Worthless Protection?

Excerpts from “SunnComm won’t sue grad student” by Declan McCullagh on News.com:

In an abrupt reversal, SunnComm Technologies said Friday that it will not sue a Princeton University graduate student who published a paper that describes how to bypass CD copy-protection technology simply by pressing the Shift key.

SunnComm had angrily assailed Princeton doctoral student John “Alex” Halderman just a day before, claiming that his academic paper was “at best, duplicitous and, at worst, a felony.” The company had pledged to file a civil suit against Halderman under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and lobby federal prosecutors to indict him on criminal charges.

. . .

Halderman’s paper, published Monday and titled “Analysis of the MediaMax CD3 Copy-Prevention System,” describes flaws in the MediaMax technology SunnComm sold and BMG Entertainment used on an Anthony Hamilton CD it released last month. It concludes that “most users who would be affected can bypass the system entirely by holding the Shift key every time they insert the CD,” an action that prevents the MediaMax drivers from loading.

Since Halderman’s paper appeared, SunnComm’s shares have slipped precipitously, losing about $10 million in value. The company’s stock appears on the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board and was trading at 11 cents Friday morning.

. . .

Jacobs said MediaMax’s security system, which he predicted would be adopted by three major record labels by the end of the year, “was designed for the 90 percent of the people out there who would never work around a technology.

That last paragraph is very interesting. It indicates that SunnComm’s MediaMax Copy-Prevention System is only intended to prevent copying by those people who wouldn’t really be making copies in the first place — a nearly valueless protection scheme. No wonder their stock is only trading at 11 cents.

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