Friday, October 23, 2009

But is it Legal?

WXPNews: Published by Sunbelt Software since 2001

Vol. 9, #85 - Aug 25, 2009 - Issue #393

 But is it Legal?

  1. Editor's Corner
    • But is it Legal?
    • Follow-up: How far will/should the government go?
    • Quotes of the Week

  2. Cool Tools
    • Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without

  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) client for XP
    • XP Pirates jailed
    • New graphics platform to enhance performance of nettops and netbooks
    • Why doesn't the new version of MovieMaker work on XP?

  4. How To: Using XP Features
    • How to restore the Show Desktop icon in QuickLaunch

  5. XP Security News
    • Do you have to buy an extra copy of security software for VMs?

  6. XP Question Corner
    • Can't use the XP theme

  7. XP Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • How to change the listening port for Remote Desktop
    • You can't configure the maximum number of concurrent SMB requests

  8. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

  9. Product of the Week
    • ZipBackup: Protect your Computer's Files with ZipBackup Windows Backup Software!

Protect Your Credit Card Number From Theft

Why do I need a firewall? Together with antivirus and antispyware, a firewall is a "must" to protect your computer. PC Magazine gave the Sunbelt Personal Firewall a "Very Good" rating with 4 Stars and a conclusion of "good protection". Unlike the Windows XP and Vista Firewall, you can tell the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to look carefully at the data leaving your browser, so that sensitive information like your credit card numbers, email address, bank account, social security number and PIN code do not get stolen.

Benefit from our special 50% discount offer for the unlimited home site license*. Special Offer ends August 31st:

*Live in the UK? You get a 50% discount too!

 Editor's Corner

But is it Legal?

There are lots of "tips" out there that tell you how to get around copy protection technologies on digital music and software. Just recently another popular Windows newsletter printed "an easy way to stretch the Windows 7 thirty day free trial period to 120 days." I was forwarded a question from a reader about this article, asking "Is this legal?" Few weeks go by that I don't get inquiries from readers, friends and family members who are confused about what they can and can't legally do in regard to the music they've purchased (either electronically or as a CD), the TV programs they've recorded with their DVR software, the DVD movies they've bought or downloaded through Unbox and similar services, etc.

Disclaimer: IANAL (I am not a lawyer). As a former police officer and criminal justice instructor who taught Penal Code at the college level, I do perhaps know a bit more than the average person about criminal law. Nothing in this article is intended as nor should be construed as legal advice. All of the information is readily available on the web from various sources and I am merely aggregating it here and sharing some of my personal opinions, as a citizen, a writer and an IT professional who deals with intellectual property issues in my own life.

Many of us, regardless of our religious persuasions, still believe in the old admonition "thou shalt not steal." But theft used to be a much more clear-cut concept than it is today. In the law, traditional theft statutes that were written in a pre-computer era reflect that. My state's Penal Code defines theft as "unlawful appropriation of property with the intent to deprive the owner of the property." Going further into the statute, appropriation of property is considered unlawful if it is taken without the owner's effective consent.

The sharing of someone else's movies or songs or software clearly doesn't fit the elements of this offense, on a couple of levels. First, in most cases when a person downloads an illegal copy of a movie, song or program, the owner is not deprived of its use because the "thief" takes a copy. The original owner still retains the original or copy that he/she had. In addition, those who put copies of digital files they paid for on the 'Net to share are effectively giving their consent by doing so. Ah, but they didn't actually pay to purchase the song itself, but only to license it (a form of rental since you're paying to use the property but the former owner retains ownership). If you rent a lawnmower, is it illegal for you to let someone else use it to mow your lawn instead of doing it yourself? That's where we get into contract law.

Generally, when you rent a physical thing, you sign a contract called a rental agreement. The contract terms specify any limitations on how you can use it while it's in your custody and under your control. When you "buy" a song, movie or software program, there is usually also a contract, called a license agreement or EULA. The terms of the contract state that you "sign" it by clicking a checkbox or simply by using the product. One big difference is that with a physical rental agreement, you almost always get to read it before you pay your money. With digital license agreements, that's often not the case.

Let's say you rent that lawnmower, sign the contract saying no one but you can use it, and then you go home and get the kid next door to mow the lawn for you. Are you guilty of a crime? Probably not. Traditionally, breach of a contract between two parties was treated as a civil matter, not a criminal one. There's a big difference (or used to be) between civil and criminal law, the biggest being that the penalty for losing a civil case is usually a judgment, ordering you to pay compensation to the other party. You don't (didn't) go to jail for breaching a contract.

The odd thing about intellectual property law is that matters that were always civil in the past have been made criminal. Now you can indeed go to prison for a copyright violation, which up until the 1990s was a civil matter that was settled in a civil lawsuit, not prosecuted in criminal court. We've all seen the FBI warning at the beginning of every movie we watch: "The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to five years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000." Guess who the groups were behind this initiative? That would be the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and ESA (Entertainment Software Association):

So if you rip a song from the CD you just bought and send a copy to your best friend, will the police be knocking at your door? Probably not. These are federal laws, and the local police generally don't enforce those (although they can and do call in the federal authorities if they run across a major violation). Remember the old saying, "Don't make a federal case out of it?" Well, they did.

And just exactly why did they do that, aside from the lobbying efforts of the organizations mentioned above? Well, a lot of the pressure actually comes from the "international community." The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the federal law enacted under President Clinton in 1998, criminalizes not just copyright infringement, but use of any technology to circumvent copy protection technology even if you don't infringe on the copyright. That means if your CD is copy protected, you can't use any software to get around that protection even to make a backup copy for yourself. The DMCA didn't just appear out of thin air. It was passed to implement two treaties signed in 1996 by President Clinton that were put forth by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

"Intellectual property" is the catch-all term applied to intangible creative assets such as music, art, literature, and so forth. Copyright is the set of legal rights that the creator holds in that property (and which the creator can sell or give away). In some cases, the creator gives away copyright before creating the property, as in the case where an employee signs a contract granting the employer ownership of all of the intellectual property (and even ideas for same) that the employee creates in the course of his/her employment.

Some states have intellectual property laws of their own. Because the "theft" of electronic property so often doesn't fit the existing theft statutes, they create new offenses to cover the unlawful taking of electronic property. For example, my state has offenses called "Theft of or tampering with multi-channel video or information services" and "theft of telecommunication service" that make it a crime to access cable TV, Internet services, telephone services and similar services without the authorization of the provider.

But remember that the criminal and civil systems in the U.S. are completely separate. Even if you aren't prosecuted in criminal court, you can still be sued in civil court. The RIAA has made copyright infringement lawsuits famous, and many people have settled out of court, paying the organization thousands of dollars, to avoid the expenses (both monetary and emotional) of going through a trial.

So, back to the original questions: Is it legal to extend the evaluation period for a piece of software? The answer is in the EULA. That's the contract that governs what you have the right to do with the software. Does it specify that you may use the software for only the limited period of time or is it the same standard EULA that comes with the full purchased version? Does it prohibit reinstalling the software when the trial period is over to start another trial period? Does extending the trial period involve circumventing copyright protection (and thus constitute a violation of the DMCA)? These are the questions you need to ask yourself before you follow the instructions in one of those "handy tips." Since Windows 7 hasn't yet been released, its final EULA isn't available yet. Microsoft is careful to say that license terms are subject to change with each upcoming release.

Tell us what you think about intellectual property laws in general, and the DMCA in particular. Does your state have additional laws that address theft of IP? Should it be legal to extend the trial period of an evaluation version, or should trial periods be increased? What's a good, fair timeframe for evaluating software? Should it be illegal to circumvent copy protections if all you're doing is making a backup copy for your own use? Should you be able to make as many copies as you want of a song, as long as you're the one who uses it (for example, a copy for your home music system, a copy for your car system, a copy for your portable player) or should you have to pay for each copy? We invite you to discuss this topic in our forums at

Follow-up: How far will/should the government go?

Last week's editorial "kicked up a ruckus," as my granddad used to say. Inevitably, some folks saw it as "singling out" the current White House even though I specifically pointed out that the trend started long before this administration took office and has been perpetuated by those on both sides of the political fence. Apparently mentioning the most recent examples makes me "paranoid" and "over the top." That's okay; all of us have opinions. I would so love to respond to the partisan political issues that were raised, but that's not the purpose of the newsletter or the editorial; it was about the use of technology by government to invade our lives - regardless of which party does it. Those who think I didn't write about these issues when the other party was in power must be new readers.

As far as the actual topic goes, it seems many/most of you agree with me that too much "Big Brother" is not a good thing. For those of us who love freedom but also want to protect ourselves and our families from terrorists, it can be a difficult topic. We want to give the government the authority it needs to do that, but we also want law-abiding citizens to be left alone. Bill T. made the excellent point that governments - all governments, regardless of ideology - tend to expand their powers as much as they can. Surveillance laws that start out being about terrorism end up being used to spy on people for the pettiest of offenses, and even those who have committed no offenses at all.

Of course, as I predicted, some assured us that if we're not doing anything wrong, we don't have anything to worry about and noted that those who say otherwise are being "chicken littles." And others reasonably pointed out that most of us are protected by the "big beach" theory - with 305 million people in the U.S., we generally enjoy "security through obscurity" in that the government doesn't even want to bother with such "small fry." The fact that I'm still here this week, writing another edition of WXPnews, shows that things have gotten as bad as some people fear.

I love new technology. I love the many good uses to which it can be part. I'm happy when it's used appropriately (within constitutional restraints) to prevent or detect crimes and bring real criminals to justice. I appreciate the ways in which it improves my daily life and makes it easier for me to do my work. I do believe that, once in a while, it's a good idea to stop and reflect on some of the negative ramifications, to try to raise awareness of the less than legitimate purposes for which these technologies can be used. As one reader said, "by not demanding privacy and accountability from our government we, as a society, are allowing them to infringe on our lives." The first step in doing something about a problem is being aware of it.

What does any of this have to do with XP? Think about it. Increasingly, the government decides what we can and can't do. XP is generally thought to be a less secure operating system than new versions of Windows. It is also thought to have fewer "copy protection" features to prevent the use of illegally downloaded songs, pirated software, etc. Is it really a big leap to think that as government exerts more and more control, it might decide to ban the use of an "insecure" OS that supposedly enables piracy? Sure, it sounds a bit incredible now, even to me - but I know that my grandparents would be absolutely amazed at some of the laws that we think nothing about today.

As always, thank you to all of you who wrote on this topic!

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

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PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication called VistaNews? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:

And for IT pros, there's our "big sister," WServer News, at

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Quotes of the Week

There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers. - William James (1842 - 1910)

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. - Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826)

Protect Your Credit Card Number From Theft

Why do I need a firewall? Together with antivirus and antispyware, a firewall is a "must" to protect your computer. PC Magazine gave the Sunbelt Personal Firewall a "Very Good" rating with 4 Stars and a conclusion of "good protection". Unlike the Windows XP and Vista Firewall, you can tell the Sunbelt Personal Firewall to look carefully at the data leaving your browser, so that sensitive information like your credit card numbers, email address, bank account, social security number and PIN code do not get stolen.

Benefit from our special 50% discount offer for the unlimited home site license*. Special Offer ends August 31st:

*Live in the UK? You get a 50% discount too!

 Cool Tools

Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without


Never reinstall your XP again. New technology: no set-up, no loss of data or applications. The ultimate professional repair tool. Free PC booster with every scan, get it now!

Backups? Why back up when you can sync? Simply replicate every piece of data to another drive in real-time. Set it and forget it.

Spotmau PowerSuite Professional 2008: Fantastic! All the tools necessary to fix most common computer problems. Clone and backup too!

BackBlaze is realtime back up online. Easy. Slick. $5/mo for unlimited backup space.

WebCam Monitor : Turn your PC and Camera into a Motion /Sound Detector Video Security and Surveillance System.

PC Tune-Up: 4 Easy Steps That Eliminate Frustrating Slow Computer Problems:

Registry First Aid 7.0 - New Release Is Faster, Safer and Even More Effective

Improve your English writing skills with WhiteSmoke a smarter solution for high quality writing. Download the free trial version here.

Rip DVDs for your iPod/iPhone or Apple TV. Bundle includes video converter too! Try it free!

Unclog Vista! Advanced Vista Optimizer will tweak Vista for Max performance. Easy to use:

 News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) client for XP

If you're a remote desktop fan, you'll be happy about this: Windows 7 comes with a new remote desktop connection client, RDC 7.0, which offers much better multi-monitor support as well as media player redirection and other enhancements. Now Microsoft has announced plans to make the RDC 7.0 client software available for Windows XP, so you can have a better experience when connecting via the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to a Windows 7 computer from your XP computer. Unfortunately, with XP you won't be able to get Aero Glass over RDP, as you can when connecting from one Windows 7 computer to another, but the upgrade is definitely worth it. RDC 7.0 will also be available for Vista. Read more here:

XP Pirates jailed

Do you think Windows XP is such "old news" that nobody cares anymore if you pirate it? After all, Microsoft has ended mainstream support for the OS and the successor to its successor - Windows 7 - will be released in less than two months. Well, think again. In China, at least, that doesn't mean you can distribute illegal copies. Four men were sentenced to prison and fined for doing just that. Read more here:

New graphics platform to enhance performance of nettops and netbooks

Okay, almost everyone has heard of netbooks, but what about nettops? That's the name some are using to describe small form-factor, low-cost, low-powered desktop computers. I've had a nettop for a couple of years and didn't even know it: an HP mini desktop that came with Windows XP Media Center Edition, which we used as a second Media Center PC in the bedroom. It has retired from that position and now has a new job as my soon-to-be Ubuntu machine. A problem with both of the "net" type computers has been performance, including graphics performance. Nvidia's new Ion graphics platform is made specifically for these "small fry" computers and is designed to give users a better graphics experience. Read more here:

Why doesn't the new version of MovieMaker work on XP?

Microsoft has recently released a new version of Windows MovieMaker, which I'll be reviewing in the next edition of our sister newsletter, VistaNews (soon to be Win7News). It has some very cool new features for creating titles, captions, credits, transitions, musical accompaniment or voiceovers, and more. You can even combine photos, video and music into a movie in one easy step with the AutoMovie feature and y ou can easily publish your movie to YouTube or Facebook, save it in HD, burn it to DVD or email it to someone else. All this, and it's free. The bad news: it doesn't work on Windows XP; you need Vista or Windows 7 to install it. I have a feeling some home video fans who aren't ready to give up XP are going to be unhappy about that. Read more here:

 How To: Using XP Features

How to restore the Show Desktop icon in QuickLaunch

A reader recently wrote that he had accidentally deleted the "Show Desktop" icon in the QuickLaunch toolbar, and couldn't figure out how to get it back. The procedure for getting the "Show Desktop" icon back if you delete it isn't exactly intuitive. Here's what you do:

  1. Click Start | Programs | Accessories and click on Notepad to open it.
  2. Type the following, exactly as shown:
  3. Save the file with the name ShowDesktop.scf
  4. Drag the file's icon onto the Quick Launch toolbar (or the desktop if you prefer).

 XP Security News

Do you have to buy an extra copy of security software for VMs?

I've been asked this question on a number of occasions. If you run virtual machine software such as Microsoft Virtual PC on XP/Vista, Windows VPC with XP Mode on Windows 7 or a third party VM program such as VMware, do you have to buy a copy of your anti-virus/anti-malware software for each VM? The answer is that it depends on the licensing agreement. Sunbelt Software's VIPRE, which has been tested and works on the XP Mode VM, allows multiple installations on VMs on the same physical computer. Read more here:

 XP Question Corner

Can't use the XP theme

I know I'm one of the few people in the world who really likes the XP default look, with the bright primary colors and the rounded corners and the "bubbly" look. Trouble is, recently I started using an XP computer that was given to me by a friend, and it has the Windows Classic theme (that looks like Windows 2000) and when I try to change it, the XP theme choice isn't there. Is there a way to install it? Thanks. - Linda K.

The most probable reason for this is that the Themes service isn't running. If it's not running, XP reverts to the classic style. Do this:

  1. Click Start | Run and type services.msc to open the Services console.
  2. In the right pane, find the Themes service and click the Start Service button.
If that doesn't work, try this: right click My Computer | Properties. In the System Properties dialog box, click the Advanced tab. Under Performance, click Settings. Click the Visual Effects tab. Select "Use Visual Styles on Windows and Buttons" in the Custom box.

 XP Configuration and Troubleshooting

How to change the listening port for Remote Desktop

By default, the Remote Desktop Connection software in Windows XP uses port 3389. You might want to change that for security purposes or because you're behind a firewall that blocks that port. You can do that with a simple registry edit, but as always, be sure to back up the registry key before making changes. Find the step by step instructions in KB article 306759 at

You can't configure the maximum number of concurrent SMB requests

If you're using an XP Pro computer as a file server, you might encounter a problem because of the default restriction that prohibits more than ten concurrent server message block (SMB) commands, when "long term SMB requests" are used. There is a hotfix that addresses the problem, allowing you to set a registry value to enable up to 256 concurrent requests. Find out how to get it in KB article 926646 at

 Fav Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Disclaimer: WXPNews does not assume and cannot be responsible for any liability related to you clicking any of these linked Web sites.

 Product of the Week

ZipBackup: Protect your Computer's Files with ZipBackup Windows Backup Software!

ZipBackup is easy to use and stores your backup in Zip format - the most common type of compressed file. ZipBackup's Wizard walks you through a simple step-by-step process for creating zip backups. You select what folders you want to backup, where to backup and you are done. Unlike other backup programs, you don't need ZipBackup to restore your data. In fact, Windows XP ships with Zip file compatibility built in. Whether you want to backup files to send to someone else, transfer your data to a new computer, or make sure you can open your backups in the future, you need ZipBackup. Download your free evaluation version. Get an exclusive WXPnews $10.00 off coupon! More features here.

 About WXPnews

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These documents are provided for informational purposes only. The information contained in this document represents the current view of Sunbelt Software on the issues discussed as of the date of publication. Because Sunbelt must respond to changes in market conditions, it should not be interpreted to be a commitment on the part of Sunbelt and Sunbelt cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information presented after the date of publication.


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Daves Computer Tips


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