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SunnComm Says Pointing to Shift Key 'Possible Felony' 1217

The Importance of writes "A couple of weeks ago BMG released an audio CD with a new type of DRM. Earlier this week, a computer science graduate student at Princeton wrote a report showing the DRM was ineffective - it could easily be defeated by use of the 'shift' key. The stock of the DRM company (SunnComm) has since fallen by 20%. Now, SunnComm plans to sue the student under the DMCA and claim that SunnComm's reputation has been falsely damaged. According to SunnComm's CEO, 'No matter what their credentials or rationale, it is wrong to use one's knowledge and the cover of academia to facilitate piracy and theft of digital property.'"
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SunnComm Says Pointing to Shift Key 'Possible Felony'

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  • by jamie ( 78724 ) * <> on Thursday October 09, 2003 @06:57PM (#7177356) Journal
    I think these two websites were separated at birth: [] []

    • I was power-browsing, and went to open a few new windows... unfortunately I was in IE at the moment. And on my window. So I wound up with multiple windows going at the same time... talk about some trippy echo effects. I'm going home now.
    • Heh... that's hilarious. It almost sounds like they got MojoJojo to do the voice over. Now that would rock.

      And sunncomm's site? Holy jesus, that's ugly. It looks like one of those garish monstrosities from when the web was first blessed with the "<blink>" tag. How could anyone take that flashy garbage seriously?

      And I really want to know if there's like a class or something that everyone takes in design school, titled "How to use stock pictures of overenthusiastic women with fisheye distortion t
  • he-he (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 09, 2003 @06:58PM (#7177362)
    told ya []

    Precedence set by Sklyarov trial.
    • Microsoft's how to for disabling autorun []. This how-to is also quoted as a link in the original publication and holding down the shift key is probably easier for most people but its fun to make sure that all those who would circumvent the DMCA are known to the appropriate authorities. (Bill should call his lawyer)
  • Perfect test case... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by citabjockey ( 624849 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @06:58PM (#7177363) Homepage
    to see if DMCA really has merit in the courts. This is so nutty its unbelievable.
    • by Smidge204 ( 605297 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:02PM (#7177430) Journal
      No, I can believe it... 'Rediculous' would be a better word. Why don't they sue Microsoft for making the Shift key circumvent the auto-run feature to begin with?

      In a sensable world, they would have to prove beyond all doubt that the student made the report with full intention to facilitate piracy, and not simply "Hey guys, this software is crap and here's why"

      I hope they don't expect their stocks to go back up after filing this lawsuit!
      • by egburr ( 141740 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:05PM (#7177481) Homepage
        I have auto-run turned off. I did it with tweakui which microsoft provided. I assume this means the CD will always be easily copyable on my computer with the extra effort of holding down the shift key. It sure was nice of microsoft to provide me with this nifty circumvention.
        • by jawtheshark ( 198669 ) * <slashdot@jawth e s> on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:14PM (#7177616) Homepage Journal
          I don't need TweakUI for that. Using regedit just does fine:

          HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Servic es\Cdrom

          Set the Autorun key to 0. Done. One of the first things I do on any machine I install or have to use. I absolutely hate Autorun and find it one of the most useless "innovations" of the last decade.

          • by Anonymous Coward
            Expect to be sued tomorrow.
          • by ConceptJunkie ( 24823 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:38PM (#7178563) Homepage Journal
            No, that award would go either to "peronsalized" or "randomly hidden" menus, or even worse the Angry Fruit Salad that is the Windows XP default user interface (code name: Playskool)

            No, wait, the real winner is hiding file extensions by default. _That's_ the most useless innovation.

            New user: Gee, there's three icons called "setup". I don't know what these cryptic little icons mean.

            Microsoft: But file extensions are confusing, and at Microsoft we stole^h^h^h^h^h learned a trick from Apple: Anything that confuses the user should simply be hidden.

            New User: Then explain why you completely and arbitrarily rearrange Windows configuration every two years. And what about wireless setup on XP... it's cryptic _and_ useless. Why can't _that_ be easy?!

            Microsoft: Shut up, that's why!

          • I rather like autorun - it does exactly what it should do, which is save me a step when I put a CD in the tray. If I suspect there's something on the CD that I don't want to run, I hold shift. That saves me far more time than mousing around to run a program that'll access my CD - EVERY TIME I insert a CD.

            It's certainly not a useless innovation. I reserve that honor for the Object Packager application from Windows 3.1 .

        • I use Linux. I eagerly await my court summons.
        • My linux install doesn't have an autorun feature. Do I need to install extra software to enable their copy protection.
        • ' It sure was nice of microsoft to provide me with this nifty circumvention."

          Too bad the circumvention came before the protection scheme.
          • by GreyPoopon ( 411036 ) < minus language> on Thursday October 09, 2003 @10:01PM (#7179199)
            Too bad the circumvention came before the protection scheme.

            You've latched onto something important. Everybody is focusing on how idiotic suing someone over the shift key is, but they haven't read the original paper. The paper is chock full of an explanations about how to defeat the copy protection scheme. Prime fodder for trial by DMCA. However, since the copy-protection scheme relies on a mechanism within windows that has historically been frequently disabled by many users, the history of such may be used in defense of the author. The author did not actually do anything to disable the copy protection. He merely pointed out that protection method wouldn't work on a significant number of machines right out of the box.

    • This is so nutty its unbelievable.

      That's not coffee!!!
    • by stwrtpj ( 518864 ) <p,stewart&comcast,net> on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:26PM (#7177790) Journal
      to see if DMCA really has merit in the courts. This is so nutty its unbelievable.

      What's really insane is that they are actually using the stock market to justify the damages they supposedly endured. Any judge with any ounce of sense will reject this as bullshit. The market is so damn volatile these days that you cannot use it as evidence unless it could be proven that the accused performed actions specifically to manipulate the market.

      If the market did go down because of his actions, it was only because investors saw the company had a crappy product to begin with and it was only a matter of time anyway.

  • by Mr Guy ( 547690 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @06:58PM (#7177376) Journal
    April fools in October feeling? Slashdot poll: Initial reaction to SunnComm's suit: 1) You've got to be fucking kidding me? 2) You've got to be fucking kidding me? 3) You've got to be fucking kidding me? 4) You've got to be fucking kidding me? 5) Cowbody Neal has got to be fucking kidding me?!
    • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:06PM (#7177490)
      > [Ever get that] April fools in October feeling? Slashdot poll: Initial reaction to SunnComm's suit: 1) You've got to be fucking kidding me? 2) You've got to be fucking kidding me? 3) You've got to be fucking kidding me? 4) You've got to be fucking kidding me? 5) Cowbody Neal has got to be fucking kidding me?!

      1) What the fuck?
      2) What the fucking fuck?
      3) What the fucking fuck fuck?
      4) Cowboy Neal doesn't even know what the fucking fuck fuck

      (I have no point, I just like banging my head against the desk, screaming "What the fucking fuck fuck?" at the top of my lungs)

    • Re:Ever get that (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EinarH ( 583836 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:16PM (#7177643) Journal
      The worst part is this:
      No matter what their credentials or rationale, it is wrong to use one's knowledge and the cover of academia to facilitate piracy and theft of digital property.'
      I just want to copy the CD I BOUGHT.

      one's knowledge and the cover of academia
      So becasue some grad student discovered this in "academica" it should have been kept as a secret?

      cover of academia to facilitate piracy
      Yes, we all belive that what he really wanted was to commit "piracy" not to expose some stupid non-working restrictions technology.

      theft of digital property. For the umteenth time: Copyright infringement is not theft.

      This must be The Most Erroneous and Counterfactual statement of the year.
      Darl McBride had some nice rants but this is a masterpiece.

    • Don't worry, they couldn't sue themselves (they'd have to borrow even more money). This is a completely pointless threat! Their web site pulls up a disclaimer upon loading [] that informs you that the company hasn't made any money (probably up to their eyebrows in debt) and they're under their rights not to report to any stock purchasers just how much they've lost until they break even (if ever). The CEO of the company acknowledges that buying their stock is a risk of losing your entire investment in it.

    • Option #6 (Score:5, Funny)

      by Genjurosan ( 601032 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:12PM (#7178299)
      6) Use the information provided in the article and call:

      SunnComm Technologies Inc., Phoenix
      Kimberly Faulkner, 602-267-7500

      and express... "You've got to be fucking kidding me?"
  • by Lieutenant_Dan ( 583843 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @06:59PM (#7177380) Homepage Journal
    After all they built in the ability to bypass the Autorun feature.

  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @06:59PM (#7177382) Homepage
    They're just mad they were found out to be dummies with a broken product, and that their share price dropped 20% when Wall Streeties discovered they were dummies. Solution: sue the guy who said, "the Emperor has no clothes!"

    Stop the ride. I want off.
    • by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:18PM (#7177672) Homepage
      They're just mad they were found out to be dummies with a broken product, and that their share price dropped 20% when Wall Streeties discovered they were dummies. Solution: sue the guy who said, "the Emperor has no clothes!"

      Good analogy. I'm not sure if your Emperor and tailor are the same as mine though. My Emperor is all of the music studios, and the tailor is all the companies peddling this useless DRM crap to them. What amazes me is that the studios don't (or won't) see the way that they are being duped in the same way as the Emperor of the fable.

      Let's face it, a CD with DRM must still work on an audio CD player, no matter what, or there point is no point in producing the CD in the first place, although for some of the pap being pushed at present that would not be a bad thing, but I digress... That means that the raw CD audio data must be accessible to a CD audio drive. If it's accessible to a CD audio drive, then it must *also* be readable as raw data by a CD ROM drive (which is often the same thing anyway), even if you have to resort to a raw sector read. If you can read the CD audio data, then you can create a copy, and guess what? It's just raw audio data! Open it your favorite audio editor as 16bit, 44.1KHz stereo raw audio and you can MP3/OGG it, save it as WAV and burn to CDR, whatever.

      Then again, this is the same industry that's allowing its trade association to sue its own customers. As was pointed out [] earlier today, this tactic didn't work too well against Henry Ford either. Hopefully this latest debacle might encourage them to see the light, but somehow I doubt it very much indeed.

    • by kylus ( 149953 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:40PM (#7177931) Homepage
      Bingo. Do what I did: call them and tell them you think this is bullshit. Office phone: 602-267-7500 Email:

      Tell them what I told them: the use of the DMCA against a student who exercised his right to free speech and his right to publish an academic paper has made me strongly decide not to invest in their company, and tell most people I know to avoid their stock like the plague.

      On a side note, wasn't the DMCA supposed to specifically protect academic research? Of course this same question was asked when SDMI pulled this shit too, so I guess we all know the answer.

    • by EinarH ( 583836 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:47PM (#7177988) Journal
      It will be very interesting to see if the DCMA can protect the company from this (and future) disclosure(s). That could indicate that a company with a degraded product can be protected from accusation and disclosure if that hurts them financially.

      If the stock market and their customers don't react to this, but instead accept this as "normal business practise" they could continue to sell their products. Over time this would lead to a sustainable environment for companies that in a "normal" society would have been put out of business.

      If on apply some normal sense of economic theory competition should have lead them to bankruptcy but with the music industry they might be able to coexist. For a while.

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @06:59PM (#7177384)

    1. Market defective product
    2. Watch the news
    3. Sue the messenger
    4. Profit!

    This one seems to be a sure thing; no question marks required.

  • So I guess... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ( 156602 ) * on Thursday October 09, 2003 @06:59PM (#7177386) Homepage Journal
    No matter what their credentials or rationale, it is wrong to use one's knowledge and the cover of academia to facilitate piracy and theft of digital property.

    Magic markers and shift keys asside, I guess using a "slim-jim" to gain access to one's own car is wrong too. The car door was certianly never designed to allow entry using this method. Where's the DMCA when you really need it??

    They obviously have no case, but is there a way for Hamilton to effectively defend himself in case it's allowed to go to trial?
    • Re:So I guess... (Score:5, Informative)

      by EngMedic ( 604629 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:27PM (#7177798) Homepage
      yes there is. he specifically states in his paper that he never agreed to the EULA for the DRM program -- he actually states that he can only speculate on it's inner workings because he never installed the thing.

      so basically, he's being sued even though he didn't do anything to their DRM software at all.
  • Just a guess... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tkrotchko ( 124118 ) * on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:00PM (#7177390) Homepage
    But don't you think this is an attempt at intimidation rather than a real lawsuit? In otherwords, SunnComm knows they can't win, but it looks like they're defending themselves, plus it will prevent other people from even discussing SunnComm for fear of being sued.

    I mean, a judge would have to be wacky to find for the SunnComm if only because:

    1) Microsoft published these directions to bypass the SunnComm protection years ago
    2) The publishing of opinions is generally considered freedom of the press isn't it?

    My first reaction is that this is an April Fool's joke, except its the wrong time of year.

    • Re:Just a guess... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by stevew ( 4845 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:17PM (#7177665) Journal
      That is a BIG assumption saying they can't win!

      Tell that to Dmitry and his employer!

      I think this might be just the case to take to the congress and point too as something that "chills free speech" Those are 1st Amendment fighting words that MAYBE they'll pay attention too!

      But then I believe in the easter bunny too.
    • Re:Just a guess... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Awptimus Prime ( 695459 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:41PM (#7177942)
      I agree with the parent on this. They would be stupid not to file some kind of litigation on this kid. The insiders have to put the brakes on that stock slide ASAP or they will be looking for new jobs in a month or two.

      I know it sucks for the kid who felt all smart about writing his paper, but that's how f*cked our market is right now. If you do anything to hurt any business entity, no matter how silly the issue, expect it to spend resources on trying to make an example out of you.

      By the wording of the DMCA, yes, even suggesting how to defeat that pitiful copy protection is illegal. 'Circumvention' doesn't have to be complex lines of code. It can be and is something this simple. This law has got to go. I am amazed at how little mass media coverage it's gotten. It's one of those issues that isn't just 'geek', it's a serious rights issue that can impact people in ludicrous situations like this one.

      Now, I would just like to be able to legally remove the CD check from my Battlefield 1942 installation. I've got a $450 DVD burner and wasting it's spin-life while the damned game makes sure I'm not stealing every MP game launch and every level change. Have a little respect for me for a change, why don't ya?

  • by MadCow42 ( 243108 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:00PM (#7177394) Homepage
    For gross incompetence... !

    Please tell me this is a "Friday FUnny" (ahead of schedule) or something like that...

    However it could be a good thing: if the DMCA is used to protect this type of trash, people will see it for what it is and MAYBE the law will be shot down for being too broad by protecting dumb-ass business models.

    If the DMCA prevents me from telling someone how to use A BASIC FEATURE OF WINDOWS to prevent malware from being run on my computer, then I'm moving to a different country. (Oh wait, I already did... my VISA ran out!) :)

  • by badasscat ( 563442 ) <basscadet75@y a h o o . com> on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:00PM (#7177400)
    Welp, my letter to Hillary Clinton has already been fired off. Not that my letter alone will do anything, but it's time for people to at least do something, anything at all to try to put a stop to crap like this under the guise of the DMCA. Write to your congress-people, donate to the EFF and ACLU, vote for candidates based on their stances on technology issues rather than their standing in Hollywood... I mean whatever. Get the movement started, for god's sake. This is getting completely out of hand at this point. The USSR is alive and kicking when it's a "felony" to talk about using the shift key on your keyboard. (No Soviet Russia jokes please - I am being totally serious.)
  • yeah, yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thomas.galvin ( 551471 ) <> on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:01PM (#7177412) Homepage
    No matter what their credentials or rationale, it is wrong to use one's knowledge and the cover of academia to facilitate piracy and theft of digital property."

    No matter the organization or rationale, it is wrong to use purchased legislation and the cover of law to deprive people of their rights.

    No matter the organization or rationale, it is wrong to use purchased legislation and the cover of law to hide the fact that your product is shoddy, and very likely will not work as advertised.

    No matter the organization or rationale, it is wrong to use purchased legislation and the cover of law to exagerate the dammage caused by saying 'hold the shift key.'

    But who's counting?
  • by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:02PM (#7177421)

    Try telling people that they're not allowed to make copies, or allow copies to be made.

    If anyone lets loose with the secret that hearing a request doesn't force one to obey it, sue 'em under the DMCA. After that, anyone who doesn't obey you is obviously using a circumvention device (their brain), which you can have confiscated by the authorities.

  • This is nuts (Score:3, Informative)

    by phoneyman ( 706381 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:03PM (#7177442)
    Disabling autorun via the use of the Shift key is pretty well known, isn't it?

    I recall a post on /. pointing out that the use of the Shift key would probably disable this kind of copy "protection" when the story about this "system" was first posted.

  • by wembley ( 81899 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:03PM (#7177444) Homepage
    Everyone knows Apple was using the key to disable system extensions years before MS was.

    After all, how else could you defeat the Oscar the Grouch in the Trash can?

  • by Bull999999 ( 652264 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:06PM (#7177488) Journal
    SunComm sues Linux users because its software won't run on Linux based OSes.

    SunnComm CEO: They ought to recomplie the kernel with the support for our software because we all know that you are a pirate if you use any OSes that doesn't use DRM.

    On the other news, SCO sues SunnComm because SunnComm has letters S C O in it and also for violating SCO's patent on stupid lawsuits.
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) * on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:06PM (#7177494)
    The CD that you buy is a music CD. Yet the protected CD actually installs a driver on the target computer without the user knowing - there is another type of program that behaves in this way. It's called a virus (ok, really a trojan) and generally the authors get jail terms. Let's try and do the same for these SunnComm people.

  • Chilling effect (Score:5, Insightful)

    by overshoot ( 39700 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:08PM (#7177525)
    There was much rejoicing in civil liberties circles.

    Here is something that a judge will actually understand: a graduate student publishing a plain-English report of research into DRM being sued (and bankrupted) under the DMCA for pointing out a shift key.

    • No Eeeeeeevil "hackers" at 2600
    • No that-can't-be-speech "code"
    • No funny Commie (Russian) names
    • Nothing for sale, even speculatively
    This is the test case we've been waiting for.
  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TyrranzzX ( 617713 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:10PM (#7177555) Journal
    Since by pressing the shift key you keep autorun from installing an application, by NOT installing a piece of software on my computer, I am breaking the law?

    This case will answer the question; if you uninstall something, or refuse to install something, does that constitute as a circumvention of the security of digital media (meaning, if you don't view it with a certain app), and hence, is it a felony? This could go as far as to say that by opening a Game cd with the explore function in windows that you are circunventing the copy protection schemes of the game by viewing the raw content, such as movies, without agreeing to the eula (generally, a 2nd time around thanks to package lisencing). Could Trillian be considered circumvention of MS's MSN messanger service? How rediculously far do they want to take this?

    This case is different than skylov's case. Skylov went ahead and (I believe this is the one) broke Adobe's encryption schemes and published the weakness. This is a direct, purposful circumvention. Now we're extending the law to accidental and really nitpicky issues, and forcing the user to do certain things without even really telling them.

    And just think of what corperations like microsoft will do with stuff like this. "Since they had linux installed and since linux ignores autorun, they circumvented the cd copy protection." Can we say "Fok me"? They're getting so far away from what people think is right and wrong. It's getting real ugly now, I'm curious if they'll set a precident for or against the people and how far they'll go with this before they start outright revoltes. Pretty soon cd's will have all kinds of protection schemes, and users won't buy them because they can't do what they want with them. They'll still go for the indie cd's and stuff their friends burn for em'. For those who aren't interent savvy, I hope they have internet savvy friends to teach them.

    Remember this guys, help your buddies, get them setup with p2p apps and talk with them. Teach them how to use a computer.
  • by Dirtside ( 91468 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:12PM (#7177593) Journal
    Well, at the very least, their case doesn't hold water -- the DMCA requires that whatever the "device" is that you traffic in that lets you bypass encryption (whether it be a physical device, information, etc.), that device must not have substantial noninfringing uses in order to be illegal under the DMCA. Pointing out that the SHIFT key can be used to bypass encryption is absolutely NO different than pointing out that you can use a hammer to break into someone's car. SunnComm hasn't got a leg to stand on.

    This doesn't mean, however, that they won't abuse the court system in the usual ways and come out on top -- but at least we know that cheating is the only way they can win.
  • by Bull999999 ( 652264 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:13PM (#7177597) Journal
    I guess it's time for MS to get sued! Below is for Win 9x, and ME. SUMMARY

    This article describes how to disable the feature that allows CD-ROMs and audio compact discs (CDs) to run automatically when you insert them in your CR-ROM drive.


    How to Disable the Feature That Allows CD-ROMs and Audio CDs to Run Automatically

    To disable the feature that allows CD-ROMs and audio CDs to run automatically:

    Click Start, point to Settings, click Control Panel, and then double-click System.

    Double-click the CDROM branch on the Device Manager tab, and then double-click the entry for your CD-ROM drive.

    On the Settings tab, click to clear the Auto Insert Notification check box.

    Click OK, click Close, and then click Yes when you are prompted to restart your computer.
  • by ChuckleBug ( 5201 ) * on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:14PM (#7177621) Journal
    They're saying that if he had read their stupid Whitepaper he would see that the incredibly obvious shift key workaround wouldn't really have been one? What are they smoking?

    It's as if someone said you can secure your house by tying the door shut with a piece of twine in a bowknot. When people happen to notice you can bypass this fortification by tugging on the knot, the "knot idea" man tells you you'd see that conclusion is erroneous if you read the knots section of the Boy Scout Handbook.

    What really boggles the mind is this:

    Concluded Jacobs, "This cat-and-mouse game that hackers and others like to play with owners of digital property is over..."

    Holding down SHIFT is HACKING? You can't even point out an obvious flaw anymore? "We want to make lame-ass, shitty software, and don't you DARE point that out!"
  • by sakusha ( 441986 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:17PM (#7177659)
    STEH currently sells at 11 cents per share, a 20% drop means it's down from 15 cents. This is a low-end penny stock, almost completely worthless even before the alleged "damage." Any amateur spammer could move this stock more than 4 cents with even a badly executed pump and dump.
  • by ShawnDoc ( 572959 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:18PM (#7177667) Homepage
    After reading all of this, I have another one of my stupid questions. The "copy protection" software is a .dll that autoplays when one of their "protected" cd's is inserted. This .dll I'm assuming continues to run, even after you have removed their "protected" CD. So will this .dll prevent you from copying/ripping CDs that are not "protected" or does it somehow know which CDs to "protect"? Will this .dll interfere with other software that uses your CD-ROM drive?

    If it does interefere with other programs that use the CD-ROM drive, can't the government prosecute them for terrorist activity now that hacking has been declared a terrorist activity? After all, they've created a program that tricks users into executing it and is designed to damage the computer's normal functions.

  • Legal defense fund? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:19PM (#7177695)
    Does this guy have a legal defense fund? If he does, I'll gladly donate the $25 I was going to spend on CDs this month.

    Oh wait, make that CD. You can't buy two CDs for only $25.
  • by ottffssent ( 18387 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:24PM (#7177759)
    From the article:
    "He said the company was also exploring a civil suit based on damage to the company's reputation, since Halderman concluded that the technology was ineffective without knowing about future enhancements."

    So 'future enhancements' make current technology effective? What kind of bullshit is that? That's like saying Windows is secure because it'll eventually be fixed, and there are millions of people whose computers got hit recently who know that's about as effective a security measure as the rhythm method.
    • In this case 'future enhancements' means that they are going to break into people's houses while their out and install the software on their computers for them.

      Anyone trying to uninstall the software afterwards will be in volation of the DMCA.
      Anyone reporting someone breaking into their home will be in violation of the USA PATRIOT Act.
  • by SeanTobin ( 138474 ) * <.byrdhuntr. .at.> on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:24PM (#7177765)
    Is there a new 'Corporate fuckups for dummies' book out that I haven't seen yet? RIAA, SCO, and now SunnComm seem to have all read the same book.
  • by eyv ( 636790 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:30PM (#7177831) Homepage
    I just called the company. I first talked to a woman whose name I did not get (she answered the phone), and she transferred me to someone else, who introduced himself as "Bill". I believe him to be the COO, Bill Whitmore. We had a rather long conversation about the press release and how SunnComm feels about the information being published. Yes, they did "threaten" Alex with DMCA charges, and they may or may not report this for investigation, but from what Bill told me, they have no plans to file suit against Alex Halderman. I'm not sure if Bill agreed with me that the press release was rather extreme in its implications, but I think he acknowledged something to that fact. don't hold me to that. Bill did, however, seem upset that Alex did not contact the company first, before releasing this information to the world. Perhaps they would have threatened him, perhaps they would have offered him a chance to help fix the problem (Bill said the latter). I don't know. Bill also said that while "all software solutions can be bypassed", his company was trying to create a "licence system" for people to listen to their music legally, without "having to make copies" of it in an illegal manner. So, he said, this is not really a software anti-copying solution, but more of a licence framework for the use of the music. That was what was said, to the best of my recollection.
  • by Experiment 626 ( 698257 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:33PM (#7177862)

    If anything should be illegal, it should be their shoddy technology. First, they create a CD that is obtensibly a music compact disc, but is in reality a CD-ROM that surreptitiously installs programs onto a user's computer without the computer owner's attempt, in a deliberate attempt to sabotage the functionality of the computer. This is what is known as a "virus"*.

    Then they present this ill-concieved technology to their clients and shareholders as some sort of panacea, knowing all the while that it is utterly ineffective. This is what is known as "fraud".

    To top off their audacity, they then threaten a lawsuit against the researcher who alerted the public to this fraud. This is completely ridiculous. What next, a medical researcher's tests prove that Quack Corp.'s Snake Oil does not really enlarge your penis, so the researcher is sent to prison?

    This is a technology that is dependent on an unrealistic number of constraints. If the user of the CD is running Windows AND has autorun turned on AND doesn't press the shift key while putting the disc in AND allows the SunnComm virus to infect their computer AND leaves it running AND tries to copy the music, it won't work, otherwise it will. Oops I just pointed out how flawed their scheme is too, I guess that's a "possible felony"


    * To be pedantic it's more of a trojan than a virus because the malicious code does not self-replicate beyond installing from the disc, but you get the idea.

  • by 11223 ( 201561 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:37PM (#7177899)
    i don't know about you, but i am in total compliance with the dmca in this case
  • Executive dumping? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by realdpk ( 116490 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @07:38PM (#7177917) Homepage Journal
    How on earth [] did someone manage to sell about 250,000 shares for a dollar a piece (that's what it looks like anyways) when the stock is worth a dime.
  • Ownership, again (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gornar ( 572285 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:23PM (#7178419)
    Directly after the quoted text in the submission, the article reads, "SunnComm is taking a stand here because we believe that those who own property, whether physical or digital, have the ultimate authority over how their property is used."
    I agree. The problem here is that the idea of ownership is simply not defined properly in modern american law. It has suddenly become legal, in the last few years, for companies to sell me products to which they retain ownership. If this problem is corrected, and consumers are given rights to the products they buy, a large portion of this DMCA nonsense would evaporate.
  • by saikou ( 211301 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:27PM (#7178462) Homepage
    "By opening this CD case you agree to be bound by the license and pay us one million dollars for each stupid lawsuit we can file against you for using our product"
    Now that'd be a comprehensive EULA.
    Though I probably should not give them any ideas... :)
  • by dackroyd ( 468778 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @08:34PM (#7178527) Homepage
    Can someone please remind me why this is not a criminal act of sabotage ?

    Paraphrasing via the Register

    "He found that when the disc was first inserted, it auto-installs a device driver that subsequently interferes with attempts to
    copying the songs on the CD.

    '"The driver examines each CD placed in the machine, and when it recognizes the protected title, it actively interferes with read
    operations on the audio content,'"

    From the Computer Misuse Act 8_en_2.htm#mdiv3:

    "3.-(1) A person is guilty of an offence if-
    (a) he does any act which causes an unauthorised modification of the contents of any computer; and
    (b) at the time when he does the act he has the requisite intent and the requisite knowledge.

    (2) For the purposes of subsection (1)(b) above the requisite intent is an intent to cause a modification of the contents of any
    computer and by so doing-
    (a) to impair the operation of any computer;"

    Unauthorised modification - check.
    Impairs the operation of the computer - check.
    Requisite intent and knowledge - check.

    But it is of course a crime being committed by a large company, so I guess it doesn't really count.....

    If anyone can tell me of any CDs that use this technology and are available in the UK, please let me know so that I can report these EvilDoers to the appropriate police department.

  • by Dagmar d'Surreal ( 5939 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @09:29PM (#7178945) Journal

    We tah ded.

    Considering that this is a documented feature of Windows which is has already been published all over the Internet as a quick way of squelching the AutoPlay feature and an attempt at a lawsuit on these grounds would have a snowball in Hell commenting, "Wow! That was over with fast". Searching for this information is ridiculously easy...

    Sample Google Search #1 []
    Sample Google Search #2 []

    ...and for once, a lawsuit clearly filed for the purposes of harassment is highly likely to result in a successful counter-suit for damages, simply by the fact that this is a documented feature of Windows. Demonstrating that SunnComm's suit had absolutely no merit on the basis that the information in question was already common knowledge should be a walk in the park.

    DMCA "Violation" #1 []
    DMCA "Violation" #2 []

    What makes this especially stupid is that they'll be suing someone who has very little (if any) money, although I imagine that may well change after the counter-suit. If the people at SunnComm weren't complete idiots, they'd go after someone who has money, like Jeffrey Richter, who writes books on using Windows as well as articles for the MSDN network and who already published this information in 1998.

    Yet Another DMCA "Violation" []

    I know what you're thinking right now, but even really stupid companies don't try to sue Microsoft over things this trivial.

  • about face (Score:4, Informative)

    by HoldenCaulfield ( 25660 ) on Thursday October 09, 2003 @09:46PM (#7179088) Journal
    interesting quote from this article []

    By publishing a "work around" for the CD copy protections, Halderman might have exposed himself to risk of procecution under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA.) SunComm president Peter Jacobs reports that they have no plans to pursue such a case, however, saying "this isn't one of the weighty issues of the world

    amazing how the position has changed so rapidly (the above article was from 10ish EDT on the 8th)
  • by Michael_Burton ( 608237 ) <> on Thursday October 09, 2003 @11:15PM (#7179736) Homepage

    I've seen the backwards .sigs, and the "ROT26-encoded" .sigs here, claiming that reading the .sig is a violation of the DMCA. I always thought those were jokes!

    But seriously, the greatest threat to the DMCA is friends like this. Every time the public sees the DMCA in action like this, the tide of popular support for repeal or reform will grow. Don't you think we owe SunnComm a debt of thanks for shedding light on the true nature of this abysmal law?

  • by Tokerat ( 150341 ) on Friday October 10, 2003 @02:43AM (#7180750) Journal

    Why don't you just sue Microsoft? They created Windows with this "don't load custom drivers" hole! Also, let's sue manual writers! I'm sure there has to be a manual somewhere which desctibes (IN DETAIL NO LESS) this method for circumventing CD security. And why don't we sue keyboard manufacturers, they're the ones who give users that fscking shift key IN THE FIRST PLACE!

    This company is just pissed that their half-assed solution to a problem that cannot be fixed by means of a technological barrier was so easily defeated. One keystroke...jesus...and they actually went ahead and spent the money on the R&D for this? Is ANYONE awake over there?

    They deserve what they got, and the RIAA should be pissed at them for pawning off this assinine scheme to them as a reasonable solution.

    PS: This makes me realize exactly how bad a law the DMCA is; It is an attempt to, by law, enforce security through obscurity. If answers are outlawed, then only outlaws will have answers.

Would you people stop playing these stupid games?!?!?!!!!