CD Projekt RED Demands Hefty Payment from Pirates of The Witcher 2

Wow, a piece of not-so-good-actually news about CD Projekt RED (CDPR). That is something you usually do not get to read around the internet, much less from Techie Buzz (and indeed from me, the self-confessed Witcher fanboy). But apparently, CDPR has been showing an angelic we really care for that small group of legitimate gamers more than pirates or piracyside to the world, while pursuing shakedown procedures against those who had allegedly pirated the game.

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The developers of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, one of the most highly anticipated role playing game sequels to be released this year, claimed that the number of torrent downloads of The Witcher 2 had exceeded 4.5 million, but their concern was with the removal of draconian DRM schemes that hindered their legitimate customers from having a good experience of the game. In the words of CDPR CEO Marcin Iwinski:-

In any case, I am not saying that we have eliminated piracy or there is not piracy in the case of TW2. There is, and TW2 was [illegally] downloaded by tens of thousands of people during the first two weeks after release. Still, DRM does not work and however you would protect it, it will be cracked in no time. Plus, the DRM itself is a pain for your legal gamers this group of honest people, who decided that your game was worth the 50 USD or Euro and went and bought it. Why would you want to make their lives more difficult?

The game was also released on GOG.com, CD Projekt’s classic game digital distribution service, with much fanfare and the promise of no DRM. All this seemed to indicate that the company was genuinely concerned with its small set of legit customers. However, it seems that CDPR had a sinister plan of making some pirates cough up exorbitant amounts, or threatening to sue them to infinity and beyond.

The CEO told TorrentFreak earlier that the company will be using torrent sneaking companies and legal firms to track down pirates of the game and make them pay the unbelievably high sum of €911.80 (about $1187). Apparently this has already begun in many parts of Germany and also comes with the collateral of people whose IPs had torrented the game, but the owner of the IP had never heard of such a game mostly because of the concept of WiFi piggybacking, which is something these law firms have never heard of, apparently.

While we all condone piracy, we must remember that these are not the kind of measures that would stop piracy. Indeed, there is nothing in the world that can stop piracy; if a consumer software costs money, someone somewhere is already pirating it for the masses.

These vile measures from a company whose policies I have come to respect are definitely not in keeping with their reputation. CD Projekt RED must stop this nonsense at once and at least demand the price of the game during release, if not anything else.

Swiss Government Advises Entertainment Industry to Stop Crying Foul over Piracy

If you are a movie/music buff, Switzerland is the right country for you. The Swiss government allows illegal download of copyright files like games, music and movies, and declares it legal for personal use. When the Entertainment Industry created a fuss about it, the Swiss government declared this type of file-download as legal (once again), though this time, after a detailed study of the situation.

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The Swiss government has found that one in every three people in Switzerland downloads copyright protected music, games and movies online. In spite of this, the government debunks the Entertainment Industry’s claims of intense revenue losses. The Swiss Government has declared that the entertainment industry is doing just fine, in spite of piracy. The findings of the study can be  found on this page.

The Swiss government calls the Entertainment Industry pessimistic. An excerpt from the report reads,

Every time a new media technology has been made available, it has always been abused’. This is the price we pay for progress. Winners will be those who are able to use the new technology to their advantages and losers those who missed this development and continue to follow old business models.

The Swiss government used a research by the Dutch government to conclude that the Entertainment Industry is not losing money after all. The Swiss government also makes it impossible to track IP addresses of file-sharers, thereby creating a catch-22 situation for the Entertainment Industry in Switzerland. Clearly, the Swiss government will not tolerate any piracy claims from the Entertainment Industry, and the Entertainment Industry has to evolve to turn the tables on piracy, in Switzerland.

Devious Garry’s Mod “Bug” Catches Pirates

The internet is a very devious and dangerous place. Yet it is as fascinating to watch as a bar brawl from the periphery of the brawl with a cloak of invisibility around yourself. There are many devious and dangerous people in this analogy of a medieval tavern, but the same kind of people populate it merchants, commoners and, of course, pirates of the high seas masquerading as legitimate businessmen. The following account happened at the Valve’s distribution service, Steam:-

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One of Steam’s most well-enjoyed games is Garry’s Mod created by a Mr. G. Newman (not the Gabekind). Since it is so well loved on Steam it is also well-loved in the shady corners of the pirate bays, so Garry thought of a plan and posted an update of the game later. Then he asked a very innocent question on his Twitter account:-

Anyone unable to shade polygon normals?

Apparently a few legitimateusers on the official forums were reporting the same bug, saying that the game crashed on startup with this error code:-

Engine Error:
Unable to shade polygon normals(################)

In a few hours, the user who had the problem was permanently banned from the forums for pirating the game. Also, the the string of numbers (###…) was basically the 64-bit Steam ID of the user, which was not on Steam’s database as a registered user of Garry’s Mod. Guess whose account was going to have some problems?

A very clever way to weed out the pirates. Good going, Garry!

Sony Raids Prominent PS3 Hacker’s House

The Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3) hacker scene got a shock recently when prominent German PS3 hacker graf_chokolo had his house raided by German Police due to a complaint made by Sony. The raid ended up with the confiscation of all his accounts, so to speak, and peripherals that might have been related to hacking the Sony home console. This harsh step up from Sony follows many put-downs of hackers and security researchers who have openly exploited the PS3’s security flaws.

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However, graf_chokolo had a ready last line of defense against Sony. The hacker had once claimed that he had quite a lot of knowledge about the PS3’s hypervisor (a virtualization technique), and that if Sony does annoy him, he will release it to the world. He made good on the promise as well by releasing the Hypervisor Bible (HV Bible) to the entire world. Using the HV Bible, other users can reverse engineer the PS3’s internal mechanisms to further open the console to the world:-

Guys, i don’t joke, it’s serious.
And to prove it, i kept my word and uploaded all my HV reversing stuff.
Upload it everywhere so SONY couldn’t remove it easily. Grab it guys, it contains lots of knowledge about HV and HV procs.

It is kind of sad that Sony is doing all of this if only they knew that piracy is not the main reason why these people work on Sony’s hardware; the homebrew scene is where most of their energy is focused. Let’s all hope this drama reaches a peaceful conclusion.

The Music Bay: A New Project from The Pirate Bay Crew

The Pirate Bay has troubled the music industry for too long now. It has been fighting lawsuits and escaping trials in style. It has gathered a huge fan support with ridiculing the lawsuits on its blogs. Any recent setbacks could not move them enough and finally, The Pirate Bay has come out with a new project- The Music Bay.
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The Music Bay has been in rumors for some time and finally, it has become a reality with official word from a Pirate Bay insider. With this, the snake in The Pirate Bay grows another head and raises double trouble for the RIAA and MPAA. They have announced this with a subdomain fear.themusicbay.org with a “Coming Soon” title. Now, The Pirate Bay is known for its notoriety and this can be another one of their pranks.

The Torrent Freak was told by an insider,

The music industry can’t even imagine what we’re planning to roll out in the coming months. For years they’ve complained bitterly about piracy, but if they ever had a reason to be scared it is now. It will be a special surprise for IFPI’s 78th birthday, and we’re thinking of organizing a huge festival in Rome where IFPI was founded.

Also, if you were wondering who the IFPI are, TorrentFreak puts it as,

IFPI is of course the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, one of the most active anti-piracy outfits and a long-time adversary of The Pirate Bay. Formed under Italy’s fascist government of Benito Mussolini in 1933, IFPI will turn 78 in April of 2011.

This new domain is going to take the already paranoid music industry on a joyride.

Mac App Store Cracked

It seems that the Mac App Store, which was launched on January 6, has been cracked already. The crack will not be available until February 2011 though, according to Dissident, the hacker who created the hack – Kickback.

Mac App Store Crack

We don’t want to release Kickback as soon as the [Mac App] Store gets released. I have a few reasons for that.

Most of the applications that go on the Mac App Store [in the first instance] will be decent, they’ll be pretty good. Apple isn’t going to put crap on the App Store as soon as it gets released. It’ll probably take months for the App Store to actually have a bunch of crappy applications and when we feel that it has a lot of crap in it, we’ll probably release Kickback.

So we’re not going to release Kickback until well after the store’s been established, well after developers have gotten their applications up. We don’t want to devalue applications and frustrate developers.

It has already been widely reported that the security of the Mac App Store is very easy to circumvent. The team that developed Kickback is a part of the Hackulous community that cracked Apple’s DRM system for iOS.

via GadgetsDNA

Homeland Security is Now Working for the Recording Industry?

homelandIf you have been trying to smuggle bombs into the USA, you can feel a little less pressure now. It looks like the US Homeland Security services have gotten bored trying to find real terrorists and are now looking for websites hosting pirated music and videos.

According to FoxNews and TorrentFreak, Homeland Security has taken down over 80 domains on the internet. The sites were taken down because of copyright violationsof various types. According to the articles, no legal take-down notices are issued. Basically, the domain name is stolen from the owner, with no warrants or legal action needed by the US Government.

TorrentFreak mentions that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) have recently spent more than $1.8 million dollars lobbying the US House and Senate. They want to make it even easier to take down offending websites in the future, by way of a pending bill called Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act(COICA).

It looks like the combination of the recent WikiLeaks controversy and the money from MPAA/RIAA are paying off. The US security agencies are becoming more like their counterpart agencies in China. If they don’t like a website, a simple phone call will take it down.

I don’t know about you, but I will feel much better as I walk bare-foot through the airport to get a personal pat down by the TSA. I’ll be perfectly safe from people carrying pirated MP3 files on their iPods.

It’s so reassuring to know that my tax dollars support Homeland Security’s new job; keeping the internet safe from terrorist file hosts.

Microsoft Says 86% Indians Buy Genuine Software

Although India may be a among the top countries where software piracy is on the rise but a recent Microsoft study has revealed that a majority of Indians buy genuine software. A global study conducted by software major Microsoft recently points us to the fact that more than 86 per cent of Indian customers purchase genuine software even though they retail at sky-high prices.

Microsoft had conducted this survey on over 38,000 people in 20 countries. According to the results of this survey, data loss and identity theft are the top-most concerns of the Indian consumers. Microsoft also said that more than 6000 Indian customers have reported incidents of pirated or illegal software to Microsoft India in the last two years.

Among other statistics, over 50 per cent consumers feel issues such as stolen password and lost data are more likely to happen with counterfeit software and as many as 75 per cent of   Indian consumers feel that genuine software was more secure and stable.

Image Courtesy

SIIA Files 8 Piracy Lawsuit On Behalf of Adobe Systems for Illegal eBay Sales

The Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), the principal trade association for software and digital content industries filed eight new software piracy lawsuits on behalf of SIIA member Adobe Systems Incorporated.

The lawsuits were filed against online sellers who sold Adobe software on eBay and other websites. According to the lawsuits, the sellers illegally sold Adobe software, including counterfeit, and/or academic or OEM software without proper authorization.

In order to defend our members’ businesses and protect innocent consumers, SIIA operates the industry’s most aggressive anti-piracy program,said Scott Bain, Chief Litigation Counsel and Director of Internet Anti-Piracy for SIIA. We continually monitor online auctions and websites so we can identify unauthorized sellers, shut them down and bring them to justice. We expect these lawsuits to result in significant penalties for the sellers.

The lawsuit which was filed in the District Court for the Northern District of California charged 8 individual defendants with engaging in copyright and trademark infringement through the unauthorized sale of Adobe Software.

Most of the defendants were eBay users along with several others who sold illegal Adobe products on other sites. eBay is known to be a haven for sellers to sell counterfeit software without any problems because of the lack of monitoring on items sold through the website.

However, eBay does periodically run checks and delists sellers who they deem to be selling illegal software or products. So will this lawsuits set a precedent for others who take up to eBay to sell counterfeit or illegal software? Only time will tell.

President Obama Denounces Iran and China for Internet Censorship but Wants to Intercept Encrypted Data

Internet censorship is an issue everywhere in the world currently. Recently, the Indian government allowed Blackberry for a temporary business. However, the condition is not ideal in US as well. While President Obama condemns China and Iran for a closed and censored Internet policy, he too is following their footsteps in internet censorship.

The matter here is two-fold. Firstly, the MPAA (the one that got its website hacked) has raised a bill and is passing it soon to make it a law. This will allow ISPs to block user domains that use too much of file sharing and copyright infringement. However, the exact details of the bill are unknown and a bill of this nature seems to be too abstract.

Secondly, we have the government itself, which wants to track users sending encrypted content and read them. This would include encrypted traffic from Blackberry, Facebook and Skype.  President Obama is willing to present the bill next year.

This can have serious privacy implications and  James X. Dempsey, vice president of the Center for Democracy and Technology  has remarked,

They are really asking for the authority to redesign services that take advantage of the unique, and now pervasive, architecture of the Internet. They want to turn back the clock and make Internet services function the way that the telephone system used to function.

This can help Law enforcement gather better amounts of data from P2P networks. However, this law will affect the privacy and innovation factors adversely.