DRM Maker Threatens Apple, Adobe, Microsoft, and Real for Not Using Them!

I literally fell off my seat when I saw this. A DRM maker has sent a cease-and-desist letter to Apple, Adobe, Microsoft, and Real for not using their products.

A California company that makes technology designed to prevent ripping of digital audio streams has accused Apple, Microsoft, RealNetworks and Adobe Systems of violating federal copyright law by “actively avoiding” use of its products.

Media Rights Technologies and its digital radio subsidiary said in a press release Thursday that it had issued cease and desist letters to the high-tech titans. It argues that the companies have manufactured billions of copies of Windows Vista, Adobe Flash Player, Real Player and Apple’s iTunes and iPod “without regard for the DMCA or the rights of American intellectual property owners.”

RealNetworks spokesman Matt Graves said he hadn’t yet seen the letter, but it appeared to be a ploy by a “desperate company” to get its product licensed. “That’s a rather novel approach to business development,” he said in an e-mail interview Friday.

“It looks to me like a play for publicity,” Jessica Litman, a University of Michigan Law School professor who specializes in digital copyright issues, said in an e-mail interview. “I’m no fan of the DMCA, but it doesn’t impose liability simply because some product could be redesigned to implement a technological protection scheme but its makers decline to do so.”

She also said the targeted companies would likely not be liable because a section of the DMCA says that consumer electronics, telecommunications or computing products are not required to be designed so as to “provide for a response to any particular technological measure.”

Randy Lipsitz, a partner in the intellectual property and technology group at Kramer Levin in New York, said the most reasonable way to interpret the word “avoid” in the DMCA is that it would cover “a technical, logical measure that’s present in the work,” as opposed to forcing companies to buy a third-party product.

“This one’s out there,” he said of the arguments in a telephone interview. “I don’t know how far it’s going to go.”

This is the most absurd case of DMCA abuse I’ve seen all year — and I’ve seen a lot this year. I’m laughing too hard to be angry right now.

PC World Reinstates Honest EIC, Dumps Apple-Shill CEO

In a triumph of editorial integrity over corporate greed, PC World reinstates its veteran editor-in-chief and removes its Apple-shill CEO.

In a surprise reversal, IDG management removed Colin Crawford as PC World’s CEO and reinstated Harry McCracken as Editor in Chief, after a dispute over a canceled Apple story led McCracken to quit.

Crawford, meanwhile, is being kicked back upstairs, assigned to “driving IDG’s online strategy and initiatives” — a nice, safe, strategic role where he can’t do any more harm to the company’s editorial reputation.

Crawford used to take calls from Steve Jobs whenever the latter had a problem with a PC World article. Good riddance to bad garbage.