Peter Jacobs vs Alex Halderman

from the not-as-clear-cut dept

USA Today is running an interesting set of counter profiles of SunnComm’s Peter Jacobs and Princeton student Alex Halderman. Halderman, you may remember, was the student who became famous when he discovered you could get around SunnComm’s copy protection by holding down the shift key. Jacobs responded by threatening to sue, but then quickly withdrawing the threat. The USA Today article has a lot more background on everything that happened. First, it turns out that the “shift key” method had already been discovered and published a few weeks earlier by U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray – but it wasn’t publicized online. At the time SunnComm figured it wasn’t that big of a deal, since they doubted many would bother to use the shift key. When Halderman’s story came out, SunnComm was much more upset by Halderman’s choice of words – calling the copy protection scheme “irreparably flawed” and also providing more detailed methods for removing the software. However, even BMG – the main customer of SunnComm told Jacobs not to sue Halderman, pointing out that it would be a public relations disaster. Jacobs, apparently, didn’t realize the power of the internet to protest these sorts of things – and SunnComm is now under a constant barrage of harassing phone calls. Also, both sides in the debate have “toned down” their language a bit, and realized that each side may have taken some early swings in an unnecessary fight. One odd aside, is that SunnComm actually started life as a company that found and rented out “celebrity look-alikes” to perform at casinos. They got into the copy protection business when Jacobs found out an employee has been playing around with the technology on the side.

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