Anti-File Sharing Propaganda Back To Focusing On That Horrible Malware You'll Get

from the unprotected-file-sharing-is-bad dept

The thing that you sort of need to admire about the copyright maximalist lobby is that they attack the problem from so many different directions on such a constant basis. It's almost impossible to keep up -- though, you do begin to notice some patterns. A particularly popular move is to alternate between the moral argument against copyright infringement (stealing! bad!) and the idea that file sharing is going to destroy your computer (we're just looking out for your safety!). It looks like the industry is back on that latter kick, as two recent stories indicate.

First, the BSA has its widely debunked "piracy" numbers -- but it's now getting news for focusing instead on how you're going to get malware if you file share. Since it can't actually back up its bogus numbers, instead it's hoping that most people don't know that correlation doesn't mean a causal relationship -- but at least we know that most of our readers know better. The report notes that there's a correlation between higher piracy rates and higher malware infections, but seems to totally ignore exceptions to that rule (the US) or delve into other variables that may explain either the piracy rate (already questionable) or the malware rate (education levels? poverty? shared computers? etc.). Even more amusing, they claim (with no actual evidence) that those who get malware have to spend more to repair their computers than it would have cost to get the legitimate software in the first place. I have no doubt that there are risks for those who file share, but this report does nothing to show the actual risks and is yet another in a long line of weak propaganda from the BSA, that despite being called on it for years, never seems to do anything to back up its reports with facts.

Then, we have the story of the MPAA apparently sending a bunch of anti-piracy comic books to New Zealand, home of one of many different fights on how to change copyright law. The comic book, like the BSA report, involves plenty of ridiculous and unsubstantiated claims about how file sharing will unleash nasty malware and viruses all over your computers -- but drawn in nice comic book form. Can we send those kids who got the MPAA comic book a copy of the Tales from The Public Domain comic books as well? There are free digital downloads for anyone who wants to hand them out in exchange for the bogus MPAA ones....


Reader Comments (rss)

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  •  
    identicon
    David, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 4:36pm

    http://techdirt.com/articles/20060116/1243237.shtml

    On the other hand, buying legitimate product could screw up your computer even more...

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 4:55pm

      Re:

      ahhh, never mind the dude behind the curtain

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 4:59pm

        Re: Re:

        Quote pirate! SUE SUE SUE!

         

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          anon, Oct 15th, 2009 @ 12:02am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Actually perhaps that's what software users need to do more often especially with video game drm. With the potential argument if you install something with securom or something else, you agree to its presence but then when you uninstall. you are in effect if there are no more games that use it on your system telling it to get off your property and if it does not it is tresspassing on your system.

           

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    MarksAngel (profile), Oct 14th, 2009 @ 4:53pm

    On the other hand, buying legitimate product could screw up your computer even more...

    Isn't that the truth, I'm still trying to afford to replace the computer that NWN 2 Ruined...

     

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      wnyght, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 6:47pm

      Re:

      nwn 2 ruined your comp? I hope this was sarcasm, but if it wasn't, couldn't you just do a restore?

      how the hell does a game or any other program for that matter, permantly ruin a whole computer?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 10:01pm

        Re: Re:

        wn 2 ruined your comp? I hope this was sarcasm, but if it wasn't, couldn't you just do a restore?

        A system restore will only undo a limited set of changes to the system. It's not as if it makes a perfect snapshot of your entire system and then copies it back when you restore. It mostly only restores the registry and key system files.

        how the hell does a game or any other program for that matter, permantly ruin a whole computer?

        How about wiping the BIOS? True, that doesn't premanently ruin the computer, but if the user doesn't have a copy of the BIOS on a disk/disc and know how to have the system automatically flash it, the system is effectively ruined.

        I've never had a program permanently ruin a computer, but I have had major problems with supposedly legitimate software. For example;

        A demo version of PowerDVD that I installed and then uninstalled, deleted the entire contents of My Documents (Windows 98). I lost over 200 files that not even file recovery software could find. I know I should have had a backup, but that's no excuse for a program just deleting files that don't belong to it. Cyberlink denied that their program could have caused this, but I tested it three more times and it deleted all the files every time. Of course they're not liable for this because I "agreed" to the EULA that lets them weasel out of any damage caused by bugs in their program.

        I installed a freeware video conversion program on my system and it "upgraded" some of my system files. The installer told me I had to reboot to complete the installation and when I did, I was unable to run ANY third party software. Pretty much everything but Explorer gave me an error about a corrupt DLL file. I couldn't even get on the net. I spent about half an hour going through all the CAB files on the Windows CD until I finally found the DLL in question, copied it to the proper directory, rebooted and 80% of my software was working. I sent an email to the author who replied and sent me a list of the 4-5 other system DLLs that had been "upgraded" with supposedly official MS versions. Once I replaced all of the modified DLLs, everything worked again. When I asked why a video conversion program was messing with system files, I never got an answer. He seemed kind of offended that I accused his program of screwing up my system.

        Whenever possible, I download no-install or "portable" versions of programs.

         

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          ..., Oct 15th, 2009 @ 6:58am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Usually, one needs to execute a specific bios vendor provided executable in order to change the bios contents. I have not heard of any other software that wipes the bios by itself. Which sw does this?

           

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        ..., Oct 15th, 2009 @ 7:04am

        Re: Re:

        restore?

        Why not wipe the disk and perform a new install. Lots of machines these days do not come with the real OS on disk, you get these restore disks. Then you have to remove all that adware crap. Maybe you should image your hd after a restore and fix session.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 5:06pm

    Gah, these reports aren't just misleading

    they're dangerous. Most malicious code is either distributed through SQl injection or through links in email and/or interactive web content. Whether the software on a computer is purchased/licensed or not really doesn't matter (especially to the malware writers). Oh, but do go on convincing people that it does, BSA. I really can't wait to see people who get their bank accounts robbed or whose machines are found in botnets proclaiming that they can't be compromised because all their software was purchased legitimately.

    Oh and also? Their efforts to try to force purchases by withholding security patches for non-licensed copies just make the problem worse (especially where botnets are concerned).

    And, and, even if they weren't withholding patches, they are so uptight about keeping their code secret that they won't let users protect themselves from vulnerabilities (usually owing to either lazy coding or bad QA) while waiting for the patch to be released. Well guess what? The people who write exploit code don't care about the EULA.

     

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    Brian (profile), Oct 14th, 2009 @ 5:07pm

    You get malware if you don't know what the hell you are doing, more people get malware from clicking links in their email and clicking on every pop-up and advertisement they see on the web through any sort of daily browsing than they do via downloading "illegal" software.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 5:07pm

    Oh, but I hasten to add

    Don't like the terms, don't use the software still kind of applies (at least for people who have the time/knowledge to use open alternatives).

     

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      Brian (profile), Oct 14th, 2009 @ 5:13pm

      Re: Oh, but I hasten to add

      Well you find me an alternative version of a game which I have been looking forward to playing which is legal and doesn't come with DRM and all that other crap they decided to load the second game down with.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 6:06pm

    Would this be any more or less misleading that the claims of the anti-copyright pro-piracy clans? "It's only a copy, it isn't like I stole anything - oh yeah, who has a keygen?"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 6:12pm

    I got to agree - but who is seeding the poison?

    I have cleaned 2 15 year old kids computers this week.... their browser cache was filled with "naked brittney" and other teen girl searches. Limewire and other programs were installed on the boxes.

    I deleted alot of questionable programs cleaned the pc's and removed the malware.

    I told them the dangers of the www and showed them the bill I gave "mom and dad".

    Those "smart enough" are SMART ENOUGH to avoid malware. The rest just grist for the mill.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 8:52pm

    It is not at all clear why you keep lumping in the BSA with the entertainment industry associations. Each industry serves a materially different function, and I can well understand why the BSA's membership expresses concerns about illegal copying and distribution.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 14th, 2009 @ 9:56pm

      Re:

      It is not at all clear why you keep lumping in the BSA with the entertainment industry associations.

      Did you even read the post? I'm not just "lumping them in". Most of the post highlights exactly the false claims they're pushing out there. The post was addressing that.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2009 @ 6:33am

        Re: Re:

        I did read your post, just like I have read many other of your posts that lump the BSA together with other industry associations. I chose not to comment about your views regarding BSA activities, but merely to comment by asking the question why you continually add BSA to your list of associations that you say "just don't get it" in reference to digital goods.

        Under your economic views digital goods should generally be "free" (quotations used because "free" can mean many things depending upon circumstances...and not a pejorative jab). Software, however, presents a situation that in my view is unique from digital goods produced by the entertainment industries. The former is utilitarian. Generally the latter are not.

        Even assuming for purposes of argument that the BSA's loss numbers are inaccurate, as yet I have not seen a rejoinder that attempts to inject some measure of accuracy into its figures. Moreover, as yet I have not seen the proffer of any suggestion as to how you would have the software industry redirect its business models to conform to your economic views. While open-source has been embraced by some companies and users, there is still much to recommend proprietary software because of the unique needs of many individual users and industries.

        I hope this helps you better understand the motivation underlying my comment.

         

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          John Fenderson (profile), Oct 15th, 2009 @ 8:08am

          Re: Re: Re:

          The BSA is every bit as bad as RIAA, MPAA, etc. in behavior. And I say this as a 20+ year owner of a software production house.

          The problem with these organizations is that they are fighting against reality so hard that they are harming the industries they purport to protect. As a software house, I'd love for the BSA to vanish off the face of the earth. They give the software industry a bad name.

          "Software, however, presents a situation that in my view is unique from digital goods produced by the entertainment industries. The former is utilitarian. Generally the latter are not."

          I don't see a relevant difference between the two. Utilitarianism doesn't seem like a logical differentiator.

           

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          Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 15th, 2009 @ 5:02pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I did read your post, just like I have read many other of your posts that lump the BSA together with other industry associations. I chose not to comment about your views regarding BSA activities, but merely to comment by asking the question why you continually add BSA to your list of associations that you say "just don't get it" in reference to digital goods.

          I lump them in because they're just as bad (and at times worse) than those other organizations.

          Under your economic views digital goods should generally be "free" (quotations used because "free" can mean many things depending upon circumstances...and not a pejorative jab). Software, however, presents a situation that in my view is unique from digital goods produced by the entertainment industries. The former is utilitarian. Generally the latter are not.

          Wait... are you honestly suggesting that basic economics should not apply to software? Because that's incredible. Can you back that up with *anything*?

          Even assuming for purposes of argument that the BSA's loss numbers are inaccurate, as yet I have not seen a rejoinder that attempts to inject some measure of accuracy into its figures.

          Why would that be my responsibility? The BSA pays IDG good money to come up with bullshit numbers. If they want to pay me to get the numbers right, they can contact us.

          Moreover, as yet I have not seen the proffer of any suggestion as to how you would have the software industry redirect its business models to conform to your economic views.

          Really? I discuss software industry business models all the time. In fact, I recall answer a DIRECT QUESTION from you on how firms like AutoDesk might change their business model.

          Your failure to read is not my failure to explain.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2009 @ 9:01pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "In fact, I recall answer a DIRECT QUESTION from you on how firms like AutoDesk might change their business model."

            I do not recall that specific question, but my recollection concerning the general question is that it has never been answered with any specificity.

             

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              Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 15th, 2009 @ 11:00pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I do not recall that specific question, but my recollection concerning the general question is that it has never been answered with any specificity.

              So you want me to rewrite it for you because I proved you wrong and now you just want to pretend you never saw it?

              Look, it's not difficult to break down what's scarce and what's infinite here. I gave numerous examples last time, but it's not worth listing them all again. Let's just think, who benefits if such software is free? How about manufacturers or rapid prototype companies. Ok, now think a bit deeper and suddenly maybe you'll see the business model.

               

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            Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2009 @ 9:40pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "Why would that be my responsibility? The BSA pays IDG good money to come up with bullshit numbers. If they want to pay me to get the numbers right, they can contact us."

            This is a cop-out answer. You seem to have no problem gathering data telling the entertainment industries all the time that piracy "can" (note: not "will", "is likely to", etc.) increase income. I can only wonder if you have analogous data from studies of the type you regularly cite that is directed in particular to application software?

            I have not seen any, but then again I do not pore over studies like you do. A simple cite will suffice to provide me grist for the mill.

             

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              Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 15th, 2009 @ 11:02pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              This is a cop-out answer.

              No, it's a totally honest answer. It is not my job to give numbers. It doesn't make their numbers any less wrong to point out why they're wrong without giving alternative numbers.

              You seem to have no problem gathering data telling the entertainment industries all the time that piracy "can" (note: not "will", "is likely to", etc.) increase income. I can only wonder if you have analogous data from studies of the type you regularly cite that is directed in particular to application software?

              Sure, we've highlighted numerous businesses that have greatly profited from giving away their software for free. You seem to have a blindspot for them, but, again, I'm not sure why I'm expected to do your research for you.

              I have not seen any, but then again I do not pore over studies like you do. A simple cite will suffice to provide me grist for the mill.

              It's not studies, it's successful business models in action.

               

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 14th, 2009 @ 9:05pm

    You mean Malware like StarForce? I didn't know you only got that from pirated copies.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 15th, 2009 @ 4:25am

    No love?

    No love for Dark Helmet submitting the comic book in NZ story last week?

    Or was I not the only one...

     

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    Richard (profile), Oct 15th, 2009 @ 5:29am

    If I were a malware writer...

    I would target legit applications and innocent webpages - when people know that they're doing something "dodgy" they tend to be more on their guard.

    In any case the design features of current h/w and s/w that are used by malware were mostly added to facilitate DRM (or "copy protection" as it was known back then).

    DRM and malware are technically indistinguishable. The design objective of both of them is to "control the computer in such a way that you can achieve an objective against the wishes of the person who is in physical possession of it, preferably without their knowledge".

    If you were to redesign the PC h/w and s/w to reduce malware you would make DRM more ot less impossible

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2009 @ 6:24am

    They have a point. If you pirate stuff you could wind up with a rootkit... oh wait. Nevermind.

     

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    Ben, Oct 15th, 2009 @ 7:34am

    Oh come on Mike. Do you even remember those comic books? When I was a kid I think they were about dental floss. The school picks a day and hands them out to everyone who is breathing and in the school. Sounds like an amazing plan to indoctrinate anyone right? The only problem is NOT ONE KID reads them. Personally I burnt them. I lived on a farm, we had some people over or didnt and cooked hotdogs over the fire started by the comic. Most kids just threw theirs on the ground outside. They gotta know it will happen but instead of doing anything productive they just contributed to littering. No attempt was made to curb it or clean it after. All their doing is giving some garbage to New Zealand.

     

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    cryptozoologist, Oct 15th, 2009 @ 7:43am

    sounds like what they are really suggesting...

    is for people to simply switch to free/open source operating environments. i use linux and only free software on it. i have no problems with malware, i have no antivirus software (that requires a subscription), i have no antimalware software and i don't need it. i have absolutely nothing to fear from the likes of the bsa what i don't understand is why when people have such horrific experiences with windows, they don't just ask for their money back.

     

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    xenomancer (profile), Oct 15th, 2009 @ 9:06am

    Relative Chances

    Note: I did not have the time to read through the comments made before me and apologize in advance for any redundancy.

    In my opinion, any given member of a torrent swarm, such as myself, is indeed at a heightened risk. As most downloaders of music, authorized or not, are avid fans of music and are also the more ravenous consumers of the industry's market, they are at higher risk of industry blunders (remember Sony's brilliant rootkit fun) than ever downloading an infected file that is later allowed to infect their computers. Of course, that statistic is blatantly made up (as are 80% of them...) but should serve as an important reminder that the music recording industry, specifically, has done more harm in one fell swoop than most creators of lucrative malware ever hoped to do. While Sony eventually paid for its mistake, no organized effort could reliably poison a torrent swarm with such high yield. Torrent swarms are two fold protected in general. There is protection via file hash and check sum comparisons and then there is the vastly superior communication capacity of the torrent community itself. It would take a borderline conspiracy of the torrent community as a whole to actually allow such a massive attack utilizing the torrent protocol to work. This is, of course, excluding the more advanced malware out there that actually are capable of loading a custom torrent client as part of a trojan process and downloading more components before continuing infection. I guess the point I'm making is that beyond the hefty grain of salt we currently take this execrable abuse with, there should be some light shed on the perpetrator assuming role of a victim in more than one of the many accusations the recording industry is making.

    (The hyperbolic extreme of my opinion...)
    And finally, the recording industry is still ahead of the game in unpunished extortion when compared to malware crime given the chance of being caught (5% chance as of 2006 for malware, 0% for recording music). Malware is indeed attractive as you never have to deal with people, but you may get caught. Recording music only requires that you lie to the musician on occasion and then let your legal team supplement the high profit margin of sales with unabashed abuse of the legal system. But this leads to a whole new diatribe, and I have (potentially more productive) work to do.

     

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    Bob Vila, Oct 15th, 2009 @ 4:59pm

    Just have to say as a person who cleans dirty computers for a living, a 15 year old with Limewire on the machine has a much higher infection rate so there is some truth to it. But people who know what they are doing know to simply scan everything before they execute it. Also, many decent torrent sites have some kind of rating system that help people avoid infections and ban users who abuse their system. Overall, pretty easily avoidable unless you are a hyper 15 year-old, I guess.

     

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      identicon
      ..., Oct 15th, 2009 @ 6:37pm

      Re:

      "simply scan everything before they execute it"

      Don't get too comfortable with that approach, the scan is only as good as the signatures it compares to and it would totally miss same day exploits. Best to not execute as root (administrator) and only execute code from a reliable source - better yet, get the source and compile it yourself

       

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