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My Code made it to a Hollywood Movie (securitytube.net)
258 points by infoseckid on Apr 6, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 87 comments

This is slightly meta, but it's nice to see the attitude of the OP here. It quite matches my own.

It's always disappointing to see my work appear somewhere else without credit, but usually it is not worth moaning about. At the end of the day, he put that material up to be helpful to someone - and even if it wasn't used in the way it was intended, or with appropriate credit, at least it was still helpful.

It's a good attitude to have, I feel.

Especially as it means he gets to feel "cool, my work is in a hollywood movie" rather than "they stole my work". A much more positive feeling :)

Somewhat related, I've had an ambition for a while to contribute to a widely used library like zlib or OpenSSL, purely so that I could claim I had written code used in Windows or on my friend's mobile phone.

I am yet to contribute to either project, but I did successfully get in a patch to PHP which removed logo GUIDs for good, which means once PHP 5.5 is out, I can claim that a lot of internet websites use my code :D

For others who were curious, I tracked down that PHP pull request: https://github.com/php/php-src/pull/132

That's the one!

I got my name in the Linux kernel source code, without having submitted any code.. </2 seconds of fame>

What's the story behind that?

10 years ago, while at university, me and 2 other guys implemented a new network protocol (dccp) in the FreeBSD kernel. Later, someone ported it to Linux and gave us some credits.

It's a crazy thing to think about. I've always had the same dream of having written something everybody uses.

My "claim to fame" (which puts a smile on my face when I think about it) is to have written one of the advertising SDKs that pretty much every mobile game uses, and having it shipped to something like half a billion devices. Yay :).

Well, once people actually upgrade their PHP installations, that is. ;)

Good work regardless, though!

I concur with your thoughts on this. If someone were to take my work and repackage it as their own and sell a product that is essentially just my work (or mostly just my work) without my permission is one thing but using a tiny fragment of my code in a movie to make things look a little more realistic is very different. They could have just got any bit of code and 99.99% of the audience would never know the difference. They was nothing special about this guys actual code, it just look good.

Now if it were my code in a movie, it would probably be something I was very proud of. Hollywood, having no idea what the code actually does, instead makes the code brick the hero's machine at the worst moment. Hero dies. Everybody blames me. :(

You should've commented your code better...

No, the "hero" should have run the test suite beforehand. He'd see it's well covered.

Hollywood movies are a fantasy, right?

The most interesting part is that they even bothered to take source code that is loosely related to security stuff and not just took any source code that came across their way.

That's a strange contrast with the ridiculously precise progress bar. Probably not the choices of the same person.

The ridiculously precise progress bar may actually be a case of "reality is unrealistic": if you produced a quick-and-dirty progress bar by just printing a float, without bothering to trim the precision, you'd get something like that.

I'll confirm this. When I make scripts for some SCADA recipe handling, I make sure to output with at least 7 sig-figs and ETA in DDD HH:MM:SS.###. (Properly formatted, though.)

It's not useful, but it's technically true, the overhead and development is negligible, and it amuses me. "See? It's super sophisticated just like that progress bar in the movies!" Incidentally, it also makes it easier for operators to accept the computer is busy and just wait a minute.

Probably the same reason they removed most of the whitespace from the code: they needed it to fill a wide-screen monitor :)

I used to pause Person of Interest http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1839578/ to look at the code which made no sense at all and stopped following the stupid series.I am sure I am not the only one .It's not a bad thing to pay attention to detail.

I pause PoI, too, but find the results more amusing than off-putting (one episode had a genius kid writing some overblown mega-compression code, but the snipped that marvelled the main character was basic C file munging).

I don't really mind abstracting anything high-level and taking shortcuts -- it's hard enough watching someone navigate a web browser in real life ("Ctrl-L, goshdarnit!"), I certainly wouldn't want to watch them go through the search results in a TV series. Just like every OP scene boils down to one dramatic event, not hours of meticulous work.

I just get riled up when the basic computer operation is totally unrelated to the real world, because by now people kinda know how a computer works, it's not the early '80s anymore. Two people typing on one keyboard, 3D views etc.

One thing I've accepted by now is the useless display of data when searching. Non-matching ugshots flashing on screen and the like. A progress bar just isn't very exciting. (Actually, if it wouldn't slow down the actual operation, more real-life interfaces might benefit from something like this.)

You're an outlier though. Making the code look authentic means burning through valuable time and money on a special effect their viewers almost certainly won't know enough to care anything about. It's just not worth the effort for anything more than "something that looks like code."

You are right, if there is no reward for authentic looking fake stuff ,why bother.. I should stop trying to make sense out of television hackers code.

Repeat to yourself: "it's just a show, I should really just relax."

Whenever I find myself geeking out like this, I try to think of what it must have been like for a geologist to watch Star Trek TOS. The rocks were all foam and all the same. I didn't care a bit.

I've always thought of POI as having above-average tech related consistency compared to other public network US shows.

Some of it still makes me cringe, but when you put it into the perspective of their general audience it does seem, to me, that it's more complex than 95% of said audience can understand. Additionally, I haven't noticed many blatantly stupid/irrelevant errors in the shows technospeak. It's all generally, vaguely, sorta legit.

I mean, I am not seeing any gooey interfaces in visual basic yet (ignoring the typical beep-boop flashy computer interfaces).

On the other hand, its 2013 not 1983. A lot more people today are at least casually familiar with code. Saying unrelated technical words could unwillingly make your movie a joke.

Saying unrelated technical words could unwillingly make your movie a joke.

I think a progress indicator with figures calculated to the billionth pretty well secures joke status.

Not really, calculating and displaying that much doesn't take any more time to code, in fact it takes less.

It's "artistic license" in the original sense.

I bet they could increase the throughput if they modulated the plasma coils.

You mean like in "Swordfish"? Now that was a film that could be measured in facepalms per minute.

But that's what gives the movie everlasting value to us now! :)

Love watching the movie while drinking somewhat heavily with friends.

Well, that was 12 years ago so it wouldn't have appeared quite as ridiculous at the time, at least to non-tech culture.

I'm not sure which to be more amazed by, that someone recognized their code in a small snippet in a movie, or that a movie maker actually used networking code when the plot called for it.[1]

[1] As opposed to "The Terminator" who came from the future running a bootleg copy of the Apple II boot roms :-)

Well, they still make 6502 derivatives[1] and it may be cost effective to embed for part of a terminators[2] control. Think of it as embedded device controllers. :)

1) http://www.westerndesigncenter.com/wdc/

2) side theory I read somewhere: Pixar's Cars is a sequel to Terminator about 1,000 years later.

This is really cool. It's amazing that even at big budget movie studios, the general workflow is the same as everywhere else: copypaste an as fast as possible solution from the internet... I guess no matter where they work, people remain people, and budgets are tight.

Budgets are definitely tight and schedules are even tighter in hollywood movie post production. There entire movie budget might look like a big figure, but it's divided among a lot of people.

I doubt google-copy-paste is the norm in movie studios. Movie studios must be very conscious of copyright infringement. Certainly for audio tracks and works of art showing up in movies, they make sure they will not be sued if the movie is successful.

For source code, I don't know how far copyright stretches. Does it apply to the textual form at all? For example, if this this code is GPL-ed, and you buy a copy on DVD, would ey be required to give you the source on demand?

Not legal advice: I'm too lazy to apply the fair use factors here but it might actually be copyright infringement. On one hand it's a small snippet of code. On the other hand it's a for-profit product. You wouldn't get sanctioned for suing them over it I don't think.

Looks like they already did give the source that they used :)

I find it amazing that somebody actually knew OP's code well enough to recognize it in the trailer. Or maybe someone searched github for the strings they saw instead? Either way, pretty cool - I'd love to have some code in a movie too!

VFX guys are pretty knowledgeable about computers, so maybe one of them knew about the code.

Český Wikipedia has the code as well. http://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raw_socket

I'm not sure whence the code was lifted, but it would not surprise me if they just grabbed some code from Wikipedia and assumed it was freely usable.

The Wiki article lifted the code from Vivek's site (the author). This is how I solved the mystery:


Do you see they mention a reference: http://security-freak.net/raw-sockets/raw-sockets.html which was later removed as the site is now down. Both the code + the reference was added by the same author on wikipedia on the same day in 2011.

A whois on Security-Freak.net gives me that Vivek is still the owner of the domain: http://whois.domaintools.com/security-freak.net

This matches the whois person for securitytube.net (OP's site) http://whois.domaintools.com/securitytube.net

Proof 2: Wayback machine:


Code: http://web.archive.org/web/20071219013022/http://www.securit...

The above C file is the exact same code posted in the Wiki article - in 2011 which was there on security-freak.net in 2007.

The code on Wiki doesnt seem to have the same comments.

No, but the key one is "/* A simple write on the socket ..thats all it takes ! */" which the author said was rather distinctive, and I would have to agree. (In fact, it was the search I used to find this example.)

How it got onto Wikipedie is another question (might have been on en, ru, or other wiki and translated).

If I was the OP I would just ask them to stick my name somewhere in the credits and call it a day.

Credits in movies are unbelievably Byzantine. But putting his name in the 'thanks' section at the end would be pretty neat.

If I was the OP, I would do exactly what he is doing. This in no way deserves a credit in a movie.

Why not? If they used 3 seconds of somebody's music, you can be sure they'd have to give some credit for that - at the very least!

Look at the average credits for the average film. They go on forever, and there are tons of people in them. It's not like crediting somebody is a big deal, in terms of the cost of giving it out. There are plenty of people whose contribution to the film was small, just like the author of this code, but they get credited anyway, and that's just as it should be - the credit is for the contribution, not for the extent to which it makes the film a success.

I think a better example would be a scene where someone is reading a book. I kind of doubt they would give credit to Earnest Hemingway in the credits, but maybe I'm wrong.

The difference here is that it appears we are meant to believe a character in the movie wrote the code. I may be wrong since it's hard to tell from a promo what is happening, except for LOTS OF EXPLOSIONS.

If I was the OP I would send them a letter saying

"Not that it's needed, but I hereby grant any permissions needed for the inclusion of my code in the movie in any format it's released in. If anyone involved would like to show gratitude for this, I'd like to receive a copy of the movie on DVD or Blu-ray after it's released that way, with either the cover or an insert signed by the director or one of the named actors in the movie - or just a spare poster or bit of promotional material if planning something for after DVD release is going to be a headache.

Thanks for using my code!"

Considering the way Hollywood bristles at "piracy" of their own products, I suggest raising holy-high-hell over this example of Hollywood "piracy" of the code in question.

NMAP has often appeared in movies too: http://nmap.org/movies/ .

I wonder if this is enough to make his Bacon number finite.

Why not! If so, it would be 3, so quite low.

Now he needs an Erdos number :)

Why do you say finite? The point of the Bacon and Erdos quip is that most people would have a low number (8-10).

Well, you need to appear in at least one movie to have a finite Bacon number, and write at least one scientific paper to have a finite Erdős number. And through costars/coauthors you need to have some connection to Bacon/Erdős.

Thanks for the clarification. I get it now. With respect to the paper, technically, it can't be a single author paper :-p

The point of Bacon and Erdos numbers is that most actors and mathematicians have low numbers, not most people. I, for example, have never published an academic paper, which makes my Erdos number infinite. OTOH, if you count working as an paid extra, my Bacon number is 2 (what do you mean that doesn't count?).

BTW, a Bacon number of 10 is extremely high. IIRC, the highest finite Bacon number of anyone in the IMDB is 8.

My dad was a mathematician and legitimately had an Erdos number of 2 (Meaning someone he co-wrote a paper with had co-written a paper with Erdos)

When I was small, and even into high school, my dad helped me with my math homework. So I claim that I co-wrote many math related things with my dad, and so I have an Erdos number of three with a big fat asterisk.

I've appeared in one short film (with a cast of no one you've ever heard of), and I have a Bacon Number of 3. I would be surprised to if there are many contemporary people with a number higher than 4. The higher numbers tend to be people who were in older movies.

Thanks. That clarifies it. I got this confused with the seven degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon, wherein you count the number of people who know each other between you and the actor.

The fun part is that the Oracle of Bacon etc. has given us a great way to drive home the degrees of separation stuff not just for movie stars, but by making it fairly easy to find your own degrees of separation from Bacon.

E.g., I'm Norwegian, with no direct connections to the movie industry at all.

But if you include documentaries, Gro Harlem Brundtland, a former Norwegian prime minister and WHO director, has a Bacon-number of 3 (she was in some documentary that included Morgan Freeman)

As a child, I pretty much ran into her while on vacation. In high school, I interviewed a member of parliament that had regular dealings with her at various points in his career, and later I was politically involved and did debates against a later minister in a Labour party government, etc. I can find a number of other things connecting me to her.

Depending on how strict you want to be, I can "trace" back to Kevin Bacon either directly (tenuous) or about half a dozen people that both she and I had dealings with, in the latter case with 4 people separating me and Kevin Bacon.

Alternatively, I can find a link to Kevin Bacon via Mao Zedong: I used to know a guy that met Mao on a trade union trip to China in the 50's. Mao obviously met Nixon, and Nixon and the Clintons know each other, and Hillary Clinton was on Entertainment Tonight with Kevin Bacon at one point. Alternatively Nixon mas in a TV special with Robert Wagner, who was in Wild Things...

I could probably find dozens more paths to someone in the IMDB data.

Most people can probably "connect the dots" via people they can name in their social circuit to someone in the IMDB dataset in at most 2-3 steps, and actually find a specific path to Bacon...

Quite likely you can find several weird paths. Find anyone who has ever served as a member of congress or parliament in your respective country, for example, and you have at least an indirect path to a head of state, which gives you a path to any of a large number of high profile heads of state that have IMDB credits...

If it weren't for the code comments, it would've been hard to notice that it was the OP's code. It's sometimes very hard to find the differences between C-based POSIX/BSD socket code written by multiple parties - especially when it comes to the set-up routines. Kudos to the OP!

A new reason why to comment your code well :)

that's awesome. I love the OP's attitude : "How do I feel about this? Great :) If not me, at least my code made it to a 3 second clip in a Hollywood Movie :) ". It kind of makes me angry for him though that they didn't even bother to give him a credit or ask him if they could use it in anyway. The least anybody can do is give credit where credits due when using open source libs.

If they should credit everyone that did something that's used as a backdrop for a few seconds in a movie, they'd have time for little else. The guy who did a mural the main character walks by also doesn't get a credit.

Actually - that depends. Artists have sued (and successfully settled in some cases) for their artwork appearing as the background of other productions.


I'm not saying I think he should pursue it in this case, just that the scenario you laid out isn't unprecedented.

Yeah artists seem to do it all the time. They also often get indignant at the merest suggestion that they might want to agree for someone to use their work for free.

The difference is, of course, that writing code is joy so no wonder people will gladly do it and give the results away, whereas creating art is unpleasant, tiresome work, so it's an insult to suggest anyone would do it for reasons other than money.

Perhaps they can still give credit in the DVD/BR release. He should get in contact with the producer.

Well, at least they open sourced the parts of the code they used ;)

Showing the code is not the same as open source. I get that you were joking, but it's a critical distinction. Unless otherwise stated, you should not assume that you have a license to use whatever code you find floating around on the Internet. Public domain is not the default when no licence is specified.

You realize that the source they used wasn't originally released with a license and thus they can't neither legally use the code or release it themselves

If it was released without a license, then in the USA (and all other parties to the Berne Convention), it is automatically copyrighted and all copyrights are reserved by the author.

That's my point?

The author appears to be doing his analysis off of a YouTube trailer of the movie which hasn't been released yet. As such how could anyone possibly know if his name will appear in the credits or not? For all we know it could.

And for all we know, it could be removed in further post-production now that he posted about it. I'd hate for that to be the case though, because this is pretty sweet!

I remember when I worked for a company that made hospital computer software. They were on top of the industry and growing, yet at one point totally geeked out about the fact that their software was going to appear on a show like Gray's Anatomy. Hollywood is the greatest.

Great, but what's the license on the code? Isn't this a breach of copyright?

Most likely falls into Fair Use. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use

Ironic, since doing something analogous with scenes from this White House Down movie in a few years will probably get us a DMCA takedown.

Did you follow that google vs oracle trial?

I found this to be interesting. Good to see Hollywood using real code. You can use this on resume :)

You could probably get a credit for that, maybe...

dont get stuck in command mode on us...

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