law? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 22, 2009 @09:22AM (#28053467)

    Um, no, general hatred of what lawyers and money can do in the legal system aside, you can't win a copyright suit over a product name no matter how good your lawyer is.

    Now nothing says you can't bring the suit, and if the other guy chooses to settle that's another matter. But inventing flaws in the already-flawed IP system (such as pretending that a name could be interpreted as a copyrightable work when that's been explicitely forbidden since forever)? Come on.

  • by mea37 (1201159) on Friday May 22, 2009 @09:35AM (#28053667)

    Maybe so, but this isn't new behavior on Adobe's part.

    They make a big deal of publishing the PDF spec, but (at least as of five years ago) they publisehd only enough information in the spec that you can write a good PDF reader. They leave out details that you would need to make their reader respond correctly to optimizations like linearized PDF (which you really need to do lengthly web-delivered documents "right") in documents you create, and when you call them on it they say they don't support development of applications that write PDF.

    In other words, it's "open" enough to encourage broader use of the format, while maintaining lock-in as the only suitable producer of content in that format.

  • where is DMCA valid? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Friday May 22, 2009 @09:41AM (#28053747)

    Can somebody they just setup pirateforge in Sweden to host these projects?

  • Re:Copyright law? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sloppy (14984) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:08AM (#28054129) Homepage Journal

    No, this can't be it. I think Adobe is saying that the rtmpdump code actually contains Adobe code, and this is merely a "takedown notice," not an actual complaint of a 1201 violation.

    If they are alleging that 1201 was violated, then it's total bullshit and they are just counting on the rtmpdump people not being able to afford to defend themselves, because if they can afford defense, Adobe will lose.

    Here's why: Adobe is just a protocol inventor and media-tool maker. Such people never really have strong anti-circumvention cases. (Go back to the DeCSS situation: notice it was MPAA that won the court cases, not DVDCCA.)

    If Adobe's products are available to the public, then all you have to do is create some content that uses their stuff, then as the copyright holder, distribute your content along with an announcement that you (the copyright holder) explicitly authorize everyone in the universe to bypass any technological measures that limit access to your work. That removes any possibility of 1201 violations. DMCA becomes a non-issue.

    (That's also why there will never be any DRM standards, or at least not any DRM standards to which DMCA applies. Copyright holders in general (as opposed to MPAA members or the subset of Adobe customers that Adobe says they wish to "protect") have the power to tear it down if they have any way to apply the DRM to their own content.)

  • Re:Copyright law? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Friday May 22, 2009 @10:13AM (#28054227)

    First, this is an unsettled area of law, so really anything anyone says about it should be taken with a grain of salt the size of a small automobile -- if we knew how the Federal Courts would rule in advance of doing so, we would scarcely need them as an institution.

    That said, here's my take. The actual law says (whoa, citing a statute on /.)

    [It shall be illegal to] circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work ...

    Now, the DRM flags in the official RTMP specification are a technological measure designed to control access to the copyrighted work in question -- specifically, the BBC has the right to say "you can watch this but you can't make a copy"*, which is a power granted to them by their copyright**. Insofar as rtmpDump (or whatever) circumvents that restriction by ignoring the DRM flags in the media, they have violated 12USC1201 et. seq.

    One would think there is a difference between a tool used to circumvent copyright, and a tool that fails to enforce the copyright rules.

    My reading of the statute is at variance with yours. The statute makes it illegal to circumvent technological measures, which is a breathtakingly broad term. It basically includes anything that controls access.

    For example, if a DVD player fails to implement a region code, is that culpable under the DMCA? Or if a FOSS PDF reader does not have the code that checks for unprintable documents, a DMCA violation?

    Yes and yes, although the DVD case is much easier since all DVD players have to license the IP and agree to the terms contractually.

    I'm trying to get my head around this. If a specification demands certain restrictions, and those are not implemented, then the implementations can be taken down under the DMCA...

    So if I make a DRM file system and someone implements a simple compatible version but fails to make the DRM work properly, this is illegal. Thus, anyone opening a MS-Office document with a product that does not respect the DRM rules in there is a criminal.

    That was precisely the intent of 12USC120 et. seq. (see ** again) -- to prevent people from implementing versions that circumvent technological measures that control access to the underlying content.

    * Yes, I'm well aware of the fact that technologically speaking, such a restriction is impossible to implement. Simply because a right is enforceable does not negate its existence as a right. This is normally understood in the context of traditional property rights -- I have the right to forbid people from littering on my property, but the fact that the wind blows trash around makes that impossible to enforce in practice and yet no one would claim unfettered right to litter onto private property.

    ** I've tried as much as possible to avoid normative claims for or against the laws in question. This post is a best-effort attempt to describe the state of affairs as they are, not as they should be. I have opinions on how things should be, but it is manifest folly to mix those opinions with a factual question of how things are. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is-ought_problem [wikipedia.org].

  • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Friday May 22, 2009 @12:08PM (#28055983)

    What I should have said is, you can never rely on a corporation to stick to a promise. There are people I trust; there are not corporations I trust in that sense. Corporate inconsistency isn't like a person "changing his mind"; a corporation can hold two contradictory views concurrently in a way most people cannot, because it is not a single person with a single mind.

    There are corporations that I trust to varying degrees. I let Google host all my personal mail, calendar and contact information (I have a mirror) even knowing that they could read it all and use it to reset my bank, credit card and etrade account password and basically wreck my life. There are corporations that I trust because I know the principals.

    And there are many people I know that hold two contradictory views at the same time -- I do myself! I am Large, I contain Multitudes (Walt Whitman).

    As for promissary estoppel... against a corporation? I do wish you luck with that, but I don't hold out much hope.

    I have successfully asserted that a dental surgeon that told me that a particular operation was covered by my insurance was then barred by promissory estoppel from charging me for it. In the end, we settled for me paying him what I would have paid as a deductible. One anecdote doesn't make data, but promissory estoppel is alive an well in common law countries.

  • Re:Copyright law? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rtb61 (674572) on Friday May 22, 2009 @03:22PM (#28058753) Homepage

    Well not really FUD. This was obviously a whole marketing tactic targeted at M$ silver light. Adobe wanting to create an atmosphere of goodwill and to keep M$ out made a press announcement they felt would be popular and keep their streaming products in the forefront.

    Now as it turned out M$ silver light, turned out to be M$ silverfish, nobody really wants to touch it they just pretty much throw moth balls at it. So Adobe, the greedy little blighters felt they could get away with going back upon their public announcement and try to squeeze as much money out of the protocol as they can.

    In this case not only do Adobe leave themselves open to a law suit for any time and effort invested by all other companies and individuals based upon that announcement, they have also created an opening for M$ to squeeze back into that market, now where was that download site for silverfish ;).

Lo! Men have become the tool of their tools. -- Henry David Thoreau

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