Print 36 comment(s) - last by mandeep.. on Sep 28 at 6:34 PM

Viodentia drops another 2,000 pound bomb on Microsoft

"And the beat goes on." Viodentia releases FairUse4WM 1.1; Microsoft responds with a patch. Viodentia releases FairUse4WM 1.2; Microsoft files a lawsuit against the author. Viodentia today releases FairUse4WM 1.3; the ball is once again in Microsoft's court.

In Engadget's recent interview with Viodentia, he talked about what he thinks FairUse4WM does for the industry as a whole:

How do you think FairUse4WM affects the industry? Do you worry that cracking PlaysForSure is going to lead to the end of subscription-based services?

I think FairUse4WM is a good thing for the industry -- it demonstrates that the entire world doesn't turn upside down when there's no effective protection on content. I doubt subscription based services are impacted -- programs exploiting the analog hole were already widely spamvertised. The value of a subscription is the continuing access to new titles, which isn't dependent on the protection. I wonder if any subscription company will publicly admit that FairUse4WM was good for them.

According to Viodentia's posting over at the Doom9 forums, this latest update provides interoperability with Microsoft 9/23 IBX release.

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Making FairUse4WM was illegal
By Dactyl on 9/27/2006 1:52:14 PM , Rating: 2
I'd like to clear up a misconception about the law, and what is/is not legal.

17 U.S.C. section 1201 (part of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act)

Section 1201. Circumvention of copyright protection systems

(a) Violations Regarding Circumvention of Technological Measures.
- (1)(A) No person shall circumvent a technological measure that
effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.

Coding FairUse4WM was illegal under 17 U.S.C. section 1201(a). Updating it to match changes made by Microsoft is illegal.

Under 17 U.S.C. section 1202, using FairUse4WM under normal circumstances is illegal. Using it to strip DRM from files you are "renting" is illegal. Using it to strip DRM from files you bought and paid for is illegal. Sharing those files, after you've stripped the DRM, is illegal. Stripping the DRM from your files so you can load them onto your Zune is illegal.

I'm not saying this because I want it to be true, I'm saying it because it is true (and I already cited the law to prove it). The law sucks and it should be changed. But it is what it is and no amount of wishful thinking will change that.

Viodentia is also accused of using Microsoft's proprietary code. That would be a separate offense.

RE: Making FairUse4WM was illegal
By WelshBloke on 9/27/2006 1:58:56 PM , Rating: 5
I'd like to clear up a misconception about the law, and what is/is not legal.

If you live in the USA.

RE: Making FairUse4WM was illegal
By Master Kenobi on 9/27/06, Rating: 0
By WelshBloke on 9/27/2006 2:53:41 PM , Rating: 4
he will likely be extradicted to the US to face charges

That would depend on the country, extradition is not a trivial thing.

or charged in his own country under international law governing this sort of thing. You will find that the above law quoted also applies internationally

I'd be interested to see any international laws which stated this, not saying its not true but I've not heard of any international conventions or similar about this.

RE: Making FairUse4WM was illegal
By smitty3268 on 9/27/2006 3:15:18 PM , Rating: 2
You will find that the above law quoted also applies internationally and is recognized in most modern countries.

Any sources for this? I was under the impression that part of the DMCA was an American "innovation" and that it was completely unheard of anywhere else in the world. I could be wrong though...

RE: Making FairUse4WM was illegal
By Dactyl on 9/27/2006 9:36:40 PM , Rating: 2
There are a few questions mixed up here that should be separated:

1 - can US law apply to foreigners who act in foreign countries?

2 - even if US law applies and he would be found guilty of violating US law, can Viodentia be punished?

3 - is Viodentia possibly violating other countries' intellectual property laws?


1 - it is in fact possible to violate U.S. law from outside this country. It's called "extraterritorial jurisdiction," and there are a lot of rules/exceptions, based on what laws might have been violated and under what circumstances.

Example: a drug dealer in Colombia loads up a boat with cocaine, intending for it to travel to Miama where the drugs will be offloaded. He has violated U.S. law and can be punished for it if we can get our hands on him.

Viodentia deliberately distributed the FairUse4WM program where it would end up in the US (not hard to do, when you put something like that on the Internet). He expected it, and wanted it, to be used inside the US. If the Engadget interview with him is legit, that's proof of his intent. So I don't think there's much question, if they ever catch him, that he could be put on trial here.

2 - If Viodentia is identified and extradited to the U.S., he could be punished for his actions overseas. That depends on whether the country he's in would extradite him (probably only if that country has an extradition treaty with the US, or if the US gov't paid that country off with financial aid)

Staying anonymous is his best defense. Even if MSFT/RIAA can't get to him legally, we're talking about a multi-billion dollar industry. When that amount of money is involved, and you're in a shady country without great law enforcement... people can disappear.

3 - I don't know what kind of laws other countries have. The DMCA was pretty innovative when it was passed here; I don't know if any other countries have followed suit. Certainly if he's broken any of the laws in his own country, he could get into trouble for that.

RE: Making FairUse4WM was illegal
By mindless1 on 9/28/2006 2:58:08 PM , Rating: 2
Actually you can't claim it was expected and wanted in the US. Anyone IN the US who downloads, has to ascertain whether what they're downloading is kosher per their own locality.

That doesn't bear against the general issue of whether laws more directly applied though.

RE: Making FairUse4WM was illegal
By geeg on 9/27/2006 2:55:15 PM , Rating: 3
Creating the program (that can circumvent) is legal but using it to "circumvent" is illegal.
That is why MS went to court claiming the cource code is stolen.

RE: Making FairUse4WM was illegal
By patentman on 9/27/2006 5:53:34 PM , Rating: 2
Creating and distributing a program that enables a substantially infringing use is also illegal under the copyright laws, depending on the circumstances.

RE: Making FairUse4WM was illegal
By Dactyl on 9/27/2006 9:15:24 PM , Rating: 2
Creating the program (that can circumvent) is legal but using it to "circumvent" is illegal.

Did you even read my post?

U.S.C. stands for "United States Code." Those are our federal laws.

I included exact text from an actual federal law (the DMCA) under which Viodentia could be found guilty.

Why isn't MSFT suing Viodentia under the DMCA? I don't know. It could be that they consider the stolen source code to be more important than the DMCA violations. I haven't seen the complaint, so it's possible they're also suing him under the DMCA.

RE: Making FairUse4WM was illegal
By archermoo on 9/27/2006 3:00:17 PM , Rating: 5
If I am not mistaken, that portion of the law has yet to be tested in court. There has been a lot of debate in legal circles as to whether it will survive a challenge, and it looks possible that this case might provide that challenge.

It could also be argued that DRM measures as they are currently implemented do not "effectively control access to a work" since they frequently stop both legitimate and illegitimate access to the work.

RE: Making FairUse4WM was illegal
By Dactyl on 9/27/2006 10:51:33 PM , Rating: 2
that portion of the law has yet to be tested in court

I think it has come up and has been applied. Here is an opinion that treats it as good law:

It could also be argued that DRM measures as they are currently implemented do not "effectively control access to a work" since they frequently stop both legitimate and illegitimate access to the work.

You could argue that. Lawyers make bulls--- arguments all the time :-) Even if it stops legitimate accesses, it's still controlling access to the work. And in the facts of this case, the only way to get around WMA encryption is to use FairUse4WM. So aside from FairUse4WM, it is effective.

It would not make sense for Congress to have intended the word "effective" to mean "not yet cracked" if the company is suing because someone cracked their encryption scheme.

RE: Making FairUse4WM was illegal
By Nanobaud on 9/27/2006 5:07:38 PM , Rating: 2
Odd as it may sound, something being 'illegal' (violates a law, usually simple) is not the same as being 'not legal' (violates the laws, often not simple). The US legal system (and presumably others) is replete with contradictory laws that are generally only resolved when someone is harmed by one of the laws and challenges them in enough courts to force one of the laws to be changed (a rare occurence). It is in fact illegal for us to spout our opinions on electronic forums because there are numerous US patents issued on the subject and we would need permission from every holder of a relevant patent to not be violating a law. In most cases it is presumed lawful (but only presumed) because it is reasonably likely other laws (i.e. week, but finite, novelty requirements for enforcing patent claims) would prevail. I haven't had a strong enough inclination to personally review conflicts between DMCA and other laws, but it certainly does much less than other law sets of this scope to accomodate existing laws and hence would generally be legally 'week'. On the other hand, it is commercially popular, and that in practice can often more than compensate such legal weaknesses.

By kilkennycat on 9/27/2006 3:35:40 PM , Rating: 5
I am not a media pirate and have never been. ALL the software and entertainment media in my possession has been legitimately purchased.

I have vinyl singles and LPs going back into the 50's, tapes into the 60's, cassettes into the 70's and CDs into the 80's. Sundry of these at some time or other I have transcribed to CD-R for my personal convenience, to play in my car, at work etc. I have never ever distributed any of these transcriptions to others.

So, pray tell me in 2006, what right does the MPAA (and Microsoft, at the bidding of the MPAA) have to restrict my <<personal>> ability to transcribe my purchased media at the highest transcription quality into any form most convenient to me for my <<personal>> use ?? Formats come and go (see my 30-year list above!), so if I buy a (music or audio) product in a particular format, I consider that I have perfect right to transcribe that product at the highest transcription quality possible into the latest and most useful (to me) format at any time, should I so choose.

DRM is an evil perpetrated by some of the most greedy companies on the planet; the inconvenience to honest and legitimate purchasers of music, audio and video products is (imho) totally unacceptable.

Just as Everest is there to be climbed, DRM is there to be broken by gifted software programmers such as Viodentia. I am pretty sure that Viodentia is using his/her intellectual gifts and has no access to MS source-code. Such Microsoft assertions are purely a smoke-screen to keep the MPAA moguls happy... for the time being...

So how long is this macabre dance between DRM and gifted software programmers going to continue -- while honest consumers suffer from the "industry's" next DRM attempt ??

The US courts should have used the cassette wars of the 1970's as precedence and refused to enter the DRM debate. Obviously money or publicity from the MPAA seems to trickle through the doors of even the US Supreme Court chambers. No further comments on the actions of the US Congress, where lobbying money ALWAYS speaks louder than rational words from average citizens.

By Crank the Planet on 9/27/2006 5:23:25 PM , Rating: 2
I agree completely. What I do with what I buy is MY BUSINESS! I OWN the cd, the plastic it's made of and the content on it. If I want to burn it, rip it, tear it apart that is MY BUSINESS! If I want to listen to it, make copies of it or give it away that is MY BUSINESS! All of this licensing garbage is just that- garbage. No one will tell me what I can and cannot do with MY PROPERTY! What constitutes my property? If I buy it, it's mine. If someone wants to buy a house, and paint it pink that is their business (someone actually did this in my bro.s neighborhood-lol). MS has tried to capitalize on this ever since they came out with EULA's. They put money in politicians pockets to make sure we're all just "renting" their software. DRM PROTECTION = DUM PROTECTION. How easily is it thwarted? Just ask Viodentia. Does MS have enough cash to write good, unbloated, secure code? You betcha. Why don't they? Hmmm.....

By patentman on 9/27/2006 5:45:55 PM , Rating: 2
Your analogy to the purchase of real estate has no bearig on the purchase of a license to digital media. With real estate, you actually own the land and the house (the res) itself. With digital media, you own the rights to a particular copy of the media, not the content itself. So yes, people can and will tell you what you can and cannot do with your license.

By Dactyl on 9/27/2006 11:25:06 PM , Rating: 2
yes, people can and will tell you what you can and cannot do with your license.

The vast majority of arguments here against DRM can be summed up as "nuh-uh! you can't tell me what to do!"

The fact that they keep making analogies between intellectual property and things like cars shows a very low level of sophistication. They have not put much thought into this.

V for Viodentia
By EODetroit on 9/27/2006 3:02:38 PM , Rating: 5
Remember remember the... 27th of August?

RE: V for Viodentia
By Hypernova on 9/27/2006 5:34:31 PM , Rating: 2
I LOL'ed, long and hard.

RE: V for Viodentia
By Dactyl on 9/27/2006 10:59:02 PM , Rating: 2
Remember, Remember,
Nine Means September!

already paid
By Lazarus Dark on 9/27/2006 1:12:15 PM , Rating: 2
Ummm... if someone needs to strip drm from media, then they've already paid for it right? So... how does this affect the content providers? Don't tell me now it can be shared, because the people who share are going to find a way, hey they could just buy a cd and easily rip it to share for less hassle and probably cheaper if they got the cd at walmart.

So why does MS or RIAA care if you use this?

RE: already paid
By ElFenix on 9/27/2006 1:14:48 PM , Rating: 1
subscription services are affected because once you strip the DRM from the track you no longer need the subscription.

anyway, i'm guessing this is the reason i've needed to get all new licenses several times over the last month.

RE: already paid
By rklaver on 9/27/2006 2:08:48 PM , Rating: 2
however you would still need the subscription in order to get more music.

RE: already paid
By Vertigo101 on 9/27/2006 1:15:00 PM , Rating: 1
Because logic does not prevail on the internet.

RE: already paid
By patentman on 9/27/06, Rating: -1
RE: already paid
By kilkennycat on 9/28/2006 3:57:08 AM , Rating: 2
So, 10 years later, as an honest individual I have all this music that I PURCHASED now in an obsolete format and no rights or tools to convert it into a current form <<for my own personal use>> with minimal or no loss of quality ? The MPAA and RIAA and their minions like Microsoft are treading like Nazi Stormtroopers on the rights of HONEST individuals in the pursuit of pirates. As I pointed out in a previous posting, CDs have been digitally copyable for many years and still the music companies have made huge fortunes. Consider the typical price of a CD, with a current production cost measured in pennies, about 1/50th that of a pre-recorded cassette. Why the sudden emphasis on DRM ? DRM is seen as the Holy Grail by the music/video moguls to finally squeeze maximum profits out of their business, regardless of inconvenience to the general public. And DRM is essential to part of that ultimate squeeze -- subscription services. As with car-renting and leasing, an easy way to make a bundle more money. So the honest media PURCHASER gets trampled on and seems resigned to his fate, at least judging by some of the postings in this thread.

DRM should be illegal
By Cunthor01 on 9/27/2006 6:30:09 PM , Rating: 2
It effectively cripples something you paid for (cue car analogy).

Rich Complainin
By jamelt on 9/28/2006 1:31:02 AM , Rating: 2
I love how the rich b*tch over their measly $2.00 and we just wanna listen to a song.

why are people complaining?
By mandeep on 9/28/2006 6:34:22 PM , Rating: 2
i dont understand why people are complaining. maybe im missing something here? so basically this program allows you to rip drm away from files that you purchased so you can play the files anywhere you want. if this is illegal instead of siding with the gov't, why don't people stand up against this crap and actually start complaining about how honest users buy media but cant use it where they actually want?

Ya gotta love it !
By Beenthere on 9/27/06, Rating: -1
RE: Ya gotta love it !
By Spivonious on 9/27/2006 1:15:09 PM , Rating: 1
Well, according to this Viodentia guy, he hasn't reverse engineered any software, and simply monitors calls to DLLs to see how the DRM works. He then uses this knowledge to circumvent the calls so the DRM is disabled.

Microsoft has zero case against this guy, unless it says in the FairPlay agreement that you will do nothing to get around the protection. With that said, I agree with MS that something should be done to stop this V guy. He's doing nothing but furthering theft of digital media.

As for DRM in general, it's not the best solution, but I can't think of any other way to offer online content and not have it be pirated.

RE: Ya gotta love it !
By Vertigo101 on 9/27/2006 1:24:05 PM , Rating: 2
I think there's plenty of other sources to get media illegally than online stores....places that you don't even have to pay for!

RE: Ya gotta love it !
By patentman on 9/27/2006 5:51:24 PM , Rating: 2
I think that MS has a decent case for contributory copyight infringement under a theory very similar to that which put Napster, Grokster, and various other file sharing programs out of business. Essentially it turns on the fact that there is a substantially likely hood that the program at isue will be used for an infringing purpose. Seems like that is not so hard of a stretch here.

RE: Ya gotta love it !
By ChugokuOtaku on 9/27/2006 1:17:22 PM , Rating: 2
maybe the Canadians will offer him an asylum

RE: Ya gotta love it !
By smitty3268 on 9/27/2006 1:38:04 PM , Rating: 2
MS isn't even suing about creating the program, because that is perfectly legal. What they've done is claim that he must have illegally accessed their source code, because how else could he have cracked their security. Well, that seems like a very weak argument to me. Maybe he just reverse engineered it and took advantage of the fact that several parts were passing unencrypted data around?

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