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Censorship Your Rights Online

CyberPatrol Update - Mattel Wins? 207

Slak writes "According to ZDNet, Eddy L.O. Jansson of Sweden and Matthew Skala of Canada have settled with Microsystems when they "agreed Monday to abide by permanent injunctions preventing them from distributing their software, which allows users to bypass the filters. They also agreed to turn over rights to their software to Microsystems." The ACLU lawyer was shocked. I'm shocked. Why would they settle? As I understood things, there were serious questions of jurisdiction. If I were the conspiracy sort, my mind would be racing. "
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CyberPatrol Update - Mattel Wins?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Although the agreement the two students signed with Mattel included the rights to their essay, the esssay itself ends with the following sentence:

    "You are allowed to mirror this document and the related files anywhere you see fit."

    That grant of rights cannot be revoked retroactively. (And there is also the bit about "released under GPL" in the source code.)

    So Mattel may own the copyright, but that doesn't invalidate other grants of rights that were made before the copyright was transferred to Mattel. It therefore appears that anyone who had a mirror up prior to the settlement can continue to host their mirror -- at least until Mattel comes knocking on their door. Then they get to face the same hard choices the original authors did.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Nope: Bennett is one of the non-parties represented by the ACLU, because he operates a mirror site. He did not write the cphack software, although he was in touch with the people who wrote it; all of the work is their own. Bennett is just a supporter of their cause (or one might say that they are just supporters of his cause, or that they are just a bunch of people who happen to agree).
  • Judges are usually quite good at interpreting things as meant, especially in civil law.
  • by richieb ( 3277 )
    Why can't we get ACLU to put up a mirror?

    ...richie - a card carrying member of ACLU

  • wtf? that doesn't make any sense. All the DOT has to do is condemn the property. As the state isn't involved in the lease, and it's not a sale (it would be a forced taking) it should go through just fine.

    The owner of the property would still get compensated (and could go to court to increase the compensation, if desired), and the lube shop _might_ be able to get something too, though this is doubtful.

    Still, the DOT might have just considered it more trouble than it was worth, though I find this unlikely.

    btw, ianal.
  • Mattel now owns all rights to the program, which means they are legally entitled to withdraw its GPL status.

    waitasec.. if the software was originally GPL'd, even if Mattel decides to relicense it doesn't the original software still have GPL and can then go from there?

    Or are you saying that the code was illegally licensed (the authors had no right to license it)?

    I'm interested to see what people in free countries are going to do with the source, though then again I don't use any proxy but junkbuster...


    Your Working Boy,
  • It appears that it was the person (Rombuu)to whom he replied in reasonable tone who was moderated as flamebait.
  • "Creating a truly open marketplace for electronic services"
    Sounds hilarious enough to me!
  • Now I understand why unsigned stuff is labeled "Anonymous Coward".
  • After your first couple of successes, or maybe even before, don't forget that all-important Initial Public Offering!
  • "...attorney Irwin Schwartz introduced part of a slashdot posting,,,"
    So, can the poster sue Schwartz for copyright violation : )
  • IHMO, this is the worst possible outcome to this case:

    • As part of the "settlement," the program's authors are prohibited from discussing its terms. Thus, we will never know what kind of armtwisting happened behind closed doors, and what kinds of lies the authors and their families were told to garner "cooperation."
    • Mattel now owns all rights to the program, which means they are legally entitled to withdraw its GPL status.
    • Any attempts by third parties to independently reverse engineer the block list can now, with some validity, be accused of making an infringing derivative work, which is prohibited under copyright law.
    • We, the users, are completely screwed. Again.

    Basically, it looks like Mattel slam-dunked this one. Crap...

    Schwab

  • They probably settled for a couple of reasons, regardless what they officially claim.

    1) They didn't want to deal with a court case over it.

    This is sad because Mattel's actions are now verified as correct by this settlement. In future court cases of this kind Mattel's court case can be used as an example. Using previous court cases as historical examples is the kind of thing that has protected emulators for so long. If I was in the same position though, I might have put my tail between my legs and waddled too. Freedom? Yeah, right.

    2) They're making a subtle moral statement.

    Consider how ridiculous the situation is. Mattel makes an ass of itself. Mattel requires the privacy of individuals invaded. Mattel asks for the source code to no longer be distributed and to be destroyed, shattering freedom of speech.
    ACLU steps up to offer protection to both these individuals in a case that can't be lost if you take into account previous cases of this sort and the insidious actions from Mattel. Both settle for a dollar, and give up on a ideals they were so eager to defend.

    What's wrong with this picture?

    I think this is a lesson.

    People stand up for freedom, and when they don't, no one stands up.

    There is a side lesson to be taken into consideration here. Do not do Canada or Sweden a favor by visiting, and if you do don't bring money. And, if you're already a citizen, get out as soon as possible.
  • Microsystems paid nothing for the code and even got the Swedish defendant to agree to a 1 million kroner ($120,000) fine if he violates the order.

    Sure, did he do that, or did he agree to give BACK the million kroner?

  • "I don't really consider one dollar to be much of a payoff, do you?" The way many contracts are drawn, the wording "...one dollar and other valuable consideration..." is quite common. This is absolutely the norm in Oil and Gas leases. It's done because the amount that was negotiated can be considered separately from the property or whatever the contract is about. If you bought an oil lease for a couple million, the title would probably say one dollar. Tax implications, and privacy concerns prevail. It may be a matter of public record that a piece of property was transferred, but only the taxman and the accountant need to know how much was spent.
  • UCITA is not yet in effect in Virginia. It was passed and signed, though.

    Surfing the net and other cliches...
  • The point is that they probably had no choice. America is too big to say no to. They threaten with all kinds of embargos, international lawsuits and whatnot, and what is a small country to do? Say no? Hardly an option.

    That the Church of Scientology operates throughout the world does not alter the fact that it was american senators that threatened the swedish government into compliance with CoS' demands. The swedish government even openly stated that it was political threats from the USA that made the break against the swedish constitution.

    But America is not to blame for everything bad in the world. Definately not. And whatever you think of the methods, they certainly work, and work well.

  • Except that if they assigned rights to the code to Micorsystems, then you're probably going to be legitimately outside the law by mirroring it.
  • Sorry, just theorizing, working for a large Multinational, I know how they tend to work.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is a little sad that the big companys win again. One interesting thing i is that cphack was released under the GPL. From Unit1.pas

    CPHack v0.1.0 by Eddy L O Jansson / Released under the GPL.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Judgements set down precendents, not settlements.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    A lawsuit was filed against me in British Columbia Supreme Court. There were not, to my knowledge, any criminal charges here or anywhere. It would certainly have been some kind of test case; it would test lots of things including reverse engineering.

    There are civil liberties organizations in Canada, but they don't have the funds to do a huge amount in my defense. EFC was certainly willing to set up a fund and take donations. That's a dicey business. We certainly wouldn't be looking at the kind of money an organization like the ACLU could bring to bear... and if the ACLU was willing to "represent me in the USA", they never told me so. Their comments to the press seemed to indicate they were more interested in the email subpeona thing than in the issues directly relevant to me. EFF was very supportive. Because of the jurisdiction issues it's not clear that my formally getting a lawyer in the USA would be a good idea.

    Issues arising from this work may still end up in court, because of the licensing and subpeona issues. But I personally hope to be bowing out of direct involvement with that. The copyright is Microsystems's now, not mine, so they can try to enforce it.

    - Matthew Skala [islandnet.com], completely unauthenticated.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The settlement isn't secret, it's in the Boston court record and may well end up on my or someone else's Web site eventually, and I haven't been hounded nor indeed had any communication at all from Mattel's corporate lawyers, except through my own lawyer and the service of the initial Boston lawsuit documents.

    - Matthew Skala [islandnet.com]

  • Dunno, if it really says "Released under GPL" you can get a few thousand programmers to testify that this is perfectly clear to anybody in the field.

    I can't think of any plausible way that "GPL" could be interpreted as something else in this context.

  • Can somebody check their copy of the code (I didn't download it) and see what the license was? If it was GPL or something similar then they can still assign the copyright, but they can't prevent people from distributing it.

  • I am an attorney, but I"m probably not licensed in your jurisdiction. This is not legal advice. Get that from a lawyer who is licensed in your jurisdiction if you need any.

    Dumb, dumb, dumb. An assignment of "all rights, if any" ???
    In property law, this is a "quitclaim" deed. If I didn't make any representations about my ownership interest, I could give you a quitclaim deed to the Empire State Building without committing any civil or criminal wrongdoing. All it says is that whatever I own, you own now.
    Mattell's description of this sounds just like that.

    There's no fraud or misrepresnetation, as Matell suggests. Mattell was represented by rather expensive counsel, and had full information available. Previous licenses just plain aren't assignments. Just plain a dumb move. However, depending upon the wording, it *may* prevent the authors from receiving a GPL'd copy and making further modifications, as if it is written properly, future rights would be assigned as well--i.e., those that the authors could receive as licensees under the GPL, and their rights as authors to any new code. Post assignment, it is not possible for them to grant any type of license at all.
  • I am a lawyer, but this is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, see an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction

    >There's generally only one reason that a court case gets settled, and
    >that is that one of the sides has an unfair advantage of winning.

    No, that's not it at all. You couldn't get much farther from the truth.

    Almost all cases settle (well past 95%). They settle once both sides either
    have a good estimate of what will happen, or a good estimate of the probabilities of what will happen. Then they choose something between each side's worst case. If it is clear who will lose, the loser generally surrenders to avoid further fees and costs.

    hawk, esq.
  • 1. Manufacturer can always claim that what software is doing is their "intellectual property".

    2. This would eliminate any mention of user registration, since this is effectively limiting of access to software based on collection of information.

    3. That's the case now, not?

    4. That also the case. Moreover, I doubt that any license term that was not known to user before purchase (and when user cannot return product if he doesn't agree) would hold up in court.

    5. That's tough to prove. If some Big Software Vendor proclaims that his system is "highly stable", how many crashes a day contradict these terms? Also, most of advertisement terms are buzzwords anyway, try provind in court that partcular software is not "user friendly".

    6. This is easyly enforced by not buying "bad" software. You need not any law to do this.
  • It may not be over for Mattel. Yes, they reign in control over the product that decrypts their site list, but that site list has already been made public several times and it shows some questionable decisions on the part of Mattel. Several CyberPatrol customers could easily get together and file a class-action lawsuit for, at the least, false advertising since sites that did not fit the particular descriptions were blocked. Sites themselves may still have a case for libel (representing knowingly that something false about another person is true) for those sites that were blocked inaccurately (and indeed, on purpose). If people still want to, they can attack Mattel (as opposed to defending themselves from them).

    It's only over if you give in.
  • Apparently the UCITA allows old licences to be revoked by newer licences; i.e., Mattel can cancel the GPLed licence of the released cphack.

    UCITA could be a "magic bullet" against the GPL.
  • You might well want to explore the fact that the original documents gave permission to redistribute.

    Irrelevant -- Mattel can withdraw the original license. All they have to do is sue in a Virginia court (where UCITA is law); anything that can be downloaded in Virginia would be infringing.
    Furthermore, anybody else reverse-engineering Cyber Patrol can be sued for copyright infringement. All efforts against Cyber Patrol (or derivatives thereof) are tainted and thus illegal.

    CPHACK has not been withdrawn, but turned into a offensive weapon against reverse engineering, a blunt instrument Mattel can use to bludgeon anyone having a go at Cyber Patrol, reinforcing their powers to keep the serfs ignorant.
  • That grant of rights cannot be revoked retroactively. (And there is also the bit about "released under GPL" in the source code.)

    Under UCITA, licences can be retroactively revoked. All Mattel has to do is show that the essay is downloadable in Virginia (where UCITA is law) and sue in a Virginia court room.
  • The Seattle Weekly [seattleweekly.com] recently published an article [seattleweekly.com] about Seal Press' battle with Mattel.

    Seal published a women's-studies anthology called Goodbye Barbie that featured several Mattel-trademarked items on the cover. Including Barbie's own, special shade of pink.

    Yes, Mattel owns a color. Does the sun pay trademark duties? Was there no prior art?

    This case was also settled out-of-court, with Seal Press agreeing to change the title and cover art.

    Don't fsck with Barbie, man.

    P.S.-- the Weekly cover featured a drawing of Barbie clubbing a harp seal. Wonder if they'll be receiving a li'l note from Mattel?

  • According to Wired, the agreement that they signed states that they "are the sole proprietors of all rights" involved with cphack and have "not assigned" them to anyone else. If they have released it under the GPL, then they are screwed because they have given everyone that has acquired it the right to distribute it. If the "Released under the GPL" comment in the source is not enough for it to be considered covered by the GPL, then we're stealing Mattel's legally-acquired property in distributing the cphack s/w. Bummer either way.
  • It seems that this is a losing battle. If we want to bring about an end to net censorship tools, then why not come up with something better?

    I would like to see a tool which would give children free reign on the net, but which would notify parents of visited URLS. The scenario:

    Mom & Dad talk to Johnny, tell him about the Web, and lay down the law for what they think is appropriate. Johnny goes surfing. Each day, mom and dad get an email with the URLs Johnny visited. The PARENTS decide what's a problem and what's not, and since Johnny knows mom and dad are watching, he tries to do What's Right.

    Now, of course, the problem is, this requires (gasp) active parental involvement. But you're not going to have to argue that one too hard. What's cybersitter going to say - "Yes, but with our product, you don't have to take an active part in your child's life!" You could make it easier on parents by having lists similar to cybersitter's lists - but instead of BLOCKING those URLs, they could be used to flag URLs which have been visited - and then the parents decide.

    This would not be that hard to do (for someone with better programming skills than I have...)

    ---

  • And it's you on the front lines, so ignore any who say you chose wrong; if they want to set the rules, they can pick their own fight.

    --
  • Chances are there's a NDA on it, and chances are the NDA is in order to hide the fact that Mattel may have paid these guys off.

    Hey, I wanna get paid off! I really missed the boat on this one. ;)

    -Waldo [waldo.net]
  • Really? Give 'em the logs. I would like the Mattel Corporation to know that I, Charles Adams, a resident of the State of Colorado, own a copy of cphack.exe, and with intent, intend to distribute it from my my webpage, located at http://members.xoom.com/scrytch or by other means I find expedient. You may subpoena further information as to my from my Internet Service Provider, USWest.net. I will destroy all copies of cphack.exe in my possession and accept a permanent injunction against distributing this program when said injunction is issued after a hearing in civil court, so see you in court, motherfuckers.
  • Actually, I'm not very surprised that this happened. After all, it wasn't more than a few months ago that the Church of Scientology through american senators in it's grasp knowingly convinced the swedish government to commit acts clearly against the swedish constitution.

    If an american "church" can do that, why shouldn't Mattel through carefully selected politicians on it's payroll^H^H^H^H^H^H^H list of nice people to contact be able to apply the proper pressure to make a swedish ISP remove the page, and a lonely swedish citizen to give up?

    Not to be offensive against americans, but from this side of the pond it's blatantly obvious that America and american politicians use any means to prevent its economical and political interests, wherever in the world America feels it's interests are threatened, and regardless of the strength of the measures (Echelon, Warfare, political pressure, economical pressure, you name it).

    America isn't what it is because of talent. It's because of its size, and its willingness to protect itself with any means even when not under direct attack. You don't have to like it, but it works!

  • Constant harrasment, and a juicy out-of-court settlement with a non-disclosure agreement. If you had spent the last two weeks being hounded by corporate awyers day in, day out, and all of a sudden they offered to 'buy' your software, would you not also cave in to the pressure?

  • I didn't read the original license, or bother to download the code, but it seems to me that the original grant of license cannot be revoked. Of course IANAL. It doesn't matter that Mattel can now release the code under a new license. That doesn't (shouldn't?) affect those who acquired it under the original license. And that shouldn't affect their rights to redistribute it under the original license.

    Of course, the problem is that as of now the decision as to whether or not that license is valid hasn't been tested in court, so ...
  • no, no, no
    you're misunderstanding the GPL. When you GPL program, you continue to reatin full copyright, what you do is allow unrevokable, unlimited redistribution and modification by anyone. The one stipulation is that when you redistribute it to a third party, you must also redristribute the source, at no additional cost. you still own the software, and you can re-release it under another license if you wish, or you can even make changes, and redristribute without source. Only those who you license it to (everyone who doesen't own the copyright to the software) must abide by the licensing terms.
    Just like microsoft still owns the software that they license. They could even change the license (specifically, license terms to new licensees) on a whim. But it dosen't make sense that they'd have to pay for a copy right? They don't license it to themselves.
  • I don't think it's appropriate to characterise this as Microsystems et al "winning". The document is out there, I know the mirror sites aren't going to take it down without a fight

    My mirror of the files is going down now. I'm not interested in fighting the fight for you. Sorry mate, you made a great program - you made a fool out of mattel, but now you've made a fool out of us who supported you.

    I feel like a fool. I've recomended people to mirror the stuff, I've put up a pretty decent mirror myself with links to the relevant articles and stuff. And now - you go ahead and do this.

    Wellwell, my mirror is taken down effective immediately. (At least the mirror of the essay / files).


    --
    "Rune Kristian Viken" - arcade@kvine-nospam.sdal.com - arcade@efnet
  • My site DOES NOT mirror the source and binaries anymore. I cannot see how I possibly can stand up legally when Mattel suddenly has copyright on the program / essay.

    They are TAKEN DOWN.

    (But I still link to relevant sites. Oh, and the openpgp mirror should still be up..)


    --
    "Rune Kristian Viken" - arcade@kvine-nospam.sdal.com - arcade@efnet
  • Yeah, IANAL either. I'm sure the state could have claimed Immanent Domain, but that surely would have meant a trip to court. Perhaps that is what eventually happened.

    But ID seems rather tangential to the point I was trying to make -- namely that a deal does not, and presumably cannot, invalidate prior deals with a third party.

    --
  • > a corporation can violate a person's rights more than the state can.

    That has been the general trend of court rulings in the USA for the last 20 years (at least). E.g., no court would have allowed the DoJ to demand random drug tests, but if corporations want to do it, no problem.

    --
  • > Damages are too dangerous, I'm afraid.

    I too have mixed feelings about suing over bugs, and I know that that right would be a sticking point for vendors when we tried to get them to buy in.

    However, I actually worded that proposed right very carefully. I did not rule out disclaimers (though perhaps I should have), but rather, "if their software does not perform as advertised by the vendor".

    Thus if a softwarehouse puts in the usual merchantability disclaimer, but also advertises on TV that (say) "Our software makes your internet connection faster" when in fact it doesn't, then IMO you should have a right to sue.

    If they put in the disclaimer and don't make unsupportable claims in their advertising, then I (tentatively) don't have any problem with that.

    Much beyond that gets into sticky issues that I don't even know where I stand on, so I'm a bit reluctant to encode more into a draft BoR.

    But hey, I put it out there for discussion. Maybe I'm being too soft? Too hard? Either way, thanks for your feedback.

    --
  • > Mattel can never take it from you and they can't retroactively charge you for it, but you cannot give away copies any more.

    I would be very surprised if Mattel (or anyone else) could retroactively/unilaterally change any term of an existing license, including your licensed right to modify and redistribute GPL'd code. In fact, any such clause might void the entire Mattel agreement.

    For example: There was a situation in my home town where a lube shop leased a piece of land which was later sold to the state in order to build a highway intersection. But the sale contradicted the terms of the lease, because the lease specified that the land would not be sold during the term of the lease. The lube-guys took it to court and won, so the state could not receive the goods, and spent several years building their intersection around a lube shop. Last I heard, it still wasn't settled and the shop was still serving customers out of the middle of a construction site. In other words, the state itself could not buy the land because doing so would violate a clause of an existing contract.

    I think what happens now will depend on whether the Judge rules the reverse engineering itself illegal. He will surely issue another preliminary injunction against the mirror sites, but things could still get interesting if one of them decides to go the course on it.

    The judge might be able to set aside your license if he deems the product itself illegal, but surely not because someone else in essense bought a different license to the same thing.

    --
  • Umm.
    "Withdraw" it's GPL status? They can release future versions under non-GPL if they wish. As the sole copyright holder, they can release (or not) under whatever terms they want.
    They cannot, however, take away my right to distribute the GPL copy I have, as those rights have ALREADY been bestowed upon me, and they cannot be taken away.

    Why do you think we, the users, are scrwed? We have our GPL version, the cat's out of the bag, the message has been sent, there are plenty of poeple to continue the work, and nobody is going to jail, or paying fines. Sounds to me like we WON.

  • They can release it under whatever license they want (or simply not release it at all).
    They cannot, no matter what, revoke the GPL rights that have been granted by previous distributions. Those who have received GPL rights have the software licened to them under GPL. This cannot be revoked, period.
  • Well. Let's look at it this way.
    1) Nobody is being further prosecuted.
    2) They possibly got money for it
    3) What were they fighting for, anyway? The genie was already out of the bottle. What exactly would be the point of standing up to mattel? They ALREADY accomplished their goal.
    4) The software was originally released under GPL, and hence, those versions already out are ours for the taking, and there is nothing Mattell can do about it.
  • IF YOU GET A SUBPONEA AND DESTROY THE LOGS, YOU ARE FUCKED.

    I can hear you perfectly well.

    However, if you destroy the logs and get a subpoena, they are fucked.

    See the difference?

    Kaa
  • Well, there seems to be a high chance for another legal battle. The right of a copywrite owner to change the license, or more importantly the battle over the meaning of copywrite versus the importance of a electronically stated nonsigned license agreement. Expect this to be a first test of the power of GPL. As I see mattel now suing the mirrors to copywrite violations, not of just the list but of the program to break the list that they now own.
  • I can't argue the merits of this case (i.e. is it free speech or copyright infringement?), but from personal experience, I know how freaky it can be when a large organization makes legal threats. Even if Jansson and Skala are in the right, it will cost money and take up time to defend themselves; they probably don't have much of either to spare. So even if they did win, they would still lose (and forget about filing against Microsystems for "malicious prosecution" - that takes time and money too). I'm no mind reader, but I doubt they did this to get famous or get sued. They have made the public aware of an important issue, who can expect them to do more than that?

    BTW America has the ACLU with expensive lawyers ready to protect the rights and freedoms of the masses but Canada's got squat, the best they offer in Canada is some friendly advice and they'll help you get in touch with a lawyer (that you'll have to pay for yourself)

  • Post stuff anonymously and THEN mirror the hell out of it. You'll miss the accolades, but the lawyers will miss you.

    --
  • I was at the hearing; you can find an article I wrote (filed via Palm VII directly from the courthouse) at wired.com. You'll see another there at 6 am et Tues.

    The settlement agreement is not private. I have a copy, and quoted from it in my article.

    The agreement requires that Jansson "has not assigned or licensed" the rights to cphack etc.

    Mattel is claiming victory. Few people in the "real world" read Slashdot and see the furor here. Mattel's attorneys are crowing about the evil "hackers" and the PR flacks are having a field day. I flew back on the plane to DC with one; I know.

    They're reading ./ -- in fact, attorney Irwin Schwartz introduced part of a slashdot posting during the hearing today as examples of how the evil hax0rs are trying to circumvent the Authority of the Court.

    Even though I just linked to the cphack app from my article, I got a subpoena. It's unclear to me what happens next. A reasonable interpretation for me and everyone else is that the subpoenas are void now since the permanent injunction is about to be granted and the case settled.

    It would be interesting -- purely from a news perspective -- to see someone else write a cphack2 program that used *none* of the source of the original and just the description of the cryptanalysis outlined in the soon-to-be-no-longer defendants' essay. Shouldn't be too difficult.

    The ACLU is going to keep fighting as long as Mattel is insisting (which Irwin is) that the permanent injunction applies to mirror sites and violators are up to contempt charges.
  • #include <ianal.h>
    Doesn't the fact they did not defend the case, despite the fact the case was apparently questionable to begin with, set a dangerous precedent for any future cases that may be tried on similar grounds?

    Isn't this the whole reason that lawyers cite prvious work that may be applicable, like Roe v. Wade or what have you? Won't the fact they caved in now, quickly, quietly, and easily seriously impact any and all future cases where progam reverse engineering comes into play, or future challenges to closed-list filtering software such as this?

    Inquiring minds (well, me anyways) want to know.

    (I apologize for the fact that the sum total of my legal knowledge has come from John Grisham movies and Law & Order re-runs on A&E)

  • Yes, it would be more satisfying to walk away with a court decision saying, "Matthew, you didn't do anything bad, you're a good boy", but enough other people have told me that that it's not worth the hassle to try to get it from a court as well. I reached the point of diminishing returns. If you think that makes me a coward or a sell-out, feel free to prove yourself a better hacker than me by doing yourself whatever you think I ought to have done.

    I don't fault you Matt, at all, I don't think you're a coward or a sell-out, and I have great respect for your technical ability.

    But as for it being worth the hassle, to you, maybe not, I mean, what do you get out of it? Bankruptcy, months (years?) of headaches in court, who knows. But to the rest of Canadians, hell, non US citizens, your hassle could have meant that these jurisdiciton questions finally get answered, and no one else would have to go through the same thing the next time some oppressive company gets embarassed.

    To you it may not have been worth the hassle, but to the world it was, but if you don't want to help the world out, thats your choice, you gotta look out for number 1. Next time you do something like this, email me and I'll post the work under my name and I will stand up to any company that comes knocking with a summons because I am tired of these companies thinking US law applies to the rest of the world.

    -- iCEBaLM
  • Another factor is that a criminal jury must usually be unanimous, although I think some jurisdictions recognize that even kooks have the right to sit on a jury so they'll convict on less than unanimous votes.

    In contrast, I think many civil juries can decide a case with simple 2/3 or 3/4 majority.
  • Here are a few places to check.
    The article [lemuria.org] describing how it was done. It's here [shub-internet.org] as well.

    The source and binaries are at http://arcade.kvinesdal.com/cyberpatrol.html.

    These are all personal sites, so be gentle.

    Share and enjoy.

    {PS - the last link was reverting to /. - puzzling}
  • My bet, they were bought.

    Yeah, a serious charge. One or both of them should explain if it is true. Of course, usually on those types of "settle out of court" agreements, they are also gagged from talking about it, leaving the rest of the world to think the worse... :(

  • Happened outside the states too.. KPN, dutch telecommunications business type thingy (allied with Qwest) has trademarked a certain shade of green. no advertisements by other companies (including non-telco companies) can be mostly in that colour.

    //rdj
  • Are you going to hold a mirror if Mattel sues your ass?

    They've now got the right for the program, so everyone with distributing it is doing it illegally. They can also pretty easily chance their encryption scheme. In some time, there won't be a lot left of CPHack lying around.
  • At first glance, it looks like Mattel paid $1 and dropped charges in exchange for the rights to something they could have for free. But it's a bit deeper than that. Copyright protection, at least in the US, gives the owner of the copyright the power to restrict publication as well as to publish. Mattel is almost certain to NOT publish the stuff (:-), and certainly not to give the original authors the right to publish it.

    The difficulty is whether they can restrict copying of copies that were downloaded before the agreement. I suspect not, though it puts them in a good position to threaten people.

    I'm not a lawyer, though I have played a politician on TVp?

  • it's not gonna stop me anyway. i made the offer before, and it's not going away anytime soon. if you want DeCSS or the cphack source/binary, send me an e-mail and i'll send you the IP of my anonymous ftp that serves it up 24/7.
  • Presumably because the offer was reasonable. You shouldn't expect everyone to be willing to martyr themselves for the cause of free-speech.

    Assuming that the settlement resulted in no admission of guilt, and no lawyers fees; just handing over the code (with a affidavit of reassigned copyrights), I think that this would be a pretty attractive exit plan.

    Particularly if you were say a minor, and your father's house might be taken away if you lost, or if you didn't think that you could afford attorney's fees to compete with a wealthy multi-national corporation.

    The justice system isn't always about winning -- sometimes it is just reasonably prudent to step out before the discussion gets too heated.
    -kls

  • Anyone who have actually USED cphack before Mattel noticed, and have produced a list of blocked sites?

    Instead of publishing cphack itself, we can publish the OUTPUT of cphack, which would achieve the same effect (at least in the short run) and Mattel can do nothing about it (output is NOT a derivative work).

    We can also bruteforce the web with CyberPatrol and make up a list of blocked sites. It would be a perfectly legal way to make the list available, sidestepping any Mattel censoring attempts.

    Then let's mirror the list instead - it is more direct anyway!
  • This is pretty sad. Snipped from a Wired article: [wired.com]

    The seven-page "assignment agreement" signed by cphack co-author Eddy Jansson of Sweden gives Mattel "all rights" to the program's source code and binaries and an explanatory essay he wrote. Co-author Matthew Skala of Canada signed a similar agreement giving up his rights for one dollar.

    Yep, that's right. One dollar. I wonder if it was American or Canadian? If it was Canadian, Mattel cheated him out of a couple cents...

    I just wonder, if this code had been released under an open source or free software licence, could Mattel have been unable to pressure them to sell out like this?


    ------------
  • Of course, if he had created an account and called himself "matthewskala", no one would have doubted him, when an account name actually has no real authentication value
  • Nice idea.
    Some comments:
    I don't think a law would do it. The software business is far too international. I'd prefer a volontary certificate for companies who promise to live up to the criterias. Then lobby for official agencies (as well as your employer) to only use certified suppliers.

    1.Consumers have a right to know what exactly their software is doing
    Absolutely! But rather (for reasons stated above) "We provide full documentation for our software's functionality and interaction with it's environment"

    2.Consumers have a right to know what information their software is collecting about them, and also the right to restrict such collection in arbitrary ways, and to do so without jeopardizing their status as registered/supported users.
    Again an absolute yes, rephrase as above

    3.Consumers have a right to perform, publish, and view benchmarks and other quality assessments of any software on the market.
    Now *that* should be law. Not just for software, but for all products.

    4.Consumers have a right to know all licensing terms before they make a purchase.
    Again a general law. However for a certificate: "We promise that our licencing terms are in no way stricter than the [XX] standard licence"

    5.Consumers have a right to a refund and/or appropriate damages if their software does not perform as advertised by the vendor.
    Damages are too dangerous, I'm afraid. How about:
    "Should we fail to fix a bug ourselves in [NN]-days after it is reported, we promise to provide appropriate documentation (including source code) to anyone willing to fix it. The author of a bug fix under these premises, will recieve fair compensation for the work involved. If a bug makes the software unfit for the purpose it was intended for, the buyer is entitled to a full refund."

    6.Consumers have a right to software that uses open protocols and media formats, and a right to perform, publish, or use reverse-engineered materials whenever vendors deviate from such standards.
    Or to put it in a way SW companies could accept:
    "Our product does not use any undocumented protocols or media formats. Where proprietary formats are used, registred users of our product are granted full rights to use that format in any other application wihc they have the right to use. Be it purchased, self developed or public domain."

  • Due process only applies to criminal matters.

    This was a copyright issue, which would be a civil matter.

  • I settled because I have made my point and don't need the headaches. I don't think it's appropriate to characterise this as Microsystems et al "winning". The document is out there, I know the mirror sites aren't going to take it down without a fight (even with my copyright assignment), and judging by the level of conspiracy theory here on Slashdot, the companies' public relations nightmares have only just begun.

    I can't fault your decision to settle. Deep pocket corporations can bleed defendants with nothing to gain from winning the suit dry.

    Unfortunately, I can't see this as anythng but a win for Microsystems. The assignment of copyright gives them a case to supress the software when they didn't have a case before. I would have rather that the issues were heard in court, but we won't have that now with this case. Bring on the next one.

    Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected
  • If there was no conspiracy (for you conspiracy buffs), then it would be a matter of just caving in.

    If you were in your early 20s and a large multi-national company threatened to litigate you into bankruptcy, would you cave in?

    This is what they tried to do to me. Mattel offered to drop their libel claim [slashdot.org] against me, if I would agree to SHUT UP. And if I broke that agreement, I would have to pay Mattel $50,000 per blab.

    This may be what happened here.

  • Thought I am not a fan of Mattel, I am not into scamming them.

    That if you, or someone else, decide to build a new CPHack, don't give a user the ability to disable the product (though there are many ways to already), but allow the list to be critized and exposed.

    If you don't decrupt the passwords, you will destroy their argument that you are invalidating the product.

  • Depending on how much the list encryption has changed (if it really did), some other hacker can write a new CPHack program. But if someone does, this person should not decrypt the passwords, only the list, also don't make the list exportable. That way, they cannot claim that the new hack program disables the program, causing no harm to the children. Or that it allows a competitor to use the list.

  • Quoth the poster:
    The judge might be able to set aside your license if he deems the product itself illegal, but surely not because someone else in essense bought a different license to the same thing.
    Interesting question: Doesn't a purchase by Mattel meann they implicitly agree that the product is legal? It is certainly illegal to aid and abet an illegal industry by purchasing illegal items ...
  • People, 1. Quit moderating up fucking mirror sites.

    2. DON'T DL FROM HERE. DL FROM THE OPENPGP SITE AND USE ANONYMIZER. LOG FILES MOST LIKELY WILL BE SUBPONEAED. IF YOU GET A SUBPONEA AND DESTROY THE LOGS, YOU ARE FUCKED.

    Use this link:
    http://anon.free.anonymizer.com/http://www.openp gp.net/censorship/index2.html

    DL it, but don't be caught in a bind with your logs.
  • Excuse me IANAL but if I understand copyright correctly once a particular verison of something has been released under a particular copyright then the copyright continues to be valid as long as the user abides by the terms the original author had stated.

    You (and others) are confusing a copyright with a license to use a copyrighted work.

    When a work is copyrighted (which occurs as soon as the work is somehow recorded, including paper, photograph, "permanent" digital records such as files on a hard drive, etc.), the "authors" get ownership of the copyright and can either license other people to do things with the work (such as sell it, use it, distribute it, print it, etc.) or sell (or "assign") their ownership of the copyright and let someone else license it (or not). Or they can do BOTH, first granting licenses then assigning copyright to someone else. Copyright is the bundle of rights granted by the government to the copyright owner of the work and a license is whatever is contractually agreed to between the copyright owner and any third party.

    However, as you note, the transfer of the copyright doesn't revoke the previous grant of the license; the grant of a license contractually binds both parties and a new owner can't revoke a license granted by a previous owner (though the new owner might sue the old owner for fraud or somesuch if the old owner misrepresented whatever licenses had already been granted). If this program was really GPL'ed, and that can be proved in a court of law then people can continue to do whatever the GPL allows them to do...if it was legal to put the work under GPL in the first place, which is something I don't know much about. (If the reverse engineering is legal, it should be legal to GPL the product, IMHO.

    Of course, IANAL and this is not legal advice

  • OOG WANT CECIL SERPENT PUPPET!!! OOG LIKE!!! BUT OOG NO HAVE EBAY ACCOUNT BECAUSE OF EBAY PREJUDICE AGAINST CAVEMAN!!! BUT OOG WANT!!! MIGHT HAVE TO BREAK HEAD!!!
    WAIT!!! OOG REWRITE CPHACK!!! OOG IGNORE EXISTING GPLED SOURCE AND READ DOCUMENTATION TO CPHACK AND REIMPLEMENT!!! THEN OOG ADD KDE ENHANCEMENT AND RELEASE UNDER QT LISCENCE!!! OF COURSE OOG GET SUED AND BY MATELL AND GET BADASS CECIL PUPPET!!! OOG BE HAPPY THEN!!!
    OOG NOT WANT BE FORCED TO PROGRAM KDE, BUT MUST DO FOR CECIL PUPPET!!! OOG BE HUGE BADASS WITH CECIL PUPPET!!! OOG JUST HOPE MATTEL LAWYERS DONT TRY TO STEAL OOG'S CAVE!!!
  • I doubt Mattel would/could buy them off, but I can imagine no other reason (except perhaps the advice of an incompetent lawyer)for such a quick change of heart.

    Yes - very odd. By settling, they've missed a great chance to both make their argument public, and to set a legal precedent that would definitely be of use in their own future work.

  • by acb ( 2797 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @07:06PM (#1166946) Homepage
    Mattel can unambiguously sue any mirror sites this side of Libya for copyright violation if they host it, something they could only do in the US before.
  • by mcc ( 14761 ) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Monday March 27, 2000 @03:30PM (#1166947) Homepage
    they're mattel. they don't need money to buy people off.
    Personally i suspect that, unbeknowst to Wired, Matthew Skala recieved $6,000 in Hot Wheels merchandise as well as one of these things [ebay.com] and the full set of these [ebay.com], in exchange for his compliance.
  • by sterno ( 16320 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @02:43PM (#1166948) Homepage
    Why wouldn't they? Their goal was to crack the encryption so that they could reveal the list of sites that CyberPatrol has. They did this, and within the next few days it was distributed all over the Internet. Now, they have settled, they don't have to pay more legal bills, and two thing have happened:

    1) There has been no legal precedent set that makes this sort of thing illegal
    2) CyberPatrol's reverse engineering instructions and the list of sites circulate through the net feely.

    Seems like a win-win scenario to me!

    ---

  • by eddy ( 18759 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @04:56PM (#1166949) Homepage Journal

    signed by cphack co-author Eddy Jansson of Sweden gives Mattel "all rights"

    Well, that's funny, because I haven't signed any such document. Maybe me lawyer signed it and forgot to tell me? :-\

  • by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <mindstalker.gmail@com> on Monday March 27, 2000 @06:04PM (#1166950) Journal
    Well, if you read his homepage the statement was basically the same, and seemed to have identical writing style. So either someone spent much time borrowing his style, just to restate was he already stated in his homepage. Or else Matt just simply didn't bother signing it.. :)
  • by StressedCoder ( 69160 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @01:51PM (#1166951)
    Think about it. Joe average (or even Joe very good) programmer is threatened by a large corporation with lots to spend on lawyers. Even backed by the ACLU and EFF, their life is going to be turned upside down for the duration of the trial, and if the corp wants to really drag it out then it might be years before the defendant can move on with their life. The fact that the suit is bogus is no help. And since this is a free speech issuse the corp might decide to take it all the way to the supreme court just to make an example out of their victim. Even if they lose, his life i s on perment hold while he fights this.

    Even if Joe wins, he loses. And the corp officers who call the shots really lose nothing either way; since the legal system does not let Joe get punitive damages for such bogus lawsuits.
  • by www.sorehands.com ( 142825 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @01:49PM (#1166952) Homepage
    Of the things that make you go hmmmmm.....

    I emailed them, and got a reply from one of them, that he would not need legal representation in Boston.

    The CPHack program did encourage people to upgrade.

    I wonder.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27, 2000 @02:03PM (#1166953)
    Can somebody check their copy of the code (I didn't download it) and see what the license was? If it was GPL or something similar

    Well, it's murky. There's no copyright statement at all anywhere that I can find. The only mention of any licensing terms is this comment, at the beginning of the Windows program's Delphi source code for the main unit:

    CPHack v0.1.0 by Eddy L O Jansson / Released under the GPL.

    Unfortunately, Eddy didn't include the standard GPV boilerplate, nor did he include the COPYING file. I suspect that any attempt to distribute the program could be pounced upon by Mattel's lawyers, and broken.

  • by mcc ( 14761 ) <amcclure@purdue.edu> on Monday March 27, 2000 @01:57PM (#1166954) Homepage
    they've already published a long, very good explanation of how exactly the software works. why would it matter whether they leave the software itself available?

    they've done what they set out to do, which is expose flaws in the CyberPatrol system and disseminate information on the way [badly] it works. they've managed to shame the programmers behind cyberpatrol badly, even if the people they've shamed cyberpatrol in front of [slashdot] hated cyberpatrol anyway. The point it seemed to me wasn't the software; the point it seemed to me was that they reverse-engineered cyberpatrol. The software was just an extra, just something they posted to prove they were right about everything, and because they'd already written it..

    why should they have to bother paying a lawyer, or bothering with _anything_ in court? sure the ACLU would pay for everything, but they'd still wind up being bothered. Why should we expect them to go through that? especially since they've already published the details of what cphack did in such deep detail that it seems that rewriting the program from scratch would be easy to anyone with even relatively elementary C skills.

    Now if the article they wrote talking about cphack and reverse-engineering cyberpatrol were being taken down, well, then, that would be rather bothering. But that isn't happening; the settlement seems to concern only the cphack program itself.

    and it seems to me that if they led to a long, drawn-out battle in court over cphack, then it would distract the public eye a lot from the real issues at the core of all this.. i think it's a lot more important to encourage people outside slashdot to read the cp-hacking article than encourage people inside slashdot to distribute the cphack program..

    maybe i'm very confused, but what they're doing makes sense from where i'm standing.
  • I just updated my mirror page [uplink.net] with a link to this slashdot article. I thought I'd post the others on the list here for everyone's edification (and because the server of my personal web page probably wouldn't take it if you went there for it!)

    • Wired: Mattel Stays on the Offensive [wired.com] (27 Mar 2000 2:45PM PT)
      "Upping the stakes in a battle over a utility that reveals Cyberpatrol's list of off-limits websites, Mattel threatened mirror sites with contempt charges during a court hearing Monday afternoon."
    • ZDNet: Hackers settle Cyber Patrol suit [zdnet.com] (27 Mar 2000 2:11PM PT)
      "ACLU attorney 'surprised' as programmers surrender rights to their hack of Cyber Patrol filter and agree to permanent injunction."
    • ZDNet: ACLU slams Cyber Patrol tactics [zdnet.com] (27 Mar 2000 4:03AM PT)
      "The American Civil Liberties Union criticized Internet filtering software maker Microsystems Software Inc. and its parent company Mattel Inc. on Friday, accusing them of attempting to limit free speech on the Internet."
    • Wired: Mattel's Filter Fiasco to Court [wired.com] (27 Mar 2000 3:00AM PT)
      "A federal judge in Boston will hear arguments on Monday over whether a program that reveals Cyberpatrol's secret blacklist should be banned from the Internet."
    • ZDNet: You've got a subpoena! [zdnet.com] (24 Mar 2000)
      "Call it legal spam. Lawyers in the Cyber Patrol legal battle have created an e-precedent -- sending subpoenas by e-mail."
    • CNN: Cyber Patrol decoding brawl gets ugly and international [cnn.com] (21 Mar 2000)
      "A legal dispute between a U.S. toymaker that produces a popular Internet pornography filter and two programmers that decoded the software could heat up into a messy international brawl."
    • Slashdot: Mattel/Cyber Patrol Censors Critics Again [slashdot.org] (20 Mar 2000)
      "Mattel is updating the Cyber Patrol blacklists for all of their customers to include the homepages of the authors and all of the mirrors, blocked under every blocking category the product has."
    • USA Today: Judge helps Mattel zap effort to undermine filter [usatoday.com] (20 Mar 2000)
      What a misleading headline. Yet another example of McPaper earning its abysmal reputation.
    • Wired: CyberPatrol Hackers Lose Round [wired.com] (17 Mar 2000)
      "A federal judge in Boston has tried to ban the distribution of a computer program that reveals CyberPatrol's secret list of sex sites."
    • Slashdot: Mattel dislikes being embarrassed [slashdot.org] (16 Mar 2000)
      "In addition to demanding the removal of the decryption utility, Mattel is also seeking the logfiles of the Swedish ISP that hosts the decryption utility, to identify everyone who has downloaded it to date. Today's news was filled with Mattel's PR lies about their suit."
    • Wired: Mattel Sues Over Blocking Hack [wired.com] (16 Mar 2000)
      "Toy-maker Mattel has sued two programmers who revealed how to circumvent its CyberPatrol blocking software."

    Several news outlets uncritically ran Ted Bridis's AP newswire story characterizing the decryption program as a tool to let children view pornography:

    "A company that makes popular software to block children from Internet pornography is suing two computer experts for distributing a method for kids to deduce their parents' password and access those forbidden Web sites."
    • SJ Mercury News: Software Co. Sues Hackers [sjmercury.com] (15 Mar 2000)
    • cnet: Hackers crack online porn filters [cnet.com] (16 Mar 2000)
      cnet's version adds this interesting paragraph:
      "Early today, activists copied the utility and details of the effort and began distributing them across the Internet on nearly two dozen Web sites that duplicated Jansson and Skala's original work. Those efforts apparently were coordinated on technology Web site Slashdot.org, where the lawsuit was roundly condemned."
    • CNN: Software company files lawsuit against hackers [cnn.com] (16 Mar 2000)
      CNN's version also adds the cnet paragraph and some additional reportage, but still mischaracterizes the program. However, their later coverage was more evenhanded.
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @06:55PM (#1166956)
    In addition to fighting a defensive battle in the courtroom, we need to take the offensive on this kind of issue and draft a Software Consumers' Bill of Rights, and try to get consumers, vendors, and legislators to sign off on it.

    Among other things, the SCBoR would ensure that:
    1. Consumers have a right to know what exactly their software is doing (as in the Mattel case).
    2. Consumers have a right to know what information their software is collecting about them, and also the right to restrict such collection in arbitrary ways, and to do so without jeopardizing their status as registered/supported users.
    3. Consumers have a right to perform, publish, and view benchmarks and other quality assessments of any software on the market.
    4. Consumers have a right to know all licensing terms before they make a purchase.
    5. Consumers have a right to a refund and/or appropriate damages if their software does not perform as advertised by the vendor.
    6. Consumers have a right to software that uses open protocols and media formats, and a right to perform, publish, or use reverse-engineered materials whenever vendors deviate from such standards.
    7. Your
    8. pet
    9. peeves
    10. here.

    --
  • by slashkitty ( 21637 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @02:21PM (#1166957) Homepage
    So does this statement hold up in court, or is the GPL ruined? Are we going to see more GPL programs get bought out and removed from market?
    It does ensure that it is redistributable, doesnt' it?
  • by Rupert ( 28001 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @01:56PM (#1166958) Homepage Journal
    Or maybe they couldn't afford to prove they were right?

    Presumption of innocence apparently doesn't apply in civil cases.
  • by studerby ( 160802 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @04:41PM (#1166959)
    Perhaps someone can clear this up for me and the rest of the /. community. I was under the perception that copyrights protect only the implementation of an idea, not the idea (or method) itself.

    Close, and the difference favors re-implementaion.

    Copyright only covers "creative expression" and specifically does not cover functional ideas. The 9th Circuit Court, in Sony v. Connectix [uscourts.gov], said:
    Copyright protection does not extend to any "idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery" embodied in the copyrighted work.
    This case is also pretty relevant to the whole Mattel snafu; in a nutshell, Connectix reverse-engineered a Sony Playstation, built and sold an emulator and Sony sued on copyright infringement grounds for the reverse-engineering - Sony massively lost the most recent round, their only chance to stop the emulator is to take it to the Supreme Court, and that's a mighty slim chance...

    But back to your question, the difference is is that you can pretty much re-write functional components using the original as a blue print (reverse-engineering CPHACK), provided you're clever enough to only copy functional elements and avoid copying "creative expression". However, the threshhold for something to be a "creative expression" is amazingly low, so from the standpoint of being safe, it would be better to do as you suggest and re-implement from the text description of the method.
    IANAL and this is not legal advice.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27, 2000 @01:48PM (#1166960)
    If I were the authors, I would 'give in' to Mattels demands simply to avoid legal bullshit, since I would realize there are already hundreds of mirrors with the software out there. The information has been widely distributed ... Mattel cant do anything about it now. Sucks to be them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 27, 2000 @03:03PM (#1166961)

    I have no Slashdot account, cope.

    Yes, late Friday I made an agreement with the plaintiffs settling the cases in Boston and Vancouver out of court. I was planning to wait until I heard the results of today's hearing before making any announcement, but it sounds like that is now. I don't know Eddy's current status; last I heard from him he had not officially settled but was close to doing so.

    I settled because I have made my point and don't need the headaches. I don't think it's appropriate to characterise this as Microsystems et al "winning". The document is out there, I know the mirror sites aren't going to take it down without a fight (even with my copyright assignment), and judging by the level of conspiracy theory here on Slashdot, the companies' public relations nightmares have only just begun.

    Whatever public face they may put on their press releases, I don't think the plaintiffs are very happy right now. Whether they end up happy or having the last laugh will really depend upon how you, the public, reacts to this situation, and that's out of my hands.

    There are serious jurisdiction issues for the Boston lawsuit, but the Vancouver lawsuit against me was certainly for real, and many of the relevant legal questions have not yet been decided in Canada. So I'd be faced with being a test case, and all the "fun" that involves. My right to do what I did may appear cut-and-dried to Slashdotters, but we'd have to educate the judge about that, and face all the litigation tricks that a well-funded multinational corporation can come up with. Litigation always involves a risk no matter how good one's case may appear at the outset. I'm a mathematician, not a gambler. I've got better ways to spend my time, thank you all so very much.

    Yes, it would be more satisfying to walk away with a court decision saying, "Matthew, you didn't do anything bad, you're a good boy", but enough other people have told me that that it's not worth the hassle to try to get it from a court as well. I reached the point of diminishing returns. If you think that makes me a coward or a sell-out, feel free to prove yourself a better hacker than me by doing yourself whatever you think I ought to have done.

    I'm sorry for the people who may find their situations worsened by my having made the copyright assignment. I still think that the overall effect of my actions has been positive. You might well want to explore the fact that the original documents gave permission to redistribute.

    - Matthew Skala [islandnet.com]

  • by earlytime ( 15364 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @02:00PM (#1166962) Homepage
    before we all brand them as cowards, and question their motives and ethics, and say how if it were us against the man, we'd fight to the death...

    You have to acknowledge they've risked alot by doing everything they've done, and they've started a real dialogue on the subject, and opened the eyes of alot of folks, not just technical folks either.
    But, when it's your ass on the line, it's not as easy to throw up that middle finger in defiance.
    The ACLU lawyer and me and you and all the armchair quarterbacks who've got something to say have just about dick to lose here. These guys futures are actually at risk. They fought a good fight, and frankly, what's there to win? the source is out, and can't be brought back in, just like DeCSS. They can't possible gain anything by trying to fight US law since they're in another country. If you are so gung ho about putting up a fight, be in the US, mirror the code, tell Mattel, and fight 'em in court. I'm sure the ACLU will back you too, and then you can see what it's like.

    'nuff said.

  • by eddy ( 18759 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @04:39PM (#1166963) Homepage Journal
    I'll leave it as an exercise for the intelligent reader as to why I'm responding to this particular message, but I just wanted to say that I have (as this is being written) -- not to my knowledge -- settled with Mattel.
  • by Gothland ( 34482 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @01:55PM (#1166964) Homepage
    There's generally only one reason that a court case gets settled, and that is that one of the sides has an unfair advantage of winning.

    That certainly seems to be the case. I can't see any way that Matt and his pal could have lost, and Mattel had started a potentially explosive PR problem by suing a couple of people for something that wasn't strictly illegal. They probably knew this before hand, as well, but felt that it was in their best interests to appear as though they were legally challenging the issue.

    So what was the settlement, that's what I want to know. Chances are there's a NDA on it, and chances are the NDA is in order to hide the fact that Mattel may have paid these guys off.

    Yes, I know that's hard to imagine, but think about the options they had. If they get sued, they have massive legal fees to deal with, and may or may not be able to countersue to recover those costs. If Mattel wants the problem to go away, offer to pay for the lawyers, and drop a few grand on each of them for their cooperation. No further charges, and the boys agree to stop publishing the software.

    It seems rather reasonable. Mattel gets to look like it's protecting it's product diligently and winning. They guys don't lose anything, (they can always get the software off the net at this point), and everyone's happy.

    The only concerning part is, is there now a market for software cracks to hold corporations hostage for small sums in order to not release their creations?

  • by Desert Raven ( 52125 ) on Monday March 27, 2000 @02:27PM (#1166965)
    They may have been bought, but it wasn't the money.

    Taken from the Wired News article [wired.com]:

    "Co-author Matthew Skala of Canada signed a similar agreement giving up his rights for one dollar."

    I don't really consider one dollar to be much of a payoff, do you?

[Crash programs] fail because they are based on the theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month. -- Wernher von Braun

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