European DMCA

Alessandro Rubini rubini at
Fri Aug 3 08:16:34 UTC 2001

Hello. Please forgive my huge delay but I'm currently offline.

I'm not a lawyer nor anything similar, I only spent a fair amount of
time studying those "intellectual property" issues.

E L Tonkin:
> As far as reverse engineering and so on goes, this directive puts far too
> much power in the hands of companies since all they really have to do
> (from previous behaviour, at least) is to add some kind of encryption, as 
> ridiculously easy to break as it may be [...]

True. Let's for example look at a program my wife is using. It relies
in the Ethernet MAC address to authenticate the license. They even go
as far as giving you a (binary-only) program to retrieve this "magic"
number from the ethernet card. Obviously, it spits (after two fat
lines of copyright notice) the same value as "ifconfig" spits.

Obviously, by changing the MAC address I can run the program on the
laptop with a pcmcia ethernet card. Any tool that can change the MAC
can be used to circumvent copy protection. Thus "ifconfig" is illegal
according to new rules (disclaimer: I still have to check the details
of the law).

	ostro.root# ifconfig | grep HWadd
	eth0      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr 00:10:4B:F0:6E:2B
	ostro.root# ifconfig eth0 down hw ether 00:10:10:10:10:10 up
	ostro.root# ifconfig | grep HWadd
	eth0      Link encap:Ethernet  HWaddr 00:10:10:10:10:10

> Here's one of my odd little nightmares: 

What about mine? Probably it doesn't apply because ifconfig has other
(useful) features besides circumventing protection. But I can become
a criminal by writing and distributing a 10-line program (which I currently
have no time to write).


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