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"DVD Jon" Reverse Engineers FairPlay 299

Posted by kdawson
from the double-twist-of-fate dept.
breun writes to bring us up to date on the doings of Jon Lech Johansen, known as "DVD Jon" after he cracked CSS encryption at the age of 15. As reported by GigaOM's Liz Gannes, Johansen has now reverse-engineered Apple's FairPlay DRM — but not to crack it. Instead Johansen's company, DoubleTwist Ventures, wants to license the tech to media companies shut out by Apple from playing their content on the iPod. And, soon, on the iTV. Johansen could end up selling a lot of hardware for Apple.
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"DVD Jon" Reverse Engineers FairPlay

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  • *sniff*.. *sniff*. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sassinak (150422) <sassinak@sdf.lonesta r . o rg> on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:04PM (#16281457) Homepage
    What's that smell..

    Oh that's right.. a lawsuit.

    Hold on to your hats boys and girls, its going to get fun.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by josephdrivein (924831)
      C&D Letter in 3..2..1...
    • by mctk (840035)
      Oh, wait, no it wasn't a lawsuit after all. It was just this piece of rotting broccoli that I accidentally left in my desk over the weekend.
    • ant vs steam roller.
    • by roseblood (631824) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:37PM (#16282049)
      Indeed. Apple is not going to like the fact that some other company is going to sell their technology. Thats what patents are for right? Wait... there is plenty of prior art for cryptography (thats all DRM is, crypto for media, when you're given the right to play the media you are allowed to decrypt it.)

      How will it work here? A court says DVD JON stop it, that's apple technology they worked hard to make. A court says APPLE CHILL OUT, DVD JON is going to let other MP3 players play FAIRPLAY files and non-Ipod owners will spend their money on your iTunes store.

      I'm sure apple would love to sell more iPods, but then again, they could end up selling more music.

      I predict lawsuits myself, the legal department will feel the need to get them going if only to prove to the bosses that they are doing productive work for the company.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nelsonal (549144)
        They make all their money selling iPods the store is a giveaway to keep the music industry off their backs while they sell them.
        • Agreed. And this is why they're going to come down hard on Jon, not because they really care that much about the iTMS, but because it might encourage sales of other MP3 players at the expense of the iPod.

          If Apple really was interested in running an online music venture and making their money there -- as in, really having that be their core business -- they would have tried to license out FairPlay as widely as possible and make it a de facto standard. (Which it already practically is, without licensing; given that the iPod is the de facto standard MP3 player.)

          However, since the iTMS is really only there to grant legitimacy to the iPod as a device (does anyone remember how the music industry was screaming bloody murder about iPods being "piracy machines" back before the music store existed?), it makes no sense for them to share this "excuse" with anyone else's MP3 players. They benefit more from a consumer who buys an iPod than they do from a consumer who buys a few iTMS songs -- you'd have to buy a LOT of music to give Apple the same amount of profit that they get from a single iPod, and most people don't buy that much.

          I think you'll see Apple go after this in the courts if it can, or just start a vicious cycle of "upgrades" and "enhancements" to the format if it can't.
          • by guet (525509) on Monday October 02, 2006 @06:24PM (#16284905)
            If Apple really was interested in running an online music venture and making their money there -- as in, really having that be their core business -- they would have tried to license out FairPlay as widely as possible and make it a de facto standard. (Which it already practically is, without licensing; given that the iPod is the de facto standard MP3 player.)

            Actually, I disagree - they didn't license out to protect the market as it was growing, if they had attempted to license early it could easily have meant the death of their format. Licensing out to the likes of Microsoft and their hardware partners would leave them forced to play along with multiple implementations of their DRM, possibly even dealing with outright sabotage (see Java in MS Windows) to undermine their position. Embrace, Extend, Extinguish. By building a strong monolithic market first, they're in a perfect position to open up licensing and make a killing, and no-one can challenge their position at this point as the one who sets the standards.

            In fact there's going to be far more money in online media when it takes off than there will ever be in gadgets - once people don't bother buying physical media the market will be huge; owning the most widely licensed DRM will be very profitable. For now though the money is in the gadgets.
        • They aren't necessarily a giveaway but the net profits are slim.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:55PM (#16282373)
      Does nobody remember the landmark Sony vs. Connectix case? A company can reverse engineer proprietary software and implement software that replicates functionality learned from said reverse engineering in their own devices in order to create compatibility between devices.
    • It does sound fun. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Monday October 02, 2006 @04:05PM (#16282559) Journal
      Not because I agree with either side -- DVD Jon is a bastard for not simply releasing this to the public -- but it looks like it's shaping up to be hilarious and fun to watch in the same way the ending of Dune was. You think you have me surrounded? Beaten? Then, out of nowhere: "If I am not obeyed, the spice will not flow."
      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        "If I am not obeyed, the spice will not flow"

        Hey, don't knock it. It keeps Victor Chavez in power.

        -Eric

    • by BobSutan (467781)
      Uh, isn't this what reverse engineering is all about? If it wasn't for such ingenuity we wouldn't have the phrase "IBM PC Compatible".

      Think about it.
  • Why do I have the feeling that somebody is going to turn out like Dmitry Sklyarov?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      For anybody who doesn't know who Dmitry Sklyarov [wikipedia.org] is (I know i didn't). Click on his name for a nice Wikipedia article.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MarsDude (74832)
        So "Why do I have the feeling that somebody is going to turn out like Dmitry Sklyarov?" actually means that in a couple of years he will be married and have 2 kids...
    • Worse (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:23PM (#16281831) Journal
      Twenty-two-year-old Johansen moved to San Francisco to work with Monique Farantzos, who had contacted him after reading a Wall Street Journal profile of him last fall. The two now live in the Mission District and devote their time to DoubleTwist Ventures, which is Johansen's first major attempt at commercializing his hacking. They haven't raised any outside money because they have already found at least one (undisclosed) paying customer.
      He lives in the U.S. & has a company.

      He is so getting sued & this time his home country's laws will not protect him.

      TFA does make an interesting point: he isn't stripping DRM, he's adding it... but isn't that exactly what Apple is licensing?
      • Re:Worse (Score:5, Insightful)

        by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday October 02, 2006 @04:25PM (#16282903)
        That brings up an interesting point. Why would DVD Jon, or any of these other hackers, want to live in the U.S.? Hell I'm American, and even *I* would rather live in Sweden, Denmark, or Canada if I could. If I were routinely thumbing my nose at the RIAA, the MPAA, the DMCA, etc., I wouldn't even *visit* the U.S., much less live here.

        Do these people not get it? In the U.S., the government doesn't fuck around--they WILL kick your door down, take your computers, and drag you off to jail if they suspect you're up to something (or some company or other government agency tells them you are). Hell, they'll drag you out of the airport if you even LAND here. And they don't give a shit about it causing an international incident, either (really, how much lower could the U.S. sink in international opinion than it already has).

        -Eric

        • by neoform (551705)
          because this is only something that's come up within the past decade..

          plus, american's can't just move to sweeden or canada without a visa or citizenship..
  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:07PM (#16281509)
    This has already been done with Real's Harmony [wikipedia.org].

    With each successive iPod update, Apple can keep breaking Harmony. Sure, they can come back and "fix" it again, only for it to be broken again.

    Besides which, anyone can sell or deliver content on Apple's iPod now:

    - They can deliver it in any number of media formats without DRM (since DRM is so evil, right?)

    - If they really want DRM, any music provider not currently affiliated with a major label can distribute on iTunes to iPod via services like this [cdbaby.net]

    So, if we're to believe the putative reasons that FairPlay has been "reverse-engineered", it is actually to specifically enable and further the usage of DRM.

    Is this what the people who would applaud DVD Jon actually want? More DRM, and DRM that won't be guaranteed to work (in fact, will almost be guaranteed to NOT work) the next time an update comes out from the vendor, at that?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      ---Sure, they can come back and "fix" it again, only for it to be broken again.

      Well, perhaps that's not a bad idea at all. Let them "fix" it. Microsoft just recently "fixed" their DRM, in so that legitimate customers will be locked out of their own music.

      I picture soon that the question will be "does my hardware at this unchanging firmware play this amorphous piece of media right now?" Well, the question will arise in the mass public and they will witness media not playing, after they paid, of course.

      DRM wi
      • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:17PM (#16281725)
        DRM will ALWAYS be able to be broken. The idea is to prevent casual abuse en masse and provide a show of good faith to content owners on the part of technology companies like Apple, both of which are exactly what it does.

        Now that we've gotten that out of the way, Apple isn't utterly retarded like Microsoft, doing things like making "PlaysForSure" content NOT work on their own devices, and doing other ridiculous and confusing things with DRM. Apple's DRM is unobtrusive enough to most customers that most customers DON'T CARE, and will NEVER "get screwed" by it. Period.

        Note I said "most". And ultimately, that's all that counts.

        Also, DRM isn't necessarily intrinsically evil. I know there's a lot of belief here that copyright law is hopelessly corrupted, content owners are greedy bastards, the laws surrounding DRM are horrid, and I could go on and on. And all of that may be true. But as long as there is some level of legal protection for someone who generates content and/or their agents, or their agent's agents, or trade groups that represent them, etc., there is nothing intrinsically wrong with using some level of technological means to protect that content from misappropriation under the current body of legal frameworks that cover such use. Everyone who buys content from, e.g., iTunes, knows exactly what the restrictions are. No one is forcing them to buy it.

        DRM will never die. Shitty, overly restrictive DRM that pisses off massive amounts of customers will die. But "DRM" in general won't.
        • by Mr2001 (90979) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:34PM (#16282029) Homepage Journal
          Everyone who buys content from, e.g., iTunes, knows exactly what the restrictions are. No one is forcing them to buy it.

          Close: they know what the restrictions are right now. They don't know what the restrictions will be tomorrow or next year. Apple has, in fact, issued updates to iTunes to tighten the restrictions on music that had already been purchased, and they may very well do so again in the future.
          • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:54PM (#16282365)
            Close: they know what the restrictions are right now. They don't know what the restrictions will be tomorrow or next year. Apple has, in fact, issued updates to iTunes to tighten the restrictions on music that had already been purchased, and they may very well do so again in the future.

            Um, examples, please? Are you talking about things like being able to burn one playlist 7 consecutive times instead of 10? (Even though you can just make one change to the playlist, change it back, and then burn again?) Other than that, I am not aware of any changes that makes Apple's DRM more restrictive, unless you're talking about the waaaaay-old changes to iTunes that disabled the ability to do music sharing via IP (as opposed to only on your local subnet, the way it is now), which had nothing to do with DRM, or the syncing changes in iTunes 2.0, which again had nothing to with with DRM, or disallowing music from easily being downloaded by others (as opposed to streamed) via iTunes, which, again, had nothing to do with DRM.

            As I said in another post, Apple has actually been making their DRM more lenient: you can now two-way sync any iPod with any iTunes libraries on computers that are authorized on the same iTunes account (and you can have up to five computers and an unlimited number of iPods, which is how it's always been). Previously, you could have an iPod associated with only one music library; now you can easily keep all libraries in sync across multiple computers and multiple iPods.

            While your point stands in general with regard to DRM, Apple has not introduced any new restrictions that fundamentally limit what you can do, and instead has removed limitations that previously existed.

            Microsoft has done precisely the opposite, even introducing a new music player that doesn't play its *own* ironically-branded PlaysForSure content. (And to others reading this, no it wasn't just a rumor or misunderstanding...Zune really won't play PlaysForSure content, and vice versa: http://www.engadget.com/2006/09/14/the-engadget-in terview-j-allard-microsoft-corporate-vice-presi/ [engadget.com] )
            • by Danse (1026) on Monday October 02, 2006 @04:12PM (#16282661)
              unless you're talking about the waaaaay-old changes to iTunes that disabled the ability to do music sharing via IP (as opposed to only on your local subnet, the way it is now), which had nothing to do with DRM, or the syncing changes in iTunes 2.0, which again had nothing to with with DRM, or disallowing music from easily being downloaded by others (as opposed to streamed) via iTunes, which, again, had nothing to do with DRM.

              All of those changes and restrictions are made possible only because of DRM. So it does actually have everything to do with DRM. Then there's the point that, regardless of what Apple has done so far, it is entirely possible and legal for them to add restrictions at any time on media that you have already purchased. So the GP post was correct that while you may know what the restrictions are now, you have no way of knowing what they'll be tomorrow.
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by daveschroeder (516195) *
                All of those changes and restrictions are made possible only because of DRM. So it does actually have everything to do with DRM. Then there's the point that, regardless of what Apple has done so far, it is entirely possible and legal for them to add restrictions at any time on media that you have already purchased. So the GP post was correct that while you may know what the restrictions are now, you have no way of knowing what they'll be tomorrow.

                Wrong. None of those changes had anything to do with DRM. The
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Endo13 (1000782)
                  And yet, since DRM is precisely what restricts you to the bounds that iTunes sets.. it DOES have everything to do with DRM. Because without DRM, you could use your files with whatever the heck software you wanted, and the 'core functional changes' in iTunes wouldn't matter.

                  Nice try though.

                • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday October 02, 2006 @07:04PM (#16285379) Homepage
                  Wrong. None of those changes had anything to do with DRM. They applied to the behavior of the software in general, regardless of whether files had DRM or not. These were intrinsic to the behavior and featureset of iTunes, and had nothing to do with, nor were they enabled by, DRM.

                  Yes, it is the iTunes software that has the behavior irrespective of whether the file has DRM.

                  However it is the DRM that prevents you from bypassing the iTunes software and its behavior by using some other software that does not have the same limitations.

                  Thus while the behavior is part of the software, it is the DRM that restricts you to using that particular software, and thus turns a behavior into a restriction. Thus any changes in iTunes behavior in the future is made into a future restriction by DRM and DRM alone.

                  I have a hard time believing you don't actually understand this.

                  So, we can only go on Apple's track record, which has so far been positive and has included negotiating aggressively with content owners for the least restrictive DRM possible.

                  Right, as I say in another post, they have found a very nice compromise. Who knows if this is temporary or not, and the whole point is that because of DRM -- and only because of DRM -- we are subsequent to any future changes thay make whether they are nice or not.
            • by Mr2001 (90979)

              Um, examples, please? Are you talking about things like being able to burn one playlist 7 consecutive times instead of 10?

              Yup.

              Other than that, I am not aware of any changes that makes Apple's DRM more restrictive, unless you're talking about the waaaaay-old changes to iTunes that disabled the ability to do music sharing via IP [...] or the syncing changes in iTunes 2.0 [...] or disallowing music from easily being downloaded by others (as opposed to streamed) via iTunes, which, again, had nothing to do with

        • by rucs_hack (784150)
          but I thought 'everyone who owns an iPod fills it with pirated music'...

          Now me, I fill my mp3 player with ripped mp3s. probably breaking the law even though I purchased the cd's the music came from.

          I do find it amusing that the mere act of using something I pay for makes me a 'pirate' according to the RIAA and that inimitable mr Gates.

          I especially love that they try to jump on any point to say that iTunes is terrible, when iTunes has drm music (as do the competitors), a really good selection (better then ot
        • by Chris Burke (6130)
          Now that we've gotten that out of the way, Apple isn't utterly retarded like Microsoft, doing things like making "PlaysForSure" content NOT work on their own devices, and doing other ridiculous and confusing things with DRM. Apple's DRM is unobtrusive enough to most customers that most customers DON'T CARE, and will NEVER "get screwed" by it. Period.

          I can't say I like Apple's DRM no matter how unobtrusive, but I do have to admire them for striking such a good compromise considering the major labels' current
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Thaelon (250687)
          The fact that you can be a "content owner" rankles.

          Back in the old days, the only way to get music was to have musicians in house. The only way to have a play was to have players in house. The performers had control of the content.

          Thanks to recording and physical media became distributable without the original producers. Tough break for the musicians and players. The performers lost control of the content, the distributers gained it. Do you really think the distributers gave a shit about the performers
        • Apple's DRM is unobtrusive enough to most customers that most customers DON'T CARE, and will NEVER "get screwed" by it. Period.

          Never? Or as you would say--NEVER?

          To disprove that lazy assertion, we only need consider iTMS customers who migrate to another platform.

          Now if you leave the iPod platform for any reason, you're stuck with a pile of useless music--unless A) you know how to rid yourself of DRM or B) you go the even further lossy route of conversion.

          Anyone who makes the mistake of buying DRM-

    • >>if they really want DRM, any music provider not currently affiliated with a major label can distribute on iTunes to iPod via services like this

      Who exactly do you think WANTS DRM? Yes, it's the MAJOR LABELS. Other resellers (Real, Walmart, Microsoft, MTV, Napster, etc etc) who want to put major-label music on the ipod have no option to do so currently. (Tell me again about how Apple makes almost no money from itunes sales, but is unwilling to make bucket-loads by licensing their DRM.)

      DVD Jon is fo
    • It's to compete with itunes music store ipod.

      As you noted if you try to compete with tht eipod then apple can just change the encoding of the music so it breaks on your harmony player. But the reverse is not true. If I am selling songs I can encode them so they play on apple ipods yet are drm protected. Once I manage to emulate that for any given edition of the DRM format, the apple can't change the protocol because it would mean old songs won't play.

      that is you encode the songs such that if old itun

    • by rthille (8526)
      They can't break Harmony or DVD-Jon's code without breaking old versions of iTunes and forcing them to upgrade. That wouldn't go over well with Apple's customers.
  • Johansen could end up selling a lot of hardware for Apple.

    How's that? If Apple doesn't sell hardware they don't make money. If they don't make money from the hardware they won't be selling content. They only offer the content to profit from their own hardware. Am i missing something?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Yeah, you missed something. The implication is that Apple will sell a lot more hardware because Johansen will increase the amount of Fairplay protected content available.
      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        Yeah, but I suspect they're making a helluva lot more money on iTunes than with the hardware. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they were actually selling the hardware at a loss or at break-even to ensure their iTunes monopoly.

        -Eric

  • Confused (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheWoozle (984500) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:08PM (#16281545)
    So, DVD Jon is going into business to *sell* DRM?! And possibly at the expense of Apple?

    That sound your just heard is thousands of Slashdotter heads asploding.

    The drama abounds... Who will Apple sue first? Will anyone be brave enough to buy a third-party implementation of FairPlay? Will Apple try to thwart this by monkeying with FairPlay to cause compatibility problems, leading to a game of cat and mouse?
    • by Have Blue (616)
      1. The answer to question #2.
      2. No, see question #1.
      3. They were already doing this to Hymn, why would they stop now?
      • by TubeSteak (669689)
        They were already doing this to Hymn, why would they stop now?
        Because Real is a huge company and DVDJohn isn't?

        Unless his secret backer has really deep pockets, Apple could bury the guy and his company with lawsuits.
    • To break the fairplay work-alike that he has implemented, Apple might have to update the firmware on the iPods themselves. Even after that, Jon might have done a good enough job to make his protected content look exactly like Apple suplied content. At that point, Apple will have to decide to break all the older content/iPods, or deal with it.

      I imagine that this will eventually push Apple into licensing FairPlay to other content producers, but they will _never_ license FairPlay for new competing hardware d

    • So, DVD Jon is going into business to *sell* DRM?! And possibly at the expense of Apple?

      That sound your just heard is thousands of Slashdotter heads asploding.

      I guess that warm, fuzzy feeling you get when slashdotters applaud you for having cracked yet another DRM scheme doesn't pay your bills or buy you food. Selling DRM, on the other hand, might do that.

      It seems DVD Jon is not an anti-DRM ideologist - he just cracked CSS etc. for the sake of it - because he could. Maybe somebody has more insight as

      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        I suspect he is an anti-authoritarian. He doesn't like monopolies or companies that use patents and licenses to bully everyone else around.

        -Eric

    • by ePhil_One (634771)
      Will anyone be brave enough to buy a third-party implementation of FairPlay?

      Anyone who wants to produce a music player (cough Zune cough) without having their customers walk away from any purchased iTMS purchased or go through headaches of burning the CD's and reentering all the track info.

      In other words, a lot of people with a lot of money riding on it.

    • Just go stright for the source. I can't see this bloke staying out of hot water for very ong.
    • That sound your just heard is thousands of Slashdotter heads asploding.
      Unless you're British, 'assploding' has two s's.
  • A: Who wants to bet that Apple has a bunch of patents to happily sue about. Apple doesn't make a boatload of money on the hardware (why else are they able to effectively price-match other MP3 players), but a huge amount from Itunes.

    B: They can keep tweaking the format. Having every iPod upgrade break your music and you'll quickly stop buying it.
    • by ALpaca2500 (125123) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:23PM (#16281829) Homepage
      Apple doesn't make a boatload of money on the hardware (why else are they able to effectively price-match other MP3 players), but a huge amount from Itunes.

      You have that completely backwards. Apple's profit margin on the iPod is huge compared to what they're making on iTunes downloads...
      • by ronanbear (924575)
        Not percentage margin necessarily.

        Revenue is more important. An iPod might be about $300 dollars. At 33% profit that's $100 profit for each iPod. 10 cents profit per song requires you to buy 1000 songs (total cost $10,000 not including the iPod). Most iPod owners don't spend that kind of money downloading songs.

        Apple sells an average 20 songs or so per iPod. They're making money but only about $2 per iPod. Even if Apple were keeping 100% of the income from iTS it'd still only be $20 profit per iPod. App

    • by Raffaello (230287)
      You have this backwards: Apple makes much more money from selling iPods than it does from iTunes.

      from

      "But what's the chicken here and what's the egg? Is Apple selling iPods to sell music, for example, or selling music to sell iPods? It is most decidedly the latter. Based on a claimed 1.5 billion song sales at $0.99 each, Apple has made gross revenue from music sales of just under $1.5 billion since 2001. Yet in the same time period the company claims to have sold 60 million iPods, which represent (at an av
  • Suuuure (Score:5, Interesting)

    by finkployd (12902) * on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:20PM (#16281773) Homepage
    Johansen could end up selling a lot of hardware for Apple.

    I'm sure Apple will see it that way.

    This is yet another example of why DRM is nothing more than a snakeoil-based totally flawed concept. You CANNOT turn the concept of public key cryptography upside down like that. All DRM does is have you create a keypair (or create one for you and send you the private key), then it encrypts media using your public key before it gets to you. Great, except they have to (1) keep the private key accessable to their programs/devices that need to decrypt it and (2) keep it completely away from you (the "owner" of the key) and any other programs that could use it to decrypt media without following their silly restrictions.

    Keep trying to hide it in software, keep trying to hide it in hardware, as long as debuggers, logic probes, and soldering irons are available to the general public, someone will always get it. And it only takes one to make it completely pointless. After that there will be a software or hardware solution available to anyone to do the same thing. Or more to the point, the un-drmed media will be in the wild.

    Close the analog hole? Trying to force everyone to upgrade to monitors, sound cards (and speakers), TVs, etc. just to restrict what they can do will backfire as well. Eventually people will figure out that there is no benefit to upgrading all this stuff. And let's be honest with outselves, most of the really cool features of Vista have been canceled, it is nothing more than XP + DRM with some OSX eye candy thrown in to make it seem different. OSX is not much better, try loading a debugger while the DVD player app is running. Or even taking a screenshot.

    Nobody is waking up going "geeze, my PC, Tivo, DVD burner, and VCR can do way too much, I really wish I could pay a lot more for devices that prevent a lot of the use that is available to me now".

    Wow, I guess I really needed to go off on a DRM rant. I feel better.

    Finkployd
    • Re:Suuuure (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:45PM (#16282183) Homepage
      This is yet another example of why DRM is nothing more than a snakeoil-based totally flawed concept. You CANNOT turn the concept of public key cryptography upside down like that.

      Not just public key crypto, but crypto itself.

      Cryptography is concerned with making it so that Alice can send a message to Bob, without Charlie being able to read it even if he intercepts the message en route.

      DRM is concerned with the same thing, except Bob and Charlie are actually the same person.

      In crypto, both the sender and intended recipient are assumed to be trusted (or more precisely does not try to deal with the case where they are not). In DRM, the intended recipient is assumed to be untrustworthy. DRM pretends to be an extension/application of crypto, but it fundamentally breaks the most basic assumptions of cryptography.

    • I hope I'm wrong, but I have less faith that "eventually, people will figure out that there is no benefit to upgrading all this stuff." I can't help but think that MS wouldn't have the market share it does in the OS and Browser segments if people were prone to figuring these sorts of things out. When it's time for a new system, consumers by and large seem to run with the default setup, and buy the best complete bundle value (as they perceive it) when Best Buy has a sale. It isn't until later that they real
  • Currently if I want to get my music on iTunes, I can approach apple with it, and get it DRM'd and then sold on iTunes.

    Talk to me when DVD Job offers other MP3 player manufactures that ability to use a FairPlay DRM'd song on there own MP3 player. That is the lock in I would like to eliminate (and apple wants to keep).
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MikeBabcock (65886)
      How on earth did that get rated insightful? His point is moot -- the article says he has done exactly what the parent requests.

      Obviously neither the parent nor the mods in question read the article at all.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sadler121 (735320)

        the article says he has done exactly what the parent requests.

        Maybe YOU didn't RTFA, here let me quote it for you...

        DRM-buster DVD Jon has a new target in his sights, and it's a big piece of fruit. He has reverse-engineered Apple's Fairplay and is starting to license it to companies who want their media to play on Apple's devices. Instead of breaking the DRM (something he's already done), Jon has replicated it, and wants to license the technology to companies that want their content (music, movies, what

  • May be non-news... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by monoqlith (610041) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:27PM (#16281917)
    The author of this article seems confused, or at least implicitly blames Apple for "closing off" the iPod.

    The iPod can play non-DRM'd media formats, in mp3, non-FairPlay AAC, etc...

    If content from other music stores can't play on the iPod, it's not Apple's fault. It's their own fault, most probably because of the RIAA, for clinging to their own proprietary DRM.

    On the other hand, it is Apple's(and the RIAA's) fault that iTMS content cannot play on other devices, and this is why we really need a way to strip FairPlay DRM.

    It looks like this technology just benefits the record companies, who want to force all their music licensees into developing proprietary DRM technologies that make every single media device mutually incompatible with every other one.

    Sigh.

    Luckily, this is old news - Johansen had already circumvented the FairPlay encryption algorithm. He just wanted to develop something which was marketable to other music stores who want to compete with iTMS and who have the RIAA's proverbial gun to their heads. This seems like good news for everyone but the people who are buying the music, and (as I see it) the people who create it, who are tethered to an unfair distribution model.
    • by amliebsch (724858)

      If content from other music stores can't play on the iPod, it's not Apple's fault.

      Sophistry. It's Apple's fault because the iPod deliberately supports a DRM scheme that is only available from Apple, and the only DRM scheme available from Apple only works with the iPod. It's clear and unambiguous lock-in. It is a given that commercial music will have to be encumbered with DRM to be made available at a reasonable price. That other services are unable to provide files with a DRM that is ipod-compatible i

      • by monoqlith (610041)
        Point taken. But note that I didn't mean to absolve Apple of all guilt(I did say that Apple was to blame for not making iTMS music playable on any device, i.e. its failure to provide licensing for FairPlay) just to emphasize that it was the RIAA forcing people into using DRM that makes this whole scenario deadlocked to begin with, thereby preventing people from buying cross-compatible music from whichever music store they wish. And I really don't believe DRM is innately necessary, especially in its current,
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jb.hl.com (782137)
      If content from other music stores can't play on the iPod, it's not Apple's fault. It's their own fault, most probably because of the RIAA, for clinging to their own proprietary DRM.

      Um, yes it IS Apple's fault in a way, because they refuse to license FairPlay to anyone. Hence why DVD Jon has/wants to do so.
  • by guruevi (827432) <<evi> <at> <smokingcube.be>> on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:31PM (#16281967) Homepage
    DVD Jon, didn't break the FairPlay, he emulates it with his software. So he's not in violation of DMCA I think. Just like the Samba project reverse-engineered the SMB protocol, they did the same. So he's going to talk to Steve in January and has at least one (1) customer (Microsoft? haha)
    • by Churla (936633)
      I can imagine that talk in January will go well. From my read on the article it sounded like he had the talk last January and he's just coming to market with something now.

      Jon : Hi Steve..
      Jobs : Here's your cease and desist letter , I can have my secretary frame it for you on the way out.

      Next week..

      Jon announces new software product based on his re-engineering of the DRM to allow people to save files without DRM encumbrance.
    • by TRRosen (720617)
      Problem is its not a violation as long as its not used to play ITMS tracks on a unauthorized device (Zune,Zen, etc) or to play others DRM'd files on iTunes/iPod (would require accessing to account key which would be a DMCA violation) So as long as you want to open up a store to sell FairPlay DRM'd files that cant be played on an iPod your OK.
  • by RichMan (8097) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:42PM (#16282137)
    I believe this saves Apple from the anti-trust case in France that was considering Apple as monopolizing the market. As other vendors can now sell to the Ipod this technology saves Apple from that lawsuit.
  • DoubleTwist (Score:2, Interesting)

    by haggie (957598)
    Just look at his business name and you'll understand. DoubleTwist. He's backed Apple into a corner where they are screwed no matter what they do. Fighting his app could require them to change their DRM such that it breaks for existing media which would alienate customers, stir up tons of bad press, and further expose the downsides of DRM. OR They can let his application survive, some music companies will license it, build their own alternative distribution online stores probaby in highly specific niche m
  • Now finish the job (Score:2, Insightful)

    by burndive (855848)
    All he's done is reverse engineer for the sake of interoperability. Now you'll be able to download songs from, say, Walmart for 88 cents and play them on your iPod.

    The next step would be to reverse engineer the iPod, so that you can play iTMS tracks on your Zune or iRiver or whatever other device is out there.

    As long as the DRM on these other players works just as well as the iPod, the only thing that changes is that the single-vendor lock-in that Apple has worked so hard to create gets shattered. This is
    • by merdaccia (695940)

      Now you'll be able to download songs from, say, Walmart for 88 cents and play them on your iPod.

      Err, no. If that were the case, he would have had to reverse engineer whatever DRM Walmart uses. He reverse engineered FairPlay, which is what Apple uses to encrypt its iTMS content.

      To be fair, your confusion is more than warranted. I think the article is backwards. The author seems to imply that a content provider will purchase FairPlay encryption from DoubleTwist. The only reason for the content provider to

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gnasher719 (869701)
        '' To be fair, your confusion is more than warranted. I think the article is backwards. The author seems to imply that a content provider will purchase FairPlay encryption from DoubleTwist. The only reason for the content provider to do this would be if it were cheaper than purchasing FairPlay encryption from Apple directly. So DoubleTwist's target customer is a content company that wants to DRM its content and also wants to have its DRM'd content work on an iPod. ''

        One way to turn this into a money maker:
  • I'm sure Apple isn't:)
  • Why? Simple reason: to successfully reverse engineer something, you need to hire a 'virgin' software developer who has not seen the code of FairPlay. DVD Jon has cracked FairPlay several times in the past and he has seen the code of FairPlay.

    Nice work though...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jmpvm (6160)
      Just because he cracked the fairplay scheme doesn't mean he has seen the code.

      You seem to think that "cracking" something of this sort doesn't involve reverse engineering it. In fact, all of the "cracking" that I can recall DVD-Jon doing (CSS, FairPlay) has been the result of him reverse engineering available implementations.
  • Well this whole concept is useless who could he license this too?

    content sellers - yeah we'll just start up a company to compete with the ITMS selling the exact same thing they do...NOT

    content owners - a lot easier and cheaper just to let ITMS sell your stuff for you

    hardware vendor - no good, making your device play ITMS files is a 100% DCMA / copyright violation...doesnt matter if you can make it play on your device, its not liscenced for your device

    basiclly he created his own version of fairplay which ca

  • DMCA Jiu-Jitsu (Score:3, Insightful)

    by beeblebrox (16781) on Monday October 02, 2006 @08:07PM (#16286077)

    IANAL. However:

    DVDJon and his company are not just circumventing DRM. They are eviscerating meta-DRM:

    On one hand, they are circumventing FairPlay's copyright protection technology. Seems like a clear-cut violation of the DMCA, doesn't it?

    However, as long as they don't publicize their circumvention method, but instead make it available under NDA to legitimate customers, they are providing an avenue for Apple's legitimate competitors to enter the iTMS market. Competition has been explicitly protected [wikipedia.org] w.r.t. the DMCA.

    DVDJon &co. are "crossing the streams" and make DRM itself the subject of competition. DMCA may make circumventing copyright protection illegal, but the 6th Circuit said that you can't use the DMCA to stifle competition. So, can you use the DMCA to stifle DRM competition?

    If the court says that DVDJon can't [enable someone to] make a legitimate iPod clone, the DMCA is set up for a major anti-competitive argument, complete with precedent, all the way to the SCOTUS.

    If, one way or another, competition (legitimate, not free "competition" from unauthorized downloads) is upheld over this meta-DRM that DVDJon is attacking, then any DRM moves closer to commodity status. That reduces the incentive for tech companies to invest in DRM - a Very Good Thing by itself. But it also opens holes to, hypothetically speaking, the MPAA members' wet dream of having your HD-DVD/Bluray player ask the mothership for permission before it plays the next episode of The Sopranos.

    All in all, very well played.

  • by Ath (643782) on Monday October 02, 2006 @09:26PM (#16286757)
    While it is impossible to say that Apple won't file a lawsuit trying to stop this, history suggests they won't. At least not in the beginning. Apple complained loudly about Real's Harmony reverse engineering of the FairPlay DRM, but in the end they didn't do anything about it - perhaps because they determined there was not basis for a lawsuit or perhaps because Harmony never caught on.

    What is not clear is how the reverse engineered FairPlay will be marketed. If it is marketed to the online music retailers so they can offer iPod compatibility, then Apple probably doesn't really care enough to take action. If it is marketed to the portable music player hardware manufacturers, then Apple will definitely care because the iPod sale is its bread and butter.

    The first scenario makes a lot more overall financial sense because the iPod dominates the market as an end user device. The reason that other portable players have been crushed in the market is not because there is a lack of online music retailers who sell content that is compatible with those devices. It is actually the opposite - there are tons more online music retailers who sell content for non-iPod devices. The reason is that the device of choice is the iPod, and the only online music retailer who sells content from the major music publishers that can be licensed for the iPod is iTMS. If the other online music retailers could also license DRM'd music from the major music publishers for the iPod, then the only threat is to the revenue stream of iTMS - not the iPod.

  • iPod vs Zune Myths (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DECS (891519) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @02:26AM (#16288377) Homepage Journal
    Extra Fairplay content won't do the Zune any good, since MS isn't likely to support AAC/.m4p

    In fact, it looks like MS isn't supporting much at all:

    10 iPod vs Zune Myths [roughlydrafted.com]

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