Category Archives: Your Rights

Music Enthusiast Becomes Music Pirate – His Story

Here's a neat story from the Consumerist about an enthusiast turned pirate and why.

I thought I was the music industry's dream consumer.

"You don't understand," I said, "These files were not copied or pirated, I actually purchased them."

"Well" she responded, "You didn't actually purchase the files, you really purchased a license to listen to the music, and the license is very specific about how they can be played or listened to."

Now I was baffled. "Records never came with any such restrictions," I said.

She replied, "Well they were supposed to, but we weren't able to enforce those licenses back then, and now we can"


Hope for RIAA Victims

One of the victims of the RIAA's bullying who fought back won an important victory today. The judge on her case decided that the RIAA must proceed with a jury trial or declare her the victor in the suit (which would likely result in an award of attorney fees for her).

This is important because it may expidite further lawsuits making it more viable for regular people to resist their scam tactics and putting an end to the industry of settlements that the RIAA has created.

The RIAA – Who They Are In a Nutshell

This is probably the best summary of who the RIAA is and what they stand for that I've ever heard:

The RIAA is like the Prohibitionists of old. In their view, the law cannot allow for something completely reasonable such as legal circumvention because it could be abused. Millions of people are thereby punished. Yet this is not how a civil society typically functions. Life is full of potentially dangerous products, services, and ideas. It's up to individuals to take responsibility for their actions, because we all know that catering to the lowest common denominator does not give birth to a free society, let alone an intelligent one. Yet the RIAA will stop at nothing to make sure that you and I never have the chance to make such decisions for ourselves.

By "legal circumvention", he refers to the the practice of circumventing Data Rights Management (DRM) for legal purposes such as making personal backup copies, educational uses, and other Fair Use practices. The RIAA is against it because they know that all it takes is one user with a DRM-free copy to post a song online for it to be shared everywhere in the world.

Here are some examples of the legal crap they sling:
RIAA Withdraws Case and Refiles It to Get Different Judge

Why DRM Matters To Normal People

From this page:

Most people don't care about DRM… until it interferes with the Right to Fair Use. If you buy any other product… be it a gun, a car, a chainsaw, a pen, or a knitting needle… you can do whatever the hell you want with it… because it is yours. DRM-protected content is the only product out there that prevents you from doing absolutely anything except for the original intent of the product. If I want to be able to move it to another machine that I own, shrink it for a handheld device, edit out the commercials (all things that the Right of Fair Use allows)… whatever… forget it. And THAT is what makes normal people mad about DRM.

Nice summary.

TSA’s Porno X-Ray Goes to Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport points to an article explaining that the backscatter x-ray will be fielded in Phoenix. This X-ray device can penetrate clothes, but not skin making a pornographic video of them. Yes this allows the TSA to see if you're carrying bombs or guns, but it also removes your clothing.

Update 5/22/2008

It turns out that the technology can be used as described, but the TSA has made taken very good steps towards handling much of the concern. Details in my post here.

Peer to Peer Filesharing Doesn’t Affect Music Sales

Though the RIAA would like you to believe it, it seems that P2P doesn't actually affect music sales at all. That's kind of embarassing for the RIAA who no longer has any justification for thier music property crusade.

Of course, I always said that most people who use P2P to get music wouldn't have bought the CDs in the first place. Therefore, the number of people who download music doesn't necessarily equal the number of CDs that would have been sold.

Schneier on Vista

Today on Schneier's blog, he describes in farily decent detail why the DRM in Windows Vista is bad.

Some choice bits:

And Vista continuously spends CPU time monitoring itself, trying to figure out if you're doing something that it thinks you shouldn't. If it does, it limits functionality and in extreme cases restarts just the video subsystem. We still don't know the exact details of all this, and how far-reaching it is, but it doesn't look good.

What the entertainment companies are finally realizing is that DRM doesn't work, and just annoys their customers. Like every other DRM system ever invented, Microsoft's won't keep the professional pirates from making copies of whatever they want. The DRM security in Vista was broken the day it was released.

In the meantime, the only advice I can offer you is to not upgrade to Vista. It will be hard. Microsoft's bundling deals with computer manufacturers mean that it will be increasingly hard not to get the new operating system with new computers. And Microsoft has some pretty deep pockets and can wait us all out if it wants to.

Beware Microsoft Vista’s Fine Print Says EFF

As law professor Michael Geist explains in a recent editorial, "In the name of shielding consumers from computer viruses and protecting copyright owners from potential infringement, Vista seemingly wrestles control of the 'user experience' from the user."

This is what I've been hearing again and again. Microsoft wants to control your use of their software. If an e-mail service refused e-mails from certain sources, would you use it? If they wouldn't let you check your e-mail from certain places, would you use it? If you had to pay an additional fee for each computer you used for mail, would you use it?

Vista may be a great product, but it can't survive under the weight of it's DRM restrictions.

More Vista Trouble

Apparently, Vista will not let you install on an empty hard drive with the "upgrade version" as previous versions of Windows did. This is a problem only for some, but it's significant.

What Microsoft is trying to do is convert their software market into a licensing market. This way, no one owns software, only licenses. As an analogy, assume you've purchased the ever so expensive xbox 360, but you're moving accross town next month. When you hook up the game system in the new place, it refuses to play games stating that you need to call Microsoft to purchase a new site license. You call and demand to know what happened and the foreigner who answers says that the original purchase price of the xbox allows for only one site so you need to purchase the right to use it elsewhere.

Consumers who want to be in control of their own computers should stay away from Vista.

Sony Settles for $4.5 Million for their Illegal CD-Virus

Consumer Affairs reports a settlement with 39 states for Sony's use of a "rootkit" to try and prevent users from copying their music. This forced DRM was detected by computer experts and quickly raised a stir.

Most importantly,

Sony said it was "pleased" with the settlement and said it would stop using copy-protection software that cannot be easily removed from consumers' PCs

Which means they won't stop, they'll just stop trying to do it secretly and make it a condition for using the CD in a computer.