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FairUse4WM Breaks Windows DRM 617

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the not-so-secret-any-more dept.
An anonymous reader writes "FairUse4WM, according to engadget, "can be used to strip Windows Media DRM 10 and 11". What does the slashdot community think of this development in the ongoing cat-and-mouse game going on between big media and what is available online?"
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FairUse4WM Breaks Windows DRM

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  • by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:49AM (#15994146) Homepage Journal
    FairUse4WM Breaks Windows DRM

    should read:

    FairUse4WM Fixes Windows DRM

    'cause it makes something previously unusable, usable. (Not that I will ever be using this app, I've never been stupid enough to buy a DRM encumbered piece of content).

    Oh - and for those hoping it stripped the DRM from WMV9. Nope, WMA DRM only.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dsginter (104154)
      Actually, it should read:

      FairUse4WM Circumvents Windows DRM

      Now, "fair use" is another argument altogether. I understand that, given the chance, most consumers will steal media without a second thought. I also think that the current DRM implementations are stepping on consumer rights. Is there a balance?

      Yes. This discussion is left as an excercise for the reader.
      • by |/|/||| (179020) on Monday August 28, 2006 @12:46PM (#15994594)
        There is only one reasonable solution - you *trust* the consumer not to violate copyright law. *If* the consumer does so, and you catch the consumer, and you try the consumer in a court of law, and the consumer is found to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, then you punish the consumer.

        In other words, you can't force people to obey the law. Well, you can, but you have to have some sort of fascist state in order to do so - fine if you're a hive dwelling insect, but not acceptable for humans (at least not for me!). Write me a ticket if you catch me speeding, but don't put a governor on my car that won't allow me to speed. Lock me up if I bash someone with a club, but don't handcuff me at birth. That's the way it has to work.

        I understand that, given the chance, most consumers will steal media without a second thought.
        I absolutely disagree with that statement. In fact, I don't think most people would do that even if it were not illegal.

      • by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Monday August 28, 2006 @04:35PM (#15996129) Homepage Journal

        I understand that, given the chance, most consumers will steal media without a second thought.

        I think this is true, although perhaps a bit too strong. What's interesting to me is *why* it's true, because I've found that most people are quite honest. They wouldn't dream of stealing a CD from a store, so why would they create an infringing copy of the same content?

        I think the answer is: Because the media industry has screwed itself.

        I think the reason people don't see infringement as immoral is because they don't understand the social contract that underlies copyright law. And that's because the social contract has been trashed so thoroughly by the media industry that it's effectively invisible. Joe Average isn't stupid, but he's not an IP lawyer and given that he has never seen any copyrights expire during his lifetime, and may never see it, the notion that copyright is a tradeoff of short-term disadvantage for long-term advantage never occurs to him, because as far as he knows it's just a permanent restriction. Ask Joe who owns the copyright to Shakespeare's works and he's likely to think it's a reasonable question.

        Since Joe doesn't see that tradeoff, he evaluates infringement in its most direct, immediate terms: Who does it hurt, who does it help, and how do those balance? Who does it hurt? Well, no one, really. Perhaps Joe might have paid for it if he couldn't copy it, but maybe not, and besides those musicians are already millionaires, so it's not like anyone is going to go hungry. The pain inflicted by the loss of a single sale on someone who lives in a mansion and drives a Ferrarri is negligible. Who does it help? Why, Joe. Not in any huge way, but it gives him some music to listen to that he might not have otherwise been able to afford.

        Ignoring the issue of what copyright is supposed to do, Joe's moral calculus is compelling. Weighing a clear good against a questionable and negligibly-small bad, the result is a no-brainer. If you throw in arguments about what would happen if everyone copied instead of buying, the waters are muddied a bit, but since that's not in imminent danger of occurring, it's a red herring.

        If the media industry wants Joe to feel some moral obligation to honor copyright, they should push to go back to reasonable copyright terms, so that Joe can see the value of the copyright system as evidenced by the flow of materials into the public domain. When there's lots of stuff that he can copy, legally and without qualm, he'll be more concerned about the propriety of making infringing copies.

        Personally, I saw that evolution in myself with respect to software. Before I switched over to using primarily Free software, I had no qualms about copying software that I knew I wasn't going to purchase -- and that even though I was a software developer making my living from copyrighted software. When I found that I could do most of what I needed to without infringing, though, I began to be offended by the idea of casual infringement. After a few years of Free software usage, I actually get angry at people who illegally copy software, and I don't use any commercial software without paying for it. I also don't copy music or movies illegally. I do download TV shows, but only because I can justify that I could have sucked them off the cable, albeit less conveniently.

    • by acousticiris (656375) * on Monday August 28, 2006 @02:51PM (#15995515)
      Let me speak to the "stupid enough to buy DRM encumbered content" market...since I *was* stupid enough.

      I subscribed to Yahoo! Music Unlimited, upgraded my Windows Media Player, installed all of the patches and purchased a brand spanking new Creative Zen Vision last year.
      The whole setup process was about two hours after the litany of patches and firmware upgrades, but it worked...actually very well...
      Then one day, about 7 months later, it failed.

      For no explainable reason other than "DRM is garbage", my player decided to play only the first song downloaded, and then claim that every other song was unlicensed thereafter. It didn't matter which track, the minute it skipped to the next one, everything was unplayable that was DRM'd.

      You can imagine how abundantly helpful Yahoo!'s tech support was (not at all). So I cancelled my subscription.

      Lets add up my total costs:
      1-year Subscription (at the time $4.99/month, now $9.99): $59.88
      New media player for subscription content: $399.99 (somewhere in that range)
      Number of tracks effectively "rented" for seven months: ~150
      Total Cost "the day the music died": $459.87 or >$3.00/tracks I didn't get to keep.

      Sure, I factored the player into the cost and maybe that's not fair since I still use it for videos and music (and I would buy it again, today, if given a choice), but the fact remains that I had to buy a new player because only a select few are subscription compatible.
      I won't resubscribe now that this tool is available because my guess is that Microsoft will have this hole patched before the week is out (Here's betting they don't wait until "Patch Tuesday" for this update, we all know where their priorities are).

      So I have access to less music (legally) "at my finger-tips", but at least I get to enjoy the music on all of my PCs, my stereo, my two players, and wherever the heck else I can adapt the unencumbered tracks to.
      It's amazing to me that something that was "standard" 100 years ago (unencrypted/encumbered music) is now the first feature I look for in music I buy.
      • Glad you took the time to post your experience with this. Hope you also take the time to help non-techies understand what happened to you. I'm getting sick of being the tech support guy for acquaintances whose hassles are the result of uninformed purchasing decisions like using a DRM infested online store to acquire their entire music library.

        When they work perfectly, DRM schemes prevent you from doing many things with your media. When they don't work perfectly, they are infinitely more likely to erroneousl
  • by w33t (978574) * on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:49AM (#15994147) Homepage
    I think the industry should start wondering who the cat really is.
  • ones and zeros (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rjdegraaf (712353) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:50AM (#15994152)
    You have the right to manipulate the magnetization on your harddisk in any way, right?
    • by truedfx (802492) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:58AM (#15994232)

      No, you don't. What gave you that idea?

    • You have the right to tear down your home and put up a scale replica of the Taj Mahal, right?

      As zoning laws apply to your property by precdent, licensing applies to the ones and zeros on your HD by precedent.

      Silly nation of laws.
      • by rainman_bc (735332) on Monday August 28, 2006 @12:09PM (#15994321)
        You have the right to tear down your home and put up a scale replica of the Taj Mahal, right?

        As zoning laws apply to your property by precdent, licensing applies to the ones and zeros on your HD by precedent.


        Wow. that's quite the analogy.

        I don't understand how one is related to the other. Putting up a replica of the Taj Mahal is (arguably) an eye sore, and should have community consultation before said replica is built. I don't understand the parallels you've drawn. I don't understand how doing anything to my hard drive has any affect on my neighbours.
  • by Cybert4 (994278) * on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:51AM (#15994164)
    I've used yahoo music for a year, and now Urge (Urge is far better from a user interface viewpoint). I think these services are great! I know this is against some singulatarians--but I hope this gets patched up quick. Look at the differences between iStore and this. I can download all I want--and the bookmarks are even saved so I can download to another computer! If you lost your tracks in iStore, you're out the money. I don't want the iStore to be the only game in town!

    Yeah, information wants to be free and all that. But this service rocks. I haven't bought a CD since (probably not what they want to hear!) And it works fine with portable music players. You just have to plug it in every few weeks-which you can do to get more music anyway. Yeah, a bit annoying, but come singularity we won't have any limitations.
    • by Daniel_Staal (609844) <DStaal@usa.net> on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:56AM (#15994207)
      Come singularity I want to be able to buy music, not just rent it.

      But I'd rather these services died a market death than a technolocial one. Then maybe the media companies would realize that people don't want to pay for something continually.

      And, well, if other idiots think that renting music is better than buying than maybe they should be allowed too.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Nik13 (837926)
        Come singularity I want to be able to buy music, not just rent it.

        Just because YOU want to buy only doesn't mean everybody else wants to. Just like some people prefer to rent DVDs instead of buying 'em. Nobody prevents you from buying.

        But I'd rather these services died a market death than a technolocial one.

        Why want them to die at all? Because less options is a good thing? Perhaps you want netflix-like services to die too? Because people renting contents is a bad thing from your standpoint seemingly...

        Then
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nolife (233813)
        Times are changing, so is the type of music and the listening habits of kids.
        I have Rhapsody and Yahoo Music subscriptions. I use then on occasion but my kids use those and the my Sirius radio all day, every day. Both of these services combined are cheaper then buying a single CD a month. One of my kids listens to the popular song of the week and/or month and has absolutely no interest in maintaining long term ownership of those songs (and I don't blame her) because in two months, she will be on to somet
    • by eobanb (823187) on Monday August 28, 2006 @12:02PM (#15994262) Homepage
      By 'iStore' I assume you're referring to iTunes. Maybe not, but it seems like it to me. You are simply wrong about losing iTunes tracks and never being able to recover them. Apple does, in fact, let you re-download tracks that you've bought in case they get deleted. I might also mention that being able to 'download all you want' from the Windows Media online stores doesn't mean that you actually OWN those tracks, just that you're renting them in the same manner that you can 'get shipped all the movies you want' from NetFlix.

      Or maybe you knew this and were trolling all along.
      • Apple does, in fact, let you re-download tracks that you've bought in case they get deleted.

        Um, no they don't. I know because I tried yesterday (new HD, so reinstall and rerip of CDs). I ended up having to use EphPod to recover the M4P files from my iPod.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by eobanb (823187)
          Yes, they do. If you contact Apple Support and explain to them that you've lost your music, they will reset your account so that you can go to Advanced > Check for Purchases, which will then cause iTunes to re-download every track you've previously purchased with that account.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 28, 2006 @12:58PM (#15994685)
        The iTunes music store is quite clear that if you accidently delete your iTunes downloads, you're SOL. There are plenty of accounts of people who've lost iTunes downloads who've had Apple tell them to repay to redownload or fuck off.

        Plus, once you've gone past five times that Apple's decided your computer is different, you also lose all your music. Gone. Locked out.

        Apple is just as evil as the rest of them. At least the "rent music" places are telling you up front that you're just renting and that you can lose the ability to play your downloads at the drop of a hat.
    • by friedmud (512466) on Monday August 28, 2006 @12:55PM (#15994663)
      Here's my personal take on the "Rent a Song" thing....

      What about 10/20 years from now?

      Have you ever picked up a tape/record/old cd that you used to listen to and pop it in? It's a great experience to be "teleported" back to Junior High or whenever...

      When I buy music, I buy it forever (forever being a really long time of course). Yeah, it's cool to have a music service that you can download shitloads of music from _for now_ but 10 years from now you might look around and wish you had spent that monthly fee on physical cd's instead of renting ones and zeros.

      Like I said... this is just my personal opinion... but it's personally the thing that keeps me from buying DRM'd stuff. I want to "own" what I pay for as much as possible... so I can do what I like with it and keep it and use it as long as I like. But maybe I'm in the minority.

      Friedmud
  • by Noksagt (69097) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:51AM (#15994165) Homepage
    They've already written a follow-up: An open letter to Microsoft: Why you shouldn't kill FairUse4WM [engadget.com].

    This whole thing reminds me of Cory Doctorow's DRM and MSFT: A Product No Customer Wants [boingboing.net].
  • Also of interest: (Score:3, Informative)

    by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:51AM (#15994172) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps also of interest, engadget's open letter to microsoft [engadget.com] on why they shouldn't kill FairUseWM.
  • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:51AM (#15994174)
    But seriously, if you've bought something with Windows DRM, you could spent a few minutes searching around on Bittorrent and download a DRM-free version of it.

    The only thing I could see this being helpful for are cases where the media is unpopular and there's a fair use need to circumvent the DRM.
    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday August 28, 2006 @12:00PM (#15994244) Journal
      But seriously, if you've bought something with Windows DRM, you could spent a few minutes searching around on Bittorrent and download a DRM-free version of it.
      IANAL etc.

      But to me there is a clear distinction -- in one case, you're manipulating a file that you acquired (likely legally, since it's DRM'd). In the other case, someone is distributing a file that is a copyrighted work -- not fair use.

      I don't want to get into the whole debate about whether copyright is Evil (tm), but from a personal liability point-of-view, I'd think it also much easier to justify fair use when you remove the DRM yourself than if you acquire a DRM-free version via bittorrent. Maybe not easier to justify it to **AA lawyers, but at least easier to justify it to yourself :)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MikeBabcock (65886)
        I think it should be lobbied that this not be the case.

        I'd love to see a law that would make the acquisition of digital variants of legally owned materials legal.

        That is to say, if I own a book and lose my eyesight, I should be able to download a digital version of the book for use with a screen reader without having to repurchase my entire library.

        The same should go for downloading *exact* copies of music I already own; my CD gets wrecked in the sun so I keep it in the jewel case for proof and download a n
  • Good news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jay2003 (668095) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:57AM (#15994220)
    Now I can finally see Windows Media DRMed content on my mac. I really don't care whether M$ supports DRM on the mac or somebody else breaks it. I'm just sick of the "macs not supported" errors when trying to view video on the mac.
  • DMCA arrest (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kabloom (755503) on Monday August 28, 2006 @11:58AM (#15994233) Homepage
    I think the next Slashdot story will be about the authors' arrest for DMCA violation. :-(
    I doubt Microsoft will let this slide.
  • Cat and Mouse? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord_Slepnir (585350) on Monday August 28, 2006 @12:00PM (#15994240) Journal
    the term cat and mouse game implies that there is a chance for the big media companies to win. For every programer that they employ to create DRM, there are at least 10 hackers sitting around with nothing better to do than to break this, and many of them come from countries that either do not respect US IP laws (Korea, China), or that do not have such insane IP laws like ours to begin with (Sweden). To be blunt, they do not have a chance to win at all.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Red Flayer (890720)
      the term cat and mouse game implies that there is a chance for the big media companies to win.
      Nah, it just means they are being constantly played with by crackers. Like a cat letting a mouse 'escape' just so it can pounce on it again. It's inevitable that the cat wins in the end (assuming the mouse doesn't find a hole in the wall to run through, like the DMCA in the US).
  • by WatchTheTramCarPleas (970756) on Monday August 28, 2006 @12:04PM (#15994273) Homepage
    It only takes 1 realy angry 12 year old to make a copy of a piece of media (un DRMed through various means including cracking and the analog hole) available freely on the internet for it to be available to anyone everyone. Why would you alienate your consumers with a technology that doesn't fix the problem but creates more?
  • easy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by scenestar (828656) on Monday August 28, 2006 @12:04PM (#15994275) Homepage Journal
    What does the slashdot community think of this development in the ongoing cat-and-mouse game going on between big media and what is available online?"

    Information is public property, DRM is just a challenge
  • Predicted. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by twitter (104583) on Monday August 28, 2006 @12:06PM (#15994298) Homepage Journal

    Everyone knows the DRM is nothing but an inconvenience to normal users suckered into repurchasing music they have owned for decades in format after format. It had zero impact on wholesale media rip off, where "pirates" duplicate the original distribution medium. It's had zero impact on file sharing. Sooner or later, legitimate users are going to get fed up with format changes and eternal copyright. DRM is the last gasp of industries that depended on expensive physical distribution and government broadcast franchises to survive. No one else wants it and it's going away. Until it does, I've given up on their content. Big media won't be seeing any of my money till they make life easier for me and their artists.

  • by Wesley Felter (138342) <wesley@felter.org> on Monday August 28, 2006 @12:13PM (#15994358) Homepage
    If a company rents discs with digital data on them, many Slashdotters will claim the right to rip them before returning. If a company rents DRM'ed files, tools will be created to strip the DRM. Is rental an unenforceable, and thus obsolete, business model? Or will companies simply accept the "shrinkage"?
  • by in2mind (988476) on Monday August 28, 2006 @12:39PM (#15994534) Homepage
    I think FairUse4WM is not a baddie exactly - It still needs the original license to remove the DRM. The guys who managed to crack the DRM,could have easily made it possible to unDRM thr content that you do not own too.

    But they didnt.

  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Monday August 28, 2006 @12:41PM (#15994559)
    If a seller sets his price &/or terms too high and (thus) restricts the end user, his volume falls, and he makes less off his product.

    My bet is that the media companies have done and are doing EVERYTHING possible to keep the "old pricing" at the top of their requirements for the sale of their products.

    In the end, I predict the consumers will pay what they want to pay or not buy, and that will force prices down. Why should a person have to pay a premium for a DVD movie, once the first run week has gone by? Is a movie download going to be more than a movie ticket? Would people ultimately by more movies if the price were $3/movie?

    I still think the consumer, collectively, will ultimately set the price, by whether he buys a single piece of entertainment in volume or not.

    DRM is dead as far as I am concerned, because I won't buy content with it, so I have already voted. The media companies just don't know it, as they have not asked me.
  • by refriedchicken (961967) on Monday August 28, 2006 @12:43PM (#15994568)
    I am all for free stuff, but I am also all for paying people for their work (regardless of how much they actually get, that is between them, their agent and their contract). I am not sure I understand what the big deal is about all this DRM. I am have happily purchased music from iTunes and Sony Connect (in excess of 2000 songs to be specific) and all this talk of DRM is nonsense. All it has meant is that I have to burn it to CD and then rip it back, not much different from when I use to buy the physical CD. Everything I have works on my iPod, PSP, and PC.

    And before everyone says, "Well you shouldn't have to burn and rerip", I do agree, but I would be burning for a backup copy anyway, not to mention to listen in the car that doesn't have the iPod adapter.

    So can someone please tell me why breaking DRM is news, my CD burner and I have been doing it for years.

  • by lorenlal (164133) on Monday August 28, 2006 @12:51PM (#15994632)
    I thought that the point of those services was to provide a subscription model so that you never *BUY* the music. You're supposed to pay for access to their library. In this case, you aren't buying the music, you're renting it from the provider.

    In this case, removing the DRM is more like making a copy of a DVD or VHS tape that you rent from Blockbuster.

    I'm more interested in converting my iTunes m4p files (that I bought and paid for to own) to MP3 so I can play them in my car. This is illegal, and qualified as illegal before any DMCA. You're copying something you don't own if you use it on Napster.
  • by stinky wizzleteats (552063) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:05PM (#15994748) Homepage Journal
    What does the slashdot community think of this development in the ongoing cat-and-mouse game going on between big media and what is available online?

    Click... Save As...
  • by Goody (23843) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:08PM (#15994771) Journal
    I'll take Questions With Obvious Answers for $200, Alex!
  • by John Jorsett (171560) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:36PM (#15994990)
    Just use a stream capture software package (Replay Music among others) if you want to save a song. Since it captures at the audio card level, short of DRM being installed in hardware, no DRM can prevent it. Maybe purists can detect a degradation of quality, but to my untrained ear, the captured MP3 sounds exactly the same as the original.

  • by MC Negro (780194) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:53PM (#15995096) Journal
    Does this tool work for Janus-locked files (commonly used in "ToGo" services)?

    A little backdrop for context -

    Like a lot of people, I travel a lot (commute to work, business trips, family, etc...). I have a Creative Zen Touch 40GB w/PlayForSure update that I've been pretty pleased with for the past year. However, last April I was doing my semi-annual reinstall of Windows on my Tablet PC. Being quite naive, I just assumed backing up My Music would be sufficient for license back-up -- after all, it contains the "My License Backup" folder. So you know, just going with that. Noooo sirreee, Rhapsody will have none of that. It informed me that each DRM'd file I had used with RhapsodyToGo didn't have a valid license or was corrupt. The only way I could get the files to update their licenses was to queue the files needing a license update for download, pause the download, then cancel the download. This worked great for files on my computer, but the licenses wouldn't transfer to my MP3 player. Additionally, my playlists were broken because of this mess. These inconveniences, coupled with the fact that I don't feel like browsing through Rhapsody's unresponsive IE-control and manually selecting the gigabytes of locked-up and unplayable files on my tablet and MP3 player forced me back to BitTorrent.

    Words cannot capture how fucking frustrating it is to have a 5 hour drive ahead of you and be presented with a "No License To Play File" message when you try to play half the files on your MP3 player. No warning, no hint, not even a goddamn "License will expire in x days" message when I downloaded the file originally. Which brings me to another point -- I pay my RhapsodyToGo subscription quarterly, why the fuck should I have to update once a month? . Or put more accurately -- GUESS when I should have to update during the month, because that's part of the fun - YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT DAY THE FILES EXPIRE.

    Anyways, I got kinda off track there. I simply downloaded MP3s and FLACs of the music I wanted and replaced most of the DRM'd horseshit, but certain artists (e.g., Robert Johnson, Blind Willie Johnson, Muddy Waters, hell even mainstream artists like Jeff Beck) are harder to find on P2P networks and BitTorrent trackers. So a tool which could unlock the files I've legitmately acquired would be really great.

    If anyone from Microsoft or RealNetworks is reading this -- I'm trying to do the right thing, but you're making it so fucking difficult. It's almost as if you want me to pirate the music.
  • Download sites (Score:4, Informative)

    by OfNoAccount (906368) on Monday August 28, 2006 @01:59PM (#15995144)
    Haven't tried them myself, so watch out for viruses etc, but here's a coral cached forum post @ doom9 linking mirrors etc: Download mirrors [nyud.net]
  • by funkatron (912521) on Monday August 28, 2006 @04:24PM (#15996063)
    How am I supposed to comment this when theres no link to download it?

You know, the difference between this company and the Titanic is that the Titanic had paying customers.

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