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Adobe Blasts Nikon's Closed File Format 347

Posted by Zonk
from the starting-a-fist-fight dept.
Joe Decker writes "Thomas Knoll, creator of Adobe Photoshop, blasts Nikon's use of encryption to limit access to white-balance information contained in D2X RAW images files. Fearing the DMCA, Adobe won't reverse-engineer the file, slightly reducing Photoshop's support for those files. Nikon responds. Is Adobe whining? Is Nikon shooting itself in the foot?" We've covered this previously.
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Adobe Blasts Nikon's Closed File Format

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  • Nikon (Score:5, Funny)

    by wirah (707347) on Monday April 25, 2005 @06:41AM (#12334922) Homepage Journal
    Nikon are screwing open source developers in the foot too :(
    • Re:Nikon (Score:5, Funny)

      by DrXym (126579) on Monday April 25, 2005 @06:49AM (#12334956)
      Mixed metaphors are fun! The hands on the other foot now!
    • Re:Nikon (Score:5, Informative)

      by mballe (878747) on Monday April 25, 2005 @07:22AM (#12335064)
      What other digital camera manufacturers have documented their RAW file format?

      Adobe has previously been having a similar problem with the Fuji WB's as it can been seen here, taken from the following thread on usenet:

      http://groups-beta.google.com/group/adobe.photosho p.windows/browse_thread/thread/8636502afc4e20f9/60 6e144ad0af19c2?q=fuji+s2+white+balance+adobe&rnum= 7&hl=en#606e144ad0af19c2 [google.com]

      >Chris Cox Feb 20 2003, 10:08 pm show options
      >It's out of agreement because the plugin cannot read the FUJI
      >proprietary and undocumented data, and is making a guess at
      >the whitepoint based on the image contents.
      >
      >If you would like to see this improved, please contact Fuji and
      >ask them to work with Adobe to read their proprietary and
      >undocumented file format(s).
      • by Morgaine (4316) on Monday April 25, 2005 @09:10AM (#12335655)
        What other digital camera manufacturers have documented their RAW file format?

        That entirely misses the point.

        Undocumented RAW formats are one thing, and can in most cases be reverse-engineering quite trivially just by using commonsense.

        But what Nikon did was to *ENCRYPT* the values contained in one particular set of fields, those holding the white balance information.

        This is totally unrelated to the structure of their RAW files being undocumented. It requires a decryption key to release that data (which is the photographer's data anyway, not theirs), and commonsense cannot possibly reveal it.
        • I totally agree that what Nikon is doing is stupid, but it is not much different from what other manufacturers have been doing.

          As far as I know, Canon is also doing some kind of encryption of the WB in some of its cameras, which can be seen in the dcraw source code.
          • by plover (150551) * on Monday April 25, 2005 @10:17AM (#12336110) Homepage Journal
            Umm, no.

            I just looked at dcraw.c [cybercom.net] and the parts pertaining to parsing Canon's white balance info simply use the camera model name to determine where in the RAW file Canon put the WB. Hardly "encryption", it's just an offset that varies by format.

            Canon appears to develop a unique RAW file format by camera model. That makes a "tiny" bit of sense in that each file can accurately describe precisely the data the camera is capable of producing. It makes it harder in the long run to support dozens of file formats, but that's a trade-off Canon appears to be willing to live with. Keep in mind that Canon has to eat their own dogfood, too -- every format they produce means a new software release to parse the RAW files. And Canon doesn't charge for these downloads -- once you've bought their camera, it comes with software and upgrades (so far) have been free. So there's no real economic incentive for them to continue this, but they do.

            What I think is most important regarding this issue is that it's simply a tempest in a teapot, being stirred by Adobe for their own political reasons. First, it's only on a single high-end pro camera -- affecting only a select set of professional photographers, most of whom have never heard of Open Source. Second, it's only white balance information. It's what the photographer told the camera about "white" or "gray" at the time of the shot, but it doesn't change the underlying image data. It's nothing that can't be recovered in the digital darkroom during processing. Finally, the encryption is trivial to break -- Adobe is raising a ruckus claiming the DMCA is preventing reverse engineering. In reality, most Open Source developers would simply ignore the DMCA and perform the decoding anyway.

            In the camera world Nikon stands alone in this stupidity, but it's really too small of a matter to concern any of us, (unless you're looking for a DMCA poster child to nail to the wall.)

            • In reality, most Open Source developers would simply ignore the DMCA and perform the decoding anyway.
              Yes, but most Open Source developers don't have as much money as Adobe.

              Somebody who can, say, afford to buy Macromedia is much more likely to get slapped with a giant lawsuit.

            • Adobe is raising a ruckus claiming the DMCA is preventing reverse engineering.

              I thought it was Nikon that raised the ruckus by threatening Adobe with it.

              Either way, it being trivial to break isn't going to be a winning arguement in court. Indeed, trivial encryption is exactly what the DMCA was made for. Strong encryption doesn't need to be protected by law.

              Honestly, I hope Adobe is successful in stirring things up around this. If it actually goes to court there stands a very good chance of a bit of the DMCA being chipped away, since it's actually the end user who owns copyright on the data being encrypted.

              Trivial or not, Nikon needs to be kicked in the head.

            • by aaarrrgggh (9205) on Monday April 25, 2005 @12:07PM (#12337354)
              A lot of people don't seem to understand why the white balance has value to a professional photographer. When you shoot RAW, you can completely correct for ambient lighting after the fact by adjusting the white balance, and without any loss of quality.

              Even just for "pro-sumer" cameras, this feature is great when working with ambient light.
            • First, it's only on a single high-end pro camera -- affecting only a select set of professional photographers...

              It is for now, but Nikon has several new cameras, including consumer models, coming up. What's to say they won't all use the encrypted NEF as well in hopes of doing whatever this is supposed to do for them? After these cameras, there will be more cameras, any of which could meet the same fate.

              Second, it's only white balance information. It's what the photographer told the camera about "white"
            • it's simply a tempest in a teapot,

              No, Nikon are obviously market testing the we-encrypt-your-data waters and trying to set a precedent.

              Future models will be much more restrictive. If there is no backlash now when do you think people should take a stand?

              Kudos to Adobe on this one.

              ---

              DRM - Democracy Restriction & Manipulation

      • by RDW (41497) on Monday April 25, 2005 @09:30AM (#12335773)
        One key difference is that Nikon has not only left their file format undocumented, they've actively encrypted a key image parameter, allegedly as a spoiler tactic to prevent 3rd party developers fully parsing the files without signing up as 'approved' developers. If Nikon decides you are a 'bona fide' software company worthy of the honour, you can get hold of an SDK (apparently Windows/Mac C++ only with binary runtime libraries) but won't be given a full description of the file format. This has serious implications for the use of Nikon NEF files as an archival format (will Nikon's SDK components work on whatever OS you are running in 20 years time?), for developers who want to use their own algorithms (like Adobe), and for FOSS projects. Luckily, Dave Coffin has already reverse engineered [zdnet.com] the decryption algorithm in the current version of his open source dcraw [cybercom.net] RAW converter, so we're not yet locked out of the NEF format. What isn't yet clear is whether Nikon will continue with this sort of tactic in future NEF versions, and if Adobe will overcome their DMCA concerns to fully support NEF in their ACR raw converter (assuming they're not just grandstanding). Incidentally, there's a brief description by Tom Christiansen of the white balance encryption algorithm here [dpreview.com], and a pointer by Thomas Knoll (of Photoshop fame) to the relevant section of the dcraw code here [dpreview.com].
    • The paper is here:

      http://www.adobe.com/products/dng/main.html

      Essentially they're trying to create an open, ISO certified format that is capable of holding all the RAW information that a camera maker would need. This would future proof images so that they can be read by a number of tools.

      cheers,

      Kris
    • Re:Nikon (Score:3, Interesting)

      by alphakappa (687189)
      Don't forget Adobe's opinion on closed formats (eBook) and the attempts of people to make interoperable tools. The last time someone tried it, he ended up being arrested [freesklyarov.org].
  • Hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Agret (752467) <alias...zero2097@@@gmail...com> on Monday April 25, 2005 @06:41AM (#12334923) Homepage Journal
    Will this turn into something like Open Office's support for the .DOC format?
    • Re:Hmm (Score:3, Informative)

      by RaffiRai (870648)
      Ptobably not, as Nikon has already responded violently and Adobe is a rich, proprietary company, who doesn't want people writing unlicensed support for the PSD, and doesn't like what's happened with PDFs.
      • Re:Hmm (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ucklak (755284)
        The PDF standard IS open and published. Adobe commissioned the standard so it could get it's foothold in the fonts. It actually likes what is happening with PDF

        PDF - It Just Works.
      • Huh? PDFs? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Grendel Drago (41496)
        What, exactly, has happened with PDFs that Adobe doesn't like?

        Hell, they've managed to make most people think you need horribly expensive "Distiller" software, when they could just use GhostScript and PDFCreator. What a racket...

        --grendel drago
        • Re:Huh? PDFs? (Score:3, Informative)

          by Politburo (640618)
          Unless GS cleaned up its act, it's simply no match for Acrobat tools when you're seriously working with PDFs.

          We have GS on all machines here, and Acrobat on three. I never use GS. It crashes, can't handle multiple page sizes (iirc), has an absolutely horrible interface (distilling ps is a nightmare for me, let alone non power-users).. in short, paying for Acrobat is worth it.
    • by alteridem (46954) on Monday April 25, 2005 @10:06AM (#12336017) Homepage
      Hopefully this will turn into something open. Many photographers are very concerned about the archiving of their photos taken in RAW format. Will we still be able to read the many different formats 5, 10 or 100 years from now? Imagine if all of Ansel Adams negatives and prints (or any other great photographer) were now in unreadable formats!

      To combat this, Adobe has introduced a new open RAW format called DNG for digital negative [adobe.com]. They provide a free converter to convert all of the closed proprietary formats to it and are willing to work with the camera comanies to make sure that the format contains the information they need.

      The RAW converter that came with $2500 Minolta SLR I bought does a terrible job. They want me to pay an extra several hundred dollars for the Pro version that does the job decently. All that just to read the damn pictures I take!

      Can you imagine if you bought a film camera and got consistently crappy prints from it unless you bought a pro-upgrade lab? At least Adobe takes the time to reverse engineer these proprietary formats and even provides a free tool to convert to an open format.

    • OpenRaw.org (Score:4, Informative)

      by Nowhere.Men (878773) on Monday April 25, 2005 @10:29AM (#12336252)
      http://www.openraw.org/ [openraw.org] OpenRAW is a group of photographers and other interested people advocating the open documentation of digital camera RAW files.
  • Why doesn't Adobe just break the encryption outside of the United States, and keep all the infringing information on non-US servers so they cannot be sued for breaking the law in the US. I'm sure other people work around the DMCA in the same way?
    • by NeuralAbyss (12335) on Monday April 25, 2005 @06:45AM (#12334940) Homepage
      They're a US company; the same way that soliciting somebody to commit a crime is (usually) criminal, I'm assuming they'd also be found to be guilty in a civil court when the DMCA is broken.
    • A couple of guesses:

      1. Nikon would try to sue anyway and Adobe wants to avoid the legal headache.

      2. Adobe wants to settle the issue nicely without alienating a manufacturer of high-end cameras, cameras which are no doubt used by a lot of people who use Photoshop to edit their photos.
    • didn't adobe use the DMCA against some russian guy ?

      Adobe can't have it both ways.
  • NEF file formats will continue to have support in Adobe Photoshop as a plugin. This is the current state of NEF processing, it will continue to be so in the future.

    The Nikon SDK that permits decoding of the format is still available to 3rd parties.

    In short, it's the same as it ever was.

    If the licensing is so heinous that an open source project can't accept it, then perhaps the problem isn't on the Nikon side, but in the perception and conception of how licensing should work on the part of the project team.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      If the licensing is so heinous that an open source project can't accept it

      It isn't a problem for open source projects. They can already access the data [lwn.net]. Well, those outside the US anyway, and people inside just need to download from outside...

      It's Adobe, a proprietary US company, that's having problems.
    • As far as I am aware, Adobe had not paid - they used a widely used public domain (OSS) piece of decoder software instead.

    • by Ben Hutchings (4651) on Monday April 25, 2005 @07:19AM (#12335056) Homepage
      You need to sign an NDA to get hold of it, so it won't be redistributable and most users are going to have to just disable its use when building the program. It probably only includes binaries for Windows/x86, anyway.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Or one might make the case that a picture taken using Nikon equipment - or any other brand - is really the property of the person who shot it. That person should be able to do whatever he or she wants with the photo without having to pay Nikon any more $, either directly or indirectly through the cost of software whose developers had to pay for a license to Nikon's SDK. Call me crazy.

      And yes, of course the solution is "if you don't like it, don't buy it". So I won't. However, I'm feeling some pity and righ
    • by gaspyy (514539) on Monday April 25, 2005 @08:22AM (#12335350)
      What most /.-ers miss is that Adobe Camera RAW as well as most other converters such as Capture One or RawShooter don't rely on manufacturers' SDK to convert RAW files. This way they can achive better results.

      I don't know about Nikon, but for my Canon I know that ACR produces far better results than Canon RAW Converter.
    • Typically the SDKs don't provide full, unfettered access to the manufacturer's raw format, just a subset. Canon is as bad as Nikon in this regard. Despite that, Thomas Knoll has usually managed to decode any given camera's raw format well enough that Adobe Camera Raw produces results as good or better than the manufacurer's software and with more parameters that can be adjusted.

      My experience with a Canon G4 is that ACR not only is more flexible (and even allows recovery of blown highlights if at least one
  • by Zog The Undeniable (632031) on Monday April 25, 2005 @06:44AM (#12334937)
    I guess silly software patents should be thrown into the film vs digital debate. There's not a lot you can do to prevent someone else's brand of standard format film or paper being used in your camera, for example.

    Patents aside, there might also be an issue reading some of these manufacturers' RAW formats in years to come if you've lost the original CD or it doesn't work on Windows ZZZZ.

  • Hooray for the DMCA (Score:5, Informative)

    by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Monday April 25, 2005 @06:44AM (#12334938) Homepage Journal
    Fortunately, outside the Land Of The Free(tm), anyone can access Nikon's encrypted data [lwn.net] with a simple GNU/Linux application [cybercom.net]
    • by Pofy (471469)
      >Fortunately, outside the Land Of The Free(tm),
      >anyone can access Nikon's encrypted data with a

      Considering it is NOT Nikon's data, I don't see the problem to start with.
  • Both (Score:5, Interesting)

    by StormyWeather (543593) on Monday April 25, 2005 @06:46AM (#12334945) Homepage
    Is Adobe whining? -- Yes.
    Is Nikon shooting itself in the foot? -- Yes.

    1. Adobe is whining because it doesn't really matter in the end (see #2).

    2. Nikon is shooting itself in the foot because even though I'm not a professional I know enough gurus in the graphics field to know that they are insane product researchers, and won't come within 10 feet of a product that will produce less than optimal results with photoshop.

    Ok, next topic. Refresh, refresh, refresh...
    • Re:Both (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bogado (25959) <bogado@NoSPAm.bogado.net> on Monday April 25, 2005 @09:27AM (#12335753) Homepage Journal
      I don't think adobe is whining. I believe that a photographer that buys Photoshop will expect it to work with his camera out of the box. When he install it and discover that the raw do not work, he will be very frustaded, and possibly ver angry with (guess who?) Adobe.
    • Re:Both (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rebelcool (247749) on Monday April 25, 2005 @09:53AM (#12335946)
      I actually am a pro photographer.

      ACR (adobe's raw converter) has always produced suboptimal results with NEF, so many don't use it. It takes quite a bit of profiling and tweaking to get an image that doesnt look flat and dull out of it - something other raw converters dont seem to have a problem with. So typically you export to TIFF in another converter, then do your photoshopping.

      Most really high end camera systems use completely proprietary formats that only their own software can read. I've got a 22mp digital back here that costs 5 times what a D2X costs and it can only be handled with its own software. This has been pretty normal for years ...

      As a professional, this is an annoyance, but at the same time, I can't say it bugs me too much. Photographers arent quite as obsessed with things like this as typical slashdotters are. Got better things to do...

      It is however, a PR nightmare. Nikon's never been too good at PR. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out. I think theres much more going on behind the scenes between adobe and nikon than is let on.
  • What will happen (Score:5, Interesting)

    by seanyboy (587819) * on Monday April 25, 2005 @06:49AM (#12334955)
    Is that Nikon camera users will blame Adobe for a lack of compatibility, and there's nothing Adobe will be able to do about it. If the other camera builders do the same, then Adobe could well be stuffed for Raw File editing. I'm guessing that Nikon have done a deal with a different graphics editing company.
    The best solution would be to pay camera companies to include a "Compatible with Photoshop" peelable sticker on the bottom of the camera / camera packaging. That'd probably get Nikon crawling back pretty quickly.
    • Nikon has well known products but so does Adobe. What if Adobe prints in a huge black font in its manual, product box or emails to customers the message that unfortuantely due to lack of cooperation from Nikon they will not provide opening and editing of Nikon RAW files. Maybe someone (or many!) avid Adobe Photoshop users will eventually want to upgrade thier digital camera, and I wonder if they would remember that Nikon RAW files don't "work" in Photoshop and choose another camera. A little far fetched bu
      • That may work, but If I were an Adobe Marketing or legal person, I'd be loathe to put negative messages about other large companies in my documentation. I'd also be wary about making the fight so obvious to my customers. At least something like the Designed for Windows [microsoft.com] or Intel Inside logos wouldn't be overtly negative against Nikon.
  • Double strandards? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geighaus (670864) on Monday April 25, 2005 @06:51AM (#12334967)
    It is ironic that Adobe mocks Nikon for their closed file format, while they are guilty of suing a person who reverse-engineered their precious format in the past. It would be fun if Adobe try to reverse-engineer their format and Nikon would respond by throwing one of their engineers into jail.
    • by hey! (33014)
      Well, I think Nikon is wrong, but it's a different situation altogether.

      First of all, what we are talking about is not reverse engineering, it's cracking the encryption scheme used in a format that is well documented (in the case of PDF; don't know about Nikon's raw format). Second of all, Adobe is choosing not to do this, IIRC, so you can't say they are being inconsistent from a legal standpoint.

      The essential difference between these situations is that Nikon's format prevents a work's owner from doing c
  • by Adult film producer (866485) <van@i2pmail.org> on Monday April 25, 2005 @06:51AM (#12334970)
    Looks like Nikon's goofy encryption has been broken. [com.com]

    Oh, here's a link to dcraw [cybercom.net] which will blast through Nikon's bullshit.
  • by MMC Monster (602931) on Monday April 25, 2005 @06:51AM (#12334971)
    Word of mouth is an amazing thing. I bought a digital camera a couple years ago. After reading a lot of web sites, I choose a Canon G5. Since I'm the go-to guy in my circle when it comes to tech purchases, I've convinced at least 5 or 6 friends to purchase Canon digital cameras. Choose with your feet and tell others to do the same. As a group we've got a lot of power.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 25, 2005 @07:24AM (#12335078)
      Easier said than done at the D2X end of the line (or Canon 1D / 1Ds, same idea). People have thousands (or, if they're buying D2X's, probably tens or hundreds of thousands) of dollars invested in glass (lenses to everyone else). Switching camera manufactureres is a VERY expensive proposition. Not only do you have to buy a whole new set of glass, but you have to learn (from scratch) which of the new manufacturers lenses work best for what you do, and how to use them to get that result.

      Sure, at the G5/Powershot/etc level, changing brands is a matter of picking a new camera up. When you get into DSLRs, changing brands is orders of magnitude more expensive than simply buy a new camera body.
  • Squeel? (Score:5, Funny)

    by t_allardyce (48447) on Monday April 25, 2005 @06:52AM (#12334973) Journal
    Adobe should just put a little message in so when you try to access a Nikon camera in Photoshop it starts bitching about the DMCA and how Nikon doesn't love their customers as much as other manufacturers.
    • Well, except (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tkrotchko (124118) *
      Except that Adobe is a fan of the DMCA. So they didn't like it when people decrypted their ebook format and had the programmer jailed (!).

      So now they're complaining about somebody else doing the same thing. I find their whining at best, uh, whiny.
  • by LittleBigLui (304739) on Monday April 25, 2005 @06:56AM (#12334990) Homepage Journal
    Freely readable white-balance information is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.
  • by mrons (2769) on Monday April 25, 2005 @06:56AM (#12334993)
    Nikon says they will provide a SDK for "bona fide software developers". I wonder what they are?
  • first its just an encryption.. and for later i expect they'll apply public-key for camera too.. and maybe, just maybe, then digital format photo can be accepted in court as evidence
    • Canon already offers a system for this very purpose: http://www.dpreview.com/news/0401/04012903canondv k e2.asp

      Of course, the feature here is that it can be turned on or off as the user wishes. Moreover, you don't need to encrypt a file format to create a valid digital signature for it.

      The only reason for Nikon to do this is to make sure that they can charge a license fee for anyone who wants to be able to manipulate raw images taken with their hardware. The best solution for everybody would be to do th
  • I had a visitor last week who brought her new Nikon with her. She had filled up the memory stick so she asked me to empty it for her...

    It was full of .NEF files (no, I haven't RTFA so I don't know if these are the files in question) so I emptied them off and she went back to taking pictures.

    Thing is, the CD's she had with her that she'd got with the camera, were full of crippled software - "lite" versions you have to purchase the full version, etc.

    I didn't have the time or inclination to look into it fully

    • by ukleafer (845880) on Monday April 25, 2005 @07:33AM (#12335119)
      The NEF file format is Nikon's RAW data, ie: not compressed to JPEG or other format, it's pure image data from the camera's sensor.

      By default, Nikon cameras (that are able to shoot RAW) convert to JPEG on the camera, and you have to select RAW manually. Sadly though as you discovered, they don't supply fully licensed software that can read RAW data with their cameras, beyond a trial version of Nikon Capture (this might have worked for you?).

      Granted - their software is a total pain in the ass to install. I've just recovered from a situation in which I installed updated 4.1 to 4.2, but the installer crashed, and 4.1 refused to reinstall because it detected the remnants of 4.2 and aborted - leaving me with no usable version of the software. In the end I had to borrow a copy of version 3 which didn't have the newer-version-check in the installer, and then patch up from there.

      I'm not bothered about NEF being encrypted or whatever, but I do think it's lame that they don't supply a fully licensed copy of Nikon Capture with their cameras that can shoot RAW. I own a D70 and had to fork out for a copy of it to make the most of the camera. Other than that, Photoshop natively supports NEF files, although IMO the remote control and live previewing features of Capture make it worth the cost.
    • by Total_Wimp (564548) on Monday April 25, 2005 @08:06AM (#12335254)
      Thing is, the CD's she had with her that she'd got with the camera, were full of crippled software - "lite" versions you have to purchase the full version, etc

      This is the crap I hate. You buy some nice piece of hardware that seems like it _should_ work just spiffy on its own, but the truth is you have to use someone's proprietary software or go searching for a hack to make it work. It's maddening.

      Other things in this category: My daughters' iPod. Yeah, I know y'all love iTunes and I know that it doesn't suck, but maybe you can cut me some slack in the fact that I happened to choose a different package for my MP3 library before getting her the iPod. Now I have this incompatible mess. I could just switch to iTunes throughout the house, but why should I have to make that choice just to put a stupid MP3 file on her player?

      My cell phone has this nice memory card that I need synch software in order to access. Yeah, I can store and use a gig of data, including MP3s, software, books, etc, but I can't access it on any computer that doesn't have ActiveSync. Why?

      I'm sick of it. Maybe these folks think they're helping me out by including their crappys software or maybe they're just doing it to lock me in. Either way, it makes me, the consumer, wary of buying their products. That can't be something they actually like.

      TW
  • Is it just me, or is Adobe being just a teensy bit hypocritical here?
  • by kabbor (856635) on Monday April 25, 2005 @07:24AM (#12335075) Homepage
    There would be no question that Adobe is a "bona fide software developer", and would be able to get their hands on the SDK. The good news is that they are refusing to sign up for it - They are determined to get the information out in the public domain, legaly.
    For this, they should be praised. IMHO.
  • They could always make a non US version were they don't have to care about the DMCA.
  • by Deep Fried Geekboy (807607) on Monday April 25, 2005 @07:47AM (#12335179)
    Nikon are free to do this.

    We are free not to buy their products.

    I run a heavy traffic photo mailing list (http://www.topica.com/lists/streetphoto) and the overwhelming response has been "Stuff Nikon".

    Photogs tend to have well established workflows with a few choice tools (eg Capture One + PSCS) and do not enjoy having to use Nikon's frequently b0rked software.

    There is no reason whatever to encrypt this data except to screw more $$ out of the customer.

    If Nikon had a conspicuously superior product then this might conceivably make some kind of bean-counting sense but these days they don't. Canon's DP stuff is arguably superior and the only real effect of this on anyone will be to drive up Canon sales and drive down Nikon, amplifying an already-existing trend.

    Thomas Knoll, who blew the whistle on this, is regarded with great affection within the DP community. Nikon is not.

    If you listen carefully, you can hear the sound of Nikon flushing itself down the toilet.
  • How ironic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jyoull (512280) <jim&media,mit,edu> on Monday April 25, 2005 @07:53AM (#12335199)
    Well, this is certainly an ironic twist. Adobe should have lost its right to complain about the DMCA when it created the Dmitry Sklyarov incident, creating the first and still most ominous DMCA-related precedent for the use of criminal charges for what are fundamentally business problems and civil matters...

    Adobe CREATED this and now wants protection from it. That's kinda funny. I don't care so much about white balance. The other issue in this matter is much more interesting.
    • Re:How ironic (Score:3, Interesting)

      by troyboy (9890)
      Adobe has also been a successful defendant in a DMCA lawsuit over font software embedded in PDFs. The court held that non-mandatory bit flags that can be used for copy protection are not effective access controls under the DMCA and that disregarding those flags is not necessarily a violation of the DMCA. (The lawsuit was brought by Agfa Monotype Corporation.)
  • by -unta (712537) on Monday April 25, 2005 @07:55AM (#12335208)

    I bought a D70 recently. I choose cameras by using them (and of course reading the odd review). This way i've always bought cameras that I, myself, can take great pictures with (previously, Canon A70, Olympus C-5060).

    I also tried out the Canon 300D and 350D, E-300 etc. The Nikon felt best in my hand. That's the secret to a good camera/photographer relationship.

    I would put up with having to install a plug-in if it meant getting better results. Perhaps Nikon's plug-in produces better results?? They did create the camera, after-all.

    I think Nikon's biggest problem is they have no decent mid-range D-SLR. But then I can't imagine what you would need that the D70 can't deliver.
  • To put things in context, I'm one of the specialists in this sort of thing at one of the oldest and most respected photographic suppliers in the midwest.

    Shooters who are serious about RAW files don't use Photoshop as their RAW converter. Photoshop may be the number-one image editor, but when you've got 300 RAW files to process it's totally unacceptable for that task. Not only is the output merely good rather than great, Photoshop just isn't engineered for smooth high-volume workflow. If you shoot weddings, catalogs, fashion, or the like; you've got too many files to use Photoshop time-efficiently.

    The kind of shooter who needs a D2x will be using something like Capture One [phaseone.com]. I once used it to convert 300 RAWs under difficult stage lights in two hours. I grouped photos under similar light, fine tuned the converter for one group, set it batch converting the group in the background while I moved on to the next group. This would have taken a loooong time in PS. Once your RAWs (NEFs ORFs CRWs, whatever) have been converted to TIFFs, THEN you move to Photoshop, if necessary.

    PhaseOne has already announced that C1Pro 3.7.release.candidate supports the D2x, so I guess the SDK is available to 3rd parties. The overlap of [D2x owners} and {Adobe Camera RAW users} will be a relatively small group.

  • by centron (61482) on Monday April 25, 2005 @09:09AM (#12335643) Homepage
    PhotoShop CS2 lists for $599. I think Adobe could probably afford to pay the licensing that Nikon is asking for, rather than just complaining about it to the media. Sorry if I'm not sympathetic to a multi-billion dollar corporation having to deal with another multi-billion dollar corporation's licensing fees.
  • by acomj (20611) on Monday April 25, 2005 @09:12AM (#12335662) Homepage
    If I took the photograph isn't the data mine? Not Mine and NIKONS... Shouldn't I be able to control what parts are encrypted and what parts aren't, so I can get the best posible image/color/detail out of the photograph.

    There should be no fear of decrypting this data. Didn't I create that file? Isn't the data even though encrypted mine?

    I can't even think of an analogy. Even MS with its word file format, won't document how it works but isn't so evil as to encrypt it.

    This is bad form and is another strike against Nikon.
  • Subject (Score:5, Funny)

    by Legion303 (97901) on Monday April 25, 2005 @09:13AM (#12335669) Homepage
    "Fearing the DMCA, Adobe won't reverse-engineer the file"

    The poetic justice is lovely this evening.
  • Cut 'em off (Score:3, Interesting)

    by supabeast! (84658) on Monday April 25, 2005 @09:20AM (#12335712)
    "Adobe won't reverse-engineer the file, slightly reducing Photoshop's support for those files."

    Adobe needs to just punish Nikon by stripping all support for Nikon raw images from Photoshop until Nikon caves. Nikon will have a hard time selling digital cameras to professional photographers if Photoshop just spits up all Nikon raw images as improperly formatted.
  • Illegal? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ixalon (317659) on Monday April 25, 2005 @09:38AM (#12335834)
    I'm no lawyer, but I've a feeling here in Scotland the encryption of other people's data without providing them with a means of decrypting it COULD be taken as illegal.

    Here in Scotland, preventing someone access to something they own (and you would expect that the photographer owns the data of the photograph) is viewed as theft by the law. It's why car clamping is illegal in Scotland. I'm not sure if there are any cases which provide precedence for this with regards to data, but would be interesting to see Nikon bought to court over this!
  • by ausoleil (322752) on Monday April 25, 2005 @09:39AM (#12335843) Homepage
    Speaking as a Nikon D2X owner (the new $5,000 12 Megapixel Nikon DSLR):

    Nikon released a statement late last week regarding the "encryption" (not technically encryption, but instead, obfustication) of the RAW format (NEF) photo data taken with a D2X camera:

    Nikon's Statement of NEF Formats

    As a proprietary format, Nikon secures NEF's structure and processing through various technologies. Securing this structure is intended for the photographer's benefit, and dedicated to ensuring faithful reproduction of the photographer's creative intentions through consistent performance and rendition of the images. [emphasis was added by me] Discussions propagated on the internet suggesting otherwise are misinformed about the unique structure of NEF.

    Nikon: You Are Wrong. Period. And do not insult me by lying.

    Update: Nikon has removed this statement from their web site.

    The thing that galls me about Nikon's statement is that Nikon is essentially telling me that I need to use their processing solution, or one that they approve, or not use the NEF format at all.

    They can wax poetic in PR legalese all they want, but at the end of the day, all I am reading is that Nikon is saying that my data is for me to use as they see fit. No, Nikon, it is not.

    A camera is an instrument to take a photograph, and that's all. Now, however, the coming of age of digital has married irrevocably cameras and software. Without software, a digital camera is absolutely useless. It produces nothing tangible, and to make that photograph anything more than a small image on the LCD screen on the back of the camera, you simply must have software.

    That said, if the images are now aetherial bits, do they not still belong to us, the photographers, or our assignees?

    I think the answer to that is yes. They certainly would if they were film images. And has any camera manufacturer ever mandated what film processing methods must be used with photographs taken with their camera? No. It would have been insane for one to even try.

    And this is insane now.

    As such, I think that the SDK should be freely available to anyone who asks for it, and at the very least, to any owner of a Nikon digital camera. Why should I not be allowed to write my own software? Because Nikon says that I can't, as I am not a 'bona fide' developer? Do I need to be one, to write applications to fiddle with my own images?

    No. The data are mine.

    Let me use a real world example: I photograph a lot of panoramics. I use Panorama Tools a great deal of the time to stitch those programs together. Now then, PTools does not have an embedded interface for NEF files, especially D2X NEF files. Let's say that I wanted to open my NEF files and input them programmatically into Panorama Tools. With this press release, Nikon is telling me that I cannot have the information to do the task I want to do. In other words, sod off, pay us to play.

    This whole issue reminds me much of Gillette, the razor company, when their mantra was "sell the razor cheap and the blades at a high price." Instead this time, it is "sell the camera high and continue to reach into their pockets to allow the photographer to use his/her pictures. Use our software, or someone we like, or do not use your data as you see fit."

    Worst of all, this has been enabled by the US government, what with the asinine provision of the Digital Milleneum Copyright Act. The DCMA makes it illegal to reverse engineer encrypted files. Bottom line is that one can argue that NEF files are not encrypted, but in reality, they are, because the data are obfusticated...and without Nikon's blessing, one risks enormous civil fines and prison to bypass Nikon's methods.

    I hope at the end of the day Nikon is punished severely by the marketplace for this. I truly hope that Canon makes a point to point out in their marketing that not only do they not charge for their RAW conversion tools but that developers can get the information they need to extend the capabilities of Canon cameras.

    That sounds severe, but the only thing Nikon will understand is a beat-down from their potential customers. And this time, Nikon deserves a black eye.

  • by russotto (537200) on Monday April 25, 2005 @09:53AM (#12335940) Journal
    They could certainly simply reverse-engineer the format and fight it out in court. But they're kind of in a bind because they like broad applications of the DMCA and don't want to weaken it.

    It's unlikely white balance information is copyrightable at all. Which means decrypting it isn't bypassing a technological measure protecting a copyrighted work, which means the DMCA doesn't apply. In any case, the white balance information in a photo isn't copyrighted _by Nikon_ (unless a Nikon employee took the picture), so Adobe could probably get any case dismissed for lack of standing.

    It's amusing to see Adobe hoist by its own petard. And even more amusing to see that the format (including encryption) has been reverse-engineered, and will be supported by open-source tools.
  • by ishmalius (153450) on Monday April 25, 2005 @10:11AM (#12336050)
    His article just seems like a simple description of the 'problem' from Adobe's point of view. There is neither invective nor hyperbolae. The headline is a somewhat misleading bit of sensationalism.

    Nikon might want to consider publishing their format. But it it truly just image information? I thought there was some internal state information included. This might be simply a way to protect their complete 'system,' whose borders reach beyond the physical camera, to the export of jpeg and tiff. It really is their format, after all. Positive persuasion is more appropriate here, not demonization.

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