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(*) [CK] (*) [D0]

(*) [IO] (*) [D1]
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Please read the notes posted at the right *before* using the system.
If core memory fails, cycle power, reload system from tape and initialize instruction register with switches.
We are *not* responsible for your card decks. If they get dropped or knocked over you're out of luck.
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Sat, 16 Aug 2008
Defcon 16

Defcon 16. Wow. That's a long time. My first Defcon was 2. This means that I've been attending for 15 years. Dear God, that makes me feel old.

This year's con was good in some ways but not so great in others. I felt that the talks were a bit hit or miss. Friends have told me that the only reason that they still attend is to see friends that they would not otherwise be able to see. I'm starting to feel the same way.

There are five tracks and it's difficult to get from one to the other. The outlines of the talks don't provide good insight on the material that will really be presented. In the program, the talk outlines weren't listed in any order. This made it difficult to figure out was was going to be presented. There were a couple talks that I just plain walked out on. Then I had to hike it to another presentation room to find a more interesting talk.

I'm not sure what the total attendance was this year but last year there were at least six thousand. It just feels, actually it is, too much. I'm not the type of person that enjoys being around a lot of people so it is very tiring after awhile.

I've posted a few photos on my flickr page. Go view them if you like. You should look at Foofus dressed as Zed from the movie Zardoz.

posted at: 04:13 | path: /Cons/DefCon/DC16 | permanent link to this entry

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Some short comments on Defcon 16 and a rant about the DRM being used on the presentations

posted at: 04:07 | path: | permanent link to this entry

Defcon 16 Presentation DRM

An issue that I had this year centered around the presentations provided on the CD. I guess they have been locking the PDFs to prevent copying from them for a couple years now. A type of DRM. I am putting together a little presentation for work about this years con. (they paid my way so I figure I owe them that). I found that I couldn't copy and paste from the PDFs on the CD. It really surprised me that Defcon would be using DRM on their presentations. Speakers and attendees have be railing against DRM for years. At Defcon 9 Dmitry Sklyarov was jailed for distributing a tool that broke Adobe eBook DRM.

The issue was brought up on the Defcon forums. I guess DRM is just standard operating procedure now. I'm the only one that has ever noticed or brought it up as an issue.

Here is the response from Nikita:

To officially answer this question.... for the past several years Dead Addict, Black Beetle and myself have been locking the presentations on CD. This has been protocol on the past several Defcon CD's mastered by myself and any updated materials on the website. This has never been a reported issue or complaint before. The information is still readable, viewable and printable in high resolution as well. ONLY the Cut & Paste rights have been disallowed. In order to change this going forward the speakers would have to consent to making their presentations "unlocked". Time does move forward and so does the ability to unlock these PDF's via software, etc. I do realize this, however please respect the wishes of the speakers who have requested their presentations be locked to disable cut & paste. If this is an issue that greatly frustrates and agonizes the community please understand it is not our intention nor the speakers. If DT wishes, we may go with "unlocked" presentations for next year so long as we have received the authors consent. However this may also mean that we do not get speakers consent and therefore the results will be inconsistent. As of now, this years content will remain "locked" to disable cut & paste as many speakers appreciate the gesture and have not consented otherwise.

Thank you,


Just because no one has ever noticed or made an issue of DRM on the presentation materials doesn't mean that it is acceptable or right.

The presentations are only partially broken? (everything except copy) I guess I should feel greatful.

They know that PDF DRM can be broken. Then why do they use it if it doesn't really prevent copying? They must also know that breaking DRM violates the DMCA. It doesn't matter how lame the DRM is.

I'm asked to respect the author's rights. If I did not intend to respect the author's rights I would have just busted the DRM and used it however I want and not made it a topic of discussion. Are they implying that they don't trust me? Do they have distain for their own community?

This reminds me of physical locks. Many locks can be picked easily and quickly or circumvented. All locks do is keep honest people honest. News Flash: Criminals tend to break the law. I'm sure they won't mind breaking some lame DRM.

They say they will consider unlocking the presentations if they get author consent. Why don't they err on the side of openness? Why don't they only lock the presentation if the author asks?

They say that many speakers appreciate the gesture of imposing DRM. First, it is only a gesture since we know that PDF DRM can be broken. Second, maybe some speakers would not appreciate DRM on their presentations. (I wouldn't)

DRM doesn't change the author's rights to their material. They are fully protected under copyright law. DRM doesn't change the right to fair use. What is the purpose of using DRM on the presentations? What message is being sent?

I've gotten very little response, positive or negative, about this. I think this is a bigger deal than what many may perceive. If this had happened back at Defcon 9, I can assure you there would have been an all out riot. Defcon supports EFF, a fighter of DRM and supporter of fair use. Now, it's no big deal that DRM is being placed on the con presentations. What the hell happened? I feel like an old hippy that's the last one that cares. "Fight the power, man!" Has the hacker community become this complacent? Has Defcon become this corporate?

"Defcon® Inc. puts DRM on its presentations because it is doubleplusgood©"

posted at: 03:50 | path: /Cons/DefCon/DC16 | permanent link to this entry

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posted at: 01:55 | path: | permanent link to this entry