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April 8, 2007 1:47 AM   Subscribe

Dear MetaFilter, please help me crack some 'leet warez.
posted by knave to Etiquette/Policy at 1:47 AM (115 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Dear MetaFilter:

Please teach me not to assume facts not in evidence.

Sincerely,

knave

This rather rude post brought to you by one of the teeming millions (thousands?) who has patched several EXEs to alter their behavior, and nary a warez crack amongst them.

And that's two crabby MetaTalk posts for me in one night. Tsk, I should get more sleep.
posted by mdevore at 2:23 AM on April 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


Fix a CAR

How can I fix a car to circumvent a certain function? I have a car which doesn't make the sound of starting as a result of a certain function (or really, a lack of). I need to find out how to patch it so it doesn't need this function. Is it possible ?
posted by ztdavis at 3:00 AM on April 8, 2007


I'm willing to assume the best about his intentions (if I hadn't, I wouldn't have linked to what I belive is exactly what he's looking for), but that question is worded in a pretty sketchy way.
posted by cmonkey at 3:52 AM on April 8, 2007


You should be full time fucking thought police.

Here's one to start on-- I just asked a question about buying beer. You should start a Metatalk post assuming:

1. I am 16 years old.

2. After I buy the beer I am going to get plastered and drive.

3. I want to then shove the empty bottles up my ass in violation of local sodomy laws.

Obviously these are reasonable assumptions given that I didn't specifically state that I didn't intend to do that.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:54 AM on April 8, 2007 [14 favorites]


4. You are in Saudi Arabia

Should we be helping someone to violate Saudi law?
posted by atrazine at 5:20 AM on April 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


You are in Saudi Arabia

don't saudi me ... the beer bottles were bad enough
posted by pyramid termite at 5:33 AM on April 8, 2007


Patching an .exe so it doesn't show a nag screen is a capital offense, now?

It was never like this on Usenet...
posted by Jimbob at 7:18 AM on April 8, 2007


What's sketchy about a guy asking for a cracking tutorial? Admittedly, he doesn't seem to know that's what he wants, but pretty soon someone will slap a link to Google search results for "cracking tutorial", mention the concept of debuggers and the guy will go along on his merry way, discovering how completely and utterly out of his depth he is.

Has the prevailing culture really changed so much that asking this basic question -- one which often leads the budding student toward a deeper understanding and appreciation of what's really going on inside that beige box of theirs; one which every kid with a computer has asked and deserves the answer to -- is met with fucking scorn?

Someone wants to dig down into their machine and hack, and instead of a pat on the back and a word to the wise, he gets hassled? Screw this, someone get loquacious in here to berate you, I'm too disgusted to do it properly.
posted by majick at 7:18 AM on April 8, 2007 [10 favorites]


I thought the question was fine, the DCMA-flavored spirit of the times notwithstanding.

Fucking around trying to pirate software as a teenager (from the 'leet long-distance BBSes, so of course I needed to learn about phone phreaking too), and then trying to figure out how to crack it, led me to pursue software as a full-time gig for years.

Which is to say, doing shady stuff on your own computer, for your own entertainment, is a great way to learn stuff. And I don't think it's sensible to assume that our AskMe poster is looking to head up an international warez distribution ring...
posted by killdevil at 7:27 AM on April 8, 2007


majick for the win. Exactly what I was thinking. We're now calling people out for things that look like they may, under one scenario, in some possible way be related to violating some undefined intellectual property of some unknown binary file by disabling a function, a process that it's pretty clear the poster probably won't be able to pull off, unless they can demonstrate an acceptable knowledge of assembly programming, so copyright violation is completely unlikely?

And this has to be removed from Metafilter? The thought-police are really that far inside your head?
posted by Jimbob at 7:28 AM on April 8, 2007


Always remember, no matter what question you post to AskMe, we will judge you. And if you come up wanting in our divinity, we will make a Metatalk post about it. Oh yes. We will.
posted by Dave Faris at 7:30 AM on April 8, 2007


I'm too clueless to know that this is what the user was actually asking... if that was what he was actually asking... which is an unknown.

It's easy when you paraphrase the question to include the intent you prefer, but otherwise I think it's somewhat uncharitable to assume that the one mechanism the OP is trying to subvert is the one which would get them into copyright trouble.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:31 AM on April 8, 2007


"somewhat"? GTF, Knave.
posted by bonaldi at 7:57 AM on April 8, 2007


Screw this, someone get loquacious in here to berate you, I'm too disgusted to do it properly.

You're doing just fine. Now swear a lot more and use colorfully inventive metaphors for incredibly offensive concepts. Consider suggesting that their genetics are somehow malformed or damage. Set up a straw man and take a napalm flamethrower to it, but avoid using direct ad hominems - unless they're absolutely true. Since most people - you and I included - are idiots, this is easy. Question their sanity. Suggest that they're on dope. Insult their mother. Make out with their sister. Lick them, and then stick a soggy breadstick in their ear. Insert an apparently meaningless non-sequitor. Stop in the middle of writing your comment, leave, completely forget about it, get totally stinking drunk, get embroiled in defusing some heavy emotional drama between one housemate or another and then come back hours later reeling and listing to find the half finished post still on the screen. Spend a brief moment gloating warmly about what a pedantically and fantastically wordy bastard you are, and then spend the next 12 hours gripped in crippling guilt that you're not doing anything with it. Wantonly edit and finish it through a thick foggy haze, changing tenses several times and abusing the apostrophe, while tangenting down no less than three entirely unrelated topics.

Don't proofread it. Hit post. You're done.
posted by loquacious at 8:00 AM on April 8, 2007 [30 favorites]


Sounds like they want to disable a nag screen...which means that they aren't pirating elite warez in the first place, they're using software that's free in a way that the author doesn't want it to be used; that is, they're just breaking a EULA on some free software (the "don't modify or decompile this software" part). So it's not even copyright violation, but EULA violation, which hasn't even, as far as I know, been determined to have any legal standing in the first place.

Oh horror of horrors.
posted by Bugbread at 8:00 AM on April 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, loquacious, how little we know ye.

(Well, except for how you put it all out there.)
posted by OmieWise at 8:09 AM on April 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Patching an .exe so it doesn't show a nag screen is a capital offense, now?

It shouldn't be a capital offense, but it would be nice if it resulted in a kick to the groin. People who write software, or the employers that pay them, deserve to choose the license for their software, and if that license involves "please pay me/send me a postcard/send me beer to disable this nag screen", that should be respected. Pay the $10, or send 'em a goddamn postcard, or find some open source/public domain/freeware software that does the same thing, or deal with the stupid nag screen, or stop using the software. Seems pretty straightforward to me.
posted by cmonkey at 8:14 AM on April 8, 2007


Yeh, fair enough. Assuming that's what he's doing. Cos goddamn there's plenty of software here at work that gives me messages I'd like to kill. Like the cheery thing that says "Ads pulled in" that I have to click (can't keyboard) past 100 times every fucking day.
posted by bonaldi at 8:43 AM on April 8, 2007


I'd say about 50% of the PC games I've paid for in the last five years or so I've had to go searching for a cracked, most often no-CD, executable in order to play (disclaimer: I only buy three or four PC games a year.)

So the filter I read the question through was: "I just paid for this damn thing, it wants a CD, I have the CD, but it still doesn't fucking work." It's all in how you read it.
posted by Cyrano at 9:01 AM on April 8, 2007


Once he finds out how it's not as easy as it sounds he'll give up and move on, while people like me who care about these things will have learned a bit more.
posted by furtive at 9:28 AM on April 8, 2007


I'm too clueless to know that this is what the user was actually asking... if that was what he was actually asking... which is an unknown.

This isn't wilderness for me, and I can't see this being on the same level as "d00d need patch 4 GR:AW tia" by any stretch of the imagination. Dude asked for first-step directions down a technical path that can be used for good or ill or just plain fucking around. So much commercial software has cracks available—even niche stuff—that wanting to do your own cracking by hand is practically a commendation. People with an interest in getting under the hood aren't the problem; people with no interest in paying for commercial software, ever, are the problem.

This question is a problem the same way that a question asking how to set up a target prop for knife-throwing is a problem: not. We'd be nuts to assume everybody with a knife was practicing for murder, and we'd be nuts to assume that everybody with an interest in cracking is a budding warez kiddy.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:47 AM on April 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


Odd question coming from someone who sells stolen cars.
posted by BeerFilter at 10:13 AM on April 8, 2007


saudi's with beer bottles up their asses are the reason we can't have nice WTCs.
posted by quonsar at 10:45 AM on April 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


bugbread writes "Sounds like they want to disable a nag screen...which means that they aren't pirating elite warez in the first place, they're using software that's free in a way that the author doesn't want it to be used; that is, they're just breaking a EULA on some free software (the 'don't modify or decompile this software' part). So it's not even copyright violation, but EULA violation, which hasn't even, as far as I know, been determined to have any legal standing in the first place."

Look, I don't like nag screens, I use only two pieces of software that have them (and both I've paid for), and none of my free software includes nag screens.

But if I give out my software for free, if I put in the time and effort to make that software, and I include a nag-screen, then you get to use it on that basis. Not on any basis you want. Basically the author is doing you a (self-interested) favor: he's saying, feel free to try before you buy. Not, feel free to take whatever I have.

EULAs can and are abused by software makers, but at heart it's a contract: the author says, you can use my stuff, but don't use it in ways I would never have agreed to.

Polite people don't go to up to the "free samples" table in the supermarket and ask for two pounds of the sample in a doggie-bag. Polite people either put up with the nag or find any one of a myriad of alternatives that don't involve a nag screen.
posted by orthogonality at 12:24 PM on April 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have no idea why the OP asked his question, but I will say that I'm continually upset with various aspects of the software I use and am always looking for hacks to change them. None of these changes has anything to do with pirating. I can't think of a single app I use with any frequency that I haven't tried to hack into or change.
posted by grumblebee at 1:00 PM on April 8, 2007


grumblebee writes "I have no idea why the OP asked his question, but I will say that I'm continually upset with various aspects of the software I use and am always looking for hacks to change them. None of these changes has anything to do with pirating. I can't think of a single app I use with any frequency that I haven't tried to hack into or change."

Then use open source software, which makes doing that much easier, and allows you to share your improvements.
posted by orthogonality at 1:07 PM on April 8, 2007


orthogonality, once you pay for software, you're allowed to mess with your copy if you want. The coder doesn't have final rights over every aspect of the user's experience.
posted by mediareport at 1:10 PM on April 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


How many software authors really get irate about some kid peeking and poking around if they're not releasing hacks/cracks to the general public?
posted by IronLizard at 1:30 PM on April 8, 2007


For that matter, how many software authors were not, early on, some kid peeking and poking around if they're not releasing hacks/cracks to the general public?
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:36 PM on April 8, 2007


you're allowed to mess with your copy if you want

Well, not according to the EULA's of most.

(Which are, to me, nuts. If I buy a piece of hardware, I can modify it and screw it up all I like, but not the software running on it? WTF? It's not like I'm planning on giving copies of it to anyone.)
posted by IronLizard at 1:37 PM on April 8, 2007


There's a popup screen on a piece of software we use at the office that coordinates our print server with the printer's, and that comes up once or twice a week asking us to finish registration. Not only have we finished the registration, the company that makes the software went under years ago.
I'd love to remove it somehow, but both the servers run on some sort of evil conglomeration of kludges and magic (which keeps reinfecting us with some sort of Word macro worm too), and no one's been able to fix 'em.

Long story short (too late), I can see legitimate uses for this information even if I don't have the stones or time to do it myself. Maybe this kid can get hired by the printer we work with to fix their fucking servers so that they don't freak out on us anymore.
posted by klangklangston at 1:43 PM on April 8, 2007


Yes, it's nuts. What are other things that you buy that you can't fuck with? If I buy a table and I want to saw its legs off, I can do it. The tailor would probably weep if he discovered that I'd crumpled up the pants he sewed and threw them on the floor. But that's his problem. If I buy sheet music, I can't legally sell copies, but I can sing the music off key all that I want.
posted by grumblebee at 1:45 PM on April 8, 2007


Whatever you feel about this particular post, the OP certainly asks some very interesting questions
posted by greatgefilte at 1:53 PM on April 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


orthogonality : "Polite people don't go to up to the 'free samples' table in the supermarket and ask for two pounds of the sample in a doggie-bag. Polite people either put up with the nag or find any one of a myriad of alternatives that don't involve a nag screen."

I'm not saying "ignoring EULAs is great!" I'm just saying that knave phrased this as if it were pirating, which is illegal, and that if this is about removing a nag screen, it isn't actually pirating, and possibly not illegal. That isn't to say that it's a good thing, just that it isn't what knave was implying.

(As for whether it is a rude or polite thing, personally, I come down on the side of selflessness: as folks have pointed out above, software is one of the only things that we purchase (as opposed to rent) that comes with a contract saying how we can or cannot use it. Other products merely remove the warranty if used in ways the creator doesn't intend. Software presumes to say not only "if you use it this way, we won't fix it", but "you have to agree not to use it this way in order to use it in the first place". That's pretty fucked. HOWEVER, if a software writer is releasing his stuff free (and without adware), that's so darn cool and nice that I'll go with his idiosyncrasies with no complaint. Nag screen? No prob. I can click "Ok". Countdown timer? Sure, I'll just go to another software for a second. But if I pay for the software, the author can fuck himself for presuming that he can arbitrarily give himself rights over something I've purchased above and beyond the rights taken by the manufacturer of my computer, table, shirt, air conditioner, or chocolate bar.)
posted by Bugbread at 2:09 PM on April 8, 2007


if a software writer is releasing his stuff free (and without adware), that's so darn cool and nice that I'll go with his idiosyncrasies with no complaint.

I know i'm a glutton for collective punishment, but if so many "shareware" developers hadn't been so quick to pack their software with Comet Cursors and so forth in the endless search for a quick buck, I might have more sympathy for their plight. I'm kinda half hoping the OP want's to patch an install file so it skips the spyware installtion stage...
posted by Jimbob at 2:41 PM on April 8, 2007


Whatever you feel about this particular post, the OP certainly asks some very interesting questions

Before I clicked, I thought it was going to be a bunch of shady lead-up questions--"Where can I get pirated software legally," "My registration code for this software is mysteriously not working," etc. Now I feel cheated.
posted by Many bubbles at 2:46 PM on April 8, 2007


Are you saying people shouldn't have this knowledge? Who cares what he wants to do with it, there is nothing wrong with learning more about how computers work. In fact I would encourage it.

Trying to prohibit general knowledge because you can do something "bad" with it is generally a bad thing.
posted by delmoi at 3:09 PM on April 8, 2007


as folks have pointed out above, software is one of the only things that we purchase (as opposed to rent) that comes with a contract saying how we can or cannot use it.

EULAs are not contracts, they're wishlists. They're not legally enforceable.
posted by delmoi at 3:11 PM on April 8, 2007


You say that as if you know what you're talking about, delmoi. Alas...
posted by monju_bosatsu at 3:13 PM on April 8, 2007


Regardless of what happens with this, someone needs to tell that guy to stop putting spaces in front of question marks. That's what's bothering me.
posted by puke & cry at 3:30 PM on April 8, 2007


Gee, I read it as: I'm a sysadmin who's stuck using some klugey piece of shit that a fifteen year old Bulgarian hacked together for the CEO last year. How do I remove the call to the function that crashes my system?
posted by Netzapper at 4:02 PM on April 8, 2007


EULAs are not contracts, they're wishlists. They're not legally enforceable.
posted by delmoi at 3:11 PM on April 8

You say that as if you know what you're talking about, delmoi. Alas...
posted by monju_bosatsu at 3:13 PM on April 8

To a hammer, everything is a nail.
To a lawyer, everything is a contract.
posted by wendell at 4:07 PM on April 8, 2007


To a lawyer, everything is a contract.

This is silly. Lawyers are often in the position to make a lot of money if they can credibly argue that something isn't a contract.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 4:12 PM on April 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


MPDSEA is correct, of course. There are plenty of lawyers on both sides of this issue; they are only arguing in the best interests of their clients, after all. In any case, my point didn't refer to delmoi's claim that EULAs are not contracts--although they are--my point was that he has no basis to claim that they are unenforceable.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 5:35 PM on April 8, 2007


Semi-related question: how do I stop Firefox from going to the Mozilla homepage everytime I update? Am I breaking the EULA (of course, I've never read it) by doing something about this? Mozilla is not my default homepage so I know that's not it.
posted by who squared at 5:57 PM on April 8, 2007


In about:config there is a key called startup.homepage_override_url. Edit this entry to change the page your browser visits after updating.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:12 PM on April 8, 2007


Thanks!
posted by who squared at 6:33 PM on April 8, 2007


'[P]retty soon someone will slap a link to Google search results for "cracking tutorial"'.
posted by davy at 10:28 PM on April 8, 2007


That said, one good thing about running Linux or BSD is the ease of downloading usually decent freely-licensed (often GNU GPLed) software for FREE. (Though I heard Open Office has a bug that makes DOC files bigger, though I haven't had occasion to run into it myself.) Why would a normal home user bother with anything you're expected to pay for?

So is this "the other flame thread"? Where are the fucking goats and sheep?
posted by davy at 10:34 PM on April 8, 2007


Correction: DOGS and sheep.
posted by davy at 10:37 PM on April 8, 2007


If we're talking about hacking, the single most annoying dialog in my life is photoshop's "Warning: No pixels were selected." Well, no-fucking-duh. I'm a professional who paid you your goddamn $800 + twelve years of upgrade reamings...ever think I might be able to determine on my own whether I motherfucking selected a batch of goddamn pixels--fuck, maybe I intentionally didn't select them, you inbred piece of moldy coyote shit? Stop it with the fucking dialog box already.

Ahem. Anyone know how to get rid of that warning? There doesn't seem to be an option to do so.
posted by maxwelton at 10:49 PM on April 8, 2007


Software presumes to say not only "if you use it this way, we won't fix it", but "you have to agree not to use it this way in order to use it in the first place". That's pretty fucked.

All of the software I write is released under the GPL version 2, which says what a user can and cannot do with the software (at a radical extreme from the terms of a proprietary license, of course). I'd be pissed if someone modified the software and didn't comply with section 2 of the GPL, so I can sympathize with software authors who choose more restrictive licenses for whatever reason.

So I don't see why that's fucked. Like it or not, software isn't a table, software comes with a license. If the license is overly restrictive, don't use the software.
posted by cmonkey at 11:05 PM on April 8, 2007


Well, not according to the EULA's of most.

What if you turn off the EULA agreement screen in the machine code and then install the program without ever agreeing to the EULA?

I know the answer to the question, but it's still a nice koan
posted by spiderwire at 12:41 AM on April 9, 2007


Like it or not, software isn't a table, software comes with a license.

You say that like it's a law of nature.

I've never attached any "licence" to any piece of software I've written, besides "Good luck!".

And I fail to understand what makes a piece of sofware distinct from, say, a novel, or an instruction manual for a VCR, or a piece of sheet music, in that people feel they need to attach licence conditions to it.

EULAs are a relatively new invention in the history of intellectual productivity, and it's unsurprising that people feel they're as worthless as the pixels they're written on.
posted by Jimbob at 5:16 AM on April 9, 2007


cmonkey writes "Like it or not, software isn't a table, software comes with a license. If the license is overly restrictive, don't use the software."

Unfortunately, the counter to this is "like it or not, software is a product, and many people will use it the way they use other products. If the license is overly restrictive, they will probably use the software anyway." Again, not saying that's right, but "Like it or not, I've told you not to do X. Hence, don't do it, because I don't want you to" isn't really a strong argument. "It is illegal" is a strong argument (I don't know if it is or isn't in this case). "It is immoral" is a strong argument (again, I don't know if it is or isn't in this case). But "like it or not, EULAs exist, and therefore you must obey them, because I want you to" isn't a strong argument.
posted by Bugbread at 5:31 AM on April 9, 2007


look, it's really simple ... if you buy a product, you have to follow the directions

i don't even want to talk about the time i microwaved a banquet pot pie and a dwarf came by and kneecapped me because the box didn't authorize me to

don't let it happen to you
posted by pyramid termite at 6:04 AM on April 9, 2007


All of the software I write is released under the GPL version 2, which says what a user can and cannot do with the software

Well, copyright law says what you can and can't do with software, and the GPL grants some additional rights. It gives, rather then takes away rights.

Furthermore the GPL itself says that it does not restrict what you can do with the software.
Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not covered by this License; they are outside its scope. The act of running the Program is not restricted, and the output from the Program is covered only if its contents constitute a work based on the Program (independent of having been made by running the Program). Whether that is true depends on what the Program does.
See?
posted by delmoi at 8:01 AM on April 9, 2007


I guess I'll take loquacious' advice, then.

The arrangement of bits your compiler puts out are stored in an identical manner on my disk by fucking courtesy. You want to tell me which bits on the platter I can flip? You buy the storage and pay for the time I use your software. Otherwise disk, memory, and the execution environment are my fucking house and you play by my fucking rules.

Just because some shitheels in the Congress can't pry their mouths off the genitals of a few Hollywood studios doesn't mean Joe's Rinkydink Utilities, Inc. gets some moral right to inviolate storage on hardware I own. You want that? Petition for a fucking easement on my hard disk. Until you get one, I'll modify the execution environment, the contents of memory, and the bits on the disk any fucking way I damned well please.
posted by majick at 9:37 AM on April 9, 2007 [12 favorites]


Just add mother- in three places and imagine Samuel L. reading that. Awesome.
posted by IronLizard at 10:30 AM on April 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


EULAs are really interesting both legally and morally, and I'm trying to untangle my feelings about them.

Say my dad says to me, "I'm giving you a present, and I want you to promise me you'll never throw it away."

In this case, I do feel morally obligated to either forgo accepting it or, if I'm going to accept it, to limit my freedom of use (to not ever throw it away).

But what if I find an object on the street -- say a box with cool stuff in it? And on the box there's a sign that says, "feel free to take this box and its contents and keep it, but if you do, don't ever throw it away!" Am I morally bound to leave the box or follow the directions?

I don't feel 100% sure of this, but my gut says no. I have a personal relationship with my dad, and we have a social contract not to be dishonest with each other. I have no such contract with the anonymous person who left the box on the street.

I do feel a VERY SLIGHT pang of "one should be honest with everybody," but it feel a little like magical thinking. First of all, I'm not sure taking the box and ignoring the sign IS dishonest. It's not doing what the box-leaver wanted, but I never promised him anything. (Which is what I would be doing -- even if non-verbally -- by taking my dad's gift.)

I still feel a slight pang about taking the box -- something I didn't HAVE to do -- and violating the wishes of the box-leaver. But this feels even more like magical thinking. If I do throw the box away, how is the box leaver ever going to know? I don't believe in karma or throwing bad shit out into the universe. To me, behavior is only bad if it actually hurts somebody.

What about legality? The box-leaver somehow discovers that I took the box and threw it away -- and he sues me. Well, the law is whatever the law is. So if what I did was illegal, then I'll probably be punished. The question is, IF such a law exists, SHOULD it exist? Is it a useful law?

Should a company be allowed to give me something or sell me something and then dictate -- with penalties for non-compliance -- what I do with it?

I'd say no, as-long-as I'm not harming anyone via my use of the product.

Laws that dictate what I can do with a produce in my own home seem similar to sodomy laws and the like. Morality aside, such laws are impossible to enforce and generally failures. What's the point of making them?
posted by grumblebee at 12:04 PM on April 9, 2007


You said what I think far better than I could have said it, grumblebee.
posted by Bugbread at 12:12 PM on April 9, 2007


IANAL(Y), but everyone saying it's "my" music and they're "my" video and so forth are, sorry to say it, wrong. You don't "own" that content. (Whether you should is a different issue.) When you purchase a CD or a DVD or what have you, you're purchasing a license to the material. You can resell the material (say to a used book store). You can use limited bits of it under fair use doctrine. There might actually be constraints on what you can legally do with the material (how you can display a DVD, for example). The DMCA, IIRC, prohibits you from circumventing a EULA, among other things.

Say my dad says to me, "I'm giving you a present, and I want you to promise me you'll never throw it away."

Giving a gift is different than granting a license to use a creative work.

I'm not certain the extent to which it's possible to limit alienability or transferability in a license, but I imagine that there's certain instances (sensitive information?) where it's possible. But this isn't an apposite example.

Should a company be allowed to give me something or sell me something and then dictate -- with penalties for non-compliance -- what I do with it?

Generally, this would be a civil-penalty issue. If you threw away a box you found on the street, you haven't knowingly harmed anybody, so there's no liability. There could be a criminal penalty in some cases (if the box contained hazardous waste, say), but in general the "no harm, no foul" principle applies here.

Otherwise disk, memory, and the execution environment are [in] my fucking house and you play by my fucking rules.

So's your DVD player, but that doesn't mean that you can legally circumvent the copy protection in most circumstances. You certainly can't distribute it or project it on the outside of your house for the whole neighborhood to watch.

The response to the OP's question, I believe, is that yes, it actually is illegal to circumvent license protections or advise people on how to do it. It's an odious law, but the OP is correct to be concerned about it.
posted by spiderwire at 1:58 PM on April 9, 2007


Cite:

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) ... introduced a new category of copyright violations that prohibit the "circumvention" of technical locks and controls on the use of digital content and products. These anti-circumvention provisions put the force of law behind any technological systems used by copyright owners to control access to and copying of their digital works.

Furthermore, keeping this thread on the site potentially exposes MeFi to legal action:

Section 1201(a)(2) defines distribution as the "manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic" of circumvention tools. This definition can be interpreted extremely broadly as evident in the court's analysis in the DVD encryption Universal v. Corley case. In its decision, the court considered not only making the source code of a program for free a type of distribution, but also found that merely linking to a web site containing illegal tools can constitute "trafficking."
posted by spiderwire at 2:03 PM on April 9, 2007


The posters in the original thread did a very good job of not discussing circumvention; however, both links on that page and davy's link on this page discuss circumvention techniques or applications and constitute potential DMCA violations. Regardless of how you feel about the DMCA, Matt, you should remove them.
posted by spiderwire at 2:10 PM on April 9, 2007


If you threw away a box you found on the street, you haven't knowingly harmed anybody, so there's no liability.

Assuming you're not doing it to pirate software, How is hacking into a program harmful to anyone?

Giving a gift is different than granting a license to use a creative work.... I'm not certain the extent to which it's possible to limit alienability or transferability in a license, but I imagine that there's certain instances (sensitive information?) where it's possible. But this isn't an apposite example.

That was in the moral -- not legal -- section of my post.
posted by grumblebee at 2:19 PM on April 9, 2007


Assuming you're not doing it to pirate software, How is hacking into a program harmful to anyone?

It's a special case, because it's statutorily prohibited by the DMCA. Otherwise, it'd be no different than writing in a book you owned, as far as I'm aware.

That was in the moral -- not legal -- section of my post.

The examples you used are items governed by real property rules, not intellectual property rules, so different considerations apply. (For example, I can make a copy of a poem someone writes for me, or memorize it; that's not true of a physical gift.) Furthermore, a gift from a parent is a moral special case, so, again, your example is inapposite.
posted by spiderwire at 2:37 PM on April 9, 2007


Also, just to be clear, purpose isn't really a relevant concern under the DMCA provisions. It prohibits circumvention, period.

Pretty fucked up, but there it is. If I were an RIAA lawyer, I'm sure I could come up with some reason why it "harms" somebody, but I'm not, and it doesn't, so I won't. There's an interesting post over at Volokh on this very topic that I'd recommend reading, however.
posted by spiderwire at 2:41 PM on April 9, 2007


both links on that page and davy's link on this page discuss circumvention techniques or applications and constitute potential DMCA violations. Regardless of how you feel about the DMCA, Matt, you should remove them.

Are you fucking serious? Davy's link is a google search on the words cracking and tutorial. Shall we delete the link it references that talks about typing the words cracking and tutorial into Google?

Maybe a global replace of the word "cracking" throughout the site, yes?
posted by phearlez at 2:58 PM on April 9, 2007


spiderwire, I must have been really unclear. My POINT was that a gift from a parent is a special moral (not legal) case.

If my parent, spouse or friend gave me something and asked me to limit my use of it, I'd feel morally compelled to abide by their wishes (or not accept the gift).

If an anonymous person or company asks me to abide by limitations, I do not feel morally obliged to do so.

I would also claim that any law that is not based on the above morals is a bad law. (Except for when issues of safety or harm are involved.)

I am aware that there are, in fact, many bad laws.
posted by grumblebee at 3:00 PM on April 9, 2007


Are you fucking serious? Davy's link is a google search on the words cracking and tutorial. Shall we delete the link it references that talks about typing the words cracking and tutorial into Google?

Frankly, I'm not interested in your self-righteousness, nor the appropriateness of the law, which I thought I was pretty clear about. I'm also well aware of the content of davy's link. My only concern is MeFi's exposure to liability, and there is ample precedent for the proposition that linking to circumvention resources violates the DMCA. I don't make the rules, so kindly remove your foot from your mouth.
posted by spiderwire at 3:07 PM on April 9, 2007


Incidentally, if you're looking for specific authority, Blizzard v. BNETD upheld a general prohibition on reverse engineering old software. Universal v. Corley is authority to the effect that even linking to circumvention resources is illegal under the DMCA (this is the case that's most relevant to the discussion here).

If you want to read something really scary, check out the EFF's laundry list of anticircumvention cases under the DMCA. Seriously horrifying shit.

Now, MeFi is located in California, which is good, because they've been much better about enforcing the DMCA, and they have SLAPP statutes to prevent strategic lawsuits. But lawsuits suck. They should be avoided. And frankly, this thread is arguably much riskier than many threads that have raised a horrendous hue and cry here in the past. Even if Matt wanted to take a stand on this issue, this hardly seems like the right opportunity.

More to the point, you can discuss the technical aspects of hacking machine code without linking to a site that specifically describes how to do this in the context of circumventing a serial number check. The thread was fine except for the links, which are quite simply bad juju. Why take the risk?
posted by spiderwire at 3:31 PM on April 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


IIRC, the DMCA only applies to circumventing copy protection and encryption. Not necessarily changing some aspect of a program that has nothing to do with either of those. For example, game cheats are not illegal, though they could possibly be prosecuted in civil court under a EULA violation. (Violating a EULA is not a criminal offense. They're a civil matter.) Lawyers can and will, of course, spin anything. A nag screen may or may not be included in the definition of 'access control measure'. IANAL, YMMV, if in doubt ask AL.

From your own link:

The "act" prohibition, set out in section 1201(a)(1), prohibits the act of circumventing a technological measure used by copyright owners to control access to their works ("access controls"). So, for example, this provision makes it unlawful to defeat the encryption system used on DVD movies. This ban on acts of circumvention applies even where the purpose for decrypting the movie would otherwise be legitimate. As a result, it is unlawful to make a digital copy ("rip") of a DVD you own for playback on your video iPod.

posted by IronLizard at 3:59 PM on April 9, 2007


Why take the risk?

Yeah, why stand up for any moral high ground? We might as well all be crushed under the unstoppable weight of corporatist, antisocial legislation. Ain't nothing we can do but be whores to their desires, so we may as well get used to it.
posted by Jimbob at 4:00 PM on April 9, 2007


IronLizard: The DMCA applies to access controls and copy controls, which means, well, pretty much everything. I think it's questionable whether Blizzard v BNETD concerns "access controls" or "copy controls" per se. Circumventing a nag screen or a EULA probably falls squarely in that area. Whatever's that's preventing the user in the original thread from using their program probably counts as an "access control."

The DMCA also prohibits most reverse engineering, as well as the programs used for reverse engineering. Regardless, that's all beside the point, because (a) the three links we're talking about all fall squarely into one of those categories, and (b) I'm concerned with the risk of litigation, not legality per se.

JimBob: Yeah, why stand up for any moral high ground?

(1) Because you don't have to pay for it, Matt does.
(2) Because you don't have the right to sacrifice the community's interests for your ideals.
(3) Because if you wanted to actually make a statement on this issue, this is about the stupidest possible molehill you could choose. There are plenty of mountains out there already.

Get a grip.
posted by spiderwire at 4:20 PM on April 9, 2007


IANAL, YMMV, if in doubt ask AL.

IAALS -- I'd ask AL, but I don't know where monju went. CL'V, QSS.
posted by spiderwire at 4:24 PM on April 9, 2007


spiderwire writes "My only concern is MeFi's exposure to liability, and there is ample precedent for the proposition that linking to circumvention resources violates the DMCA."

Er, as far as I'm aware, davy didn't link to circumvention resources, he linked to a page that links to circumvention resources. I don't think the DMCA covers that kind of spidering, otherwise it would probably be illegal to link to things like MSN, because it might link to Slashdot, which might have a link to a commenter's site, which links to a forum, which has a link to a page describing circumvention measures.

Also, thanks for the Bnetd link. I wasn't aware that reverse engineering had been definitively found to be illegal. (Though the EFF blurb is a little vague about whether the reverse engineering was illegal because of violating EULA, or directly because of DMCA provisions, without the EULA violation being a factor).
posted by Bugbread at 4:31 PM on April 9, 2007


spiderwire writes "Circumventing a nag screen or a EULA probably falls squarely in that area."

I dunno. Circumventing a nag screen, sure, makes sense (dumb, but logically makes sense). But unlike a nag screen / password login / captcha / whatever, a EULA is not a technical measure or technical access control. Now, if the part of the EULA you're violating is the reverse engineering part, then that appears to be illegal, but from what I can tell that's because reverse engineering is illegal, not because breaking the EULA is.

Rephrased: If I tell you not to murder your brother, and you do, you'll get arrested, but you aren't getting arrested for doing something I told you not to; you're getting arrested because murdering your brother is itself illegal.

Am I wrong on this?
posted by Bugbread at 4:38 PM on April 9, 2007


A EULA might not be an "access control," but it's probably a "copy control," which is a weird phrase that refers to things that attempt to mediate the copyright owner's control of their work. Also, 1202(b) prohibits removal of "copyright management information," which I think pretty much means "EULA."

As far as davy's link, it's definitely much more benign than than the links on the AskMe page, but I think there's a difference between, say, linking to MSN, and linking to an MSN search for "cracking techniques" or whatever. I'll grant that it's borderline. That said, it's needlessly inflammatory in the first place, so...

As for the murder example -- and really a bunch of the examples on this thread -- I grant that makes sense as well. But if the DMCA made sense, then it wouldn't be the stupid-ass law that it is, now would it? :) (That's also a response to grumblebee, by the way -- sorry I missed that.) I think I could rephrase your hypothetical (what if I stop someone from getting a warning against killing someone?), but ultimately I think it's futile to try to understand the DMCA comparatively. It doesn't even jive with the rest of standard IP law, let alone criminal law.
posted by spiderwire at 4:57 PM on April 9, 2007


I wasn't aware that reverse engineering had been definitively found to be illegal.

Well, it hasn't, Blizzard forum-shopped the case, but I can't find any contrary decisions, so it would at least persuasive authority. I'm going to read the decision after I finish this paper on adoption law.
posted by spiderwire at 5:02 PM on April 9, 2007


spiderwire writes "A EULA might not be an 'access control,' but it's probably a 'copy control,' which is a weird phrase that refers to things that attempt to mediate the copyright owner's control of their work."

But doesn't the DMCA apply only to technical copy controls, which a EULA is not?

spiderwire writes "Also, 1202(b) prohibits removal of 'copyright management information,' which I think pretty much means 'EULA.'"

True, you probably can't remove the EULA, but you could violate it without removing it (in fact, I seriously doubt anyone goes through the hassle of actually removing the EULA, considering that once you install the software, you never see it again).

spiderwire writes "As for the murder example -- and really a bunch of the examples on this thread -- I grant that makes sense as well. But if the DMCA made sense, then it wouldn't be the stupid-ass law that it is, now would it? :)"

My example may have been unclear. I wasn't saying "this is a logical thing, and thus the DMCA should fall along these lines", but the converse "as I understand it, the DMCA says X. That may seem a little abstract, so here's an analogy to X". That is, I'm not trying to map DMCA to the murder example, but providing the murder example as how I understand the DMCA. Is my understanding off-base?
posted by Bugbread at 5:30 PM on April 9, 2007


Because you don't have the right to sacrifice the community's interests for your ideals.

This thread and the original ask.metafilter question have been up for a while now. Jessamyn has looked in and said she has no problem. I assume mathowie has no problem. And mathowie has a keen interest in intellectual property, and has stated many times previously what he is and isn't willing to have on his site.

And yet the links you object to remain.

I'm not sacrificing anything. But you're trying to sacrifice Metafilter's integrity out of yellow-bellied corporate do-goodery.
posted by Jimbob at 5:40 PM on April 9, 2007


I've heard that if you type words relating to illegal or immoral things into the google search box and press "enter" (maybe return works too; haven't tried it), you'll get a bunch of links which also relate to those same illegal or immoral things. YMMV.
posted by Kwine at 5:52 PM on April 9, 2007


It's true. 'Specially if you turn off this safe search 'feature' (or is it a bug?).
posted by IronLizard at 6:22 PM on April 9, 2007


bugbread, 1201 says "a technological measure that effectively protects a right of a copyright owner." Without going into too much detail, if the court holds that the EULA is a "technological measure," then you're pretty much screwed, because the rest of the provision is just unbelievably broad. I assume that's the portion you're referencing.

The bigger problem is 1202's prohibition on circumventing "copyright management information," which includes, among other things, "(6) Terms and conditions for use of the work." I don't see any way you could keep a EULA out of that definition.

bugbread: True, you probably can't remove the EULA, but you could violate it without removing it

Technically, I don't think you can do either, but I think both probably fall within the ambit of "circumventing," which is what I think I was talking about.

With regards to your murder example, I'm not sure I have this right, but if I understand you correctly, then the answer is that the DMCA prohibits both the circumvention of copyright protection as well as the violation (actually, the violation itself is probably governed elsewhere). The DMCA says that you can't distribute, circumvent, reverse-engineer, perform, induce, conceal, facilitate, enable, offer, traffic, provide, or do damn well anything that has anything to do with copyrighted material.

JimBob: I don't think I could possibly care less about your ranting. If Matt agrees that the risk isn't acceptable, fine. If not, fine. Your soapboxing isn't relevant. For the fourth or fifth time now, I'm not a fan of the DMCA by any stretch of the imagination. But I think that this is a dumb place to draw the line in the sand, just as a practical matter. We can agree to disagree on that, I suppose. Best wishes.
posted by spiderwire at 8:15 PM on April 9, 2007


But I think that this is a dumb place to draw the line in the sand

"We shall go on to the end, we shall fight on MetaFilter, we shall fight on the forums and hard disks, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the random access memory, we shall defend our tinkering, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the blogs, we shall fight on the torrent trackers, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender,"

(My apologies to Winston Churchill)
posted by IronLizard at 9:42 PM on April 9, 2007

Frankly, I'm not interested in your self-righteousness, nor the appropriateness of the law, which I thought I was pretty clear about. I'm also well aware of the content of davy's link. My only concern is MeFi's exposure to liability, and there is ample precedent for the proposition that linking to circumvention resources violates the DMCA. I don't make the rules, so kindly remove your foot from your mouth.
posted by spiderwire at 3:07 PM on April 9 [+] [!]
<IMG SRC="http://flickr.com/photos/jesus-h-shatner/371365053/" ALT="Oh choke on a dick">

It does not behoove you to hamhandedly attempt to protect the potential copyrights of unknown corporations from possible infringement by mostly anonymous persons on the internet.

In short, fuck you asshole, your ninny-like hand-wringing brings only shame upon The House of Grey.
posted by blasdelf at 11:52 PM on April 9, 2007


You say that like it's a law of nature.

You don't own software that you don't write, you own a license to use it. So no, software is not like a table.
posted by cmonkey at 2:32 AM on April 10, 2007


spiderwire : "The bigger problem is 1202's prohibition on circumventing "copyright management information," which includes, among other things, "(6) Terms and conditions for use of the work." I don't see any way you could keep a EULA out of that definition."

Bingo. Thanks. You learn something new every day, but today I've learned like 3 or 4 things.
posted by Bugbread at 2:39 AM on April 10, 2007


I'll grant that it's borderline.

Golly, mighty generous of you.

That said, it's needlessly inflammatory in the first place, so...

So why don't we stomp on it? Chilling effects, anyone? As far as your promotion of yourself to an authority on what style of expression is or is not 'needless,' why don't you show some respect for the community you claim to be interested in and not try to turn it into kindergarten (more than it already is)?

Your position on this is so over-the-top extreme it's hard for me to believe that you're not a troll or an industry shill.
posted by phearlez at 6:43 AM on April 10, 2007


phearlez writes "why don't you show some respect for the community you claim to be interested in and not try to turn it into kindergarten"

I don't think he's trying to turn it into a kindergarten, he's giving matt advice so that matt avoids being destroyed by a big legal bill. I personally don't think, at all, that that's going to happen, and I think if Matt really did pull relatively lightweight discussions like this, that it would suck (though I don't know how that relates to "kindergarten"), but I certainly don't see that as spiderwire's goal.

You have a hard time thinking he's just some guy who's really scared of the DMCA and is giving someone else advice? Haven't you ever met someone with a particular fear who advises other people? My wife keeps my kid bundled up way too warm because she thinks he'll catch a cold. Would you look at an overreaction like that and then say "It's hard for me to believe that she isn't a troll or a jacket industry shill"?
posted by Bugbread at 9:19 AM on April 10, 2007


bugbread, I appreciate the defense.

phearlez, I think that you misunderstand me.

Let's pull out davy's comment to begin with. I think even he would agree that he gets a kick out of pushing people's buttons here, and that's all his comment was. It didn't really contribute anything to the discussion and nothing would be lost be pulling it. Believe me, he's no stranger to having comments deleted. But as I said, it's borderline, so I don't think it's as big a concern as the links in the original thread.

As to the broader accusation, I'm baffled as to how you could read my comments and call me an "industry shill." You may have missed the places where I called the DMCA "a fucked-up law," a "stupid-ass law," or "seriously horrifying shit."

What you don't seem to grasp is that my position on this matter isn't "over-the-top extreme" in the least -- the DMCA is an over-the-top extreme law. It really, actually does prohibit the links in the original AskMe thread. It actually does open MeFi up to a litigation threat -- and even if you dispute the legitimacy of the thread, which you're not really qualified to do, a litigation threat alone carries with it serious consequences. We don't pay for opposing counsel's costs in this country, meaning that even getting called into court can cost thousands of dollars.

The point is that the cost-benefit in this case really isn't worth it. It's one thread, or three comments if Matt didn't want to delete the thread. But the "let 'em post what they want!" sentiment in this thread sets a bad precedent for MeFi, as does leaving the comments. (Not to mention that it's hypocritical considering the community's knee-jerk response to other far more attenuated criminal issues.) Even if those particular comments never become an issue, if this were to become an issue in the future (and if we adopt a laissez-faire attitude about potential DMCA violations, that's more likely to happen), those comments and the tolerance of them would be painfully damning.

Oh, and frankly, it's pretty goddamn ridiculous for all the people posting "eat a cock" comments and ranting about Fighting the Man in this thread to accuse me of lowering the level of discourse. Or, for that matter, to throw around "industry shill" simply because I might have a different risk calculus and at least something of a grasp on the issue at hand.
posted by spiderwire at 11:40 AM on April 10, 2007


It's the hand-wringing. We don't like the hand-wringing. We could have gotten along with this thread just fine without you commenting 14 times on a subject we'd rather not bring up.

Do you want a sopping wet towel of an idea, ripe for the wringing? How about: This discussion of liabilities under the DMCA, and other inane threads just like it, straightforwardly prove violation. How about that? Should this whole thread be deleted?

If you really enjoy this kind of ninnying (as you seem to), you might consider leaving us for the waiting arms of debian-legal. They are the true masters of this kind of asshattery.
posted by blasdelf at 12:44 PM on April 10, 2007


I don't think he's trying to turn it into a kindergarten, he's giving matt advice so that matt avoids being destroyed by a big legal bill.

Here's where we disagree. First, fourteen posts isn't "giving advice," it's hectoring.

Second, that advice - from someone just getting started in law school, and thus in reality only about 12 weeks more qualified than you or I to provide guidance on this matter - did not start and end with "Matt should delete links since the 2600 case clearly showed that the court can and will stomp on mere links to information." Instead, it overlooked the clear distinction between linking to material and linking to a search engine, and (much more significantly to my mind) deigned to claim what is and is not worthy of being here.

He's still on it. It didn't really contribute anything to the discussion and nothing would be lost be pulling it. I say that someone supposedly interested in the preservation of a community should spend a little time thinking about what you might do in trying to preserve a community but destroy it in the process. Killing everything that doesn't "really contribute" and might be even remotely scary to someone determined to over-compensate for a moronic law qualifies, I think.

As far as how I could suggest that you're an industry shill, spiderwire, even though you malign the DMCA, that's simple: The various industries that gain from enforcement of the DMCA don't require that anyone like the law, only that they obey it. It's even further in their interest for everyone who might break it to fear it so much that they overcompensate and never get anywhere near the edges.

In other words, I think you could be yelling BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA! rather than MIND THE GAP.

As to your endless blah blah blah about risk-benefit analysis, you're right : we're not the ones who have to live with the consequences, Matt is. Consequently, maybe you should try to make your case just once rather than a dozen times and show some respect (huh, there's that word again) for Matt's choices even if he continues to not take your advice.
posted by phearlez at 1:11 PM on April 10, 2007


Would it be hand-wringing if I told you that you have no idea what you're talking about? If you don't want to read it, leave the thread. No one's forcing you to stay here.

Look, links are important. You apparently don't know how important, so I'll hit some key points for you:

(1) I'm not harping on links for no reason; courts have a weird fetish about links. The caselaw says it's OK to talk about many things, but once you start linking to cracking resources, that's when you get fucked. Part of this is because of the DMCA, but a lot of it just has to do with the weird judicial precedents about the internet. (The Pavlovich DeCSS case is the one to read here.) The thread would have been fine (and note -- would have proceeded exactly as it otherwise did!) if people had just talked about the relevant tools rather than linking to them.

Remember, it was linking to DeCSS that fucked over 2600 magazine. A link. That's all it was. They lost that suit. So regardless of whether you (or I) think it's meaningless minutiae or "hand-wringing," the law doesn't, and that's what matters at the end of the day.

(2) Links can determine jurisdiction. The technical aspects of this aren't worth going into, but suffice it to say that it would be much better to have to deal with any potential suit in California rather than getting dragged into federal court or another circuit's court, which is what linking risks. Again, Pavlovich is good authority to read for that.

(3) Standards and practices matter. Do you really think that MeFi is going to get sued over any particular one of the bevy of oh-god-that's-potentially-criminal-behavior threads that get deleted all the time? Of course not. But the reason you police things like this is that when a suit does come down the pipe (and that is not out of the realm of possibility, despite what you might think), you can point to the policies in place. That makes a huge difference in torts. It is literally the most important shield that you have.

Your argument actually works the opposite way than you seem to think it does. Policing small violations actually looks really good.

The reasons you do these things is that if that hypothetical suit ever does come down, threads like this will come up at trial or pretrial, and one of two things will happen. If the problem was dealt with appropriately, the admins say "look, we had a policy in place, so even if something slipped through the cracks, there's no liability." Case closed. Alternatively, if the links are left, the people bringing the suit say, "there was an obvious problem here and someone even posted to MeTa about it and you ignored it. That shows a pattern of neglect." Bad news.

Now, again -- and I'm really getting tired of saying this -- if you disagree with the way things work, that's fine. I think it's pretty fucked-up, too. But the fact that you don't like talking about it really isn't my problem. If you don't have anything substantive to contribute, you should just leave, rather than posting "eat a cock" and then bitching about how I'm dragging down the level of discourse.

And seriously, I'm trying to give a calm, intelligent viewpoint on a matter than I have really, really strong personal views about (and no small amount of expertise on), and no one is engaging it. I'm spoonfeeding you not just the secondary commentary, but the primary caselaw, and trying to filter it, and the best you can come up with is "hand-wringing"? All due respect, but you have no clue what you're talking about. Unless someone has a valid technical point on the matter, I'm done here. My sincere apologies for actually understanding that of which I speak.

(N.B. -- My personal views aren't pro-DMCA, in case that wasn't painfully clear by the point.)
posted by spiderwire at 1:16 PM on April 10, 2007


from someone just getting started in law school, and thus in reality only about 12 weeks more qualified than you or I to provide guidance on this matter

I assure you that I have a great deal more background on this topic than just my experience in law school, which is, despite what you seem to think, not insignificant either.

Regardless, you've yet to make a substantive point, so for all practical purposes I could be in high school, and you still wouldn't be any more right.

overlooked the clear distinction between linking to material and linking to a search engine,

Can we please stop with the red herring about davy's link? Did you read the two links in the original thread?

and (much more significantly to my mind) deigned to claim what is and is not worthy of being here.

On the contrary, I said more than a few times that I enjoyed the thread and felt that it was an important discussion. You seem to have mistaken me for the OP.

If you're talking about my references to davy's general SOP of baiting people, well... I don't think you understand my objection there, but that's really besides the point.

As far as how I could suggest that you're an industry shill, spiderwire, even though you malign the DMCA, that's simple: The various industries that gain from enforcement of the DMCA don't require that anyone like the law, only that they obey it. It's even further in their interest for everyone who might break it to fear it so much that they overcompensate and never get anywhere near the edges.

My position is that making meaningless gestures flouting the law is useless, and that the place to challenge bad laws is in the legislature. Breaking the law and getting hauled into court over it strikes me as much more conducive to the DMCA strategy.

But, you know, we can agree to differ there. Regardless, calling me an "industry shill" because my notion of political strategy differs from yours is totally indefensible.

Consequently, maybe you should try to make your case just once rather than a dozen times and show some respect (huh, there's that word again) for Matt's choices even if he continues to not take your advice.

Funny, I haven't seen Matt in this thread, I've just seen a bunch of self-righteous assholes spouting a bunch of opinions that happen to be demonstrably incorrect. As for making my point "a dozen times," I'm not sure how discussing the technical aspects of the DMCA and EULAs with bugbread counts as "hectoring," but hey, you can spin however you want. No one's keeping score here, and again, if you don't like it, no one's forcing you to stay and whine.
posted by spiderwire at 1:32 PM on April 10, 2007


The various industries that gain from enforcement of the DMCA don't require that anyone like the law, only that they obey it. It's even further in their interest for everyone who might break it to fear it so much that they overcompensate and never get anywhere near the edges.

Oh, and at risk of "hectoring," let me make this a little more clear. I really don't think you're wrong here. If this were 2000, I think that challenging the DMCA in the courts would definitely be the right strategy.

But I just think we're past that now. Pavlovich is settled law. So is Corley. So is BNETD. You don't need to be a lawyer to know that precedents just make it harder and harder to accomplish anything in that area. It sucks that we lost those initial battles.

But at the point we're at now, I just don't think that banging our heads against the wall accomplishes much. You gotta choose your battles, especially legal battles, for exactly this reason.

One thing I don't think you do, though, is get involved in this circular firing squad where you say that people who agree with you on the political goal -- if not the means -- are "industry shills," and telling them to "eat a cock" rather than engage in the specific debate. I do find that pretty objectionable.


Oh, and I think it's more like twenty-five weeks, not twelve.... although wow, does it feel like a lot longer than that.
posted by spiderwire at 2:15 PM on April 10, 2007


Get your hardcore copyright-violain', EULA-smashin', DCMA-offendin' sofware right here!
posted by Jimbob at 3:57 PM on April 10, 2007


blasdelf writes "We could have gotten along with this thread just fine without you commenting 14 times on a subject we'd rather not bring up."

That was mainly because I was asking him questions. If his excessive commenting bugged you, you should probably be upset at me, not him.
posted by Bugbread at 3:59 PM on April 10, 2007


You don't own software that you don't write, you own a license to use it. So no, software is not like a table.

What if I tell someone that they own the software I write? Do they still not own it? Or does me telling them they do constitute a licence?

What if I write some software, put it on a disk, and leave it on a park bench somewhere with no comments or agreements or supporting documentation? Just an .exe file on a physical medium that someone can take home and put on their computer, or put in their drawer. What licence is attached to that?

What licence is attached to the tiny bits of code and functions I may email to colleagues? The guy in the next office needs a hand with some R code, I email him a 5-line function. Can I ping him if he modifies it?

What licence is attached to the software that runs my digital watch? There was nothing in the instruction manual about my obligations when it comes to reselling that software, or decompiling that software... just how to set the time and instructions not to take it under 50m of water.

I'm actually kinda serious here because I'm having trouble understanding why a licence is "automatic", and if that's the case, what that licence may be. Sure, if people want to attach a EULA to something they put out and make people click "I Agree" then I can interpret that as "having a licence". But when I wrote a Connect-4 game on my Amstrad in BASIC back in 1991 and gave it to my neighbour on a 3" disk, I can assure you I was allowing him to own the software, own the physical medium it came on, and reserving no rights, without having explicitly said so.
posted by Jimbob at 4:55 PM on April 10, 2007


Well, you would actually retain copyright to your work (and derivatives) implicitly. But not that other DMCA ,no bit fiddling allowed, BS. Remember fair use?
posted by IronLizard at 5:58 PM on April 10, 2007


If you need to understand why people seem to have a poor opinion of you after your conduct in this thread....

I haven't seen Matt in this thread

Would it be hand-wringing if I told you that you have no idea what you're talking about?

Look, links are important. You apparently don't know how important

But the fact that you don't like talking about it really isn't my problem

I'm spoonfeeding you not just the secondary commentary... but you have no clue what you're talking about... My sincere apologies for actually understanding that of which I speak.

I've just seen a bunch of self-righteous assholes spouting a bunch of opinions that happen to be demonstrably incorrect.

Last things first - while you weren't the first person to degenerate to obscenity and insults, you're not helping your cause by calling people assholes. I'm sorry you seem to have taken my statement as a similar attack rather than an observation on how severe your suggested solutions are.

That aside, you can't tell people you're spoon-feeding them - and do so with obvious condescension and the statement that you're doing them a favor - without them reaching the obvious conclusion that they're the baby in that metaphor.

Finally, taking first things last, exactly right: you haven't seen Matt in this thread. Clearly he's made his decision and, sad for you, it's not what you want. You can keep flogging this dead horse up to the point where you'll have to grind it up and feed it to a new horse for you to beat if you like, but you can't force Matt to take the actions you want.

I can't speak for anyone else but the reason I've "yet to make a substantive point" is because I don't see the point in discussing the particulars with you. You have acknowledged that you have "really, really strong personal views about" and apparently that extends to how you think surrounding issues should be handled. Okay. So do I, and I am familiar enough with the issue and my beliefs on the matters and the tradeoffs we all make in our actions and the repercussions to know you're not going to be changing my mind.

I also know that even if you did it wouldn't matter here: I'm not the guy you have to talk into it. He's the one offering you a deafening silence, which is a pretty clear answer itself.

where you say that people who agree with you on the political goal -- if not the means -- are "industry shills," and telling them to "eat a cock"

I'd also appreciate it if you'd try to be a little more precise going forward and stop writing things that make it sound like I ever came close to saying anything to you about penis consumption. I didn't and wouldn't, and I don't like you implying I did.
posted by phearlez at 9:40 AM on April 11, 2007


I just want to say, without any shred of irony, that I've really liked this thread for the vigorous back-and-forth contained therein. Cock-eatery and such notwithstanding.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:16 AM on April 11, 2007


Oh, nonsense. This thread was filled with vitriol far before I got here, and all of my initial comments were perfectly reasonable. It was you, phearlez, who said "Are you fucking serious?" and even then I think I was pretty restrained.

Then JimBob accused me of "trying to sacrifice Metafilter's integrity out of yellow-bellied corporate do-goodery," and I said "OK, let's agree to disagree." Maybe you think I was getting a little condescending by that point. OK.

Then blasdelf said I was a "fucking asshole" and suggested I "eat a cock," and you baselessly accuse me of being an "industry shill" despite the fact that I'd been pretty clear about my disapproval of the DMCA. So yeah, I do think I got pretty mad at that point. Are you saying that I should have just let that go? Even so, I didn't start insulting anyone, I said that it was hypocritical and I got a little condescending. OK.

Then, blasdelf accuses me of "hand-wringing," you make an ad hom about my experience on the subject, and then you make an argument that's demonstrably wrong about the link question. As far as I can tell, you still haven't read the link to the cracking tutorial in the original thread. That was the first and only substantive argument made. I patiently went out and retrieved all the appropriate caselaw, and even did some unnecessary explanation about civil procedure. So yeah, I do feel like it's justified to be a little condescending when the only response I've gotten to the arguments I'm making is a bunch of insults. And yeah, I am a little pissed that I'm getting continually insulted. Incidentally, I was nonspecific about the "choke on a cock" insult, but at the same time I don't buy your faux outrage for a moment.

Your belated attempt to reclaim the moral high ground is, frankly, bullshit. You say, "I'm sorry you seem to have taken my statement as a similar attack rather than an observation on how severe your suggested solutions are." Look, everything else aside, if you start the discussion with "Are you fucking serious?" you don't get to turn around and say "Oh my my my, you're being so mean." You were the first person to degenerate into obscenity and insults, and despite claiming to be "knowledgable" about the issue, you've yet to cite to one piece of actual, substantive authority -- legal or otherwise -- to back up one thing that you've said.

When you rely on volume, insults, and baiting to support your position, and then retreat in a flurry of passive-aggressiveness, then yeah, you're being a self-righteous asshole. Make an argument or get out -- don't tell me that you know the answer but that you're above letting me know. I gave your arguments enough credit to go out and try and find the answers to back up what I said, and if you can't extend that same basic respect, I'm done with you.
posted by spiderwire at 12:35 PM on April 11, 2007


You're clearly in full dudgeon here, but stating that you're a first year law student in no way qualifies as an "ad hom."

You want to have an extended discussion on this, I get it. I'm not interested, nor have I claimed to "know the answer" since I don't believe there is an answer in this matter, there's just different decisions about how to behave in the face of a possible problem. To you this is a matter of Right and Wrong. *shrug* I can't force you to believe otherwise, but no matter how many times you insist you've gone out and gotten the absolute facts and answers it's not going to make this a black and white issue.

If you really want to compare "are you fucking serious" to "eat a dick," then, well, that's your right and you can take them equally seriously. Just don't claim I said something that I did not.
posted by phearlez at 1:50 PM on April 11, 2007


OK, I'm not one to hold a grudge, and I don't want there to be bad blood, so I'll be clear here. First, I'm sorry for the "eat a dick" sentence. By "you" I meant "you guys," including blasdelf, but in context that sentence was horribly phrased. I still think you came out of the gate with both guns blazing, so I'm annoyed at being called the bad guy. But OK, no harm no foul.

As for the ad hom, you didn't say I was a first year law student, you said that I had at best twelve weeks more experience than the average commentator. You also said that I misunderstood an issue. Just so you understand where I'm coming from here, I came to law school essentially as a result of reading too many Lawrence Lessig books. I'm pretty well-versed on the subject. Like years and years well-versed on it. Just thinking about the DMCA makes my blood boil. So to hear someone say -- essentially with no basis -- that I'm (a) not qualified (b) wrong and (c) defending the side I'm attacking just because I'm trying to / able to draw nuanced distinctions really gets under my skin, especially when they aren't making substantive objections.

I absolutely admit that the disagreement here is just a question of strategy. That's OK. As a moral matter, if Matt wants to take the position you suggest, I am absolutely in favor of that. There are some laws bad enough that they deserve to be ignored, and the DMCA is definitely one of them. However, as a legal matter, many of the things that have been said in this thread are just wrong, and they deserve to be corrected so that the picture is complete, I think. I'm willing to argue and maybe even lose those points, but I don't appreciate it when people attach a moral valence to my risk calculus. I don't know if that clarifies things at all, but hopefully it's helpful.
posted by spiderwire at 2:56 PM on April 11, 2007


Damn, did I go manic in the wrong thread again?
posted by davy at 4:48 PM on April 11, 2007


While I implored you to "choke on a dick", I did not call you an "industry shill". Someone else did that. I did continually imply that you are the type of dude who should really be hanging out on debian-legal instead of Metafilter. Those guys fantasize in their wet dreams about removing functionality from their distribution over petty license differences and 'patent encumbrance'.

You seem to care about meeting the letter of laws you despise (in a manner most pedantic) far more than the fine internet website we here haunt.


We'd rather avoid deleting comments because some first-year law student loves him some Lessig (dude's never actually won a copyright case in court), and preserve the lovely discourse we have where we can link without fear of pedantry and tell people to choke on dicks.
posted by blasdelf at 8:19 PM on April 11, 2007


blasdelf: You seem to care about meeting the letter of laws you despise (in a manner most pedantic) far more than the fine internet website we here haunt.

I care about Matt getting a side of the debate that doesn't come from a clueless peanut gallery that apparently can't be bothered to read about the things they're complaining about. But whatever, please, continue to preserve the lovely discourse by being a prick. You're clearly a boon to MeFi.

Here, I think you explain it best yourself:
At the end of the day, it is you who chose to be offended and victimized by [legal analysis] that was not intended to be so by it's [sic] author, and you who chose to be such a douchebag about it publicly... You don't even have the toolkit to be knowledgeably critical.

Also, you're not the voice of the MeFi community, despite what you appear to think. (Incidentally, you may have noticed that most of us who have been here much longer than you don't pretend to speak as authorities on that point.) If you actually care about the quality of discourse around here, you might start by not randomly shitting on threads like you did in this one, and like you have in many others.

Grow up.
posted by spiderwire at 10:46 PM on April 11, 2007


How much of my posting history did you dig through?

Yes, I'm being a prick to you, as you're pissing me off. You're being a prick to the community by repeatedly appealing to mathowie to delete comments, citing vague DMCA concerns based on some feverish googling. Matt is plenty familiar with his real liabilities, he doesn't need your hectoring.

Only you missed most of the big picture: Who the fuck is supposed to be the one filing the DMCA complaint or suit in this case anyway? There's no mention of any specific software to be cracked in the thread! How are they supposed to find the thread? Who is he liable to? Nobody.

You're the only one who's bringing the chilling effects to the table, citing only bogeymen. Do you suggest that we re-encode all the mp3s on Metafilter Music to ogg vorbis, to avoid 'patent liability', like the wikipedia asshats did? Do you want to ban all links to mashups that could potentially turn dead because of takedowns? I'm sure you could come up with reasons to pre-emptively delete some considerable portion of Metafilter.
posted by blasdelf at 1:32 AM on April 12, 2007


spiderwire: all of those cases you listed are civil cases. Neither the OP nor anyone in this thread has mentioned a particular piece of software, so there is no civil case to be made. The 2600 example concerned DeCSS, and CSS is someone's intellectual property. Sheesh, do yourself a favor and don't go into IP law.
posted by Frankieist at 5:03 AM on April 12, 2007


Only you missed most of the big picture: Who the fuck is supposed to be the one filing the DMCA complaint or suit in this case anyway? There's no mention of any specific software to be cracked in the thread! How are they supposed to find the thread? Who is he liable to? Nobody.

Explained scenario here.

You're the only one who's bringing the chilling effects to the table, citing only bogeymen. Do you suggest that we re-encode all the mp3s on Metafilter Music to ogg vorbis, to avoid 'patent liability', like the wikipedia asshats did? Do you want to ban all links to mashups that could potentially turn dead because of takedowns? I'm sure you could come up with reasons to pre-emptively delete some considerable portion of Metafilter.

At first glace: No. Those are all good examples of overreactions (and frankly ogg vorbis annoys the hell out of me). I think those are examples of cases that would be defensible and potentially worth taking a stand on. The sole limitation of my concern is to not link to cracking tutorials. See below.

Frankiest: See, I can't link to it, but look to cmonkey's comment in the thread -- I believe it's the fourth one down.

I am vacillating on the OilyDBG link. davy's link is questionably problematic, but it's flamebait so I think there's a separate reason to get rid of it. The one just mentioned is definitely problematic. The thread would have gotten along just fine with the exact same text minus the < a> tags, since mdevore was has the topic well in hand, so I don't see how you'd risk a "chillling effect." Anyway, I'm done.
posted by spiderwire at 7:30 AM on April 12, 2007


As for the ad hom, you didn't say I was a first year law student, you said that I had at best twelve weeks more experience than the average commentator.

Well that's partly because I apparently decided it was still Jan and not April or decided there were 2 weeks in a month, whatever - clearly some brain cells I killed at some party. Hope it was worth it.

However I stand by the position that a well-read amateur in their first year of law school - 12 weeks or 24 - is only marginally more credible an authority than any other person writing on the internet. Quite frankly, in matters like this I don't think much of the authority of a 3L or even someone who's just passed the bar. There's too many factors and big money players in the field fighting over a relatively new and not yet thoroughly litigated chunk of law to make serious predictions if you're not an experienced litigator in the IP specialty.

To be honest, and I hope you take this as an observation and not an attack, I find you far, far too passionate and driven on this matter to think of you as much of an authority of the matter. True Believers are important for any cause, but once I see spittle froth in the corner of someone's mouth I start nodding and biding time till I can find a calmer and more moderate person to provide me some more nuanced information. TBs often suffer in their causes because they can no longer imagine anyone else not immediately and obviously seeing things the way they do - why, it's so OBVIOUS, they'll see all the facts in the proper context.

If you need perspective on what it's like to deal with such a person, you can ask my darling girlfriend about the look in my eye when someone says "TSA" within my hearing.
posted by phearlez at 7:33 AM on April 12, 2007


I can sympathize with that. I'd like to think that the frothing didn't really start until after the mud started flying, but, that's often how it goes, I guess. Certainly, the most annoying True Believers are those Radically Committed to Moderation... but I can't really help being violently wishy-washy. :)
posted by spiderwire at 8:33 AM on April 12, 2007


spiderwire writes "There might actually be constraints on what you can legally do with the material (how you can display a DVD, for example). The DMCA, IIRC, prohibits you from circumventing a EULA, among other things."

Thank $Diety$ not everyone lives where that corporate payoff is the force of law.
posted by Mitheral at 12:10 PM on April 12, 2007


What a fun read! If I participated I guess I'd waste half of my life arguing with idiots too, but instead I'm going to watch TV.
posted by wackybrit at 11:30 AM on April 13, 2007


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