News Analysis

Microsoft sues hacker group

Microsoft is to sue a group of hackers who gained access to the company's proprietary source code, creating a program that wipes media files clean of file-sharing restrictions.

The suit, filed in a district court in Seattle, gives only a nickname for the ringleader, "viodentia," who is one of 10 people whom Microsoft believes are responsible for breaking its Windows Media Digital Rights Management (DRM) software.

Last month, a rogue program called FairUse4WM was made available that removed the DRM (digital rights management) technology from Windows Media 10 and 11 files. Many existing download services, such as Napster, use Windows DRM, and its removal would allow the files to be copied or played without restriction or uploaded to file-sharing networks.

Microsoft is suing for copyright infringement, since FairUse4WM uses code from the company's Windows Media software development kit Version 9.5, a tool set used by software developers to build applications.

Microsoft said the hackers have caused it more than $75,000 in losses, and it is seeking a permanent injunction against the defendants and compensation.

Well, I’m sure it’s not about the money: $75,000 is a drop in the ocean of Microsoft’s revenues. But the idea of suing hackers is an intriguing one.

I can just imagine Microsoft’s lawyers rubbing their hands at the prospect of some easy meat. Far better than dealing with the EU’s legal eagles.


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