Here we go with another lawsuit again. But, this time around we aren’t talking about any patent infringement-flavored lawsuits, no, this latest lawsuit is actually quite interesting. Howard Chui, owner of the hugely popular mobile phone forums HowardForums.com (HoFo), is testing the legal-waters by defying MobiTV’s cease and desist requests to take down an allegedly illegal post.
The post in question came from HoFo user aod2k9 who posted instructions on how to get free live TV from the MobiTV service. MobiTV is a huge provider of mobile TV services in the US, where broadcast standards like DVB-H aren’t part of the wireless ecosystem. It seems that aod2k9 found a link to an unprotected (unencrypted) text file containing URLs to all of MobiTV’s live television feeds. The URLs themselves are unprotected, so that anyone with a computer or cellphone capable of decoding the MobiTV video stream will be able to access MobiTV’s services for free.
Further, aod2k9 posted step by step instructions on how to use the unprotected text file to get free MobiTV on your computer or compatible handset (like the LG Voyager).
Now, the issue at hand is the fact that MobiTV is insisting that the only way to discover the unprotected text file was through “hacking/debugging” and that a post containing a link to a file was grounds for removal of the post. But, it doesn’t stop there. MobiTV also wants the post taken down because it details step-by-step instructions on how to exploit the unprotected text file and the URLs contained within.
MobiTV insists that access to the text file is unauthorized and that the link to the file is not publicly available, to which Howard Chui replies,
So let me get this right; The Mobitv security is setup such that anyone that knows the url to the feed that’s located on your firm’s website can access it?
Or in other words; “You can go to mobitv.com to watch TV”.
How can use be unauthorized if that’s all people have to do?
ANYONE with a computer can view the file that has all the url’s on it.
It’s not like someone stole this information from your business and posted it. It’s available on your site for anyone to read. How is that protecting your intellectual property? Is there really no security in place to prevent this?
Mr. Chui has refused to take down the post in question, on grounds that the information contained in the post was not obtained through hacking measures. MobiTV has contacted HoFo’s host and is pushing to have the entire forum taken offline.
MobiTV might want to consider firing their security department. What security genuises allowed the unencrypted text file to sit unprotected on MobiTV’s servers? Was it the same group of geniuses that decided that the MobiTV streams should be broadcast without any protection/encryption?
Here’s an hilarious take on the situation from HotCellularPhone,
In theory, at least, a dozen monkeys in a room with typewriters could have come up with this URL. At least once they had finished writing out the works of Shakespeare.
Family Guy anyone?
Find the offending post here (and how to get free MobiTV – hurry, before the ISP shuts it down).
Howard Chui’s responses on the matter here.