The Hunter Becomes the Hunted

Media Defender, a notorious anti piracy gang working for the MPAA, RIAA and several independent media production companies, just launched their very own video upload service called “miivi.com”. The sole purpose of the site is to trap people into uploading copyrighted material, and bust them for doing so. In a twist of fate: 6 months of internal e-mails at the company were released on BitTorrent. You can read more about it here.

– Soli Deo Gloria

Carey Frisch – The Windows Genuine Disadvantage

On July 17th, I logged into my blog to find comments made by Carey Frisch calling this blog entry a bunch of lies. Thankfully, I have comment moderation turned on, so he was not allowed to post those comments without my approval. I offered him a chance to post a rebuttal comment with factual proof and yet again, he just posted emotional [sic] “all lies! this web site is self serving!” like statements. In fact, he is still welcome to provide evidence of any “lies” in my article.

Carey’s first claim is that I have somehow have made up false comments and put his name to them. These comments were pulled right from Google Groups:

Posting #1

Posting #2

He can remove them from http://groups.google.com/groups/msgs_remove since the messages were posted under his e-mail address and his e-mail address was not mangled. To date (9/10/07), I found the messages are still there.

If you look at his postings from this time period (January 2002 – April 2002), they all come from the midsouth.rr.com IP block, in fact, here’s a posting where he says he’s been using RoadRunner for 2 years:

Posting #3

Compare the NNTP-Posting-Host line in each message:

NNTP-Posting-Host: HUBMS-ubr-24-33-9-77.midsouth.rr.com 24.33.9.77

You will find that the IP address used to post the message is the same in all postings. While it is possible that this field can be faked, it is hardly a task that could be done by “Joe Blow”. The comments are also logical responses to the conversation in the thread.

In my original article I talked about “bomb code” and why it is bad to have in software. Quoting my June 1st, 2006 article:

If Carey (again, who Microsoft supports, since he is a MS-MVP) gets his way, any computer running WGA that identifies a bootleg copy will get shut down. It does not matter if WGA is correct in its judgement or not

On August 24, 2007, this happened:

This validation failure did not result in the 30-day grace period starting and no one went into reduced functionality mode as a result. The experience of a system that failed validation in this instance was that some features intended for use only on genuine systems were temporarily unavailable. Those features were Windows Aero, ReadyBoost, Windows Defender (which still scanned and identified all threats, but cleaned only the severe ones), and Windows Update (only optional updates were unavailable; security and other critical updates remained available). Also, the desktop message about failed validation appeared. And as I indicated, these features return to normal and the desktop message disappears when an affected system is revalidated at our site.

Source

Now it’s interesting that Microsoft states that these systems did not go into RFM, yet they mention symptoms of the computers doing so!

I present to you: the behavior of RFM, courtesy of Microsoft’s Knowledgebase:

If Windows Vista is running in non-genuine reduced functionality mode, you cannot perform the following actions:

Aero Glass and the Windows ReadyBoost features that are included with Windows Vista are unavailable in reduced functionality mode.

Premium content from the Microsoft Download center is unavailable in reduced functionality mode.

All the postings regarding this event from Microsoft are pure damage control. “Less then 12,000 computers affected!” and our friend Carey Frisch: “A Short-Lived Issue“.

Why is Microsoft doing this? My guess is money. Here’s an interesting article that may shed some light on WGA:

In explaining the pilot program’s change in focus, Wickstrand acknowledged that pay-as-you-go had “high consumer appeal, but not enough usage for the financial institutions” providing credit to the user base. Given the explosion in availability of consumer credit, subscriptions are emerging as a more popular option.

Under the FlexGo program, users make initial down payments on mid-range PCs and make monthly payments for software and broadband services from their local telcos, much the way customers pay cable providers for TV and Internet access. Microsoft and its partners will allow users to sign up and pay for their subscriptions in a variety of ways, ranging from ATMs and point-of-sale terminals, to the Web.

FlexGo systems require activation and Windows Genuine Advantage authentication. Once subscribed, users will be reminded via notifications and account status screens, as to the amount of time they have remaining before their systems will move to “borrowed time,” and, ultimately, a locked status for lack of payment. In order to unlock systems that have degraded due to lack of payment, users will need to obtain a code from the FlexGo partners.

Source

WGA is just a testbed for how far Microsoft’s can control Windows outside its company headquarters. Vista subscription trials are to begin in 2008 and Autopatcher, an unofficial way to get Microsoft patches without using WGA, was just shut down this month (September 2nd, 2007). Putting all the pieces together, we can assume:

Microsoft wants Windows transferred to a subscription based plan to make more money. Take Windows XP for example. It was launched 62 months ago at $299 street price. That works out to be $4.82/month. The longer you run Windows XP, the more money Microsoft loses. I purchased Windows 2000 back in the day for $129.99. I run a Vista/W2K dual boot to run my games. Over 91 months, Microsoft only made $1.42/month on this Windows 2000 sale.

My prediction: Windows Xtreme. Sell one version for $125 and then add all the goodies that people want under subscription services, payable by credit card. Want Windows Defender? That will be $2/month. Antivirus? $3/month. Low cost version of Word? $5/month. Of course, there would have to be a perpetual subscription charge for running just Windows itself. Put it at $12/month. Then, put some mouth watering deals out there that give you discounted pricing for buying multiple years. Microsoft is already doing something similar with their enterprise customers: Software Assurance.

Failure to pony up the cash would cause Windows to…you guessed it, go into RFM and after 30 days, cease to work.

– Soli Deo Gloria

RIAA’s Letter to ISPs

An interesting story from P2PNet, copied in its entirety about how the RIAA is trying to squeeze money from people. 

p2pnet.net news:- The RIAA is launching its own p2p site. But not because it’s owners, Warner Music (US), EMI (Britain), Vivendi Universal (France) and Sony BMG (Japan and Germany), have suddenly seen the stupidity of trying to sue their own customers into buying ‘product’.

To the contrary, www.p2plawsuits.com (as it’ll be) represents an escalation in the RIAA extortion scheme, a move to streamline the process so the Big 4 can add more victims’ scalps to their belts, faster, lending credence to their false claims that the sue ’em all campaign is stemming the swelling tides of people who are logging onto the p2p networks every minute of every day.

The Big 4 are now making a $1,000 per settlement discount offer to victims who agree to settle, to in effect admit they’re guilty of the RIAA’s charges, before a civil lawsuit is actually lodged.

It’s conservatively estimated that more than 60 million Americans have shared with each other online. Of those, the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has managed to ‘target’ (a favourite word) a pitiful few, between 19,000 and 20,000, many of them young children. And it’s being forced to fight every step of the way to turn even those into PR-useable statistics to ‘prove’ the so-called anti-file sharing war is being won.

However, in reality, individuals stand as much chance of being identified by the RIAA as they do of being struck by lightning, as Dr Markus Giesler points out in his Theory of Collective Consumer Risk.

The risk tied to file-sharing is almost zero despite entertainment industry claims to the contrary, he says.

And all the while, the numbers of file sharers not only in the US, but around the world, are steadily growing, not decreasing.

It’s an uphill battle for the multi-billion-dollar labels as they claim they’re being “devastated” and “decimated,” to use two more of their favourite words, by p2p file sharing. And it’s getting steeper as more and more Santangelos, Andersens, Lindors, Barkers and others refuse to “settle” for something they didn’t do.

Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG say files shared equal sales lost, but this claim has again been proven to be disingenuous in an authoritative paper from two American researchers in The Effect of File Sharing on Record Sales: An Empirical Analysis, just published in the Journal of Political Economy, 2007.

Meanwhile, the RIAA is contacting ISPs by letter, says Recording Industry vs The People. The aim is to get the Internet Service Providers to in effect follow the Big 4’s bizarre policy of working against their own customers, the very people upon whom both literally depend for their survival and livelihoods.

A PDF copy of the RIAA letter sent to ISPs is available on my web site

Interesting interview videos of Patricia Santangelo is fighting the RIAA

– Soli Deo Gloria