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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Lone Hacker Makes life Difficult for Bll Gates

SAN FRANCISCO: A solitary computer hacker has entangled Microsoft in a high-stakes battle of wits by repeatedly releasing a free program that strips away the software lock that the company created to protect digital movies and songs from being freely copied by Internet users. While Microsoft has publicly sought to portray the David vs Goliath contest as a nuisance, the affair became a genuine challenge to one of the company's significant businesses this week after BSkyB, the British satellite broadcaster, suspended its film download service amid fears of illegal copying. The MS system is designed to prohibit Internet users from making illegal copies of movies or songs played in Windows Media 9 or 10 formats. It is used by digital content distributors that include BSkyB, Movielink, RealNetworks and MTVs Urge music subscription service. In July, the computer programmer, who calls himself Viodentia in Internet postings, released an online tool to remove copy protection from movie and song files. It was a refinement of an existing program, making it easier to use. The program, he stressed, was intended only to enable purchasers of digital media to exercise so-called fair use rights in copying material they had already acquired. Since then, it has been downloaded tens of thousands of times.The cat-and-mouse game began on August 19 when Viodentia released a first version of his program on a series of Web sites around the world. Nine days later, MS responded by patching its system to prevent the hacker's tool, called FairUse4WM, from working. But within three days a new version of the code-breaking program was circulating. The new version of hacker's tool has been more troubling for MS. "We are actively working on an update and communicating with our content partners and licensees as we go," said Marcus Matthias, a product manager at MS

www.inditatimes.com

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