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The History of Hacking DRM 197

Posted by Zonk
from the proud-tradition dept.
phaedo00 writes "Ars Technica writer Nate Anderson has penned an in-depth look into past DRM-crackings and what the future looks like for people who are vehemently anti-DRM: 'Like a creeping fog, DRM smothers more and more media in its clammy embrace, but the sun still shines down on isolated patches of the landscape. This isn't always due to the decisions of corporate executives; often it's the work of hackers who devote considerable skill to cracking the digital locks that guard everything from DVDs to e-books. Their reasons are complicated and range from the philosophical to the criminal, but their goals are the same: no more DRM.'"
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The History of Hacking DRM

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  • Anti-DRM? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rwven (663186) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @04:18PM (#15752281)
    I don't know anyone who's NOT Anti-DRM. All DRM does is make buying music miserable for the people who are doing it legally. People who don't care about the legality of it will just torrent the CD or get it off some other file sharing network. They avoid the headache of DRM as well as the "cost" of being legal...

    The only way DRM will ever be plausable will be if they produce a DRM'd codec that plays on anything. People are sick of buying CD's on itunes and not being able to play them on their other players...as well as other music services trying to play on itunes.
    • "The only way DRM will ever be plausable will be if they produce a DRM'd codec that plays on anything."

      Doesn't that sort of defeat the purpose of DRM though? If you did that, people could buy songs from one place but a player from another. The whole point of DRM is to stop that happening.
      • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Thursday July 20, 2006 @04:49PM (#15752514) Homepage

        No, the point of DRM is to prevent supply from being infinite, because a market in which there is infinite supply is a failed market.

        The fact that Apple and Microsoft can't resist abusing it to promote sales of iPods/Windows is unrelated and not inherant to DRM.

        • You're both right.

          The content production companies, such as the music and movie companies, want DRM to prevent the unlimited distribution of entertainment or information.

          The content distribution companies, like Apple, want DRM to lock people into their other products, like the iPod.
        • It is the government's grant of copyright which makes the bits effectively finite, NOT DRM.

          If its goal is to limit supply, DRM is a failed technology concept:
          Thah would be much like an attempt to make dry water.
          You cannot show someone something without them being able to see it.
          You cannot tell someone a secret without allowing them to know it.

          So why would they push such a flawed technology: the true goals are likely much more insidious.
          I believe they are more along the lines of controlling what you are allo
          • It is the government's grant of copyright which makes the bits effectively finite, NOT DRM.

            Yes but as the RIAA discovered actually using the courts of law to enforce copyright is a losing proposition. Too many violators and court time is too expensive. So DRM makes sense for copyright owners because it cuts the number of violators in a cost effective fashion.

            You cannot tell someone a secret without allowing them to know it.

            Obviously, I can circumvent DRM by simply humming the tune to myself. Copyright

            • Yes but as the RIAA discovered actually using the courts of law to enforce copyright is a losing proposition. Too many violators and court time is too expensive. So DRM makes sense for copyright owners because it cuts the number of violators in a cost
              effective fashion.

              Suing individual downloaders for contributory infringement is not efficient or cheap.
              But its not cheap for those who get sued either, and they generally end up forced to pay
              an outlandish settlement to a party they have caused no measurable dam

            • A failed market is one that is so inefficient it's no longer doing what it's supposed to do.

              Low prices are the mark of an efficient, not inefficient, market. A market where you can get anything you want for free is 100% efficient and a complete success.

              Copyright and DRM are nasty hacks around the limitations of the market,

              Copyright is a legalized monopoly, where only a certain person is entitled to produce something. It is not a hack to make the market work, it is a hack to keep the market from wo


        • 'failed'? or did you mean 'unprofitable'?
          • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Thursday July 20, 2006 @06:45PM (#15753284) Homepage

            "Failed market" is an economic term. Informally it means a market where the usual workings have broken down for some reason so it's no longer operating efficiently.

            For instance operating systems are a failed market because network effects make it economically unviable to break the Windows monopoly.

            In the absence of copyright (and a way to practically enforce it - DRM), creative works would be a failed market because supply is infinite, therefore pushing prices down to zero. The creator of the creative work gets nothing in return for production of that good so, the market has failed.

            Failed markets are very common. A market is quite a fragile thing, which is why we have lots of regulation designed to protect it and bracket it (like anti-trust law). I would say many of the more stupid errors of the 20th century were due to inappropriate application of a market, which then failed .... the UK rail privatisation is a good example of that.

            Failed markets aren't necessarily unprofitable. In the case of failed DRM then the 'failed market' becomes unprofitable in the classical sense because nobody makes any money. In the case of operating systems it's obviously very profitable for the dominant monopoly.

            • ah, i did miss that it was standard terminology but i suppose the allusion i made is still intact: whether economical terms are the best way to assess the situation.

              there is the ultra-liberal position that art will continue to be made when all economical incentive is removed.. not one i wholeheartedly share, but it's interesting at any rate. i think software qualifies.. i suppose helpful widgets always have.
        • You are completely missing the point. Either:

            * The DRM is so strong that you have to remove the DRM before putting it on a P2P network.

          or:

            * The DRM is so weak that you don't have to remove it before putting it on a P2P network.

          In either case the DRM does *nothing* to prevent illegal copying. The only thing it prevents is legal use.
    • Re:Anti-DRM? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Darundal (891860) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @04:34PM (#15752389) Journal

      I know several people who are pro-drm. They are also the least technically literate people I know, have next to no experiance with any digital music players or services, and they generally assume that because someone is accused of something by a company or the government, they are automatically guilty.

      In other words, they are joe consumer incarnate. They don't follow the issues, they are unaware that their is even any type of debate over this subject, and and they are unlikely to ever encounter any issues with DRM because they all use Windows and are the type to be highly loyal to a brand, so probably wouldn't ever buy a music player from another company.

      While I myself am vehemently anti-DRM, your post assumes two things;

      A: Everyone is aware that there is even an issue, and will become frustrated by DRM

      B: Even if someone becomes aware and frustrated, they would attempt to use other channels unconcerned with industry FUD and would know what those other options are or where to find out about them

      • by rwven (663186)
        Let me rephrase that then... I don't know anyone with more than an ounce of braincells who is NOT Anti-DRM....
      • That is ridiculous. As I said in this post [slashdot.org], I am not anti-DRM, nor am I pro-DRM. I am for the right to perform your labor in the way you want, as long as your customer is willing to accept any reductions in their rights (usually for a discount). DRM is not bad, not evil, and definitely not anti-consumer. If a DRM'd product or service allows a company to produce a product for a customer at a HUGE discount, isn't the price decrease pro-consumer? No one can know each and every consumer's desired outcome o
        • Do you really believe that when DRM is implemented that will bring down prices of consumer products?

          If you think that you dont understand how economics works. The price that is set for a particular goods or service is not at ALL based on the price of making it. The price that something is sold at is based on the highest price someone can get and still sell the most of the commodity.
        • Re:Anti-DRM? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @06:22PM (#15753140) Homepage
          DRM doesn't make anything any cheaper. iTunes still cost as much as a regular CD. Sure you can just buy one song, but for the entire album, the price is pretty much the same (sometimes more on iTunes). Plus you get a lower quality version, no physical CD, no Case, no Liner notes that are already printed on a commercial quality printing press (not some crappy liner notes you have to printe out on your crappy inkjet), and they pay pretty much 0 production cost. Oh, and the music is locked down a lot more than it is on a regular CD. For iTunes to be worth it, it would have to be down around 25 cents a song.
          • no physical CD, no Case, no Liner notes that are already printed on a commercial quality printing press (not some crappy liner notes you have to printe out on your crappy inkjet), and they pay pretty much 0 production cost.

            Aren't the RIAA (member companies) getting sued by artists because the cut they (the company's) take of iTunes sales includes production/manufacturing costs?

            This might be the lawsuit I'm thinking of [medialoper.com], but I'm not 100% sure of that.

            • Yeah, I remember some artists saying that the production companies were still taking their share for breakage, shipping, and a multitude of other things that don't apply to digitally distributed music. Also, artists like Weird Al, (let's not argue about whether or not he's an artist), were actually even getting a smaller cut per song/album when it was sold digitally. Sucks to him for signing the contract, but the record companies are being quite underhanded in their dealings. I seriously hope there's a l
      • Re:Anti-DRM? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        "I know several people who are pro-drm...they are joe consumer incarnate. They don't follow the issues, they are unaware that their is even any type of debate over this subject"

        And I am a technical proponent of DRM.

        Do I like it? Fuck no. It gets in my way. Its annoying. I occasionally lose data.

        And who do I blame?

        The Fucking Information Wants To Be Free internet-fuckwad cabal.

        I don't blame the companies. I have a well known name in the type of software I put out and I've generally put out my works at l
        • Re:Anti-DRM? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ultranova (717540)

          I don't blame the companies. I have a well known name in the type of software I put out and I've generally put out my works at lower than the 'professional' packages -- without protection. Who's work do I find on eBay? Mine or the big guy? I'm more likely to get ripped than the big guy because I only charged $30 for my stuff where the other guy is selling theirs for $130 -- I've heard pirates tell me that its not like its that big of a deal because its not 'professional' software (and the only difference i

      • A: Everyone is aware that there is even an issue, and will become frustrated by DRM

        Well, I think that hardly anyone outside of this circle is aware there is an issue, but I am almost certain that almost everyone will eventually be frustrated by it - whether it's the inability to put purchased music on the iPod they received for Christmas, or the inability to rip a DVD, or the automatic deletion of a movie on their DVR, or a DVD recording of a HD show being downcast to low def without their knowledge, or..

        • whether it's the inability to put purchased music on the iPod they received for Christmas or the inability to rip a DVD, or the automatic deletion of a movie on their DVR, or a DVD recording of a HD show being downcast to low def without their knowledge, or...

          These scenarios may not play out as you expect:

          Assuming the ICT is invoked, a "degraded" recording will still output the original digital sound track and significantly higher resolution video than an american standard DVD.

          Thar's not the end of the

    • by GodWasAnAlien (206300) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @04:40PM (#15752432)
      Yes, I am Anti-DRM. It attempts to circumvent any publishing control limits allowed by the government.
      Copyright law is already about 100 years longer than what most people would consider a reasonable "limited time". DRM attempts to remove the monopoly limit entirely.

      • Copyright law is already about 100 years longer than what most people would consider a reasonable "limited time". DRM attempts to remove the monopoly limit entirely.

        Copyright lasts as long as Disney does. Not 10 years, not 100 years, not 1000 years. It gets extended each time Mickey Mouse comes close to falling to public domain. Face it: copyright term is infinite.

    • I'm not 100% anti-DRM... but I did have to think long-and-hard before becoming the head of software development for a DRM license clearing house. Main reason I was okay with it was because it was bringing content to the Internet that would have not otherwise been put out because the owners are paranoid.

      After working there, I think DRM is a great solution for rentals. I think its a load of garbage if they are selling permanent access to content at the same price as physical merchandise. It's not reliable
    • It's not just downloaded music where DRM gets very annoying. My shiny new Treo 700P (through Sprint) is loaded with DRM, and I'm guessing many other devices are as well. I downloaded some pictures, and they're showing up as 'locked'. I can't share these pictuers with anyone and I can't even transfer them to my own computer because they're locked.

      I also don't like restricted PDF documents. I wanted to quote a paragraph from a PDF that I have and send it to a friend of mine, but whoever published the docume

  • Economics (Score:2, Insightful)

    by asudhir (987272)
    Another case of supply and demand in action. There is a huge market for DRM on the producer side where deployment in or on all future mass-media is desired, while at the same time consumers will do anything to fight its implementation. It will be curious to see whether the producers or consumers will have something equivalent to "market power" in this scenario.
    • It will be curious to see whether the producers or consumers will have something equivalent to "market power" in this scenario.

      No, this is a losing game for the consumers. The (pro-DRM) Industry spends billions on Congressional "contributions" to make sure the laws are pro-DRM. The (anti-DRM) consumers are misinformed, disorganized, and apathetic. Since EFF alone just cannot outspend the DRM lobbyists, and since the voters cannot outvote the corruption (both political parties take bribes; both support DRM),

    • Another case of supply and demand in action. There is a huge market for DRM on the producer side where deployment in or on all future mass-media is desired, while at the same time consumers will do anything to fight its implementation.

      ---or nothing.

      Seriously. How many people do you suppose have evver given a second thought to DRM? Compared to say the number that buy or rent home videos? Subscribe to cable or satteliite TV, XM or Sirius radio?

      The Geek tends to forget that personal media collections ---

      • Is an income of $690 a month in the US middle class? (I would assume not, since I'm entitled to food stamps.) Yet I have a reasonably fast broadband connection and a relatively new computer. I live damn high off the hog for my income and yet don't have a fucking penny of debt. Fucking proud of it too.

        -uso.
  • DRM is not evil (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Thursday July 20, 2006 @04:21PM (#15752302) Homepage Journal
    I'm a vocal pro-market advocate, and I don't see any problems with DRM. If you have something you want to keep out of prying eyes, you should be free to protect it in any way possible -- including making it ultra-proprietary.

    The big issue I have with the entire DRM debate is that EVERY side forgets where the evil comes into play with DRM: the State. I have many "trade" secrets in the businesses I own and run. In order to keep others from learning the secrets, I perform the actions in private -- away from prying eyes. I'll often mask the output in order to make it not time-effective for my customers to learn the secrest -- and they do continue to hire me so it means they're generally happy with my prices. If they weren't happy, they wouldn't hire me again.

    The State, though, removes the market of competition from DRM. If one of my customers took the time to disassemble my services or products, they should be free to use their hands and their tools to mimic the same product or service. The same is true of any DRM -- once you have an item you bought, you should be free to learn to reproduce it at will, regardless of what that item or service is. But the State has created laws preventing us from using our labor in the way we deem best for our needs.

    DRM is perfect for many markets -- business can use just the right amount of DRM to deter reverse engineering or disassembly, just long enough until they release their next product to their market. Some industries just need 6 months in order to bring the newer product to market -- if the competition or the customer base wants to waste their time taking something apart rather than buy the original, they should be free to.

    Let us look at the real evil in the DRM market -- the one group that wants to prevent us from using our hands and tools in the way we want to. Companies should be free to use any tools (including DRM) to protect their trade secrets; consumers and competition should be free to use their tools to discover how to reproduce a product or service themselves. The State has no right to regulate, require or subsidize either party.
    • Re:DRM is not evil (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mrsbrisby (60242) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @04:31PM (#15752369) Homepage
      I'm a vocal pro-market advocate, and I don't see any problems with DRM. If you have something you want to keep out of prying eyes, you should be free to protect it in any way possible -- including making it ultra-proprietary.


      You're confused. DRM is about you keeping customers away from their data, not you keeping customers away from your data.

      If I buy an accounting and compliance package, and it timebombs six months into full use, I should be able to buy another one, and transfer my data. I should be able to pay someone else to transfer that data because I feel the first vendor was untrustworthy.

      DRM means I must pay the first vendor, or go out of business (compliance laws). Never mind what happens if they go out of business- I have no options anymore.

      Now, you might think the government has no business protecting people from incompetent companies, what if the vendor did this on purpose? What if that company deliberately set up their accounting package to explode so that they could underbid the competition and recoup the costs later? Isn't that tantamount to extortion?
      • Re:DRM is not evil (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dada21 (163177) *
        You're confused. DRM is about you keeping customers away from their data, not you keeping customers away from your data.

        We offer all our customers non-proprietary services as well, but for significantly more money (150% costlier, actually). Our rates on our proprietary services are about 40% cheaper than the competition and we've proven our reliability by being in business for 16 years without a loss in that time frame.

        If I buy an accounting and compliance package, and it timebombs six months into full use
        • Re:DRM is not evil (Score:2, Insightful)

          by RSquaredW (969317)
          You make a reasonable point about being forced to include escape clauses in your contracts with your clients. However, I get the impression that you aren't selling shrink-wrapped products, and you aren't including a EULA that claims to be enforceable upon the opening and use of the product already purchased. The concern about many forms of DRM is that there is no opportunity to renegotiate the contract - how do I tell Sony-BMG or Apple that I don't accept the terms of their 'licensing agreement'?

          Apple' [apple.com]
          • " how do I tell Sony-BMG or Apple that I don't accept the terms of their 'licensing agreement'? "

            With your wallet!

            If you don't like the terms, don't do the deal. Period, end of story.
        • Re:DRM is not evil (Score:4, Insightful)

          by wall0159 (881759) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @06:27PM (#15753170)
          "Only someone lacking in business sense signs an agreement without understanding what the repercussions might be."

          So, according to you, it's absolutely fine to take advantage of people who lack business sense, are distracted (eg. single parent), or are just stupid? Is that your general attitude to life?

          And really.. would you truely read an entire agreement everytime you purchase a song (remember, the contract could be changed between purchases)? Would you be in a position to negotiate with Apple, if you didn't agree? I mean, c'mon.. this is crazy!
        • Even if looked at solely from the POV of the content producer, DRM has serious issues. Let me give an example. I am a big fan of a particular developer of computer role playing games, Black Isle/Obsidian. There are some highly creative folks over there like designer/writer Chris Avellone whose work I have particularly admired over the years. I am highly supportive of the overall aims of this company. It is very important to me that they succeed. Their next game, NeverWinter Nights 2 will be released this Oc
          • no need to worry over secuROM it's more like wrapping paper than a lockbox. Alcohol 120 has no problems with it, AFAIK blindwrite also has no problems with it. just about the only thing you can't use to rip it is the software that came with your computer/DVD burner
        • No one who wants to stick around for a long time signs an agreement that hampers their ability to self protect.

          This happens more often than you'd think, even with large and successful companies. Before there was a name for DRM I used to work for a vendor of complete turnkey solutions (accounting, payroll, inventory, etc.) for car dealerships. All of the customer's data was encrypted, and the customer didn't have the key (at least, not without more technical comptetance that the customer had available).
        • My own contract with my customers stipulates that if my company goes out of business, we will relinquish the proprietary services to them for their purpose. I did NOT put this stipulation in the contract -- I had customers demand it. In order to close the sale, I had to add this line. Do you read every contract that you sign? You should.

          Reading the contract is good advice, especially when dealing with persons like yourself.

          If you're buying services or items without a contract, I would consider that an "as-i
        • Even with my recent T-Mobile re-contracting, I made sure to make changes to their contract, which I had their customer retention and sales department approve.
          I sure hope you didn't miss the part where they say "reserves the right to change terms and conditions at any time". Oops?
        • Depends on what both parties agreed to. When I buy services from someone, I'll set up my expectations within the contract. My work agreement with my subcontractors contains over 4 paragraphs of assumptions like "You will not attempt to defraud [Company] or its customers." and "You will not attempt to harm, destroy, erase or reduce in functionality..." If you're buying services or items without a contract, I would consider that an "as-is" sale, and you better get a really good deal on it.

          That's just crazy.

        • We offer all our customers non-proprietary services as well, but for significantly more money (150% costlier, actually). Our rates on our proprietary services are about 40% cheaper than the competition and we've proven our reliability by being in business for 16 years without a loss in that time frame.

          So what? You're the good guy?

          Even if I accept that, there are far more WAL*MARTs, Microsofts, and Enrons than you.

          The market is providing for every consideration you threw at me here, keep them coming so I can

      • Actually, without state enforcement (i.e. DMCA) of DRM, you'd have what you say you want. If the first company tried to screw you, you could hire a second to crack their DRM and salvage your data. (Inconvenient, yes, but a reasonable price to pay for being STUPID enough to lock your data up under DRM to begin with.) What's preventing that right now is exactly what the OP said - the state enforcement. Under the DMCA, and similar legislation in other jurisdictions, it's a criminal offense to break DRM, even w
      • DRM means I must pay the first vendor

        No.. without the presence of the DMCA there would be a huge sector of our economy right now devoted to producing DRM cracks, one of which would be for your program.

        OP is right, it is state regulation.. the technology mandate known as usc section 1201 (DMCA anticircumvention provision), which is keeping you locked in, not the DRM itself.

        I'm all for regulations which make sense, but the solution here is not the further regulation of the market by preventing sellers from s
        • No.. without the presence of the DMCA there would be a huge sector of our economy right now devoted to producing DRM cracks, one of which would be for your program.
          So what you're saying is that in the absense of the DMCA, there wouldn't any DRM because any DRM that companies tried to make would be broken immediately.

          I'm all for returning to pre-DMCA laws...
      • Re:DRM is not evil (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hyfe (641811)

        You're confused. DRM is about you keeping customers away from their data, not you keeping customers away from your data.

        Well, it may be, but you're still missing Grand Parents point.

        If you believe in the free market, then DRM doesn't matter. Just as companies should be allowed to do whatever they want to stuff before you sell it, you should be able to do whatever you want with it after you bought it.

        What's making DRM so potentially crippling now, is possibly patents, certainly copyrights and trade-secr

        • Well, it may be, but you're still missing Grand Parents point.

          If you believe in the free market, then DRM doesn't matter. Just as companies should be allowed to do whatever they want to stuff before you sell it, you should be able to do whatever you want with it after you bought it.

          But I don't believe in a free market, and no sane economist does. Free Markets produce monopolies that are harmful to their customers. Free Markets produce more Enrons, Wal*Marts, and Microsofts than they do good.

          I believe in an

    • Re:DRM is not evil (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Magus2501 (899681)
      As hard as it is for me to say, I have to agree. If the markets demand DRM, it's a right of the people to make it to meet demand, and it's the distributor's right to use it. That's how a free-market economy is supposed to work.

      There are laws against piracy, but they are weak in practice due to Fair Use and similar conventions. The state can't easily punish piracy because it's difficult to catch and difficult to prove.

      DRM because is a market-oriented solution to piracy. Instead of relying on laws t
      • Re:DRM is not evil (Score:2, Insightful)

        by plasmacutter (901737)
        The DMCA is a move back toward a state-level solution, but it still relies on the presence of some rudimentary DRM. It is now illegal to break a DRM scheme. The difference between this legal solution and the previous is that this one can be proven more readily.

        there are more differences than that grasshoppah.

        this one is also completely unaccountable. It has no judicial oversight, oversight which has always been necessary to check the unreasonable assertions of copyright cartels on the producer side, and in
      • "The state can't easily punish piracy because it's difficult to catch and difficult to prove."

        I would reply to this by saying - that's by design. The whole point of how the United States government (in particular; you may not be in the US) was designed was to put the burden of proof and force on the government - to protect the rights of the populace. Our government and the rich and powerful forgot those ideas a very long time ago.
      • And did anyone else think that a spoofed BD+ update disc can be used to undo DRM in Blu-ray players? Seems like the door's open...

        You mean a player that likely won't decrypt the latest discs? Don't forget the discs *are* encrypted.
      • As hard as it is for me to say, I have to agree. If the markets demand DRM, it's a right of the people to make it to meet demand, and it's the distributor's right to use it. That's how a free-market economy is supposed to work.

        The thing is - free markets does not work. I would like a non drm mp3 music download service where I can buy both songs that are popular and Indie artists. I am willing to pay for it, as are others. Jet no one has tried to make such a service.

        Laws are needed to prevent companies from
      • There are laws against piracy, but they are weak in practice due to Fair Use and similar conventions. The state can't easily punish piracy because it's difficult to catch and difficult to prove.

        But the state doesn't need to prosecute; the RIAAA et all can make civil suits, demanding huge cash payouts, under current law. And they rarely have to prove anything as the victims usually settle before trial.

    • If you have something you want to keep out of prying eyes, you should be free to protect it in any way possible

      Right, the movie companies want me to NOT look at their movie. My suggestion is that instead of wasting our time with DRM, they should just stop making movies completely. That would be OK with me. I think that would stop people from pirating movies.
    • Re:DRM is not evil (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pandrijeczko (588093)
      I'm a vocal pro-market advocate, and I don't see any problems with DRM. If you have something you want to keep out of prying eyes, you should be free to protect it in any way possible -- including making it ultra-proprietary.

      I agree with you totally - provided that when DRM is applied to "things people can buy", all advertising, marketing and hype that masks that DRM from the potential customer is removed.

      When applied to CDs, DVDs, etc., DRM removes my fair use of that product. But as long as the produc

    • Even without the benefit of law, DRM can be evil.

      The Sony root-kit is one example. Of course, we also have other negative terms for such software like "malware", "spyware" and even "adware".

      Of course, the point that much of DRM is not evil without the legal elements is well taken. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that Technological Protection Measures, by themselves, are not necessarily evil.
    • You seem to be arguing that all businesses should be free to use whatever DRM they want, but all buyers (or whoever else) should be free to do all hacking they want. For "intellectual" property that will never have more than few copies made, that idea may or may not be workable.

      But do you seriously propose a world in which books and movies would be released with zero copyright protection, and "pirates" could legally reproduce and sell anything they physically could copy? That certainly would drive the pro
  • Although that summary contained many lovely methaphors and similies it was strangely empty of actual content. How odd.
  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @04:37PM (#15752413)
    There seem to be no substantive points.. I see nothing after reading this whole article which can't be found on about.com or from the mouth of anyone between the age of 16 and 26.

    I did however find carefully slipped in hollywood propaganda, like this little nugget:

    "The force of law (and the risk of lawsuits) combined with the obscurity of most cracking tools means that even DRM solutions which are easily cracked can be effective at preventing casual piracy"

    This devious little term, causal piracy, actually refers to what should be our legally protected rights to fair use, and our rights under the AHRA for reproduction on recording devices.

    Then there's self serving drek:

    DRM's not going away anytime soon, and newer techniques such as BD+ promise to make future technologies even more difficult to hack for long periods of time.

    hollywood to hackers..."naa naa-na-naa naa".

      Not to mention it goes against every point made in the "if you can't use the door, find an open window" argument that cracking the cypher is not necessarily necessary.

    • by Angst Badger (8636) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @05:27PM (#15752792)
      Actually, I thought the point on preventing casual piracy -- which I took to mean not legitimate backups but making copies for your buddies -- was really crucial. Professional pirates, the folks who are selling counterfeit DVDs out of Hong Kong and other points east, are not in any way going to be deterred by DRM. They have the resources to route around it at the hardware level and the incentives to do so. But stopping professional piracy is a job for bilateral trade agreements and customs inspections, not DRM.

      In between are the people uploading movies and music to the alt.binaries.* hierarchy and p2p systems like BitTorrent. Frankly, as much as I'm sure the big publishing firms would like for this to stop, the (admittedly modest) technical knowledge needed to take advantage of this kind of mid-range amateur piracy are beyond the average user, and the effort involved is sufficiently great that most people would rather just buy the damn movie at the store. The publishers may or may not understand this, hence the occasional wave of egregious lawsuits, but I suspect they do, if only because crushing Usenet binaries and p2p networks would neither legally nor technically all that challenging.

      The goal of big media is to make most people afraid to pirate their products. The huffing and puffing over the technical fringe is just a publicity stunt.

      The only really disturbing aspect of DRM is the legislative component, which tramples all over fair use and other elements of free expression. That is something to worry about for sure.

      As for BD+, I don't think it will stick around long after the first time some discs are distributed with buggy flash code that cripples the players they are inserted into.
    • what (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tetromino (807969)

      Carefully disguised pro hollywood puff piece.

      If you had been reading Ars Technica for any length of time, you would be aware of its incessant and strident criticism of DRM and **AA stupidity. This article is no exception, although perhaps it's not anti-hollywood enough for your tastes.

      "The force of law (and the risk of lawsuits) combined with the obscurity of most cracking tools means that even DRM solutions which are easily cracked can be effective at preventing casual piracy"
      This devious little term,

      • This devious little term, causal piracy, actually refers to what should be our legally protected rights to fair use, and our rights under the AHRA for reproduction on recording devices.

        No, "casual piracy" refers to "widespread small-scale copyright infringement by average users", like making half a dozen copies of a copyrighted audio cassette (remember those?) for your friends.

        Which is (AFAIK - IANAL) perfectly legal (at least here in Austria), unless the music has been sprayed with magical uncopyable bits

    • Look, I'm as pedantic a person when it comes to that as anyone - I would prefer simply calling it "copying", not piracy. That said, you're going to have to accept that what he describes is 1) The accepted term in current language, and 2) Against current US law.

      Now, the more interesting point that need to be made again and again is that DRM is not a computer security issue. It's a consumer convienence issue. This means that, unlike a server or encrypted file where if the security is breached once it's consid
  • by necro2607 (771790) on Thursday July 20, 2006 @04:46PM (#15752487)
    "Their reasons are complicated and range from the philosophical to the criminal"...

    I don't know about the people specifically referred to in this article but most reasoning behind dislike of DRM is quite simple in nature. For example, being able to listen to a song on more than one brand of audio-playing device, or being able to watch a movie on more than one brand of device. There are also the cases where it's simply a matter of being able to burn a copy of a piece of software, or a movie.
  • WMA DRM (Score:2, Interesting)

    by in2mind (988476)
    While almost every software[Windows XP,soon Vista too!],copy protection schemes [DeCSS] have been cracked , why hasnt the WMA/WMV DRM been cracked?

    What makes it hard to crack WMA? How did Microsoft get this one right?
    • Re:WMA DRM (Score:3, Informative)

      by plasmacutter (901737)
      I refer you to the winamp method of stripping WMA drm..

      or the soundcard loop method, or the virtual soundcard method... etc etc..

      they didnt crack the algorithm because they didnt need to.
      • That doesn't work.

        WinAmp cannot strip DRM. Soundcard loops are disabled by the driver when playing back secure audio. Virtual soundcards require drivers that are not signed.

        The only way to strip Windows Media DRM at present is to use the analog hole with a separate recording device.

    • Because other players have been able to implement WM? playback support (mplayer, Winamp), so you don't need to crack WM?. The major focus is probably on DRM that includes vendor lock-in.
    • Attacking and defending DRM is like the martial arts. As a defender, you might win, or you might end up on your back.

      In most cases, there are only a few defenders and many attackers - so it's like being mobbed. You are unlikely to win such a match.

      But losing is not guaranteed. Can a Ninja Master fight off ten students at once? Yes, because they are good enough at what they do that it's possible. This is what has happened with Windows Media DRM - a lot of very smart computer programmers have built a syst

  • From the article:
    Such technologies end up controlling only the behavior of legitimate users; those who want free copies of Dude, Where's My Car? from BitTorrent won't be deterred.

    I wonder how many people who agree with this statement also support gun control.
  • TFA and most of the replies fail to miss the point. "DRM SUCKS DRM SUCKS" DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!

    Don't buy music or software that is copywritten in this way. There are open alternatives. Show the entertainment industry what you think with your dollar. Why spend money on recordings of movies or music anymore when you cannot even utilize them the way you would like without becoming a criminal?

    Hollywood and Washington are taking a big fat dump on the entire point of copyright and anti-trust laws - protecting
    • The minor problem with the mass market is that it's a mass market.

      Boycotts very seldom happen en masse. Generally, they're so small as to pass completely under the radar of the people responsible for looking at sales figures.
  • I'm disappointed how many consumers will eat what they're fed. I hack DRM by simply refusing to purchase anything that makes use of it. If everyone did that the problem would solve itself. Remember, it's your money and nobody can force you to buy something you do not want.
  • Any well-informed individual who values our cultural heritage and wishes to preserve it for our children will go out of his/her way to acquire DRM-free versions of media content, whether by legal purchase, from hackers, or if necessary even from commercial pirates.

    The history of our civilization over the ages teaches us that media stored in one or only a few repositories will most likely be lost - prime examples being the great libraries of Alexandria and Constantinople. But while these libraries flourishe
    • ... stored in DRM DVDs, then you might have just found a way to justify DRM after all!

      'cause, really, do you really want future generations to see the crap being churned out today in the guise of "art"? Kinda makes me glad CDs only have about 100-year lifetime expectancy...

  • I wonder how legal this is; I've downloaded almost all songs I've bought on 2CD's named "Solid Sounds" ; I burned them again; since some of the Solid Sounds CDs ("music for the new club generation") contains a DRM which doesn't even allow the CD to be seriously played on professional DENON CD equipment (it mostly hangs for +/- 1-2 minutes and then suddenly the CD gets read; in both my Denon 2500 as the new 2600 series). This cd serie is not one of its kind; there are more CD's which have the same problem (t

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