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Hack an Oscilloscope, Get a DMCA Take-Down Notice From Tektronix

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the keep-both-pieces dept.

Security 273

An anonymous reader writes with the news that Hackaday published an article on the poor security of the add-on modules that Tektronix sells as expensive add-ons to unlock features in certain of its oscilloscopes. The reader writes: "It has come to attention of Tek's legal eagles and they now want the article to be taken down. Perhaps they can ask Google to forget that page?"

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Perhaps they can ask Google to forget that page? (1)

frootcakeuk (638517) | about 4 months ago | (#47612875)

No need when HAD instantly back down and alter the content of the page.

Also, for it to be a DCMA, doesn't the requested takedown have to have something to do with DRM?

Re:Perhaps they can ask Google to forget that page (1)

frootcakeuk (638517) | about 4 months ago | (#47612881)

Sorry, DMCA. damn typo.

Re:Perhaps they can ask Google to forget that page (4, Funny)

MrKaos (858439) | about 4 months ago | (#47612963)

Also, for it to be a DCMA,

Sorry, DMCA. damn typo.

It's an acronym for Digital Control My Ass, so you were right the first time.

Re:Perhaps they can ask Google to forget that page (1, Funny)

JosKarith (757063) | about 4 months ago | (#47613055)

And here I was thinking it was Don't Copy My Ass...

Re:Perhaps they can ask Google to forget that page (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613657)

Yeah, butt faxes should be original art.

Re:Perhaps they can ask Google to forget that page (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47612915)

Using copyright to censor a hack which consist basically in explaining that the crippled features of the oscilloscope can be unlocked using the plain SKUs listed in the very own manufacturer page is a DCMA abuse.

Re:Perhaps they can ask Google to forget that page (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 4 months ago | (#47613267)

Don't worry, I'm sure Tektronix will suffer the full penalties of abusing the DMCA. *doles out zero penalties* There, done.

A side benefit of DMCA, perhaps ? (3, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 4 months ago | (#47612923)

No need when HAD instantly back down and alter the content of the page

Perhaps this is not intended, but a side benefit of DMCA is that the use of DMCA against a certain website will give indication of which site has backbone which site hasn't
 
HAD certain hasn't

Re:A side benefit of DMCA, perhaps ? (4, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | about 4 months ago | (#47613083)

Backbone is cheap when you've got the money to stage even a token legal defense, or your hosting provider is a known safe haven from spurious copyright requests. For most of us, it's a luxury we can't afford.

Re:A side benefit of DMCA, perhaps ? RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613127)

You sir/madam are an idiot for 1) failing to read the article or 2) failing to understand the implications of the refusing the DMCA request or 3) failing to understand HAD's less than subtle but entirely legal "FU to the DMCA request" response or 4) a combination of the two and three.

Please feel free to submit your user information for the Slashdot twit of the week award

Re:Perhaps they can ask Google to forget that page (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | about 4 months ago | (#47613051)

Also, for it to be a DCMA, doesn't the requested takedown have to have something to do with DRM?

The DMCA doesn't mention DRM. It mentions somethign along the lines of mechanisms that prevent access to protected works (software can be a mechanism for the purposes of the act).

Personally I don't think this should qualify as infringement since it prevents use - which should not be a copyright violation - rather than duplication, but that's my opinion on what the law should be rather than what it would be when interpreted by the courts.

Re:Perhaps they can ask Google to forget that page (3, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47613097)

Personally I don't think this should qualify as infringement since it prevents use - which should not be a copyright violation - rather than duplication

I agree with you, but the law has more or less been written to allow corporations to maximize profits.

In truth, I think the DMCA is so broadly written that if they had a default password of "password", their level of incompetence at security is irrelevant. What matters is they had a pretense of security.

In this case, they've locked out functionality which is already there, and are charging for access to it -- or it sounds like that.

I agree that it's your device and you should be able to do anything with it, but apparently publishing it so allow other people to not pay for already there features is a bad thing -- because it interferes with a shitty business model and involves a digital lock.

I think in general, people should just start posting reviews of Techtronix saying they're greedy bastards who sell crippled hardware and then charge ransom to unlock it.

Re:Perhaps they can ask Google to forget that page (4, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | about 4 months ago | (#47613199)

Yes. You may be able to guess the password, but based on the "reasonable man" test, I think most people would assume that you weren't meant to guess it. I don't have a problem with this in principle. I do have a problem that it seems to allow companies to extend the reach of copyright.

My way of seeing it is that anyone who buys the oscilloscope has a legally acquired copy of the software. They just can't access it. Actually accessing legally acquired software should not be illegal. It's not like there's a business model that would be unsustainable without the protection. If they don't want people to use the software, then don't give them the software. If they pay extra then provide the software.

I agree with your desscription of it being "crippled". This is essentially a law criminalising repair. In the physical world, if I were to sell off faulty stock (which is legitimate as long as I was honest about the fact that it was faulty), I would not be able to use the law to prevent them from repairing it, even if the buyer was competing with my repair business.

Re:Perhaps they can ask Google to forget that page (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 4 months ago | (#47613481)

It's not like there's a business model that would be unsustainable without the protection

A free 30-day trial is a fairly common business model in software. And it involves giving access to software with full functionality.

Re:Perhaps they can ask Google to forget that page (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 4 months ago | (#47613911)

That's a marketing gimmick, not a business model.

Re:Perhaps they can ask Google to forget that page (4, Interesting)

countach (534280) | about 4 months ago | (#47613581)

So if Chrysler sold a car without working air-con and without a working stereo, but if you pay $3000 they will enable them, and then someone discovers that the technological measure is they don't put a fuse in the fuse box, and then you stick a fuse in there, is that a technological measure protected by the DMCA?

Re:Perhaps they can ask Google to forget that page (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 4 months ago | (#47613661)

I don't think so, because it's not obvious that this is a mechanism to prevent access, but if they put a lock there (no matter how weak) to prevent you from adding the fuse then it possibly would be. At least that's the analogy. If we're talking about a real car then obviously it wouldn't be.

Re:Perhaps they can ask Google to forget that page (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 4 months ago | (#47613683)

So if Chrysler sold a car without working air-con and without a working stereo, but if you pay $3000 they will enable them, and then someone discovers that the technological measure is they don't put a fuse in the fuse box, and then you stick a fuse in there, is that a technological measure protected by the DMCA?

I think it has to be something covered by copyright law like computer code. I don't think that particular use case would apply here since it involves nothing that is affected by copyright law.

Not people (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47612883)

Corporations are not people

Re:Not people (4, Funny)

MrKaos (858439) | about 4 months ago | (#47612973)

Corporations are not people

but Solyent Green is.

Re:Not people (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 4 months ago | (#47613311)

How does it taste?

Re:Not people (4, Funny)

BigT (70780) | about 4 months ago | (#47613767)

It varies from person to person....

Re:Not people (2)

DaHat (247651) | about 4 months ago | (#47613179)

Ever read the Dictionary Act? You know, 1 US Code 1? It disagrees: http://www.law.cornell.edu/usc... [cornell.edu]

A comment from the linked site: (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47612897)

The car analogy:
"Owen says:
July 28, 2014 at 8:09 am
If you download the trial version of a piece of software you might also have to pay $500 to “de-cripple” features that are already present in the version you’ve got.

If you download a crack for it to unlock those features because the company didn’t make it difficult enough for people to get around their protection, that still doesn’t make it right.

I imagine Tektronix just rely on the fact that a lot of people that buy their expensive kit will be businesses and businesses generally have to do things by the book, so they won’t bother unlocking things they haven’t paid for, in the same way Adobe relies on business users to buy Photoshop and mostly overlooks all the home users not paying for it."

Re:A comment from the linked site: (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47612901)

Woops, This is what I meant to post:
"MRE says:
July 28, 2014 at 10:41 am
I think it is more like this:
You buy a new car, and to save money, you opt for the ‘no thrills’ package. No radio. No electric windows. No heated seats.
Upon receiving the car, you discover that the manufacturer did in fact install the radio. Did in fact install the electric windows. And did install the seat heaters.
However, none of them work. Upon further investigation you discover that to have the items enabled, you must pay the difference in price. But, you poke around and discover that in the fuse box (which required a special screw driver to open), three slots are empty: Radio, Windows, Seats.
You pop fuses into each slot and everything comes alive.

Was this theft, or did the factory simply give you the stuff at no cost, and hope you would pay them more money when you decided you wanted the options enabled after all?"

Re:A comment from the linked site: (5, Informative)

tompatman (936656) | about 4 months ago | (#47613155)

The G37 Sport package includes paddle shifters on the steering column. If you wanted them on a non-sport version though, there was an ebay seller who sold the paddles. All of the wiring and functionality was already there, just bolt on the paddles plug them in and you were done. Car manufacturers include a lot of stuff like this by default because it would be more expensive to install different features based on what the buyer was willing to pay for.

Re:A comment from the linked site: (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#47613429)

The G37 Sport package includes paddle shifters on the steering column. If you wanted them on a non-sport version though, there was an ebay seller who sold the paddles. All of the wiring and functionality was already there, just bolt on the paddles plug them in and you were done.

Don't be so sure - if I want to add steering wheel audio controls to my truck, I have to take it to the dealership* to get it programmed (in addition to adding the proper parts), despite the fact that "all the wiring and functionality [is] already there".

* Or spend a few grand on a Tech II and GM software subscription.

Re:A comment from the linked site: (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 4 months ago | (#47613231)

Actually, you, as an individual could enable all fo those things. Same for the oscilloscope. You cannot, however, post online how to do it--at least not according to Tektronics.

Re:A comment from the linked site: (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#47613445)

Actually, you, as an individual could enable all fo those things. Same for the oscilloscope. You cannot, however, post online how to do it--at least not according to Tektronics.

So, what Tektronics is saying is that the dissemination of knowledge is a crime?

Do I even have to point out how slippery that slope is?

Re:A comment from the linked site: (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 4 months ago | (#47613565)

Actually, you, as an individual could enable all fo those things. Same for the oscilloscope. You cannot, however, post online how to do it--at least not according to Tektronics.

So, what Tektronics is saying is that the dissemination of knowledge is a crime?

Do I even have to point out how slippery that slope is?

I agree it is a slippery slope, however, technically, they are correct in that the information being disseminated is from their copyrighted manuals. Posting their copyrighted information has led to the takedown notice. I'm curious, though, if the process could be posted without referencing their specific content - such as "look up the serial number for the feature you want to enable and enter it on such and such screen," instead of "Enter xyz1234 to enable this feature." Technically, if you aren't reproducing their content, they can't use the DMCA to knock it down.

As long as a how to is produced without using specific content, it shouldn't be a violation.

Re:A comment from the linked site: (3, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 4 months ago | (#47613629)

I read the original article (thanks to the WayBack Machine), and unless the "copyrighted manual" tells you how to program an EEPROM with an SKU, then I don't see how it's a violation of DMCA.

Boy, wouldn't that be a kick in the face? For corporations to be able to limit access to knowledge by writing it in a book and copyrighting said tome? Sounds like the premise for a dystopian novel.

Re:A comment from the linked site: (2)

s0nicfreak (615390) | about 4 months ago | (#47613863)

Unless they copy/pasted (or typed word-for-word) exactly what was in the instruction manual, it's not a copyright violation. It is not a copyright violation to read instructions and re-write them in your own words.

Re:A comment from the linked site: (3, Insightful)

whistlingtony (691548) | about 4 months ago | (#47613965)

If they had posted, verbatim, Tektronics documents showing how to do this hack.... that would be a copyright abuse. If I write up some notes on how to hack their scope, that document is MINE, and it is protected by copyright the moment I wrote it.

I get that the DMCA makes it illegal to circumvent the protections on a copyrighted work.... How is an oscilloscope a protected work?

Do I get to slap a DMCA notice on a burglar to my house?

Re:A comment from the linked site: (1)

complete loony (663508) | about 4 months ago | (#47613939)

Car? First sale doctrine. It's yours.

Software? It's not yours, you (most likely) agreed to a license to use it, which may include a fee per feature.

Are click through licenses, after purchase / install valid? Debatable, and untested in the court room.

Re:A comment from the linked site: (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613129)

If you download the trial version of a piece of software you might also have to pay $500 to “de-cripple” features that are already present in the version you’ve got.

Yes, and I don't have a problem with that. There is plenty of good software that is downloadable for free and you either unlock all of its features or abort its time-trial limitations by loading a key into it. People will pay for it if they think it's useful enough to them and/or worth it. Software developers with half-a-clue issue a unique code to the purchaser (like a PKI certificate) to unlock the feature instead of the brain-dead text-file-with-the-SKU, though. This has been the norm since at least the 1990's.

I do have a problem with Tektronix using DMCA to takedown something that does not qualify as an intellectual property violation.

Another example Re:A comment from the linked site: (3, Interesting)

Camembert (2891457) | about 4 months ago | (#47613575)

In my company, one of our products comes with a useful database. The license clearly stipulates that the database and its updates are only allowed to be used with the product. It is a kind of courtesy to make that product more user friendly. For integration into big central systems the database is available separately with different licensing schemes. Predictably, in the end we had to encrypt the database to enforce compliance, as too many customers (it must be said: less so in western countries) would not care to follow the license. Just because you technically can do something, doesn't make it right, esp. if it is not allowed according to the license.

cars with an oil change light that needs a code to (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 4 months ago | (#47613901)

cars with an oil change light that needs a code to reset and they intend for that code to only be told to the dealers? and it's some thing that is really easy to do?

Can they sue jiffy lube and others who do there own oil change from resetting the light under the DMCA?

Hack-a-day cowed to Tektronics, unfortunately ! (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47612905)

Since this is an abuse of the DMCA law Hack-a-day could have told Tektronics to go fuck themselves, but no ...
 
After receiving that DMCA notice Hack-a-day quickly changed the wording of the original article (without the permission of the original author, of course)

Re:Hack-a-day cowed to Tektronics, unfortunately ! (5, Informative)

frootcakeuk (638517) | about 4 months ago | (#47612921)

Don't forget to mention they also changed every single post from commentors as well. Can't say i've seen that before!

Re:Hack-a-day cowed to Tektronics, unfortunately ! (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 4 months ago | (#47613337)

And I don't think you'll ever see something like that on Slashdot, because HEY I'M AN ORANGE, ALL IS WELL, NOTHING TO SEE HERE.

wayback machine (5, Informative)

sxpert (139117) | about 4 months ago | (#47612933)

the article is safely stored in the wayback machine, and i have made a backup away from the reaches of the stupid DMCA.
yet another project ripe for the application of the streisand effect

Wayback Machine (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47612943)

Fear not, the original article is still available http://web.archive.org/web/201... [archive.org]

Re:Wayback Machine (5, Funny)

Sockatume (732728) | about 4 months ago | (#47613063)

So it turns out that the "module" is just an EEPROM which contains the module's own product SKU. Which is information that Tektronix provides in their own catalogue. Genius. Nobody will never crack that code.

Re: Wayback Machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613407)

Even the famous software upgradable Rigol scopes had better protection.

I'm not entirely sure how DMCA comes into that Tektronix case. Copyright law seems more applicable.

Re: Wayback Machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613637)

the DMCA is a copyright law that protects against reverse engineering various software or hardware protections...kind of like in this case.

Tek smeck (4, Informative)

labnet (457441) | about 4 months ago | (#47612957)

Have never like tek scopes that much, or Agilent. In fact my fav. Scopes are Yokogawa DLM series.
All the manufacturers do the cripple thing though. If you want free I2C or LIN or CAN or USB or UART, buy a PC scope like a CleverScope.

Re:Tek smeck (5, Informative)

harrkev (623093) | about 4 months ago | (#47613755)

In all fairness (and as a former Agilent employee), you would not believe the amount of work that goes into those things that you don't get with cheap PC-based scopes and low-end stand-along scopes. They do a LOT of work making sure that the front end (analog stuff between BNC and A/D converters) is correct. Also, lots of DSP-ish type stuff right after the A/D too. I am a digital designer, and I worked on some of the oscilloscope chips, and I don't even understand a lot of that of that stuff.

For a hobbyist working with bandwidth-limited signals, and everything is 5V or less, the cheaper brands are probably fine. However, how do you tell if your scope is lying to you? Do you know aliasing when you see it? I have seen some PC-based scopes do the voltage offset (where you twist the little knob to move the waveform up and down) all in software, and seen the clipping in the A/D -- nasty stuff. You really need do to that in the analog front end You also have how many waveforms per second that you can display. If you have a glitch that happens only rarely, if you are capturing only 30 or 100 waveforms per seconds, you might not see the glitch. On the other hand, if your scope is capturing 50,000 waveform/second, you stand a MUCH greater chance of seeing it.

I do admit that scopes are a pricey purchase, and part of that is due to the low volumes involved and the high amount of R&D. But, if you need something that you can trust (you make your living off design work and are not just a hobbyist), you really need to get something professional from a reputable company.

Hey Tektronic (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about 4 months ago | (#47612979)

I want to buy one of your oh so silly scopes now I know it can be hacked.

oh, dear you're being assholes about releasing broken software - maybe I won't then.

Re:Hey Tektronic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613237)

Who's Tektronic?

WebArchive (5, Informative)

jiadran (1198763) | about 4 months ago | (#47612983)

The Google cache was taken down. The original author seems to have agreed to take down the information on his site as well, even without having been contacted him-self:
https://sites.google.com/site/... [google.com]

However, they were too late. The web archive has already archived their pages. Here are the relevant links:

http://web.archive.org/web/201... [archive.org]

http://web.archive.org/web/201... [archive.org]

(not modified)
https://oshpark.com/profiles/m... [oshpark.com]
http://web.archive.org/web/201... [archive.org]

DMCA? (5, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | about 4 months ago | (#47612993)

I'm not sure that the letter published qualifies as a DMCA takedown request, as it doesn't actually mention any part of the DMCA or any other copyright act that has been broken. I'm not sure that a short keyphrase constitutes copyright-protected matter, for one thing. And it's not like publishing the information violates the noncircumvention part of the Act, because they aren't circumventing an anticopying mechanism. They're circumventing a different mechanism entirely I suspect they're just trying their luck.

Re:DMCA? (0)

Sockatume (732728) | about 4 months ago | (#47613019)

Via the archived page, I can see that the keyphrase is just the product SKU, which as factual information is probably not protected by copyright in and of itself.

Re:DMCA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613251)

It doesn't mention the DMCA, but they are publishing how to circumvent a Digital Rights Management mechanism that is there to prevent people from using features, that Tektronix owns the copyright to, without paying for it. So I think the DMCA would cover it

Re:DMCA? (2)

SLi (132609) | about 4 months ago | (#47613269)

A mechanism doesn't need to prevent copying in order to qualify for DMCA's anticircumvention protections; it only needs to control access to a work. That's why you specifically need an exception for phones, among other things, even if phone unlocking does not let you copy the phone or its software.

"No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under [the Copyright Law]".

You would be right that this does not qualify as a DMCA takedown request. In this case that doesn't matter very much though, because the letter was sent to the publisher of the article, not only to a mere carrier of the article (like an ISP).

Normally carriers are not liable for what their customers do, unless they have sufficient (in legal terms, actual or constructive) knowledge of the infringing activity. The idea behind DMCA takedown requests is that by sending a certain formal request to an ISP, where you among other things must allege in good faith that your copyrights are being infringed, you put the ISP formally on notice that certain activity is infringing and thereby oblige the ISP to provisionally remove the content pending a counter-notice from the poster of the content. An ISP still has the option to not remove the content, but in that case it assumes liability if it turns out the content was in fact infringing. Significantly, sending a formal DMCA takedown request to an ISP has three special effects compared to sending a free-form cease and desist letter:

1) It puts the ISP under a threat of liability if it does not remove the content;

2) It absolves the ISP from liability towards the customer for removing the content;

3) It makes the sender of the takedown notice liable for damages and attorney's fees for knowingly materially misrepresenting facts in the notice.

So when sending a notice to an ISP (party other than who posted the information), it makes sense to send a DMCA notice, because the party has less incentive to act on free-form requests and because it can actually incur liability if it does. Thus many ISPs routinely disregard non-DMCA takedown requests.

When sending a notice to someone who actually posted the allegedly infringing content, it makes less sense to send a DMCA takedown request. The recipient is liable in any case, and sending the notice puts you in a disadvantage by making it more likely that you are liable for damages and attorney's fees.

I speculate Tektronix's challenge would most likely fail in this case rather because the information posted is not "any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof" that is primarily designed to circumvent a technical measure that effectively controls access to a protected work. (It certainly is primarily designed to circumvent, but it doesn't fall into any of the enumerated categories of technology, product, service, device or component.)

Re:DMCA? (1)

msauve (701917) | about 4 months ago | (#47613487)

No one is circumventing (literally, "come around," e.g. bypass) anything. That would be the case if the product's firmware were being hacked/modified to not do the entitlement checks.

Instead, this is a straight up duplication of the factory hardware which enables entitlements. It's not getting around the protections, it's opening them in exactly the way they were designed to be opened.

Re:DMCA? (1)

SLi (132609) | about 4 months ago | (#47613823)

Whether the access is gained by the same way or a different way from how a copyright owner would do it is not material to the law; the authorization of the copyright owner is the defining criterion. The law defines circumvention thus:

to "circumvent a technological measure" means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner'

For example, most non-authorized decryption would quite obviously be done in the same way as a copyright owner authorized device would do it. This would not make it not circumvention within the meaning of the law; the definition of circumvention is quite broad and essentially focuses on circumventing the requirement for authorization.

This is Danaher Corp (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613021)

Tektronix is now owned by DANAHER corp. It is the same corp that bought Fluke and declared that nobody else can produce yellow DVMâ(TM)s. Remember the DVMs Sparkfun was importing but were seized at the border? Same company.

They gobble up good brands, and it seems the production is often sent overseas. Some folks say the quality of those great Amercian brands then suffers. Do a search and you'll see a long list of companies.

Re:This is Danaher Corp (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613069)

I thought Fluke got sucked into Phillips Elmasco. (Who are not any better, really.) When did Danaher get a hold of it?

Re:This is Danaher Corp (1)

cdrudge (68377) | about 4 months ago | (#47613303)

Or you could just go here [wikipedia.org] instead of searching (not that it took much to find it.)

Of the list of companies, I only recognized Amprobe, Fluke, Textronix, and Matco. But I don't really work in most of those industries where the other companies are better known.

Archive.org still has the original post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613029)

http://web.archive.org/web/20140729081735/https://sites.google.com/site/blinkyoontz/hacktek

https://oshpark.com/profiles/mchamster

Re:Archive.org still has the original post (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | about 4 months ago | (#47613079)

Nice job with the links, fuckwit.

That is surely going to work (2)

Brandano (1192819) | about 4 months ago | (#47613049)

Because who bought their oscilloscopes is unlikely to have the expertise necessary to replicate this hack. It's not like they are people that work with digital electronics every day. I wonder what combination they use for their briefcase.

Re:That is surely going to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613165)

Just looked at product page - this is mixed signal 200MHz scope. They don't even put price on it, you have to request a quote.
People who gonna work with this scopes will not hack it. Why? Because they're paid to do other, useful stuff and not to void warranty of their instruments. If those people will actually need these add-ons - company will buy it.

This is why we can't have nice things (1, Interesting)

jones_supa (887896) | about 4 months ago | (#47613085)

An anonymous reader writes with the news that Hackaday published an article on the poor security of the add-on modules that Tektronix sells as expensive add-ons to unlock features in certain of its oscilloscopes.

The add-on modules are expensive because you pay for the features they unlock, not for the components of the unlock device itself. It's a dongle.

This guy is essentially trying to cheat. It's like you could unlock some cool DLC content for a game, but instead just went cracking the encrypted data files and getting that content without paying the game company.

Hey, if you don't like a scope which has this kind of feature unlock capability, just don't buy it. But stop messing with other people's legitimate business. I can understand why Tektronix is upset about this.

Re:This is why we can't have nice things (4, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | about 4 months ago | (#47613103)

A poor analogy. You would have to actually download the DLC files first, in almost all cases.

And he's not cracking encrypted data files, he's putting in a cheat code, which happens to be the name of the DLC, because the company are morons.

Re:This is why we can't have nice things (1)

kbg (241421) | about 4 months ago | (#47613205)

No actually most DLC files are already on the disk. The only thing you download is a small file containing the key to enable the DLC.

Re:This is why we can't have nice things (1)

cdrudge (68377) | about 4 months ago | (#47613499)

I forget, what does the D in DLC stand for?

Re:This is why we can't have nice things (1)

kbg (241421) | about 4 months ago | (#47613671)

"Downloadable", that doesn't make it true though just because it is in the name. Just like DRM doesn't actually give you any "Digital Rights" or "Microsoft PlaysForSure" doesn't actually plays for sure or "Disney FastPlay" isn't actually fast play.

Re:This is why we can't have nice things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613889)

Dumbass, as in only Dumbasses would pay for this.

Re:This is why we can't have nice things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613659)

No actually most DLC files are already on the disk. The only thing you download is a small file containing the key to enable the DLC.

That's bullshit. Most DLC is 5-10GB per pack. You're thinking of a single case where the day 1 DLC was on the disk.

Re:This is why we can't have nice things (4, Informative)

gstoddart (321705) | about 4 months ago | (#47613197)

The add-on modules are expensive because you pay for the features they unlock, not for the components of the unlock device itself. It's a dongle.

This guy is essentially trying to cheat.

I disagree.

To me, they've sold you a fully functional product, and only for extra money will they 'license' you to use all of the features.

So, imagine you've bought a car, it's got an awesome radio and a turbo charger and a backup camera. They're hooked up and working, just not active unless you shell out a bunch more money.

This is saying we'll give you the rest of the functionality of the device we've sold you if you'll hand over more money.

This is intentionally making a crippled product, and then gouging your consumers to get the full version.

I see this as just rent seeking, and a business model based on upgrades.

I don't see this as legitimate business, I see it as gouging the consumer and getting found out that your "upgrades" are doing nothing more than unlocking functionality you already have.

Re:This is why we can't have nice things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613631)

If you buy a car, you can do pretty much whatever you want to it, regardless of what the manufacturer/seller would like you to pay additional for. If you do some things, like installing non-manufacturer parts or messing with the programming, you can void your warranty or fail the inspections necessary to keep the vehicle street legal, but that's pretty much the limit. By gaining ownership of physical property, you gain the rights to modify that physical property.

With software, you can purchase the disk and install it on your home computer or on your toaster for that matter, but you can't actually purchase the software and that's the difference. So when you obtain the rights to use software, you are not obtaining the rights to modify the software. By entering a code which you're not supposed to, even if it is stupidly simple, you are using the software in a way you are not legally entitled to use it.

That said, I am fuzzy on the legality of providing information the information on how to do something. Most of the time, that has been considered free speech, but there are limitations on "free" speech that include protecting someone else's copyright. Napster and similar tried to use the defense that they weren't infringing copyright and it should be free speech to provide information about software/data so long as you didn't actually include that data.

The courts decided that it was illegal to provide (legal) information about something that might be illegal.

So long as it is illegal to provide legal information, this sort of stupidity will continue. Our courts have decided that you cannot share information, even if it is legal information, about something that would make it easier to do something illegal. The illogic is stunning, but this sot of problem is exactly the result we should have expected.

Re:This is why we can't have nice things (1)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about 4 months ago | (#47613809)

Bulldust.

This kind of thing happens a lot where manufacturers make a product (hardware/software) that is feature-rich and the consumer chooses which features to pay for.

Breaching unpaid-for features is theft.

It's real simple, folks: Pay for the stuff you use.

As for TFA, while it's questionable that publishing a "how to," violated DMCA, not in question is the wisdom of getting into a pissing contest unnecessarily.

Re:This is why we can't have nice things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613975)

Breaching unpaid-for features is theft.

Yeah, it's also murder and kidnapping. That makes as much sense.

Meanwhile back in the real world, it *may* be a license violation or possibly a copyright violation.

Re:This is why we can't have nice things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613953)

Buying a PC from Dell doesn't give you the right to run Word even though the hardware is perfectly capable of doing that, if you want Word you have to buy it

SOP for Test Equipment makers (4, Interesting)

x0 (32926) | about 4 months ago | (#47613177)

All of the manufacturers now ship devices fully kitted and use licenses to unlock/enable additional features. It's less expensive to manufacture one SKU, and then differentiate models by selectively enabling features.

At least one of the Chinese manufacturers has know about these hacks for quite a while and apparently isn't doing much about it. I expect that they are allowing this to obtain more market share from the hobbyists as I doubt most commercial operators would void warranties.

Tek is essentially selling a software package as a value add, and they'll charge what they can until Agilent/Keysight one ups them with less expansive software.

Who'd buy a Tek? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613189)

Then complain the modules are expensive? Get a Rigol. If you even still need a scope nowadays.

This scope worship is baffling to me. Sure, Tektronix was instrumental (ha ha) in creating the modern oscilloscope and built really good ones, but that was decades ago.

With today's very small features and gargantuan SoCs, what's the use of a scope? 99% of the time all you need is a DMM and a logic analyzer, the system can diagnose itself as long as the power is good!

And for hacker/hobby stuff, it's not the '60s anymore. I think scopes have become like a hardware fetish for some people.

"OOoohh gotta have one!"

"Um, what for?"

"CUZ YOU GOTTA HAVE ONE!!!!"

Analog (1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | about 4 months ago | (#47613259)

Nobody ever does work with analog circuits...

Re:Analog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613335)

You don't need a recent Tektronix for that. As a matter of fact, I have a Tek 547 with a full suite of plug-ins. Does everything I need, and will probably continue to do so even after I'm dead. The scope's already half a century old, the original owner died 20 years ago.

Point is, it's rarely on. I have enough knowledge and experience that:
1) I don't design or build things that need that much troubleshooting
2) Am smart and humble enough to just go and buy completed systems for a task
3) Don't view electronics as a hobby, but as a means towards my other hobbies, like RC planes for example. I don't design and build my own brushless motor controller for example. What the hell for?

Re:Analog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613531)

How is the calibration holding up on that boat anchor? I can't imagine the electrolytic caps are still functioning.

Re:Analog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613439)

And another thing, I assume that by "analog", you mean contains an ADC then does everything in software? Like SDR or audio?

Or did you really mean 1960s-style crotchety nasty old crappy electronics with 2N2222 and SCRs and diodes and neon lamps?

Get real.

And what's the use of unlocking the I2C module for analog, hm?

And guess what else? Most of the advanced analog features I have with my scope are pretty useless these days. I just collected the plug-ins due to hoarding.

Differential amp with mV sensitivity but with hundreds of volts of common mode range? Yeah, and? Who cares?

DC-50MHz current probe? Again, who cares? If you're that determined to get a current waveform, design your board with a current to voltage chip. You know, those systems on a chip? Then use a ADC and pump the data out to a PC.

Analog? You mean a code word for "thinks he's saving money but is actually wasting time"?

Re:Analog (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613589)

By analog I mean DDS chips, opamps, and ADCs. Also very handy for quadrature encoders and watching things like I2C or SPI buses talking.

Re:Who'd buy a Tek? (1)

Teun (17872) | about 4 months ago | (#47613401)

If you run a lab and a CIO or CFO comes in the scope is an essential part of your work's legitimacy, even if it's just hooked up to the headphone output of your media player.

Re:Who'd buy a Tek? (1)

kilodelta (843627) | about 4 months ago | (#47613489)

You obviously don't do any RF work.

Re:Who'd buy a Tek? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613537)

With a scope? Neither do you.

Sure, the people, all 12 of them, who *design* the RF stuff, sure, they need a lab. Me, as a user? Get real. a 10$ SDR dongle, and there you go.

Re:Who'd buy a Tek? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613527)

With today's very small features and gargantuan SoCs, what's the use of a scope? 99% of the time all you need is a DMM and a logic analyzer, the system can diagnose itself as long as the power is good!

I am SO glad you know more than all of the engineers at our company! Why don't you come show us how your logic probe can can measure the rise and fall times of a signal, and measure the reflections caused by a bad trace on a board. We could then get rid of the 30 or so 16 channel 500MHz scopes that we use every day.

TWIT

Re:Who'd buy a Tek? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613709)

Great, so now every hobbyist needs a scope that can do that?

No one needs to measure rise and fall times for hobby work. That's what HAD is, yes?

And 500MHz? You're not measuring much of a rise and fall time, or much of a TDR either.

My scope uses a 1S2 plug in with 3.9GHz equivalent time sampling/TDR. I also have a 567 with a 14GHz sampler and a 25ps pulser. And this is 40 year old technology.

When can I drop by with those?

And what's a TWIT? A Traveling Wave Interference Tube?

My point is a hobbyists just starting out really should spend far more time and money on other things. A scope is really not that useful for many things these days.

You bust out your low-end 500MHz scope for every 555 LED dimmer you come across on the Web?

Oh, and PS: "bad traces on a board"? How can that even happen these days? PCB design is just a bunch of rules and recipes to follow. You just punch the rules into the constraint manager and click away. Or are you going to try to impress me with your company's "professional" 500$ Web-based layout software too?

You need to do some weeding over at your place. I need a name so I don't mistakenly send you my CV.

And might as well put in my reply to the other post up there:

"Fantastic, actually. The capacitors are paper-oil, but sealed and very good quality. And as for "calibration", a scope is more a qualitative instrument. I have a voltage reference and a GPS-DO for time. All bought on eBay for cheap.

You don't measure a DC voltage with a scope, you use a DMM. And how may hobbyists calibrate those??? Yeah, exactly. No one.

The scope is a project unto itself, it's real old-school physics and analog electronics. *I* know how to keep it going, but I wouldn't recommend it to newbies!"

Re:Who'd buy a Tek? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 months ago | (#47613913)

Only for the no skill guys that dont really do any design or hacking.

Please feel free to show me your technique for RF transmitter hacking without a scope, hell there are thousands of things that a scope is useful for that really open up abilities.

Honestly only the poesur that really cant do shit in electronics say that a scope is not needed.

Defective by Design (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613239)

This is a prime example of a product which is "Defective by Design".

Thanks for the heads-up. Now I won't buy Tektronix: I don't want to be treated like this.

Re:Defective by Design (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 4 months ago | (#47613305)

Good choice. Buying from another vendor sends much better message than buying the Tektronix product ("hey, I like your artificially crippled products, please make more") and then going with the pirate modules.

another description of the hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613245)

http://forum.tsebi.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=113

lexmark tried to use the DMCA to lockout 3rd party (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 4 months ago | (#47613247)

lexmark tried to use the DMCA to lockout 3rd party ink and lost in the courts.

VHS machines. (4, Interesting)

tekrat (242117) | about 4 months ago | (#47613307)

Back in the day, a lot of manufacturers sold different types of VHS recorders, some with more "features" than others. It turned out that all the "buttons" were there behind the plastic faceplate, and it was just the faceplate itself that determined which were the cheap/feature-less models and which were the more expensive models.

And of course, simply prying off the plastic revealed the extra features.

So, back in the day, would that be a DMCA violation? Would that be theft? Would the IP police be busting down my door and holding a gun to my head for removing a piece of plastic???

'Cause that's what we're headed towards, boys and girls.

Re:VHS machines. (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | about 4 months ago | (#47613607)

Back in the day, a lot of manufacturers sold different types of VHS recorders, some with more "features" than others. It turned out that all the "buttons" were there behind the plastic faceplate, and it was just the faceplate itself that determined which were the cheap/feature-less models and which were the more expensive models.

Interesting. This reminds me of some current news sites that are paywalled by CSS, and everything is readable when you disable CSS.

FU techass (2)

AndyKron (937105) | about 4 months ago | (#47613313)

Old tube scopes turned on faster than the shitty new ones from Techtronix

What a bunch of dicks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613353)

Posting a good hack like this on a well known site like HAD? They should have left it on usenet and IRC for a few years at least.

The Streisand effect strikes again (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47613385)

By now, most people interested in this, who might otherwise never heard about it, know about it. Good work, Tektronix lawyers. Welcome to the Streisand effect.

back in my day AMCA (1)

netsavior (627338) | about 4 months ago | (#47613525)

back in my day, an Oscilloscope would be exempt from the DMCA, unless they passed an Analog version.

Streisand effect! (1)

gmarsh (839707) | about 4 months ago | (#47613549)

Funny. Yesterday we had a couple of modules come in for our MDO3K series scopes, and a co-worker and I were hypothesizing about what's in the modules. We concluded they were probably using smartcard IC's, because after all you're selling these things to engineers - people who would be smart enough to break the system if you did something cheap like a TWI EEPROM.

Ha!

Thanks to this DMCA takedown, and the attention it brought, we'll be breaking out the Bus Pirate. You won't need a smartcard connector or custom PCB - a half dozen pogo pins on protoboard will do the job just fine.

Drivers not included. (4, Interesting)

Technician (215283) | about 4 months ago | (#47613885)

This is unfortunately an old practice that has been going on for decades.

I bought a US made digital scope over a decade ago the TDS220. With it I bought the communications module providing serial RS232, Parallel centronics, and HPGIB interfaces. With it I could connect an HP Laser printer, or Epson Dot Matrix printer and produce hard copies with a limited library of printers. Ths goal was to print to my PC. Then I found out that capibility was bundled in an expensive software package which was extra. Due to my low volume, I could not justify the expense, so to post documentation online, I used an HP 1100 laser printer and a Cannon flatbed scanner.

Tecktronics did not offer a simple driver just to capture the image on a PC.

Needless to say, that was the last Tektronics scope I purchased. Any future purchases would include a built in USB interface, with nessarry software as part of the TCO when shopping. I won't be burned twice by the batteries not included sales games.

As a scope, the scope works fine as long as you don't want a screenshot directly transferred to a PC. For what I paid to obtain the communications module without any communicaitons software was a huge letdown. The printer module was only a little cheaper. Without the software, that is all this module can be used for. Let the buyer beware.

If you want to buy Made in America, the Americans need to knock off selling cripple ware. It is a bad model and is a huge customer turn off.

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