Thursday, October 09, 2003

Tales of the Ridiculous

You know, as far as I can tell, and perhaps my more informed readers can correct me, the DMCA is such a ridiculous piece of legislation that it would outlaw the following scenario: Suppose a CD manufacturer discovered that by placing a small sticker somewhere on the CD, it would copy protect it. Yes, that's silly I know, but stay with me. Then, if I made the marvelous discovery that simply by removing the damn thing your CD would no longer be protected, there could be criminal charges against me if I let anyone know about it.

Now we have this case. A company comes up with wonderful copy protection software which basically worked by automatically loading a bit of scumware onto your computer which would keep you from ripping the files. I'm not sure if it applied only to that particular CD, or all CDs, but I don't think I like the idea of a company crippling my computer, without my permission, in order to prevent me from doing something which is perfectly legal. To defeat this brilliant protection, all you need to do is disable the auto-load function on your CD-ROM, which can be done manually by pushing the shift key, according to the guy who is now about to be sued for pointing that out.

Back in the good old days of the 80s companies would copy protect software. And, other companies would sell software to crack that protection. There were perfectly legal and good reasons to want to have a backup of those always-crashing floppy disks.

(edited to correct slight factual errors)

UPDATE: It does have a EULA. Cute:

The installer apparently asks for the users permission to install the file, and does not do so unless the user clicks on the equivalent of an OK button. If the UK rejects the 1800-word End User Licence Agreement (EULA), the disc is automatically ejected.

The EULA says: "This audio compact disc utilizes MediaMax technology by SunnComm to deliver enhanced features to your computer. In order to properly utilize this CD on your computer, it is necessary to install a small software program on your computer hard drive."

It's worth noting that the BMG distributed CD Halderman tested lacks the familiar CD logo. Thanks to the inclusion of SunnComm's technology the disc can no longer be described as a CD - an item that has a very specific description as detailed in the standards documentation written by the format's creators, Sony and Philips. A disc that doesn't follow the standard to the letter can't be described by its supplier as a CD.

Odd, then, that the EULA, as quoted above, claims it is a CD - and is arguably in violation of the CD licensing regulations. Just a thought...