Undefended torrents

September 17, 2007 at 5:00 pm | Posted in Assignments, Copyright, Thoughts | Leave a comment

Torrent Freak caused a stir when they announced that a group called Media Defender-Defenders had released pilfered emails from Media Defender.

Unfortunately for Media Defender – a company dedicated to mitigating the effects of internet leaks – they can do nothing about being the subject of the biggest BitTorrent leak of all time. Over 700mb of their own internal emails, dating back over 6 months have been leaked to the internet in what will be a devastating blow to the company.

Irony, not withstanding, bittorrent users engage in the very tit-for-tat that makes collaborative efforts worthwhile. In this case, bittorrent users identified a cheater that engaged tactics to impede exchanges (albeit illegal exchanges) and reacted by outting the cheater.

Particularly interesting in the comments are the extracted lists of IP addresses. Once these are available, everyone will effectively killfile anyone connecting from those addresses.

The bittorrent community, acting as a smart mob attacked the reputation of Media Defender.

However, one must consider how the information was acquired and the total content. Others have mentioned that SSN were amongst the data acquired and wondered whether they will become pariahs. Also interesting is how someone knew to attack the GMail account which held the files in the first place.

It’s a bird, it’s a beat, it’s not DRM!

September 11, 2007 at 1:36 am | Posted in Assignments, Copyright, Thoughts | Leave a comment

Recently, Truth Happens released a video fable as part of an anti-DRM campaign.

Requiem for DRM

(Audio Required. This video makes little sense without audio.)

This video tells the tale of the life of a beat to a bird song to its capture and then its final, inevitable release. While the video may or may not appeal to everyone, anyone can take the pieces and make something new. The authors have freely provided the assets used to create the video in the spirit of community driven art. Implicit with this offer is the hope that someone else will expound on their ideas. The interest thus far has been underwhelming.

A little over a year ago, Stephen Colbert posed a similar challenge to his viewers. He provided half a minute of cable TV footage. The results were amazing. Results ranged from simple Star Wars light saber antics to meshed video to an iPod advertisement. The stakes were high, the stage was set, millions vied for hits with the chance for notoriety and a change to make it big.

Both these efforts entice media consumers to become producers. But, for reasons of celebrity, humor and the like, one has received more attention than the other. Yet, this attitude ultimately runs afoul of entrenched media copyright interests.

For example, this digg.com post from when the show originally aired no longer leads to the challenge’s footage. A Viacom campaign removed it. Instead, YouTube provides the following message “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Viacom International Inc.” Viacom via ComedyCentral provides the only remaining source of the video, locked inside a flash website. They are under no obligation to keep providing it. They are under no obligation to not also remove the derivative works.

In contrast, Truth Happens has provided the content under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License. Everyone may freely share the video, all of the source files, and any derivative works so long as they abide these licensing terms.

While the Truth Happens video and materials on their own provide an abstract and slightly confusing message, when compared with Viacom’s treatment of Colbert’s challenge, the strength of their position shines.

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