[free-sklyarov] NY Times: Copy-protection schemes cripple eBook sales

Xcott Craver sacraver at EE.Princeton.EDU
Tue Aug 28 10:44:14 PDT 2001

On Tue, 28 Aug 2001, Richard M. Smith wrote:

> "I feel that was one of our greatest shortcomings," Mr. Brass said. He
> promised that the next generation of hand-held computers using a
> Microsoft operating system would be able to run the improved software.
  ^^^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^

	You know what this means:  in a few years, debilitating viruses
	will be spreading through great works of literature, rather than
	dippy "have your advice" emails.

	Course, these will be running on little dedicated handhelds, so
	they wouldn't be able to delete important files.  Maybe they will
	slightly alter the text of the ebooks they infect, like inserting
	the word "friggin'" in grammatically appropriate places.
	"A little learning is a friggin' dangerous thing.  Drink deep,
	or taste not the friggin' Pierian spring."

	Advanced viruses will preserve meter.

	Seriously, tho:  the possibility of infecting a PDF file with an
	arbitrary executable is very real, given the pretty good odds
	that any reader has at least one buffer overrun issue.  And this
	means ... one could theoretically smuggle AEBP into a handheld
	to remove protections on stored eBooks without a personal computer.

	Right?  We've all heard concerns about moving from PCs to set-top
	boxen and specialized (closed) devices, preventing people from
	running arbitrary programs.  Unless they really stamp all the bugs
	out, however, there is the possibility that special eBooks/Windows
	Media files/etc could subvert the devices' programming, at least
	for sufficiently complex devices that run this stuff in software
	rather than using a decoder chip.


	["Hey!  Some virus just removed all the dramatic irony from my
	  copy of _Hamlet_!  Oh, wait, this is the Mel Gibson version."]

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