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posted by martyb on Wednesday March 17 2021, @06:44AM   Printer-friendly
from the still-crazy-world dept.

Adobe Goes After 27-Year Old 'Pirated' Copy of Acrobat Reader 1.0 for MS-DOS * TorrentFreak:

Today, there are many popular PDF readers available but Adobe’s original ‘Acrobat Reader’ is still the go-to software for many. Needless to say, Adobe doesn’t want third-parties to pirate its software, so the company regularly sends out DMCA notices to remove infringing copies.

[...] While this is totally understandable when it comes to newer releases, F-Secure researcher Mikko Hyppönen found out that Adobe’s takedown efforts go far beyond that.

In a recent tweet, Hyppönen mentioned that the software company removed one of his tweets that linked to an old copy of Acrobat Reader for MS-DOS. This software, hosted on WinWorld, came out more than 27-years ago, shortly after the PDF was invented.

The security researcher posted the tweet five years ago and at the time there were no issues. The message was copied a few weeks ago by his own Twitter bot, which reposts all his original tweets five years later.

“They sent a DMCA notice to my bot (@mikko__2016) when it posted that tweet on the tweet’s 5th anniversary. The original tweet is fine,” Hyppönen notes.

While the original tweet is still up, the reposted message was swiftly removed by Twitter. Not just that, the bot’s account was locked as well, which is standard practice nowadays.

Looking more closely at the takedown notice, we see that it was sent by the “brand protection analyst” at Incopro, which is one of Adobe’s anti-piracy partners. It doesn’t provide any further details on the reasons for taking it down, other than an alleged copyright infringement.


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  • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday March 17 2021, @08:27AM (8 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 17 2021, @08:27AM (#1125280) Journal

    I don't remember Adobe or PDFs from my DOS days. I didn't know that either one existed back then. Only after Windows 95 came out was I made aware of either.

    --
    ‘Never trust a man whose uncle was eaten by cannibals’
    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Arik on Wednesday March 17 2021, @09:54AM (7 children)

      by Arik (4543) on Wednesday March 17 2021, @09:54AM (#1125292) Journal
      You clearly weren't trying to read the latest pre-publications at the time.

      I remember spending many a late night hour trying to find a legit copy. Every BBS had at least one purported copy - almost all were renamed trojans.

      How incredibly difficult they made it to do the simplest thing - simply to extract readable text from a data file sent by a colleague.

      I don't want to be unfair to them. They did some real work; they deserve to be paid for it. Perhaps not by taxing every computing device ever made forever after, but they did deserve to make some money on it.

      It was related mostly to 'final layout' on paper. It had nothing whatsoever with what I was trying to do; just to get readable text on the screen.

      But even that early on, they had their copyright mafia business model. People love decorations! Lock the text behind the decorations. Tax every machine to read the text.

      In a thousand years people will still be shaking their heads in astonishment to think that their own ancestors allowed such antisocial behavior, encouraged it, incentivised it. Or else they'll still be paying tax to Adobe, and shaking their heads in wonder to think that their ancestors once lived without it!

      If there are any people still with heads to shake, that is.

      --
      If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17 2021, @10:30AM (6 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17 2021, @10:30AM (#1125299)
        > You clearly weren't trying to read the latest pre-publications at the time. Those were PostScript or Encapsulated PostScript, though, not PDF. I also remember that a coworker was publishing an electronic magazine for literature or poetry or something like that as a hobby. The files were distributed with the intention that they'd be printed out. The new issues were published as PostScript and available via FTP and were made availble irregularly as new material of sufficient quality accumulated. That could mean anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. I wish I could recall the stats, it was quite popular with each issue having (for the time) a very large number of downloads. I'm also rather certain that it was the first e-magazine.
        • (Score: 1) by Arik on Wednesday March 17 2021, @10:35AM (5 children)

          by Arik (4543) on Wednesday March 17 2021, @10:35AM (#1125301) Journal
          PS and EPS were pains. But there were docs and you could parse them with a text editor if you had to.

          PDF was subtly different, because the docs were incomplete and seemingly random bits would resist analysis as eps.
          --
          If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
          • (Score: 2) by PartTimeZombie on Wednesday March 17 2021, @10:21PM (4 children)

            by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Wednesday March 17 2021, @10:21PM (#1125567)

            PS and EPS were great, if you were using them for their intended purpose, which was to supply a non-editable file* to someone who would print it, safe in the knowledge that the file would render correctly on the device he was printing it to.

            Usually the file would be 4-colour separated documents printed onto film from which a printing plate would be made.

            PDF was Adobe's attempt to supplant PS and EPS with a file type that could be "soft-proofed" by the customer (which was stupid and didn't work) and then output to whatever device.

            Letting the rest of the world use PDFs came pretty soon after when Adobe thought they had invented a gold mine and could get the whole world buying copies of Acrobat. That did not quite work out for them, although they have made a lot of money.

            * Not really non-editable.

            • (Score: 2) by Arik on Wednesday March 17 2021, @10:27PM (3 children)

              by Arik (4543) on Wednesday March 17 2021, @10:27PM (#1125572) Journal
              "Not really non-editable."

              Yeah, not exactly the easiest thing to edit, but it certainly could be done.
              --
              If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
              • (Score: 2) by PartTimeZombie on Wednesday March 17 2021, @11:21PM (2 children)

                by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Wednesday March 17 2021, @11:21PM (#1125586)

                Didn't Quark Xpress edit EPS files? My memory is a bit hazy, but I think that's right.

                • (Score: 1) by Arik on Wednesday March 17 2021, @11:33PM (1 child)

                  by Arik (4543) on Wednesday March 17 2021, @11:33PM (#1125589) Journal
                  I don't know, I vaguely remember having to do it in a text editor a few times to fix buggy output though.
                  --
                  If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
  • (Score: 0, Disagree) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17 2021, @08:30AM (10 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17 2021, @08:30AM (#1125283)

    Since it has the right, fuck off you whiners!

    • (Score: 2) by inertnet on Wednesday March 17 2021, @10:25AM (7 children)

      by inertnet (4071) on Wednesday March 17 2021, @10:25AM (#1125298) Journal

      Is it really that simple? Does a company retain copyright over software that they have abandoned many years ago? Legally probably yes, but could that be challenged? Not that anybody would ever spend the energy to try that.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17 2021, @12:07PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17 2021, @12:07PM (#1125307)
        If you have abandoned it, you have abandoned it. If you don't support it, you should automatically lose the copyright. Three reported bugs not fixed in three months should meet the "three strikes and your out" criterion.

        False claims resulting in false take-downs should risk total loss of copyright

        Does the American legal system rule the world? If so, its time to bring out the gun boats*. We have had enough of imperialism.

        American lawyers asserting claims of jurisdiction in a foreign country should be treated as a declaration of war unless the American government publicly humiliates the offending company and jails a few company officers for risking/inciting war.

        * We have it on good authority that "nuking from high orbit" is the only way to be sure.

        Make America Sweat Again

        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17 2021, @05:40PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17 2021, @05:40PM (#1125418)

          If you have abandoned it, you have abandoned it. If you don't support it, you should automatically lose the copyright. Three reported bugs not fixed in three months should meet the "three strikes and your out" criterion.

          Oddly enough, copyright is still used for books. So if you find three typos in a text and it's not reprinted in three months it loses copyright?


          I suspect the correct answer is to treat software differently from books...
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18 2021, @02:23AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18 2021, @02:23AM (#1125639)

            The correct solution is to have a sane expiry date. Lifetime+70 years only really benefits large holding corporations that can expect to still be around 150 years from now. Seven years with a (paid) seven year extension sounds about right to me. That gives plenty of time for the creator to earn a living while also not depriving society of their own culture.

        • (Score: 2) by Arik on Wednesday March 17 2021, @10:34PM

          by Arik (4543) on Wednesday March 17 2021, @10:34PM (#1125574) Journal
          It's funny you're complaining about the US legal system when most of the real insanity of the current copyright system in the US actually entered via the Berne Convention, which the US didn't ratify until 1989, about a century after it started, and after virtually every other nation in the world had already adopted it.
          --
          If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by theluggage on Wednesday March 17 2021, @01:14PM

        by theluggage (1797) on Wednesday March 17 2021, @01:14PM (#1125327)

        Is it really that simple? Does a company retain copyright over software that they have abandoned many years ago?

        Yes. There is a time limit, but somehow that keeps getting extended every time it looks like Mickey Mouse is going to enter the public domain... So, in the case of software, anything not written by Ada Lovelace is probably still in copyright.

        That's not the issue here, though: Acrobat Reader was always freely available and ISTR you could even re-distribute it under certain conditions - so it's even plausible that the host was distributing it legally and, if not, it would be hard to argue that Adobe was suffering any significant loss. Even if there was a legal copyright case, it wouldn't be worth the cost (and bad PR) of pursuing. The problem is, the stupid DMCA allows large rights holders to trawl the nets with bots and send automated takedown notices to anything that their Artificial Idiocy system thinks might be infringing, at very little cost, and no realistic risk of penalties for getting it wrong - so no common sense enters into the process. When the recipient of that notice is someone like Tw@tbook, who will receive a truckload of them each day, they're not going to faff around checking it out or appealing each one - the post will just be deleted and, possibly, the account will be blocked for good measure.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by SomeGuy on Wednesday March 17 2021, @01:44PM

        by SomeGuy (5632) on Wednesday March 17 2021, @01:44PM (#1125338)

        Keep in mind that WinWorld is an on-line museum. The goal is to let visitors experience how computing technology used to work, how we got to where we are, why things are the way they are now, and preserving these bits so they are not lost to time.

        Removing content about this is about the same as removing a piece of history.

      • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Wednesday March 17 2021, @04:47PM

        by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 17 2021, @04:47PM (#1125405) Homepage Journal

        In Canada, I understand that you are permitted to make a copy of a copyrighted work if a reasonable effort to obtain a legitimate copy is unsuccessful.
        I don't know just what is meant by "reasonable", nor if the law has changed since I read that.

        -- hendrik

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17 2021, @12:35PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17 2021, @12:35PM (#1125314)

      did you not render a <sarcasm>here?</sarcasm>

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by Tork on Wednesday March 17 2021, @06:32PM

      by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 17 2021, @06:32PM (#1125440)
      You were aiming for parody, but instead you just announced you don't understand two topics.
      --
      🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by looorg on Wednesday March 17 2021, @01:16PM (4 children)

    by looorg (578) on Wednesday March 17 2021, @01:16PM (#1125329)

    So it's like the last good working version of Adobe Acrobat Reader then? Without all the bloat and shit in it -- no javascript, no forms, no connecting to the internet. It's the dream version, can't allow the users that experience.

    So can it still display modern PDF or are there some technical limitation here, such as memory usage. The program might just crash if you try and load a modern PDF file with all it's images and such.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by SomeGuy on Wednesday March 17 2021, @01:34PM (1 child)

      by SomeGuy (5632) on Wednesday March 17 2021, @01:34PM (#1125331)

      In my opinion, the last good version of Acrobat Reader was 5.0.5.

      Since you have obviously not had to deal with old versions, Adobe Acrobat and other PDF creator software usually generate PDF files that, for whatever dumb reason, claim to require the latest Acrobat Reader. This also has Adobe's desired effect of of breaking third party PDF readers.

      • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Thursday March 18 2021, @04:53AM

        by Reziac (2489) on Thursday March 18 2021, @04:53AM (#1125671) Homepage

        I'd say 6.0, as not significantly different in how it operates, but can handle the newer format PDFs (the only reason I wound up switching from 5.0 -- way too many it wouldn't open).

        --
        And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17 2021, @01:57PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17 2021, @01:57PM (#1125349)

      So can it still display modern PDF or are there some technical limitation here, such as memory usage. The program might just crash if you try and load a modern PDF file with all it's images and such.

      Ah, the fun that is the game of 'will or won't this fucking pdf open in Reader?' followed by 'will or won't this other piece of crap software open this pdf?'

      I've files which I can view on all the PCs, irrespective of which OS they run, and what software I use to view them..they'll open on the old 1st gen Ipad thing, but, try loading them on an android device....which is why the phone and tablet now have 5 different programs installed which, in theory, one of which can open some of the pdf files I get given...usually, and the phone is a Octa-core beastie with 6GB RAM, so it has the theoretical grunt to do the work, at least you'd think so....

      Based on that, I'd say any old DOS reader wouldn't stand much of a chance of rendering any modern pdf, ISTR early Windows implementations of Reader had issues with some image formats, royally borking them on-screen, these issues are probably why I have several thousand pdf format IC datasheets from back in the early-mid 90's where, for maximum compatibility, they opted for more or less fax quality bitmaps in the majority of the files, they're painful to view on a modern machine , but dread inertia about replacing them with better copies has meant they've been lurking on one file-server after another since '97..

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17 2021, @09:37PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17 2021, @09:37PM (#1125546)

      Not long after Reader 1.0 for MS-DOS came out, Adobe added a binary compressed format to PDF, obsoleting 1.0 and orphaning MS-DOS users.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17 2021, @01:36PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17 2021, @01:36PM (#1125333)

    If people re-discover how small and light the 27-year old version was, and start to *gasp* demand better from Adobe, that will be simply unacceptable.

    The Mac version of the latest Adobe reader is a 193MB download. I haven't bothered to unpack or install it, as I don't want adobe's malware on my machine but I'd expect the final app to be much larger. Mac's preview application clocks in at 10.8MB and can do pretty much all you need, including annotations, markup, signatures and more with PDFs. On windows, Sumatra comes in at 6.6MB. WTF is adobe cramming in there? A docker runtime and an entire OS inside?

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by shortscreen on Wednesday March 17 2021, @04:46PM (1 child)

    by shortscreen (2252) on Wednesday March 17 2021, @04:46PM (#1125404) Journal

    Did Acrobat Reader 1.0 require a paid license? I have an install of version 4.0 hanging around, which I'm sure was a free download at the time. Suprisingly it can still open some recently created PDFs.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by FatPhil on Wednesday March 17 2021, @08:56PM

      by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Wednesday March 17 2021, @08:56PM (#1125522) Homepage
      You remember correctly. That was their method of expanding adoption. In the early days it would be on every cover CD. I can't remember whether it was free to distribute, but it was certainly free to use. And given that passing it on would advance the distribution they were themselves attempting, I can't imagine they put that blockage in the way of their own benefit. However, Adobe's Adobe, don't expect sense.
      --
      Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
  • (Score: 5, Informative) by DannyB on Wednesday March 17 2021, @07:05PM (2 children)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 17 2021, @07:05PM (#1125454) Journal

    How many remember Apple's TrueType font and why it was created? Adobe's abusive monopolistic control of its Type 1 fonts and rendering engine was why Apple created TrueType. Microsoft immediately jumped on board with TrueType. Licensing from Apple was basically a no-brainer compared to dealing with Adobe. One key contention was that Adobe would not publish how it's Type 1 font hinting worked for rasterizing outline fonts onto a small grid, such as 9-point fonts. As I remember it, Adobe then published this, but then realized this destroyed their monopoly, and wanted a "do over" so they could keep licensing. Of course, that was too late. I remember Adobe eventually caving to fully describe Postscript, the fonts, etc, in published books. My recollection of this may be a bit fuzzy because it was so long ago.

    One thing that was much more recent and I remember more vividly was Dmitry Sklyarov. [wikipedia.org] circa 2001. In a nutshell: Adobe sells an e-book locking mechanism to publishers so only authorized users can read the e-book, preventing "piracy" (omg!). Dimitry arrives in US to speak at event in Las Vegas revealing how astonishingly insecure Adobe's e-book locking mechanism is and how easy to bypass it is. Adobe sicks the FIB on Dimitry. He was arrested. His passport is seized, he can't return to Russia to his wife and six month old child. Wow he must have committed some kind of crime.

    It wasn't Dimitry's fault Adobe's system was so trivially insecure. (Not unlike Microsoft in this same time period, circa 2001.) Maybe the American Publishers Association who supported Adobe's arrest of Dimitry should instead have been pissed off at Adobe for selling them such a shoddy security mechanism. This was one of the early tragedies of the then new DMCA. (draconian monsterous copyright abomination)

    --
    The most difficult part of the art of fencing is digging the holes and carrying the fence posts.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18 2021, @02:31AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18 2021, @02:31AM (#1125642)

      You misremember a bit. The warrant was because he wrote a utility that allowed Russian citizens in Russia to back up copy protected e-books in compliance with Russian law.

      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday March 18 2021, @01:56PM

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 18 2021, @01:56PM (#1125762) Journal

        Now that you mention it, I do remember that. But what he came to Las Vegas to do was to give a talk about how weak Adobe's product was.

        --
        The most difficult part of the art of fencing is digging the holes and carrying the fence posts.
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