May 28, 2024

Audible Magic, Revealed

Chris Palmer at the EFF published a piece this week debunking the Audible Magic technology. He focuses on the CopySense technology.

Audible Magic’s CopySense


  1. An antivirus product inspects everything that comes onto your computer, with your consent. CopySense captures network communications, without the consent of the communicating parties. Capturing an electronic communication without the consent of the communicating parties is a pretty good initial definition of wiretapping. (Determining whether CopySense is illegal requires an analysis of the specific language of the wiretap statute, which I haven’t done. But see the reference to Ernest Miller’s analysis.)

  2. Anonymous says

    I don’t understand the reference to wiretapping. Doesn’t this do the same thing as anti-virus software?

  3. I am working on a response to the letter just for good measure. Ultimately I think the technology Audible Magic bought from Muscle Fish (the acousting fingerprinting) is interesting, but that the CopySense appliance is just a bad use of it. Imagine if, instead of using it to fight P2P, it were used to help artists get paid. If there were an ASCAP/BMI-like collective licensing scheme in effect, Audible Magic’s technology could be used to make the traffic estimates more accurate, helping more artists get the right amount of money from P2P use. Or it could help out a company doing market research: Record companies already use the services of companies like Big Champagne, which monitor P2P traffic, to better market music. AM could make that better.

    CopySense is necessarily brittle when attacked, so why not make it something people would support instead of try to circumvent?

  4. Audible Magic only …an illusion of security?

    The debate on DRM technology Audible Magic’s Copysense continues, with Ed Felten adding his thoughts to Chris Palmer’s and Ernest’s. Felton wonders if it isn’t even possible to defeat Copysense without resorting to encryption. “It may turn out — and…

  5. Tito Villalobos says

    Doug, I think the letter was actually quite reasonable, at least relative to most things coming out of the DRM crowd. (Yes I realize it isn’t actually DRM.) He acknowledges that the technology isn’t foolproof, and that they will have to adapt to future “threats”. All in all reasonable.

    That being said, I think they sorely underestimate the speed at which the network adapts. I also doubt their future plans will be adequate. And of course there is the “wire tapping” law that was mentioned. (And if it does become popular, who knows, maybe P2P that isn’t vulnerable to TCP reset may become the “killer app” to get people to switch to Linux.)

    So, I totally agree with you that their software wouldn’t be worth the money if it were free, but it is nice to read a DRM-like stance that doesn’t scream about P2P being the end of the world and having to do “something, anything”.

  6. Anonymous says

    Audible Magic would probably sell millions of copies their precious technology if instead of forging TCP reset packets it hit the “mute” button on a radio or teevee when it sensed an advertisement.

  7. Doug Chase says

    Audible Magic have been trying to sell me their product despite my arguments about their technology. I just got a lengthy email from the salesperson with whom I’d been dealing, and I’ve linked it here:

    In light of their arguments (especially the flailing last paragraph) I still don’t think I’m interested.

  8. For what it’s worth, Audible Magic’s technology is based on tech they got when they acquired Muscle Fish. See US Patent No. 5,918,223.