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17/07/2019 13:18:14  

Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens passed away Tuesday evening of complications following a stroke he suffered on July 15. He was 99 years old. An anonymous Slashdot reader shares a lightly edited version of Ars Technica's 2010 story that originally marked his retirement from the Supreme Court: In April 2010, the Supreme Court's most senior justice, John Paul Stevens, announced his retirement. In the weeks that followed, hundreds of articles were written about his career and his legacy. While most articles focus on 'hot button' issues such as flag burning, terrorism, and affirmative action, Stevens' tech policy record has largely been ignored. When Justice Stevens joined the court, many of the technologies we now take for granted -- the PC, packet-switched networks, home video recording -- were in their infancy. During his 35-year tenure on the bench, Stevens penned decisions that laid the foundation for the tremendous innovations that followed in each of these areas. For example, Stevens penned the 1978 decision that shielded the software industry from the patent system in its formative years. In 1984, Hollywood's effort to ban the VCR failed by just one Supreme Court vote; Stevens wrote the majority opinion. And in 1997, he wrote the majority opinion striking down the worst provisions of the Communications Decency Act and ensuring that the Internet would have robust First Amendment protections. Indeed, Justice Stevens probably deserves more credit than any other justice for the innovations that occurred under his watch. And given how central those technologies have become to the American economy, Stevens' tech policy work may prove one of his most enduring legacies. In this feature, we review Justice Stevens' tech policy decisions and salute the justice who helped make possible DRM-free media devices, uncensored Internet connections, free software, and much more. As the report mentions, Stevens was the Supreme Court's cryptographer. "Stevens attended the University of Chicago, graduating in 1941. On December 6 -- the day before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor -- Stevens enrolled in the Navy's correspondence course on cryptography." "Stevens spent the war in a Navy bunker in Hawaii, doing traffic analysis in an effort to determine the location of Japanese ships," the report adds. "He was an English major, not a mathematician, but he proved to have a knack for cryptographic work."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

08/07/2019 18:17:47  

News blog TorrentFreak spoke with a member of piracy group "The Scene" to understand how they obtain -- or rip -- movies and shows from sources such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. The technique these people use is different from hardware capture cards or software-based 'capping' tools. From the report: "Content for WEB releases are obtained by downloading the source content. Whenever you stream a video online, you are downloading chunks of a video file to your computer. Sceners simply save that content and attempt to decrypt it for non-DRM playback later," the source said. When accessing the content, legitimate premium accounts are used, often paid for using prepaid credit cards supported by bogus identities. It takes just a few minutes to download a video file since they're served by CDNs with gigabits of bandwidth. "Once files are downloaded from the streaming platform, however, they are encrypted in the .mp4 container. Attempting to view such video will usually result in a blank screen and nothing else -- streams from these sites are protected by DRM. The most common, and hard to crack DRM is called Widevine. The way the Scene handles WEB-releases is by using specialized tools coded by The Scene, for The Scene. These tools are extremely private, and only a handful of people in the world have access to the latest version(s)," source noted. "Without these tools, releasing Widevine content is extremely difficult, if not impossible for most. The tools work by downloading the encrypted video stream from the streaming site, and reverse engineering the encryption." Our contact says that decryption is a surprisingly quick process, taking just a few minutes. After starting with a large raw file, the finalized version ready for release is around 30% smaller, around 7GB for a 1080p file.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

30/06/2019 21:17:18  

Cory Doctorow writes at BoingBoing: "The books will stop working": That's the substance of the reminder that Microsoft sent to customers for their ebook store, reminding them that, as announced in April, the company is getting out of the ebook business because it wasn't profitable enough for them, and when they do, they're going to shut off their DRM servers, which will make the books stop working. Almost exactly fifteen years ago, I gave an influential, widely cited talk at Microsoft Research where I predicted this exact outcome. I don't feel good about the fact that I got it right. This is a fucking travesty. We're just days away from the "early July" shutdown. And Doctorow elaborated on his feelings in a blog post in April: This puts the difference between DRM-locked media and unencumbered media into sharp contrast... The idea that the books I buy can be relegated to some kind of fucking software license is the most grotesque and awful thing I can imagine: if the publishing industry deliberately set out to destroy any sense of intrinsic, civilization-supporting value in literary works, they could not have done a better job.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

28/06/2019 20:17:32  

The major problem with anti-piracy DRM, part 1024

If you bought an ebook through Microsoft's online store, now's the time to give it a read, or reread, because it will stop working early July.…