Home - Critical Computer Company Limited
Search:    Start Date:    Detail:           Sources

Show Items:     Beginning 
06/12/2021 09:43:51  

For their fifteenth International Day Against DRM this Friday, the Free Software Foundation's "Defective by Design" campaign is "calling on you to help us send a message to purveyors of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM)". And this year they're targeting Disney+ The ongoing pandemic has only tightened the stranglehold streaming services have as some of the most dominant forms of entertainment media, and Disney+ is among the worst of them. After years of aggressive lobbying to extend the length of copyright, based on their perceived need to keep a certain rat from entering the public domain, they've now set their sights on "protecting" their various franchises in a different way: by shackling them with digital restrictions. If Disney's stated mission is to keep "inspiring hope and sparking the curiosity of all ages", using DRM to limit that curiosity remains the wrong move. This year, we'll be using one of Disney's own means of spreading their "service" and the DRM bundled with it: their mobile app. If you're an existing user of the Google Play (Android) or Apple App Stores, you can support the International Day Against DRM by voicing your objection to Disney's subjugation of their users. Streaming services like Netflix and Peacock have the same issues, but by targeting a newer one with such massive investment and capital behind it, we can make sure that we're heard. Disney+ is new: that gives it time to change. Disney+ is placed near the top of the most frequently downloaded apps on both the Google Play and Apple App Stores. We invite you to write a well-thought objection to Disney's use of DRM, with a fitting review. It is the perfect way to let the corporation, and other users intending to use its services know Disney's grievous mistake in using DRM to restrict customers who already want to view their many films and television shows. It will give you a chance to give them the exact rating that any service that treats its users so poorly: a single star. DRM isn't the only problem with the Disney+ app. It's also nonfree software. If you're not already an Android or iOS user, we don't recommend starting an account just to participate in this action. You can also choose to send an email to Disney executives following our template. They're urging supporters to also share the actions they've taken on social media using the tag #DayAgainstDRM. (And there's also an IRC channel "to discuss and share strategies for anti-DRM activism," with more anti-DRM actions still to come. "While some aspects of the struggle have changed, the core principles remain the same: users should not be forced to surrender their digital autonomy in exchange for media."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

09/11/2021 13:39:33  

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: Advocates for the blind are fighting an endless battle to access ebooks that sighted people take for granted, working against copyright law that gives significant protections to corporate powers and publishers who don't cater to their needs. For the past year, they've once again undergone a lengthy petitioning process to earn a critical exemption to the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act that provides legal cover for people to create accessible versions of ebooks. Baked into Section 1201 of the DMCA is a triennial process through which the Library of Congress considers exceptions to rules that are intended to protect copyright owners. Since 2002, groups advocating for the blind have put together lengthy documents asking for exemptions that allow copy protections on ebooks to be circumvented for the sake of accessibility. Every three years, they must repeat the process, like Sisyphus rolling his stone up the hill. On Wednesday, the US Copyright Office released a report (PDF) recommending the Librarian of Congress once again grant the three-year exemption; it will do so in a final rule (PDF) that takes effect on Thursday. The victory is tainted somewhat by the struggle it represents. Although the exemption protects people who circumvent digital copyright protections for the sake of accessibility -- by using third-party programs to lift text and save it in a different file format, for example -- that it's even necessary strikes many as a fundamental injustice. Publishers have no obligation to make electronic versions of their books accessible to the blind through features like text-to-speech (TTS), which reads aloud onscreen text and is available on whichever device you're reading this article. More than a decade ago, publishers fought Amazon for enabling a TTS feature by default on its Kindle 2 ereader, arguing that it violated their copyright on audiobooks. Now, publishers enable or disable TTS on individual books themselves. Even as TTS has become more common, there's no guarantee that a blind person will be able to enjoy a given novel from Amazon's Kindle storefront, or a textbook or manual. That's why the exemption is so important -- and why advocates do the work over and over again to secure it from the Library of Congress. It's a time-consuming and expensive process that many would rather do away with.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

08/11/2021 22:39:24  

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: Last evening the web was alive with angry players who couldn't play their games due to an unexpected error. While the situation is still not completely clear, it appears that someone allowed a domain used by Denuvo's anti-piracy technology to expire, meaning that players of some big games couldn't enjoy what they had paid for. [...] According to Alex Buckland, the DRM provider for all of the affected games had let a key domain expire, rendering the system inoperable. Following the failure to renew, the domain then went into a grace period but when that expired too, it appears to have been removed from DNS records. This meant that the domain would not resolve to an IP address, effectively breaking the system. To solve the problem, some users on Steam posted up tutorials for players to modify their Windows HOSTS file to point to the last known IP address for the domain. This appeared to do the trick but obviously, such drastic measures shouldn't be needed to play a game that has been legally purchased -- especially those that are single-player only.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

07/11/2021 00:38:58  

After the U.S. Copyright Office's once-every-three-years review of allowed exemptions, "We have some good news to share...." reads a new announcement this week from the Free Software Foundation: The FSF was one of several activist organizations pushing for exemptions to the anticircumvention rules under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that make breaking Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) illegal, even for ethical and legitimate purposes. We helped bring public awareness to a process that is too often only a conversation between lawyers and bureaucrats. As of late last week, there are now multiple new exemptions that will help ease some of the acute abuse DRM inflicts on users. However, the main lesson to be learned here is that we should and must keep pushing. Individual, specific exemptions are not enough. The entire anticircumvention law needs to be repealed. We want to thank the 230 individuals who co-signed their names to our comments supporting exemptions across the board. We should take this as a sign that even though it can be difficult, anti-DRM activism yields practical results. Section 1201 is one of the most nefarious sections of the DMCA. The provisions contained in 1201 impose legal penalties against anyone trying to circumvent the DRM on their software and devices or, in other words, anyone who tries to control that software or device themselves instead of leaving it up to its corporate overlords.... It takes the hard work of hundreds to secure the anticircumvention use exemptions we already have, and even more work to eke out a few more. Yet thanks to the support of citizens, activists, and researchers around the world, the U.S. Copyright Office has approved a few more, while at the same time demonstrating the DMCA's serious flaws. In coverage of the new round of anticircumvention exemptions we've seen so far, something that stands out is the U.S. Copyright Office's approval for blind users to break the digital restrictions preventing any ebooks from being processed through a screen reader. At least at first glance, it looks like a big win for all of us concerned with user freedom, but a closer look shows something more sinister, as the U.S. Copyright Office refused to make this exemption permanent. The message this sends to all user freedom activists, but especially the visually impaired among us, is: "we're giving you this now because it would seem inhumane otherwise, but we hope that you'll forget to fight for it later so we can allow corporations to keep on restricting you...." [P]articipating organizations have been able to make progress on other important exemptions, whether that's the right to install free software on wireless routers or the right to repair dedicated devices like game consoles. It's the coalescing of groups like these that is "chipping away" at Section 1201. At the same time, it's telling that we're forced to fight tooth and nail for the meager exemptions we're granted, even with such a broad base of support. The corporations who have a vested interest in the DMCA and Congress itself are content with the status quo, but we shouldn't be content with patches on a broken system. Incremental progress against Section 1201 is of course a good thing, but we shouldn't lose sight of our goal as user freedom activists: a complete repeal of Section 1201, and all other laws that codify or mandate DRM. The Defective by Design campaign takes a radical stance when it comes to DRM and the laws that support it. We believe that they should not exist at all, under any circumstance, and we need your help to support this mission....

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

05/11/2021 22:38:52  

An anonymous reader quotes a report from PCMag: Intel has posted a release that the hybrid CPU core architecture on Alder Lake can be incompatible with certain games, specifically some protected by the anti-piracy DRM software from Denuvo. This was confirmed in our review of the Core i9-12900K when we tried to run the hit AAA Ubisoft title Assassin's Creed: Valhalla, part of our processor benchmark suite. The game would crash halfway through the test run, or simply not boot in at all. The errors occur because Denuvo's DRM software will mistakenly think the so-called "Performance-cores" and "Efficiency-cores" (P-cores and E-cores) on the chip belong to two separate PCs, when in reality the two types of processing cores are running on the same Alder Lake processor. (This P-core/E-core design is a new trait of Intel's chips with Alder Lake.) Intel was originally mum on which specific games were affected, making it unclear the scale of the problem; the company cited "32" in pre-release briefings to the tech press. Whether these would be marginal titles or blockbusters we did not know, as hundreds of games use the Denuvo DRM scheme. But on Thursday, the company published a list of every PC title known to it that has incompatibility issues with Alder Lake. It spans 51 games, including For Honor, Mortal Kombat 11, Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider, as well as the Assassin's Creed: Valhalla game we observed the issue on. Intel says it is working with game developers to roll out a software fix, although the company notes that some of the affected DRM-protected titles can run fine, so long as your PC is on Windows 11. In the meantime, the company says it has come up with a workaround that can run any of the affected games on Alder Lake. But it'll do so by placing the efficiency cores on standby. "According to Intel, 22 of the games won't work on Alder Lake under both Windows 10 and Windows 11," adds PCMag. "[T]he remaining 29 titles [...] will suffer incompatibility problems, but only when run on Windows 10. So owners can also solve the issue by updating their PCs to Windows 11 or using the Scroll Lock workaround if available."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

27/10/2021 20:36:53  

Advocates will once again be granted a DMCA exception to make accessible versions of texts. They argue that it's far past time to make it permanent. From a report: It's a cliche of digital life that "information wants to be free." The internet was supposed to make the dream a reality, breaking down barriers and connecting anyone to any bit of data, anywhere. But 32 years after the invention of the World Wide Web, people with print disabilities -- the inability to read printed text due to blindness or other impairments -- are still waiting for the promise to be fulfilled. Advocates for the blind are fighting an endless battle to access ebooks that sighted people take for granted, working against copyright law that gives significant protections to corporate powers and publishers who don't cater to their needs. For the past year, they've once again undergone a lengthy petitioning process to earn a critical exemption to the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act that provides legal cover for people to create accessible versions of ebooks. Baked into Section 1201 of the DMCA is a triennial process through which the Library of Congress considers exceptions to rules that are intended to protect copyright owners. Since 2002, groups advocating for the blind have put together lengthy documents asking for exemptions that allow copy protections on ebooks to be circumvented for the sake of accessibility. Every three years, they must repeat the process, like Sisyphus rolling his stone up the hill. On Wednesday, the US Copyright Office released a report recommending the Librarian of Congress once again grant the three-year exemption; it will do so in a final rule that takes effect on Thursday. The victory is tainted somewhat by the struggle it represents. Although the exemption protects people who circumvent digital copyright protections for the sake of accessibility -- by using third-party programs to lift text and save it in a different file format, for example -- that it's even necessary strikes many as a fundamental injustice. "As the mainstream has embraced ebooks, accessibility has gotten lost," says Mark Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind. "It's an afterthought." Publishers have no obligation to make electronic versions of their books accessible to the blind through features like text-to-speech (TTS), which reads aloud onscreen text and is available on whichever device you're reading this article. More than a decade ago, publishers fought Amazon for enabling a TTS feature by default on its Kindle 2 ereader, arguing that it violated their copyright on audiobooks. Now, publishers enable or disable TTS on individual books themselves. Even as TTS has become more common, there's no guarantee that a blind person will be able to enjoy a given novel from Amazon's Kindle storefront, or a textbook or manual. That's why the exemption is so important -- and why advocates do the work over and over again to secure it from the Library of Congress. It's a time-consuming and expensive process that many would rather do away with.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.