Thursday, November 03, 2005

BMG vs. Blizzard: When Media PoliceBots Collide

Now that most of us have PCs connected via the Internet, corporate entities want to control what we do with them. Why? Well, that's a good question. They claim it's to prevent cheating, copying, lost revenue, and to protect intellectual property allegedly damaged by making your own modifications to their products. But we know better. In the movie and book The Corporation, we learn that the only motive public corporations have is self-interest and money. Not ethics. Not common sense. It is literally illegal (under current U.S. law anyway) for them to act in any other way. (Google manages to get away with trying to be good somehow, but that's another story).

So what methods to corporations have to police and bully us into compliance?

They have a number of ways of doing so, including instantly-binding one-way contracts that we unwittingly "sign" whenever we open a box of software, cease-and-desist letters, lobbyists increasing the fines for violations and spreading the rumor in government that they are suffering from piracy, and getting the FBI on their side. Each of these has some amount of success. But faced with a losing battle of file-sharing lawsuits, Sony BMG has taken things to the next level with a CD with a built-in trojan horse. You put it in your CDROM drive on your PC, and it (without telling you) installs spy-ware that exploits weaknesses in the Windows operating system by making a hidden system directory to put a spy-ware bot, which snoops about looking for music-copying software.

This is the same game Blizzard is doing too. Online players of the massively parallel online role-playing game World of Warcraft get their computers probed by software called "The Warden" which also sniffs around your hard drive looking for what it thinks are bad things.

I find it hilarious that Sony BMG's policing system can be exploited to avoid Blizzard's policing system. Just hide whatever you want into Sony's hidden directory and rename it appropriately so that The Warden can't see it!

Battles taking place on your PC will become common-place, I fear, as corporate bots duke it out to see who is violating our privacy more.


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posted by Brian at 1:10 PM


Blogger Sagepaper said...

Your interests and work generate quite a bit of intellectual property. You seem to be a responsible citizen who does not want Big Brother to come of age. Yet I am sure you have a clear view of the creator's side of the issue. What do you think would be an appropriate solution for all concerned?

November 09, 2005  

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