Is a week just too long to wait to get your hands on the beta of Office 2010? If so, you can head on over to you friendly neighborhood torrent site and grab the code. While we don’t necessarily recommend doing this, you certainly could. Microsoft is neither confirming nor denying anything saying, “We have not officially released the beta code of Office (2010)… We recommend that people do not download code from unauthorized sources."
Microsoft is expected to officially release the Office 2010 beta at the Professional Developer Conference next week. A tech preview was released in July, but was still lacking some features and polish. The Redmond software giant is also making a bit of a departure by offering browser-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. So, interested?
You got to hand it to Google, they are one for novel ideas. And, in this case, perhaps an idea that makes sense. Piracy is a tough thing to combat. A lot of effort goes into anti-piracy efforts, and little benefit seems to emerge. Rather than copyright owners fight with Google’s YouTube over the posting of their material, Google is proposing they try to make a buck from it instead.
Google’s proposition is quite simple. Making use of a ‘fingerprinting’ system Google has developed (Audio ID and Video ID), copyright owners could tag and track their content on YouTube. The content identification system, already in use on YouTube, allows to see where and how often their material is viewed. Rights holders could use the system to block their content, or they could take a small cut of YouTube’s advertising revenue, based on the how much viewing statistics.
It would seem like a win-win situation. Copyrights holders would have to take responsibility for their content on YouTube, making sure it is properly tagged for tracking, and blocking what they see fit. YouTube would be relieved of the burden of lawsuits by copyright holders, and would be better situated to generate advertising revenue that is currently shying away from the site because of its legal issues. Both sides would get to wet their beaks in a bigger pot of advertising revenue. And YouTubers will be still free to watch all their favorite, currently tainted, copyrighted material.
File sharers in France who get caught downloading pirated content could lose internet service for up to a year, and that's okay with the European Parliament, which dropped an amendment to its forthcoming telecoms legislation that would have protected citizens in such scenarios.
"Any such measures liable to restrict those fundamental rights or freedoms may only be taken in exceptional circumstances...and shall be subject to adequate procedural safeguards in conformity with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights, including effective judicial protection and due process," the dropped amendment reads.
Going forward, individual countries have the green light to ask ISPs to disconnect users believed to be software pirates, and do so without any kind of court order.
This has been a hot topic in Europe, and at the core of the issue is whether or not Internet access can be considered a fundamental right. UK prime minister Gordon Brown put Internet access on the same plane as gas, water, and electricity in terms of entitlement, but there's been recent pressure to push through anti-piracy legislation. According to research firm Forrester, 14 percent of European Internet users are involved in illegal file-sharing. However, Forrester doesn't think the solution lies in tougher legislation.
"Piracy will not be solved by legislation alone. Without compelling services, piracy will not be beaten," said Mark Mulligan, an analyst for Forrester.
Four people were jailed earlier today in eastern China today for selling pirated copies of Microsoft’s operating system, Windows XP.
Hong Lei and Sun Xianzhong were both sentenced to three and a half years and fined a million Yuan ($176,000) by a Suzhou city court. Along with them, two others were jailed for two years and fined 100,000 Yuan. According to prosecutors, they were members of a gang that offered free downloads of the OS and pulled money off of ads. Apparently, more than ten million people had downloaded the software.
The site gained attention from Chinese authorities after officials with the US Business Software Alliance filed a compliant last June.
The general consensus among consumers is that DRM sucks, and the often draconian measures used to prevent copyright infringement do very little, if anything, to prevent software piracy. The argument is that DRM only shackles the honest consumer, while pirates figure ways around the copyright schemes regardless. But could DRM also be giving otherwise law-abiding citizens cause to cross the legal line?
That's exactly what DRM is doing, according to the first empirical study of its kind in the UK. In a new paper titled, "Technological accommodation of conflicts between freedom of expression and DRM: the first empirical assessment." Cambridge law professor Patricia Akester says she spent the last several years interviewing lecturers, end users, government officials, rights holders, and DRM developers to see what affect DRM was actually having.
In one example, Akester cited a situation in which a blind person who bought a legal electronic copy of the Bible from Amazon could not utilize text-to-speech. Amazon's policy is not to refund eBooks once they've been downloaded, and the publisher proved little help. Seemingly out of options, Lynn Holdsworth, the individual in question, ended up tracking down an illegal copy without the text-to-speech limitation. Not exactly what one envisions as the typical pirate.
You can read Akester's lengthy paper here, or view the shorter version here.
Originally filed in 2005, Microsoft has now been granted US Patent No. 7,536,726. More specifically, the software giant now owns the patent for intentionally crippling your PC until you cough up the cash for that pirated OS.
Navigating through the legalese, the patent paves the way for "making selected portions and functionality of the operating system unavailable to the user or by limiting the user's ability to add software applications or device drivers to the computer. Additionally, various techniques can be used to remove or reduce the functional limitations of the computer."
The snarky side in us says not to worry, because Microsoft will only hold your system ransom until you pay an "agreed upon sum of money." And the rational side says, really, don't worry, because this should only effect pirates anyway, and even then, Microsoft appears to be softening its stance.
It would appear that EA’s latest Sims title has fallen prey to the piracy that they so desperately tried to prevent for Spore, and only a few weeks before the game’s official release.
Now, while we won’t officially report on the game leak’s status (because you can’t confirm news like this without engaging in illegal acts), reports have stated that the files are real and working fine. A note included with the torrent is said to read, “Support the software developers. If you like this game, BUY IT!” Seems a like a strange place for morality to come into play, but hey, why not?
Unfortunately for EA the game doesn’t require any type of online activation to play, due to its disc-based copy protection, so pirates will be almost impossible to stop. They have stated on their official site “We feel like this is a good, time-proven solution that makes it easy for you to play the game without DRM methods that feel overly invasive or leave you concerned about authorization server access in the distant future.”
At a panel about the future of filmmaking Michael Lynton, Sony Pictures Entertainment’s CEO, had some choice words to say about the Internet and what it has done for his business.
“I’m a guy who doesn’t see anything good having come from the Internet. Period.” His complaints are stemmed from the belief that the Internet has “created this notion that anyone can have whatever they want at any given time. It’s as if the stores on Madison Avenue were open 24 hours a day. They feel entitled. They say, ‘Give it to me now,’ and if you don’t give it to them for free, they’ll steal it.”
Wow, some pretty brash words. What’s most surprising is that this man is a CEO of a very successful company that no doubt uses the Internet to conduct business on a daily basis. Though, I suppose if you want to get in a pissing match over piracy, being quotable is more important than being correct.
Bit Torrent user’s who scored pre-released versions of the Windows 7 RC may have gotten more then they bargained for. Malware-laced copies of Microsoft’s newest OS were seeded to torrents in late April, and security researchers are warning users who may have downloaded Windows 7 from non-Microsoft sources, to format, and reinstall their OS.
Adoption rate of the pirated version has slowed since the official release, but as many as 27,000 machines were estimated to be compromised when the command and control center for the bot net was located and finally shut down on May 10th by authorities. Currently, researchers at Damballa are monitoring installations of the infected version, and estimate that approximately 1,600 new machines are added per day. The good news here is that new installations won’t be drafted into the bot net, but it’s still not a good idea to run software from non-trusted sources.
Blocking this type of infection is difficult researchers confess since the Trojan was integrated into the OS installer, and it became active immediately following setup. The situation is also compounded by the reality that Windows 7 still has very limited anti virus options. Operating systems however aren’t the only attack vector for those looking to poison torrents. Similar malware infested Trojans were found in other popular torrented applications including iWork 09 and even Photoshop CS4.
Softpedia reports that pirated copies of Windows 7 will be provided with security updates, update rollups, and even service packs. What is Microsoft thinking? Is Redmond promoting piracy?
The idea of providing security and other updates to pirated copies as well as legit copies of Windows might seem crazy, but here's the reasoning, straight from Paul Cooke, director of Windows Client Enterprise Security:
Keeping a machine up to date is one of the first steps in helping ensure that they remain reliable, compatible, and safe from threats when they are online. Some of the most famous incidents of malicious software infection have come after security updates were publicly available from Microsoft - Blaster, Zotob, Conficker and Sasser, just to name a few. Rest assured that we at Microsoft are committed to making sure that security updates are available to all of our users to help ensure a safe online experience for everyone.
Note that Cooke is laying the blame for many recent security problems where it belongs: on users and companies who will not upgrade their software to block such threats. By continuing the recent policy of allowing users of non-genuine Windows to receive security updates, Microsoft is saying, in effect, 'don't blame us if unpatched systems are compromised.'
However, don't think that Redmond's turning a patched eye to either casual piracy or software counterfeiting. Pirated copies of Windows 7 won't be eligible for some of Microsoft's goodies, and Softpedia points out that counterfeit copies of Windows often come with a "free" bonus: malware.
For your chance to sound off on security for software pirates, join us after the jump.