SunnComm sues student who revealed that holding Shift Key defeats their CD copy protection.

In a move that eliminates the goodwill I felt for the company for attempting to find a compromise with their CD protection software, the folks at SunnComm Technologies are suing the graduate student who revealed that holding the Shift key down would disable their new-fangled anti-CD copying technology. – Student sued after revealing CD copying secret – Oct. 10, 2003

LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters)—Three days after a Princeton graduate student posted a paper on his Web site detailing how to defeat the copy-protection software on a new music CD by pressing a single computer key, the maker of the software said Thursday it would sue him.

In a statement, SunnComm Technologies Inc. said it would sue Alex Halderman over the paper, which said SunnComm’s MediaMax CD-3 software could be blocked by holding down the “Shift” key on a computer keyboard as a CD using the software was inserted into a disc drive.

“SunnComm believes that by making erroneous assumptions in putting together his critical review of the MediaMax CD-3 technology, Halderman came to false conclusions concerning the robustness and efficacy of SunnComm’s MediaMax technology,” it said.

SunnComm, which trades on the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board, said it has lost more than $10 million of its market value since Halderman published his report.

That’s quite a monetary impact, but the company admitted to knowing about this flaw from the beginning so I fail to see how they can blame this on the graduate student. There’s a lesson to be learned about hyping your solution when you know there’s a major flaw in it.

12 thoughts on “SunnComm sues student who revealed that holding Shift Key defeats their CD copy protection.

  1. This one will be tossed out real fast, I hope. They’re idiots for releasing this with the simple workaround to begin with, after all.


  2. what a bunch of bastards. i hope it gets tossed. anyone could have fuigured it out he just posted it. big deal.

  3. Unless he was bound by an NDA, I cannot see how exposing a defect in a product is actionable.

  4. Hmmm, that gives me a few ideas! 

    I’m going to invent a product that doesn’t work like I advertise.  Then I’ll sue anyone that reveals the flaws!  I could be rich!!!

  5. How many *countless* people knew about this already?  This kid was the only one silly enough to make a huge fuss about it.  My husband told me a long time ago when I first mentioned the protection stuff on the cds that all you had to do was interrupt some driver (or something – it all sounded Greek to me) and it’d record just fine.  Upon hearing about this report he laughed and said, “The shift key is the *first* thing you try.”  Apparently these “secrets” are fairly well-known anyway.

    Ooh, now that I’ve said that I bet they’re going to sue us, too.  Idiocy; sheer idiocy.

  6. Another company sueing for personal revenge or whatever it may be. Its their fault they had the error, any average Joe could have figured it out without the article in the paper. Damn corporate bastards….

  7. According to a link on Slashdot, SunnComm has decided NOT to sue…In a nutshell the CEO said, “it’d be bad mojo on us if we did”
    I translated it as, “We don’t want to look like the RIAA’s little brother.”

  8. Smarter man than I thought, though it would’ve been even smarter to not start the process in the first place as they’ve already stirred up some major animosity. Think before you act, folks.

  9. Hm. Just a thought, but generally when a company’s product doesn’t work as advertised, they don’t sue people who reveal it, they recall it. Soooooo…. Wouldn’t it make more sense to recall their products rather than act like idiots? Maybe the paper wasn’t what brought donw their stock, maybe it was just them. Morons.

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