Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

SDMI Challenge Participants May Face DMCA Action 228

ssimpson writes "Everyone has probably forgotten the SDMI challenge to hackers to try to break a handful of proposed watermarking and "other" protection mechanisms? Well, it was recognised that a group of researchers at Princeton University broke all of the protection mechanisms and were due to publish a paper on at the 4th International Information Hiding Workshop (25-29 April) but have been threatened with the DMCA if they publish the results. So much for academic freedom, eh? SDMI seem particularly upset because one of the protection mechanims broken in the paper, The Verance Watermark, is currently used for DVD-Audio and SDMI Phase I products. Oops. Somehow, a copy of the threatening letter and the full paper entitled "Reading Between the Lines: Lessons from the SDMI Challenge" has appeared on John Young's excellent Cryptome site. SMDI's urge to "withdraw the paper submitted for the upcoming Information Hiding Workshop, assure that it is removed from the Workshop distribution materials and destroyed, and avoid a public discussion of confidential information." seems a little weak now...."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

SDMI Challengers Threatened With DMCA Action

Comments Filter:
  • Alrighty after reading through the document (and the team's FAQ on the challenge), I feel like I'm not getting something here. Basically it says that after SDMI is implemented, if you make an mp3 out of a SDMI-watermarked CD, you will have a hard time playing a burned cd of that mp3 on a SDMI CD player.

    Alright. Why would anyone buy a SDMI CD player?!

    I know in my house alone, we have atleast 9 non-SDMI CD players that I can think of off the top of my head. The CD format is so widespread right now that I'd imagine it's a similar situation pretty much everywhere. I have no reason to go out and buy a new CD player. I have a portable AIWA discman that I bought in 1997. It has worked like a charm. It has all the neccessary features; 10 second anti-skip, hold, and play controls. What else could they put in there to make you want to go out and buy a CD player that won't work in alot of cases? Are they trying to play the public for fools. This is sounding alot like the DIVX fiasco, and we all know how that turned out...


  • Not only that, I'm pretty sure that the SDMI people said that they wouldn't go after any team that tried to break their encryption/watermarking system, that they were in fact authorizing them to do so for the purposes of this contest...

    Nothing but lies, lies, and more lies from the RIAA and their cronies. Why should we believe anything they have to say anymore?


  • Why? I've _written_ for TAS, and I can tell you that this is so far out of line that it doesn't even merit serious consideration. The degree of distortion is at least 6db worse than the very worst, most unlistenable, most soundstage-collapsing quantization distortion the ordinary CD can possibly have. We are not talking audiophile-grade distortions here, like differences between dithers. We're talking 'partially blown speaker' levels of distortion. I flat guarantee to you that HP would stand about 0.5 second of it before getting up and physically leaving the room.

    Which is to say- don't hold your breath. Did you think these things _need_ a TAS to discern them? You'll be able to hear it quite easily on a boombox- or through a Xing mp3 at 128K. That's the _point_.

  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Saturday April 21, 2001 @11:12AM (#275338) Homepage Journal
    Absolutely. In addition, commercial music is increasingly compromised anyhow by compression and limiting wars that have labels trying to out-loud each other, to the point that artists literally cannot get even good-sounding CDs out there, and mastering engineers cannot avoid smashing everything to the maximum possible constant loudness and distortedness unless they wish to be effectively blackballed and get no more major label business. This goes for the artists and mastering engineers who hate it, too.

    It's said that the Verance watermark sounds like middle-distance buzzing bees at a higher pitch (buzzing flies?). Which may, in a sick way, be compensated for by the fact that, with the hypercompression techniques in use, there _is_ no middle distance for commercial music anymore- everything is brutally up-front and flattened, and there are no quiet passages that are not compressed to full volume, and loud passages are routinely distorted to the point of flat-topped waves, so this covers up the other sonic ugliness of the buzzing flies sound.

    So, the commercial sphere is going to mean extremely high resolution media containing totally smashed and flattened audio of relentless, ear-fatiguing aggressiveness, which contains in the background a noise of buzzing flies or some other uncorrelated noise at least 6 DB louder than the current worst possible CD-audio quantization noise, or to look at it another way, a noise of buzzing flies or some other such extraneous sound that is always louder than the worst distortion components produced by mp3 encoders such as Xing.

    I couldn't make this up if I tried... and it's appalling, but it also offers an opportunity.

    There are places out there gearing up to give indie musicians the capacity to do music distribution without going through a label. Largest is the rip-off, which only lets you sell CDs made from 128K (inadequate) mp3s. Of course, by definition this is still less distortion than DVD-A with watermarks... however, there's others, and the one I'm most a fan of is, which is just finishing up their own CD program, with the option to have CDs duped from Red Book master CDRs you supply to Ampcast: burn-to-order of _real_ CDs. (Burning from special 256K and up mp3s not available for download is also an option.)

    The thing is, there's an extra thing Ampcast is doing- they are taking pains to allow the artists to tap into the existing distribution networks. You can buy an official barcode for your CD through them for $20 a barcode- and get them shrinkwrapped with spine stickers, everything you'd want to have your stuff alongside commercial releases and look just the same as them.

    The catch is- maybe you don't _want_ your indie stuff to fight its way into that channel. You can always sell it over the net, after all, and go for alternative distribution- and more relevantly, there was a time when the stuff with barcodes _sounded_ _better_ than what people could do in their garages. But that time is gone! These days, not only is electronic, computer-generated music more popular, but the facilities for producing commercial-quality music have never been more affordable- and at the same time, the people producing the commercial music are increasingly _wrecking_ it with compression and blatant overlimiting (so you could do just as well, sonically, with Pro Tools, or better if you chose), but they are also preparing to add uncorrelated noise many times as bad as the noise of clean old vinyl records (or the quantization noise of the very worst CD transfers), _intended_ to be worse than the worst an mp3 encoder can do!

    So in a way, the logical thing would be to run screaming- to abandon even the idea of sharing the same shelves with that crap, and try to establish a sort of underground that would most likely be centered on CDs done right. CDs done right (with recent improvements in dither technology) are surprisingly good, even compared to high end analog media. And we can be absolutely sure that the record industry will never produce anything as good as CDs done right again (barring a total collapse and recalibration of their values). The one-two punch of volume wars and watermarks will keep them totally pinned, hopelessly committed to debilitating and selfish practices that ruin their reputation for professional sound quality...

  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Saturday April 21, 2001 @11:38AM (#275339) Homepage Journal
    Hey, another happy thought! :) check this out...

    1. In order for the watermark to persist through the mp3ing process, it must be at a high enough amplitude to not be discarded as irrelevant.
    2. The watermark is not musical information- it's heard as buzzing flies, or some other audible sound, and must also be smack in the middle of perceptible sounds to not be discarded by psychoacoustic algorithms (that discard plenty of perceivable sound, as well).
    3. As such, it becomes part of the noise floor of the track. Correlated or uncorrelated, it is not part of the musical signal. And again, it must be strong enough to stand up to the most low-fi mp3 encoding (typically 128K, possibly 96K?)
    4. Has anyone taken the time to measure watermarked audio or calculated from watermark levels to produce a figure for the real signal-to-noise ratio for such a medium? *VBG*

    Let's get ready to spread the word on that one. It's just as fair as the way CDs were spun to be better than LPs by use of signal-to-noise ratio figures. Hell, records have better sound than bad mp3s- it's totally legitimate to say at this point that watermarked DVD-A will have substantially worse signal-to-noise ratio than vinyl records, and it is a plausible claim. Naturally, audio CDs will _really_ stomp watermarked DVD-A for signal-to-noise ratio...

    The truth, of course, is that you can hear past a noise floor to a certain extent- this is what helps vinyl records, and why dithering is so important for digital audio. This doesn't help the watermarking side much as that's still an annoying type of sound by design, right in the most sensitive hearing band- but it's basically true. However, conventional wisdom is that the noise floor is a hard limit- and this can be turned around as a deadly attack on watermarked media's superiority. Somebody come up with what the signal-to-noise ratio is (including correlated noise) for the worst mp3 you can come up with, like Xing 128K or something. We'll get the word out that watermarked stuff by definition must have a signal-to-noise ratio that is worse even than that...

  • I wish that SDMI would follow through with their threat and pursue Princeton University and the United States Navy in court to suppress publication of an academic paper. These parties have the resources to mount an aggressive defense, and the case would set a precedent that would significantly weaken the DMCA.

    Heh heh....I can see it now:

    SEAL Team four, your mission is to mount an 'aggressive defense' of the US Navy against the SDMI. The gloves are off on this one gentlemen. As you know, any operation where the opposition employs lawyers releases us from the standard rules of engagement.

  • Publicity. The SDMI was being introduced at a time when some individuals were having some doubts about efficiency of CSS style algorithms.

    CSS was based on the following set of assumptions:
    Data that is transmitted in an encrypted format can not be read except by authorized users-- users that have access to the appropriate key.

    Of course, as with all covert communications, the key must be transmitted in a secure fashion.

    Now, the CSS designers decided that if DVD players were designed with a "hidden" sector, the key could thus be distributed. Persons who merely copied the data from a DVD would have nothing except the encrypted data-- useless without a key. Access to the key depended on physical access to a tangible medium-- the actual DVD-Video disk.

    Of course, the key transmission protocol was eventually compromised, and cryptoanalysts discovered that the actual encrytion- instead of being 40-bit, was closer to 25-bit-- literally, a toy code.

    Cryptoanalysts and Cryptologists have long recognized that an ideal code should involve a strongly assymetric algorithm-- cheap for a user to decode with a proper key, but expensive for a eavesdropper to decrypt. More importantly, the algorithm should be subjected rigorous testing and/or peer review. The CSS algorithms were not subjected to this kind of testing prior to the release of DVD-Video.

    The SDMI proponents, hearing this criticism, decided that their coding algorithms needed that extra bullet point: "peer-reviewed". But, apparently, they had neglected to consider that their algorithms might amount to nought. They only had visions of a future press release:
    "SDMI invulnerable to hacking! Music Industry safe from hackers."

    And, because, all of the participants in HackSDMI were bound by confidentiality clauses, no one would be the wiser.
  • What? That trade liberalization means economic growth, which means less grinding poverty in the developing world? There are some pretty screwed-up things about transnational organizations like trade authorities, including especially attempts to make thought-crime laws like the DMCA international, but the alternative of uncoordinated, inefficient, and parochial (to local corporate interests) trade barriers is worse. Much better to support organizations that fight government/corporate corruption, like Transparency International [] than hide in ones own nationalistic hole.
  • please refrain from exposing what idiots we are and how much our encryption software sucks.

    We already all know what idiots they are (cat's out of the bag on that one!), and the first amendment still protects our right to tell others what idiots they are.

    What seems to be illegal now is proving what idiots they are mathematically...
  • For Princeton not to DTRT here
    would be far more expensive in the long run.
  • Did anyone not save a copy of this document or download the Zip provided?

    Sure! Here is my copy []!


  • If the odd freak builds their own DA converter out of twigs and masking tape the RIAA isn't going to have a fit. Because in the kind of environment where that is necessary....they've already won.
  • On behalf of the SDMI Foundation, I urge you to reconsider your intentions and to refrain from any public disclosure of confidential information derived from the Challenge...

    Well, it's not really confidential any more, is it? It's not like Felten signed an NDA to get the SDMI secrets, and is now publishing them. The whole point of the exercise was for his team to figure it out on their own. I don't see how it can be considered confidential information restricted only to the SDMI group any more, since another party has independently figured it out. It could be argued that Felten's research is confidential to him until he decides to publish, but it's not confidential to the SDMI folks any more.

    While I'm at it, kudos to Cryptome! The site is probably one of the most important resources on the 'net, here's hoping it never goes away.

  • Attack on challenge B: A spectrum notch around 2800Hz is observed for some segments of samp2b.wav and another notch around 3500Hz is observed for some other segments of samp2b.wav.... The attack fills in those notches of samp3b.wav with random but bounded coefficient values... Both attacks were confirmed by SDMI oracle as successful.

    Attack on challenge C:: In the first at- tack, we shifted the pitch of the audio by about a quartertone.... Our submissions were confirmed by SDMI oracle as successful. In addition, the perceptual quality of both attacks has passed the "golden ear" testing conducted by SDMI after the 3-week challenge.

    Attack on challenge F: For Challenge F, we warped the time axis, by inserting a periodically varying delay.... confirmed by SDMI oracle as successful.


    OK, C in particular was trivial, the kind of thing even somebody who knew nothing about signal processing would try, but, come on, didn't SDMI even try to crack their own things before throwing them out to the world?

    Based on what I see in this paper, I think SDMI's motives may be misinterpreted here... I think there's a significant component of embarassment here! "Breaking" some of these "amazingly-wonderfully-powerful gonna-save-music-as-we-know-it" schemes was trivial. No wonder they want to hide it.

    Note that the papers definately seem to have enough information to build automated crackers for some of the schemes, mostly shell scripts to already existing tools.

  • What are you replying to? My message doesn't contain the phrase "minor distortions". Which part of the paper?
  • It's clear to me that the USA as a free country is collapsing. The twin pressures of a non-productive population viting themselves more and more "bread and circuses" out of the pockets of the workers, and corporations extering pressure on those same politicos (who humor them so as to FUND these "bread and circuses" re-election schemes) is causing us to lose our freedom.

    Sad but true... it is pretty much agreed upon that this slow slide is an inevitable characteristic of every government. Our founding fathers only attemped to make one that would suffer it as slowly as possible, but I doubt any one of them thought it would last forever.

    Like most things that deteriorate gradually, however, very few REALLY fight it since it spans generations. Why fight for something that will only become bad a few generations later? Screw our great great great grandkids... besides things aren't so bad right now right? RIGHT?

    I'm sure in a few hundred years a new, bloody revolution will be fought, this time over intellectual freedoms, when the new peasants realize that their fiefdoms run by the corporations are undeniably corrupt. For now, we can close our eyes to the truth, for don't we have Coca-Cola, MTV, Nikes, Britteny Spears, Microsoft Products, and great movies like "Titanic"? Truly marvelous products that are the result of a wonderful free market, no?
  • 300 years, huh? Crap! I may actually live to see 2076..
  • Moral? Did you read the letter?

    ..instead engage SDMI in a constructive dialogue on how the academic aspects of your research can be shared without jeopardizing the commercial interests of the owners of the various technologies. least one of the technologies that was the subject of the Public Challenge, the Verance Watermark, is already in commercial use and the disclosure of any information that might assist others to remove this watermark would seriously jeopardize the technology and the content it protects.

    The specific purpose of providing these encoded files and for setting up the Challenge was to assist SDMI in determining which of the proposed technologies are best suited to protect content in Phase II products.

    Failure wasn't an option. It was commercial research. However, since they didn't take the money, they didn't agree. Reading the part about the "clik-thru" agreement (spelling for emphasis) made me laff.

    Anyway, I hope that this story will illustrate the dangers of the DMCA so that the european equivalent which is on its way will never come up.

    'twould be nice, wouldn't it. []

  • I seem to remember there being (and me using) a link to the published document. www.cryptome.something blah...I can't remember or find it in my history..hmm..

    anyways...what happened slashdot???
  • how about just the conclusion?:

    Do we believe we can defeat any audio protection scheme? Certainly, the technical details of any scheme will become known publicly through reverse engineering. Using the techniques we have presented here, we believe no public watermark-based scheme intended to thwart copying will succeed. Other techniques may or may not be strong against attacks. For example, the encryption used to protect consumer DVDs was easily defeated. Ultimately, if it is possible for a consumer to hear or see protected content, then it will be technically possible for the consumer to copy that content.

    All the criteria are filled: it pisses off the AckAcks, has strong backing in working code and best of all, reads like your average /. post on the subject...

  • They are not immature just evil. People running these coporations are the spawn of the devil.
  • "Breaking" some of these "amazingly-wonderfully-powerful gonna-save-music-as-we-know-it" schemes was trivial. No wonder they want to hide it.

    Then again, the end of the presentation makes this point:
    Ultimately, if it is possible for a consumer to hear or see protected content, then it will be technically possible for the consumer to copy that content.

    At that point, it doesn't much matter what the encryption/protection scheme actually is: their only hope is to use the DMCA bludgeon on their own customers. And unfortuantely, customers only have patience for so long before they say "F*** it..."

  • Plain old spectrum notches are really obvious.

    But it seems that the SDMI-crack-discovered-it notch occurs only in some *segments* of the music. Not all the time. So it isn't nearly as obvious.

    Of course in some kinds of music, notably classical again, it is still likely to be quite intrusive. I think SDMI only intended to be useful with things like Spice Girls and 2Pac. (Not that I want to associate those with each other.) Classical is small business, so if they screw it up, they don't really care.

    The principal Verance watermark is similar. According to the paper, it's basically a periodic up or down amplitude tweak (each baud interval being 16/50 of a second?) to a set of narrow ranges in the top octave. Sort of like typing onto a graphic equalizer. Using hashed track data to create a weak checksum. Again, it's hard to tell perceptually, especially on pop/rock, but might intrude onto some classical recordings.
  • > > we urge you to withdraw the paper submitted for the upcoming
    > > Information Hiding Workshop, assure that it is removed from the
    > > Workshop distribution materials and destroyed, and avoid
    > > a public discussion of confidential information.
    > Oops! Now it's on the Internet. I hope everyone saves a copy
    > for when cryptome is shut down

    Yeah, just goes to show you what these jokers know about information hiding! How 'ya 'sposedta hide information when it gets onto Cryptome and mirrored all over hell's half acre?

    Now RIAA - those l33t d00dz are serious about information-hiding! Invite them to this information-hiding thingy, they know what it's all about!

  • by JPS ( 58437 ) on Saturday April 21, 2001 @06:58AM (#275379) Homepage
    ...on our own paper [] regarding the SDMI challenge. Now, I'm not sure I will...

    What I think is really very funny is that the SDMI didn't contact us to have to paper removed or something. This probably means that either 1) they know we are French and know the DMCA doesn't apply or 2) (most likely) they don't really care about our results because we are attacking an algorithm that they haven't picked.

    So the funny point is that they had apparently already chosen and deployed an algorithm before the contest. Now they are whinning because the Princeton team (brillantly) broke this very algorithm. And they are invoking some almost "moral" reasons for that, while they probably would have shut up if only the three other algorithms had been broken.

    Anyway, I hope that this story will illustrate the dangers of the DMCA so that the european equivalent which is on its way will never come up, and that eventually the US one will be removed.
  • by Mike Connell ( 81274 ) on Saturday April 21, 2001 @06:33AM (#275384) Homepage
    Whilst I'm happy to see the results published, it's dissapointing to see them leaked anonymously. I would have far prefered the faculty at Princeton to stand up, give the RIAA the finger and say "We're scientists. We do research and publish. If you don't like the fact that some of our guys cracked your methods, don't make them so weak".

    Now the appearance is that university researchers *are* in fear of RIAA and the bizarre legal state of affairs that exists. After all, if Princeton can't/won't stand up to them, who will?

    It's nice that the paper is out, and that, (presumably), they can now present it at the IHW conference without repercussions, but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
  • If the researchers went ahead and published the paper anyways. Large universities have fairly competent legal teams, they should be able to defend themselves.

    Besides, this is Princeton. I can't see how any litigation pursued against researchers from Princeton would be anything other than a black eye for SDMI. It's not like they'd be suing some little private university with no grad school that no one's ever heard of. This is barely a step down from threatening Harvard (and seriously, who in their right mind would threaten Harvard?).

    It would be a shame if Princeton's legal dept tells the researchers to back down because they don't have a legal leg to stand on here. Hell, even if they didn't have a legal leg to stand on it would still be fun to watch SDMI go after several professors at Princeton. High visibility and bad publicity for SDMI. I'd pay to watch those court proceedings.

  • by moller ( 82888 ) on Saturday April 21, 2001 @05:49AM (#275386) Homepage
    They addressed the letter wrong:

    April 9, 2001

    Professor Edward Felton
    Department of Computer Science
    Princeton University
    Princeton, NY 08544

    Dear Professor Felten,


    Well, it's a good thing that they got the Zip code right. Last time I checked, Princeton University wasn't in NY. The RIAA can't even send threatening letters correctly.
  • by moller ( 82888 ) on Saturday April 21, 2001 @06:15AM (#275387) Homepage
    Colleges and Universities also have a time honored tradition of bending over for anyone who is or might be a contributor. If Princeton's development office has them on file as a donor, you'll be disappointed how quickly they'll act to shut up their own students and faculty.

    Well...I don't know how true that is in general. But specifically regarding this case, from the FAQ ( []) on their webpage, they state that:

    Fortunately, the DMCA did not apply to this challenge, since SDMI granted explicit permission to study their technologies. We are not sure whether it would have been legal to study these technologies outside the context of this challenge. We think the DMCA, by criminalizing some kinds of study of important technologies, represents an "ignorance is bliss" approach to technological copyright enforcement, which will not work in the long run. We lobbied against certain aspects of the DMCA while it was before Congress, and we still consider it to be a seriously flawed law. (my emphasis)

    Above, we mentioned the important role of analysis in the design of security systems. The main problem with the DMCA is that it hinders this analysis, restricting it in order to provide an extra layer of legal protection for existing copyright systems. But this causes the scientific process to stagnate. Imagine a federal law making it illegal for anyone (including Consumer Reports) to purposefully cause an automobile collision. While this may be a well-intentioned attempt to stop road-rage, it also bans automobile crash-testing, ultimately leading to unsafe vehicles and the inability to learn how to make vehicles safe in general. The situation with the DMCA is analogous.

    So this group of researchers lobbied against the DMCA. This would be the perfect opportunity for them to fight it. Seeing as how they've said that they disagree with the DMCA, it seems that it would be more likely for them NOT to fold under the RIAA's pressure.


  • Unless of course the watermarking process destroys signal information, in which case there will be no way to recover it.
  • by Apotsy ( 84148 ) on Saturday April 21, 2001 @08:28AM (#275390)
    The thing that really sucks about the Verance watermark is that it is designed to survive lossy compression and analog copying. Of course, in order to do that, it has to be so obtrusive that you can hear it, despite the company's claims to the contrary.

    According to this article [], recording engineer Tony Faulkner was able to spot the watermark 75% of the time on his first chance at hearing it. What does that tell you? That this stupid watermark is going to be something you will hear on every DVD-A disc you buy! Doesn't that suck?! Well, the recording companies don't care ... they just want to stop those Napster punks from stealing their content -- quality be damned!

  • I don't have a copy of the file, is it for Deutche (German) language pages? Do Germans need different style sheets? Or is this some sort of style-remover?

    i18n is a bad abbreviation []

  • by MrKevvy ( 85565 ) on Saturday April 21, 2001 @05:56AM (#275392)
    Did anyone not save a copy of this document or download the Zip provided? Most wouldn't probably have cared much otherwise. I would have read it and moved on myself. Now how many copies of it are out there? When will these groups realize that as soon as they threaten legal action, it's both an incentive to make as many copies of the "infringing" documents as possible, and find out exactly what it is and how it works? If it's to be censored, it must a) work and b) be interesting. Probably never...they didn't learn it with DeCSS, nor with CP4Hack (The CyberPatrol URL list cracker,) nor now with this article.
  • "We're scientists. We do research and publish. If you don't like the fact that some of our guys cracked your methods, don't make them so weak".
    Or challenge people to crack it. Surely people are going to discuss what they went through on a challenge.
  • The DMCA text [], part (g), does define "Permissible acts of encryption research", with a laundry-list of factors which are used to determine the permissibility.

    The important thing to understand is that these are defenses. This means the RIAA still gets to drag someone into court and wage a legal war of attrition, while the defense are argued. That's very, very, expen$$$ive.

  • Augh, I know this comment is a bit late for anybody to see it in the story, but oh well. If you want to see the original web page, license, AND download the test data sets, then just check out the link in my sig.
  • I agree with your sentiment but not your specifics:

    The bottom line, the year 1933 marks the END of the United States as a Rebublic, and the beginning of "democracy". Democracy (mob rule), is the absolute WORST form of government that ever could be. Since 1933, the Federal government has gone to no end in implimenting the "will of the people", Constitution be dammed

    We are no more a democracy than any other country. We are a representative republic. The masses do not make the rules in this country. Representatives make the rules based on what they believe is the will of the portion of the masses that they represent (at least in theory). As far as Democracy being the worst form of government that could ever be. That's pretty much meaningless. No government exists without the support of the masses at least not for long. In the end numbers win out over any other type of power. (established by George Washington, the only man in history that I know of to ever TURN DOWN a throne).

    read more history, kings and kngs to be have abdicated, and turned down thrones throughout history

  • by rograndom ( 112079 ) on Saturday April 21, 2001 @06:58AM (#275413) Homepage
    That's funny. At my web design job I've been naming all my external stylesheets "de.css" also. Nobody at work knows what it means (I've tried to explain, but...), but they just go along with it anyways, even on projects I have nothing to do with. :-)
  • I'd like to see those "minor distortions" reviewed in The Absolute Sound. []. This sounds little better than the first attempt at "watermarking" years ago, which involved a fixed notch filter. Classical music listeners hated that; you could easily hear what it did to a glide tone, or in some cases a piano scale.
  • What are you replying to?

    "Spectrum notch", as part of the watermarking system.

  • ...this kind of thing really gets my goat. I think I've got an answer, albeit one that's unlikely to be passed any time soon.

    What we need is a law that would allow courts to punitively strip intellectual property protections from individuals, companies, and organizations that use those protections in bad faith.

    Under my proposal, those who abuse the system would be subject to public domainification not only of the IP in question, but also of other IP they may own.

    My law would allow courts to strip IP ownership in the event that any one of the following is true:

    - The guilty party is using IP laws to prevent dissemination of critiques of IP. This includes flaws, comparisons with other solutions, historical research, or other legitimate academic or competitive information

    - The guilty party *knowingly* sought and received IP protection in bad faith; IE patenting something with advance knowledge of prior art that would disqualify the patent

    - The guilty party is, or has a business relationship with, the RIAA

    Ok, that last one may not fly, but the first two cases are increasingly common, and go beyond corporate malfeasance and into the area of crimes against the public good. The only way these abuses will stop will be if there are severe penalties levied on those who perpetrate IP abuse.

  • by ssimpson ( 133662 ) <slashdot&samsimpson,com> on Saturday April 21, 2001 @05:53AM (#275425) Homepage

    As stated in my story, a copy of the paper is at:

    Happy mirroring :)

  • Ok, maybe their methods aren't the best but we should all realize that the music industry has our best interests at heart when they do things like this. They really aren't concerned with profit or maintaining their monopoly, no, by doing this they hope to continue to produce quality music at a reasonable price for the consumer.
  • and a very cool idea, that is, too.

    lose the good stuff in the noise and burden the attacker even more, intentionally wasting their time.

    I love it!


  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Saturday April 21, 2001 @06:43AM (#275438)
    I just downloaded the latest Mandrake install .iso

    I mounted the iso image in loopback mode (mount -o loop ...) and did a find on the filesystem to see what the latest Mandrake has.

    imagine my surprise when I found they had a copy of DE-CSS in there:

    % find /mnt -print

    its the 2nd to last file in the distro.

    sorry for blowing the whistle on you, Mandrake, but I'm just doing what my country wants; turning in my fellow man for the Greater Good.


  • by e_lehman ( 143896 ) on Saturday April 21, 2001 @07:09AM (#275440)

    Edward Felten is amazing.

    • This is the same guy that provided Boies with his technical ammunition in the Microsoft trial. It was while trying to prove that Felten's IE-remover program didn't work that Microsoft was devastatingly caught showing a faked video.
    • Would you prefer this incident has been used as a First Amendment challenge on DMCA? Say by the ACLU? Back in January, baby!!! [] (See page 15, or 8 by the document's own numbering.)
    • And now, just to pour salt on the wounds, his group leaks the SDMI cracks anyway. I love it!

    This guy is my hero! [] Looks so *innocent*, doesn't he? :-)

  • by sparkane ( 145547 ) on Saturday April 21, 2001 @07:26AM (#275441)
    From the law his own self:

    USS Code, Section 1201(g)(2):

    Permissible acts of encryption research. - Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a)(1)(A), it is not a violation of that subsection for a person to circumvent a technological measure as applied to a copy, phonorecord, performance, or display of a published work in the course of an act of good faith encryption research if -

    (A) the person lawfully obtained the encrypted copy, phonorecord, performance, or display of the published work;
    (B) such act is necessary to conduct such encryption research;
    (C) the person made a good faith effort to obtain authorization before the circumvention; and
    (D) such act does not constitute infringement under this title or a violation of applicable law other than this section, including section 1030 of title 18 and those provisions of title 18 amended by the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986.

    Let's see: the scholars recd the copy lawfully (they didn't infringe copyright to get it); their act was not just necessary for research, but was research itself; I am sure they are making a good faith effort, as is evidenced in the harrassing letter; I'll eat my hat if releasing their paper breaks any other laws.

    That's 4 for 4.

    But wait there's more:


    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;
    (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; and
    (C) whether the person provides the copyright owner of the work to which the technological measure is applied with notice of the findings and documentation of the research, and the time
    when such notice is provided.

    The scholars *are* disseminating the information to further encryption study; if they are not employed in the proper field, then no one is; clearly they have notice of the findings to the copyright holder, to wit the harrassing letter.

    Conclusion: Those bastards don't have a leg to stand on.
  • I was thinking a bed cover or shower curtain...
  • Blockquoth the poster:
    Not only that, I'm pretty sure that the SDMI people said that they wouldn't go after any team that tried to break their encryption/watermarking system, that they were in fact authorizing them to do so for the purposes of this contest...
    Ah, but read the letter: They're not upset that the team broke the encryption. They're upset that -- heavens oh heavens -- the academic team might actually publish the result. You see, as far as the RIAA was concerned, the whole Challenge was just a way for civic-minded research teams to donate their time and effort without any beneift to themselves.

    It was stupid, myopic, and maybe cynical for the RIAA to attempt to construct a Challenge whose results could benefit only them and to expect anyone to conform to it. It is stupid and wrong for them to invoke the DCMA as a threat to cover up the screw-up they made.

  • by DeeKayWon ( 155842 ) on Saturday April 21, 2001 @08:30AM (#275445)
    How can watermarking be covered as a "device that effectively controls access to a work"? According to the text of the DMCA [],
    ''(B) a technological measure 'effectively controls access to a work' if the measure, in the ordinary course of its operation, requires the application of information, or a process or a treatment, with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain access to the work.
    If a watermark qualifies as an effective access control measure, then I would think that by that logic, any player that doesn't check for watermarks would be considered an access circumvention device and therefore illegal. Or would they be legal because they have a commercially significant purpose? This is confusing.
  • And attempting to patent something without revealing prior knowledge of prior does provide grounds for patent invalidation...

  • The reach into it's pockets is only as deep as it's donors (rich alumni) permit, however. I can't see them bankrupting themselves because a bunch of punk kids want to download movies.

    Perhaps not, but nor do they want to get in the habit of not publishing research because someone with lotsa lawyers says not to.


  • teacher who dared/told/challenged/asked his students to break past the school's security systems? One kid did, showed how, and was immediately suspended for it

    And this RIAA scenario is even more stupid since all the people involved signed agreements making this a perfectly legal hack.


  • What we need is a law that would allow courts to punitively strip intellectual property protections from individuals, companies, and organizations that use those protections in bad faith.

    It's already in place, been in place for a long time - using copyrights for anti-competitive behaviour can result in the loss of those copyrights. Some people were talking about trying to use this in the lastest anti-competitive lawsuit against the music publishers, but I think there is pretty much zero chance of it.

    No court would dare relieve the music industry of each piece of IP that it has used to abuse the market - it would be like telling MS that Windows, Office, etc are all now public domain. No chance in hell, regardless of justice.
  • Duly mirrored on my homepage []. Server & perpetrator (yours truly) are in Brazil. DMCA can't catch me. (I hope)
  • You can copy the music you downloaded as much as you want. But the watermark gets copied along with it. Now, if a copy of the track turns up somewhere, the music company will know how to find the watermark and trace it back to you. And there is no easy way to get around this
    Let's play devil's (God's?) advocate here.

    1. Buy lots of music. Store into notebook.
    2. Sell notebook to accomplice. Get cash.
    3. File theft of notebook.
    4. Preferrably have this happening in some faraway country like India.
    5. Get back to USA, crying crocodile tears because of your expensive, lost notebook. Thankfully, you had backups of everything.

    Hm, you're right, not easy. But doable. Having everything happen in the same country will be a lot cheaper but a little more risky, what with traceable hardware and all. I guess variations coud be concocted. A nice intellectual exercise, I must say.

  • Just read the cryptome piece and this really made me see red:
    "The HackSDMI challenge contained two "non-watermark" technologies. Together, they appear to be intended to prevent the creation of "mix" CDs, where a consumer might compile audio files from various locations to a writable CD",
    RIAA members are total scum, If I buy a CD and I want to make a compliation, that's my business, they are my CDs. So far it's been the switched on /. crowd that has been pissed off by the RIAA, if something like this is implimented it will affect and piss off a far greater amount of people.
    If I can not longer backup my own properity because of these efforts, surely the people that prevented me making a backup must provide a replacement if it gets damaged?
    Seems like the record companies want it both ways.
  • Now that the cat is out of the bag, there are going to be unhappy people.

    I wonder how this could be used in a First Amendment challenge to the DCMA?

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

  • As far as I recall PGP was released from a server in New Zealand to avoid the ludicrous American encryption export laws.

    What if Prof. Felton releases the conclusions in an academic environment abroad.

    Since SDMI asked for their crappy scheme to be broken, would that still be illegal under the DMCA ?

    Up to this point most other (civilized) countries appear to have more reasonable laws on the issue then threatening academic researchers with jailtime.

  • here is my copy of the SDMI documentation: e.htm
  • So, has anyone put this on Freenet yet? If so, what's the key? If not, then I'm very disappointed in Slashdot.
  • It's gonna be tough to fit this on a t-shirt...

    ...maybe an entire line of clothing?


  • If this ever goes to court, it will be a good test of the DMCA.

    Unlike previous cases (DeCSS, etc, etc) that were electronic publications, this one is a paper based publication. The court has no problems with understanding things that are on paper (compared to anything electronic) and thus their academic publication will most likely enjoy the full protection of the law. That and I'm sure that there is a long history of corporations trying to stop the publication of formal academic papers (from what I've seen, the academic's usually win)

    When coupled with the fact that the SDMI folks presented a formal and public challenge to break their system, I'm sure that whatever protection that they though the dcma would have provided them will be thrown out the window.
  • They probably were sharing their paper with other academics prior to release and someone else leaked the paper. Given scientist's (well most of them) inclination to check their work prior to publishing it (unlike, say, Slashdot), this makes sense.
  • Someone also released a program called decss.exe or something (think it was windows) that would strip all style sheets from an html file. They wanted everyone to distribute it to get false MPAA threats or something.
  • by acceleriter ( 231439 ) on Saturday April 21, 2001 @06:09AM (#275483)
    And the recording industry is particularly good at this. If it wasn't for the writeup a few years back (before Napster was a twinkle in Fanning's eye) in Wired where the RIAA had pulled a stormtrooper act on the few college kids who were trading MP3's, I and darn near the rest of the world probably never would have heard of them.

    I suspect that the recording industry and manufacturers of hard disks and removable media are laughing all the way to the bank, having negotiated in smoke filled rooms to share the profits while they play us all for fools buying 80GB disks and CDR drives with 100 spindles to store MP3's and legally challenged material like DeCSS, VirtualDub 1.3, TotalRecorder, ASFRecorder, the eFront ICQ logs (which I and about 1E6 others posted to Freenet). And now this.

  • Hmm... It seems that the courts would have trouble upholding an interpretation of the DCMA which would abridge freedom of the press.

    While it could be argued that the issue comes down to interpretation of the constitution (federal gov't has the right to support useful arts via copyright laws but is forbidden from abridging freedom of the press or of speach), I think that any reasonable court would probably conclude that forbidden devices cannot include research papers where no machine-readable code is in place. I would suspect that cryptonanysis papers would still be protected. Crackers will ownez everything if they aren't because of the lack of professional criticism for such devices....

    Sometimes, I wish people would have the backbone to fight these kind of things. It does not really matter-- someone will eventually and fight and then I would suspect that court will rule in the defendent's favor.

  • In the meantime, we urge you to withdraw the paper submitted for the upcoming Information Hiding Workshop, assure that it is removed from the Workshop distribution materials and destroyed, and avoid a public discussion of confidential information.

    Oops! Now it's on the Internet. I hope everyone saves a copy for when cryptome is shut down tomorrow.

  • by JAVAC THE GREAT ( 239850 ) on Saturday April 21, 2001 @05:55AM (#275486)
    This is just the challenge the DMCA needs to be taken to the Supreme Court and repealed. With Princeton (=State of New Jersey? Is Princeton public?) footing the legal bill, they can afford to go all the way, and the with something so fucked up as this SDMI is bound to lose.

    But then, I wouldn't be surprised if the SDMI people back down to make sure they don't lose their most valuable weapon in the fight against free speech.

  • The best quotation I found was, "the Verance Watermark is already in commercial use and the disclosure of any information that might assist others to remove this watermark would seriously jeopardize the technology and the content it protects."

    Huh? Wasn't that the point? To prove that it doesn't work? Or maybe it's just another example of that old logical fallacy, "We can't do X because X contradicts what we do."

    Join the Petition Against Petitio Ad Principii!

    Interrobang, back at last!

  • "Do we believe we can defeat any audio protection scheme? Certainly, the technical details of any scheme will become known publicly through reverse engineering. Using the techniques we have presented here, we believe no public watermark-based scheme intended to thwart copying will succeed."

    Which makes the DMCA all the more abhorrent. It's NOT a copyright protection law, but a copy protection protection law.

    Copy protection was proven an ineffective mechanism back in the 1980's, and it's just as ineffective now, if not more so, given the much greater number of computer professionals (that you may call "hackers") than there were then.

    Given that the right to make a backup copy is an established RIGHT under the Constitutional derived principle of "fair use" would it not follow that any law preventing you from circumventing copy protection to excercise that right would be Unconstitutional?

    Keep in mind, the Constitution places SEVERE limits on the scope and duration of patents and copyrights (though that has been violated many times by Congress and several presidents, most recently, Clinton. when copyrights were extended pretty much to infinity).

  • "The DMCA has so far only protected the rights of big business. The courts have a history of supporting free exchange of ideas. I have faith in our courts. I hope this is not misplaced."

    I don't have much faith in the courts. Perhaps I'm pessimistic, but so-called "judge" Kaplan seems to be a typical example of the neo-Napoleonoic complex that most of our newer judges seem to have.

    Also, keep in mind, that Judges come from lawyers. Lawyers come from lawfirms. The past 20 years has seen a geometric increase in litigation, most of it being done BY the corporations and the powerful. From that pool of lawyers come the next crop of judges. Today, I'd doubt it's possible to apppoint a Federal judge who hasn't done a lot of work for at least one of the aggressive IP cartels.

    Judges are supposed to be different from lawyers. They are supposed to be impartial, ubiased, and rule on the LAW, not their personal biases. If "judge" Kaplan is indeed a typical example of the modern judge, then it's obvious that wishing for impartiality is, indeed, wishing for something that won't happen.

  • "Your abuse of Judge Kaplan is unwarranted. I also disagree with his decision, but your suggestion that he is corrupt and ran a "show trial" is utterly unfounded. In particular, the contention that Kaplan couldn't be fair because a different lawyer at the law firm he left several years ago represented one party in a tangentially related matter is nothing more than conspiracy-mongering."

    I don't see how "judge" Kaplan's conduct could be construed as anything but dishonorable. The mere fact that he excoriated Martin Garbus for a less direct link with the plantiffs than his OWN, when he did this knowing that he had a similar link to them, shows:

    1. Stupidity (he didn't remember, very unlikely)
    2. Corruption (he admonished Garbus for conduct certanly no less conflicting than his own just to do anything he could to make the defendants look bad).
    3. Napoleonic Complex: I'm the "judge" and I'm ABOVE all question. (This goes against the founding principles of this country... there is NOTHING that is above all question in any free society)
    4. There was nothing illegal or improper about his OR Garbus's past associations with MPAA member companies, but he excoriated Garbus solely to make him look bad.

    I really dont' see any fifth possibility. If Kaplan's conflict of interest was of no consequence, then Martin Garbus's lesser conflict (having once worked at a firm that represented a company later bought by Time-Warner) was also of no consequence. Nonetheless, the alleged "judge" saw fit to go on record excoriating Garbus, and even threaten future disciplinary action.

    It makes Kaplan look all the worse, in that he did this in response to a MPAA motion to remove Garbus, and that he completely dismissed a later defense motion to recuse himself for a very similar, but even more direct conflict of his own.

    Had Kaplan recused himself, or NOT excoriated Garbus, then set down the ruling that he did, I'd have some respect for him, as he would have at least been consistent. Instead, he acted in a manner more consistent with a televangelist caught with a hooker than a judge. Indeed, his actions condemming Garbus were very reminicient of Jimmy Swaggart's condemnation of Jim Bakker, only to be soon after caught in his own sex scandal...

    The impression I got (and the same impression the majority of /.'ers got) was that of a "show trial" by a "kangaroo court" where the verdict was in before there was any evidence presented. The fact that this is the feeling I have is solely the fault of Kaplan's own conduct. I feel that his conduct in this case leaves me with no reasonable way to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    To sum it all up:

    1. Kaplan excoriated Garbus for conduct lesser than, or no more equal to what he himself had done.

    2. Kaplan repeatedly abused Garbus, made his contempt completely blatant. Not for one moment in the transcripts did Kaplan treat Garbus with anything approaching civility or respect, that was due him and his clients.

    3. Kaplan refused to recuse himself when his own conflict of interest was exposed. Furthermore, it took him 90 pages to explain WHY he shouldn't recuse himself. It would seem to me that if it takes you 90 pages to explain why you shouldn't recuse yourself, then you SHOULD have recused yourself if you had any shread of honor or integrity.

    4. Kaplan most narrowly interpreted the DMCA (while ignoring it's fair use clause that allows reverse engineering for interoperability, which making a Linux DVD player would seem to me to be covered by) but only the parts that favored the MPAA position. Kaplan furtermore ruled web links to DeCSS illegal, something not at ALL covered under the DMCA, and clearly something beyond the scope of his authority.

  • "The RIAA/SDMI released all watermarked music tracks, of which some contained watermarks currently in production, with a challenge to crack them. Obviously, they assumed that no one would be able to crack it"

    All the more indication the RIAA/MPAA et all are on a suicide march. They have no clue about technology, but yet, have the power and influence to get law passed restricting the rights of US citizens to it...

    There never was and never WILL be a copy protection scheme that will absolutely prevent someone who is determined to copy from copying it, so long as the copy protection MUST allow the thing to be read, run, viewed, or played.

    Ultimately, they will be forced into suing their customers, which will be the end of it, any business that sues its customers because it's scheme or product can't suceed on it's own merits fails (Rambus).

    What our government has to decide is this:

    Do we want to become a country where corporations have absolute control over IP, or a free country where there is a right to innovate?

    Obviously, if the DMCA sticks, and all individual initiative is crushed, some other country without restrictive IP laws will one day take the lead in technological innovation.

  • "If they were patented, how they work would be required to be fully described in detail and on public file in the patent office. By keeping the code s33cr3t, they get no protection but can hope that security through obscurity will keep the innards of their function safe. Obviously it doesn't."

    And the DMCA seems to have the effect of assigning perpetual "patent" protection to such "trade secret" schemes as well. Which is clearly Unconstitutional.

  • "Oh, and kids... 1350 Hz is not some whacky frequency that only bats can hear. It's somewhere around E above high C, which is a perfectly fine note, when you think about it. I mean, I play trumpet, I love listening to trumpet music. Cutting out 1350 Hz will effect everyone from Maynard Ferguson to Miles Davis (well maybe not Miles Davis. ;-)"

    "1349 Hz ought to be enough for anybody" -Jack Valenti

    I get your point. You'd think that any "new" media that is intentionally inferior to the old would fail in the market. But, remember, we're dealing with CONSUMERS here... Windows `9x is clearly an inferior and more restrictive product when compared to OS/2, Linux, BeOS, or even the original DOS it's still based on, yet it still dominates the market because of superior marketing.

    Maybe the IP cartels think they can get SDMI accepted in the same manner?

  • "Corporations by their nature are amoral, mindless beasts..."

    Amoral, yes (remember the Pinkerton's "Geek profiling" service they are offering to schools to single out geeks as "potentially dangerous"?), but not mindless. Corporations seek profit like a tiger seeks prey. A world where IP companies have "carte blanche" to charge whatever they want for media is obviously a major objective for them.

    "they'll have more luck in China, where censorship is part of the very society... I feel sorry for the Chinese in that regard."

    I feel sorry for the Chinese, or any people not living in an open society, though I hate their evil governments. What is scary, is that laws like the DMCA threaten to end all freedom in the USA, and turn us into a "Corporate State" where corporations own everything. This is the opposite extreme of "communism" where the government owns everything, though the end results would be the same.

    Just as people were no freer under Hitler's fascist Germany than under Stalin's USSR, they'd be no better off in Jack Valenti's "SDMI Rebublic"

    It's clear to me that the USA as a free country is collapsing. The twin pressures of a non-productive population viting themselves more and more "bread and circuses" out of the pockets of the workers, and corporations extering pressure on those same politicos (who humor them so as to FUND these "bread and circuses" re-election schemes) is causing us to lose our freedom.

    We are noticeably less free today as we were in 1984, I shudder to think of what we will be like in 2084...

  • "First off, you'd better not act that way in a real court of law, because disrespect for a judge will get you thrown out on your ear.

    Of course, you're 'tuFF Boy' here because you're on Slashdot. That's understandable. Do get a clue though, before you enter real life."

    Of COURSE I'm not stupid enough to think I'd disrespect a judge in a courtroom. However, if a judge behaved towards me or my counsel like Kaplan did Garbus and 2600, I'd certainly use his actions as evidence against him, in overturning any judgement.

    Just as it would be foolish for a defendant to behave like that in a court, it's just AS foolish for Kaplan to conduct himself the way he did. He certaly made it easier, NOT harder, to appeal his own judgement.

    Also, you seem to imply that I'm inmature for expressing my contempt for a contemptible "judge"'s actions in a case. Can't you see what is WRONG with that attitude? NOTHING can be above ALL question ina free society!!!! NOTHING!!!

    If we as citizens have an ABSOLUTE 1st Amendment right to political speech, which includes bashing or praising Presidents and Congressmen without government reprisal, why does that not ALSO include judges? How can it not? Aren't Federal Judges part of the government, and therefore, subservient to the Constitution?

  • "Why did SDMI have the challenge in the first place? They were enthusiastic about the challenge, but when someone cracks their technologies, they get so upset and were even reluctant to admit that someone had. If they say "try to crack this" they should accept it if someone does crack it, and also accept the results of that. Furthermore, why were they challenging people to crack a watermarking technology that is currently being used???"

    If they truly expected that it wouldn't be broken, that is outright stupidity. Also, their "hacksdmi" challenge would seemingly, IANAL, put them on shaky ground as to preventing a participant from publishing the results of their participation.

    Obviously, some corporate drone got giddy with the idea that SDMI was somehow "hackerproof" and ceme out with this "challenge" because he couldn't resist trying to give the hackers "what for"...

    This has happened before. Wasn't it a corporation that publically proclaimed the Titanic "unsinkable", only to be proven wrong on the first trip?

  • "I'm not particularly interested in the argument about this particular ruling or judge Kaplan, but I can't help but ask one question in response to those two paragraphs:
    Is the constitution above question?"

    No, of course not. As I said there is NOTHING that is beyond questioning in a free society. It can be AMENDED, by a public process that requires debate, and approval by a 2/3rds majority of Congress AND the states.

    The DMCA is such a radical repeal of the Constitution's provisions covering Patent and Copyright, that it would seem to require some sort of amendment to be legal.

    Is the Constitution perfect? Of course not. But as written, it's the MOST perfect form of government for a free society that has ever been invented.

    Unfortunately, the Federal government, in it's own self-interest, has pretty much ignored the parts of it that limits it's power (most notably the 9th and 10th Amendments, part of the ORIGINAL bill of rights), pretty much since 1933.

    Prior to 1933, the government went about acquiring new powers the proper way, by amending the Constitution. Most notably, they didn't outlaw alchohol )prohibition) by STATUTORY law, it was done by amendment.

    Contrast that with the post-1933 "War on Drugs" which has been ENTIRELY conducted through statutory law, using authority that the Constitution clearly does not give the Feds. Prior to 1933, the government would have felt it needed to amend the Constitution to outlaw drugs. Post 1933, the Feds think they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, so long as it's "the will of the people".

    The bottom line, the year 1933 marks the END of the United States as a Rebublic, and the beginning of "democracy". Democracy (mob rule), is the absolute WORST form of government that ever could be. Since 1933, the Federal government has gone to no end in implimenting the "will of the people", Constitution be dammed.

    1933 was the year we had our first "King", Mr Franklin D. Roosevelt, who ignored 130 years of precedent (established by George Washington, the only man in history that I know of to ever TURN DOWN a throne). Roosevelt gained power and kept it by giving the masses "bread and circuses" and if not for his death in 1945, probably would have ruled for another decade had he lived. Thankfully, the Constitution WAS amended limiting all future Presidents to the Washington precedent of 2 terms. This definately slowed the slide to tyrrany down a bit, though with the concept of using "bread and circuses genie" out of the bottle, eventual collapse into some form of authoritarian regeime is inevitable. Imagine if Clinton had gotten a third term...

    And, the "will of the people" is easily molded to correspond to the "will of the powerful" given that our public educational system collapsed sometime in the 1960's with LBJ.

  • "As for noticably less free, well, we're free from the worry of Nuclear War, something you can't say about '84"

    Maybe on a World War III scale, but the inevitibility of some sort of nuclear catastrophe increases yearly. It's only a matter of time before a rogue state or terrorist group gets a nuke and explodes it on a US city. In fact, the breakup of the USSR probably INCRESED the possibility, as there are many Russian nuclear engineers now unemployed, and LOTS of Russian nuclear material out there.

    Also, don't forget that China now has multiple ICBM's targeted at the USA now, and thanks to Clinton, they might actually HIT something, when 3 years ago, a Chinese rocket could barely reach orbit with any reliability... And, China puts a far lower value on human life than even the USSR did...

    Nuclear fission bombs are INCREDIBLY simple devices! They are less complex than most consumer electronics, including your PC! Anyone with half a brain and fissionable nuclear material can make one. In fact, this information is pretty much public domain and easily available.

    So far, it's only the strict controls of the nuclear material that has prevented every rogue state in the world from having nukes. But inevitably, somewhere, someone will get it.
  • "So, all they have left is to bring legal action against those few who dare to openly and publicly present this information, to make these people suffer for opposing the corporations.

    Which means that there will be martyrs. It's not that fun to BE a martyr, so I don't think there will be much of this.

    "There's a war on folks, and this is just another battle in that war. We'll see LOTS of casualties before it's over, but in the end, I think we can win this one. Any speculation on what the final costs might be, when corporations realize they can't win this war???"

    You have more faith in the sheep masses than I do. Since 1933, and accelerating since 1964 or so, we've been becoming a nation centered around meeting the public's ever-increasing demand for "bread and circuses".

    In 50 years, at our rate of population growth, tax rates will have to be over 75% just to support these "bread and circuses" programs.

    By then, there will either be a second revolution (not likely, given the fact that most will be happy living off everyone else), or else the ONLY producers left will be mega corporations. The megacorps will be even MORE powerful than they are now as a result... Would you work 40 hours a week for less than 1/4th of what you earn? I wouldn't...

  • "Perhaps not, but nor do they want to get in the habit of not publishing research because someone with lotsa lawyers says not to."

    Now you see why the USA is in rapid decline as a nation of innovation...

    Today you can't produce something new or better unless you are a megacorporation without fear of being sued out of existance.

    As I said in another post, the world leader in technology soon will not be the USA, unless things radically change direction. It will be some nation without the US and EU's draconian IP laws and tort systems. Some nation will get smart and become the world's haven for science and technology, and the best minds will flock to it.

  • "If they can push laws through that would make it illegal to sell a device which circumvented SDMI, the RIAA wouldn't be as concerned about rogue players because they could sue the manufacturers for damages. Perhaps worst of all, they could sue YOU for violating the DMCA by using your rogue player."

    If our government does that, then you might understand the purpose of the 2nd Amendment (just as ignored as the clearly power-limiting 9th and 10th amendments), as that would be an indication that the time may be for some kind of revolt...

    I don't like or advocate violence, but someday ultimately, violence may become necessary to force the government to start living within the law (Constitution).

    Simply, the purpose of establishing a government is to SAFEGUARD the freedom of the people. If the government sells out solely to corporate interests, then it is ceasing to perform it's function.

    You might find this hard to belive, but one of the "matches to the fuse" that started the American Revolution was something not all that dissimilar... England had the habit of granting and supporting "corporate" monopolies in it's own self interest. The "Boston Tea Party" was a revolt against one such market monopoly, granted to the British West Indian Company to sell tea to the colonies...

    This government action prevented the Colonists from buying their tea from cheaper sources, and mandated they buy from a government suported and subsidized monopoly.

  • "Hasn't it been said before that no matter how well-kept a democracy may be, it will almost never last for more than ten generations?"

    I think it was Athens, Greece that was the reference in that statement. Athens was only one city, and it was the only powerful city-state that had a democratic government. And it was ultimately taken over by Macedonia, which had a purely authoritarian government.

    "I wouldn't be sure this is absolutely true, as the Greeks managed to stave off total political decay for hundreds of years until the Romans had conquered them (still, their democracy was a bit different)."

    10 generarions is approximately 300 years... Which is about right for the duration of BOTH the Roman Republic and the Athenian democracy.

    The Roman Republic, BTW, is largely the framework that was used to create the American Republic...

    "However, it seems that there is no perfect government, and I doubt there ever will be. "

    Correct. Humans are imprefect, and there is no possibility of any Human creation of being truly perfect.

    But, we always must strive for better. Just as the American Republic is an improvement of the Roman one (more perfect), someday there will be one that is more perfect than it is. Society evolves slowly over time just as biology does.

  • "Why, because he disagreed with you? Maybe the law actually says what he said it meant, and it's the law, not the judge, which is wrong."

    Kaplan DID NOT apply the Constitution to the DMCA, which he is required to do by his sworn oath he took when he (allegedly) became a "judge" (remember, judges, like ALL federal officeholders swear an oath to defend the Constitution).

    Not only did he fail to apply a Constitutional test to the DMCA, he conviently "forgot" to apply the provisions WITHIN the DMCA that allow for reverse-engineering for the purposes of interoperability. Which I think DeCSS as the key component of a Linux DVD player, clearly IS!

    The DMCA itself has provisions stating that it cannot circumvent the Constitution's own provisions for fair use. Which the so-called "judge" completely failed to evaluate.

    Furthermore, the DMCA contains NO provision expressely allowing a court to forbid web links! He invented that out of thin air.

    TO summarize, Kaplan interpreted the DMCA as applied to the DeCSS case only in the most extreme and narrow manner in the most favorable way to the MPAA as could be done. He has very little in the way of precedent or law on his side to support his judgement, which I expect to get tossed out on the same ass Kaplan should be tossed out on.

    Kaplan's own ties to the MPAA previous to his becoming a "judge" alone is reason enough to call into question his conduct in the case. And that's why he SHOULD have recused himself... The Courts are supposed to have NO appearance of impropriety.

    Kaplan's actions reprimanding EFF lawyer Martn Garbus for similar and less direct ties to the plantiff MPAA, then tossing off a motion for his recusal with 90 pages of schlock gives any reasonable person plenty of room to doubt and question his motives.

    It could be said, because of his behavior in the case, that Kaplan had his bread buttered BEFORE becoming a judge by the MPAA, and his actions were designed to make sure that it was buttered by them AFTER he leaves the bench. Don't forget that Kaplan, a Clinton appointee, is a relatively new judge. And unfortunately, probably representative of the direction the courts are headed...

  • by mikethegeek ( 257172 ) <blair AT NOwcmifm DOT comSPAM> on Saturday April 21, 2001 @08:58AM (#275510) Homepage
    "It would be a shame if Princeton's legal dept tells the researchers to back down because they don't have a legal leg to stand on here."

    The fact is, they DO have a legal leg to stand on here... The rights of "fair use" and "reverse engineering" were established by the courts over the years in many many, precedent setting cases (such as the Betamax case) as being from the Constitution. NO statutory law can "outrank" the Constitution, it's the higest law of the land, from which there is no option but to change it.

    The DMCA has many MANY problems with the Constitution, and this threat towards these Princeton professors proves, it could have this little side effect of DESTROYING academia.

    The unanimous voice vote "coup de etat" nature of the DMCA's passage is even more insidious. Congress, and Bill Clinton, in effect, conducted an illegal Constitutional Convention, in their roles in passing that law. The DMCA cannot be legal without a Constitutional Amendment.

    Remember, there has yet been NO TEST of the Constitutionality of the DMCA. This didn't happen in the 2600 case, because it was presided over a conflicted judge (the so-called "judge" Kaplan) who did not hide for one second his contempt for both the defendants and their counsel.

    And, he also had worked for a lawfirm that had DIRECTLY represented a plantiff before becoming a judge (Martin Garbus, lead attorney for 2600 and the EFF was EXCORIATED by Kaplan for previously working for a firm that had represented a company that was eventually BOUGHT by Time Warner.)

    Kaplan refused to recuse himself, and ran a "show trial" with an illogical and indefensible verdict. But then, one only need have paid attention to the judge's behavior in the pre-trial to know that the verdict was a foregone conclusion. Kaplan ruled on the most narrow POSSIBLE interpretation of the DMCA, even ignoring the language in the DMCA itself which would seem to make reverse-engineering CSS for the purpose of creating a Linux DVD player perfectly legal.

    "Hell, even if they didn't have a legal leg to stand on it would still be fun to watch SDMI go after several professors at Princeton. High visibility and bad publicity for SDMI. I'd pay to watch those court proceedings."

    I would think that the MPAA/RIAA/SDMI cartels et all, would be very hesitant to go forward with such a case. 2600 was an easy target because it was VERY easy to spin them off as "anarchistic hackers". Princeton professors will be a lot harder to mount a slander campaign against. It's a sad indictment of the US legal system that not all defendants are equal before the eyes of the law.

    What the IP cartel is doing right now is trying to win by intimidation, threat, and extortion what it probably can't win in a courtroom (as it's certain that all or at least MOST of the DMCA would be struck down or at the very least, limited by the courts). They are hoping that either the authors of the paper will back down, or else Princeton will back them down.

    If I were the author of the paper, I'd be considering pulling an "Infineon" on the IP cartel: What they are doing right now (using threat, intimidation, and extortion) kinda smacks as illegal under the RICO laws doesn't it?

  • "If a watermark qualifies as an effective access control measure, then I would think that by that logic, any player that doesn't check for watermarks would be considered an access circumvention device and therefore illegal. Or would they be legal because they have a commercially significant purpose? This is confusing."

    You may be right in saying that you COULD by narrow interpretation, claim that a player that ignores watermark would be a "circumvention" device.

    Certainly, that's what the MPAA/RIAA et all would say. Probably the only thing that may keep that from flying is the sheer number of non-wartermark players there are out there. Ruling them all illegal would create a VERY public upheaval that even our sheep-like media would not be able to ignore.

    My opinion on this is: The RIAA/MPAA will push and push SDMI to try to replace MP3 (a futile crusade, but they don't seem to get it). Once they get a lot of watermark sensitive players out there, to the point they are more common than the non-watermark players, THEN they might be able to pull off litigation on that point.

    The kicker though, is that I just don't see SDMI or any other restrictive format replacing MP3 as the "defacto standard" audio format. Are some of them better than MP3? Sure, but not ONE of them is completely non-controlled like MP3 is. The next MP3 will be just as uncontrolled as MP3 or else it will fail.

    Also, the RIAA labels have no interest in even seeing SDMI succeed. They don't want to sell music as digital audio files instead of physical media. They have the MOST vested interest in seeing to it that ANY such initiative fails. If recordings start becoming distributed by audio files via the Internet, instead of physical media, even IF it's SDMI, they lose control over the artists.

  • "Keep in mind that the highest note on a piano is somewhere near 4 kHz; so even though the "robust" component of the watermark may be audible, it will most likely only slightly alter the timbre of sounds in the average song (and so will probably only be heard by musicians and extreme audiophiles)"

    Which is why watermarking is a doomed technology. The FIRST adopters of any new audio technology are the musicians and audiophiles. Why? For one thing, brand new technology is almost ALWAYS very expensive at first, and the true devotees are the only ones that will run right out and get it, because it's the best, right?

    Well, as you and others have demonstrated, SDMI "watermarking" makes for audio quality that is INFERIOR to current media. The audiophiles will NOT run out and buy it, which will drasticaly slow if not STOP it's acceptance as a replacement for CD. It's the early adopters who subsidize the mass production that ends up lowering the costs for the "rest of us" when we start buying into it.

    The only way SDMI will ever make it is if the RIAA, et all, subsidize it, ie, make the players CHEAPER than what is out there now. I don't see that happening, as it would cost them BILLIONS to do this.

  • by mikethegeek ( 257172 ) <blair AT NOwcmifm DOT comSPAM> on Saturday April 21, 2001 @10:44AM (#275513) Homepage
    I think you make some very excellent points! Well done.

    "Between these poles I think that there is a rational middle ground. The type of rights enforcement technology the RIAA is insisting upon cannot work, as with DeCSS every player has to have the secret key."

    Which is why any such scheme that has to rely on "security by obscurity" will fail. Any consumer-level product will end up being broken, simply because it CANNOT change to make it incompatible with any breaks.

    Simply put, any replacement of the audio CD will fail if the consumer is forced to replace ALL of his players and/or media every few months to a year because of SDMI "improvements" in response to breaks. Audio and video media MUST be ubiquitous to succeed.

    The ultimate piracy prevention is to charge reasonable prices for the product, which is something the RIAA and MPAA are completely unwilling to do. Which is why they are wasting MILLIONS of dollars on doomed protection schemes, for the sole purpose of the ability to FORCE the market to bear whatever price they choose to set, by preventing piracy.

    The RIAA and MPAA are charging many MANY times the cost of their product for the product.

    I do NOT endorse piracy, but I do recognize that it does serve a legitimate purpose in giving the IP companies incentive to keep the prices reasobable.

  • If you read the paper, you'll see that one of the algorithms actually is patentend, and therefore can't be a trade secret -- this is even noted in the paper.
  • The paper is not anonymous. Follow the link to the FAQ and you will see several of the participants listed. Additionally, not only did they not take the paper down, they simply posted the RIAA's letter ahead of it. Kinda makes a statement, posting the threat letter at the beginning of the very webpage they want you to suppress, eh?
  • by localroger ( 258128 ) on Saturday April 21, 2001 @05:35AM (#275516) Homepage
    Nobody issues a challenge like that if they expect their precious standard to be broken. Oops. Now they're pissed. I didn't realize two year olds were allowed to run corporations.
  • In the future, every single one of these players may have SDMI

    I don't think so. In the first place the SDMI group is close to collapse. The autocratic manner in which Leonardo was operating was already anoying many at the only meeting I attended. In the second there is no leverage to prevent non-SDMI players being available.

    The rip protected CDs piece is not part of SDMI. The idea is to encode the watermark into digitally downloaded music. Only authorized content could be downloaded onto a player. However the powerful stuff being smoked by the SDMI crew mean that they might well have got even more grandiose delusions.

    The CD patents will have mostly expired at this point, CD having been arround for 20 years. The DMCA does not require CD players to adopt SDMI and the chances of new legislation are much smaller than two years ago.

    In addition CD players are practically obsolete, as is the concept of a physical medium. There will be no replacement for CD, it will become a distribution medium only. Home hifi will work off a central mediastore with multiple player devices all giving access to the same database of content over WiFi.

    The idea of SDMI was that portable players would be configured to only download authorized rips and to not allow transfers out of the device. It was a bogus idea from the start. In the first place the Diamond Rio case meant that there was no way to force players to be SDMI compliant. Secondly an SDMI compliant device could not be a recording device - digital dictaphones are to be illegal it appears. Thirdly the SDMI scheme devices would not be able to play standard MP3s, initially they would but this capability would be retrospectively disabled through a 'drop dead' code encoded in a CD.

    So with SDMI the hardware manufacturers were to build devices that nobody would buy and would be deliberately broken at a time in the future of the RIAA's choice.

  • huh? Billion dollar business? What business? Napster didn't charge for anything and ads, as we all know, are a joke. I suppose it's possible that they thought they might one day become a billion dollar business, but I don't think they ever really thought about how they might get there.

    Some of the most undereported documents are the ideas Napster had to 'monetize the userbase'. They were all at least as clueless as the ideas the RIAA have had.

    Basically Napster would become a clone of AOL, a stiff monthly fee plus lots of intrusive pop up ads.

    I agree that the ideas were stupid and Napster never had a chance of succeeding. However they told the billions of dolars story to their VC who evidently bought it.

  • *ow my eyes* Are people spelling 'losers' wrong on purpose now?

    Sorry, that is SDMI are Loosers (TM)

  • by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Saturday April 21, 2001 @10:31AM (#275521) Homepage
    The SDMI effort has been pretty disorganized and chaotic from start to finish. I was at an SDMI conference in 1999 where the premise was that the scheme had to ship for Xmas 1999. Needless to say they missed.

    The whole premise of SDMI is pretty funky, the idea is that the device manufacturers will spike their devices to protect the interests of the labels. This is a pretty forlorn hope since the consumer electronics companies bought up content companies to help them sell hardware. Sony and Philips have content divisions but they play thrid or fourth fiddle to the consumer electronics divisions.

    For SDMI to succeed there must be no way to get a non SDMI player. That ain't going to happen. The other premise is that there must either be no way to rip a CD - a futile effort in itself or no more material will be released on CD.

    The alleged rip protection for CDs on the street at the moment make use of widespread bugs in CDROM device drivers. An audio CD player that encounters an error makes a best effort attempt to continue. A CDROM driver will in many cases report an error and stop. This can be fixed by simply patching the driver to emulate CD Audio players - a process that was already in progress since users were complaining about lack of robustness when playing CDs.

    Meanwhile the sales of CDs have actually started to decline for the first time ever. I suspect that this is not just the result of Napster. I suspect that the ultra aggressive tactics of the labels have discouraged many purchases.

    I have no sympathy for the crooks running Napster, the idea you can build a billion dollar business helping people rip off everyone else in the music business is one extreeme of the debate. The other is the equally greed RIAA and DVD crew who want to use digital technology that is not up to the task to massively increase their profits. I have sat through presentations from DRM companies who claim that they will not only protect content, they will make higher profits possible through product placement, advertising, co-marketting and extortionate pay per view charges.

    Between these poles I think that there is a rational middle ground. The type of rights enforcement technology the RIAA is insisting upon cannot work, as with DeCSS every player has to have the secret key.

    I think that a digital download format with a watermark could work. But the detection software would have to be closely held and used only to identify individuals who were ripping lots of tracks and putting them onto the Internet. Their access to the download service would be cut off. Such a scheme would probably be as good a limit on piracy as can be obtained. There would be minimal incentive to break the watermark scheme since it would not prevent a person from listening to the pirate tracks, merely discouraging the piracy. The attackers could not know in any case whether their de-watermarking technology had succeeded. The distributors could deploy new schemes without prior notice.

  • These kind of threats by industry groups to prevent the publication of scientific papers that may injure their public image or some foothold in the market is not new. I heard a man named Robert Park speak a year ago. He is a professor (physics, I think, but I can't remember where he teaches) and a writer, and this talk was one of a series of lectures to promote his latest book, "Voodoo Science." After the lecture, there was to be a brief book signing. Unfortunately, lawsuits were preventing the release of the book (libel).

    Dr. Park said that these kind of law suits are common, but the courts have a history of releasing academic material in an effort to protect a free exchange of ideas.

    The DMCA has so far only protected the rights of big business. The courts have a history of supporting free exchange of ideas. I have faith in our courts. I hope this is not misplaced.

    I hope Professor Felten et. al. fight this tooth and nail. Princeton has a legal department, and this is Princeton's fight. I hope they stand behind the professor.
  • by dachshund ( 300733 ) on Saturday April 21, 2001 @06:04AM (#275529)
    I was under the impression that "encryption research" was specifically excepted under the DMCA anti-circumvention clause. Does this letter take that into account? I would love to see this go to court, even though today's (apparently bought and paid for []) federal courts give me little reason for optimism.
  • by janpod66 ( 323734 ) on Saturday April 21, 2001 @07:15AM (#275544)
    Why bother dealing with these people? They have trouble understanding that the price of content goes down as distribution costs go down. They are fighting a losing battle against companies that do understand economics. The content that gets distributed with fewer restrictions at lower production costs will win out over high-priced content from a bunch of media czars and over-the-hill writers, composers, and pop stars.

    They also seem to have trouble understanding that watermarking is not technically feasible. It won't take some really smart guys from Princeton to break this or future systems. Given Chiariglione's inelegant and messy technical track record [], I doubt they are going to get a technical clue any time soon either.

    Let them add poor watermarks to poor content and create players with all sorts of limitations. In the long run, it's only going to hurt their business. Dealing with these people is a waste of time in my opinion.

BLISS is ignorance.