Linux users say SDMI contest a trick

Some Linux lovers say the record industry is using them as a free consulting service to improve SDMI encryption. And further members of the Linux community are rejecting the record industry’s request to help it create a more secure technical lock on its digital music.


Some Linux lovers say the record industry is using them as a free consulting service to improve SDMI encryption. And further members of the Linux community are rejecting the record industry’s request to help it create a more secure technical lock on its digital music.

The Linux Journal is sponsoring a boycott of the Secure Digital Music Initiative hacking challenge, which starts Friday and promises to pay $10,000 to any hacker who strips out the watermark from a digital song.

SDMI is a technology initiative launched by the record companies to crack down on piracy. In the coming weeks, SDMI will try out a variety of security measures, with plans to eventually adopt a hacker-tested technology that will prevent people from playing bootleg songs on SDMI-compatible hardware.

However, some Linux lovers say the record industry is only using the hackers as a “free consulting” service to help it crack down on legal uses of music in the future, in an attempt to exert unprecedented control over when and where people play songs.

The Linux Journal is urging readers to sign a letter saying they won’t play along.

“Thanks, SDMI, but no thanks. I won’t do your dirty work for you,” the letter states. “I will not help test programs or devices that violate privacy or interfere with the right of fair use.”

People who sign the letter will agree that they will never make a bootleg copy of a recording, but will only play one copy at a time in different devices, an action that’s legal under the concept of fair use, but may be hard to follow in these days of rampant digital file swapping.

In a sense, the open sharing of information that has allowed the Linux community to mushroom is directly at odds with the motives of traditional entertainment companies, which want to lock down their content.

‘PR stunt’

Ironically, the entertainment industry in the past has sued people who’ve tried to reverse engineer their encryption technology — the same act SDMI is now asking them to perform during the hacking contest.

Linux Journal technical editor Don Marti, one of the boycott’s organizers, said the goal is to thwart what he called “SDMI’s PR stunt.”

“Why are freedom-loving people supposed to do free consulting work for an organization that wants to take away our freedom?” he asked.

SDMI officials were not immediately available for comment.

Resource

Boycott hacksdmi.org
by Don Marti (dmarti@ssc.com)
13-September-2000

The following is an open letter to Leonardo Chiariglione, Executive Director of the “Secure Digital Music Initiative.”

Dear Mr. Chiariglione,

I am planning to boycott the challenge on the hacksdmi.org web site, and I will encourage all Linux users, hackers, and reverse engineering practicioners to do likewise.

The site says,

“We are now in the process of testing the technologies that will allow these protections. The proposed technologies must pass several stringent tests: they must be inaudible, robust, and run efficiently on various platforms, including PCs. They should also be tested by you. “So here’s the invitation: Attack the proposed technologies. Crack them.”

Thanks, SDMI, but no thanks. I won’t do your dirty work for you.

I will never make or distribute a bootleg copy of a recording. But fair use is fair use.

I insist on my right to use copyrighted material I buy in accordance with the traditional rights of a music customer. I will play one copy at a time on the device of my choosing, and I will make a personal copy if necessary.

I will not participate in your organization’s plan to seize total control over recorded music away from the customer. I will not help test programs or devices that violate privacy or interfere with the right of fair use.

So, if you’re going to say “Hackers couldn’t break our system even though we offered a $10,000 prize,” you’ll be wrong.

Hackers should not, and will not, offer free consulting services to an organization that is using technical means to destroy the customary balance of the interests of copyright holders and music listeners.

Sincerely,

Don Marti
Technical Editor, Linux Journal

Author: Lisa M. Bowman

News Service: ZDNet news

URL: http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,2628133,00.html

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