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Belkin’s Brain-damage, and Bye-bye Public Domain

Spam: The Reg reports that a Belkin Router software upgrade hijacks HTTP connections to spam the browser with ads. Here’s a screenshot of the ad page. Here’s a USENET post bemoaning the situation, and the followup from a Belkin PM.

This is amazing; a working piece of network infrastructure has been effectively modified to:

  • replace the expected HTTP responses with spam ‘for your convenience’
  • do this once every 8 hours until told to stop
  • report serial numbers, IP addresses and software revisions back ‘home’ as part of this

And, of course, web browsing is not the only thing that runs over port 80.

So, it’s a router that inserts spam into your packets, whether you want it or not, due to a software upgrade; and if you want the bugfixes in that upgrade, you get the spam whether you want it or not. And, that spam could break quite a bit of legitimate port 80 traffic, such as automated download tools that aren’t a full web browser, for example. And the spam is unannounced on the download page, or in the change log. I’d hope that’s pretty serious under consumer-protection law… it certainly should be.

Copyright: In case there was any doubt that Sonny Bono and Jack Valenti wanted to remove the legal concept of the public domain, check this quote from the Congressional record:

(Mary Bono): Actually, Sonny wanted the term of copyright protection to last forever. I am informed by staff that such a change would violate the Constitution. I invite all of you to work with me to strengthen our copyright laws in all of the ways available to us. As you know, there is also Jack Valenti’s proposal for term to last forever less one day. Perhaps the Committee may look at that next Congress.

Wow. More via an Eldred-related site.