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EFF Wants a Fair Use-style DMCA Provision

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“When you buy a video game, you expect to be able to play it for as long as you want. You expect be able to play it with your kids many years from now if you want (well, maybe not Grand Theft Auto),” writes Harvard law student Kendra Albert. She, with the backing of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), is petitioning the US Copyright Office for a modification to the ever-controversial Digitial Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA).

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Companies Actively Choose Abandonment, Not Users

Let’s be fair. Companies spend a lot of money developing games. This is why the copyright system in this country allows them to recoup their expenses along with significant profits. But, in the end, consumers spend a lot more money to play said games. Otherwise, there’d be no point. And even in the cases where the companies lose money, well, that’s the name of the game.

No one’s saying that companies protecting their work is necessarily wrong, but when a user purchases a game they have the reasonable expectation that it will keep working indefinitely. After many users move on to other games, however, in case after case, the game companies eventually stop funding the servers that provide online game play and the users are left in the cold. The DMCA currently limits users from modifying games to keep them working, which is similar to saying that you are violating automotive patents when you change your oil or even swap out and upgrade parts. The mechanics of the idea are the same: since you don’t own the rights to this, even though you paid for it, you have no right to keep it working for yourself.

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The EFF complaint to the copyright office is eloquent:

Despite the chilling effects of legal uncertainty, there have been some projects that successfully restored gameplay for abandoned games by replacing or bypassing shutdown servers. Many of these projects have been organized outside of the United States. In fact, companies have been created outside the United States to provide multiplayer servers for games no longer supported by their developers.

Not Just Computer Games

pirateThe proposal covers a wider range than you might expect, however. We’re not just talking about legalizing Age of Empires and Rise of Nations modifications here. We’re talking about restoring the rights of users who lawfully acquired their software and weren’t ready to quit playing when the company was ready to quit letting them play. The golf course shuts down; you can’t take your clubs elsewhere?

Console games are often hit the hardest by server shutdowns, because players have a limited set of options for connecting to alternate servers, and because console manufacturers sometimes shut down online play for all games on a console at the same time. Still, much of the activity surrounding restoration of play for abandoned games has occurred for PC games. Finally, general purpose mobile platforms, such as Android and iOS,have not seen significant game preservation projects yet, but given the success of game preservation on other platforms and the growth of mobile gaming, improving legal certainty for mobile gaming restoration projects is likely to jumpstart such projects as well.

Hacked will keep you posted as the outcome of this litigation. Going to the administrator of the law rather than to the lawmakers is a much quicker way to get results. Conceivably, if such becomes intractable, the EFF may have to sue the government to get things in a more reasonable state.

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  1. Illutian Kade

    February 22, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

    Now, if we could get a Fair Use clause in the DMCA for Lets Play and Reviewers that stop these retarded YouTube Content ID flags (fuck off Nintendo)

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Breaches

Uber Is Paying Hackers to Keep Quiet

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Uber Technologies Inc. has reportedly paid hackers to delete scores of private data stolen from the company in a security breach that was concealed for over a year. The revelation provides further confirmation that, when it comes to cyber security, crime does pay.

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Massive Data Breach

According to Bloomberg Technology, hackers retrieved the personal data of 57 million Uber customers and drivers at some point last year. Nobody heard about it because the rideshare company paid the hackers $100,000 to keep quiet. A purge at the front office of Uber also ensured that the massive cyber breach was kept under wraps.

The compromised data was from October 2016 and included the names, phone numbers and addressed of 50 million Uber riders globally. About seven million drivers had their personal information accessed as well.

At the time of the cyber attack, Uber was inundated with a slew of legal issues stemming from alleged privacy violations. Rather than shine even more negative spotlight on the company, Uber executives decided to pay hackers to stay quiet.

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“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over as CEO in September, said in a statement that was published by Bloomberg. “We are changing the way we do business.”

Hackers have done a masterful job infiltrating companies and governments in recent years. As a reminder, recent cyber attacks levied against Yahoo!, Target Corp and Equifax Inc. dwarf Uber’s 57 million compromised accounts.

Various reports indicate that cyber attacks are bleeding the global economy dry. One report, issued by the World Economic Forum, suggests that cyber crime cost the world economy $445 billion in 2016. If cyber crime were its own market cap, it would exceed Microsoft Inc., Facebook Inc. and ExxonMobil Corp

The Fall of Uber?

Uber revolutionized the ride-hailing business over the span of seven years by giving more power to the consumer. Several missteps later, the company finds itself in legal hot water, with its future appearing less certain than it did just one year ago.

The rideshare company faces at least five U.S. probes ranging from bribes to illicit software and right up to unethical pricing schemes. According to another Bloomberg report, Uber is under investigation for violating price transparency regulations, not to mention the alleged theft of documents for Google’s autonomous cars.

Some governments are sensing weakness in the ride-hailing service, and are moving toward banning the Uber app entirely. London is the most prominent example of a city that has taken definitive steps to outlaw the service over a “lack of corporate responsibility.”

Even with its legal troubles, Uber is a revolutionary technology that has influenced a bevy of other innovations aimed at improving the human experience.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

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Cybersecurity

The Pirate Bay is Hijacking PCs to Stealth-Mine Cryptocurrency

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For the second time in as many months, The Pirate Bay has been caught mining cryptocurrency on your computer without consent. The torrent platform was actually test-driving cryptocurrency mining in your browser – no doubt a lucrative revenue stream.

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The Pirates Are At It Again

The Pirate Bay has been caught using software called Coinhive, a JavaScript library that essentially serves as a cryptocurrency miner. It basically connects to visitors’ computers to mine Monero, one of the world’s most profitable cryptocurrencies.

The news was later confirmed by Bleeping Computer, which reported that,”The Pirate Bay, the internet’s largest torrent portal, is back at running a cryptocurrency miner after it previously ran a short test in mid-September.”

Estimates indicate that the scheme has earned the pirates a total of $43,000 over a three-week period.

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Users had no way to opt their computers out of being test-driven by the torrent network. Back in September, The Pirate Bay got away by telling people it was just a test. The site’s owners cannot use the same excuse this time around.

CoinHive advises websites to let their visitors  know their browser is being used to mine cryptocurrency.

“We’re a bit saddened to see that some of our customers integrate CoinHive into their pages without disclosing to their users what’s going on, let alone asking for their permission,” the company said.

The good news is most ad-blockers and antivirus programs will block CoinHive, given its recent abuses. That means not all visitors of The Pirate Pay were being used as a conduit for mining Monero.

Monero Joins Global Crypto Rally

The value of Monero (XMR) shot up nearly 8% on Friday, and was last seen trading at $94.17. With more than 15.2 million XMR tokens in circulation, the total market cap for Monero is $1.4 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. That’s enough for ninth on the global cryptocurrency list.

Twelve cryptos have now crossed the $1 billion valuation mark. A handful of others have made their way north of $500 million.

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Breaches

Ethereum Notches Two-Month High as Bitcoin Offspring Triggers Volatility

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Digital currency Ethereum climbed to a two-month high on Monday, taking some of the heat off Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, which have slumped since the weekend.

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Ethereum Forges Higher Path

Concerns over Bitcoin created a favourable tailwind for Ethereum (ETH/USD), which is the world’s No. 2 digital currency by total assets. Ether’s price topped $340.00 on Monday and later settled at $323.54. That was the highest since June 20.

At its peak, ether was up 10% on the day and 70% for the month of August.

The ETH/USD was last down 2.2% at $315.02, according to Bitfinex. Prices are due for a brisk recovery, based on the daily momentum indicators.

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Fractured Bitcoin Community

Bitcoin and its offshoot, Bitcoin Cash, retreated on Monday following a volatile weekend. The BTC/USD slumped at the start of the week and was down more than 3% on Tuesday, with prices falling below $3,900.00. Just last week, Bitcoin was trading at new records near $4,500.00.

Bitcoin Cash, which emerged after the Aug. 1 hard fork, climbed to new records on Saturday, but has been in free-fall ever since. The BTH was down another 20% on Tuesday to $594.49, according to CoinMarketCap. Its total market value has dropped by several billion over the past two days.

Analysts say that a “fractured” Bitcoin community has made Ethereum a more attractive bet this week. The ether token has shown remarkable poise over the past seven days, despite trading well shy of a new record.

Other drivers behind Ethereum’s advance are steady demand from South Korean investors and growing confidence in a smooth upgrade for the the ETH network. The upgrade, which has been dubbed “Metropolis,” is expected in the next several weeks. Its key benefits include tighter transaction privacy and greater efficiency.

Ethereum Prices Unaffected by ICO Heist

Fin-tech developer Enigma was on the receiving end of a cyber-heist on Monday after hackers took over the company’s website, mailing list and instant messaging platforms. The hack occurred three weeks before Enigma’s planned Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for September 11.

In addition to defacing the company’s website, the hackers pushed a special “pre-sale” ahead of the ICO. While many users realized it was a scam, 1,492 ether tokens – valued at $495,000 – were directed into the hackers’ cryptocurrency wallet by unsuspecting backers.

The irony in all this is that Engima is a cryptography company that prides itself on top-notch security protocols. The company issued a statement that its servers had not been compromised.

ETH/USD (Bitfinex)

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