Posts Tagged Apple

Super Podcast Action Committee LIVE – Episode 106

Another week, another live episode. If you missed the live show over the weekend you can check it out now on YouTube. We’re still working out some of the kinks.

This week hosts Andrew Eisen and E. Zachary Knight discussed a lot of topics (markers below if you want to skip around) including Youtubers taking money from publishers, MSNBC talking about video games, Apple’s sexists policies on engraving, Ninja Pizza Girl, Marvel’s attempts at diversification and Nintendo’s similar attempts at diversification.

You can check out the video on YouTube or watch it to you left.

12:15 – Is it okay for YouTubers to accept money from publishers?

21:30 – MSNBC thinks video game devs are worse than mass murderers

29:08 – Apple will engrave “penis” on your iPhone but not “vagina”

35:15 – ‘Ninja Pizza Girl’ tackles serious issues and still looks fun

42:50 – Marvel and its recent attempts at diversity and inclusiveness

1:06:58 – Nintendo and its recent attempts at diversity and inclusiveness

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What Happens To All That Digital Goodness You Have Purchased After You Die?

Originally Published on Techdirt.

With the proliferation of digitally distributed content, the question of ownership is always looming overhead. Part of that question is what happens to it all after you die. In the physical realm, any books, movies, games and music you purchase throughout your life can be left to your children and other heirs. Things aren’t so simple for ebooks and iTunes files that you may have bought.
Tex D’urt (I see what you did there) sent in this analysis by the Wall Street Journal on the question of who, if anyone, can inherit your digital library.

Someone who owned 10,000 hardcover books and the same number of vinyl records could bequeath them to descendants, but legal experts say passing on iTunes and Kindle libraries would be much more complicated.

And one’s heirs stand to lose huge sums of money. “I find it hard to imagine a situation where a family would be OK with losing a collection of 10,000 books and songs,” says Evan Carroll, co-author of “Your Digital Afterlife.” “Legally dividing one account among several heirs would also be extremely difficult.”

As the report points out, some people can spend as much as $360 a year on digital content. As digital content becomes more wide spread and accepted, that amount could increase quite a bit over the years. But what happens to all that potential 10′s of thousands of dollars worth of content when the account holder dies? That is where terms of use statements from Apple and Amazon, among others, makes things complicated.

Apple (US:AAPL) and (US:AMZN) grant “nontransferable” rights to use content, so if you buy the complete works of the Beatles on iTunes, you cannot give the “White Album” to your son and “Abbey Road” to your daughter.

According to Amazon’s terms of use, “You do not acquire any ownership rights in the software or music content.” Apple limits the use of digital files to Apple devices used by the account holder.

It is this non-transferability of the content that is the stickler. If you cannot transfer your digital files to another person then you cannot technically bequeath them to an heir. However, you can still leave your entire account to someone else, but even that might hit some issues if the terms of service don’t allow it. Steam is one example of a service that does not allow for the transfer of accounts, even in whole. Valve is willing to kill an account, swallowing up all money spent on it rather than letting someone other than the original owner getting a hold of it.

Digital distribution is still young and there have not been any real challenges to this sort of situation. The closest ruling I am aware of that might possibly allow such a transfer is the EU Court ruling declaring that software, which includes a non-transferability clause in its license, can still be resold. So while such a ruling does not answer this specific legal question, it could work as a convincing precedent when it does come up. However, that ruling only holds bearing in the EU. Which means rulings such as the Vernor vs Autodesk ruling, which denies such first sale rights to US citizens, could prevent such transfers.

Of course the question of transferability would be moot if people would not buy anything encumbered by DRM or which was tied directly to an account. With DRM-free files, there are fewer issues of who you can bequeath files to as there are no accounts that need to be dealt with. However, there might still be some copyright questions on whether such files can still be legally transferable even if they are technically and easily transferable. Yet, I don’t see many creators who release their works in DRM-free form raising much of a stink about it, although their estates might.

One question not raised in the WSJ piece is one we have talked about in the past when such services go belly up. Is it really going to matter that your files are not transferable when Apple or Amazon close up shop and banish all your purchased content to the nether world of digital services? That is a more pressing question. While you may live to a ripe old age, the services and technologies you use typically have a far shorter shelf life. What good would it be to leave obsolete files and devices to your children?

I guess the final question that needs to be asked here is this, “Who wants to die first so that legal precedent can be established on this matter?”

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Super Podcast Action Committee – Episode 17

Super Podcast Action CommitteeIt’s Episode 17 of the Super Podcast Action Committee and that means more hijinks with hosts Andrew Eisen and E. Zachary Knight! This week they tackle Apple’s victory over Samsung, OnLive’s CEO giving a large donation to former employees, the results from our latest poll and a whole lot more. A mild earthquake guest stars! Download it here: SuperPAC Episode 17 (58 Minutes).

As always, you can subscribe to the show on iTunes and use our RSS Feed to add the show to your favorite news reader. You can also find us onFacebook (where there’s an app that will let you listen to the show), and on Twitter @SuperPACPodcast. You can send us feedback on the show by dropping a note to

Credits: The Super Podcast Action Committee is hosted by E. Zachary Knight and Andrew Eisen, and produced by James Fudge. Music in the show includes “Albino” by Brian Boyko and “Barroom Ballet” by Kevin MacLeod. Both are in the public domain and free to use.

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Apple Plays Cat And Mouse With In-App Purchase Hacker

Originally Published on Techdirt.

Piracy has been considered the bane of game developers for as long as games have existed. Over the years, many methods of fighting piracy or turning those who play for free into paying customers have come and gone. Some methods focused deterring pirates while others instead focused on maximizing profits. One of these profit maximizing endeavors, which recently gained traction with game developers, is the use of micro-transactions — or as they are often called in the mobile world, “in-app purchases.” This method of revenue generation was quickly accepted by many game developers, as it provided a way to distribute the game for free to as many people as possible with the prospect that enough of those free users would then buy in-game items with real money.

Because of this model of doing business, mobile phone producers (mainly Apple) have developed APIs that allow game developers to easily tie their in-game stores to Apple’s payment processing and authentication services. While this method is not without its issues, it has been accepted as a relatively secure method of monetizing a game. That is, until one hacker named Alexey V. Borodin figured out a relatively simple way to spoof the purchases of in game items. Using this exploit, Alexey claims that as many as 30,000 transactions have been made since instructions went live.

In a follow up article, The Next Web reports that Apple has begun efforts to prevent the spread of this exploit. These efforts include blocking the IP address of the server Alexey was using, requesting the server be taken down by the Russian hosting company which owned it, sending take down notices to Youtube over videos providing instructions, and getting PayPal involved in shutting down the account Alexey was using to generate donations (a whopping $6.78 was raised according to that report). Apple also included the following statement:

The security of the App Store is incredibly important to us and the developer community. We take reports of fraudulent activity very seriously and we are investigating.

Even with all these attempts at taking down Alexey’s service, it still remains up and running for all willing iPhone users to take advantage of; that is, if those users are willing to risk their privacy and iTunes accounts to use it, something Alexey claims is not an issue.

While this exploit is very troubling on many levels, it really highlights the folly of relying on security through obscurity. Apple had the chance to secure its APIs long before this exploit happened. It has an opportunity to do so now. In fact, Alexy states that he is more than willing to talk about the issue with Apple. Unfortunately, Apple has not contacted him. While I can understand Apple’s unwillingness to work directly with someone who openly exploits its services, it would be prudent to use all available options to end this exploit.

One would hope that game developers who feel threatened by this exploit will pressure Apple to fix the security issues in its APIs as well as provide some kind of training in best practices in securing in-app purchases. Of course game developers should also be doing their part to use all available tools to protect the integrity of their games as well — something all software developers should do from the beginning.

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Apple Moves Closer To Walling Off The Mac OS

In what took the world by surprise this week was the announcement of Apple’s latest Mac OS, Mountain Lion. While this update will bring a whole lot of great things to Mac users, one thing that really caught the attention of game developers was the inclusion of a feature called “Gatekeeper”.

Just as it sounds, Gatekeeper is a new security feature that will attempt to mitigate the security risks of user installed software. It has three settings:

  1. Install any software
  2. Install Only Mac App Store Software
  3. Install Mac Appstore and trusted software

Option 3 will be the default setting for new installations of the update. What has most game developers upset is that most users will not change that default setting and will end up forcing these developers to either pay $99 a year to add their apps to the App store (and sacrifice 30% of their revenue along with it) or become a trusted developer (how much that costs is up in the air at the moment, but it seems to be free). This has a lot of developers up in arms as they are used to selling their games themselves or through alternative stores such as Steam.

What is also concerning is the idea that sometime in the future Apple may completely eliminate options 1 and 3 and force all developers to sell only through the App Store. This is currently how the iPhone and iPad work, but the Mac has always been open for any software. The idea that Apple would completely wall off the Mac is frustrating for a lot of developers.

One other group of software developers that don’t like this idea is the Open Source Software community. Because this software is not often owned by a single entity it may be far more difficult for the OSS applications to get a trusted developer status and would make most Mac users completely unable to run it if they do not change their settings.

On top of this, Apple still reserves the right to revoke a developer’s trusted status for any reason. While they claim they will only do this to those developers that harm the user, they have been known to remove apps from the iPhone app store for little reason other than they didn’t like it. So it is no surprise that developers are not fond of that.

In the end, this may be a non issue if the options are kept as they are and developers can successfully educate their customers on how to change them. However, if any of these settings ever change, Mac developers could be hurt badly by being closed off from their customers. Either way, this is unsettling.


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