American Madness

Intelligent Criticism in the Service of a Better Nation

Who Doesn’t Love the MPAA?

Posted by Matt Cipriano | No Comments

  Pirated Movie, er, Yoda is a pirate
Image from Pirated Movie.

The Motion Picture Association of America hit a bit of a snag this week. In their continued efforts to attack movie piracy and cut down on P2P (That’s Person to Person) sharing on college networks they developed a “University Toolkit” asking universities and colleges around the country to download the software they were supplying to curtail the peer sharing of movies over networks.

What happened wa that back in October the MPAA sent a letter to 25 universities that have been “identified as top locations for downloading of pirated movies” and asked them to install the software. From there an internal report would be generated and sent to the Chief Information Officer at the university. Ideally, from the MPAA standpoint, the schools would cut access to the top offenders or execute them or something. At first folks were concerned about the security of the tool. While the MPAA claimed that they would have no access to any of the information, that proved to be false. Also the software apparently made the network it was installed on easy to access from external sources.

Today there was some new information to add a nice little ironic twist to this story: Apparently the way the MPAA’s distribution this software violated the GNU General Public License under which the software was created. The license basically aims to protect users. In the preamble to the the license it states:

Some devices are designed to deny users access to install or run modified versions of the software inside them, although the manufacturer can do so. This is fundamentally incompatible with the aim of protecting users’ freedom to change the software.

Which is precisely what the MPAA was doing in distributing the software. The software developer attempted to contact tthe MPAA and ask them to remove the software but his calls and emails went unanswered. Instead he managed to contact their Internet Service Provider and had them take down the offending program. Now let’s consider this, the MPAA violated the user agreement of some software while attempting to catch people who were violating the ‘user agreement’ of films. Nice, smooth move MPAA


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