The Pirate Bay To Begin Appeals

The four men behind The Pirate Bay will go to court Tuesday, in Sweden, to appeal the charges brought against them. The charges include one year in jail and $905,000 each in fines. This will be the first of eight trial dates during which the four men will have to plead their case and appeal their charges.

The Pirate Bay had a very rough last year, closing down its tracker 10 months ago and announcing the closing of the advocacy organization that started this BitTorrent service. Despite closing down the tracker the service remained open in bare bones mode providing limited service.

Five months ago in April four men were found guilty of assisting in making illegal downloads of copyrighted content possible. These four men, Carl Lundstrom, Gottfrid Svartholm, Peter Sunde, and Fredrik Neij were formally charged and all pleaded not guilty stating that they were not responsible for their users’ actions.

In the coming weeks after October 15 we should hear the final verdict. Supposedly there will be a tell-all documentary released soon about The Pirate Bay and getting the inside story to the largest BitTorrent company around.

Is Big Media Fudging On The Piracy Numbers? Could Be Says The GAO

This may come as a shock to all of us but the government thinks that the people who provide the piracy numbers for big media, may be fudging a little or lot, depending on ones point of view. You see the government [General Accounting Office] seems to think that the numbers being provided may be inflated. How much are the numbers being inflated? No one really knows. But according to one article it states that:

“Three widely cited U.S. government estimates of economic losses resulting from counterfeiting cannot be substantiated due to the absence of underlying studies,” the GAO said. “Each method (of measuring) has limitations, and most experts observed that it is difficult, if not impossible, to quantify the economy-wide impacts.”

Though there is a general consensus that piracy can cause a drag on the economy and a loss of revenue, there are some folks who were interviewed who provided a positive effect of copying copyrighted materials.

“Some experts we interviewed and literature we reviewed identified potential positive economic effects of counterfeiting and piracy,” The GAO wrote. “Some consumers may knowingly purchase a counterfeit or pirated product because it is less expensive than the genuine good or because the genuine good is unavailable, and they may experience positive effects from such purchases.”

“Consumers may use pirated goods to ‘sample’ music, movies, software, or electronic games before purchasing legitimate copies,” the GAO continued. “(This) may lead to increased sales of legitimate goods.

As I originally stated, even the feds seem confused. What is also disturbing is that the report had no recommendations on how to stop piracy.  Seems kind of strange to me. Oh, I forgot, it is the government I am talking about. LOL

Conclusions: piracy is good and bad, all at the same time. Piracy is only sampling of music, movies or electronic games, before one decides to buy it. It is a crazy world we live in.

Pirates 1 Media 0

Comments welcome.


Microsoft Adds More Anti-Piracy Protections To Windows 7 – Starts 02-16-10

In another move to thwart pirates from breaking into Windows 7 activation process, Microsoft is adding a new anti-piracy update. It seems that pirates are once again at work and have devised a procedure to by pass activation and to get an illegal copy of Windows 7 working without completing the process. Microsoft has issued an update that will detect illegal activations and what is being described as ‘numerous exploits’ in one article.

One source stated:

Copies of Windows 7 can be downloaded for free, but users must purchase a legitimate registration key to activate the software. But numerous activation exploits have popped up on the Internet that are designed to let users illegally bypass the registration process.

Williams said Microsoft’s new patch, called the Windows Activation Technologies Update, will sniff out all known activation exploits every 90 days to ensure computer users have not employed them, whether knowingly or unwittingly.

If non-authentic software is detected, the update will prompt users to take action (i.e., pay Microsoft) and any background wallpaper in use will be switched to a plain desktop as an additional reminder that action is necessary.

Microsoft first plans to distribute the patch through Windows Update to Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate, and Enterprise editions of Windows 7 next week. It will also be available online at the company’s Web site starting Feb. 16.

It is nice to know before hand that this update is on its way, just in case it doesn’t work correctly. In the past some of these type of activation / anti-piracy updates have actually disabled machines with legal copies of Windows  installed .

Do you think these type of measures will stop piracy? Let us know.

Comments welcome.


Legit Music Alternatives For China

There should be an image here!Based on what I am reading, this could very well be a good thing for the affected Chinese looking to use the Baidu search engine to illegally download music tracks.

The deal being struck with Qtrax looks pretty promising for curbing rampant music piracy. This is not to say that it is going to solve everyone’s problems with dealing with music piracy, but I think for Baidu it may very well be a solid start.

Further expanding their reach, Qtrax is looking to launching in Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Taiwan. This could translate into Qtrax positioning themselves into a real growth position as they enter each individual market.

Windows Activation And Microsoft’s “Trust” Issues

Gnomie Nick Andison from South Australia writes:

Dear Chris,

This is a response to the video you uploaded, Apple Trusts Users More Than Microsoft? Having watched the video, and read the caption in which you believe and sing rather loudly the fact that “Apple does seem to trust its users more than Microsoft, because it allows them to do so.”

My interpretation as to why Microsoft has imposed mandatory activation and therefore, by your logic, doesn’t trust its customers is this:

Let’s look back to Windows 9x (95, 98, and ME) — no mandatory activation there. Now let’s look at Windows NT (NT, 2000) — again, no mandatory activation there. In fact, there isn’t even mandatory activation in the NT and 2000 Advanced Server edition of Windows. But the funny thing is, if I search any torrent site, or ask someone I know, guaranteed I can get a copy of Windows for free. Moreover, up until XP, Microsoft would have appeared to trust customers to use one instance of Windows per computer. Yet clearly customers did not.

There are quite a number of customers who did, much like there is a large number of Apple users who, rather than honour the Apple license agreement, will use a single install disc on multiple computers. The point I am trying to make is that once upon a time Microsoft, by your logic, by not having mandatory activation, trusted its customers to do the right thing. And given the fact that I can download any Windows Operating system from 3.1 to 2000 from just about any torrent site, shows to me that a majority of Microsoft customers certainly didn’t honour the ‘trust’ Microsoft invested in them.

So do we blame Microsoft for introducing mandatory activation into newer versions of Windows? I personally don’t. I think, given the amount of pirated copies of Microsoft software not limited to Windows, it’s disgusting. Microsoft software is not that expensive; yes, I’ll admit that some things are priced a bit steep, but they’re not millions of dollars. Look at it this way: If you want to buy a new computer but it’s expensive, do you steal it?

I think that Microsoft’s mandatory activation was almost unavoidable and, while some of us may disagree with it, hate it, or even plain don’t care, it’s here to stay. And I think Apple would be wise, in the new version of Mac OS X, to incorporate some form of antipiracy measures.

Your ISP To Be The Next Music Copyright Cops

The music industry is at it once again. They have sued college students, teenagers, and even a dead woman in their attempt to stop music piracy. Now they are turning to the ISP’s across the land and want them to be the new copyright police. It seems that music piracy is at an all time high and nothing seems to stem the tide. But by having ISP’s warn customers that piracy is illegal and that their accounts could be shut down, the music folks are hoping to put a stop at piracy.

According to an article over at Bloomberg it states that:

Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group Corp., EMI Group and Sony Music Entertainment have gained leverage through court and government actions to pressure ISPs into warning customers not to steal music — in some cases with a threat to cut service. Crowded networks are helping to soften U.S. and European access providers’ resistance to working with record companies.

I seriously doubt that this new tactic is going to be successful. Music piracy will continue no matter what the music folks believe.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.


Microsoft Updates WGA For Windows XP

Oh goodie. Microsoft is going to update WGA [Windows Genuine Advantage] in order to make it simpler. So if I read the explanation that Microsoft is providing, it seems that customers have asked for this. Customers want the simplest way possible to know if their copy of Windows is real or a fake. Microsoft also states that they are concentrating their efforts on Windows XP Pro, because this is where the pirates hang out.

So what happens if your copy of Windows XP comes up as a fake? This:

With this update to WGA Notifications in Windows XP, we’ve implemented a couple of related features that draw on the notifications experience we designed for Windows Vista SP1. After installing this version of WGA Notifications on a copy of Windows XP that fails the validation, most users will discover on their next logon that their desktop has changed to a plain black background from whatever was there previously (see below).

Plain Black Background

And you will also get this warning:

 Persistent Desktop Notification

I’m excited about how this release balances our goals of providing a great experience to those who have genuine Windows and at the same time creating a compelling experience for those who have non-genuine copies to get genuine Windows. As usual I welcome your feedback about this latest release and the program overall. Thanks for reading!

I’m glad someone is excited about this. My only gripe is when WGA doesn’t work correctly, which has happened in the past, a few million or so users suffered. Trying to get your system back up and running as the genuine article can be trying to say the least.

Just one question? Did anyone here call Microsoft and ask for a new WGA ? :-)

Comments welcome.

Microsoft blog release.

Game Industry Threatens Downloaders

The game industry is heading the way of the RIAA, in that the industry is threatening to sue people who file share games. The first sets of lawsuits will be taking place in the UK where 25,000 down loaders will be served with notices. Notices that say pay up or we will sue. The companies involved are:

 Atari, Topware Interactive, Reality Pump, Techland and Codemasters – make some of the popular games, including The Lord of the Rings,the Colin McRae Rally series and Operation Flashpoint. It is estimated that as many as six million people in Britain share games illegally over the internet. The aggressive action marks a dramatic change in the approach to copyright on the internet. The British music industry, hit hard by illegal file-sharing, has taken action against just 150 people in ten years.

The game makers have appointed the law firm Davenport Lyons. This week Isabela Barwinska, an unemployed mother of two, became the first person in the UK to be ordered to pay damages to a manufacturer. She must pay more than £16,000 to Topware after downloading Dream Pinball through a file-sharing site.

One can only imagine that it will be only a matter of time before we get here in the US with the same type of lawsuits. What is surprising is that it took the game industry so long to finally try and stop piracy of their software. One would of thought that the game developers would of gotten tired long ago to having their stuff stolen.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.


It Is Windows Only Smaller

On the surface this might seem like a good idea. Create a version of XP with Firefox by default, no Outlook Express and completely removing Internet Explorer. There is just one little, tiny problem with concept – it is likely illegal. As explained here at DownloadSquad, TinyXP may be tiny but it is still software piracy as you have to download it illegally.

What makes this all so unfortunate is that based on what I keep hearing, it is a better version of Windows XP than Windows XP ever was. Yeah, better driver support, choice program selection, the list goes on. So will people take to it? I suppose those who are unconcerned about the potential for malware abuses preinstalled as who really knows what is out there floating in those bittorrent files…

Speaking for myself, I think most people are better off using something like nLite as it appears to be free of legal concerns. Well that and it allows for intelligent deployment without sacrificing any morals along the way.

Encryption Chip – Solution Or Another Weak Hurdle?

Upon hearing about this new encryption chip that has surfaced, designed to make PC video game piracy a thing of the past, I was intrigued. While this is clearly targeting gaming, could this not also work well to police other activities on your computer? Despite this likely being something that would have to be maliciously flashed to be a threat, anything that is restricting what I do with my computer is not welcome in my home. DRM is yet, another example…

I fully understand and even agree to a certain point that software piracy is an issue. Yet magically, for some mystical reason, the otherwise ineffective means of piracy prevention have prevented these affected companies from going bankrupt? Why? Simple, because most people are willing to buy a product than dance around like some crazed madman in a weak attempt to break the existing product keys and pirate the software.

Case in point – Windows 2K and back, each of these releases were amazingly simple to pirate should the user opt to. As long as there was a valid key, it would install. And yet, Microsoft appears to be doing pretty well for themselves, despite this apparent piracy threat.

Maybe it is time to take the Apple approach, as their OS licensing is a much easier thing to get ones mind around. Besides, am I the only one finding it rather suspect that the founder of the long since DOA Atari is making the suggestion that this chip will put an end to piracy? Come on!

Mac OS X Leopard On Your PC ?

Disclaimer : XXXxx-XXX does not encourage piracy so please go and buy yourself a copy of Leopard legally rather than being a cheap dumbo.

These were the words on a Web sited I visited this morning in which they have posted two links to pirated versions of Apple’s newest operating system Leopard. There were also links for information on how to hack Leopard in an attempt to install it on a PC. Apple’s licensing agreement specifies that the software is designed for labeled Mac systems only and no others.

I’m not trying to be a goody-two-shoes here, but it seems to me that by placing a disclaimer like the above, may make the web site owner feel self-righteous, but does little to prevent piracy. By providing two piracy links it appears that they do condone piracy and are trying to benefit by increasing their site visits by offering the links. I seriously doubt they are doing this as a public service. I will also venture a guess that Apple may be contacting these people and asking them to withdraw the links.

What is humorous about the situation is that most sites that have provided access to the link for the ‘hack’ to install Leopard on a PC, also have another disclaimers of sorts:

Some system preferences, like Sound and Network, may never work.

Without network support means no Internet. Sound would be nice as well. But since Apple doesn’t produce PC related drivers for every hardware under the sun, I would venture another guess that the words may never should be replaced with will not.

Wouldn’t it just be simpler to go out and buy a Mac instead of trying to turn a PC into one? I guess the question I have is why? Why would you want your PC to run on Mac software? Or why would you want your Mac to run Windows?

Comments welcome.

[tags]apple, pc, leopard, hack, download, piracy[/tags]

Russia Promises Piracy Crackdown – I Think Not

Over at PC World there is a article which states that the IT minister of Russia is going to crack down on pirates. And the IT minister alleges that this is going to be done so that Russia can attract more technology companies. What I found interesting about this statement, is that yesterday I received several photos from a reader who just happens to live in the Moscow area showing a shop openly selling what appears to be pirated software.

What began as a simple comment by one of the reader to an article I wrote , may just turn into another story concerning piracy in Russia and how it is just a part of every day life. The Russian people expect to buy pirated software from local vendors, since the retail pricing is well above their means to pay.

I am hoping that by next week, I will have this story to present. So stay tuned. I think it should be very interesting to say the least.

[tags]russia, piracy, story, [/tags]

How Vista Is Being Pirated – Stealing Product Keys From New Machines

Let me start by stating that this information is being provided for informational purposes only. My intention is not to condone piracy but merely to report what I have been told by others.

The first report I received was from a reader called ‘Don’ who’s comments I chose not to publish, since it was to explanatory and than two more emails from other associates who reported similar situations occurring. What struck me as odd, was that this information arrived all within a 24 hr. period. Second, the two associates who reported these incidents, are located in different areas of the US, west coast and east coast and don’t know each other.

Though the methods vary, the basics are these. Most retail stores such as Staples, Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, Office Max and others, have new Vista computers on display. And most have both desktop and laptop systems in which the USB ports are either on the front of the unit or to the sides or back, as are with most laptops. This makes access to the USB ports easy.
Next, there are many software products that can be used to fetch product keys and product serial numbers from computer systems. Most of these software products are handy, especially when a user misplaces a CD case with the product key affixed, and who owns a illegitimate copy of Windows. I have had this happen to my clients who needed Windows reinstalled and who couldn’t find the CD case but had the Windows disk in a CD carrying case. You can do a Google search for the multitude of software products that are available to obtain keys.

Now combine these two, USB thumb drives and product key software. You can then obtain the product keys not only for Vista but also for other Microsoft products such as Office. And since some OEM’s have the Vista product numbers affixed to the case, stealing the numbers is easier than ever.

And going one step further, employees could steal corporate keys right from their employers computers, which do not require activation, and use them as many times as they wish. I also know that academic software from colleges are similar, not only for the operating system, but also for other installed products.

I know, you need admin. privileges to access this stuff. But give any computer savvy student 10 minutes or less on any box, and I guarantee they will get access, no matter how many safeguards are in place. This is not rumor, but unfortunately fact.

And this has been going on with Windows XP and now Vista.

Comments welcome.

By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.
— Socrates

[tags]vista, microsoft, software, piracy, [/tags]

Microsoft’s Vista and Office 2007: bad news for pirates

It should be interesting to see how will Microsoft will be able to keep pirates in their place with their new technology. But the bad guys are pretty smart and Microsoft will have their hands full. Only time will tell how. This article covers most of what Microsoft is trying to do.
“Can Microsoft’s latest anti-piracy protections really stop the Vista and Office 2007 pirates, or will pirates finally have to walk the plank?

Efforts to stamp out piracy have been with computers since it became possible to make a copy of a program and run it on another computer successfully. Anti-piracy software, code wheels, license keys, hardware dongles and more all failed in some way, either through the use of a master key code, a crack that turned trial software into the full version, removed the check for dongles, or somehow picked the lock of anti-protections.

But now that almost all computers and an increasing array of electronic devices are almost permanently connected to the Internet, or can be wirelessly Net connected in just a few seconds, anti-piracy features that are delivered and updated over the Internet are starting to change this forever.

Copies of Vista and Office 2007 installed from a friend’s CD or DVD will need a valid license key within 30 days or will enter into a ‘reduced functionality mode’, severely limited the ability to use the software. This is actually nothing new, with XP and Office 2003 already having these features for years.

But with the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) and the nearly 18 month old Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) program in full swing, even if pirates are able to ‘crack’ copies of Vista and Office 2007 to work without activation, if you want to get Vista and Office updates, you’ll be subjected to a Genuine Advantage check. If you don’t pass, you don’t get updates.”

Full story here.

[tags]microsoft, vista, office, 2007, pirates, piracy, license, key,DVD, CD, WGA, OGA, activation, browser, software, [/tags]

The Security & Copyright Debate

An interesting article I read the other day mentioned that ex-employees pose a big risk to network security. I sat and thought about the topic for several minutes before it hit me. Our company uses RF ID cards to allow employees access to the premises. Now, could you integrate this solution with the company’s servers to only allow employees access whilst on duty? Another problem is that some employees have to have access to the company network whilst at home to accomplish several work-related tasks such as IT support. The problem remains that even these employees may be able to log onto the network after they are no longer employed by the company. The question now is, are there companies working on such security issues? Maybe somebody could start a company that develops such software.

Speaking of security, recently I installed a firewall and an anti-virus suite, something I haven’t used in years on my home pc. Then the other night, without warning, my firewall informed me that somebody was trying to send something to my PC. I had a look and found it to be one of these companies that uses adware to hijack browsers. I then fired up my port scanner and tried to get information on the site. WHOIS turned up nothing. I could not understand this. I realised that there was some human activity on the other side because, soon after, the whole thing disappeared from my firewall’s stats window. It seems that these days every Tom, Dick, and Harry is trying to steal information. What this person in particular found so interesting about my PC is anyone’s guess. Whoever you are, stay away! This is my stuff and my stuff alone! Remember the days when your only concern was getting a virus from a friend’s floppy disc? Strange how times have changed.
Continue reading “The Security & Copyright Debate”