Sign the ACTA Communiqué and Tell Negotiators to Protect Your Rights

The next round of negotiations on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement will be underway in less than a week. The ATCA was originally supposed to reduce the flow of fake physical goods across borders. Unfortunately, it’s grown into something that reaches FAR beyond counterfeit physical goods. It is being used as a way to clamp down tight controls on the internet.

These controls will limit your freedom considerably. Under the ATCA, people that are merely accused of copyright violations will be disconnected without even so much as the slightest chance to defend themselves.

ISPs will be required to serve as copyright cops, monitoring people’s downloads and cutting them off for suspected or accused violations.

This is no longer about fake physical goods. The ATCA has been turned into a weapon that “big content” is using against everyone, even the innocent in their efforts to control and essentially own all creative content.

Public Knowledge has issued an action alert, inviting users to send a wake-up call to the Administration about the dangerous policies in ACTA. Visit Public Knowledge NOW and make your voice heard!

It takes less than a minute to fill out the form on that page and add your voice to the effort to get the Obama administration to wake up and realize that the ATCA must be stopped.

Isn’t your internet freedom worth one measly minute?

I sure think so. Here’s the link again, click on it and take a stand for your rights!

Or

You can ignore it and some day you will wish that you had taken that one minute to be part of stopping the ATCA.

[tags]atca, copyright, treaty, internet freedom, copyright cops, big content[/tags]

DRM-Free iTunes Files Still Contain Your Account Info

In a move that many are applauding, Apple’s iTunes music downloads store is now very nearly completely DRM free and is expected to be completely free of DRM laden music by sometime this spring. I have to say that I agree with a vast majority that moving to DRM free is definitely the way to go. A recent CNet article however has just dropped the other shoe.

In a move that many are applauding, Apple’s iTunes music downloads store is now very nearly completely DRM free and is expected to be completely free of DRM laden music by sometime this spring. I have to say that I agree with a vast majority that moving to DRM free is definitely the way to go. A recent CNet article however has just dropped the other shoe.

iTunes stuff is indeed free of DRM, however that hasn’t stopped the boys at Apple from making sure they can find out who is uploading their music onto file sharing networks. It turned out to be pretty easy too. All they had to do was include your account information in every file you download from the iTunes store.

Just in case you’d like to check, the CNet article said that if you load one of your DRM free iTunes music files into a text editor such as Notepad and then use the “Find” option on the Edit menu to search for the email address that you used to sign up for iTunes, you will find it in the file amongst all the binary data. It’s a no brainer to figure out that if your email address is in there, things like your account number, date you downloaded the file, the IP address you downloaded it from and God only knows what else is in there too.

This means that all they have to do is look for titles that they sell on whatever file sharing network and when they find ’em, all they need to do is download them and check to see who bought it. This allows them to build a database of people who have shared their iTunes music, who, how many files, over what time span, Etc. All of this data they can then use to track down the ones that they want to “make an example of” and haul ’em into court, probably with the cooperation of the RIAA & co.

This led me, just for the heck of it, to do a search on Google. I put the phrase “removing personal information from itunes files” (without the quotes, though with might get more refined results) into the search box and click “search”.

The very first result was absolutely no surprise: “iTunes: How to Remove Personal Information from DRM Free iTunes Plus Songs using iTunes“. Which gave instructions with a screenshot that explained how to sanitize your iTunes music.

However, one commenter pointed out that this process involved converting the file format with a lossy codec and therefore would, however slightly it might be, cause the resulting file to be of lower quality than the original.

This led to another Google search, this time for “edit personal information in iTunes files”. Again the first result proved informative. It was a slashdot article where one commenter pointed out:

Also, despite the summary’s between the lines implication that Apple is hiding the info from ID3 tag editors, the audio files are MPEG4. This means they don’t contain ID3 tags. Since MPEG4 is based on QuickTime, a QuickTime atom editor will happily show you the tags and let you remove them.

I don’t have iTunes or a QuickTime atom editor so I couldn’t check this out but it sounds reasonable to me.

Finally, just for the heck of it, I did one last Google search for “remove itunes” and it confirmed my suspicion. Apple’s creation is just as much a pain in the ass as trying to remove a Symantec product. I found this out by following the third result on that search which was the first one that didn’t point to something on apple.com.

Reading that page was very informative. It also made me glad that I’ve never polluted my computer with iTunes and now I certainly never will. Anything that can give you *that much grief* when you try to remove it, isn’t something I ever want to install. Frankly, from that page and a few others I’ve looked at, I have to say that I have a real problem installing anything from Apple. Besides, that company started it’s trip to hell way back in the days of the Apple ][e when Steve Jobs stole it from Wozniak.

[Tags]itunes, itunes plus, music files, music downloads, drm free music, cnet article, google search, riaa, drm free, itunes music, apple downloads, apple store, apple music, remove apple software, royal pain[/tags]

Electronic Arts CEO Is Dead Wrong About DRM

EA’s CEO John Riccitiello spoke recently at the Dow Jones/Nielsen Media and Money Conference and claimed that 99.8% of gamers don’t care about DRM. Judging from the growing dissatisfaction with any form of DRM on the part of a heck of a lot of people of the the last few years, I’d say that he’s seriously wrong.

EA’s CEO John Riccitiello spoke recently at the Dow Jones/Nielsen Media and Money Conference and claimed that 99.8% of gamers don’t care about DRM. Judging from the growing dissatisfaction with any form of DRM on the part of a heck of a lot of people of the the last few years, I’d say that he’s seriously wrong.

You could even say that anyone making a statement like that in the growing anti-DRM atmosphere could well be an indication that the speaker in question is in need of some crainial fat burners. (in plain English, the technical term to describe such a person would be “fathead”)

A while back there was Sony’s rootkit based DRM that got a lot of people seriously P.O.’d and cost them a whole bunch of customers. EA itself has been taken a lot of flack over the DRM system that they’ve put in their “Spore” game that limits how many times you can activate the program before you have to call EA.

In fact, EA’s latest DRM trick is going even farther. Their latest version of SecuRom, installs a Windows service that shuts down emulation software in an effort to prevent people from using programs such as Nero or Alcohol 120% to make copies of their stuff.

In fact, EA’s use of this DRM system in Spore has them being hauled into court because of it. Therefore anybody saying that “99.8%” of gamers don’t care about DRM is clearly a fathead.

Besides, there’s also the idea that this guy is trotting out a number with nothing to back it up. EA is a game software company that uses DRM, Obviously they’re going to do their best to paint the practice as being just Jim-Dandy-Ok by most users. Even though it clearly is NOT ok and there’s more users complaining about DRM all the time.

[Tags]electronic arts, drm, spore, securom, nero, alcohol 120%, digital rights management, sony, rootkit[/tags]

Walmart DRM Servers Get Stay Of Execution

Now, walmart has changed their minds about how they’re going to keep their digital-rights-management servers going. They said it was due to “customer feedback”… yeah, right. I’ll bet they got some “customer feedback” allright. People screamed bloody murder

Not long ago Wal-Mart decided to send out an email telling music buying customers that they were going to shut down their DRM servers. This meant that DRM infected music would very likely stop working after that date and the only cure that users had would be to burn their music to CD.

Now, walmart has changed their minds about how they’re going to keep their digital-rights-management servers going. They said it was due to “customer feedback”… yeah, right. I’ll bet they got some “customer feedback” allright. People screamed bloody murder. It’s bad enough that something has to be encumbered with Digital_rights_management in the first place. People stuck with the stuff don’t deserve to have the stuff they paid for in full ripped out from under them because walmarts brain trust decides not to keep the servers going anymore.

I’m glad to see that Wally World is moving to drm-free music, however they’ve got an obligation to the people that spent millions on the stuff loaded with drm. It’s about time that companies started to realize that drm costs them too. Customers have all kinds of problems because their music and movies are burdened with drm, the people selling it that way have to keep the servers going that allow that music to work or their going to have to face a really large angry mob of former customers.

Something to note here is that WalMart people havent’ said how long they’re going to keep the drm servers going. The best advice is still to back your music up on cd-rom. Then you won’t get burned when the servers finally are turned off for good. You’ll also have the option of ripping those cd’s to move the music to whatever format suits you best.

[Tags]walmart drm servers, drm server, digital rights management, music, drm, drm free[/tags]

Wal-Mart Ending DRM Support, Many To Lose Music They Paid For

… The good news is that with the world’s largest retailer moved to DRM Free music last year they gave a LOT of additional momentum to the entire movement to get content providers to stop hogtying users with DRM. …

I read on Slashdot that Wal-Mart is ending support for DRM encumbered music. This is both good and bad news at the same time.

The good news is that with the world’s largest retailer moved to DRM Free music last year they gave a LOT of additional momentum to the entire movement to get content providers to stop hogtying users with DRM. They (the RIAA and “Big Content”) need to understand that the days when people will accept DRM are numbered. The practice is like wooden swing sets in a futuristic world of automated flying cars.

The bad news is that when they end DRM support, anybody that’s bought the .wma music files with DRM on them will suddenly find that their music doesn’t work anymore. According to a post on Boing Boing, people who have DRM encumbered music from WalMart have until October 9th, 2008 to burn that music to CD-ROM in order to keep from losing it when they shut down the DRM server.

Then there’s another factor that was mentioned in a recent post on Ars Technica thats more bad news. It seems that WalMart is into censorship. I wasn’t aware of this because frankly, I’m not into buying music downloads, especially from WalMart. The nuts and bolts of this is that some titles have been edited to remove content that WalMart apparently objects to.

I tried to check this out for myself. Unfortunately when I tried to load the “MP3 Downloads” section of the WalMart site, I was greeted with this warning:

We notice you’re not using Internet Explorer. We will be making enhancements to our updated version in the future to support the Firefox browser. If you want to take advantage of all the features in our updated design now, please get the latest version of Internet Explorer

I tried again with Opera, and then back to Firefox to use Prefbar’s ability to spoof the ID string and appear as IE and got the hateful message again. Therefore I’m unable to confirm this since I will *NOT* use any version of IE for anything except testing local html pages that I create. (the only exception being the occasional utility that’s useful in spite of being made so that it uses parts of IE, in those cases the IE history, cookies and cache are purged when I’m done.)

In the meantime, if you have .wma music files that you’ve bought from Wally World, you have only a week or so to get them burned to CD if you don’t want to lose them when the DRM server shuts down.