Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

SunnComm Sees The Light: Ditches Lawsuit Plans

from the no-surprise-there dept

It seems that the quick and loud response over SunnComm's announced plans to sue have worked. In less than 24 hours, SunnComm has gone from plans to sue the student who discovered that their copy protection could be defeated by using the "shift" key on your computer to saying that they don't want to create a "chilling effect" on research and won't sue. Of course, they do take a few potshots, saying that "the damage has been done" and a lawsuit wouldn't solve that. This is, of course, almost an exact replica of what happened to the student's adviser, Ed Felten, two years ago (on whose blog I found this story). The RIAA threated to sue, and then immediately turned around (when faced with public outcry) and said that they wouldn't. Still, it seems pretty clear that the "chilling effects" are still there, unless you can raise a similar public outcry. Basically, these companies will use the DMCA to threaten people, and hope that they get scared away. The few people who fight back (and can make a stink about it) are told "oh no, we were just kidding, run along now and tinker away...."

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  • identicon
    AMetamorphosis, 10 Oct 2003 @ 9:51am

    No leg to stand on ...

    10 - 1 their lawyers told them this wasn't worth pursuing because if people had the auto run feature turned off ( like I do ) then the Shift key point is mute. I do believe that had this suit gone forth, it WOULD have exposed how absurd the DMCA really is! Glad to hear the student isn't going to have to face the hassle though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      wireHed, 10 Oct 2003 @ 2:03pm

      Re: No leg to stand on ...

      I agree with your comment. But based on the track record, I doubt the lawyers ever gave them a piece of advice based on the practicalities of consumer technology.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    aNonMooseCowherd, 10 Oct 2003 @ 6:45pm

    whose secret?

    If it's true that what the shift key disables is a Windows feature (autorun), then it isn't even SunnComm's secret, and in fact probably isn't a secret at all, so it's hard to see how they could ever win a case based on this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael M, 11 Oct 2003 @ 3:34am

    No Subject Given

    I think they planned it this way from the start. They do a massive PR burst saying they "plan to sue" but haven't done it yet - this is legally very stupid as it gives the defendant advance warning and creates enough buzz that organizations like the EFF will start volunteering to defend them.

    But if they announce that they plan to sue, maybe the student will get scared and take the content down and they can pretend the whole thing never happened.

    It didn't work, and it was stupid, but I think that was their plan.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Oliver Wendell Jones, 13 Oct 2003 @ 10:40am

      Re: No Subject Given


      barratry - The offense of persistently instigating lawsuits, typically groundless ones.

      It's not just wrong, it's a crime. If you say "I'm going to sue you", you had better plan to actually do so, otherwise the 'defendant' can legally countersue you for any money they spent on preparing a legal defense to your phony lawsuit.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Carl Langdon, 14 Oct 2003 @ 8:23am

    They won't sue but will dish dirt behind his back

    SunnComm's Jacobs may have dropped the lawsuit. But yesterday he posted a message on Investorshub that he later deleted, but not before someone on Raging Bull made a copy there. It looks like he has no problem dishing dirt on John Halderman behind his back. Steve and gang, My biggest problem with the Halderman Report was that he has an undisclosed agenda and he is insincere. The agenda (you already know) is the EFF, and, when you think of it, there is an exact parallel between the JDF and EFF. It's insincere because they whined about other protection technology causing playability problems (which is understandable, kinda), but to criticize MediaMax for not being secure enough is laughable, considering the position of the EFF which is that no stuff ought to be secured, and people should be left to their own conscience (or, if they're caught, then prosecuted) when it comes to digital property theft. I'll bet none of them EVER had any digital content that anyone else (aside from family and friends) would pay for, and, if they did, they'd be screaming bloody murder if someone ripped them off. Halderman then publishes a how-to on getting our License Mgt Technology out of the PC by naming the hidden file (which the user has given us permission to put there)...clearly in violation of the DMCA, all while making the press believe we're pissed because he "found" the shift key workaround. Last, he misrepresented his so-called "shift key" discovery (which had been reviewed by Piper Jaffray and others over a month ago, made it seem like HE discovered it, and made us look like idiots and charletons so he could achieve his 15 minutes of fame. He also implied that the record companies were not in possession of full knowledge about the workings of MediaMax (after almost a year of trials). 5,000 emails later...the vilest crap you'd every want to get from "information freedom fighters" at the EFF...I'm looking foward to a productive and more normal week. Hope you all do to. Let's take it back. pj

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      ataboy, 18 Oct 2003 @ 8:39am

      Re: They won't sue but will dish dirt behind his b

      SunnComm accused Halderman of wrongdoing for exposing their weak copy protection. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone". Is SunnComm without sin?

      In December 2000, SunnComm announced a $20M deal with Will-Shown, who they described as a major Pacific Rim CD Manufacturer.

      SunnComm Inks $20+ Million Copy Protection Deal With Major Pacific Rim CD Manufacturer

      People are asking who is the Will-Shown Technology Company. Why would a CD manufacturer license copy protection? It is not a record label. Why would it commit so much to an untested product by a penny stock with no track record? How could a major Pacific Rim CD manufacturer not have a web site? How come it is not even mentioned on the web by anyone else? The stock price tripled in the days after the announcement. Who can find Will-Shown and clear up the mystery? A major Pacific Rim CD Manufacturer couldn't just vanish like that, could it?

      SunnComm was previously named Desert Winds Entertainment. The SEC found a little problem with them:

      Paloma appointed Jacobs as president and Jacobs, who accused Halderman of wrong doing, was the person responsible for the Will-Shown press release.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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