Diigo Links

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

All your base are belong to us.

I've always had a problem with the idea that certain plants are illegal to grow. It now appears that it's also illegal to publish certain numbers. Like this one in it's hexadecimal format : 13,256,278,887,989,457,651,018,865,901,401,704,640

I won't include the hex version of this number in this post because people have been getting "takedown" notices from Google and blogger for publishing it on their blogs. (conversions are easy to come by if you're a keen h4ck3r)
And you can get this number on a T-shirt here:http://www.cafepress.com/umbers.129066329
Or send it in an ecard: brainwrench.com/ecards/categories/protest.php

The ironic thing here is that the publicity the AACS is getting from these "cease and desist" actions is spreading the number across the internet faster than any hacker activist action ever could have dreamed. In fact, I wouldn't doubt that if the AACS keeps quiet next time they release a new number, some hacker activists will pose as the AACS and send forged/spoofed "cease and desist" emails to the spin makers (slashdot.org, digg.com, google.com, blogger.com, etc.)

Further irony in that it was a consumer who purchased a DVD "protected" by this encryption that hacked the key. His DVD wouldn't play on his hardware. The hardware complied to standards necessary to play DVDs yesterday. But would not play the "DVD" he purchased today. "DVD" is a standard just like "unleaded fuel" is a standard - imagine you pull up to a pump one day and your car no longer runs on what they're selling as "unleaded fuel". This happened when leaded fuel was phased out, but there was notification and a long (very long in some places) phase-out period.

This "copy protection" is being foisted upon us silently, and just like unleaded fuel in a leaded-only car, it breaks things. On many occasions now I've personally been negatively affected by it (DVDs that I gift to people won't play, or rights to play my own DVDs are limited by the number of times I can change "Zone" etc.) It's crap! It's being handled poorly, and primarily by lawyers. This deigning of an illegal number is the final straw for me. I'm not adhering to bad law. I'm not going to be constrained by artificial boundaries if I'm also a responsible consumer. I'll do what I know I can do to play the things I've purchased, and I'll simply not purchase things I even suspect might cause problems for people I'm gifting to.

With that in mind, who benefits here? Nobody. Producers are more interested in protecting the income from a potential sale than they are in making that sale. The more people burned by copy protection
a. the more they'll either move away from the technology, or
b. the more they'll hack it (and I'd have to add here that one way of hacking DVD is to buy pirate DVDs that aren't copy protected. I'm not suggesting that I will go out of my way to buy/download pirate media, but that there are large swaths of key demographics that will (i.e. kids). So producers are actually pushing people to the open/free markets they're trying to combat)

Who is harmed? Everybody. Producers of pirate media are deep in with organized crime, and egad! the Terrorists! Buyers of pirate media are usually getting a poor quality product (of note that in spite of that, they're still solving that value equation in favor of pirate copies). Legitimate producers are losing income. Artists are losing motivation.

Clearly there's a broken business model at the base of this. Without considering the new world of media generation and distribution the major producers are going to continue to thrash around like bulls in China's shops, hoof in mouth, however you want to mash it up. They're doing it wrong. The 2 ton elephant of lost opportunity stands patiently unseen, lackadaisically chewing hay in the corner. The first to harness a new model that actually works stands to reap the unimaginable fortune (indeed Music labels and the RIAA continually create vast economies of money lost to piracy. Too bad their arithmetic doesn't add up, unless they're using Million Man March Math (MMMM) popularized by crackpot drug addict draft avoiding chicken hawk conservative radio talkback host Rush "Rusty" Limbaugh. )

The Advanced Access Content System (AACS) is a standard for content distribution and digital rights management. The specification was publicly released in April 2005 The keys are not publicly released, but can be derived by clever people. Once derived, the keys can be distributed for public use.

But somehow the AACS has been able to copyright or patent or otherwise constrain free speech for this number:

In binary: 1001 11111001 00010001 00000010 10011101 01110100 11100011 01011011 11011000 01000001 01010110 11000101 01100011 01010110 10001000 11000000

Base64: CfkRAp1041vYQVbFY1aIwA==

Or in base 13,256,278,887,989,457,651,018,865,901,401,704,640:
: 1

How is that possible?

I got 9500 hits when I googled the number at 10am, 21,600 hits when googled at 4:00pm, and I'd imagine that now that this was featured on slashdot.org, that number will grow much larger before it stablizes. Follow the link and see what you get.

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