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††††† *†††† †† ††††††*†††††††† ††††
And Allahís enemies plotted and planned, and
Allah too planned, and the best of planners is Allah.
Make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of
war, to strike terror into the enemy.
-- Koranic verses quoted in a translated
discovered in the home of an alleged al Qaeda member
Equonecredite, Teucri.† Quidquid id est,†
timeoDanaos et donaferentis.
-- LaocoŲn, Trojan priest of Apollo
The future of movie
entertainment springs from the human conditionís grand simplicity.† People, no matter their culture, creed or
country, want to be entertained.
-- JackValenti, President and
She had died in what William Sinon
imagined to be the worst way.† Night
raid on a senior al Qaeda lieutenant in Peshawar in Pakistanís North WestFrontierProvince.† Tensions running high because of bad intel and weak tactical
planning.† Confusion when their
truck came screeching around the corner not realizing that the Americans were
lying in ambush.† Freakish cross-fire from the Afghanis.
It had been stray bullets from American
intelligence officers working halfway around the world from anything you
could legitimately call a jurisdiction.†
But instead of bringing instant death, the bullets had brought
unstoppable, irreversible blood loss.†
She had bled out in eight agonizing minutes, in the middle of the
street, her crew desperately trying to get her out, but stopped by a hail of
She was Pakistani, but had lived most of
her life in London, where they had met.† She was beautiful.† Stunning even.† But most of the women in Sinonís life had
been.† She was more.† More than just his equal.† An irresistible force.† The first to make him wonder whether the
Europe to Asia and back again globe-hopping, leadership oriented, best of
everything, investment banking, entrepreneurial, venture capitalized, well
networked, high income, high outflow life might need to change.† He had become more passionate, more
patient, more quiet, more clear.† He had become a better man.
She was, of all things, a reporter.† Mostly on middle east
events.† Always safely doing
stand-ups on Hotel balconies looking out over sun, sand, and ideology soaked
When the al Qaeda man-hunt
in Pakistan had started, the network saw a unique
opportunity.† They didnít have to do
much convincing.† It was the best
pre-war story, it was playing in her home country, and they had assembled the
best fixers and protectors the region and the world had to offer.† She had become as close to a star as there
was in this kind of news.† A legitimate
successor to Amanpourís two-decade-old throne.
He had begged her not to go.† He never begged.† It would haunt him later how much this
should have told him about their relationship.† There was dependence and need of a kind he
had never felt before, or, he was certain now, would ever feel again.
Although the shock had eventually worn
off, Sinon had fallen into an infinite loop between anger and denial,
acceptance relegated to a bit part drowned by a torrent of misery.
Where once had been a rational, analytical
thinker there was now a man bent on vengeance against the US.† A
rare kind of thoughtful, quiet, intelligent, determined, tireless, patient, well connected, allied-with-darkness kind of vengeance.
The most dangerous kind.
Getting started had been easy.† Devoid of serious challenge.† Unfair even.
Amazon.com and Netflix, with their sales
rankings and thinly veiled sell-up schemes, had already done Sinon the
courtesy of compiling the list of the top 100 DVDs.† The bustling, 500 vendor Hong Kong PC malls
did the rest.† Shopping list in hand,
his team had been able to find the vast majority of the DVDs for a dollar a
piece.† Computers donít fleece
copyright holders.† People do.
Back in their 26th floor Hong
Kong office suite, a dozen overclocked 3GHz rigs tweaked and video encoders
optimized, getting each of the DVDs DeCSSíd, transcoded to DivX and split
into 5Mb blocks took only one day in three shifts of two.
And there they were.† 500 billion bits.† $20 billion of previous revenue.† Patiently waiting on hard drives.† Forever stripped of their ability to make
another penny for Hollywood.
Writing the application was just a
four-week ego trip for his software guys.†
Some Gnutella code, a bunch of GUI work, a
couple of sweet protocol hacks and they had movio, a peer-to-peer system for proliferating their
stockpile.† The hard part was the
obfuscation to resist the reverse engineering.† That was a geek thing.† Had to spend some time on it.† Couldnít let the white hats bring you down.
Good plans donít come for
free, but that hadnít been a problem either.† The radicalsí cell commander, a
surprisingly levelheaded technocrat, holed up on a triple DES encoded phone
somewhere between Cairo and Riyadh, only needed a six-minute explanation
before he agreed to pay the six-figure advance.
Yes, it had been easy.† So far.
was no ordinary peer-to-peer network.†
It was network and content in one, built for a single purpose:† distribution of a large collection of data
from one initial source.† movio traded
strictly in the component files of the movies.† Nothing new would get onto, or off, the
network.† And there would be no ďget
on, get one, get offĒ kiddies either.†
You use movio, you commit to
downloading all 100 movies in blocks of 25, not to
mention that you committed 30% of your bandwidth for uploads.† At least as long as you wanted movio to give you access to your downloads.
You did not search for content.† It was install-and-forget while movio busied itself doing the
rest:† connect to the network,
continuously discover the most suitable peers for transfers, optimally queue
thousands of component files, manage all downloads and re-assemble the pieces
on the client into the complete movies.
With a 500kbps DSL connection, movio running nearly 100% bandwidth
utilization for 16 hours a day and constrained to 50% for eight hours,
getting your first 25 movies took five days.†
You would have all 100 in three weeks.
On a college network, depending on how
closely the network guys were watching, the whole thing could take less than
To get a running start, Sinon and the crew
had gotten themselves a dedicated 44.7Mbps T3 pipe a couple of hops from Asia
Global Crossingís Pacific backbone.† In
addition, they had shipped hard drives with duplicates of the movie data to
the man in Dulles running three servers into a fractional T3 five hops from
Verioís Eastern US backbone and to a friend in Rotterdam running another three servers into a
fractional E3 seven short hops from UUNETís European backbone.† Sinon would have
preferred more sources and more bandwidth for the first 30 days, but whom can
you trust these days.
They planned on shutting down and moving
to higher ground after thirty days.†
Under good conditions, the networkís dispersion would be enough.† They would have distributed as many as
500,000 copies of the entire stash.† It
would be too late, even for the service providers, to attempt systematic
After a stiff drink, and a last look
around the room, they got on Instant Messengers and shared 150 copies of movio with bandwidth hogs in Korea, Japan, the US, the UK, the Netherlands and Germany.†
The devotees were encouraged to keep the distribution on private IM
channels.† Password-protected FTP was
for amateurs and porn peddlers.
It was just minutes before the servers
started jumping.† Within a couple of
hours all the darkest corners of AIM, MSN Messenger and Yahoo IM were quietly
It had begun.
Augmentation, Proliferation and Detection
There are few things you cannot draw on a
napkin and turn into low cost hardware reality within three months.† Presuming, of course, you know your way
And Sinon knew.† Several weeks
before movioís release, he had
started discussions with a design and manufacturing house in HsinTienCity.†
He needed small, portable, low cost
storage and playback for movio
libraries.† They would call it movio Pocket Theater.† MPT.†
Thirty movies in your pocket.†
Play them back on any TV with video inputs.† MPT was to iPod like crack to Sanka.
With a dozen 20Gb mp3 players on the
market, there were enough reference designs to get a running start.† They avoided the big color LCD
altogether.† That extended battery life
and kept cost low enough to put in a big CPU to get a smooth video decode all
the way up to 640x480.† Besides, the
old school gadgeteers would get off on the monochrome LCD UI.
Three-jack RCA and S-Video were the
choices for Video Out and USB 2.0 for digital IO.† The real coup, though, was getting high
speed USB 2.0 On-The-Go into the small form factor while still staying under
the BOM target.† This way two MPTs
could connect to each other.† As potent a person-to-person distribution scheme as the
street corner drug deal.† You could see
the movie swapping parties already.†
Sneaker-Net on steroids.
But all this would not
be cheap.† Not even in Taipei.†
Sinon hoped the unobtrusive PayPal and Amazon digital tip jars they
included in movio would help
bootstrap MPT into existence.
*†††††††† *††††††††††††† *
After 13 days movioís spread exceeded a circle of unspoken discretion and
started to attract the attention of a few networking guys, including Len
Coon, Manager of Media Technologies at the Encino offices of the Motion
Picture Association of America.† Len had
picked up the app after getting a note from a college buddy
who now worked for SBC.† The US carrier had begun to look into unusual
levels of data traffic a day earlier.
It took three minutes for Len to realize
what he was looking at, and the rest of the morning and several hundred network traces, to determine how it worked.† The conclusion:† A gnutella derivative, already distributing
evenly from over 300 different IP addresses, presumably growing
exponentially.† Enough to make
the head of the MPAA unhappy.† Very
On day 17, after movio popped up in a post on the Gnutella Developer Forum, and
started inching its way up Daypop, The
Register covered it.† Three hours
later news.com had it on front page
with a quote from the MPAA reminding the interviewer that copyright
industries amounted to 5% of US GDP.†
Predictably, he called on the government and ISPs to shut down the
Public posturing about subpoenas for the
ISPs began.† They even dusted off talk
of legislation taxing ISPs to recover lost content revenue.† A few ISPs and colleges started to trial
balloon shutting down movio users,
but the minute it got coverage, the Slashdot
set started publishing lists of smaller ISP alternatives in most US metros.
Stuck between an MPAA rock and a fleeing
customer base hard place, SBC and Verizon chose to err on the side of
revenues and floated stronger personal protections positions to the press.
In business, he who gets commoditized last
wins.† While they were hanging the
content guys out to dry, the most enterprising ISPs started charging extra
for excessive bandwidth usage.† Content
may want to be free, but the pipe will cost you.
While fighting the war of words on the
front steps, in the backroom the ISPs and the MPAA were warming up the
digital countermeasures.† Coon quickly
discovered that movio was a tough
customer.† Having rogue copies of movioflood a
peer with search queries had little impact.†
Must be using basic heuristics to bit-bucket excessive query
traffic.† Even spoofing search results
to feed the network broken files merely caused movio to disconnect the spoofing peer automatically.† The damn thing had an encrypted table of
the checksum fingerprints of the original movie files.
The break came on day 26.† Coon had been tracing network activity for
nearly two weeks when a new type of Gnutella protocol message came across the
pipe.† Although it was nearly
impossible for Coon to realize all the implications of the functionality,
what he was observing was the network recursively updating itself in response
to one of Sinonís team members having logged in as a superuser and injecting
the pieces of a new movie into the network.
Coon was adding up the facts and extrapolating the possibilities.† movio was a Trojan Horse, and the people controlling it
had a virtual umbilical cord through which to feed it.† Worse yet, the cord could be initiated from
anywhere, any time.† And shut down
almost as fast.† The spread of the
injected data would be nearly impossible to control.
The next day the MPAA appeared again on
news.com alerting the modern world to the sinister possibilities of movio.†
On the heels of the failed attempt to shut down the network, however,
the comments were derided as a feeble attempt to FUD users.
Somewhere the RIAA was smiling ruefully.† This looked familiar.† The any-PR-is-good-PR effect that drove opening week record store and box office sales was now
feeding movioís spread.† Even the best spin
doctors did not have a doctrine for it.† Damned if you do.† Damned if you donít.† The only way to break the cycle would be to
start winning in court.† But there was
less to sue here than with Kazaa.† And
that had not been much.
It had been the second
news.com article that had gotten Cass Atkins interested in movio.† In
a lab at Brooklyn Technical High School, on a computer next to the
disassembled innards of an mp3 player, wearing a ďgot root?Ē t-shirt, Atkins,
a Computer Engineering major, was turning movio
into a mission. But at Americaís fifth largest High School--a school
that still graduated 96% of its seniors to four-year colleges--that kind of
zeal was commonplace.
On day 30 the Internet stats shops
estimated over 700,000 copies of movio
in use.† Sinonís PayPal and Amazon tip
jars stood at a shocking $1.27 million.†
Just enough to get MPT to production after the advance ran out.
It broke his heart, but to avoid being
fingered, he shut down the accounts and transferred the funds out of the US, obscuring the transaction through three
different banks.† Six hours later, they
had taken their servers off-line, shut everything down and packed up the
office.† It was time to get off the
field of play and watch the rest of the game from the skybox.
On day 87--with 5 million copies of movio in use--Taipei had the first MPT off the line.† After three weeks of nearly constant
effort, they were ready to go to volume.†
And volume it would be.
Taipei had bought all the rights from Sinon in
return for 15 points of their profit.†
The rest was just a matter of working buy.com against Amazon for the world-wide retail exclusive.† After Amazon conceded up-front payments and
five points lower margin, thy came away with the deal.† MPT was going to sell for $239.
The tech press had gladly chipped in the
PR frenzy for free.
It was unprecedented.† MPT sold 859,000 units in the first four
months.† Taipei even had to go into crash mode to bring
on an extra production facility in Guadalajara.
It had been 207 days.† There were 18 million copies of movio in use.† William Sinon was $4.5M richer.† But that had hardly been the point.
The black hats will tell you itís all
about social engineering.† movioís raison
díetre was tricking humans, not computers.†
It had worked.† Millions of
zombies had sold their digital soul for a hundred free movies.
Sinonís team had done it through the
superuser scheme Coon had observed seven months before.† This time, instead of a movie, they had
injected binary code that added hidden denial of service attack functions.†
Practically overnight Sinon had become
commander in chief of a network a thousand times the size of the one behind
the DDoS attacks of 2000.† And those
had merely brought down the Internet for three days.
It made old-school
SYN floods look like amateur hour.†
Every 6 minutes each zombie would randomly configure an attack.† Nine out of ten times, it would remain
dormant.† The tenth time, it would
chose one of the pre-selected two dozen victim Internet sites, one of three
attack mechanisms and a randomly spoofed source IP and go three minutes of
maximum outbound bandwidth in attacking the victim with Blowfish encrypted
packets.† Long enough to reek havoc
along with the several thousand other zombies that had chosen the same
attack, but short enough that network operators would not be able to get a
handle on the end-to-end traceback.
It started mid-afternoon on day 208.† Two dozen of the Internetís biggest sites
hammered by revolving sets of thousands of DDoS zombies that changed every
six minutes.† Sixteen of the sites went
completely dark for the next twenty four hours,
including CNN, EBay, Expedia, buy.com, Walmart, Dell and Cisco.† They spared Amazon.com.† You donít bite the hand that retails you.
It took CERT and the leading network guys,
including Coon at the MPAA, the first ten hours just to figure out that movio had something to do with
it.† They had turned off their traces
and capitulated three months before.
The news was everywhere the following
morning, some prominently featuring the MPAAís I-told-you-so rhetoric.† Most of the sites were still in deep
trouble, losing money every second of the way.† The attack continued with very little
daylight in sight as ISPs could not reliably shut off all the movio flow, and movio users were just beginning to hear about what their favorite
application was doing.† By , only eight million of the 18 million
copies had been shut down by their very disappointed users.
Back at BrooklynTechnicalHigh School, Cass Atkins had been in research heaven
since early in the morning when the security blogs had started buzzing with
the movio news.† Reverse engineering the attack was going to
make a great term project.
By mid-morning thousands of network events had been logged and sorted at the expense
of an aching back and dried out contact lenses.† Taking a break and trying to stretch out,
the MPT, resting innocently in its cradle next to the PC, caught Atkinsí eye.
While the rest of the civilized world was
chasing the movio DDoS attack,
Atkins started taking a screwdriver to the back of the MPT.
As the density of Mooreís Law continues to march inevitably
onward, the components on, in and around a printed circuit board have become
harder and harder to read.† To Atkins,
however, navigating the microscopic metropolis of a modern PCB like some
latter day Death Star strafing run was challenge, not chore.
It was all there.† Some of it very familiar.† Some of it new.† Some of it expected.† And some of it, like the older packaging on
the component above the LCD and near the 1mm hole in
the top left of the case, slightly unusual.
With multi-layer, double-sided circuit
boards, and space efficient flip chip packaging, it was hard to tell how many
connections came into, and out of, the component that had caught Atkinsí
attention, but it didnít look like much.†
Just PWR and GND, and a couple of traces from the
micro-controller.† In a design as
clearly lacking excess real estate as this handheld, it was unusual to see
components with so little apparent work to do.† Signal traces on the connections during
normal MPT operations confirmed Atkinsí suspicion:† The component was literally jobless.
A closer look at the packaging revealed an
odd two-piece top construction.†† Since
breaking the component would have no impact on MPT operation, Atkins took the
screwdriver to the seam between the two pieces of the component cover and
pried it open.
It would be difficult for Atkins to recall
later how much of the packaging had been worked open, but the hiss had been
very memorable indeed.† As had the
taste. †Slightly hot and bitter.† Quickly thereafter
the sensations of heaviness and dizziness hit.
The rest hadnít involve
much active participation by Atkins.† A
student in the far corner of the lab heard Atkins fall off the chair, rushed
over, found Atkins on the floor and called the paramedics.
The chemistry of Cyanide is complex.† When absorbed by the body, especially in
its gaseous Hydrocyanic Acid form, it reacts quickly with ferric iron in the
cytochrome oxidase enzyme, inhibiting electron transport and halting cellular
Its effects, on the other hand, are
starkly simple.† 500mg of HCN per cubic
yard of inhaled air cause fatal respiratory failure in a few minutes.
Atkins, however, had gotten lucky.† Not only did they get to the school six
minutes after the first phone call, but one of the two EMTs responding to the
call had received training on chemical agents during her stint in the
army.† She had smelled the faint odor
of almonds on Atkinsí breath, realized what must have happened and knew what
to do about it.
Fortunately, her particular post-9/11 New York ambulance had sodium nitrite on board,
which was hastily administered to Atkins, who nevertheless came close to flat-lining twice, on the rushed ride back to the
Emergency Room.† That was followed by
treatment with sodium thiosulfate once in the ER.
With the nitrite breaking the
cyanide-cytochrome bond and the thiosulfate reacting with the freed Cyanide
to form readily excreted thiocyanate, they had been able to reverse the
respiratory failure process within the first 20 minutes of exposure, saving
Standing in the corner of the ER, the
Attending knew that two minutes the other way, and he would be filling out
paperwork of the worst kind.
It was on day 209.
While Atkins recovered, the evacuation of
Brooklyn Tech continued.† As the
students filed out, the occupants of non-descript vans from somewhere deep
within the organizational structure of the Office of Homeland Security, went
it.† With the right equipment, it had
not been difficult to detect the mostly dissipated traces of HCN in the
computer lab.† There were no signs of
Cyanide elsewhere in the building.
Attracted by the unusual circumstances of
the poisoning, and dressed as New York cops, detectives in suits, and students,
the CIA was also on site.† Even the
NYPD hadnít realized that Atkinsí PC and shattered MPT, which they thought
had been collected by one of their own, had, in fact, been
spirited away by the spooks and was on its way back to Langley in a helicopter that had landed in the
park two blocks away.
The CIAís next visit was to Atkinsí
emergency room.† The three men swung
open the curtain to a lucid, but groggy, Cass Atkins hooked up to a serious
amount of wetware IO, including oxygen and two IVs in each arm.
Although they knew from the folks at
Brooklyn Tech that they were dealing with a female, they still did a double
take.† As it turned out, the only link
they had to back-tracking this odd case of Cyanide
poisoning was a sixteen year-old black girl. †All five feet, two inches of her.
It took the group of four only a couple of
minutes of reviewing the facts to determine that the MPT needed intense
scrutiny.† It took longer, however, to
convince the Attending to let the CIA fly Cass to the McLean lab with them.† He finally acquiesced after they agreed to
take a nurse with them.
Two medical helicopters and one CIA jet
later, they were in a special lab surrounding a propped up Atkins and looking
through protective glass at three technicians in HASMAT suits, working away
on a dozen new MPTs they had procured from staff members, kids of staff
members and local electronics stores.
With Cassí detailed description they were
able to quickly focus in on the odd component and discovered under microscopy
that the part had been augmented with an electrically breakable fuse that
opened up an evacuated chamber of 400mg of HCN.
What they couldnít know was that the parts
had been prepared in a make-shift operation in a Middle East laboratory that extracted the cyanide from
common industrial solvents and retrofitted the innocuous original components
with the HCN augmentation.† The
components had been trucked across the border to Saudi Arabia and sold to a distributor in Taiwan who had supplied the Taipei City ODM
building the MPTs.
The component, and its HCN cargo, was
present in all ten of the MPTs they disassembled.† Not only did that confirm Cassí encounter
had been no accident, but the electrically breakable fuse mechanism made it
clear that the HCN release was designed to be triggered, rather than occur
To unearth the trigger mechanism Cass and
three CIA white hats started going through all the MPT driver and control
code on the PC.† Intensely directing
one of the techs, Cass discovered that a fraction of the recent movio auto-update had attached itself
to the MPT drivers.† Half an hour later
they had figured out that the code added a hook that would trigger the MPT
HCN release at first insertion of the MPT into its cradle on US PCs after 0: on day 210.† Sinonís boys had timed it to coincide with
the back end of the chaos created by the DDoS attacks.
In stunned silence the small group stared
through the window of the lab as the HASMATíd tech adjusted the clock of his
PC forward and inserted one of the remaining MPTs into the cradle.† The cradle insertion trigger was perfect,
virtually guaranteeing that the user would be only an arms-length away from
the emission of the HCN, easily within the cubic yard box of efficacy of the
invisible cloud of death.
It was when the CIA made the conclusive call to
the White House.† They were facing a
possible death-toll three times that of US forces in
WWII, and 300,000 greater than that of the Civil War.† Not from a weapon of mass destruction on
one battlefield, but 900,000 weapons of individual destruction in homes,
offices, cubes, dorm rooms, warehouses and assembly lines.
They had six hours to mount the single
biggest product recall the world had ever seen.
They had only ten minutes to communicate
to outlets for the first major TV and radio news cycle.† In the rush, and lacking a clear message,
many outlets hesitated to run the story fearing hoax and panic.† By , however, the story had completely taken over
every TV, radio and web outlet.
By , Amazon.com had volunteered its entire
call center to contact its MPT customers.†
In a show of solidarity EBay, Dell, HP and IBM would later pitch in to
In what quickly became
the largest case of Spam in the history of the Internet, AOL, Yahoo, MSN and
other national ISPs allowed the government to e-mail all their customers and
continuously ran warnings in all IM chat rooms.
At the president went on the air confirming
the news.† Cass, who had been driven to
Washington when the White House press office
insisted on humanizing the story and underscoring its reality, appeared with
the president at the end of the address.†
She turned out to be a compelling spokesperson for the crisis and
spent the rest of the night doing as many TV interviews as the medical staff
In every call, e-mail, IM, news story and
interview the goals were the same.†
Keep MPTs away from their cradle, get people
to seal them in plastic bags and communicate when and how the device
collection effort would commence.
By helicopters, ambulances and ERs
nationwide were standing by for the grim likelihoods that come with the kinds
of numbers they were dealing with.†
Entire time zones would hold their breath like some New Yearís Eve
countdown from hell.
Shortly after , five people returning from a frat party
at the University of Miami where they had exchanged movies became
the nationís first victims when they were exposed to HCN trying to download
the movies to their PCs.† Not having
heard about the MPT issue and worried that their brothers had gone down after
drug binges at the party, the frat hesitated long enough in calling the
paramedics that the five were not able to recover from their symptoms in the
More reports rolled in.† Some, like the three people saved in the
ERs in Georgia and five in Ohio, were good news.† Others, like the dozen who didnít pull
through in California, were not.
But few were prepared for the worst
tally.† As night dragged into a long day,
26 missing person reports from around the nation turned into discoveries of
people who had died alone, on the floor next to their computer having paid
the last, full measure of devotion to Hollywood.
To the deep relief of everyone, however,
the death toll began to drop dramatically after the first 24 hours of
constant news barrage and friendly phone calls that threatened to bring down
every cellular network in the country.
And within 48 hours
the nation started to focus on collection of the MPTs with an impressive
logistical effort that deployed specially equipped National Guard trucks and
police officers to every US Post Office in the country.
Everyone that dropped off an MPT for
collection and destruction received a special destruction coupon.† Reparations had not been determined by the
government, and there was fear that without coupons stragglers would resist
turning in their MPTs
The devices were later destroyed at six
undisclosed locations.† With the
exception of a highway hold-up of one of the transporting trucks
which was resolved by Army sharp-shooters after a four hour stand-off,
the operation concluded two months later without further injury or deaths.
When it was done, the death toll stood at
52.† A number miraculously 164 persons
less than the most optimistic simulation the CIA had offered the president in
the early hours of the crisis.† And
undoubtedly thousands less than the unthinkable:† What if Cass Atkins, BrooklynTechnicalHigh School sophomore, hadnít been the first to
discover the secrets of the MPT?
Within a year of the dramatic events, Hollywood and three consumer electronics giants had
collaborated to deliver the same combination of service and devices that movio and MPT had offered, except this
time with Digital Rights Management and sleeker, lighter weight Pocket
Theaters with color LCD screens.
They had done so not for the altruism of
replacing that which had been lost with something more trustworthy, but for
the simple, unadulterated financial opportunity that had been proven by a
tiny group of renegades and the millions whose need had been found and met.
In a ceremony held at Brooklyn Tech, Cass
Atkins got the first one.† The president, the head of the MPAA and Cassí favorite actor, Denzel
Washington, were on hand to present it to her.† It was engraved:† From
a grateful nation.
Everyone who had had an MPT was able to
exchange their destruction voucher for a discount on the new devices, and
within three months units had climbed through the
one million mark again.
The service charged nothing for the
distribution of the movies, including downloads from so-call supernodes the
industry had put in place to guarantee high-speed downloads.† Four days of viewing cost $4.95 and unlocking
the movie on your Pocket Theater permanently and burning one DVD-R cost
The twist in the whole model was the
back-end accounting scheme that actually allowed the individual users
propagating the movies through uploads from their computers, or sharing from
their Pocket Theaters, to earn a 20% commission on the eventual revenue of
the movie.† It proved to be both a zero
distribution cost mechanism for the studios, and an ďif your friends donít
pay, you donít get a commissionĒ way to increase the rate of fair payment.
The program would become so popular that
it launched an entire cottage industry of movie swapping parties and
residential supernodes.† The
commissions on millions of files per month proved very attractive indeed.† After the first three million units of the
Pocket Theaters had been sold, even Blockbuster and some of the consumer
electronics retailers started to put USB 2.0 movio download stations in their stores.
It would become the post-DVD superstar of Hollywood.