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Testing Microsoft And The DMCA 395

sproketboy writes "I found a great piece about an MIT student and his XBox hacking over at news.com. Apparently he can't get his how-to book published do to fears with DMCA. I hope he at least can get it publish in China or Russia where people have some freedoms left. ;)." The student is doctoral candidate Andrew "Bunnie" Huang, the same hacker Microsoft declined to stop last August from presenting a paper on insecurities in the Xbox hardware.
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Testing Microsoft And The DMCA

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  • Spelling (Score:4, Funny)

    by Mengoxon ( 303399 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2003 @05:17AM (#5742557)
    You know, you shouldn't get your works published DUE TO horrible and confusing spelling mistakes.
  • Wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by borgdows ( 599861 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2003 @05:18AM (#5742558)
    I hope he at least can get it publish in China or Russia where people have some freedoms left.

    You could say almost anywhere but USA! DMCA/Patriot/Patriot2 are US laws! not *world* laws!
    • Right, almost anywhere [slashdot.org] :(
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2003 @06:36AM (#5742692)
      Contrevening our laws would be terrorism, which would force us to invade, take control and install DCMA/Patriot/Patriot2 for their own protection and ours.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Not trying to troll (at least not much), but as a non-US-citizen I would like to point out an interesting fact;

        I can name two nations in the world today that has weapons of mass desctruction, that frequently ignores the UN and supports / has supported / commits acts that are easily defined as terrorism (well, I know of more than two nations, but keep with me). Those two nations are Israel and the United States of America.

        Did anyone mention double standards?

        • Not trying to troll??? Hardly! But I'll bite...

          What are the terrorist activities that the US supports or commits? I'm not interested in stuff from decades ago, but recently.

          As far as double standards go, of course there's a separate standard for the US. When you're the biggest and baddest on the block, you get to make some of the rules. And frankly, if you'd rather have Russia or China as the top dog instead of the US, try picturing what that would be like...

    • Isn't most of Europe also on the verge of also having their own version of DMCA (except with fewer exemptions)?
  • by October_30th ( 531777 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2003 @05:22AM (#5742564) Homepage Journal
    Taking a break from working on his doctoral thesis

    I'm appalled. Since when have PhD students had the luxury of "taking a break"?

    When I was working on my thesis, PhD students would work 6 days a week without vacation for 4 years straight and, as far as I can see, at least the physics PhD candidates are still working like this. Is "taking a break" something that computer science people can afford?

    • I'm sorry. I completed my PhD in physics in 5 years. The first 2 years (almost all classwork) I spent 15-18 hour days during the week, and 6-12 hours on the weekend doing classwork/studying; summers were 40 hr weeks in a computer lab working on hydrodynamics code.

      The last three years (almost all research), I rarely worked more than 40hrs/week on research. My programs worked a lot more than that, but I just babysat them for a good portion of time. I had to support myself with a teaching assistantship.
  • A link... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nethergoat ( 597008 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2003 @05:23AM (#5742565)
    ...to help understand some of the legal mess the DMCA has created around reverse engineering:
    Chilling Effects Clearinghouse's Reverse Engineering FAQ [chillingeffects.org]
  • China? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2003 @05:26AM (#5742571)
    Russia -- MAYBE

    China -- NO WAY

    If you seriously think you're worse off than the average chinese person because you can't legally make a backup copy of your DVDs, then you seriously need to rethink your priorities. At least in the US we have the RIGHT to speak out against the DMCA while if it were enacted in China, anyone speaking out against it would be lucky ever to be able to speak again.

    Yes, the DMCA is a bad law, but it is in no way comparable to the conditions the average Chinese person faces on a daily basis.

    • Re:China? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tensor ( 102132 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2003 @05:56AM (#5742625)
      Disclamer: I am not trying to defend China's regime by this.

      The big difference is that China is consistent in its image and its actions, you expect them to be repressive and they are, no surprise there, its not a democracy nor any kind of representative gov so your rights mean squat.

      OTOH the US has been traditionally portrayed as the world's bastion for freedom, civil liberties and rights, etc ... and lo and behold they are starting to pass laws to "circumvent" due process and send ppl to jail without trial, DMCA to prevent tinkering with just about anything, extending copyrights ad eternum.

      There used to be a time where opening up an Xbox or a cell phone, or a computer was not only encouraged in the us but subsidized, the US had (still has?) the largest gov tech research grants in the world. ALL those techs grew up breaking things apart looking inside them and putting them back together, and this is now illegal. Its like LEGO selling kits where its illegal to build anything else but what its portrayed on the box (stupid).

      Not only is the DMCA a bad thing but in the long run will hamper US tech developement. its these guys breaking up xboxes today that build the X2020 boxes in 20 years.

      • Re:China? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by the gnat ( 153162 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2003 @07:21AM (#5742787)
        The big difference is that China is consistent in its image and its actions

        Nope. This is the country that's starting to allow *gasp* capitalists into its government, and has been allowing more and more limited free enterprise within its borders (particularly within Hong Kong) and whose economic health depends to a great degree on the continued relationship with the evil bourgeoise imperialists over in the USA. There's a great deal of hypocrisy there - I doubt more than a few of the leaders still believe in Communism; they're just trying to stay in power as long as possible.

        I asked a Chinese friend of mine why they didn't dump their government, since they knew it was corrupt and oppressive. He told me, "As long as things keep improving, we deal with it. Nobody wants to dump the Communists when the economy keeps getting better."
      • Re:China? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by HBI ( 604924 )
        It's just another example of how, while the US' system of government was perfectly feasible and perhaps sufficient in the 19th century, the onslaught of modern technology and new thinking have rendered it obsolete and inefficient.

        Consider this: despite the opinions offered regarding Scalia, Thomas, et al., I have a hard time imagining them finding Patriot constitutional. Unfortunately, they consider it their responsibility to neither offer the theory by which it would be rendered void, nor allow an incorr
    • Re:China? (Score:3, Interesting)

      At least in the US we have the RIGHT to speak out against the DMCA

      That's where US is smart; they can portray to be democratic yet still act as a commie state. In other words, yes go and protest about the DMCA. Protest day and night, but will you make a difference? Nope. As long as the DMCA is serving the interests of XXXX and *they* want it that way and they have the spin-doctors to do damage-control, there is little you can do about it.

      Oh btw, you don't really have the RIGHT to speak out against anythi
  • by maedls.at ( 663045 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2003 @05:26AM (#5742573) Homepage
    less spying on ther citizens than USA do. Look on the development since 9/11... I just say: Developing brainscans on Airports... great idea.
  • MIT (Score:5, Funny)

    by lingqi ( 577227 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2003 @05:28AM (#5742577) Journal
    man the guy certainly has a lot of time to meddle with the XBOX...

    Talk about a great school...

    * Diploma that will get you LARGE amount of cash later
    * Research topic is to fiddle around with game console
    * Appear to be victim and popularized as sort of a martyr on /.

    Now if you add a dash of sex (point one - mass quantity of money, can usually bring this to realization), it would be the perfect life.

    Well, if he move to china, where there's still some freedom left. heh.

    (note to self: why does my sarcastic jokes always come out like troll posts? Maybe a MIT education would help?)
    • Google for his origianl article. You'll learn that
      man the guy certainly has a lot of time to meddle with the XBOX
      it was couple of nights...he's a typical MIT grad student i.e. smarter than half of /. put together (not saying much there) AND
      Now if you add a dash of sex
      he's got a cute sig-oth.
  • Implications. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2003 @05:33AM (#5742583)
    The X-box has been accused by many of being a test run for DRM technologies; i.e., it's a completely locked-down, intellectually hermetically sealed box on which Microsoft has Power Absolute.

    This guy is now pushing out a book on x-box hacking and MS is not doing anything. While his problems publishing it is speaking volumes as a concrete example of how real and present the whole "chilling effect" meme is on defeating free speech, the point remains that he is refusing to be deterred and forcing this book through come hell or high water.

    And MS, realizing if they try to get a book banned because it talks about their video game system, they'll face public backlash, they'll have the EFF go "holy shit this is the big one", and they'll lose after years in the supreme court after having being hurt more by the case than the PHD student... is not taking action.

    So, here's my question: in six or seven years, someone is going to write a book about Palladium, and all known ways to hack it. And either it will end any use of Palladium as a security technology (though probably preseving its use as a monopoly prolonger)... or MS will try to have this book banned.

    Is there going to be any difficulty for MS, if they try to stop the book on palladium hacking then, considering that they didn't stop the book on x-box hacking now? Are they setting any kind of precedents that people can point at in the future and say "look, if XYZ is illegal, then why wasn't that x box book in 2003 illegal?"
    • Re:Implications. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bunnie ( 536976 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2003 @06:19AM (#5742665) Homepage
      The book does contain a section about possible attacks against Palladium and TCPA, as well as a discussion of non-cryptographic alternatives to Trusted Computing that provide good security without the bitter taste of DRM.

      The hope is in part to establish some kind of precedent about fair use, whether or not it sticks around long enough to matter when Trusted Computing hits full stride. At least, it will provide a solid starting point for arguments ;-) ...these days, it seems public opinion is guided mostly by speculation and FUD...
  • I'm wondering... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2003 @05:41AM (#5742601) Journal
    This whole affair about XBox, Security, DMCA, Linux-on-the-XBox and stories about how MS is losing money n the XBox.... is this all a big ploy by MS to somehow generate interest on the XBox? I mean, is the XBox not selling well as a gaming platform, which is what it's supposed to be anyway?

    Why fiddle around with a $200 XBox and load Linux on it after circumventing a 100 security holes, when a Linux PC can be had for the same price on Walmart?

    How many of us can afford an XBox but not a separate PC? Even if somehow it's possible to load Linux on an XBox and attach a CD writer, USB mouse, kbd etc., is it still worth the trouble?

    The more I read such articles, the more I get the feeling MS is DESPARATE to sell these XBoxen. Does the /. crowd think that anything done against the DMCA is a worthy pursuit? Sharing files maybe, reverse engineering maybe, but Linux on the XBox - certainly not for me.
    • by JimDabell ( 42870 )

      Why fiddle around with a $200 XBox and load Linux on it after circumventing a 100 security holes, when a Linux PC can be had for the same price on Walmart?

      Apart from the fact that people who already own xboxes don't have to fork out for a new computer, the big thing is third-party software, as far as I can see. If there was an easy, fully functioning Linux port to the xbox, you could write a game, or any other kind of application, and have it run on an xbox without any kind of licensing from Microsof

      • "you could write a game, or any other kind of application, and have it run on an xbox without any kind of licensing from Microsoft."

        If I had that much intelligence, I wouldn't be playing those games myself, I'd probably do it for fun on my own XBox (DMCA and MS don't apply) or for money. How many good programmers do you know who spend their time on frivolous things like games? People who write code, including game code, are generally introvert and their primary motivation is to sell the code for money.

        • People who write code, including game code, are generally introvert and their primary motivation is to sell the code for money.

          Apart from the fact that this is a blanket statement with nothing to back it up, there seems to be plenty of people who share code freely without any expectation of getting paid. And you seem to have missed the "or any other kind of application" bit of my post, despite quoting it. Think of webtv-type applications, for example.

    • Re:I'm wondering... (Score:5, Informative)

      by DarkZero ( 516460 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2003 @06:44AM (#5742713)
      Geeks that hate Microsoft and put Linux on their XBox are not likely to buy XBox games and play them. Microsoft loses money on every XBox sold and only makes a profit from you if you buy more than four or five games over the life of the system.

      So no, this isn't a ploy by Microsoft to sell XBoxes to people that aren't going to buy games with them. That doesn't make sense.

      As for the price of a modded XBox, check the last story on XBox modding. We went over it with a fine tooth comb and found that modding a used XBox is somewhat cheaper than buying a fresh, weak Linux PC, but only if you don't need more functionality than a modded XBox can offer (games, server, media player, Xbox game machine, fun toy, and nothing else).
      • Re:I'm wondering... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2003 @07:13AM (#5742766) Journal
        "Microsoft loses money on every XBox sold and only makes a profit from you if you buy more than four or five games over the life of the system."

        I find this assumption highly questionable. Profit and Loss are complex to determine, especially with intangible commodities around. Consider the foll. items under profit and loss for the XBox:

        1. Every XBox sold adds to the installed base and is a potential for upgrades and service.
        2. Free testing of the security and robustness of the system by the user-base.
        3. Access to workarounds, cracks, mod-chips and 'other' games on the XBox - avbl in the market.
        4. Time lost by /.ers, OpenSousce folks and others debating about the XBox - priceless! :-)
        5. Delays to Open Source projects caused by distracted and otherwise talented gamers :-)

        Losses (dubious):
        1. A questionable and meagre loss on the sale of the hardware.

        The profits far outweigh the losses, IMO.
        • Microsoft lost about $200 per box when it first came out. With the economy of scale, they may lose more, but they have also lowered the price, so it is probably either a wash or may be halved ($100). Your profits of 1 through 5 don't add up to $20 let alone $200, unless the geeks also buy a bunch of games. THINK ABOUT IT!!! If it added to their profit, they would ACTIVELY ENCOURAGE hacking and provide tools and assistance for you to do it! There would be plethora of modding accessories and books endorsed
    • I agree that XBox is worthless if all you want to do is run Linux. I'd much rather spend money on a PC. What are you going to do with only 64 MB of RAM (that is shared between CPU and video card)?

      I don't think this is all a big ploy by MS, but it's possible, and I'm sure they're certainly taking all these factors into consideration. I tend to be very skeptical about the stories of MS losing money on the XBox. Even if it were true, you could compare it to them not making money on Windows. People pirate
  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2003 @06:08AM (#5742643) Homepage

    Just like Michael Moore has done with Stupid White Men, he moved to Penguin because they gave him the support against the corporate heavyweights.

    And of course he could just publish it as an ebook on the internet.
    • by PerryMason ( 535019 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2003 @07:06AM (#5742754)
      Unfortunately with the DMCA, you can be arrested wherever it is that you disseminated the breach as long as you set foot on American soil. Just ask Dmitry Sklyarov. He published his work while living in Russia and only got arrested when visiting the States.

      I'd imagine that Andrew Huang would rather not leave the US never to return. He seems to have a pretty sweet deal with MIT atm, which I'm sure he doesnt want to give up and he also seems to be a pretty clued in guy. I can't see him pushing it if MS come down heavy.
  • Cool Article (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2003 @06:14AM (#5742655)

    The xbox is slightly changed around a bit from version to version. Not really sophisticated stuff but they do shuffle the pcb layout a little to keep chippers guessing for a couple of minutes. Mostly to cut costs I would suspect.

    The reality is, that if they closed up the D0 line on the bios chips they would be quite a large step closer to removing the ability for modchips to be used. Most of the chips implicitly rely on pulling D0 to ground.

    Even though this MIT guy is cool and talks about some decent things you can hardly blame microsoft for trying to shut the guy up. At the end of the day every person that has ever wanted a modchip from me has wanted it for piracy - not so he can have a fabulous webserver etc.

    • Re:Cool Article (Score:2, Informative)

      by Troed ( 102527 )
      The change between v1.0 (mostly hacked by bunnie) and v1.1 (hacked by Andy Green, myself and a bunch of other guys) was significant. They went from a system that trusted the bus in the Xbox to actively try to encrypt and hash all communication between the MCPX and the bios - and they only failed because the used TEA instead of XTEA for the hashing of the FBL. (TEA has a fatal flaw when used for hashing - but this has been known since -97 .. )

      Microsoft most probably use the LPC-bus together with grounding

  • Ironic... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blincoln ( 592401 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2003 @06:17AM (#5742662) Homepage Journal
    ...that US publishers now feel like they can't distribute books on hacking hardware, despite the array of them on other topics like:

    - Building unlicensed automatic weapons and explosive devices [firequest.com]

    - Converting post-ban assault rifles for fully-automatic operation [firequest.com]

    - Breaking and entering [paladin-press.com]

    - Creating a counterfeit identity [paladin-press.com]

    I guess it's like the view that violence in a film is more appropriate for a wide audience than sexual content.
  • Looking back... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WegianWarrior ( 649800 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2003 @06:37AM (#5742695) Journal

    ..this reminds me - for no clear reason - on the controversy surrounding PGP when it was first written. While it was illegal to export the code in binary form (ie as a file) as it was considered a mution, it was quite allright to print out a stack of paper and send it abroad, letting some poor sod punch it all back in.

    No, I know this isn't like that, but I'm reminded of it, that's all. Possible because the information already is 'out in the wild', but can't be 'officialy' published.

  • If this was about the information getting out there, it could (for instance) be put up on GNUtella or somesuch anonymously.

    No, this is about profiting from the adventure. Even pre-DMCA, this was a no-no.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Int User.Rights=0
    Int Corporate.Rights=-100

    if(User.Location=="USA" || User.Assets.Cash.Value<1000000){
    while(Goverment.People.Representation<Goverment.Pe ople.Representation)
    User.Rights -=1;
    Corporate.Rights +=10;
    else {
    Corporate.Rights = Corporate.Rights;
  • by abhikhurana ( 325468 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2003 @07:23AM (#5742792)
    A quick googling reveals that even though Wiley has refused to publish the book, you can still pre order it at Bunnie's website[http://www.xenatera.com/hackingthexbox/ind ex.html]. You can even see a sample of the chapters on the site. Whats more, he is even using the rejection by Wiley as a plank to sell the book.
    To quote from his site:
    "A book so controversial that publishers are afraid to print it!"
    "Hurry and get "Hacking the Xbox" before Microsoft does!"
    According to the site, the book is shipping in May ( year not specified though :-) )
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Apparently he can't get his how-to book published do to fears with DMCA"

    Apparently, /. can't publish a readable article do to its inability to understand elementary school grammer. Cripes.
  • It seem like every week we have a post about XBox hacking? Why? Consoles have always been hacked. Apparently hacking the XBox is "cool" and is a good thing because it "hurts" Microsoft. 95% of those people installing mod-chips are still pirates and they hurt the sofware industry in general. There is nothing "cool" about copying software.
  • by Quila ( 201335 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2003 @09:06AM (#5743170)
    This man can't publish a book for fear of some type of prosecution. In another lawsuit against the DMCA, this could be cited as an example of how the DMCA is effectively exercising prior restraint to publishing, and in actuality creating a chilling effect.

    Judges do not take kindly to the words "prior restraint" or "chilling effect" as there is ample Supreme Court precedent firmly against both. An event such as this could help turn the tide of a future DMCA challenge.

    And this isn't internet, it's the publishing of good old dead-tree books that judges can understand.
    • Judges do not take kindly to the words "prior restraint" or "chilling effect"

      Oh if only it were so [slashdot.org].

      • That was a case of engineering, of an academic exercise, and luddite judges don't understand that stuff. This is in reference to publishing a hard-copy book. Our judicial system has always frowned upon preventing the publication of books.

        Now if Edelman had done the research and was stopped from publishing a book about it, the cases would be approximately equal. Didn't he know it's better to ask forgiveness than permission?
  • In the article, there is reference to that poor soul recently nabbed for selling mod chips. Now his domain name is the property of the US Gov't. Check it out. [isonews.com]

    The article also lists four other sites (drug paraphenalia sites 1 [pipesforyou.com] 2 [colorchangingglass.com] 3 [420now.com] 4 [omnilounge.com]) which are blocked by the DEA. Interesting part, click them, now the DEA, FBI whoever knows you checked them out. Disturbing.

    So, I made sure I connected to all these links. It would be nice if other people did this too because a high volume of random connects, will essentially make data collection worthless. Anyone know more of these?

The reason computer chips are so small is computers don't eat much.