Harmony, a digital rights management translation system created by Real Networks which allows its own music formats to run on Apple iPods, may be the cause of some legal and technical issues for Real in the coming months. The company has admitted that although they believe that their software is completely legal, any disagreement from Apple that runs into a court process might jeopardize their bottom line. The company already expects to pay around $16 million in the coming year defending their software from litigation from Microsoft, but cannot afford any more. Additionally, Real also expects problems as Apple makes moves to update its software in ways that would require tweaking of Harmony’s specifications. Basically, it sounds like Harmony may represent Real biting off a bigger chunk than it can chew at this point. Stay tuned to see how these impending challenges pan out.
Read More | Macworld
Alleging that Samsung grossly exaggerated the abilities of the SPH-V4400 camera phone, two consumer groups have filed official complaints against the company for false advertising. Armed with nearly 3,000 signatures, members of the “V4400 Consumers’ Power” and “Tipsters for the Public Good” groups are very disgruntled with the lackluster video recording capabilities of the phone, pointing out that the VGA camera only films 3-5 frames per second, rather than the digital camcorder standard of 15-30, despite Samsung’s claims that it would measure up. Sales of the V4400 have been strong up to this point, having been fueled by Korean superstar Kwon Sang-woo, earning the phone the nickname, the “Kwon Sang-woo Phone.”
Read More | Chosun
Debuting with prices ranging from ¥200 and ¥300 per song ($1.80 and $2.70), Apple has exploded onto the Japanese digital audio scene by selling over 1 million songs with the new service in under four days. Proudly, Japanese artists grabbed the honors for both the top-downloaded song (Def Tech) and the top-downloaded album (Ulfuls). Steve Jobs was quick to point out that the four-day business enjoyed by the Japanese iTunes dwarfs even a month’s worth of business on any other Japanese service. With the struggles that other American companies, such as Microsoft, have had breaking into some Japanese markets, Apples success in this area could bode very well for the company.
Read More | MacWorld
Is Google > CNet? The search engine giant blackballed CNet reporters after the network reported privacy concerns for those being searched. Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, was searched on Google to prove a privacy point. His salary, neighborhood, and even political donations were publicly displayed. Google’s answer: don’t talk to CNet for a year. Seems a bit childish to give the silent treatment for something that is publicly available. I mean, if I can’t use Google to search all of my old girlfriends, I’m going back to Yahoo! Well, at least for one year.
Read More | CNN Money
Microsoft just can’t get around software hackers in their latest attempt to cut down pirated Windows XP users – Genuine Windows Validation. Early last week Microsoft “fixed” the Genuine Windows Validation exploit. Now the new and updated validation service has been hacked yet again. Maybe Microsoft should start hiring these hackers, since it takes Microsoft days or more to fix their exploits, while hackers only need a day to come up with a work around.
Read More | Cnet News
Reuters is reporting via the Washington Post that despite being incompatible with the 30 million iPods in the US, copy-protected CDs by the Foo Fighters and Dave Matthews band are continuing to sell extremely well. The CDs, put out by Sony BMG, are designed to restrict owners to burning only 3 exact copies of the albums, and then only into Microsoft’s Windows Media format. The copy-protection also prohibits the music files from being transferred to an iPod, due to licensing clashes with Apple’s Fairplay software and Windows. While both the albums, and others like it, are available in iPod-compatible digital forms on Apple’s iTunes service, this hasn’t appeased fans who like to own a physical disc from which to rip the songs.
The best part of the Reuters’ article comes at the end where Sony BMG advises disgruntled users to rip the songs from the CD, burn them back to a blank CD, and then rip them again in an iPod-friendly format. I always like to see big companies encouraging us to work around security and copyright-protection.
Read More | Washington Post
Sony will end up paying over $1.5 million to theater-goers for advertising movies using a fabricated movie critic named “David Manning.” Between 2000 and 2001, Manning’s name and fake reviews were part of the advertising campaigns for “Vertical Limit,” “A Knight’s Tale,” “The Animal,” “Hollow Man” and “The Patriot.” Anyone claiming to have purchased a ticket to these movies between August 3, 2000, and October 31, 2001, can join a class-action settlement in which Sony will reimburse the ticket-buyer $5 for every ticket purchased, up to 4 per movie (2 adults, 2 minors). Personally, I got tickets for at least 2 people to “Hollow Man” and “The Patriot,” which means I’m in for a cool $20. Plus, seeing how “Hollow Man” is one of the worst movies ever, anyone who called it “One helluva scary ride!” (which the made-up Manning did) should owe me $5 (which the made-up Manning now does).
Click on the link below to read the details of the settlement with Sony and find out how to receive your reimbursement.
Read More | Official Court Notice of Settlement
The Mozilla Foundation announced today that it was reorganizing and forming the Mozilla Corporation. While the Mozilla Foundation will continue to be a non-profit public benefit software development organization the Mozilla Corporation will be a for-profit company aimed at serving other non-profit development efforts. A majority of the Mozilla Foundation employes will be moving to the new Mozilla Corporation. What difference will this make for Firefox users? Very little according to the Mozilla Corporation both Firefox and Thunderbird will remain free products and will stay open source. The primary reason for the switch was to escape legal restrictions placed upon not-for-profit organizations in the United states. TheMozilla Foundation will remain non-profit and be able to continue to accept tax-deductible donations to continue to help the free open source software movement. Both theMozilla Corporation and the Mozilla Foundation will continue to work with developers to improve Firefox, Thunderbird, and other open source projects to benefit the internet community.
Read More |Mozilla
Microsoft’s attempt to fight software pirates was stopped in its tracks last time this validation tool was released. Now they claim to have fixed the vulnerability. I guess you can call this the Genuine Windows Validation Tool SP1. Let’s see how long it takes hackers to make this one obsolete. My guess is we’ll be hearing about a work around by week’s end.
Read More | The Unofficial Windows Blog
A number of sites have picked up the story that Intel Developer kits from Apple include TCPA/TPM DRM in the Kernel. TCPA/TPM DRM is a technical term for a Trustworthy Computing solution that limits what fair use consumers can use with the media they own. Basically it lets an application control what other applications or pieces of hardware can access it’s files. For instance a file created in Quicktime could be signed with a quicktime flag meaning no 3rd party applications or other users could view that file. There has been no word on how Apple is going to implement TCPA/TPM DRM yet, but conceivably they could use it to say that no non-DRM’ed pieces of media could be played on a machine making the assumption that if a file does not include DRM then it must be pirated. TCPA/TPM DRM also features the ability to create a secure encrypted channel between a graphics card and a monitor that supports TCPA - this unfortunately not only would help “prevent” piracy by capturing the live stream from the computer to the monitor (something not really done in practice anyway) but would force you to buy a TCPA compliant monitor.
Of course Windows Vista will have TCPA/TPM DRM built in as well - it’s one of Microsoft’s big selling points. I’m not sure how they are spinning it as a benefit to consumers as this does nothing but hurt innocent users wishing to exercise fair use of their content - pirates will always find a method to getting around DRM solutions. TCPA is a technology that only hinders consumers, and benefits no-one but the MPAA, RIAA, and other large greedy organizations that don’t trust their paying customers. With both Apple and Microsoft playing into the media organizations wishes for TCPA to be widely adopted then the consumer loses choice, freedom, and the ability to exercise fair use of the media they both own and enjoy. Check out a possible solution and more information about TCPA after the jump.
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