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Snowden Used the Linux Distro Designed For Internet Anonymity – Slashdot.

 

“When Edward Snowden first emailed Glenn Greenwald, he insisted on using email encryption software called PGP for all communications. Now Klint Finley reports that Snowden also used The Amnesic Incognito Live System (Tails) to keep his communications out of the NSA’s prying eyes. Tails is a kind of computer-in-a-box using a version of the Linux operating system optimized for anonymity that you install on a DVD or USB drive, boot your computer from and you’re pretty close to anonymous on the internet. ‘Snowden, Greenwald and their collaborator, documentary film maker Laura Poitras, used it because, by design, Tails doesn’t store any data locally,’ writes Finley. ‘This makes it virtually immune to malicious software, and prevents someone from performing effective forensics on the computer after the fact. That protects both the journalists, and often more importantly, their sources.’

The developers of Tails are, appropriately, anonymous. They’re protecting their identities, in part, to help protect the code from government interference. ‘The NSA has been pressuring free software projects and developers in various ways,’ the group says. But since we don’t know who wrote Tails, how do we know it isn’t some government plot designed to snare activists or criminals? A couple of ways, actually. One of the Snowden leaks show the NSA complaining about Tails in a Power Point Slide; if it’s bad for the NSA, it’s safe to say it’s good for privacy. And all of the Tails code is open source, so it can be inspected by anyone worried about foul play. ‘With Tails,’ say the distro developers, ‘we provide a tongue and a pen protected by state-of-the-art cryptography to guarantee basic human rights and allow journalists worldwide to work and communicate freely and without fear of reprisal.’”

The error message that launched this whole investigation.

Darrell Whitelaw / Twitter

For years now, Internet users have accepted the risk of files and content they share through various online services being subject to takedown requests based on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and/or content-matching algorithms. But users have also gotten used to treating services like Dropbox as their own private, cloud-based file storage and sharing systems, facilitating direct person-to-person file transfer without having to worry.

This weekend, though, a small corner of the Internet exploded with concern that Dropbox was going too far, actually scanning users’ private and directly peer-shared files for potential copyright issues. What’s actually going on is a little more complicated than that, but it shows that sharing a file on Dropbox isn’t always the same as sharing that file directly from your hard drive over something like e-mail or instant messenger.

The whole kerfuffle started yesterday evening, when one Darrell Whitelaw tweeted a picture of an error he received when trying to share a link to a Dropbox file via IM. The Dropbox webpage warned him and his friend that "certain files in this folder can’t be shared due to a takedown request in accordance with the DMCA."

Whitelaw freely admits that the content he was sharing was a copyrighted video, but he still expressed surprise that Dropbox was apparently watching what he shared for copyright issues. "I treat [Dropbox] like my hard drive," he tweeted. "This shows it’s not private, nor mine, even though I pay for it."

In response to follow-up questions from Ars, Whitelaw said the link he sent to his friend via IM was technically a public link and theoretically could have been shared more widely than the simple IM between friends. That said, he noted that the DMCA notice appeared on the Dropbox webpage "immediately" after the link was generated, suggesting that Dropbox was automatically checking shared files somehow to see if they were copyrighted material rather than waiting for a specific DMCA takedown request.

Dropbox did confirm to Ars that it checks publicly shared file links against hashes of other files that have been previously subject to successful DMCA requests. "We sometimes receive DMCA notices to remove links on copyright grounds," the company said in a statement provided to Ars. "When we receive these, we process them according to the law and disable the identified link. We have an automated system that then prevents other users from sharing the identical material using another Dropbox link. This is done by comparing file hashes."

Dropbox added that this comparison happens when a public link to your file is created and that "we don’t look at the files in your private folders and are committed to keeping your stuff safe." The company wouldn’t comment publicly on whether the same content-matching algorithm was run on files shared directly with other Dropbox users via the service’s account-to-account sharing functions, but the wording of the statement suggests that this system only applies to publicly shared links.

We should be clear here that Dropbox hasn’t removed the file from Whitelaw’s account; they just closed off the option for him to share that file with others. In a tweeted response to Whitelaw, Dropbox Support said that "content removed under DMCA only affects share-links." Dropbox explains its copyright policy on a Help Center page that lays out the boilerplate: "you do not have the right to share files unless you own the copyright in them or have been given permission by the copyright owner to share them." The Help Center then directs users to its DMCA policy page.

Dropbox has also been making use of file hashing algorithms for a while now as a means of de-duplicating identical files stored across different users’ accounts. That means that if I try to upload an identical copy of a 20GB movie file that has already been stored in someone else’s Dropbox account, the service will simply give my account access to a version of that same file rather than allowing me to upload an identical version. This not only saves bandwidth on the user’s end but significant storage space on Dropbox’s end as well.

Some researchers have warned of security and privacy concerns based on these de-duplication efforts in the past, but the open source Dropship project attempted to bend the feature to users’ advantage. By making use of the file hashing system, Dropship effectively tried to trick Dropbox into granting access to files on Dropbox’s servers that the user didn’t actually have access to. Dropbox has taken pains to stop this kind of "fake" file sharing through its service.

In any case, it seems a similar hashing effort is in place to make it easier for Dropbox to proactively check files shared through its servers for similarity to content previously blocked by a DMCA request. In this it’s not too different from services like YouTube, which uses a robust ContentID system to automatically identify copyrighted material as soon as it’s uploaded.

In this, both Dropbox and YouTube are simply responding to the legal environment they find themselves in. The DMCA requires companies that run sharing services to take reasonable measures to make sure that re-posting of copyrighted content doesn’t occur after a legitimate DMCA notice has been issued. Whitelaw himself doesn’t blame the service for taking these proactive steps, in fact. "This isn’t a Dropbox problem," he told Ars via tweet. "They’re just following the laws laid out for them. Was just surprised to see it."

via Dropbox clarifies its policy on reviewing shared files for DMCA issues | Ars Technica.

How 4 Microsoft engineers proved that the “darknet” would defeat DRM | Ars Technica.How 4 Microsoft engineers proved that the “darknet” would defeat DRM | Ars Technica.

Last night, robots shut down the live broadcast of one of science fictions most prestigious award ceremonies. No, youre not reading a science fiction story. In the middle of the annual Hugo Awards event at Worldcon, which thousands of people tuned into via video streaming service UStream, the feed cut off — just as Neil Gaiman was giving an acceptance speech for his Doctor Who script, “The Doctors Wife.” Where Gaimans face had been were the words, “Worldcon banned due to copyright infringement.” What the hell?Jumping onto Twitter, people who had been watching the livestream began asking what was going on. How could an award ceremony have anything to do with copyright infringement?Bestselling science fiction author Tobias Buckell tweeted: tobiasbuckell@tobiasbuckell Oh, FFS. Ustream just shut down live worldcon feed for copyright infringement.2 Sep 12 ReplyRetweetFavoriteAnd then it began to dawn on people what happened. Gaiman had just gotten an award for his Doctor Who script. Before he took the stage, the Hugo Awards showed clips from his winning episode, along with clips from some other Doctor Who episodes that had been nominated, as well as a Community episode.Wrote Macworld editorial director Jason Snell: Jason Snell@jsnell Ustream just shut down the #Hugos live stream because they showed clips of the TV nominees. Automated copyright patrols ruin more things.2 Sep 12 ReplyRetweetFavoriteThis was, of course, absurd. First of all, the clips had been provided by the studios to be shown during the award ceremony. The Hugo Awards had explicit permission to broadcast them. But even if they hadnt, it is absolutely fair use to broadcast clips of copyrighted material during an award ceremony. Unfortunately, the digital restriction management DRM robots on UStream had not been programmed with these basic contours of copyright law.

via How copyright enforcement robots killed the Hugo Awards.Last night, robots shut down the live broadcast of one of science fictions most prestigious award ceremonies. No, youre not reading a science fiction story. In the middle of the annual Hugo Awards event at Worldcon, which thousands of people tuned into via video streaming service UStream, the feed cut off — just as Neil Gaiman was giving an acceptance speech for his Doctor Who script, “The Doctors Wife.” Where Gaimans face had been were the words, “Worldcon banned due to copyright infringement.” What the hell?Jumping onto Twitter, people who had been watching the livestream began asking what was going on. How could an award ceremony have anything to do with copyright infringement?Bestselling science fiction author Tobias Buckell tweeted: tobiasbuckell@tobiasbuckell Oh, FFS. Ustream just shut down live worldcon feed for copyright infringement.2 Sep 12 ReplyRetweetFavoriteAnd then it began to dawn on people what happened. Gaiman had just gotten an award for his Doctor Who script. Before he took the stage, the Hugo Awards showed clips from his winning episode, along with clips from some other Doctor Who episodes that had been nominated, as well as a Community episode.Wrote Macworld editorial director Jason Snell: Jason Snell@jsnell Ustream just shut down the #Hugos live stream because they showed clips of the TV nominees. Automated copyright patrols ruin more things.2 Sep 12 ReplyRetweetFavoriteThis was, of course, absurd. First of all, the clips had been provided by the studios to be shown during the award ceremony. The Hugo Awards had explicit permission to broadcast them. But even if they hadnt, it is absolutely fair use to broadcast clips of copyrighted material during an award ceremony. Unfortunately, the digital restriction management DRM robots on UStream had not been programmed with these basic contours of copyright law.

via How copyright enforcement robots killed the Hugo Awards.

Fox sues Dish over ad-blocking feature; Dish fires back – latimes.com.

Fox Broadcasting Co. has sued Dish Network, becoming the first television network to fire a legal salvo over the satellite company’s controversial new ad-skipping device called AutoHop.

Dish, meanwhile, filed its own lawsuit, which asks a federal judge to declare that AutoHop violates no copyright laws. Dish sued not only Fox, but also CBS, Walt Disney-owned ABC, and Comcast Corp.controlled-NBC.

The television industry is grappling with new technologies that threaten to undercut the billions of dollars a year that the networks collect from advertisers to run 30- to 60-second television commercials. That advertising revenue underwrites the high cost of producing television shows.

Fox filed its copyright violation and breach-of-contract suit against Dish on Thursday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. Dish filed its suit in U.S. District Court in New York.

“The suit asks for a declaratory judgment that the AutoHop feature does not infringe any copyrights that could be claimed by the major networks, and that Dish, while providing the AutoHop feature, remains in compliance with its agreements with the networks,” the Englewood, Colo., company said in a statement.

While consumers with digital video recorders can fast-forward through commercials of recorded shows, Dish’s AutoHop takes it a step further. The screen goes black when a commercial break appears. A few seconds later, the program returns. The service can’t be used on live programming, such as a sporting event, even after it has been recorded.

With more than 14 million subscribers, Dish Network Corp.’s new technology may threaten the networks’ ability to continue to charge premiums for their commercial time.

Dish Network’s new feature, launched earlier this month, comes at a particularly awkward time for broadcasters as they are beginning negotiations with advertisers over the sale of their commercial time for the 2012-2013 television season.

“We were given no choice but to file suit against one of our largest distributors, Dish Network, because of their surprising move to market a product with the clear goal of violating copyrights and destroying the fundamental underpinnings of the broadcast television ecosystem,” Fox said in a statement. “Their wrongheaded decision requires us to take swift action in order to aggressively defend the future of free, over-the-air television.”

Dish, for its part, said the new technology was simply making it easier for consumers to avoid commercials.

“Viewers have been skipping commercials since the advent of the remote control; we are giving them a feature they want and that gives them more control.”  David Shull, Dish senior vice president of programming, said in a statement. “We don’t believe AutoHop will substantially change established consumer behavior, but we do believe it makes the viewing experience better.”

Fox sues Dish over ad-blocking feature; Dish fires back – latimes.com.

The Russian based “Pirate Pay” startup is promising the entertainment industry a pirate-free future. With help from Microsoft, the developers have built a system that claims to track and shut down the distribution of copyrighted works on BitTorrent. Their first project, carried out in collaboration with Walt Disney Studios and Sony Pictures, successfully stopped tens of thousands of downloads.

via Microsoft Funded Startup Aims to Kill BitTorrent Traffic | TorrentFreak.The Russian based “Pirate Pay” startup is promising the entertainment industry a pirate-free future. With help from Microsoft, the developers have built a system that claims to track and shut down the distribution of copyrighted works on BitTorrent. Their first project, carried out in collaboration with Walt Disney Studios and Sony Pictures, successfully stopped tens of thousands of downloads.

via Microsoft Funded Startup Aims to Kill BitTorrent Traffic | TorrentFreak.

Analysis: Did the content industry lose the legal battle?

Do you remember back in 2001 when Napster shut down its servers? US courts found Napster Inc was likely to be liable for the copyright infringements of its users. Many of Napster’s successors were also shut down.

Aimster and its controversial CEO were forced into bankruptcy, the highest court in the US strongly suggested that those behind Grokster and Morpheus ought to be held liable for “inducing” their users to infringe, and Kazaa’s owners were held liable for authorisation by our own Federal Court. Countless others fled the market in the wake of these decisions with some, like the formerly defiant owners of Bearshare and eDonkey, paying big settlements on the way out.

By most measures, this sounds like an emphatic victory for content owners. But a funny thing happened in the wake of all of these injunctions, shutdowns and settlements: the number of P2P file sharing apps available in the market exploded.

By 2007, two years after the US Supreme Court decided Grokster, there were more individual P2P applications available than there had ever been before. The average number of users sharing files on file sharing networks at any one time was nudging ten million and it was estimated that P2P traffic had grown to comprise up to 90 percent of global internet traffic. At that point content owners tacitly admitted defeat, largely abandoning their long-time strategy of suing key P2P software providers and diverting enforcement resources to alternatives like graduated response or “three strikes” laws.

Why is it that, despite being ultimately successful in holding individual P2P software providers liable for their users’ infringement, content owners’ litigation strategy has failed to bring about any meaningful reduction in the amount of P2P development and infringement?

Physical vs digital

I would argue pre-P2P era law was based on a number of “physical world” assumptions. That makes sense, since it evolved almost exclusively with reference to physical world scenarios and technologies. However, as it turns out, there is often a gap between those assumptions and the realities of P2P software development.

Four such physical world assumptions are particularly notable in explaining this phenomenon.

The first is that everybody is bound by physical world rules. Assuming this rule had universal application, various secondary liability principles evolved to make knowledge and control pre-requisites to liability. But software has no such constraint. Programmers can write software that will do things that are simply not possible or feasible in the physical world. So once the Napster litigation made P2P programmers aware of the rules about knowledge and control, they simply coded Napster’s successors to eliminate them – something no provider of a physical world distribution technology ever managed to do.

Remember to sign up to our new Telecommunications bulletin to stay connected with a concise online wrap of Australiaís telecommunications and ISP industry.

In response, the US Supreme Court in Grokster created a brand new legal doctrine, called inducement, that did not rely on either knowledge or control. That rule was aimed at capturing “bad actors” – those P2P providers who aimed to profit from their users’ infringement and whose nefarious intent was demonstrated by “smoking guns” in their marketing and other communications. But the inducement law failed to appreciate some of the other differences that make the software world special and thus led directly to the explosion in the number of P2P technologies. In understanding why, three other physical world assumptions come into play.

One is that it is expensive to create distribution technologies that are capable of vast amounts of infringement. Of course in the physical world, the creation of such technologies, like printing presses, photocopiers, and VCRs required large investment. Research and development, mass-manufacturing, marketing and delivery all require massive amounts of cash. Thus, the law came to assume that the creation of such technologies was expensive.

That led directly to the next assumption – that distribution technologies are developed for profit. After all, nobody would be investing those massive sums without some prospect of a return.

Finally comes the fourth assumption: that rational developers of distribution technologies won’t share their secrets with consumers or competitors. Since they needed to recoup those massive investments, they had no interest at all in giving them away.

All of these assumptions certainly can hold up in the software development context. For example, those behind Kazaa spent a lot on its development, squeezed out the maximum possible profit and kept its source code a closely guarded secret. By creating a law that focused on profits, business models and marketing, the Supreme Court succeeded in shaking out Kazaa and its ilk from the market.

But the Court failed to appreciate that none of these things are actually necessary to the creation of P2P file sharing software. It can be so inexpensive to develop that some university programming courses actually require students to make an app as part of an assignment. When the software provider puts in such a small investment, there’s much less need to realise a profit. This, combined with widespread norms within the software development community encouraging sharing and collaboration, also leads to some individuals making the source code of their software publicly available for others to adapt and copy.

When the US Supreme Court created its new law holding P2P providers liable where they “fostered” third party infringement, as evidenced by such things as business models, marketing and internal communications, the result was an enormous number of programmers choosing to create new applications without any of those liability attracting elements. In the absence of any evidence that they had set out to foster infringement, they could not be liable for inducement, and having coded out of knowledge and control they could not be held liable under the pre-P2P law either.

The end result? The mismatch between the law’s physical world assumptions and the realities of the software world meant that the law created to respond to the challenges of P2P file sharing led to the opposite of the desired result: a massive increase in the availability of P2P file sharing software. The failure of the law to recognise the unique characteristics of software and software development meant the abandonment of the litigation campaign against P2P providers was only a matter of time.

Dr Rebecca Giblin is a member of Monash University’s law faculty in Melbourne. Her new book Code Wars tells the story of the decade-long struggle between content owners and P2P software providers, tracing the development of the fledgling technologies, the attempts to crush them through litigation and legislation, and the remarkable ways in which they evolved as their programmers sought ever more ingenious means to remain one step ahead of the law. The book explains why the litigation strategy against P2P providers was ultimately unsuccessful in bringing about any meaningful reduction in the amount of P2P development of infringement.

Visit codewarsbook.com where you can read the first chapter in full. Physical copies can be ordered online from stores like Amazon and Book Depository, and electronic copies are available via Google books at a heavily discounted price.

via How litigation only spurred on P2P file sharing – Telco/ISP – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au.

Torrent Stream Magic Player is a brand new add-on that allows users to stream video and music torrents directly in their browser. The Magic Player works with Chrome, Firefox, Opera and supports dozens of popular torrent sites including The Pirate Bay, isoHunt, BTjunkie and EZTV. It’s one of the first solutions to create a true video-on-demand experience directly in the browser.

via Stream Torrents in Your Web Browser With Magic Player | TorrentFreak.

How it works:

- You install our add-on into your browser

- If ever Demoniod.com is seized by ICE or the upcoming COICO legislation it won’t matter.

- You simply type Demoniod.com into your browser as usual, the browser sends the address to the add-on, the add-on checks if Demoniod.com is on the list of sites to be redirected and immediately redirects you to the mirror site.

This happens in microseconds and completely transparent to you (the user).

via MAFIAAFire.com.

Adobe Labs – Stratus

dobe® Stratus 2 enables peer assisted networking using the Real Time Media Flow Protocol (RTMFP) within the Adobe Flash® Platform. RTMFP is the evolution of media delivery and real time communication over the Internet enabling peers on the network to assist in delivery. Stratus was first introduced in 2008 as a rendezvous-only service that allowed clients to send data from client to client without passing through a server. Adobe Flash Player 10, which debuted peer assisted networking, has been adopted today by over 90% of all internet connected PCs.

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