August 27, 2016

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SunnComm Says It Won’t Sue Halderman

SunnComm, which had previously said it planned to sue Alex Halderman for publishing a critique of SunnComm’s CD anti-copying technology, has now backed off. According to Josh Brodie’s story in today’s Daily Princetonian, SunnComm president Peter Jacobs has now said the company has changed its mind and will not sue.

SunnComm is to be commended for deciding not to interfere with Alex’s right to speak. I hope SunnComm decides to join the debate now. If SunnComm wants to add anything, or to challenge anything that Alex said in his paper, I for one would like to hear from them.

Comments

  1. avatar Terry Steichen says:

    I wouldn’t commend SunComm for not doing something incredibly stupid. In fact, if they pursued this, perhaps the publicity might stimulate enough common sense reaction to overturn these horrible laws.

    A possibly interesting point: SunComm’s original release suggested that Alex had criminally violated the DMCA. Now, if a charge like this were made (and I’m not seeking to enroll Alex as a guinea pig), perhaps it would be the first step in overturning this law.

    Regards,

    Terry Steichen

  2. I’m a little disappointed that SunComm didn’t sue. Not because I side with them by any means, but because it would have brought out the absurdity of the anti-circumvention clauses of the DMCA.

    SunComm sells a copy protection technology that can be circumvented by a documented feature of Windows (i.e., turning off Autorun). Is Microsoft trafficking in circumvention devices by selling a product that can circumvent SunComm’s protection scheme? Are keyboard manufacturers guilty of trafficking in devices containing not one, but TWO circumvention devices (i.e., shift keys) each? What about Apple? SunComm’s scheme won’t work on iMacs–does that make the iMac a circumvention device?

    What’s more, SunComm’s anti-circumvention tool resembes a Trojan Horse to me. While the SunComm-protected-discs do display a message saying something to the effect of “You need to install a small program to take advantage of the special features of the disc”, they do not say that this small program will interfere with the normal functioning of their computer. I don’t know whether the program, once it’s loaded, interferes with extracting digital audio from other discs–if it does, then SunComm’s scheme is nothing less than cyber-terrorism.

  3. Know When To Fold ‘Em

    Suncomm set off a big press storm late yesterday about wanting to sue Alex Halderman for publishing a critique of SunnComm’s CD anti-copying technology. Halderman found that turning off the Windows AutoPlay feature (or holding down the Shirft key) woul…

  4. avatar Anonymous says:

    If an alleged crime has been commited, then isn’t law enforcement _required_ to investigate and prosecute? The DMCA is not a civil matter, it is a criminal matter.

  5. Copy Protection ousted by grad student with malicious shifty key

    In a story only rivalled by the “marker pen” event, the Shift Key is now a DMCA violation as it can prevent a so-called copy protection scheme (badly named because it doesn’t protect anything, it only infringes your right to make copies for your own pe…

  6. DMCA Update

    Well, it looks like The law suit and prosecution are not going to go forward. While I am glad for the student, I am kind of dissappointed at the same time, it would have been an interesting test case….

  7. what i love is the wording of SunnComm’s original statement:

    “SunnComm believes that by making erroneous assumptions in putting together his critical review of the MediaMax CD-3 technology, Halderman came to false conclusions concerning the robustness and efficacy of SunnComm’s MediaMax technology,”

    uhh, that would be robustness and efficacy easily circumvented by hitting a key standard on every typing instrument commonly used by humanity?

    laughable. and yet pathetic, too.

  8. We can sit here and point fingers all we want. I’m just glad they threw out the case and Halderman can continue his researching. BTW, interesting paper Halderman.

  9. We can sit here and point fingers all we want. I’m just glad they threw out the case and Halderman can continue his researching. BTW, interesting paper Halderman.

  10. avatar Chris Tunnell says:

    “I don’t want to be the people my parents warned me to stay away from. It’s 10 million bucks, but maybe I can make it back, and maybe [Halderman] can learn a little bit more about our technology so as not to call it brain dead.”
    -Jacobs

    Why can’t he just say, “We are wrong.” This world can really get depressing.

  11. avatar Christopher McGilton says:

    Alex halderman is to be commended for his research. Sunncom should actually be happy he published it, for it shows a flaw in their software and therefore, Sunncom should now focus their efforts on creating anti-piracy software in another format that will not stop lawful reproduction/copying for personal use.

  12. avatar Peter Goddard says:

    As an avid tinkerer I would have been most pleased to see this case go to court. I would like to know just how many key presses I am allowed to make on my own computer. And how much information on my own computer I am forbidden to study?

  13. avatar Peter Goddard says:

    As an avid tinkerer I would have been most pleased to see this case go to court. I would like to know just how many key presses I am allowed to make on my own computer. And how much information on my own computer I am forbidden to study?

  14. avatar Peter Goddard says:

    As an avid tinkerer I would have been most pleased to see this case go to court. I would like to know just how many key presses I am allowed to make on my own computer. And how much information on my own computer I am forbidden to study?

  15. avatar Jimmy Hotep says:

    Now let me see if I’ve got this straight.

    Say I start a company that makes bulletproof vests out of, I don’t know, old rubber dishwashing gloves. I sell them to police departments around the country claiming that they will stop bullets and save officers’ lives. In fact I charge a considerable markup over the cost of more traditional vests because mine are lighter and more comfortable to wear.

    So then you come along, get one and, for whatever reason, because you’re curious, you take one out in your back yard and fire a couple shots at it. It doesn’t stop bullets worth a damn. Your interest piqued, you tear the vest open and find out that there’s nothing in there but old rubber gloves. So you tell people, “hey, these things won’t stop bullets! They’re just old rubber gloves!”

    In that case, you’d be the bad guy right? It’s not a question of me having defrauded all those police departments by selling them a bunch of crap and saying it would stop bullets. I’d be the innocent victim of your illegal tampering and defamation, right?

    Because if that’s how it works, I’ve got some business plans I need to get to drafting.

    Jimmy Hotep

  16. avatar Jimmy Hotep says:

    And don’t be stealing that bulletproof vest idea. That one was just a sample. I got lots of ideas way better than that one.

    You jackals…

  17. This is a simple case of some businessman getting pissed because his crappy company is ruined, and threatening to use lawyers is a typical knee-jerk response from such people.

    They probably figured that the student would get backed legally by other parties like the EFF and not have to pay legal bills, while SunnComm would be forced to pay significant legal costs all while sliding into bankruptcy.

    It was hubris for SunnComm to even threaten legal action in the first place, and the small company will probably end up bankrupt soon.

  18. avatar Jeremy Leader says:

    I loved the quote from SunnComm’s CEO at the end of the Reuters story:

    “The problem was that he declared this an unrepairable flaw and that was the part that really hurt us,” he said. “He was reviewing a drama when we were writing a comedy.”

    Is he saying “our product is a joke”?

  19. “an incredible level of security for the music”

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  20. I’m absolutely amazed that company created such an incredibly useless “copy protection” scheme. Alex Halderman happened to be the first to write about it, but the workarounds were bound to become common knowledge regardless. Also, it is sad that most of the news articles on this don’t bother to mention the “workaround” is a standard Windows feature, that many (as I do) have Autorun turned off by default, that the protection only CAN work in Windows, or that it can be completely defeated by making a subsequent copy.

    Possibly suing for discussing standard – and fairly well known – OS features. It’s the sort of thing I’d expect to see on a Joke news site. Hard to believe it is real …

  21. Hehe, this reminds me, I know of a couple of burning applications for Winblows that ask if you want to disable the Autorun.

    Need I say more?

  22. avatar Anthony Brock says:

    I would have liked to see Suncomm follow through and attempt to sue Alex Halderman, for it would have exposed just how easily manipulated and worthless the DMCA is.

    Unfortunately, it will simply pop up again in the future, in situations even more ludicrous and idiotic than suing a princeton graduate for telling people how to use the shift key to stop windows autorun.

  23. I think that suncom needs to go bankrupt.

  24. the new business model – student funding

    Student sued over CD piracy study.  A US student is being sued for showing how to get around anti-piracy technology on a new music CD.  [

  25. SunnComm DOES NOT = SunCom they are two total different people yet both are assholes

  26. I’m just happy Alex didn’t get into any legal troubles. I’m very surprised Princeton was offering him legal defense in the case that SunnComm did go through with some sort of litigation. I’m also very pleased how Professor Felten supported Alex’s actions as well as his paper. Bravo to both. Alex continue the hard work, read the paper, great job!

  27. SunComm seems to be implying (in mass-media code) that the bulk of their work (the driver stuff, which is admittedly rather pretty clever) is still useful with another way to force its installation. But honestly, any way you could force its installation would be a major security hole in Windows, right?

  28. Ha! SunnComm won’t debate. They are now a net.laughingstock, and they know it. They will forever be known as “Those guys who tried to use the DMCA to censor the shift key”.

    Which was not quite their complaint. But in this case, I find myself completely unable to muster any sympathy for them, whatsoever.

    It’s good to see such a DMCA-bully be defeated for a change.

  29. I don’t understand something. Do these tough guys in the industry really want to kill intellectually the young talented scientists coming to work for them in the next few years?
    This is weird.

  30. avatar rex holmes says:

    Sorry to disagree, but I think “commended” is a bit strong of a word. I was actually hoping this case would go forward as a show to the public what the DMCA really is.

    Further how come everyone is quoting from Sunncomm’s latest press release:
    ‘SunnComm president, Bill Whitmore stated, “A technology has not yet been invented that will keep all those individuals from appropriating the unprotected music without limitations if they intend on taking it that way.”‘ http://www.sunncomm.com/press/pressrelease.asp?prid=200310101150

    When this press release – http://www.sunncomm.com/press/pressrelease.asp?prid=20030916715 – less than a month before, they clearly state:
    “At the same time, this CD will not be able to be mass copied.”

    Again from the first link above: “Jacobs concluded, ‘We realize now that Mr. Halderman had mistakenly expected to be researching an “extremely hack resistant” copy protection product when he evaluated MediaMax'”

    Somebody’s talking out of both sides…

  31. I think we finally know where Dilbert’s Boss works. I can just see it –

    Dilbert: “But boss, you can’t possibly market this thing. Anybody with Autorun turned off won’t even see it! Within a month after it comes out, the workaround will be all over the web!”

    Boss: “Now Dilbert, this goes in a COM-PUT-ER. It doesn’t have anything to do with running autos or spider webs! I really wonder about you sometimes.”

  32. SunnComm’s Latest

    SunnComm is now taking yet another position regarding Alex Halderman’s paper — that the paper is just “political activism masquerading as research”. (The quote comes from SunnComm president Peter Jacobs, responding to a question from Seth Finkelstein….