Bits & P.C.s: The record industry and X-Box

Bits & P.C.s: The record industry and X-Box

By Richard Heller

The record industry is still blaming all the people who are downloading music from the Internet for the decline in record sales over the past few years. I’m sure that it has nothing to do with the price of new CDs going from $12 in 2000 to $18 for new releases today.

To get back at you no-good thieves who are taking a couple of new approaches to combat this piracy of the high Cs. They have gone to court to force Verizon to turn over the records of a couple of people who are using their ISP service to distribute this illegal music. Under the conditions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) they do not need a subpeona, all they have to do is ask and the records are supposed to be turned over. Verizon is fighting this on the right to privacy, but the courts have so far ruled against them.

Another tactic that they are using is to use the instant messaging feature of the file-sharing service Kazaa to send users warning notices telling them that what they are downloading may be illegal. They are keeping a record of all of the 1 to 2 million notices they are e-mailing weekly to the violators.

If that isn’t enough, they are also posting fake files onto Kazaa and the other file-sharing services. They recently did this with cuts of Madonna’s new CD. When you downloaded the files, you heard Madonna telling you that what you were doing was illegal and taking money out of her pocket.

The record company ran into a slight problem with this tactic, though. Hackers went to the Madonna Web site and “fixed it” so you could download the real songs from her site. They also made a marriage proposal to TechTV host Morgan Webb ( After the hack was discovered, the site was taken off-line for about 15 hours.

If you are sharing files using Kazaa or one of the other on-line services or newsgroups, you should limit the number of files that you transfer at a time. You may be able to get away with 100 or so a day while 1,000 may raise some eyebrows.

One of the biggest challenges to hackers over the past year or so is how to crack the X-Box. Recently, someone discovered that if you could make a specific game go into an error condition, you could gain access to the computer inside. This is one of Microsoft’s worst nightmares.

You see, you thought that you purchased a game console. In reality, you have purchased a machine that is controlled by Microsoft. You can only run games that they approve of, that they control the distribution and the price of. If others can gain access to the box, then others can sell their own games or add-ons. This means a loss of revenue for Microsoft, something they aren’t happy about.

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times or e-mail

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