TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Microsoft Sues Unknown Hacker

Microsoft Sues Unknown Hacker

Reuters News Wire (
Wed, 27 Sep 2006 18:26:42 -0500

Microsoft Corp. has sued an anonymous computer hacker whose free
program allows users to copy digital movies and songs by bypassing a
software protection built into the company's Media player.

The world's biggest software maker charges the hacker known as
"Viodentia" has illegally obtained propriety source code to produce
the program called FairUse4WM, sparking fears it could enable
consumers to illegally copy digital content.

The program's name is a reference to legal rulings in which courts
recognize "fair use" as the ability for consumers to copy recordings
for personal use. Some consumer advocates argue that the digital media
industry is ignoring that right in its attempt to stop illegal

The lawsuit marks the company's latest attempt to stop the programmer,
who has repeatedly released updates to the program in response to
Microsoft patches aimed at stopping the tool that strips away digital
management rights code.

The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction as well as unspecified
compensatory and punitive damages.

"This software program enables users to alter or remove Microsoft's
DRM from Windows Media files (i.e. it allows users to wrongfully
access or copy a copyrighted music or movie file," the company said in
its lawsuit filed in U.S. District Use in Seattle.

But a person using the identity Viodentia said in a Web posting the
program has never involved Microsoft source code. The programmer also
said in an online interview with Engadget that the lawsuit was a
"fishing expedition to get identity information" in a bid to bring
more lawsuits.

Microsoft could not immediately be reached for comment, but one legal
expert viewed the lawsuit as a way for the company to slow
distribution of the program and scare would-be users from taking
advantage of it to duplicate copyrighted content.

Allonn Levy, an attorney specializing in intellectual property on the
Internet, said the program also highlights major problem facing
content providers and software makers such as Microsoft as consumer
demand grows for Web delivery of content such as movies and music.

"It shows that whomever is producing the DRM, even if it is the
biggest software maker in the world, they are going to have to
continually update and change that DRM because it is going to be
cracked," Levy said.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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