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169 comments

Just say it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36337168)

You want to muscle control over the information and keep as much money for yourself as you can.

Re:Just say it... (2)

ghbpiper (701001) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337302)

And you don't want to have to compete on SERVICE, only features. Much harder to compete if the protocol is open, and consumers have actual CHOICE. In the end openness could make for a better product, but only if Skype is up to the task.

OH NOES!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36338034)

Remember the day before there was skype? Yeah.. people actually *CHOSE* their product and then it snowballed into where they are at now. While its true that having an open protocol would be beneficial for the consumer, don't forget that skype actually made the protocol/product worth using.

Any fool can create a voip protocol. It takes something else to make it popular. As usual open source people want to copy existing successful proprietary products (hint: unix) and expect established companies to just roll out the red carpet. Why don't these nerds make their own open protocol which is better than what skype uses and make it popular? Yeah.. much harder ;-)

Re:Just say it... (3, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#36338270)

Riiiight, and if the protocol was completely open like SIP we wouldn't have the problems with Robodialers like SIP because? The problem with mass communication protocols is there are plenty of assholes in legal nowherelands that can and WILL use anything and everything they can get their slimy hands on to hack, harass, spam, and generally act like giant fucking douchebags without regards to anyone but themselves.

One should never forget the universal truth that is Gabriel's Greater Internet Theory [penny-arcade.com] and then add in the ones that would be acting like douchebags because they could make money doing so ON TOP of the ones just being dicks for the sheer fun of being a fucktwit? It would be a damned mess and you KNOW this. The reason why everyone uses Skype is that it "just works" without having to worry about your video chat window suddenly popping up with someone's junk in it or getting called every two seconds from some automated voice trying to sell you herbal Viagra. While I think FOSS is fine in some places, in others it would be a BAD idea, and I'd say this here is one of the latter.

Re:Just say it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36338490)

Or just, I dunno, secure it? Certificates, decentralized servers. You wanna be managed, be my guest. It's all in the execution. If someone's skypey clone is vulnerable people won't use it and they will have to either fix it or it dies.

Skype on Linux (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36337184)

Perhaps if Skype's Linux client had been better maintained and offered a feature parity to the Windows and Mac OS X clients, there wouldn't be people spending time on reverse-engineering the protocol so that they could write their own client.

Or, maybe, there are just a lot of Linux users who hate proprietary software, and don't trust Skype. Skype uses a lot of anti-debugging techniques. What are they hiding?

Re:Skype on Linux (0, Troll)

Bizzeh (851225) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337300)

they wrote the protocol, they wrote the application, they wrote their own audio and video codecs for a/v transmission. what does this have to do with linux, open source or anything outside of skype themselves. they own what they wrote, and its theirs to do with as they please and restrict how they see fit.

loads of people on here bang on about freedom, but all that they want to do is re-apropriate freedom.. they want to take freedom away from those who already have it and give it to those who dont. seems hypocrytical to me

Re:Skype on Linux (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337332)

If you don't understand the problem we have with that, then I suggest you imagine that the first telecom company kept their protocols private, locking everybody in!

Re:Skype on Linux (2)

Bizzeh (851225) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337428)

someone else would have been free to create a competitor network and service, and would also have been free to open their protocol, making it popular in its own way, eventually taking over and shutting down the popularity of the original network... rather than the original network having their freedom stripped from them, just so others can cash in in the game

Re:Skype on Linux (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36337520)

To get into some games you have to BE the big player or you can't get off the ground. Things have changed in some circustances because of court rullings. Either companies were broken up or required to do something which allowed others to get in the game. I think AOL IM was like that.

Re:Skype on Linux (2)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#36338150)

In the case of telephone communications it was the government who helped break the AT&T strangle hold on that industry. They basically broke the company up and AT&T was required by decree to provide access to their communication infrastructure. This allowed new companies into the market because they didn't have to spend the enormous amount of money it would have taken to build their own infrastructure.

Re:Skype on Linux (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337628)

Are you serious???

Come on, take for example Twitter. Being the first big player in this field, it was easy for them to get "customers".
However, their service could be much better when it would be open. Like e-mail is open. For instance, if the protocal was open, no single company would have had insight into all the messages being sent around, and that's a huge plus from a privacy standpoint. Skype is in a similar position.

But I guess, being the first is what counts. It started with plain old "land". And now it extends to patents (IP) and protocols.

Re:Skype on Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36337954)

Exactly. To make the Twitter example more concrete the OpenMicroBlogging [wikimedia.org] protocol and Identi.ca [wikimedia.org] service exist, but they are much, much less popular than Twitter purely due to the fact that they cannot beat Twitter's network effects.

Re:Skype on Linux (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 2 years ago | (#36338010)

However, their service could be much better when it would be open. Like e-mail is open.

You picked a rather lousy example of 'open.' Email is so open that it's a spam center and that makes it significantly less useful than it could be. Twitter probably wouldn't even have come into existence if people could rely on email as being more secure and spam-free.

Re:Skype on Linux (1)

blackest_k (761565) | more than 2 years ago | (#36338402)

is twitter more secure and spam free?

possibly true about more secure but there is spam. which kind of torpedo's your argument.

Re:Skype on Linux (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36338414)

"Twitter probably wouldn't even have come into existence if people could rely on email as being more secure and spam-free."

Twitter is spam-only you moron!

Re:Skype on Linux (4, Insightful)

Intron (870560) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337446)

imagine that the first telecom company kept their protocols private, locking everybody in!

Umm. They did. You never heard of A. G. Bell's little company? Subject of an antitrust suit back in the 70's? Name of AT&T?

Of course, like the T-1000, the Baby Bells are slowly coalescing back into the monster.

Re:Skype on Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36337378)

they own what they wrote, and its theirs to do with as they please and restrict how they see fit.

Yes, they are. And the other guy that writes a completely separate program which just happens to interact with Skype's property? That belongs to the other guy, and he's free to do what he pleases with it.

Re:Skype on Linux (2, Insightful)

Bizzeh (851225) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337444)

hes free to do with his program as he pleases, but not free to use the skype protocol as he pleases. skype own the protocol and the network that app connects too and its their protocol and network to do with as they wish. if they want to keep it closed, that is their own choice.

Re:Skype on Linux (4, Insightful)

djlowe (41723) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337766)

hes free to do with his program as he pleases, but not free to use the skype protocol as he pleases. skype own the protocol and the network that app connects too and its their protocol and network to do with as they wish. if they want to keep it closed, that is their own choice.

1. So long as he reverse-engineered Skype's protocol cleanly (i.e. he didn't have access to Skype source code directly, nor was given it by third parties), then he is, in the US at least, free to do with his implementation as he wishes.

In the US, this has historical precedent, going back to Compaq's original "clean room" reverse-engineering of IBM's BIOS for the original IBM PC, which was, for those that don't remember, what made IBM-compatible computers possible in the first place.

2. Skype is, of course, free to alter their protocol, so as to prevent his implementation from working in the future.

3. Skype's "network" isn't theirs: It leverages the Internet, after all, and so there's *no* way that they could possibly claim it to be a discrete network. In order for it to be so, they'd have to implement a completely separate world-spanning network that was physically isolated from the Internet.

Since we all know that such isn't the case now, your point in that regard is completely invalid.

Certainly, they own their servers, but those are also connected to the Internet at large. However, given the fact that they also leverage users' computers in a "P2P way", this reinforces my point that it isn't "their" network.

Yes, they are free to try keep their protocol closed, but in light of this, their best approach in my opinion is to open it: They have sufficient presence on the Internet now that doing so would only benefit them, I think.

They could become a permanent standard by doing so and have a permanent presence/place on the Internet, now and in the future and probably would, if they chose to do so.

Regards,

dj

Re:Skype on Linux (2)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337808)

You forget that they have been bought by MS. I'd assume that all of their decisions until the actual takeover will be predicated on what they think MS would want (if not based on MS execs outright telling them what they want). Open ain't gonna happen.

Re:Skype on Linux (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 2 years ago | (#36338284)

I bet in the future Skype will be bundled with Windows, and Microsoft will open their own phone company thing.

Re:Skype on Linux (2)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 2 years ago | (#36338434)

"... he didn't have access to Skype source code directly, nor was given it by third parties), ..." ...and it's pure coincidence that it happened shortly after MS acquired Skype.

Re:Skype on Linux (2)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 2 years ago | (#36338548)

Well I would disagree about #3. It is "Their" network. The assumption I make when I install the Skype software is that I will be interacting in a P2P network with other Skype software users.

As the PR guy points out this allows Skype to better ensure the clients are legitimate users. It's a lot easier to spoof accounts, spam thousands of users etc. when there is no API and only a GUI interface. For instance I've never once received a spam message on Skype. I get at least one a month on other open messaging services.

If I'm a P2P hub/server then I expect that I'm facilitating skype services which I use not some spammer.

Similarly Skype also has "their" physical servers. And if they only want to use their bandwidth to facilitate customers who are seeing their ads then they should be legally able to refuse service to non-customers. They can no longer do that since they can't tell the difference between a non-customer reverse engineered client and a legacy client.

So I would say this is a different situation from something like BIOS reverse engineering in that this isn't to facilitate someone to setup a parallel and independent competing product based on the specs, it's going to be using people and Skype's computers and bandwidth to facilitate a network which might be behaving differently from what they agreed to when downloading the Skype software.

Re:Skype on Linux (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337780)

How do they own the protocol? They clearly have copyright over the implementations of client and server and so forth that they have written, and they may hold certain patents related to the protocol(but, if so, they haven't mentioned that fact, and the protocol's secrecy so far suggests that they didn't go down the "disclosure in exchange for limited exclusivity" path of patents). In what sense is it "property"?

Re:Skype on Linux (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 2 years ago | (#36338032)

In the sense that they can and it sounds like they will be actively working to break third-party connectivity. When a protocol is unpublished and hence proprietary, that's what an entity gets to do. If it works for them, and doesn't explode in their face. Which we all hope it will.

But howling with fury at the way things stand is not a productive use of time.

Re:Skype on Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36337522)

Ah, the old, 'You want to redistribute the wealth!' Beckism. Go back to frothing over your hero Glenn. You don't understand the issue.

Re:Skype on Linux (4, Informative)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337526)

its theirs to do with as they please and restrict how they see fit.

To an extent, perhaps. In terms of the code comprising the software, their rights exist today solely because of copyright; it is the rights granted to them by the law of copyright which establishes what they have. Indeed, copyright works by establishing a right over a fixed expression, and making that right a property right - a right of personalty. However, unlike the majority of the personalty rights, a property right of copyright is for a temporary (if legislatively extensible) period, and only reserves the performance of certain acts to the holder. Acts which do not fall within these reserved rights are outside the scope of the copyright limitations, although an owner might attempt to increase the scope of restrictions by virtue of contract - although this is only effective in the situation where the person in question agrees to be bound by those additional limitations.

Personalty through copyright, then, is not absolute - it is a restricted, time-limited right. Within the scope of the reserved rights, they are, subject to the below, free to do with it what they wish. If they wish to restrict things more widely than their rights under copyright, they need to establish a basis for those restrictions, with contract being the most likely option. Alternatively, they might look to other forms of intellectual property right, to gain additional coverage - for example, a patent covering certain aspects of functionality - or quasi rights, such as trade secret.

Not only are the ownership rights not absolute, one might also view them as Swiss cheese - full of holes, with the cheese representing the rights reserved to the owner, and the holes acts which can still be undertaken. (One could view carve-outs to reserved rights as simply areas not covered by the reserved rights in the first place, but, that's rather an academic issue here.) Under European law, for example, there is a right to study the operation of the computer program for the purpose of determining the ideas and principles which underlie the program (Art. 5(3), directive 2009/24/EC). Similarly, a licensor of a computer program has a right to reproduce and translate (acts which are otherwise reserved) relevant parts of that computer program, where such actions are indispensable to obtain the information necessary to achieve the interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs - Art. 6(1), dir. 2009/24/EC.*

Whether there is the equivalent of these rights under US law, I am not sure, although I'm sure someone with greater knowledge of US copyright law could assist here. Similarly, I've not paid much attention to the subject of the piece, in terms of determining which jurisdictions might be applicable...

Outside the scope of copyright law, one might also look into the regulatory framework of communications services, to determine that, whilst a network might be created by someone, it does not mean that their rights are unlimited, nor that they can not be mandated to provide interoperability. Again within Europe, see, for example, Art. 12(1)(e) of directive 2002/19/EC, which provides that, amongst other things, a national regulatory authority may require an operator to grant open access to technical interfaces, protocols or other key technologies that are indispensable for the interoperability of services, or, by virtue of Art. 12(1)(g), to mandate an operator to provide specified services needed to ensure interoperability, thus taking the obligation further than merely provision of interface information.

There's nothing to suggest that a regulator has imposed such obligations on Skype**, nor that it is obligations of this nature at issue here, but it supports the point that, whilst intellectual property might grant some rights, they are not limitless, and, whilst, by definition, the rights are exclusionary, the scope of the exclusionary effect is regulated. Intellectual property exists as a matter of public benefit, and so it is appropriate that these rights are limited where the impact of the rights would be contrary to public benefit - or, at least, that the detriment outweighs the benefit. Similarly, the regulatory environment recognises the importance of competition, hence the ability to impose obligations on regulated entities to require them to open up their services.

All in all, perhaps a long-winded way of saying "perhaps their rights are more limited than they might first seem."

* There is an argument as to whether a licence which restricts use of a program to those users who will not reverse-engineer the program would have the effect of overriding this carve-out. On the one hand, the reference to "licensee" within the text of Art 6(1) and "person having a right to use ... the program" is Art. 5(3) would seem to imply that the owner of the copyright in the program has a degree of power in respect of this, but, on the other, since these rights (studying, and decompilation) are outside the scope of the owner's reserved rights, and the policy objective of having such exceptions fails to be achieved if an owner can simply assert such rights indirectly, by virtue of restricting the scope of a licence, there is a good argument that such rights cannot be excluded in this way.

** One might consider whether Skype could fall within the scope of regulation of the European framework, which is based on a definition of "electronic communications service" - if it does not, then Art. 12 obligations cannot be applied to Skype. The issue is a rather contentious one, since the wording of the definition is insufficiently clear, and, throughout the wider regulatory / online package in Europe, definitions and recitals appear to contradict each other as to what might constitute an electronic communications service, and what might constitute an information society service, the latter being outside the scope of the communications regulatory framework.

Re:Skype on Linux (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337570)

Skype 'owns' nothing... They were granted the privilege of exclusivity by a third party that represents their interests while, at the same time, falsely claiming to represent the interests of the general public.

Re:Skype on Linux (2)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337788)

Allow me to introduce you to a magical concept known as utilitarianism: that which produces the most good for the most people is good. Open protocols are utilitarian. Closed protocols are the anti-thesis of utilitarian.

Re:Skype on Linux (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36338478)

they want to take freedom away from those who already have it

Bullshit. Allowing people to reverse engineer a protocol does not take anyone's freedom away. The DMCA is shit legislation and never should have passed. Hackers should not automatically be become criminals just because they want to see how something works. Fine, restrict how the source code is distributed, but if I want to take something and reverse engineer it, goddammit, that's my fucking right.

Re:Skype on Linux (1, Insightful)

calzakk (1455889) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337382)

Maybe they're not hiding anything, maybe they're just trying to protect their proprietary software. After all, they are a business just trying to make money.

Re:Skype on Linux (5, Insightful)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337892)

Maybe they're not hiding anything, maybe they're just trying to protect their proprietary software. After all, they are a business just trying to make money.

They've been hiding their protocols. These are not protected by patent (which would involve publishing them, assuming they were patentable). Their implementation is probably protected by copyright, but a competing implementation is unlikely to infringe that copyright, unless it is a "slavish" copy. There does not seem to be a trademark issue in play. Conclusion: it looks like they are merely trying to protect a trade secret which has been uncovered by reverse engineering. Note that reverse engineering to uncover secret methods is entirely legitimate.

So yes, Skype is trying to preserve its revenue stream, which is secured only by secrecy of the protocols used by the proprietary Skype software. These protocols have now been made rather less secret, and apparently by legally acceptable means. So let's all say to Skype: "good luck with that".

Re:Skype on Linux (4, Informative)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 2 years ago | (#36338394)

So yes, Skype is trying to preserve its revenue stream, which is secured only by secrecy of the protocols used by the proprietary Skype software.

Not at all. Afaik, their revenue stream comes from upsell services tied to POTS interfacing and voicemail. Just because you know the client protocol does not mean you can access those services for free; they're tied to account balances that Skype maintains outside of the client connectivity.

Re:Skype on Linux (1)

theguyfromsaturn (802938) | more than 2 years ago | (#36338522)

Exactly. I pay Skype to access phone lines at a competitive rate. If another client lets me connect to their service I still need to pay them to access that service. However, if they change protocol to defeat another client, and if they do not upgrade their linux client accordingly, then they force me as a paying customer to abandon the service. Hence, Skype itself is endangering their revenue stream, not the reverse engineered client.

Bad business (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#36338064)

If your business model is shot by having your wire protocol well understood, your business model is crap. Based on my admittedly low knowledge of Skype, I don't understand how third party clients can threaten them, since the client is free, not ad-supported, and they charge for access to services, unless they enforce those business policies client-side, which brings us to point two...

If your protocol being understood opens the door to unauthorized access to your premium services and phishing and other security threats, your protocol is crap. The term in the industry is security through obscurity, with well deserved disdain.

Re:Skype on Linux (1)

nature_geek (1280632) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337606)

I agree. I've been using Skype on Linux for about 5 years now and as the client features for Windows and Mac continue to get better and better, the client for Linux has been completely stagnant. Skype 5.3 for Windows and Linux is still stuck at 2.2 (Beta). Awesome guys, thanks for the support. I guess the Linux community has finally become tired of cripple-ware and have decided to take matters into their own hands. Good on them.

Re:Skype on Linux (2)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337644)

Granted I've never used the Linux client, but the Windows client has only been getting worse and worse. It's pretty much the definition of bloat, consuming 100MB RAM currently and not being any more capable than I remember 3 versions ago.

Re:Skype on Linux (1)

calzakk (1455889) | more than 2 years ago | (#36338160)

From a business perspective, there's probably very little to gain from supporting Linux. It's like the gaming industry; how many gamers have an Xbox, a Playstation, a Windows PC, or a Linux PC?

When (if?) Linux finally gains a notable share of the PC market, companies will start to support it, provided it's worth their while. Until then, you've just got to accept that it's a largely neglected platform, and why reverse engineering of protocols is often the only way you can have your own decent client instead of the neglected crap you're forced to use.

Re:Skype on Linux (1)

salesgeek (263995) | more than 2 years ago | (#36338502)

Most of the stuff we are missing on Linux is screensharing and multi-participant video conferencing. Would be nice to have those features, but really, the Windows client is a hog, and it's so poorly written that you can't run it in a Windows virtual machine.

Re:Skype on Linux (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36338562)

If it makes you feel better, there's nothing "better" about the new version of the Mac Skype client. I have actually refused to upgrade from 2.8 because version 5 is such of piece shit. I don't even know how Windows users can tolerate it. You really don't want that garbage on your Linux box.

Re:Skype on Linux (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337650)

Rather obvious: Skype very likely has an eavesdropping interface hidden in there and has deals with at least the NSA. Nobody in their right mind uses Skype for confidential calls.

Re:Skype on Linux (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36337782)

Only obvious if you're a retarded lunatic. What is it with you idiots and conspiracy theories?

Re:Skype on Linux (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36337870)

The Civilian Assistance to Law Enforcement Act mandates that all telecommunications service providers install and maintain back doors into their systems for the express purpose of enabling Federal law enforcement to intercept private communications. If you want your phone calls to be "off the record" you have to use VOIP and encrypt your traffic. If a closed source proprietary VOIP provider offers encryption, they are directly obstructing law enforcement agencies in the execution of their lawfully authorized surveillance activities. There is no question that Skype has been requested to provide back doors into their "secure" proprietary protocol - unless of course it has always been trivial snake oil crypto, always a strong probability with closed source commercial products.

Of course, the parent poster already knows all the answers, and we are lucky that he took a moment away from licking the boots of his beloved owners to favor us with words of wisdom.

Re:Skype on Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36337852)

Such an interface would not be revealed via reverse engineering. On the contrary, such an interface is most likely in the client and is activated remotely. It has nothing to do with the actual protocol

On the other hand, if you "confidential calls" are so confidential that you are worried about NSA, then I think you have more to worry about than simply someone eavesdropping on your conversation.

Skype Skype (1, Interesting)

freeasinrealale (928218) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337194)

Since 'skype' is Britishism for obtaining by nefarious means skyping Skype seems rather appropriate.

Re:Skype Skype (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36337396)

I'm British, I have friends all over the country and no-one has ever used or heard this term being used as you describe it. I think you've either mixed Britain up with a very small regional part of Britain or have the wrong word.

Re:Skype Skype (1)

Boogaroo (604901) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337620)

He is probably thinking of "swipe."
It's still in use even in kids shows. Example: Swiper the fox: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=swiper+no+swiping&aq=0&oq=swiper+no [youtube.com]

Re:Skype Skype (1)

Windwraith (932426) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337978)

Swiper no swip...!!! ... ...oh... ... ...wait...
*retreats in shame for quoting a kiddy show*
(It's not my fault! It makes sense when stoned! Honest!)

Re:Skype Skype (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36338506)

I'm not ashamed to say I have seen the show, as I am a parent of young children. If I was in a mentally altered state, that show would freak me out.

Dora asks the viewer what their favourite part of the story was, and then she and the monkey STARE at you in complete silence. I usually expect her head to start slowly rotating, and that's while sober.

Re:Skype Skype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36338808)

I'm British, I have friends all over the country and no-one has ever used or heard this term being used as you describe it. I think you've either mixed Britain up with a very small regional part of Britain or have the wrong word.

Maybe he got confused with skiving?

Re:Skype Skype (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36338834)

I'm British, I have friends all over the country and no-one has ever used or heard this term being used as you describe it. I think you've either mixed Britain up with a very small regional part of Britain or have the wrong word.

Next you're going to tell me you don't drink tea, or have bad teeth.

Wait. (2)

drolli (522659) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337196)

Openly admitting your security is based on obscurity sounds a little strange IMHO.

Instead of using a secret protocol, plainly give out the necessary certifiates only via email and kill them off after abuse. Especially since everybody can use the Skpe API to spam if he wants.

Re:Wait. (1)

Idbar (1034346) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337252)

Well, that's why trade secrets are not protected. If you want to protect them, you open them and patent them. Since the people trying to reverse engineering their protocol have no "non-disclosure agreements", I don't see how this may be protected by IP law. Then again IANAL so perhaps they can cover their asses with the Terms of Use and licensing agreements for the software. But AFAIK reverse engineering stuff should be fair.

Re:Wait. (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 2 years ago | (#36338828)

Maybe properly define reverse engineering in the copyright law so that not everything is allowed? Though using the reverse engineered protocol implantation to access the original service is perfectly legal under most copyright laws.

Re:Wait. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36337308)

If I can find my old skype spammer I should release it just for the lulz. Like you said you don't have to reverse engineer the protocol to spam.

Re:Wait. (1)

BSsci.Daemonology (2058350) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337344)

I agree with the fact that security through obscurity is never a good stance, however I do recall reading an article either in Linux Pro Magazine or a similar print publication several years back that an outside security researcher was given access to Skype's source and his conclusion was that the protocol was indeed secure. In this case, I believe the company just doesn't want others seeing into their product. Myself, I'm not giving any opinion as to what I think about reverse-engineering it, just wanted to put that out there. Apologies that I cannot cite the source offhand.

Re:Wait. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36337418)

Security only through obscurity is a bad idea. Obscurity is an excellent part of a well-balanced security system, however.

Re:Wait. (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337836)

Obscurity keeps Joe Derp from breaking into your system on accident. Obscurity does nothing for motivated attackers. Since security is all about time-until-breakage, and obscurity at best adds time on linearly (admittedly, this is hard to measure) compared to the exponential gains provided by properly implemented cryptographic protocols the only reason to rely on obscurity is if you're a water headed moron who thinks it makes a difference because you can't imagine a mindset other than your own (i.e. the mindset of the attacker). Of course, that probably describes the majority of humans alive today.

Put another way, obscurity takes a few days (for any widely used system; for evidence see the rate of DRM cracking on video games, movies, and music) of dedicated effort to bypass. Properly implemented cryptography takes billions of years of dedicated effort to bypass. Obscurity only adds hassle for legitimate users. It does virtually nothing to slow down dedicated attackers.

Inigo Montoya moment (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36337202)

"who said ... that it's an infringement of their IP"

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Re:Inigo Montoya moment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36337306)

Since "intellectual property" is a oxymoron, describing something physically impossible to morons (who else would believe it?), and "IP" is already reserved for "internet protocol", I agree.

Reality dominance. Most people don't even acknowledge its existence, since they fear they'd lose their rigid little "reality" they blindly trusted their whole life, and won't know what to do anymore if they can't hallucinate about it being a "absolute reality"
Which makes life for us social engineers and those delusional criminals way too easy. Because if you manage to change their (perception) of realty, they will stand behind it with all their heart, and defend your engineered reality to their death. ;)

It's sad though, that so few use that power for win-win results. Instead of only for themselves. It's as if they couldn't think around the next corner, and how being good to your cattle, will be good for you too.

Re:Inigo Montoya moment (1)

sco08y (615665) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337504)

Since "intellectual property" is a oxymoron, describing something physically impossible to morons (who else would believe it?), and "IP" is already reserved for "internet protocol", I agree.

Copyright, to take just one form of IP, has a legal history going back at least 300 years. You may not like lawyers but when you dismiss them as "morons," you're operating on the same level as the guy who thought he could get out of paying taxes because the IRS had capitalized his name.

Re:Inigo Montoya moment (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 2 years ago | (#36338334)

Copyright, to take just one form of IP, has a legal history going back at least 300 years.

Only by retcon. "Intellectual property" is a fairly new confusion, meant to obscure the distinctions between copyright, patent, and trademark. IP does not have a 300 year history.

usable now? (2)

Gravis Zero (934156) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337206)

i think it's completely possible that this could be a good thing for skype. i've always found there client to be bloated and annoying and worst of all ,the linux port is trash.

this could be fantastic... or we may end up with a lot of halfassed clients.

Spam/phishing is just an excuse (5, Insightful)

MtHuurne (602934) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337258)

If a spammer or phisher would reverse engineer a protocol, it's very unlikely they would publish about it, since that would help their competition. It is possible that spammers or phishers will use the results of reverse engineering of course, but if your protection against malicious activities consists of a secret protocol then you should consider implementing real security instead of blaming the reverse engineering.

In any case it's clear that Skype doesn't want third party clients to interoperate with their own, so instead of getting into a cat and mouse game it would be more useful to improve existing open source VOIP clients so Skype can be replaced altogether.

What are you talking about? (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337584)

instead of getting into a cat and mouse game it would be more useful to improve existing open source VOIP clients so Skype can be replaced altogether.

I find it hard to understand why people use skype at all when there are plenty of good voip providers. Skype has completely random call quality/ you never iknow if a connection will be fine or sound like it in an echo chamber or have a buzz. You can get excellent voip service for $5 to $10 /month. Indeed Ooma offers FREE service (but requires you to purchase a $130 appliance and pay the E911). Ooma's quality is excellent their service is responsive and it keeps getting better (HD voice now available for ooma-to-ooma).

There are lots of quality VOIP providers. Why would anyone put up with low quality skype?

Re:What are you talking about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36337730)

Skype just works. Yes I would rather use SIP but try getting your non-technical friend to configure STUN server addresses etc. etc.

Re:What are you talking about? (3)

arikol (728226) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337784)

I use Mac and Linux, my in-laws and some of my contacts use Windows.
Give me a client that reliably (well, as reliably as Skype, anyway) works on these platforms (iOS would also be nice, as both I and the missus use that as well) and is simple enough to install and start for my in-laws, my parents, and the others I want to contact.
Google chat should work, but is seriously confusing to beginners, and they want a standalone client anyway.

When you can point me to that VOIP client, then I'll consider dumping Skype.
Until the, Skype is king.

Re:What are you talking about? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36338084)

This. My family lives on 3 different continents. Many years ago someone sent an email round telling everyone to download Skype. We all made accounts and it just worked. It still does. Sometimes the quality is quite good too. Last year I was visiting one set of family and tried almost every client on wikipedia's List of SIP software. Spent like 5 hours and couldn't get any to work reliably - whether it was their hardware or ISP or whatever, I dunno. But I didn't spend $2000 to go across the world and waste time, so we just gave up. I dislike proprietary software as much as the next guy but until I can afford a proper ISP and have the time to experiment with the latest developments and SIP servers, it's Skype for me and the people I talk to.

Re:What are you talking about? (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36338674)

I use Skype primarily as an IM client with good group chat capabilities. I also do a lot of conference calls and yeah, call quality can be hit and miss, but no other service that I'm aware of combines video, text (one to one and conference), voice, and screensharing as well. And for free. I would definitely NOT use Skype if all I wanted was to make phone calls. I must prefer having a dedicated VoIP hardware device. I wouldn't want to be forced to be at my computer or have my computer on to make calls even if Skype was a good VoIP service.

Re:Spam/phishing is just an excuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36337624)

instead of getting into a cat and mouse game it would be more useful to improve existing open source VOIP clients

You mean improve them so that they work with the most popular VOIP network?

Re:Spam/phishing is just an excuse (3, Insightful)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337904)

it would be more useful to improve existing open source VOIP clients so Skype can be replaced altogether.

As you know, for performing a telephone call, you need 2 ends. Try convincing the other end to install your open-source VOIP client of choice!

That's the problem!

IMHO, a much better approach against such lock-in would be to first develop an open-source binary compatibility layer inside web-browsers, like google is doing with native client (NaCl). That way, you could make a phone call by asking the other party to visit a website (assuming you have written your phone client software for that binary compatibility layer of course).

Re:Spam/phishing is just an excuse (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36338632)

Have you ever been in spammer forums? They exchange methods all the time. In fact, it is kind of surreal how they talk about it like it was just another day at the office. Like bypassing captchas to post pharmaceutical ads in blog comments. Dunno how they sleep at night.

If Skype really cared about spam or phishing... (4, Insightful)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337304)

Why do I keep getting the same inane message from "Natalia", posted from various temporary accounts? I've blocked every account it's come from; I'm sure many have. Is Skype really too slow to get the hint? Jesus, make the spammers work a bit to change a word here and there! It's shocking to me how little Skype cares about spam and phishing in their network. My point is, you can do all the spam and phishing you want with the native client, because Skype apparently does nothing to stop even the clumsiest of spammers who know how to solve a capcha. So their alleged interest to protect their users was conveniently discovered when the possibility of competition suddenly arose.

Re:If Skype really cared about spam or phishing... (2)

luke923 (778953) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337426)

Ironically enough, that's the reason I stopped using Skype altogether; yet, an alternative client which did a better job of blocking spammers would bring me back.

Re:If Skype really cared about spam or phishing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36337794)

Odd. I've NEVER been spammed on Skype, let alone phished. I've gotten a few here and there on AIM, but never Skype. I'm not saying that I doubt that you've been spammed—I'm sure it must happen. I just wonder what conditions whether someone gets spammed or not on a network like Skype.

- Does it matter what language one puts in the profile? Mine's not set to English—forsitan molestis praeconiis saepius vexentur qui aperte confiteantur se Anglice loqui.
- Does it matter if information is left blank? Do people with longer profiles get spammed, while those with shorter or blank profiles avoid it?
- Does it matter if you have a larger circle of fiends? Do spammers simply troll the account database, or do they find friends-of-friends and follow the social graph?

Re:If Skype really cared about spam or phishing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36338146)

Am I missing something here? I used to get spammed a bit, but then I just went to the options page and selected "Allow calls/chats from my contacts only", and I've never been spammed again since then. Or is the GP talking about spammers trying to add you? That's never happened to me either. Why would you want to talk to some random guy you don't know anyway?

Not surprising (2)

mmcuh (1088773) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337318)

So Skype's PR people are morons. No surprise there, PR people are usually the bullshitters who couldn't make it as politicians.

Typical response (1)

Chewbacon (797801) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337406)

..."Criminals reverse engineered our stuff to commit crimes against innocent people." Whatever, I get phishing messages on Skype regularly.

Skype is bugged (1)

Dunge (922521) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337476)

No doubt they managed to reverse engineer the protocol. I wanted to use skype the other day and found 4 different bugs just on the website and installing the application. --- You only have 1 try for password guess before you "used all your tries" --- "Lost username" e-mail actually write your username on the first line of the e-mail, then ask you to click on a link to verify a code and it gives you the same thing --- You need to login a second time on the download page, cookies are not linked to the main site. --- In the installer when you choose your language, if you press the first letter (ie. E for english) instead of clicking on it, all hell break loose on that UI. How they managed to get a multimillion dollars enterprise with some lack of polishing like that is beyond me.

Correct me if I am wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36337486)

But isn't reverse-engineering legal ?
In addition to that, claiming that it is for phishing/spamming purposes is FUD, not to say that people who engage in those activities cant use this.

Re:Correct me if I am wrong. (2)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337568)

You are correct that it's legal, but that doesn't mean that Skype is under any obligation to make it easy.

IP? there is no IP. (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337502)

They claim violation of their IP. Is that copyright? probably not. Trademark? Nope. Patent? Hmmm do they have a patent in this area? I don't know, but probably not. That would leave trade secrets, which IIRC are not protected from reverse engineering in any way. IANAL but they really should say what is being violated, not just the nebulous "IP".

Re:IP? there is no IP. (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36338742)

To get a patent, they'd have to reveal the protocol. And then there'd be no need to reverse engineer it. They're not really trying to protect their IP. It sounds like they want to protect their network. I guess it would be easier to automate spamming/phishing if you could interface their network without goin ghtorugh their client... maybe?

This makes perfect sense... (1)

anarkhos (209172) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337566)

This makes perfect sense, because spammers and phishers always obey the law, so if they're forbidden from using code which has already been released I'm sure they will comply.

Yeeeeeaaaaaaa

Aziza Johari Johnson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36337608)

She isn't very hard to find on Facebook. Just sent her the following message:

In what universe do spammers and phishers openly publish their results for the public to look at? Somehow I don't think you have any idea about the subject matter on which you are harassing people over, and frankly, I am astounded that someone so wholly ignorant about both communication and technology would somehow manage to become the VP of a communications company. Who'd you blackmail to get your job, lady?

While I'm at it, just three days ago I received a spam message via Skype. It seems like the utterly insecure software that you're ineffectually trying to defend is already full of holes, why don't you people try dealing with the actual spammers and phishers that infest your so-called "service" rather than attacking legitimate researchers? No need to give me an answer to that question, I know why: Because it's easier. You people can't do a single thing to take care of the real problems Skype faces, so instead, you make a lot of kerfluffle when something at which you can lash out raises its head. Good work, you're a terrible human being.

"Oops! We broke the Linux client . . .sorry!" (0)

mmell (832646) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337714)

Or am I the only one who thinks M$ will use this as an excuse to work their "embrace, extend, extinguish" magic on Skype? This is just a way for the pirates of Redmond to kill the Linux (beta) client - which, incidentally, hasn't seen any progress in the last two years - while keeping their grubby little meat-beaters clean.

Re:"Oops! We broke the Linux client . . .sorry!" (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337826)

I suspect that it depends on where they plan to slot Skype into their list of product offerings.

If it becomes part of some 'enterprise' offering, playing cat-and-mouse would likely not be a sensible strategy. Corporate/institutional customers hate petty version churn of the sort needed to keep constantly breaking 3rd parties and they have a fairly low likelihood of going with 'unofficial' software. They may well keep globbing on new features(as with Office document formats, Sharepoint tie-ins, etc.); but corporate customers are conservative enough that even the perception that 3rd party clients are not feature-complete and 100% compatible usually keeps them well away, and the few exceptions are likely to either be impecunious contrarians or competing titans(eg. IBM) large enough to make an issue of it if you play dirty.

If it becomes a "Live" consumer offering, playing cat-and-mouse is at least an option, since the consumer market has largely learned to suck up their auto-updates when told(and isn't behind a firewall that blocks them, and doesn't need to open a ticket with IT to install them...) It still isn't totally clear what their motivation would be(since they would still control the skype-out gateways, where the money is, and having third parties voluntarily make your network more popular among markets you don't feel like serving doesn't seem like an obviously bad thing(though they might keep the banhammer hovering, just to ensure that people license the rights to embed skype in wifi VOIP phones and whatnot from them, rather than go 3rd party...)

If it becomes a consumer-electronics thing, affiliated with xbox or Windows Phone, it seems to be some sort of ontological obligation to lock it down as hard as possible, just on principle, just because that is how they roll in console-land.

A Likely Story (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337786)

I find it a likely story that someone would open-source Skype for the purposes of sending spam. That's an activity you keep secret and sell to spammers for big bucks. So without even knowing the motive we get this attack on the coder by none less than the VP of Skype's PR company. There should be a good libel suit in here somewhere.

http://www.ebyjeans.com (-1, Offtopic)

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Better Use of Their Time (1)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | more than 2 years ago | (#36337974)

Maybe they'd be better off assigning some of the people trying to defeat reverse engineering to test their installer software.

You know, so they don't "accidentally" install third party applications on users' computers without permission again.

open source piggy backing on success as usual.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36338078)

Let someone else foot the bill for marketing and investing millions in development and infrastructure and making something profitable and popular. All we have to do is make our own "free" copy and we can ride on their success. Yay for freedom. Go Team F/OSS !

reverse the reverse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36338266)

sooo, skype is going to reverse the reverse engineering so it could be reverse engineered again, go skype!

What is this I don't even... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36338576)

So how do you defeat the reverse engineering of an engineered piece of software? Re-engineer it?

In my opinion it sounds like Skype is trying to patch the hole in its bike tire; sure they can cover it up but the hole is still the same size. So it can still be re-reversed engineered...

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