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iPod Cracked, But Does it Matter? 370

Bennett Haselton writes "The Associated Press is writing that "DVD Jon", known for breaking the copying restrictions on DVDs, plans to market a method for breaking the copy protection on songs purchased from iTunes Music. What's missing from the story is the fact that converting iTunes music into unrestricted formats like MP3 is already trivial. In principle it's impossible to prevent music from being copied anyway, because a user can always play a song through an audio output jack and use another device to record the sound; there are several other methods that work by reducing the same principle to practice. Bottom line: there's no reason yet to get excited about the iTunes-cracking technology (and, indeed, no reason to buy an iPod), when you can already convert songs this way." Bennett's full article on the subject is available below.

According to an Associated Press story, "DVD Jon" Johansen is planning to market a technology for cracking the copy protection on songs purchased from Apple's iTunes Music Store.

This technology will probably be much discussed in the press as the release date draws nearer, but it's a case of using a flame thrower to kill a fly. It's already possible to convert Music Store songs to MP3 without even using any functionality outside of iTunes.

Apple doesn't make this easy to find, of course, and in fact tries to make it look impossible -- if you set your preferred import format to MP3, then right-click on a song in your iTunes "Purchased songs" list and click "Convert selection to MP3", you get the error: "[song name] could not be converted because protected files cannot be converted to other formats". But you can easily burn a series of songs to a CD, then select the songs on the CD and import them into MP3 format. (Of course, if you don't like wasting a writable CD each time you convert your songs, then wait until you've purchased a few more songs and convert them all at once.) All of this is based on core iTunes functionality, which won't go away unless Apple decides to stop letting users (a) burn CDs or (b) import CD songs as MP3 files, neither of which is likely.

But suppose Apple does manage to block this path. (The easiest way I can see would be to write a hidden code on each CD burned from protected songs with iTunes, so that iTunes would refuse to re-import that CD into an unprotected format. Users could re-import the songs with another application, but at least they'd have to open two programs!) You can still use a program like Total Recorder that can capture any sound output on the computer and save it to an MP3 file.

And even if it ever becomes possible for the audio playback application to seize control of the operating system in order to stop programs like Total Control from working, you can always connect a portable MP3 recorder to the audio output of your computer.

It's a common misconception that if a copy-protection algorithm gets broken, it must be because the encryption was too weak or the algorithm was flawed. But the Achilles heel of any such copy-protection scheme is that in order for the content to be playable, the playback program has to "break" the encryption every time, in order to play it. If the content is encrypted using a key, the key has to be stored on the user's computer where the playback program can find it. (If you didn't have to store the key along with the encrypted content, you could use encryption algorithms that are believed to be impossible to break with today's computers, by 15-year-old Norwegians or anybody else.) But even though every copy-protection algorithm is breakable in principle, it's usually easier just to capture the content as it's played back, which is what the previous examples do.

Logically, I think the only algorithm that would help to fight music piracy would be one that embeds a unique "fingerprint" or "watermark" in each downloaded copy of a song -- in the audio itself. A good fingerprint would have these properties:

  • it should not be noticeable enough to interfere with the user's enjoyment of the song
  • it should not be possible to copy the song in a way that destroys the fingerprint, without degrading the song quality and diminishing its value
A good example is the "cap code" dots that appear in certain frames of a movie; these are supposed to be unique to each movie theaters so that pirated movies can be traced to the theater where they were filmed off the screen. This, of course, doesn't make the film traceable to the individual pirate who filmed it, but it makes the movie theater accountable, and incentivizes them to prevent piracy. Unfortunately the "cap code" dots tend to fail the first criteria above -- people do find them annoying, to the point where they're nicknamed "crap code". (It would also be easy to remove them from pirated copies, but few people bother, since the cap code only gets the movie theater in trouble; it doesn't incriminate the individual movie pirate.) We can only hope that any fingerprints embedded in song files are a lot less intrusive.

In the meantime, don't get taken in by the hype around a new way to "crack" the existed restrictions on copy-protected song files. They were never really protected.

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iPod Cracked, But Does it Matter?

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  • by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) < minus punct> on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:25AM (#16576540) Homepage
    Is anyone really surprised by this?

    DRM is such a futile idea that the only way it would be possible would be to lock down consumer electronics so badly as to make them virtually function free.

    We call that the theatre or a live performance.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Trying to make music uncopyable is like trying to make water not wet.
      • by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:30AM (#16576628)
        Trying to make music uncopyable is like trying to make water not wet.

        Behold the ice cube! : p
      • by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) < minus punct> on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:35AM (#16576746) Homepage
        Shut up Bruce.

        Besides DRM is more than just copy protection. it's "rights" protection, like I have the "right" to only permit you to view that DVD on Tuesdays between 9pm and 930pm. I have the "right" to stop you from sharing the DVD, i have the "right" to stop you from backing it up or using clips for fair use purposes. I have the "right" make the media only work in select markets and then lock down the number of different players...

        Effective, I have the "right" to make you my bitch. Squirm all you want, I'll cry foul and get the Federal government to lock up more kids!


        P.S. note the quotes around "rights"
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by the_wesman ( 106427 )
          I'm sick of people bashing DRM - the concept makes sense and I don't really have an issue with it - I think a lot of people have their panties in a bunch on this issue without really understanding copyright law - copyright isn't about you backing up your DVDs or making copies to give to your friends - the whole point is that, by purchasing the album/movie/etc. that you have a RIGHT (notice, no quotes) to that COPY of it. You don't have a right to know the songs - or to hear them on the radio - or to downlo
          • by toddbu ( 748790 )
            So, what I'm proposing is that everyone shut up about how "evil" DRM is and get right down the point: You have rights to the copies of the music you've purchased, let's try to support a DRM scheme that works.

            The problem with this statement is that, in their zeal to protect their content, the recording industry is doing little or nothing to protect the copy that I've purchased or to help me use that copy. When I purchase a DVD, I fully expect to be able to play that piece of music for my own personal enjo

            • by Doctor Memory ( 6336 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @12:55PM (#16580452)
              But if my DVD goes bad then it's my problem
              Yep, just like if you dropped a vinyl album and it broke.

              Or if I want to play my DVD on a device that uses a different format, too bad for me.
              Yep, just like if you wanted to play your vinyl album on your 8-track player. Or your wax cylinder on your Gramophone. Imagine if the Beatles had been around earlier, how many times would you have had to buy The White Album by now?

              Seriously, I don't think the media companies are restricting people's usage any more than they used to, it's just that people want more from their media because the potential is greater. You might as well complain that you can't listen to satellite radio on your car's AM radio even though you purchased a subscription...

              Hopefully, once they've figured out their One True DRM, it'll be incorporated into everything, so I'll be able to copy shows from my TiVo onto a DVD so my daughter can watch them in the car. And yeah, I realize that if there wasn't any DRM I could probably do that today, but that's not the point. The industry is fixated on curbing piracy, and I'm not a pirate, so I say the sooner they get something they're comfortable with in place, the sooner I can start lobbying for digital medium independence. Once the DRM BS is settled, we can start agitating for our rights under fair use again, and have a better argument ("Hey, as long as it's protected, I can copy my own DVDs onto my media server and watch them from a hotel in Bangkok, right? I mean, I purchased the right to view them, didn't I?").
              • by Zadaz ( 950521 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @01:31PM (#16581136)
                Seriously, I don't think the media companies are restricting people's usage any more than they used to, it's just that people want more from their media because the potential is greater.


                When I had albums I used to be able to make tapes of them so I could listen to them on my (any brand portable tape player). This was legal, and easy to do. I could even make copies of my audio tapes with no prolbem. My cheap Sanyo receiver could dub audio tapes at 2x speed. And I could make my own mix-tapes off of stuff I recorded off the radio. All legal for personal use, simple to do.

                But now I can't play my legally purchased DVD's from Japan in my American DVD player, I can't (legally) copy my DVD's. I can't copy my PlaysForSure files to my iPod (and listen to them) The new video download services lock the videos to my physical machine! I used to be able to record shows freely from TV to VHS. Now my TiVo will delete those same programs a week after I save them...

                How is this not more restricted?
              • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @01:33PM (#16581182)
                Well, I am a pirate, and DRM doesn't stop me doing anything. The only time that DRM has had any negative effect on my experiences on using content is when I purchased the content legally. At this point, I don't pirate media to avoid the costs (I WANT to support the artists financially, though certainly not the Ass.s of America), I pirate media to avoid the problems that come with obtaining it completely legally. If it were an option, I'd send ten bucks in cash to the artist after pirating their album in order to show my support for them, but make it clear that I don't support the policies of their label (not to mention, they'd actually see some of the money from the 'sale').

                DRM doesn't do shit to prevent copying - small or large scale. The hardcore pirates aren't phased in the least by DRM, and most people looking to send someone a few songs now will just burn a CD rather than being bothered by crap upload speeds and email antivirus, and in doing so strip the DRM from the tracks. The only thing it accomplishes is making sure that Joe Public has to buy another iPod (or PlaysForSure device, or Zune) when their current one dies, and stick with the same brand. It's not a damn thing more than vendor lock-in, and all of the media companies know this.

                I understand where they're coming from and that they want to protect their content. I have plenty of things that I'd want protected too. But unlike them, I've realized that treating (potential) customers like criminals in order to try keeping a couple sales drives them to steal an unprotected leaked/cracked version of what I currently have, and will encourage them to buy from other vendors that have an equivalent product without being so draconian about it.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                Yep, just like if you dropped a vinyl album and it broke.

                That analogy would make sense except for one teeny, tiny little thing: The music companies say that you haven't purchased a physical object (for if you did, you could make legal copies of it at will, just like I can buy a hamburger, enjoy it, and make some at home to serve to my family and friends without violating any law), you have purchased a LICENSE to the music/video on the media. Under the terms of the license (and copyright law) you cannot m
          • by eldepeche ( 854916 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @11:12AM (#16578386)
            That isn't at all what copyright means. Copyright regulates distribution, not use. If I buy a record, I do not have the right to make bootleg copies of it and hand them out or sell them. If I buy a book, I can't photocopy all the pages and staple them together and hand them out, or type it all into a text file and upload it onto my website. The copyright holder can, and can grant the right to do so. Before you accuse people of not understanding copyright law, you might want to know the definition of copyright.

            The concept of fair use is mostly separate from copyright, because it is use and not distribution. If I buy a record and make a tape recording (or a digital one) so that I can listen to it on a portable player, copyright law has nothing to say about it because I'm not distributing it. If I buy a book and type all the content into a text file so I can read it on my laptop, that's fine.

            The two areas come into conflict mostly due to the DMCA. Until this law came into force in the US, and its sibling pieces of legislation in other countries, DRM was annoying, as it inhibited place-shifting (fair use), but easily circumvented. The DMCA made it illegal to circumvent copy protection, so that, in theory, a person could be prosecuted for removing DRM in order to use a digital file on a portable player different from the intended one. In practice, it allows manufacturers of printers to sue manufacturers of replacement cartridges.

            Anyway, I mostly just wanted to tell you that you don't know what you're talking about. I can't tell if you're joking.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jedidiah ( 1196 )
            The concept makes ZERO sense.

            The whole point of copyright is so that things get COPIED!

            If not today, then 30 years from now all of those things that
            the media robber barons want to lock up should be FREE TO ALL
            suitable intellectual capital to work with. It is for that
            creation of intellectual capital for future genreations that
            copyright exists to begin with.

            Copyright was never a movie mogul landgrab.

            Culture belongs to everyone.
            It is the product of 10 th
          • by berashith ( 222128 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @11:47AM (#16579026)
            This is how my wife felt, until she tried to watch a DVD that she owned, on a tv she owned, using a laptop that she had purchased the DVD drive in for the purpose of watching movies (this was several years back). When she wanted to use a large screen and not hunch over the laptop, a simple S-video cable out to the tv showed the desktop of the laptop. Unfortunately, all of the content in the dvd playing program came out black. When I explained that this is DRM and its uses, that the maker was more worried about the potential of her making a vhs copy than her ability to watch the movie unless she went out and purchased their "approved" hardware, she changed her mind quickly.

            I don't dislike DRM because I like free stuff. I dislike DRM because it artificially limits me. Before an argument about license and legitimate restrictions comes up, remember that I have to pay again if I lose or break my copy. The media companies need to decide that I own something, or that I license something, and give the rights to the consumer that correspond to the situation. They cant limit me based on the situation and change the rules only with the concern of screwing me for every penny.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by shawb ( 16347 )
            But the doctrine of fair use [] does indeed make enforcement of Copyright through DRM tricky, because it removes fair use rights that copyright holders have no right to revoke. The applicable statue is as follows:

            Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies fo
          • by Relic of the Future ( 118669 ) <> on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @12:50PM (#16580344)
            Detailed troll, whiny astroturfer, or seriously uninformed slashdotter? You decide!

            First, a little point of pedantry: "copyright" isn't named such because you have a "right" (note the quotes) to your "copy", it is so named because only the owner of the copyright has a right to make/sell/distribute (or not) copies of the work. "Copyrights" are "the right to copy"; not "a right to a copy". When you buy a CD, you don't buy the copyrights, you buy a copy.

            Second, copyrights, although owned by the original author, are not for the original author's benefit. The copyright is a bribe. The public has decided that it likes new things; new ideas, new stories, new songs. And it has decided that, in exchange for access to this new idea, the person who articulated it can, for a limited time, and with limits for education, criticism, and parody, restrict who has the right to make (and therefore sell) copies of the work. You know, to encourage people to create these new things.

            No, DRM isn't evil, but it does subvert the intent of the law (to provide new works to the public) and replace it with the capitalistic, lucrecratic belief that profit is the only ends we work towards. It undermines the public's security in the copyright-contract by weakening the restrictions placed on the copyright holders ability to limit access. Neither of these is good. And it's often used to destroy the doctrine of first sale, which is what allows me to sell my copy of a book on eBay when I don't want it anymore; once the copyright holder has sold that copy to me, it's MINE, and I can sell it to anyone else I want, at any price I want, and there is nothing the copyright owner gets to say about it. I can't do that with a song I bought on iTunes. And that's just the tip of the iceberg for what DRM does wrong.

            That said, yes, the best bet is to change (or clarify) the law. It may be obvious to everyone now that it's okay to have the radio playing in your hotdog shop, but the first hotdog shop to try it got sued by the radio station. That case was only narrowly decided in the shop's favor; it could have gone the other way. We are at another, similar point now as we were then, with new technologies clashing in different interpretations of old social norms (with the constant clink-clink of coins counting out the beat that drives us forward). Sitting in the basement burning tracks doesn't help! Get out there; vote; talk to politicians and your voting friends and family. If you don't, the law will be written by the corporations, and they do not have your best interests at heart.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by JimDaGeek ( 983925 )

            I'm sick of people bashing DRM - the concept makes sense and I don't really have an issue with it

            And I am sick of people trying to push digital restriction management. DRM make NO sense to me.

            let's try to support a DRM scheme that works

            Are you on crack? I will never support any restrictions on a work that I buy. I will go out of my way to support people like "DVD John".

            Your entire post is just silly. You have a corrupted sense of what copyright was designed to do. Copyright was never designe

        • Why is that every time I read one of these tirades it sounds like some guy strapped to a chair with his eyelids propped open ala Clockwork Orange?

          Guess what? You have the right (no quotes) to not buy the DVD in the first place. You have the right (no quotes) to tell Hollywood, the RIAA, and the entire goddamn entertainment industry to shove this crap up their ass. You have the right (no quotes) to show them with your wallet that you don't want their drivel, DRM'd or not.

          Instead, you (i.e.. the consumer)
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by dwandy ( 907337 )
            and everytime someone says that I have the right not to buy I note that they are missing the bigger picture.
            Why did we grant (heh) temporary monopolies in the first place? It wasn't to enrich some people financially. It was because we want to encourage artists to create, because what the artists create is our culture.

            So what you are really saying is that I am free to remain outside of society if I don't want to play by their new and improved rules.
            That ain't right.
            The rules were set up as a bargain betw

    • by Raptor CK ( 10482 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:42AM (#16576874) Journal
      If the end result of DRM was that I'd have a live band following me at all times, I'd be all for it.
  • by mstroeck ( 411799 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:29AM (#16576596) Homepage
    He is going to market a way for COMPANIES OTHER THAN APPLE to create copy-protected content that is playable on the iPod. None of the crap you just wrote is in any way relevant to what he is up to.
    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:35AM (#16576740)
      Geez, I know this is /. But you think at least the SUBMITTERS could RTFA.


    • by jfinke ( 68409 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:38AM (#16576784) Homepage
      I agree. I was wondering what the hell I was reading there. The whole point of what he is doing is to allow say Microsoft to encode their files such that it is native to the iPod format. It is not so you can pull iTunes songs off.

      I believe that this is what real did several years ago without much success.

    • by zeromorph ( 1009305 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:45AM (#16576926)

      Yeah! The point actually is that he is going to commercialise his hack. And that is something more newsworthy than the fact that you can copy DRMed material through a digital-analog-digital conversion.

      And if he (or they i.e. DoubleTwist []) is really doing that - what will Apple do to him/them in court?

      DoubleTwist seem to be pretty sure about not being sued, but I can't imagine Apple not taking them to court. And thyen will any mp3-player manufacturer buy it before the whole issue is settled?

    • Not to mention whatever "Total Control" is. I think he meant Total Recorder.
    • by cgenman ( 325138 )
      Exactly. One person hacking one encrypted file to playback where they want is not news.

      But one person allowing all music purchased online to be protected and played back on all hardware, at a company-by-company basis, IS news. And it's not just the online service. Don't like the iPod but have a lot of iTunes songs? Just go and buy the new iTunes compatible Creative Zen.

      Jon, theoretically, has made the defacto closed platform into an open standard that anyone can play with. Heck, you could now wrap Ogg
  • by kill-1 ( 36256 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:29AM (#16576598)
    You lose quality if you first convert audio from digital to analog, and then sample it again. But in the age of "CD quality" 128 kBit MP3s and crappy PC speakers, who cares about audio quality anyway...
    • by mgabrys_sf ( 951552 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:32AM (#16576686) Journal
      Audio Hijack from Rogue Amoeba. There - no analog conversion. Was that so hard?
      • by kill-1 ( 36256 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:44AM (#16576902)
        That won't work with future DRMed PCs.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rincebrain ( 776480 )
        You're still transcoding from [codec of your choice] to raw audio data and back again, but you're correct, that does skip the digitalaudio steps.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by eldepeche ( 854916 )
        Doesn't the audio get captured in its lossy state, then recompressed? That would be a quality loss whether or not there was an analog conversion.
      • by pla ( 258480 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:54AM (#16577078) Journal
        Audio Hijack from Rogue Amoeba. There - no analog conversion. Was that so hard?

        The grandparent post has the right idea, but either misspoke or misunderstood the real problem...

        Even with "perfect" fidelity analog (or in the case you offer as an alternative, bypassing the analog step completely), playing and recompressing to MP3 will still cause a loss of quality, for two reasons.

        First, AAC throws away slightly different "unneeded" parts of the sound than MP3 (or Ogg, or whatever lossy format you want to use) does. This means you have a serial reduction in quality with every generation of transcoding. You can avoid this problem by transcoding to a lossless format ("lossless" at the same sampling rate and number of bits per sample, anyway, since no truly lossless encoding exists, not even in analog)... But doing so gives you a much larger file with the same (lossily compressed) quality as the AAC you started with.

        Second - and your suggestion may get around this, if the sound hardware allows it - Resampling an audio stream will virtually never capture the exact same moments in time, with the same exact starting point. Thus, even reencoding with the exact same encoder as the original will still result in the same sort of quality loss you see from transcoding.

        Thus, if you consider the convenience of downloading compressed audio as worth the loss of quality compared to buying a CD (for almost the same price new, and actually less if you buy used) and ripping it yourself to something like FLAC - At least keep the original and never, ever transcode it. That means, if you want to really "own" your collection, you have the sole option of directly stripping out the DRM. Any other method will sacrifice quality for the convenience.
    • Interesting that you mention quality loss from the conversion to analog, since analog was only barely touched upon in Bennett's writeup (as a last resort in case Total Recorder et al. are locked out somehow). Most of the methods that he outlines are fully in the digital realm. In those cases, the only quality loss will be artifacting due to the limitations of the formats you're transcoding from and to. I'd venture that if you're dealing with sufficient bitrates on both ends of the process that 99% of the pe
      • On that subject, I'm curious if anyone has done any studies to see if music converted from compressed format to compressed format has more playback "artifacting" issues if it's played through a stereo that does some sort of signal processing?

        For example, most car stereos nowdays have settings that claim to simulate various types of listening environments. My Kenwood home stereo does the same type of thing, where you can select "Jazz Club", "Concert Hall", and so forth.

        When I first started using a Windows p
    • But in the age of "CD quality" 128 kBit MP3s and crappy PC speakers, who cares about audio quality anyway...

      *raises hand*

      That's why I'm going back to buying CDs now that is basically gone.
      • That's why I'm going back to buying CDs now that is basically gone.


        Unless this happened late last night, I don't have any idea what you could be talking about. Just yesterday I finished buying/downloading several tracks from them*, after putting money in my account a couple days previous.

        *These, notably, were songs I already owned on CD - the cost of music on is such that I'd rather pay them than find the CDs I want then swap them in and out of the drive when I only want MP3 copie
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by steveo777 ( 183629 )
        Count me in too. I always buy the CD if at all possible. I'll download if I can't get a copy or if it's so old that buying a CD. With CD's I get all the expected quality I can handle, and I can make copies regardless of DRMing with any number of older ripping programs, or, if I have to, I can just line out from and back into my computer to re-record if I really need to get creative. I can also make as many MP3's as I may at any quality I want. It's a win-win for me.

        Or what if I have a CD and I need it r

    • You lose quality if you first convert audio from digital to analog, and then sample it again. But in the age of "CD quality" 128 kBit MP3s and crappy PC speakers, who cares about audio quality anyway...

      only theoretically. you only really loose if you just reencode the digital file directly. the analog out adds a lot of information, even if it is noise, which can actually improve the perceived quality in some ways. I bet a lot of my music sounds better played in an interesting audio environment like a chur

      • It makes me think of people who put everything on their stereo in Hall, or Concert, or Jazz mode. I highly doubt that most people can make the music sound better than what some professional audio guy with millions of dollars of equipment. But you say it sounds "cooler" when you put it in Hall mode and hear all the echos. Well, if they had intended for there to be echos, then there would have been echos. It's like my parents putting the surround sound system in a mode that makes all the sounds come out o
    • Thought I'd point that out
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mochan_s ( 536939 )

      First there are digital outputs like SPDIF which are not analog.

      Second, if you encode it again with AAC with the same settings, then the quality does not go down but remains the same.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ReiDragon ( 1018072 )
      One thing i'd like to comment is that i DO find a difference a lot of times between bitrates and a loss of quality due to burning to a CD and reimporting. At one time i had to back up my music collection, however small it was at the time, and upon reimporting it i found a serious loss in quality due to something i couldn't explain.

      In response to the cheap PC speakers comment, i'm one of the weird people that spent $80 on a 2.1 speaker system just because i wanted the quality and frankly, it sounds good.

    • But how much? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gorimek ( 61128 )
      I've heard this argument for as long as there has been iTunes. And it's of course true that there is some non zero degradation.

      But is there any objective information on how much worse the sound gets? Does it matter at all in practice? For normal people playing normal music on normal equipment? The few times I've done it, the results have sounded just fine whan casually listening.

      A slightly bigger question is if there even is an objective way of measuring sound quality?
  • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:29AM (#16576600) Homepage
    There is value to a fully digital cracking technique. If you have a large collection of songs, it is a royal pain to set things up to re-record them, re-label them with titles and artists and such... it's good for one or two songs at a time, but for a big collection? Ick. With a digital cracking procedure, you can write an automatic tool that runs at well above standard playback speed and which you can walk away from (or leave running while you browse the Web...)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by UbuntuDupe ( 970646 )
      Right, but if, for whatever reason, your argument against DRM were some excuse like "DRM takes away my fair use rights", the possibility of analog re-recording kinda puts lie to that. Fair use requirements (though not easy copyright violation) can be satisfied by re-recording that fair use clip you plan to use.

      Does anyone use the "fair use" argument against DRM anymore?
      • It's not that it takes away fair use rights, it's that it restricts fair use rights. I mean, we say that governments "take away" free speech rights when they censor you, but in that case all they're really doing is simply making it more difficult to speak. (That is, you can speak as much as you want, as long as you can figure out how to not get arrested.) Similarly, with DRM, companies are making it more difficult to exploit your fair use rights. You can still do it, but it's a pain in the ass.
        • The difference is that when the government censors speech, they are making that speech illegal. If they catch you performing that speech, you will be arrested. On the other hand, if you're "caught" re-recording a clip that really falls under fair use rights, you won't be arrested, as that is legal. (Sure, the RIAA could bribe a judge or whatever, but in that case, the problem is bribery, not DRM.) A technological limitation of the encoding is not an infrigment of your fair use rights.
          • But under the DMCA you aren't allowed to break the encryption, or you will be arrested, as a criminal offense.
    • There is value to a fully digital cracking technique.

      It is only a matter of time before someone creates a P2P network that rips out the DRM automatically. This will actually ensure to those who download that the music is authentic (and not some advertisement or junk file).

      Once this happens, Apple's iPod market will collapse.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 )
      ``There is value to a fully digital cracking technique. If you have a large collection of songs, it is a royal pain to set things up to re-record them, re-label them with titles and artists and such... it's good for one or two songs at a time, but for a big collection? Ick.''

      Exactly! I can't believe that a story containing crap like ``you can easily burn a series of songs to a CD, then select the songs on the CD and import them into MP3 format.'' actually got posted to the front page of Slashdot. Sure, edit
  • iPod Cracked? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Meatloaf Surprise ( 1017210 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:29AM (#16576604)
    I read most of the article and it discusses breaking drm on music purchased on iTunes. Can someone explain what this has to do with cracking the iPod?
  • First of all the importance of the achievement of DVD jon depends entirely on how hard it was to break the DRM protection. Whatever insights he gained from succeeding might be useful to crack other things. Second the very same thing could be said when he cracked CSS. After all one could always have sampled the output with some video equipment (macrovision permitting but that is defeatable) and then resampled. Only, it's not practical. Even burning to rewritable and then ripping is less practical than batch
    • Dude

      Early days before decss, frame by frame, capture to clipboard, then encode to avi mpeg4-v3

      Sure it took 2x length, but it worked great, you just had to make sure the audio was in sync.

    • by RingDev ( 879105 )
      I disagree. The importance of this situation has NOTHING to do with technology, and EVERYTHING to do with a business plan, marketing, IP control, and the inevitable lawsuit.

      Craking DRM's will always become trivial as they age. But selling those cracks to competitors, and protecting those cracks to ensure solid business, and having enough money to pay for the lawyers when Apple sues under the DCMA. That's what is truly important here.

      Can a business exist if it depends on intelectual property (the decode/enco
  • In the future, companies (those that are both hardware and media comapnies) will stop selling regular speakers and only sell digital/encrypted speakers. It's already illegal to "mod" the speakers by soldering a connection directly to the speaker output. Maybe it's not feasable, but don't pretend like they didn't already think about this.
    • Luckily we don't live in Japan, where it's illegal to sell legacy hardware. Just keep a set of the good ones around, or buy them on ebay if they ever break.
  • Oh Bennett (Score:5, Informative)

    by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:34AM (#16576724)
    It's clear that Bennett didn't even bother READING the article that he's supposedly using to back up his claims. Nowhere in that article does it talk about DVD Jon (or his company) selling a tool to crack the iTunes encryption. However, what it does talk about is DVD Jon's company selling a tool that will allow other music retailers to encrypt songs that they sell in the format that is used by iTunes and the iPod.

    Remember kids, Reading Is Fundamental!
    • Re:Oh Bennett (Score:5, Informative)

      by tabdelgawad ( 590061 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @10:11AM (#16577354)
      I don't know about TFA, but here is the first paragraph from a similar story on the BBC website: []

      [Begin Quote]

      The code that prevents music downloaded from Apple's iTunes store being played on any portable player other than an iPod has been "cracked".
      Apple has not commented on claims that Jon Lech Johansen has "reverse engineered" the FairPlay system.
      Prominent hacker Mr Johansen has made a name circumventing software used to restrict the use of digital media.
      His company, DoubleTwist, said that it planned to license the code to other digital music player manufacturers.

      [End Quote]

      Perhaps that's why the company is called *Double*Twist. It will allow both iTunes tracks to play on non-iPods and non-iTune tracks to be encrypted using Apple's DRM and therefore be playable on iPods.
      • by Tim C ( 15259 )
        non-iTune tracks to be encrypted using Apple's DRM and therefore be playable on iPods.

        iPods support playing of non-iTunes tracks out of the box - you can dump as many mp3s and unencrypted AAC files on there as you like and play them to your heart's content.

        What you can't currently do is sell music protected using FairPlay, which is the only DRM system that the iPod supports. *That* is what this allows you to do, assuming it works, Apple doesn't sue, etc.
  • It's a good thing because it makes it a lot easier to break the DRM. The other methods of audio-out to audio-in and record, or burn to CD and rip are much slower ways, as well as the loss in quality. If you could keep the original M4A, without re-encoding then it's a lot better solution. It's kind of like moving from the point where we were using frame-grabbers, or video out, to copy DVDs, to the point where we can just rip the encryption out of the VOB, without losing any quality, and doing it at much hi
  • by PPGMD ( 679725 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:39AM (#16576796) Journal
    Huh? Why is broken iTMS DRM a reason not to buy an iPod? Since I purchased my first iPod years ago I only have 4 protected music files, 3 of which are political speeches from the National Conventions in 2004, and another is the free song that I got from a Pepsi. Heck I don't even use iTunes to put music on my iPod anymore, I use XPlay.

    Anyone that assumes that the iPods success comes from iTunes Music Store is mistaken IMO, iTMS helps the iPod alot but what makes the iPod such a hot seller is good marketing by Apple, and a good product. The user interface for the iPod is still the best one on the market (never mind the fact that Apple has a patent on the interface which prevents competition), and iTunes is extremely easy to use even for people that know little about computers. That combined with excellent marketing makes the iPods extremely popular.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by danpsmith ( 922127 )

      Huh? Why is broken iTMS DRM a reason not to buy an iPod? Since I purchased my first iPod years ago I only have 4 protected music files, 3 of which are political speeches from the National Conventions in 2004, and another is the free song that I got from a Pepsi. Heck I don't even use iTunes to put music on my iPod anymore, I use XPlay.

      So if you aren't using the store, why bother to buy an iPod? If you are using non-protected files anyway, I find it much easier to just drag and drop the files like you woul

    • It's iTunes -- iTNS. That funny man with the hat is an N. It goes "nuh".
    • iTunes isnt that great, its only HOT feature is tagging tracks to be synced or not.

      Its preferences settings are hardly user friendly, with detailed tooltips.

      It doesnt always auto sync instantly, ive had podcasts in my list that didnt automatically go to the ipod.

      Apple could put cooler games on the older ipods , but CANNOT BE BOTHERED, just to sell the newer ipods.

      Open Source always supports older hardware better.

      RokBox looks great, tho it is only missing native itunes.db access, which
      looks trivial for the c
  • Let off some steam, Bennett!
  • by DrBdan ( 987477 )
    Bottom line: there's no reason yet to get excited about the iTunes-cracking technology (and, indeed, no reason to buy an iPod), when you can already convert songs this way

    Considering that the iPod is the top selling MP3 player right now it sounds more like he's missing the point than making great insights. He makes it sound like people only buy iPods for the specific purpose of playing music bought from the iTunes store. I'm sure there are plenty of people (myself included) that have never bought music
  • Bennett (Score:4, Funny)

    by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:42AM (#16576882) Homepage Journal
    Who is this Bennett person and why do I get the feeling he'll be as popular as John Katz?
    • I read Jon Katz, sir, and Bennett, sir, is no Jon Katz. He didn't use the word "Hellmouth" even once!

      Though, to be perfectly honest, while I might have disagreed with him some, and he may have had a tendency towards melodrama, I miss the role Jon Katz filled on /. - we don't see articles of any length or real analysis anymore (or at least, far, far fewer of them). Obviously, /.'s central function is the blurb/discussion news format, but I really think a guy like Jon Katz had a positive role to play, adding
  • It is about other media players being able to use ITMS content and about allowing other stores to release content that can be played on the iPod (and on other media players that can now play the ITMS content).

    Fact is, if you want to operate a music store, you are going to need some kind of DRM. This module allows one particular kind of DRM (that happens to be used by the #1 online media store) to play on more media players players than it can currently be played on and to allow organizations other than Appl
  • Bottom line: there's no reason yet to get excited about the iTunes-cracking technology (and, indeed, no reason to buy an iPod), when you can already convert songs this way.

    I wonder if the people who trot out the "analog loophole" argument are aware that the resulting quality sucks (D/A then A/D conversion) and you can only "convert" at 1x speed. In my mind, it's not really an acceptable method of stripping off DRM -- just a last resort for the desperate.
  • by dupont54 ( 857462 )

    ... at least when it is used to identify the original buyer.

    Just imagine you have lots of CD/iPods/whatever full of watermarked (with your name) titles. And you lost your stuff or someone stole it. Then those same files are found on P2P networks or on counterfeited CD. And tada, the RIAA lawyer charges you with massive copyright infrigment.

    What should you do ? Go to the police to tell them precisely all the tunes you were stolen, then try to fight the RIAA lawyer with that ?

    Sorry, but I do not want to t

  • Yes, there are several programs to crack iTunes songs, although the whole 'rarr! we are the record industry! we have lawyers' DRM bollocks could in theory cause some legal hassle. On the other hand, several programs, such as Audacity let you actually record the audio file without any extra wires or somesuch, at exactly the same quality. So you're not reverse engineering anything. And given that you have the legal right to listen to the music, where's the issue?
  • crack still matters (Score:5, Interesting)

    by theStorminMormon ( 883615 ) <> on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @09:58AM (#16577166) Homepage Journal
    One common misconception I've come across on Slashdot a lot is that security is either open or shut. An algorithm is either secure or broken. This is not how security works, and a couple real-life examples demonstrate this. You lock the doors on your car, but someone can still just break the window to gain access. But this doesn't mean locking the doors is meaningless, it makes it harder (or more risky) for a thief to gain access to the contents of your vehicle.

    The same thing applies with iTunes. The question isn't "is it possible to strip DRM", but "how easy is it to strip the DRM". I don't think, for example, that being able to burn to a CD or capture audio output is practical for most people. I have over 40 GB of music. A lot of it is burned from my CD collection, a lot of it is from my wife's collection, and some of it is downloaded from iTunes. So I've got well over 8,000 files and of those a couple hundred are DRM-protected. I honestly don't know which at this point. For me to DRM-strip them using either of those methods is going to be like a day-long project that, frankly, I don't have time for. In addition to that, I'm not sure about the sound-quality degradation in converting from MP3 to audio CD and back to MP3. Or about going from digital to analog back to digital. In any case, it would be pain in the butt to go through my entire library, and I may not be able to practically avoid some quality degradation. Yeah - DRM is already "broken", but at what cost?

    If the result of DVD Jon's crack is a program what will go through my iTunes library and batch process the files to strip any DRM automatically, then we have something on our hands that matters. In addition, there are a lot of additional potential applications for DRM-stripping to make music automatically portable across various music players. If my library was nothing but vanilla MP3s with no DRM, then it wouldn't realy matter if I accessed it with iTunes (for an iPod) or Windows Media Player (for various wannabe iPods).

    The effect of DRM is not to make it impossible to move your music around, it's to make it inconvenient. Convenience is not a side-issue for digital music. It's the issue. Otherwise we'd all just carry around CD players and 500-disc CD wallets. The digital music industry exists because of convenience, so any approach that not only circumvents DRM but does it painlessly is a significant improvement over DRM-skirting strategies that require additional effort from the consumer.

    • by udderly ( 890305 ) *
      You must be new here.

      Once again, please try not to be rational, reasonable or unbiased. Here on slashdot, we are not interested in getting to the truth--only in being right, the facts be damned.
  • The iPod wasn't cracked, the stupid DRM encoded into the AAC files you purchase from iTunes has been reverse engineered to allow others to apply the same DRM technology to their files without Apple's permission.

    How misleading. And no, this isn't a reason to go buy an iPod. A reason to buy an iPod is that you like how it looks, operates, etc. It's not like this suddenly opens the iPod to a whole WORLD of music it wasn't able to access before. Aside from OGG support which is hardly prevelant, the iPod sup
  • Too much loss (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Extremist ( 4666 )
    As a musician and home studio owner, I find any lossy format to be ugly. Whether you can hear it or not, information is gone no matter what bitrate the file was encoded at. Imagine the source code for a program you write gets compressed with a new compression scheme that, when uncompressed, results in a "fairly decent approximation" of your code. Bad. Now run it through that twice. It's NOT gonna get better.

    To go from iTunes (lossy, I believe) to CD, then rip to MP3? Yuck. 2 stages of loss. Recording off th
  • DoubleTwist has the potential to 'decouple' iTunes from the iPod. Want to buy DRM tracks on iTunes then play them on your Sansa? No problem - DoubleTwist will license its software to SanDisk so you can do just that. Want to buy DRM tracks from Walmart that will play on your iPod? No problem - DoubleTwist will license its software to Walmart so it can offer tracks in Apple's DRM for sale.

    This could be huge for consumers and a huge blow for Apple. I expect extended court fights!
  • DRM is just to keep the dumb users from copying their music. If I want to copy an iTMS-encoded file, I do it digitally, on Mac's. Simple: Use jack (the open source music daemon) to relay data from your output to the input of any MP3 encoder (Lame for example). If you want to automate it you can use AppleScript to start/stop recordings, handle file naming etc.
  • wow, new low (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oohshiny ( 998054 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @10:27AM (#16577644)
    Not only did both the submitter and the editor get wrong what the guy was actually planning on marketing, the whole thing was followed by an uninformed and irrelevant rant about watermarking. What's the problem, guys? Are mere dupes getting boring?
  • by carrier lost ( 222597 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2006 @10:37AM (#16577812) Homepage
    Holy Shit! Did you drop it? Didn't you get a case with it? Damn, sorry dude. It'll probably still play. If you still have the box and stuff maybe you can give it to someone for Xmas and get a new one. MjM
  • There needs to be a consistent negative response to technologies that inhibit fair usage of purchased media. Not only should hackers continue to find work-arounds that fix defects such as the inability to tranfer media between devices, consumers should regularly use them. Maybe it is optimistically naive, but I think over a long enough period, companies will eventually come to see the waste of deliberately breaking their products.

  • by MicroDV8 ( 163111 )
    You have to give it to Apple. They have a deal with some of the most vicious greedy people in the world to sell their wares. In return they build a DRM that most anybody can get around. With the talented programmers that they have at their disposal they could do much worse. We just need to keep complaining about how horrible it is and enjoy the fact that they have given us the means to control the music we buy. At least we have an alternative to spending $20.00 on a cd that contains one good song.

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain