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Rockbox Replaces Archos Firmware 187

Posted by timothy
from the but-that's-unpossible dept.
bagder writes: "The guys in the Rockbox project have just released the first working firmware replacement for the Archos portable hard disk-based MP3-players. The software is all GPL. Every tiny bit was reverse engineered, disassembled and then re-written from scratch. You can go download your own firmware right now!"
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Rockbox Replaces Archos Firmware

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  • Bless their hearts. gnupod, anyone?
  • It thinks its an Ipod!
  • Isn't there some sort of torque problem that needs to be addressed with these hard drive-based devices? Have they engineered the things so that they don't twitch in your backpack?
    • i've got one of these archos jukeboxes and yeah they do twitch a bit, but only before they get up to speed
    • Well, most of the mass in a hard drive is the platter stack. those move at a constant speed. The read/write arms move, but those are extremely light. So, given that the drive spins at a constant speed e.g 7200 rpms, there would be no twitching. Perhaps a little rotation when the drive first spun up.
      • What about the increase in inertia generated by the platters? It may be small, but carrying around a personal gyroscope sounds a little uncomfortable.
        • You don't even notice it. First of all, small is an understatement... While the platters are spinning I can't even NOTICE any gyroscopic force as I hold it in my hand...

          I don't even understand how it could be classified as "uncomfortable".

          On top of that, the drive only spins up every minute or so to fill its buffer.
    • Nope (Score:4, Informative)

      by Arker (91948) on Monday June 03, 2002 @11:31PM (#3636408) Homepage

      Isn't there some sort of torque problem that needs to be addressed with these hard drive-based devices? Have they engineered the things so that they don't twitch in your backpack?

      Actually if you understood elementary physics you'd not have asked that. The platters are gyros, the effect is not a twitch, but actually a slight resistance to being moved. They do, of course, 'twitch' very slightly when the power is turned on.

      The real problem is that it's difficult to make the other parts move as close to those platters as they need to, without being so close they 'crash' into the platters when you bump something.

      • So in your flaming, you go on to answer exactly my question with an affirmative. Yes, they twitch. Now the question is whether the drives spin all the time resulting in simply an increase in inertia or whether they also spin up and down like most modern drives.

        So yes they twitch and that issue hasn't been resolved (by using non-spinning storage media). Thank you for your answer.
      • Avoiding head crashes on mobile hard drives is a tough problem, but it's not a gyroscopic problem. It's high-frequency vibration and shocks that cause problems. There are two main problems - avoiding head crashes, which is a head mounting design problem, and detecting loss of tracking before messing up the disk during recording. Some drives have accelerometers to detect (and even compensate) for external forces on the positioner.

        Gyroscopic action was much more of a problem with tape devices like the original Walkman. Early portable tape players used counter-rotating flywheels, to get a flywheel effect independent of outside motion. Late ones went to the other extreme, and used lightweight capstan drives with shaft encoders and active speed control.

      • You are correct that the backpack isn't twitching, but rather being slightly stabalized by the gyroscopic forces. However, to an average college student, the slight stabilization effect of carrying a spinning HD inside a backpack would make it seem to twitch with every step. This is because the student is actually forcing the gyroscopically stablized backpack into an irregular path by walking. The iPod as mentioned features a PC-Card form Factor HD, instead of a laptop, or conventional drive used in most other HD based mp3 players, thus giving it an advantage over the others. It seems to twitch less because the platter is too small to generate enough gyroscopic forces to stablize the mass of a backpack.
        Clearly the only solution to this problem is to use a platter that lacks enough mass to cause any human-noticable gyroscopic forces.
  • Figured I might as well be the first to say this... but doesn't this count as reverse engineering?
    • It may be reverse engineering, but unless I miss my guesse, that will not be a problem as far as the DMCA is concerned, as what was reverse engineered was not a means of retaining secure control of a media product. What was reverse engineered was the means of using a product that does not have access controls built into it.

      There may be UCITA or EULA violations involved, however I don't expect that the people at Archos are interested in persuing that at this time. I personally don't think they want to be on the loosing side of a court battle over either EULA or UCITA.

      Then again, IANAL.

      -Rusty
      • Reverse engineering is kosher, provided that the interoperability is with a trade-secreted format. If the creators of the Archos portable MP3 player had patented their design of the firmware, then the DMCA would protect them from others reverse engineering their product in order to provide any interoperability. As well, EULA and UCITA doesn't protect one, as the EULA is software and not hardware, and most likely was only involved when one installed the host software program.

        adam
        • "If the creators of the Archos portable MP3 player had patented their design of the firmware, then the DMCA would protect them from others reverse engineering their product..."

          The DMCA has nothing to do with patents. Besides, if they had patented the stuff there would be no need to reverse engineer. You could just read the patents.
        • as the EULA is software and not hardware
          EULA is End User License Agreement, anything can have a EULA
        • by mindstrm (20013)
          Or if it simply has nothing to do with a copy control mechanism. Remember, reverse engineering is not illegal.
          The DMCA deals with copy control mechanisms, DRM type stuff. Region coding & CSS, etc. Not software in general.

          Reverse engineering softward and hardware is expressley allowed for any reason.

          As for trade secret, you could be in shit for releasing trade secret information. If it's trade secret. A proprietary file format is NOT trade secret information, neither is a proprietary protocol.

          Trade secret information is information they are protecting. Like the formula to Coca Cola.

    • perhaps, perhaps not. Depends...Do you consider running Linux on a PC to be reverse-engineering a Windows-designed hardware system, for purposes of law? it's almost definitely warranty-voiding, and certainly not a change to be looked upon as a routine mod this soon after release, but there's really no way for them to complain about it. Once you buy it, it's yours. To complain that you're putting your own software on it is none of their damn business. IANAL, but they have every right to void the warranty of so-treated units, but there's no way to say that this is demonstrably causing the manufacturer of the device harm or loss in any way, shape, or form unless they have a questionably-legal subscription fee to their little proprietary firmware that comes on it, which in and of itself would be a disturbing thought.
      • Its NOT warrenty voiding - i have one of these 20 gig recorders, and the firmware lives on the disc - you can simply delete it, and its back to how it was when I got it... I love my Archos :)
    • They reverse engineered a product. That's 100% legal.

      What the DMCA makes illegal is reverse engineering mechanisms that either control copying or control access of copyrighted material for the sole purpose of circumventing that control.

  • The days of playing a single format; mp3, are over for the archos...and in a good way. Hopfully the archos execs won't slap the DMCA on these guys using the "reverse-engineering excuse". -Jay
    • I can understand a corporation wanting to keep their source code to themselves.

      I can understand a corporation wanting to keep their protocol documentation a secret from the public.

      I can even understand that a corporation may not want people replacing their firmware.

      But that is no &@$%ing excuse for reverse engineering to be illegal. If I buy a program, and it is delivered to me in binary format, I paid for it. They didn't give me the source code, but the binary is mine. Telling me that I can't read that binary myself, and that only my computer may read it is complete bullc*#$!!!!

      The execs haven't slapped the DMCA on these guys yet, and I am glad for that. I think that we should start buying archos to fool around with. But if they do slap the DMCA around, I think that would be a call for a good ol' fashion boycott (or boston archos party :-). We need to stand up for our rights, and if they are denied, we need to fight back with the only weapon available to us, our own money.
      • The execs haven't slapped the DMCA on these guys yet, and I am glad for that. I think that we should start buying archos to fool around with. But if they do slap the DMCA around, I think that would be a call for a good ol' fashion boycott (or boston archos party :-). We need to stand up for our rights, and if they are denied, we need to fight back with the only weapon available to us, our own money.

        What are you talking about?

        I'm sure I'm going to look like the bad guy here... but can I point out that no one is going after anyone.

        If they did post the inner (trade) secrets of the Archos players then the DMCA could apply, but only if Archos gets mad at them.

        No need to worry, move along.

        Don't get militant over nothing...
        • Even if they posted trade secrets, the DMCA wouldn't apply. Other intellectual property laws would apply, but not the DMCA. To be clear, reverse engineering is still legal, except where the intent of the referse engineering is to circumvent a copy protection or content access management control mechanism. Sunce Archos has nothing to do with e-books, SDMI, or any other access rights mechanism, anyone bandying about DMCA violations needs to learn the difference between the law and the latest meme.
        • he's either karma whoring from moderators who don't understand this but figure it must be insightful, or he's trolling, ignore him.

    • not really, they don't show any intention on adding functionality to play any format other than mp3.
      • Well, rockbox doesn't have to, but another group or person can.
        • if they can do it in 200k worth of code and still implement all of the rest of the standard features, they sure could. The device decodes mp3's in hardware, the firmware controls the software and UI, its most likely not possible to add decoders for other formats, a quick browsing of the faq at the rockbox site makes that pretty obvious.
    • Not going to sue (Score:3, Informative)

      by doublem (118724)
      Keep in mind, Archos is the same company that did the following:

      Somoene writes Linux drivers. They post a link on their web site so you can download them.

      Someone puts up a web site detailing how to install a larger hard drive. The site states that such activity will void the warranty. Archos offers 10 and later 20 gig devices so you can have the larger capacity without voiding the warranty.

      I'd be shocked if Archos cared if people were hacking their firmware. All it does is create a developer community and expanding uses for the hardware, which they are still selling.

      If you want to mod an Archos, you still need to get a hold of one, which means buying it.

      This is a win-win for Archos, unless some jackasses start calling Archos demanding tech support for the Open Source Firmware. Then it becomes a nuisance.
  • The question is... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by neksys (87486) <grphillips AT gmail DOT com> on Monday June 03, 2002 @10:27PM (#3636165)
    Is that legal? I mean, I'd just hate to see something like that challenged under the DMCA in all its ridiculousness. Any thoughts or ideas?
    • Do they have a DMCA in Sweden?
    • Kind of confusing statement here in the story:

      Every tiny bit was reverse engineered, disassembled and then re-written from scratch

      If it was rewritten from scratch then why was it first reverse-engineered and disassembled ? Instead this sounds more like someone disassembled it then used the understanding that they gained to create a new version, which is not quite the same as "from scratch". That may be skating on thin ice as far as being legal goes.

      • Don't confuse the terms.

        Reverse engineering means examining a product to find out how it works. Disassembling the firmware is merely one tool used in that examination. Oscilloscopes and logic analyzers are other tools we have used.

        We have written every single byte of the Rockbox firmware. But we could not have written the software without first researching how the hardware was put together, i.e. reverse engineer it.

        All of this is completely legal.

        If you define "from scratch" as writing software without first researching the surrounding interfaces, then no software has ever been written from scratch.
    • Hell, they'll probably sell a few more of 'em to /. readers. Just imagine, now not only is it an mp3/ogg player you can use with yer linux box, it's (potentially) a hard drive for your digicam/pda/whatever. Wonder if it has a good enough display to run Mame?
    • by Björn Stenberg (32494) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @06:08AM (#3637213) Homepage
      I would say we are in the green. We are not voilating anyone's copyright and we are not circumventing any copy protection scheme.

      This has been a big point for me from the beginning. Some people wanted us to distribute patched versions of the original firmware (language fixes, charset fixes etc), but that would have violated Archos' copyright so we never did that.
  • i own the 20 gig version of the archos jukebox, and i love it, it goes everywhere with me, the only problems are the relatively short battery life, about 5 hours between charges, and it only plays mp3 and wma and it only plays the most common bitrates, a big plus though is it plays winamp playlists, if i could replace the firmware, i would take the time to convert all my files and re-rip my cds to ogg vorbis, its a great format that hasn't really taken hold, plus its a lot more fun to say then em-pee-three
  • Are there any similar projects for the RioVolt SP250? It has upgradeable firmware as well. A quick Google search turned up nothing.
    • Yes, you can find the new firmware at the Diamond Multimedia FTP site. Its Version 2.00 BETA, with extra features such as a steroscope. Here's the link:

      ftp://ftp.diamondmm.com/pub/rio/riovolt/sp250/

      Download the "riovolt_sp250_200-firmware.exe" file (the firmware) and its corresonding text file (the readme explaining the new features). Note that in this version, some buttons will perform completely different actions than in the original firmware.
      • thats not really a similar project at all considering its done by the company that produces the hardware and not an independant third party group producing firmware for a commercial device they did not manufactor and sell
      • A bit better of a hack (loose use of a term, that) seems to be to download iriver's firmware instead, from here:

        http://www.iriverhk.com/English/downc.htm

        This will revert a RioVolt SP-250 back to its roots by making it be an iRiver iMP-250.

        IIRC, the menus are prettier, and there's a few extra options. I like the iRiver boot logo a bit better than Rio's. Also, the version number is higher -- iRiver distributes 2.2, whereas Rio is still at 2.0. ;)
        • More importantly, the Rio v2.0 firmware is actually the iRivier v1.05 firmware. Hacking iRiver firmware is a much better solution than accepting updates from RioVolt. And it probably violates the warranty, but you should be able to downgrade the firmware should you need to bring it in for repair.

          For more information on hacking the iRiver firmware so it works on your RioVolt (there is no negative effect from this, i've done it many times, they are virtually identical devices), check out this unofficial FAQ:

          http://www.geocities.com/cryophil/RioVolt_FAQ.ht ml

          The mp3.com hardware boards are where I go to stay updated on this; there's not that much of substance there unless you scan the topics for firmware news and/or troubleshooting if you've got an issue.
  • Arbitrary formats (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BlueFall (141123)
    This is indeed very cool! Congrats to Rockbox!

    Lots of other people have mentioned that they want Ogg support on their player and a few others have pointed out the FAQ answer that says it's probably too hard to do on this device. What I would like to see is a portable device that can be easily extended to arbitrary formats. For example, my current audio format of choice is FLAC [sourceforge.net] which has no portable hardware support (though there apparently is a car player [phatnoise.com] that supports it -- rock!). I doubt that it will become very popular though, because it's a lossless codec and therefore must take up more room than lossy codecs. But that's beside the point -- if someone makes a new audio format that is truly cool and does some things that certain people like or want, it would be neat if you could carry around that music without custom hardware.

    Just a thought...

    • I have an old RCA Lyra that has no internal memory, just uses CF cards. Interestingly enough, the firmware doesn't support ANY media types at all. When you copy music to it, via Real Jukebox or WMP (it has plugins for both) it copies a small decoder program to the card as well. It takes it a little longer to start up as it has to load the decoder, and it only loads one decoder at a time, so playing a wma then an mp3 causes a delay, but it can theoretically play any format.

      However, I've never tried playing ogg vorbis on it, so I don't know if a similar decoder exists or if it's possible to write one. I would assume that it shouldn't be too difficult to add support for that or for FLAC.
    • by Björn Stenberg (32494) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @06:19AM (#3637228) Homepage
      We can play any format if only we can write code for the DSP to decode it. The MAS 3507 (and 3587) are generic DSPs that simply have MP3 codecs in ROM. We can download new codecs in them and I'm the first to hooray if we can get OGG or FLAC or anything into these DSPs.

      Unfortunately, we have no docs or tools for writing new MAS DSP code and Intermetall is very secretive about it. If anyone can help, please get in touch!

      The 12 MHz SH7034 CPU is unfortunately much too slow to handle decoding in software.
  • kudos! (Score:3, Informative)

    by meatspray (59961) on Monday June 03, 2002 @11:07PM (#3636331) Homepage
    just tried the mod out, works great on my Studio 20, of course the UI has quite a bit till it's up to the current archos build, but it's good to see someone making progress.

    the cool thing about these players it you don't have to actually flash the rom, they boot off of the internal rom for a second and immediately look for a file in the root for updates, if the file's not there they just continue to boot from hardware.
  • I asked this myself before looking at the FAQ from the Rockbox site. Since the MP3 decoding is done in hardware, and (by the developers' own admission) Ogg Vorbis support is unlikely, I ask myself again: What's the big deal?

    Maybe it's the engineer in me, trying to look for a practical value in such an effort, but I don't see the point in reverse engineering a perfectly working piece of machinery that has a well-defined purpose: To play MP3 files. Since the hardware is proprietary, what's the point in getting slightly better software for it, when it's likely that the vendor will release a patch themselves?

    I believe that applying open source methods to software development must be done judiciously. The best times to do OSS is when the community at large will benefit greatly from the software produced, or when a vendor arbitrarily curtails some fundamental freedom in their software and we must find a workaround. I don't see either thing happening with this gadget. What's the advantage of going through all that trouble, when the alternative is probably a software patch or buying an iPod? Both options seem cheaper (time, $$) than hacking this little box. I honestly think that the developers could've made better use of their time.

    Cheers!

    E
    • if you read all of the faq, not just the ogg part, they list several improvements to the ui they would like to improve
    • The big deal is hopefully they can fix the bugs that archos is unable / unwilling to fix. And here is that bug: The damn think skips *all* the time ... even when it's stationary. Sometimes with CBR mp3's, but all the time with VBR mp3s. They have some workarounds, but they dont work, I know its not my player because all my friends who have one complain about the same damn thing. Other then that one HUGE problem its really a great little device
    • by Raul Acevedo (15878) <raul@NospAM.cantara.com> on Monday June 03, 2002 @11:47PM (#3636452) Homepage
      The big deal is new features like no pause between songs, mid-song resume, and other things. Archos will likely not ever support most, if not all, of those things.

      From the FAQ (also on the main page):

      Ok, forget about reality, what could we do with this?

      • All those simple mp3-play features we sometimes miss:
        • No pause between songs
        • Mid-song resume
        • Mid-playlist resume
        • No-scan playlists
        • Unlimited playlist size
        • Autobuild playlists (such as "all songs in this directory tree")
        • Auto-continue play in the next directory
        • Current folder and all sub-folder random play
        • Full disk random play
        • REAL random (if press back it goes to the previous song that was played)
        • Multi song queue (folder queue)
      • Faster scroll speed
      • Archos Recorder support. Most of the hardware is the same, but the display and some other things differ.
      • All kinds of cool features done from the wire remote control, including controlling your Archos from your car radio (req hw mod)
      • Ogg Vorbis support [unverified: the MAS is somewhat programmable, but enough?]
      • Support for megabass switch (req hw mod) [unverified: I just saw the DAC docs shows how to do it switchable. we need a free port pin to be able to switch]
      • Player control via USB [unverified]
      • Memory expansion? [doubtful: the current DRAM chip only has 10 address lines. we'd have to pull off one heck of a hw mod to expand that]
      • by Lord Omlette (124579) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @12:00AM (#3636485) Homepage
        Slow down there big boy! Not a single one of those has actually been implemented! Calling this thing v1.0 is really misleading. These guys are like Microsoft, yeah, they got 1.0 out the door, call me when they get 3.11 for Workgroups, k?

        They complain about the shuffle. Dandy, everyone knows that no matter how good an Archos product is, the shuffle is fucking ridiculous. Archos wouldn't know what random is if random bit them in the bloody ass. But Rockbox doesn't even have a shuffle feature yet! And if they do, it's not mentioned in the release notes or available via the menu.

        I'm sure these guys will do something great with this project, but call me when they add even one of the features on that list.
        • It is indeed true that Rockbox 1.0 lacks most of the feature every sane user wants. No one said it is more feature-complete or better in any way than the original firmware at this early point.

          Still, this is a proof that our effort is going in the right direction, that it works and it helps getting attention and more developers onto the project. We meant the 1.0 release to be this.

          Adding the missing features is now only a matter of time. If you join up, we'll have them available even faster.
        • I understand your frustration with how austere the features are now. Consider what they are trying to do, however. Their idea of 1.0 is to make it work, bug free, and at least play some mp3s. That in itself is a huge accomplishment. Sure 2.0 will be the version that everyone loves. 3.0 will have everything but the kitchen sink (and perhaps vorbis). I think we should commend what an accomplishment its been just to get this far. They just baked a cake, and now its time to frost/decorate it. They just cooked roast beef, now pour on the gravy. Pick your analogy, or suggest your own.

          • I understand what you're trying to say, but my original understanding was v1.0 was "done". If they said, "yo check it, we got v0.1 and it works" then I would have been less angry. But I'm definitely feeling you.

            There won't be any vorbis support because there isn't enough CPU power, but I'm looking forward to everything else.
        • I'm sure these guys will do something great with this project, but call me when they add even one of the features on that list.

          you dont get it do you?

          this is Open Source. If you have ideas and help that you can bring to the party then bring them. What peopl *don't* need is some smart alec standing there watching and saying :
          "what's the point, it's rubbish, you're wasting my time!!"

      • by Nugget (7382) <nugget@distributed.net> on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @01:46AM (#3636760) Homepage
        Yeah, the really big deal is that the stock firmware in the Archos is so abysmally crappy as to make the unit nearly unusable. It's tragically full of quirks and bugs and limitations.

        As an Archos 20 owner I find this project immensely encouraging and hope that it will soon be in a position to make this Archos unit of mine desirable. As it stands, I hardly use the thing because it's so frustrating.

        To quote from my epinions review [epinions.com]:

        The unit is not without its frustrations, though. For instance, the only way to shuffle tracks in different directories is to create a playlist using the supplied Windows software. However, a playlist is limited to just 999 tracks. With 20Gb of space, 999 seems like a very short-sighted limit for playlisting. The first thing I wanted to do with the unit was to create an "all tracks" playlist in order to shuffle all the tracks. Can't be done. One positive note: The playlists are simply text files, one filename per line with relative pathing. A soon as I figured that out, I ditched the visually-appealing but typically unstable windows MusicMatch software supplied with the unit.

        The front-panel user interface is even worse. You can tell this thing was designed by the programmers. Even though it does what it needs, the designers seemed to choose the least obvious, most cumbersome route to each feature. The insanity of having to press right and left on the navigation disk to scroll up and down through the setup menus is just the beginning.

        • At first I was a bit sad that I owned the Creative DAP (Nomad) instead of this, but then I might have been turned off by these shortcomings.

          Whenever these guys are ready with the basic functionality that should have been there in the first place, I'd suggest these features:
          * HW-mod and SW to emulate various car CDchangers
          * SID support (20GB of these babes)

          Maybe the Creative Nomad Jukebox hacking project [metalhead.ws] has made progress until then, but it's currently hacking the chip firmware itself and replacing that would probably leave you without a filesystem - the Archos project seems to have avoided that.
          • Why not help us?

            Car CD changers are very simple to handle in software, but we naturally can't do the hardware ourselves since we don't have the head units.

            SID support is perhaps possible. The main bottleneck is that we must encode the sound data as mp3 before feeding it to the sound chip. Unless, that is, someone manages to write a new DSP codec to play uncompressed PCM data.
        • The front-panel user interface is even worse. You can tell this thing was designed by the programmers. Even though it does what it needs, the designers seemed to choose the least obvious, most cumbersome route to each feature. The insanity of having to press right and left on the navigation disk to scroll up and down through the setup menus is just the beginning.

          That's funny.. I really like the interface. I can switch through things quickly without looking at the display. Course.. I am a programmer :)
      • REAL random (if press back it goes to the previous song that was played)

        That means it's a deterministic pseudorandom order, the exact opposite of "REAL random".

        • You are correct that a non-repeating random play is not really random. Keeping track of the order songs have played in does not affect the randomness of it. I'm guessing that like my Iomega HipZip (which I don't recommend anyone buy), it will not remember the last song played on random mode.

    • This is the exact difference between a hacker, which these guys obviously are, and a "developer". A hacker does something because it intrigues them. In many cases it doesn't need to be done, or doesn't benefit anyone (although I personally think this project does) but the hacker wants to learn and experiment.

      This project is the very definition of hacker.
  • now can we PLEASE have OGG support? :)
  • Surely it cannot be both. Disassembly of proprietary code and rewriting same is not legal, is it?
    • If Archos tried to sue they'd have to show damages, which would be difficult since all this does is make their own product better.

      Archos's interface for the PJB was atrocious, I mean really, really bad. Forget that they lied to me when they sold it to me, telling me there would be a firmware update to allow recording (the unit has an audio in jack that is forever worthless), but they didn't have anyone desing the software, just build it.

      It sucks, and that's the reason this thing has been in a drawer of mine for the last year. Sure now I have an iPod, but this firmware update will get me to give the Jukebox another try as a supplimentary device, but certainly not for Archos's sake.
      • If Archos tried to sue they would have to show copyright infringement before they could show damages.

        That woudl mean they would have to show that code was actually copied verbatim.

        Ripping something down to a spec and re-implementing it is legal, and is NOT copyright infringement.

        • "If Archos tried to sue they would have to show copyright infringement before they could show damages."

          Sorry, but you're wrong. There are all kinds of intellectual property infringements that have nothing to do with copyright. there are those having to do with patent, trademark, or trade secrets, none of which involve the direct copying of source code.

          We're not talking about copying someone's book or CD. IP law is a little more complex than that.
      • they did update it to allow recording... you just need the version of the jukebox with a record button.
    • I guess you are referring to the clean-room type reverse engineering you use int he professoional world?

      For those that don't know, this involoves.
      1) one team of people reverse engineers the software down to a specification on paper.
      2) This team gives this to a lawyer or something
      3) A totally different team with no connection to the first team is given the spec and implements it.
      This is totally, completely legal. Nobody is copying anything.

      The reason it's done this way is so there can be no doubt as to whether anything was 'copied'. If the same engineer worked on both sides of the project, it is possible to cast doubt as to whether he maybe 'cut some corners' or what not.

      That doesn't mean it's illegal for one person to do it.

  • I just hope the Archos legal dept. isn't friends with the people over at Blizzard, or they might just pull out that DMCA whore and trick it out. I smell another bnetd.

    • by Erasmus Darwin (183180) on Tuesday June 04, 2002 @12:24AM (#3636550)
      "I smell another bnetd."

      I don't. Since Archos is selling the hardware, it's doubtful that it's worth the time and effort to pursue a claim. In the bnetd case, on the other hand, people were using an off-shoot of the software to play pirated copies of the Warcraft 3 beta.

      Furthermore, this project has nothing to do with bypassing a copy protection device. That's the major part of the DMCA that most people seem to be worried about, and it just doesn't apply. Even better, the DMCA explicitly allows reverse engineering for interoperability purposes.

      • >Furthermore, this project has nothing to do with bypassing a copy protection device.

        Just wait until an offshoot of this software lets you bypass the DRM on WMA files.
      • But that reverse engineering for interoperability is tricky.

        IF the DeCSS guys had a) reverse eingineered it and
        b) produced a binary-only player

        they could have claimed that it was for interoperability.

        THis is one place where the DMCA is not compatable with open-source stuff.

Per buck you get more computing action with the small computer. -- R.W. Hamming

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