[ISN] RIAA Information Operations?

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Wed Oct 17 2001 - 01:11:25 PDT

  • Next message: InfoSec News: "[ISN] Dylan Knockin' on Concert Door"

    By John Borland
    Special to ZDNet
    October 16, 2001
    The copyright infringement battle takes a new turn. The recording
    industry is now experimenting with new technology it hopes can smother
    online song swapping by targeting music traders' computers directly.
    The recording industry is experimenting with new technology it hopes
    can smother online song swapping by targeting music traders' computers
    The record, movie and software industries have long pursued a
    controversial campaign that identifies people trading large numbers of
    songs though services such as MusicCity, OpenNap or Gnutella. Once the
    people are identified, the groups attempt to persuade Internet service
    providers (ISPs) to shut down those individuals' Internet connections.
    But copyright holders, including record labels, are now experimenting
    with new ways to cut down on copyright infringement. As described by
    sources at the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), one
    method uses software to masquerade as a file-swapper online. Once the
    software has found a computer offering a certain song, it attempts to
    block other potential traders from downloading the song.
    Already a potentially contentious plan, the recording industry
    inadvertently sparked a further wave of criticism last week with plans
    to protect its strategy from being undermined by a pending
    antiterrorism bill.
    RIAA lobbyists sought a provision to the bill that would shield
    copyright holders for any damage done to computers in the pursuit of
    copyright protection--a goal that critics charged was too broad and
    might even give the group the ability to spread viruses in the pursuit
    of pirates.
    "We referred to it as the 'license to virus,'" said one congressional
    staffer. "It would have given them the incentive to employ lots of
    hackers trying to figure out how to stop (MusicCity), Morpheus or
    An RIAA spokesman said the group was simply trying to protect its
    existing tools, not expand them.
    "We have a legitimate concern that the measure currently being debated
    could unintentionally take away a remedy currently available to us
    under law that helps us combat piracy," said RIAA spokesman Jano
    The direct approach
    Copyright holders have been struggling for years to put the brakes on
    accelerating online piracy of music, movies and software, now centered
    in peer-to-peer services that have replaced Napster. Lawsuits filed
    against Napster, Scour, Aimster, MusicCity, Kazaa and Grokster have
    shut down some of these file-swapping gathering points, but the
    practice remains as popular as ever.
    This is the first evidence of a technological campaign by copyright
    holders that would mount a direct technological counter strike on the
    file-swappers themselves.
    The new strategy would take advantage of file-swapping networks' own
    weaknesses, amplifying them to the point where download services
    appear even more clogged and slow to function than they are today.
    Because most peer-to-peer services are unregulated, the quality of
    connections and speed of downloads already varies wildly based on time
    of day and geographic location.
    The software technology, according to industry sources, would
    essentially act as a downloader, repeatedly requesting the same file
    and downloading it very slowly, essentially preventing others from
    accessing the file. While stopping short of a full denial-of-service
    attack, the method could substantially clog the target computer's
    Internet connection.
    Record labels hope to make the point that subscription services such
    as MusicNet or Pressplay, which will launch on Yahoo, America Online,
    MSN and RealNetworks by year's end, will not be subject to the same
    doubtful quality of service.
    It's unclear yet how much time and money any record label or industry
    group is willing to devote to the project. Given the huge number of
    file-swappers online, using this kind of direct-action technique
    against even a small percentage of song-traders could quickly soak up
    technical and financial resources.
    Appetite for more?
    According to industry sources, the technology is being provided by
    outside technology companies and has not yet found its way into wide
    use. But the Washington battle indicates that the industry is willing
    to protect its ability to use its own technological tools against its
    high-tech adversaries.
    A copy of the legislation proposed by the RIAA last week would appear
    to have given the group broad latitude to attack file-swappers'
    computers without suffering any civil liability.
    No civil liability would result from "any impairment of the
    availability of data, a program, a system or information, resulting
    from measures taken by an owner of copyright," the proposed text read.
    That language never made it into the antiterrorism bill, however.
    Several legislators of both parties objected, and the RIAA's text was
    dropped. Industry lobbyists are pursuing a different tack that they
    say would still allow them to pursue the current technological plan,
    The new technological techniques, which would essentially hog a
    file-traders' Net connection so that genuine song-seekers couldn't get
    in, are expected to be taken up across the copyright holder community.
    A representative for the Motion Picture Association of America, which
    has also aggressively pursued online pirates, declined to comment on
    that organization's plans.
    ISN is currently hosted by Attrition.org
    To unsubscribe email majordomoat_private with 'unsubscribe isn' in the BODY
    of the mail.

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Wed Oct 17 2001 - 03:04:17 PDT