Copy Protection Company To Sue Student For Revealing Shift-Key Bypass [Updated]

[Update 3:15 PM CDT: SunnComm has issued a press release saying it had reversed its decision to "bring legal action against Princeton researcher." From that press release:

SunnComm Technologies, Inc. (OTC:STEH), a leader in digital content security and enhancement for optical media, announced today it will not seek legal remedies against Princeton researcher Alex Halderman. SunnComm believes Halderman wrote an inaccurate critical report of its recently released MediaMax™ CD-3 Copy Management technology (V1). Mr. Halderman included in his research report several methods of circumventing the MediaMax music file security used to slow down the casual copying of unprotected files. Because Mr. Halderman felt the file security was too easily bypassed, he deduced the product failed in its primary marketing mission. In actuality, MediaMax, which has been licensed to BMG Music, one of the world’s largest record companies, as well as other labels, performed exactly according to its Version 1 design specifications. SunnComm felt that Mr. Halderman missed the fundamental goal of MediaMax – to provide CD buyers with a licensed and legal method of making and sharing authorized copies of the music they purchase.

Thereis more in the full press release at SunCommis Web site.]

A few days ago, Princeton PhD student, Alex Halderman, told the world how to bypass the copy protection scheme from SunnComm that is on some new music discs offered by some of the top music distributors. The secret, at least when playing the CD on a Windows PC, is to hold down the shift key when inserting the CD into your PC. The scheme didnit work at all on Linux or Mac boxes. Now, according to The Register, the company that created the copy protection scheme is planning on suing Mr. Halderman for exposing the flaw, using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). From the article, SunnComm to sue iShift keyi student for $10m :

SunnComm has threatened Princeton PhD student Alex Halderman with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for exposing a key weakness in the companyis latest CD copy protection technology, MediaMax CD3.

The company said today it will take legal action against Halderman for revealing how MediaMax CD3 can be bypassed by holding down a Windows PCis Shift key when a protected disc is inserted.


SunnComm today said the paper was "erroneous" and contains "false conclusions." On the back of said [false conclusions], "Halderman and Princeton University have significantly damaged SunnCommis reputation and caused the market value of SunnComm to drop by more than $10 million," the company alleges.

And then thereis the DMCA angle. SunnComm claims Halderman broke the law by revealing the name of the driver the app installs.

In a statement released today, SunnComm said: "SunnComm intends to refer this possible felony to authorities having jurisdiction over these matters because: 1. The author admits that he disabled the driver in order to make an unprotected copy of the discis contents, and 2. SunnComm believes that the authoris report was idisseminated in a manner which facilitates infringementi in violation of the DMCA or other applicable law".

Thereis more information in the full article at The Register