Adam Ruins Big Tech: how monopolies, DRM, EULAs, and predatory tactics have delivered our dystopian future

The latest episode of the always-outstanding Adam Ruins Everything (previously) is my favorite yet: a wide-ranging look at the way that tech has exploited policy loopholes to monopolize control over repairs, features, parts and consumables; to spy on users; to use predatory pricing to crush competitors; to avoid taxation; and to become a force for oligarchic control. Read the rest

Malware authors have figured out how to get Google to do "irreversible takedowns" of the sites they compete with

When a rightsholder complains to Google about a website infringing its copyright, Google will generally delist the site, but allow the site's owner to contest the removal through a process defined in Section 512 of the DMCA. Read the rest

Thousands of sleep apnea sufferers rely on a lone Australian CPAP hacker to stay healthy

An Australian developer named Mark Watkins painstakingly reverse-engineered the proprietary data generated by Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines and created Sleepyhead, a free/open piece of software that has become the go-to tool for thousands of sleep apnea sufferers around the world who want to tune their machines to stay healthy. Read the rest

New, "unbreakable" Denuvo DRM cracked two days before its first commercial deployment

Denuvo bills itself as the best-of-breed in games DRM, the most uncrackable, tamper-proof wrapper for games companies; but its reputation tells a different story: the company's products are infamous for falling quickly to DRM crackers and for interfering with game-play until you crack the DRM off the products you buy. Read the rest

Apple's new bootloader won't let you install GNU/Linux -- Updated

Locking bootloaders with trusted computing is an important step towards protecting users from some of the most devastating malware attacks: by allowing the user to verify their computing environment, trusted computing can prevent compromises to operating systems and other low-level parts of their computer's operating environment. Read the rest

Microsoft's best Windows 10 customers bear the brunt of the latest license glitch

If you paid extra for Windows 10 "Pro," Microsoft had an unpleasant surprise for you: a misconfiguration in the company's license server resulted in the oldest Win 10 Pro installs (that is, those owned by Microsoft's earliest adopting customers) being downgraded to Windows 10 Home, with users' screens plastered with watermarks chiding them for not paying for their licenses (this went over great for everyone who was standing in front of an audience giving a presentation, apparently). Read the rest

Analyst: Apple's poor earnings will recover now they've switched from innovating to rent-seeking

Apple just had a really poor Q3 earnings report, with hardware sales falling off as people figure out that they just don't need to get a new phone every year or so; writing in Bloomberg, Leonid Bershidsky tries to soothe investors by pointing out that Apple is still seeing growth in "services" and that there's plenty more growth to be realized there. Read the rest

US Copyright Office: locking hardware with DRM is no longer cool

Every year, the companies we rely on to make our computers, televisions, smartphones and other high tech marvels make it more difficult for us to repair their products. This dickery is accomplished through various methods: specialized screws that require a fancy screwdriver to remove, the creation of hardware that's designed in such a way that taking it apart to repair would do more harm than good, and through Digital Rights Management (DRM) to keep folks from futzing with their device's firmware. While right-to-repair advocates continue to fight for our right to unreservedly tinker with the stuff we own, The US Copyright Office gave them a wee taste of victory to hold them over until all of the fighting's done.

From Motherboard:

The Librarian of Congress and US Copyright Office just proposed new rules that will give consumers and independent repair experts wide latitude to legally hack embedded software on their devices in order to repair or maintain them. This exemption to copyright law will apply to smartphones, tractors, cars, smart home appliances, and many other devices.

The move is a landmark win for the “right to repair” movement; essentially, the federal government has ruled that consumers and repair professionals have the right to legally hack the firmware of “lawfully acquired” devices for the “maintenance” and “repair” of that device. Previously, it was legal to hack tractor firmware for the purposes of repair; it is now legal to hack many consumer electronics.

Thanks to this ruling, those inclined to do so will now be able to break the DRM on a device's firmware, provided they own it, for the sake of repairing it. Read the rest

The Copyright Office just greenlit a suite of DRM-breaking exemptions to the DMCA

Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act bans bypassing "access controls" for copyrighted works -- that is, breaking DRM. Read the rest

The Get the Vote Out Humble Bundle: dozens of DRM-free ebooks to benefit ACLU

The latest Humble Bundle features up to 26 DRM-free ebooks (including In Real Life, the graphic novel Jen Wang and I created) at prices ranging from $1 (for 8 titles) to $18 (for all 26), with all proceeds to the ACLU to benefit voting rights litigation and action. Read the rest

Incoherence, multiplied: Sony announces nebulous "blockchain for DRM"

Sony -- whose most notorious DRM foray infected millions of computers with malware -- has announced an incoherent plan to use blockchain to make DRM work, somehow. Read the rest

Cloud computing and DRM: a match made in hell

As part of yesterday's International Day Against DRM, Public Knowledge's John Bergmayer published It’s Always DRM’s Fault, which uses this month's viral story about an Apple user named Anders G da Silva whose movie was deleted from his Itunes because he moved from one country to another. Read the rest

Happy Day Against DRM! How We'll Hill-Climb Our Way to Glory!

On this International Day Against DRM, I've published an editorial for EFF Deeplinks setting out a theory of change for getting us to a world without Digital Rights Management, where all our devices obey us instead of betraying us. Read the rest

FCKDRM: a DRM-free games company launches a site for DRM-free media

Good Old Games is a fantastic classic video game company whose products are 100% DRM-free; they are stalwart defenders of your rights to use your technology in legal ways, to protect your privacy and to experiment with the things you buy. Read the rest

Florida's prisons change tech providers, wipe out $11.2m worth of music purchased by prisoners

For seven years, Florida state inmates could buy a $100 MP3 player from Access Corrections, the prisons' exclusive provider, and stock it with MP3s that cost $1.70 -- nearly double the going rate in the free world. Read the rest

Audible puts the screws to indie authors

Audible -- Amazon's audiobook company -- dominates audiobooks, controlling 90% or more of the market; their ACX platform is tailored to indie, self-published authors, and, until recently, it paid them handsomely for any new customers they brought into Audible's fold. Read the rest

Why would a company give free tablets to prisons for inmate use?

Spoiler alert: to steal from prisoners and their families. Read the rest

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