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Simson Garfinkel

A View from Simson Garfinkel

SunnComm Threatened to Sue Princeton Student for $10M...

… for revealing that the shift key will defeat its copy protection on MediaMax CDs.I am not making this up! According to an article by Tony Smith in The Register (a publication that you should be reading), SunComm has threatened…

  • October 10, 2003

… for revealing that the shift key will defeat its copy protection on MediaMax CDs.

I am not making this up! According to an article by Tony Smith in The Register (a publication that you should be reading), SunComm has threatened to sue Alex Halderman for revealing that the Windows autorun facility doesn’t run if you hold down the shift key when inserting a CD.

The company claimed that this “shift key” technique was a violation of the anti-circumvention terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. (It probably was, given how poorly the act is written.)

For people who haven’t been following this, you should know that the companies that have licensed this technology, including BMG, thought that people would be deterred if an Autorun program runs when they insert the CD into their computer to “rip” it.

(“Rip” stands for Raster Image Processing, and it’s actually a term from the prepress industry, but don’t get me started. Lawmakers think that the term means “rip off.”)

In any event, other anti-computer CD measures have had similar failings, like the technology that could be defeated with a magic marker.

Sigh. Don’t the record companies realize that if you are going to put high-value content on an unprotected, unencrypted legacy media designed in the 1970s, people are going to help themselves to it?

More importantly, don’t they realize that it is our music once we buy it?

Well, the good news is that SunnComm changed its mind a day later, according to this News.Com article by Declan McCullagh.

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