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Can't Copy Money

Adobe's secret "can't copy this bill" code was found.  What's funny is people are complaining about it now.  They say it's a form of art.  Yea right...

http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20040110/ap_on_hi_te/copying_dollars_6

Eddie
Sunday, January 11, 2004

Color copiers have been doing this for years. Lousy feds and all their laws to maintain a valid currency ;)

m
Sunday, January 11, 2004

See, if we were still using gold coins this wouldn't be an issue! Damn artificial paper money...

Chris Nahr
Sunday, January 11, 2004

So don't use Photoshop.  There are other programs that will do the job.

Mayor McCheese
Sunday, January 11, 2004

Whether art or not eddie, now that software vendors think they have a right to control how you can use your own computer, you have an opened can of worms.  On principal, I am now sad that I forked over $1000 to Adobe for CS, and knowing this would have chosen a different product, even though I would never try to produce fake currency, and perhaps might not have a need to incorporate partial images of currency in artwork, say as a design motif for a finance related website like http://www.moneypage.com/

As margins drop and upgrades become less compulsory, the dominant software companies seem to be losing sight of exactly who funds their existences.  For instance, all this talk about "digital rights" by the likes of Microsoft and others is subtervuge for *taking* the rights *of* the software buyer and replacing them with vigorous power by third parties *over* that same buyer.  Palladium, or whatever they renamed it in the wake of exposure, seems an attempt at sneaking unbreakable controls into *your* hardware and operating system, so you don't get to decide what to do with it.  Who is buying the Windows PC, you or Jack Valenti?  Ballmer doesn't seem to know, so I switched to a Mac.  Apple may someday follow suite, but now I've proven to myself that I can jettison any single vendor, even Microsoft.

With important freedoms, such as those the US constitution grants where I live, the best policy is to keep such freedoms sacred even if they also provide avenues for outlaws.  In abandoning a freedom in the name of some secondary concern, you'll tend to lose more than you first thought.  For instance, if you give a single branch of government an unfettered right to eavesdrop on any phone call, you may or may not reduce crime (the criminals will adjust their telephone behavior), but you definitely have created an opening for legal Nixon-style antics with many subtle consequences.

Ignoring the technical absurdity of the following example, would you buy a particular hammer if the hardware store put in controls that prevent you from framing other hardware store buildings with it?  What if they just put in controls to prevent you from building Charles Ng style torture bunkers?  Next how about they extend that to brothels?  Next, union meeting halls?  Uh oh.

veal
Sunday, January 11, 2004

LOL! (also good job veal for being the first to post a super long tinfoil beanie post this sunday morning!)

INCOHERENT ABBREVIATOR
Sunday, January 11, 2004

Point taken Veal.

So how do you deal with people who do copy money?  It must be a big business?

Eddie
Sunday, January 11, 2004

How shall we deal with counterfeiters?

Put them in prison for 15 years and publicize their fate.

Gear an economy so everyone with enough gumption to produce fake money can make a decent living legally.

Print money on paper with qualities unlike inkjet paper, and likewise for the ink.

(Hint: Two of these we mostly do.  One we hope we do.)

Dang, gotta go... my beanie's come loose.
http://zapatopi.net/afdb.html

veal
Sunday, January 11, 2004

By the way... I'm not suggesting that *governments* should not be trying vigorously to stop counterfeiting.  I don't even necessarily have an issue with governements (or in this case, an interested quasi-governmental group) approaching vendors with this idea.

I'm just saying that's not what I payed Adobe for.  They've overstepped an important line by trying to control how we use a tool that we've bought from them, and by doing so surreptitiously.

veal
Sunday, January 11, 2004

Veal, it's interesting you mentioned the Constitution.

See, the Constitution explicitly grants Congress the power to give authors and inventors the right to control their works.* It does NOT mention fair use anywhere - that was created by the courts.

Now I'm a strong supporter of fair use privileges, and I'm annoyed as hell that the RIAA, MPAA, and other non-creating groups are working to curtail fair use while ignoring the desires of their consumers.

I just wanted to clarify the issue. Not everything is a Constitutional right. ;-)

Philo

*Even though there were no computers in 1783, it's reasonable to extend that control to the PC DRM level.

Philo
Sunday, January 11, 2004

The Constitution also says we have free speech.  But copyright conflicts with free speech.

The Constitution gives artists and inventors control for the purpose of promoting science and the useful arts -- not 100% command and control.

So the courts had to resolve the conflicts that copyrights presented and the result is fair use.

NoName
Sunday, January 11, 2004

The Constituiton grants IP for the social good.

(It is in fact the only property right mentioned in the Constituiton. When the Constitution was drawn up many wanted to include a right to property but for various reasons, including the legal definition of slaves and the feeling that absolute property rights were more suited to oppressive British law, a compromise was agreed on and the right to "the pursuit of health and happiness" was written in  instead.)

Now can somebody please tell me the social good that is protected by Disney having the Mickly Mouse copyright always extended when it's about to run out, or Amazon claiming one click, or British Telecom trying to claim all clicks!

With regard to Photoshop I suggest, if you really need it, you get a copy of a free or pirated program, make a copy of a $1000 note and send it to Adobe to pay for it.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, January 11, 2004

Hmmm... I don't believe the US Constitution says anything about the character of copyright.  It only **enumerates a power of Congress** to secure such a right, (should Congress desire to) without actually saying specifically what that right might be, nor incidentally, specifically guaranteeing any particular right to authors.

"[The Congress shall have power] To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;"
http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.overview.html

As with may things, a strict constitutional position would have to rely upon the enlightenment context of the Constitution to figure out what "exclusive right" might have been assumed by the framers.  Right to use?  Right to publish?  Right to sell?  Is that right transferable by contract?  Can a corporation be considered an author or inventor for the purpose of assigning right?

Legislative acts of Congress surely excercised this Constitutional right to promote progress by securing specific rights to authors, recorders, film financiers, and sundry others.  We'll not learn those rights by reading the Constitution however.

It might be fun to explore how DRM jibes with the 4th amendment, or even more fun, with the 3rd amendment ban on the quartering of soldiers in any house without consent of the owner.  :-)

veal
Sunday, January 11, 2004

Note that it is legal to use images of money. So long as it's clearly not being used as a counterfit. (e.g. the size is way out of whack.) The new secret detection routines make this legal usage difficult.

Now imagine any sort of other software law-enforcing system. Any heuristic is likley to be wrong at some point.

mb
Sunday, January 11, 2004

"Now imagine any sort of other software law-enforcing system. Any heuristic is likley to be wrong at some point."

Im rather fond of the law enforcement system that waits until I commit a crime before taking away my rights :)

admittedly in america that system has pretty much disappeared, but in other countries its still considered a valid approach.

FullNameRequired
Sunday, January 11, 2004

The AP article isn't really clear about the technical details -- does Photoshop display a warning dialog box when you try to import an image of currency?  Does it do anything more severe, like prevent you from saving the image?

As a side note, there was an amusing, and possibly chilling, article about the failability of human heuristics: a Massachusetts family was briefly investigated by local police after they bought a copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator for a kid's Christmas present.  An overeager store clerk thought he was striking a blow against terrorism by reporting this "suspicious" purchase to the cops.

http://www.recorder.com/Headlines/tuesday_basic.htm

(Thanks to Raymond Chen's blog for this link.)

Robert Jacobson
Sunday, January 11, 2004

"As a side note, there was an amusing, and possibly chilling"

<g> funny how people view things.  I found it rather more chilling than amusing.

The thing that _really_ struck me is that after the clerk reported the 'suspicious' purchase, local law enforcement _actually saw fit to visit them at their house and inquire about it_

I mean, wtf? 

FullNameRequired
Sunday, January 11, 2004

"By 8 p.m., a state trooper was at my house," she said. "At first, it was a little unnerving because it was pouring rain and my husband had just left ... My son said he heard someone walking around outside and it startled him. We had put our Christmas tree in front of a sliding glass door and the trooper ended up tapping on the glass of that door and putting a flashlight in and it scared us."

*************
Mr. State Trooper is lucky he didn't get shot. Trespassing is trespassing, even if you're the police. I'm not advocating shooting police; I'm saying if you knock on someone's back window on a rainy night and shine a flashlight in, you're asking for trouble.

Why the hell couldn't this guy just go to the front door and ring the bell?

Philo

Philo
Sunday, January 11, 2004

"Why the hell couldn't this guy just go to the front door and ring the bell?"

because (im guessing wildly of course) he was a stupid-ass 27 year old and this was _the_ single most exciting thing that had hapened in his life in years.
What the bet he was fantasizing about catching some real live terrorists....

<shudder>

FullNameRequired
Sunday, January 11, 2004

So the only people who can load images of dollar bills into Photoshop now will be the hackers who, if they can figure out how to bypass copyprotection will figure out what piece of code loads whenever they scan in a dollar bill.

You can't use images of money on your website or in your brochures without some strange effects, but hackers will be able to copy money. Or even better, they'll just use an old version of Photoshop, which does the job just as well.

So the net effect is that sure fewer counterfeiters can make copies of money, giving more power to those who can. I mean, let's face it, the new 20's are the old 20's plus some green ink around the edges. They'll just keep using the old templates.

You don't exactly need to be an artist to dye the edges green and create a bunch of floating 20 symbols.

I'm sure that now that this is public half the crack sites now have "Old Photoshop, Will Copy Money."

Full name:
Sunday, January 11, 2004

There was a good discussion of this on slashdot. If you read the high-moderated comments you'll find out info. My memory says that it blocks you from inserting the image (it runs the code on every paste, maybe open, and various other times, slowing the program down), and displays some dialog warning that you may be doing something bad. The algorithm itself was explored by someone, it's some pattern used in a number of different currencies.

Apparently they also look for some other watermark patterns, and have been for a few versions.

mb
Sunday, January 11, 2004

"The Constitution also says we have free speech."

No, it doesn't.  It says "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech...."  In particular, it does not say that a company cannot limit their own software in some capacity.  The free market will determine if Adobe's new "feature" will reduce sales.  Obviously, I don't think it will make much of a dent, but if you don't like it, don't buy it.  Buy a competitors product that does not restict you in this way.

Anonymous Coward
Sunday, January 11, 2004

Adobe can add or remove whatever capabilities they want from their product, but they should inform the purchaser before the transaction if a capability like this was removed.  Otherwise it is consumer fraud.

NoName
Sunday, January 11, 2004

Are you telling me that if I release a second version of my software and change or remove features, that I need to give you a full audit of what my software does not do? I wonder what Adobe would have said if you asked them specifically about the ability to manipulate images of money in this version of photoshop. If you didn't ask when you purchased it, then, I would suspect, they did not try to commit fraud since no false information was exchanged in the sale.

Honestly, this is a company distributing software, not a government institution trying to limit your freedoms. If you want to exercise your "rights" go get a lawyer and sue.

bark up another tree
Sunday, January 11, 2004

Let me make another pitch for Philo's Consumer Protection Law:

If a truthful label suggestion produces the reaction "Our sales would plummet!" then that labeling is required by law.

(In other words, if telling the consumer the truth about your product may induce them not to buy it, you have to tell them)

Philo

Philo
Sunday, January 11, 2004

Artificially disabling software from copying specific types of images is not something a reasonable person would expect.  Removing such a feature should indeed be made known prior to purchase.

Similarly, if a cellphone maker decided to make their phones bleep out cuss words they should let you know that before you purchase.  You shouldn't have to inquire about the infinite possibilities of restrictions that could be there; they should tell you up front what they did.

NoName
Sunday, January 11, 2004

Philo,

As an insurance agent, I hope you never run for congress :-)

the artist formerly known as prince
Monday, January 12, 2004

I'd vote for Philo in a heartbeat.

Superman
Monday, January 12, 2004

---"if I release a second version of my software and change or remove features, that I need to give you a full audit of what my software does not do? I"----

Err, that's what most companies, and freeware writers do. It's called version history or history of changes and they normally put in on the website and/or include it with the CV.

Stephen Jones
Monday, January 12, 2004

Philo - have you been watching Monty Python again?

Real crunchy dead frog anyone?

A cynic writes
Monday, January 12, 2004

Just one more viewpoint... when you purchase software, you generally aren't *buying* the software, you are licensing the *use* of it.

Sometimes it seems that you aren't even buying the physical media, you're just buying an indefinite leasehold on the disks and paper manuals, which can be returned at any time you breach your shrinkwrap agreement with the vendor.

It seems to me in turn that just about anything a SW vendor wants to do (short of malicious actions) can be successfully argued "in favor of" by pointing to licensing as the crux. All they're letting you do is 'use' the software according to their terms, and so the SW can be explained as a "black box."

Bored Bystander
Monday, January 12, 2004

If anyone was interested in the facts of this case, there is a way to get legal views of currency in Photoshop. You have to contact the gov and ask. Not sure of the mechanism.

For all the talk of a slippery slope, this one seems pretty cut an dry to me. Does anyone think that conterfeiting is good? I'm just about as libertarian as you can get, but even I think that protecting the currency is something the government should be doing. Now if they cooerced Adobe into modifying their program, it's a little different than if they just asked and Adobe did it because they thought it would be a good ide.

pdq
Monday, January 12, 2004

"Does anyone think that conterfeiting is good?"

Typical "thinking" from a lackey of the state. Can't you see how this money printing monopoly is hurting us all? Sure those feds want you to believe that if everybody could just print money, we would have all these socalled "inflation" problems. Sure man. You probably believed them about "we put a man on the moon" also right?
Loose the blinds man. Ask yourself: how can you be poor if you can just print as much money as you need?
Money wants to be free!

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, January 12, 2004

Is counterfeiting good?  No.  Does such "protection" really stop a determined counterfeiter?  Probably not.  Does it make the software more annoying to use?  Definitely.  Is this a 1st amendment issue?  No, you still have free speech; Adobe has no obligation to make your speech more effective.  Do I like asking my own questions?  You bet!  Do I read too much Doonesbury?  Quite possibly yes!

Alyosha`
Monday, January 12, 2004

On the face of it, this restriction does not make any sense since I can't imagine a counterfiter would really need to use Adobe photoshop.

Then the question is, "what is the sense, if any, of this restriction"?

Maybe it's a "trial run".

Imagine if high-quality photocopiers scanned the input to create digital images? (Someday, the technology will be fast enough and cheap enough to do this). Then, one could embed the restriction software in photocopiers to limit counterfitting.

njkayaker
Monday, January 12, 2004

"one could embed the restriction software in photocopiers to limit counterfitting. "

I think that is currently implemented....

apw
Monday, January 12, 2004

"Err, that's what most companies, and freeware writers do. It's called version history or history of changes and they normally put in on the website and/or include it with the CV."

I have never *ever* seen a version history/history of changes for a program of more than trivial size that is totally comprehensive.  You always draw the line somewhere in determining what should be mentioned and what should not.

People who bought the new Photoshop may have a decent fraud case, it is hard for me to judge.  Not being able to use images of money is not something a reasonable person would expect, and therefor the responsibility should be on Adobe for saying the software is unable to do this.  However, it is certainly not a clear-cut case

Mike McNertney
Monday, January 12, 2004

Why would it be fraud that Photoshop won't accept images that resemble currency? Is there some expressed warrantee/guarantee that is now violated?

apw
Monday, January 12, 2004

It could be implied.  Photoshop is image-manipulating software.  It does not allow you to manipulate images of money (note there are perfectly legitimate reasons for you to be manipulating images of money in Photoshop, this isn't a case where they are excluding only illegal activity).  Nowhere do they state (apparenly) that images of certain objects fail to work in their product.  A reasonable person, in the absense of such stated restrictions, would probably assume that a product sold on the basis of image manipulation would be able to operate on an image of any object.

That said, I think it would be a tough case.

Mike McNertney
Monday, January 12, 2004

I think this is just a clever marketing tactic to make Photoshop seem super-impressive. It obviously won't dent any counterfeiting activity. But makes Photoshop look like the experts' tool of choice.

pb
Monday, January 12, 2004

A previous poster wrote:
Just one more viewpoint... when you purchase software, you generally aren't *buying* the software, you are licensing the *use* of it.

Sometimes it seems that you aren't even buying the physical media, you're just buying an indefinite leasehold on the disks and paper manuals, which can be returned at any time you breach your shrinkwrap agreement with the vendor.
--------------------

I call bullshit.  I mean, I can understand why you've come to believe this, as that's what the industry has been trying to convince you of ever since Bill Gates' famous "y'all should be ashamed" letter.

Now, if you're buying PeopleSoft or Oracle and you sit down with someone and negotiate a contract for a license, that's all fine.

When I walk into a store, talk to nobody about any contract, pay cash and receive a physical product, I consider that buying.  Clicking "I Agree" is not a signature.  If you had software which said, "click here if you agree to pay me $5.00 and get nothing in return", no court in the land would hold you to that dept. 

Now, some boneheaded judge in the US ruled that since you must copy software into RAM to use it, you need a license and therefore must abide by all the terms of the EULA.  That's like saying you must copy a painting onto your retina in order to view it, therefore anyone who looks at a painting is a copyright violator.

The Gub'ment is too afraid of injuring the cash-cow of the software industry, and therefore there has been no legal smackdown on the issue.

If I go to a store and buy a software package in a box with my money, I feel no obligation to abide by the EULA whatsoever.  I can reverse-engineer it, benchmark it, or install the no-CD patch to my heart's content without feeling a smidgen of guilt.  Copyright law still applies, naturally.

Richard P
Monday, January 12, 2004

But Photoshop is already far and away the expert's tool of choice.

The only thing this can do is lose them customers because it degrades performance (checks images at every step of the way) and it is an imperfect heuristic that blocks people's use of the product even when they are doing work that isn't remotely related to money (like images of star charts).

Richard P
Monday, January 12, 2004


I sometimes break into people's houses and remove all their valuable items and then sell them to my heart's content without feeling a smidgen of guilt. The law against theft still applies, naturally. ;-)

David Clayworth
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

The holding which gave shrinkwrap "click to approve" licenses legal weight is ProCD v. Zeidenberg.

For what it's worth, Judge Easterbrook got it completely wrong. But that doesn't matter until someone gets the Supreme Court to say so.

Easterbrook's opinion finding clickwrap licences enforceable was based on two huge (and inaccurate) assumptions:
1) All these licenses are fundamentally the same anyway
2) If you don't like it, you can return the software.

Given some of the clauses we've seen in licenses (don't install anywhere else, don't publish benchmarks, right to enter and audit, etc), software licenses are about as variable as loan agreements - possibly moreso.

On the refund issue, I was surprised to find that many software publishers *do* offer 30-day refunds, but not all.

Basically, if I had to argue for the defense in a clickwrap agreement case, my argument would be that Easterbrook created standards for clickwrap agreements (that they must 'conform' to an industry average and the company must offer a refund). If both those conditions weren't met, the agreement isn't enforceable.

I wouldn't want to bet my lunch money on winning that way, though.

And of course, the burden is on the consumer to read the license and attempt to return the software if you don't agree.

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

---" I sometimes break into people's houses and remove all their valuable items and then sell them to my heart's content without feeling a smidgen of guilt. The law against theft still applies, naturally. ;-) "----

Of course it does; but you're not stealing. The householder agreed to your action when he clicked the EULA on the freeware he downloaded from your web site.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

I wouldn't be quite so pessimistic about the law regarding shrinkwrap/clickwrap licenses -- the law in this field is still very unsettled.  For example, the ProCD opinion is only binding within the Seven Circuit Court of Appeals (several Midwestern states.)

There was a recent case in California (Softman v. Adobe) [1] which held that an Adobe shrinkwrap license was *not* enforceable -- in essence, that when you put down cold hard cash for a box of software at the local CompUSA, you're *buying* the software, not licensing it. 

The Softman case isn't binding precedent (it's just a district court case, not an appellate case) but it does suggest that the law regarding shrinkwrap licenses is still in a state of flux.  I wouldn't be suprised, for example, if the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on the West Coast eventually disagrees with the Seventh Circuit's badly flawed rationale in the ProCD case.

I'm still gnashing my teeth over an online multiplayer game that I installed last weekend -- I had to click through various license agreements four separate times to install it, and I have to click through another "reminder" of the license agreement every time I play it.  (And it doesn't give me the option of returning it for a refund if I don't accept the licenses... grr....)

[1] http://www.hewm.com/use/articles/softman.pdf

Robert Jacobson
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

The key issue here is quite simply: prior restraint. In other words, the law says I can't counterfeit money. And in particular, there are specific restrictions on the nature of copies of currency to prevent confusion, including such things as the word "COPY," that copies can not be exact size of the real thing, and reproducing less than the entire image.

Images of currency are regularly used in trade advertising, etc. and US law has provided for such usage. Many years ago there was a law against any copying of currency, but that was changed (don't know if it was in response to free speech issues, but I suspect so).

What Adobe has done is a clear example unlawful restraint of trade. No doubt a class action suit is in the works.

Craig Collis
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

my hp desk jet 5552 starts printing excellent copies of uk currency then recognises it as money and stops printing half way through, are there any ways around this or is there an equally good printer without this bug in?

will crombie
Wednesday, February 04, 2004

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