DRM, Vista and Your Rights

[ Tuesday, 23 January 2007, michuk ]


In the US, France and a few other countries it is already forbidden to play legally purchased music or videos using GNU/Linux media players. Sounds like sci-fi? Unfortunately not. And it won’t end up on multimedia only. Welcome to the the new era of DRM!

Author: Borys Musielak

In this article I would like to explain the problem of Digital Rights (or restrictions) Management, especially in the version promoted by Microsoft with the new Windows Vista release. Not everyone is familiar with the dangers of the new “standard” for the whole computer industry. Yes, the whole industry — because it goes way beyond the software produced by the giant from Redmond and its affiliates.

DRM, Trusted Computing — what kind of animal is that?

Quoting Wikipedia:

Digital Rights Management (generally abbreviated to DRM) is an umbrella term that refers to any of several technologies used by publishers or copyright owners to control access to and usage of digital data or hardware, and to restrictions associated with a specific instance of a digital work or device. The term is often confused with copy protection and technical protection measures; these two terms refer to technologies that control or restrict the use and access of digital content on electronic devices with such technologies installed, acting as components of a DRM design.

A similar (but a bit more specialized) term to DRM is Trusted Computing. The term is intentionally misleading. It does not try to improve the security of the user, but rather wants to ensure that the user can be “trusted”. Obviously it’s not about the trust, it’s about the money. The companies that deliver content (specially multimedia, but it’s not restricted to media only) to the client want to be able to control the way it is used. For example, they want the content to be displayed on approved media only, banning all the “illegal” applications (illegal does not mean that it violates the law, but rather the agreement between the client and the company that sells the media). More on Trusted Computing can be found (as always) in Wikipedia.

So, what’s wrong with the practice? Why shouldn’t the companies be able to control their content? The idea of DRM has two aspects that are important (and may be dangerous) for computer users. First aspect is technological, the second is ethical. We are going to cover both.

In a nutshell, the technological aspect is that DRM implies that the software, or even worse — hardware — should be manufactured not for the highest stability and performance, but rather for the best copyright protection possible. This means, that we — the users — are supposed to pay more money for a product that is defective (does not allow certain functionality for non-technical reasons) and provides an inferior performance.

Ethical aspect is even more dangerous. In the world of DRM, it turns that we cannot do whatever we want with the legally purchased products (like software, music, videos or text documents). What we can and what we cannot do is decided by the provider, not by ourselves. For example, a DRM-protected product can be disabled at any time by the producer if he believes that we violate the terms of the agreement. This means that your collection of “protected” music can be rendered useless (e.g. by decreasing the quality or even deleting the content) in a matter of seconds, without your approval. It that some horrible vision of a sick and evil overlord? Nope. This is an upcoming, terrifying era of DRM.

DRM by example

So, what does DRM look like? Can we see it or is it hidden? Actually, quite a lot of famous companies have already decided that DRM is the way to go. Below we present only a short list of the most popular formats that are affected (tainted) by the “rights protection”:

  • DVD — the disk itself does not contain any hardware DRM, but a lot of providers decided to use the restrictions recommended by the DVD CCA organization, such as CSS (content scrambling by using encryption mechanisms) or RPC (region codes).
  • HD DVD — the new standard that will probably replace DVDs has been unfortunately tainted by DRM since its creation. The main restriction used is AACS, a modern version of CSS.
  • AAC — audio file format invented and promoted by Apple and its iTunes Music Store. In the version with FairPlay (sic!) protection system, it contains DRM-type restrictions (encrypting) aimed at making it impossible for competitive portable players to support this format (encrypted AAC works flawlessly only on Apple products like iTunes player or iPod and a few other players approved by Apple)
  • Windows Media — each of the media formats of the Windows Media pack (WMV, WMA, WMP or ASF) has been tainted by some kind of DRM, usually meaning that the content is symmetrically encrypted and if the keys are not accessible, the user can watch/listen to only the scrambled version of the content (very low quality).

iPod coffin by Jeremy Clark
Pic.1 iPod coffin designed by Jeremy Clark

What is interesting and not widely known, DRM is not restricted to media only. It can be used to secure any other “digital goods”, especially the software. The idea to restrict access to proprietary software using hardware DRM technology is getting more and more popular around major software vendors, like Microsoft and Apple. If this gets implemented, the software producer will be able to, for example, block the use certain programs if they recognize it harmful or illegal. This could mean blocking programs of competitors if they violate the company’s internal rules (e.g. enable the user to play encrypted DVDs or AAC files, even though it is not illegal to do it in the user’s country). Blocking Peer2Peer clients, like eMule or Gnutella (nevermind if used legally or not) could be another option. And there are many more options available, provided that DRM is publicly accepted…

The price of DRM, or… what says Gutmann

Peter Gutmann in his recent publication analyzed the cost of Windows Vista Content Protection [PDF version by Max Moritz Sievers] with emphasis on the actual cash to be spent for the computer user if these recommendations are implemented by the hardware vendors. The article is interesting, but long and very technical, so I decided to summarize the main points here. If you prefer to read the original article, we strongly recommend you doing so. Otherwise, you can read our short summary, so that you know what we are talking about.

So, what will happen if the Microsoft vision comes true?

  • If you have recently bought a high-end sound card you may be surprised, since in Windows Vista you won’t be able to play any “protected content” due to the incompatibility of interfaces (S/PDIF).
  • Significant loss of quality of the audio may be common due to the need to test every bit of streaming media for the use of “protected content”
  • The idea of open-source drivers will be abandoned since the whole DRM thing is based on the fact that the content decrypting takes place in a “black box” and only a few selected corporations may have a look at it. Security through obscurity, that’s what it’s called. Open source stands in complete opposition to this concept.
  • Removing any standards from the hardware world is one of the Microsoft goals. According to the Microsoft theory, each device will need to communicate with the operating system in a unique way in order for DRM work as required. This will enforce the incompatibility of the devices, killing the existing interface standards.
  • Denial of Service attacks will be a common place. The new era of DoS attacks will be more harmful than ever before. This is connected with the tilt bits introduced in Windows Vista. The malicious code will be able to use the DRM restrictions in any suitable way and the detection of this activity will be almost impossible if not illegal (sic!) thanks to the infamous DMCA act that prohibits the use of any reverse engineering techniques used to either understand or break DRM.
  • The stability of the devices will be decreased due to the fact that the devices will not only have to do their job but also “protect” (who? obviously not the user…) against the illegal use of the audio and video streams. This “protection” requires a lot of additional processing power and of course a lot of programmers man days. Who’s gonna pay for that? Of course us — the customers.
  • Issuing the specification by Microsoft seems to be the first case in the history when the software producer dictates the hardware producers how their hardware should be designed and work. Seems dangerous, especially when we all realize the intentions of Microsoft.

The conclusions are rather sad. If the major hardware vendors like Intel, NVidia and ATI take these recommendations seriously and implement them in their products, it may occur that the client will not only get an inferior product (defective by design), but will also have to pay the extra cost of implementing DRM restrictions (the vendors won’t be probably willing to spend the extra costs for something that does not give them any profits).

Update: there has already been a Microsoft response to the Gutmann’s paper: Windows Vista Content Protection – Twenty Questions (and Answers). The advocacy is however very poor. The Lead Program Manager for Video (Dave Marsh) confirmed most of the Gutmann’s conclusions, but presented them as “inevitable” and “providing additional functionality”. The OSNews readers seem to agree that Marsh’s response was basically the act of admitting the guilt :)

What we have covered so far are only the technical costs of DRM/Trusted Computing in the form proposed by the Redmond giant. The ethical costs of the “innovation” are even more interesting… or rather depressing. Read on.

DRM and freedom, or what says Richard Stallman and FSF

According to Stallman,

DRM is an example of a malicious feature – a feature designed to hurt the user of the software, and therefore, it’s something for which there can never be toleration.

Stallman is not the only person respected in the IT world who believes that DRM is pure evil. Another known DRM-fighter is John Walker, the author of the famous article “Digital imprimatur: How big brother and big media can put the Internet genie back in the bottle”. Walker compares the Digital imprimatur with DRM in the Internet and computing in general.

In Windows Vista it has been decided that the most restrictive version of DRM ever known will be implemented. If the Redmond dreams come true and the large hardware producers also decide to implement the DRM bits in their chipsets, it may lead to the situation in which we — the users, practically won’t be able to decide about our own software of legally purchased media. And this is actually only the beginning of what we can expect if a massive consumer protest against DRM does not begin. In the near future it may turn out that we will not be able to run any programs that violates one of the absurd software patents in the US or any kind of so-called intellectual property (just as if the ideas could have an owner!). And almost everything will be patented or “owner” in some way by that time.

I have a science-fiction vision of the IT underground, where the only hardware not tainted with DRM is made in China and using it is illegal in most of the “civilized” countries. And the only software that allows users to do anything they want with it is (also illegal) the GNU software, developed in basements by so-called “IT terrorists” — Linux kernel hackers, former Novell and Red Hat employees and sponsored by the Bin Laden of the IT — Mark Shuttleworth. Sounds ridiculous? Well, hopefully so. But I don’t think Microsoft and Apple would be protesting when this ridiculous and insane vision comes true…

What is it all about and how can you protect yourself?

So, where is this all heading to? It seems that, for Microsoft, controlling the desktop software market is not enough anymore. Now they try take control of the hardware market as well. Currently only by “recommending” their solutions to external hardware companies. But in the future, if the current pro-DRM lobbying proves successful, it may happen that Microsoft and other big software companies will be dictating how the hardware is designed. And all this — of course in their argumentation — only for securing the end user and protecting the intellectual property of the artists and programmers. This situation is rather paranoid. The hypothetical pact between the software vendors, hardware vendors and the content providers (RIAA, MPAA) could slow down the innovation in the entire IT industry for many years. This would be also one of the first times in the history where certain new technology is introduced not based on the customers’ demands, but rather on the need of large and influential companies. The customers (those aware of their rights) cannot be satisfied by this kind of agreement by no means.

So, how can you protect yourself from this “pact of evil”?

  1. First of all — ignore the hardware and software using DRM techniques to restrict the rights of the user. Do not purchase music, movies and other content secured by DRM mechanisms. Instead, use alternative services recommended by the Defective By Design campaign — these are the tools and services DRM-free.
  2. Secondly — talk, talk and once again, talk — make your family, friends, co-workers aware of the dangers connected with the use of DRM in the products. This is the best way to educate people what DRM really is and why they should care. Nobody wants to be restricted. When people become aware of the restrictions, they will not buy the products that restrict them. Simple enough :)

life's not read only
Pic.2 CC by-nc Randall Munroe

Breaking the DRM — it’s… easy :)

OK, and what if we have already legally purchased some content (like multimedia or text document) secured by some kind of DRM? Do not worry. Most of them has been broken a long time ago. For example, in order to play an CSS-encrypted DVD under GNU/Linux, you can use almost any player like VLC, MPlayer or Xine with libdvdcss2 enabled (this is a non-licenced library used to decrypt DVDs encrypted with CSS). If you posses music in AAC format (e.g. purchased at iTunes), you can easily convert them to a friendly format using JHymn without losing quality. The story repeats with each and every new introduced DRM technology, like encrypted PDFs, Windows Media, or recently HD-DVD (see the muslix64 post on BackupDVD) and BluRay.

Breaking the DRM restrictions is hard but always possible, due to the fact that all DRM mechanisms need to use symmetric encryption in order to work. This kind of encryption requires the keys to be hidden either in the hardware or software — in both ways it’s possible to access them by the hacker, analyze and find the way to decrypt the data streams. If you are interested in the details of DRM hacking, read the lecture of Cory Doctorow for Microsoft Research about the nonsense of DRM.

OK, but is it legal?

We know that we can break almost any DRM restriction using easily available open source software. But what about the legal part? Is it legal to do this at home? Well, this depends… Depends on where you live actually. For instance, if you have the misfortune of being located in the United States or France, you are prohibited by law to play your legally purchased music or films (sic!) that are secured by DRM if you don’t buy an approved operating system (like MS Windows or MacOS) with an approved media player (like PowerDVD or iTunes). In the US this has been enforced by the DMCA act. In France, a similar act called DADVSI.

Fortunately, in most other countries, it is still completely legal to use free software to break any DRM restrictions, like DeCSS to play your DVDs. What we, as the free software supporters, need to do is to constantly watch the law-makers in our own countries so that they do not try to introduce similar restrictions as in France or US. In Poland, for instance, a protest led by one of the big pro-Linux portals and thousands of computer users made the leading party to abandon the project to introduce a DMCA-like law in Poland. Free-software supporters in other countries, like the United Kingdom go even further and try to completely ban the use of DRM in the British law system.

Of course, breaking the restrictions is fighting the results, not the causes. The real problem is the pure fact that DRM exists and is widely accepted by the (unaware) majority. If the computer users do not unite and protest against including DRM in more and more products, nobody will, and the DRM will become our every-day experience which we will need to fight just like viruses or malware. This year may be the one in which the major decision will be made both by the industry (whether or not to apply DRM in the products) and by the customers (whether or not accept DRM as is). If we miss this fight, we may have to accept what we get. I don’t think we can afford missing it. Do you?

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Copyright (c) 2007 Borys Musielak
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.

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67 Comments

fold this thread werner  Wednesday, 24 January 2007 o godz. 10:11 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I see this completely different.

In all times of the history of mankind, there occured all kinds of repression and control of the whole people, in benfit of a few, what only changed the appearence, but essentially is the same and at the end has the same consequences. In the recent time, we can remember the comunism and any military or dictature sistem. At the end, this throws back people, and brings forwards others.

Too much time exists the nasty yiddish economy sistem together with the USA. This have to stop, finally, in favor of more dign culture models, like in China and other countries.

Very iportant for the doom of the first ones is, that in USA, France etc. the ‘democratic control’ will not work more, but stay corrupted politics and justice. I think we can look forwards to this.

At them end, always the most mad, reality-far things happens. Even after end of communism, some already in exile, some former leaders of eastern-germany still meeted them discussing if one should open a little the borders for family-meeting-travels or not … Similar also the attempts to try to save bancrupt OP sistems, of whose problems the people are tired already now …

I, anyway, want that this continue just in this manner.

DE FACTO, it will be impossible to control everybody steadily, and to block f.ex. chinese articles, so impossible but with the same consequences like the attempt to close by the communists.

DE JURE, already the smallest violation of national laws, comercial practics etc. against the International Law, and the lack of an immediate indemnization of the population by the industry, as well as a deposite of a warrant for this, gives to everybody the right to execute his rights on the costs of the industry, inclusive to copy and to distribute them musics, filmes, software.

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fold this thread Rune B  Thursday, 25 January 2007 o godz. 12:03 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Nice piece, I totally agree with you Borys.

One thing, AFAIK AAC is a MPEG4 audio codec, and Apple is not part of the companies that made that specification, i.e they did not invent AAC. But they have kinda crippled it by introducing DRM inside it.

cheers
- Rune B

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fold this thread Bradley W  Thursday, 25 January 2007 o godz. 3:01 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I have a three front attack of these B*******! First I suggest a class action lawsuit against these companies (RIAA, MPAA, etc.).They are acting in monopolistic terms. The second is make the Hardware, Software, and Content Providers support a ghost. I spend hours on the phone with tech support a day anyways (Microsoft Product Activaition to be exact). What is a few more in support of a cause. If DRM starts to cost hardware and software companies real money, they will have to give it up. Hit them where it hurts the most. At first the prices might rise, eventually it will cost so much money to supprot DRM that consumers will stop buying, support costs keep rising, company risks going out of business. Lastly, keep hounding your politicians to the point that you drive them crazy. Eventually they will won’t the monkey off their back. Sure media companies will fight back with lobbies, but we can make it very difficult for them to get re-elected.

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fold this thread martin jasny  Friday, 26 January 2007 o godz. 12:06 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +2

This is only the beginning. The next version of MS Windows will be Windows Sharia. The PC of the future will be a sealed-off box with a screen on top of it and two holes on the sides. The user is supposed to stick both hands into the holes to operate the keyboard and the mouse which are inside the box. If you do anything illegal with your PC, the Sharia will chop off your right hand. :-)

It is, of course, illegal to break the seal.

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fold this thread Whistler  Friday, 26 January 2007 o godz. 3:57 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

China also has a DMCA-like copyright law which says that merely “removing” the DRM facility will result in penalty if this causes “losses” to the “owner” of DRM-infected material, but this law is mostly unenforceable here as very few people obeys it.

However technically it is still quite difficult to circumvent the DRM.

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fold this thread Jeffrey Henderson  Sunday, 28 January 2007 o godz. 2:52 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

I hate Microsoft. I switched to Ubuntu and I love it. I don’t even like going to the office because I have to use Windows.

I’m currently trying to get everyone I know to switch to linux. I think it will be even easier when Feisty Fawn is released, and it will keep getting easier until Bill Gates outs out a hit on Shuttleworth (If he hasn’t already, I wouldn’t put anything past these bastards)

Free people can own property. If someone will not let you own property they are basically saying you’re a slave.

If you think of yourself as a slave then by all means keep doing what you’re doing.

If you believe you own yourself then stand up and show it!

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fold this thread whyapple  Sunday, 28 January 2007 o godz. 3:38 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

DRM and Trusted Computing are two different things. AAC protected files don’t “call home” and can’t be erased by Apple from your HD when you remove the protection.

Also, Apple already controls the hardware where its system runs and you don’t see activation keys for Mac OS X. I don’t understand why you bash Apple so much. They’re not perfect, but you cannot compare them with Microsoft…

The AAC protection is so weak anyway… and it’s not like you can’t play mp3s with iTunes and the iPod. Not so with Microsoft, which cripple mp3 playability to “force users” to their own formats…

If you don’t like Apple because they make propietary software, ok, but bashing them for the wrong reasons makes you loose credibility

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fold this thread warpman  Sunday, 28 January 2007 o godz. 3:39 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Apple did not invent AAC.

AAC is an international standard (Moving Pictures Experts Group, April 1997).

Says Wikipedia: “it can be referred to as MPEG-2 Part 7 and MPEG-4 Part 3 depending on its implementation, however it is most often referred to as MPEG-4 AAC, or AAC for short.”

Apple made a file format which adds a DRM wrapper around standard AAC.

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fold this thread ksdjals  Sunday, 28 January 2007 o godz. 3:42 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

DRM and Trusted Computing are two different things. AAC protected files don’t “call home” and can’t be erased by Apple from your HD when you remove the protection.

Also, Apple already controls the hardware where its system runs and you don’t see activation keys for Mac OS X. I don’t understand why you bash Apple so much. They’re not perfect, but you cannot compare them with Microsoft…

The AAC protection is so weak anyway… and it’s not like you can’t play mp3s with iTunes and the iPod. Not so with Microsoft, which cripple mp3 playability to “force users” to their own formats…

If you don’t like Apple because they make propietary software, ok, but bashing them for the wrong reasons makes you loose credibility

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fold this thread warpman  Sunday, 28 January 2007 o godz. 4:30 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Call Dell, order a new computer. When they tell you it has Vista, cancel the order. When they try to talk you out of it, tell them they have lost credibility. You don’t believe them. If you think you’re buying greater speed, you are probably wrong. Vista will slow everything down as it subjects it to DRM. Then do the same with HP.

Maybe someone should start a company that sells AND SUPPORTS used software, starting with Windows XP. If I buy a car, who is to say I can’t sell the car when it is used. If I salvage a scrapped copy of XP on a computer, why can’t I sell it and then support it? There’s your answer to VIsta.

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fold this thread Alexandrian  Sunday, 28 January 2007 o godz. 4:48 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

I think DRM is the greatest assault ever perpetrated by the media companies on the consumer. It’s no big secret that movie studios and record labels wish the internet and the PC hadn’t even been invented, as far as they are concerned people should just keep on shelling ridiculous amounts of money for overpriced CDs and DVDs.

Well screw them, DRM is just a pathetic example of an industry incapable of creative though and obsessed with the idea that they have to control every single playback of every single song, movie or digital media file ever created. I for one have no problem in purchasing legally my music and movies, but it just downright pisses me off when I can’t play a DVD simply because of some stupid region code, or what have you. The point is I pay good money for that content and I should be free to do with it as I please so long as I don’t make a profit from it!

In regards to Vista well this time around Microsoft as ever, the overconfident, monopolistic, sorry ass narrow minded, corporate big shots, that they are, have finally shot themselves in the foot with a product that’s not only three years late but so over bloated with DRM control that’s hardly a substantial improvement over Windows XP, and to top it all off they are charging, I’m sorry 400 a pop for it? Good luck trying to sell it to the millions of users round the world who like to have their media how they want it, when they want it.

In all DRM will only help open source initiatives like Linux, and alternative platforms like the Mac gain more and more market share, and finally DRM is bottom line pointless, whenever you distribute millions of copies of media products and their related hardware there always will be people like me, who are technologically savvy enough to find ways to bypass and disable all of this ridiculous copy protection features.

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fold this thread warpman  Sunday, 28 January 2007 o godz. 7:34 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

DRM should also be fought as a privacy issue.

Some folks on Digg think that the Canadian bloke mentioned in Gutmann’s “Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection”, is Muslix64. (“Like Muslix64 he’s a programmer. Like Muslix64 he bought an HD-DVD system what won’t play HD-DVDs because the monitor doesn’t support it. This happened in mid-December – the same time as Muslix64. And a week or so before Muslix64 made his announcement he was talking to a crypto expert who’s been examining the AACS/HDVP protection in Windows – the author of the article….”)

Being anonymous is hard, and DRM makes it worse. Many DRM schemes require the player/reader to phone home for activation, updates, and periodic revalidation. Even Windows itself won’t work until you register it, and it re-identifies you every time you download updates. Refuse, and the DRM shuts it down. This gets even worse in Windows Vista.

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fold this thread warpmanjack  Sunday, 28 January 2007 o godz. 8:39 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

DRM should also be fought as a privacy issue.

Some folks on Digg think that the Canadian bloke mentioned in Gutmann’s “Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection”, is Muslix64. (“Like Muslix64 he’s a programmer. Like Muslix64 he bought an HD-DVD system what won’t play HD-DVDs because the monitor doesn’t support it. This happened in mid-December – the same time as Muslix64. And a week or so before Muslix64 made his announcement he was talking to a crypto expert who’s been examining the AACS/HDVP protection in Windows – the author of the article….”)

Being anonymous is hard, and DRM makes it worse. Many DRM schemes require the player/reader to phone home for activation, updates, and periodic revalidation. Even Windows itself won’t work until you register it, and it re-identifies you every time you download updates. Refuse, and the DRM shuts it down. This gets even worse in Windows Vista.

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fold this thread eboogie  Sunday, 28 January 2007 o godz. 6:32 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Great article. I have been going back and forth this week on whether I should buy a Macbook or IBM Thinkpad and install Ubuntu. After reading this article, I’m gonna save my money and purchase a computer I can put Linux on and be done with DRM-enabled hardware/software.

In terms of DRM, I tried to use JHymn, but to no avail. A friend of mine purchased for me an iTunes Store gift card. Has anyone recently used it to decrypt songs purchased from the latest iTunes (7.0.2.16)? If so, please reply! Thanks.

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fold this thread gruffy  Sunday, 28 January 2007 o godz. 6:35 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

I don’t know what this world is coming to.

One day, I decided I would like a job in programming. I wanted to program free software. My Mum and Dad disagreed with me because they said I would not get paid much for doing so.

They said that if I write my own program and licenced it under the GPL, then they suggested that somebody would copy my works, add better features and make lots of money out of it. They said I would lose out.

So my parents suggested that I should develop propietary programs because they think I deserve to be paid for my hard work. Mum told me:
“There is no such thing as free software.
Nothing is free at all.”
Obviously, she is not thinking of “free speech”.

I don’t want to write software that restricts people or creates anti-social behaviour. I don’t want to use DRM to take away real peoples’ rights. Yet I am constantly told to go the propietary way.

If I just decide not to use propietary software, then people will tell me to switch back to it because they say it is the “only perfect solution”. If I try to promote free software, everyone would just think that I am completely insane, especially my IT teacher I had a few years ago.

What is this world coming to?

Besides, if Microsoft manages to make everyone buy new, expensive computers with Vista, then the effects of global warming will spread o the entire world if they’re bad enough. Then that would end the era of Microsoft for good.

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fold this thread warpman  Sunday, 28 January 2007 o godz. 9:39 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Frothing at the mouth about the horrible DRM doom that awaits all might be more credible if you got your facts straight. Apple invented AAC? And it only plays on Apple products?

I’ll see your xkcd and raise you: http://www.xkcd.com/c14.html

gruffy, your mum is right. There is no such thing as free software. *Somebody* is paying for it. If you use Linux, it’s being paid for by Linus Torvalds and Alan Cox and the rest of a cast of thousands. Hey, thanks guys – I really appreciate you letting me exploit your labour. Honestly, I do. Thanks for paying for an operating system for me.

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fold this thread moi.  Sunday, 28 January 2007 o godz. 9:40 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Frothing at the mouth about the horrible DRM doom that awaits all might be more credible if you got your facts straight. Apple invented AAC? And it only plays on Apple products?

I’ll see your xkcd and raise you: http://www.xkcd.com/c14.html

gruffy, your mum is right. There is no such thing as free software. *Somebody* is paying for it. If you use Linux, it’s being paid for by Linus Torvalds and Alan Cox and the rest of a cast of thousands. Hey, thanks guys – I really appreciate you letting me exploit your labour. Honestly, I do. Thanks for paying for an operating system for me.

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fold this thread warpman  Sunday, 28 January 2007 o godz. 10:16 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I just dont get it.

If you dont like DRM, why dont you just stop buying any product that uses DRM?

Isn’t it simple?

For example, if you dont like my product (DRM’ed) then go somewhere else.

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fold this thread omigod  Sunday, 28 January 2007 o godz. 10:20 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I just dont get it.

If you dont like DRM, why dont you just stop buying any product that support DRM?

Isn’t it simple?

If you dont like product that uses DRM, dont buy it!

Stop complaining about DRM.

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fold this thread warpman  Monday, 29 January 2007 o godz. 1:35 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Interesting post. I write commercial and public software on contract. I have both implemented and hacked various DRM schemes. Overall, it “feels” like a market can indeed make use of DRM successfully, and here why:

The market is moving to a higher initial bang and lower long-term impact. Movies die in 3 weeks in US theaters because newer movies are releasing right after them. So much of broadcast/wired entertainment on the TV/web is old-hat in just hours. News travels faster than print media can keep up, and newpapers must now continuously merge and provide “flavor” of presentation instead of scoop to stay alive.

To me, this means we are heading towards a constantly-crashing wave, like a foamy ocean swell heading through the sea: Content is released on proprietary channels, and free channels digest and disseminate the content afterwards. Content providers need the first channel to survive, and the second for buzz and meme.

This wave may crash a bit when too much content is exposed for the pay market’s comfort – the security crackdown, the headline arrest of a content “thief”. But regardless, the torrents still swell, the darknet continues to trade.

Right now, if I proxy to server near Sanitago, Chile, I see the web as my friend there does: A myriad of hacked-content pages, offering both the free-yet-copyrighted content and the exploit-within-an-exploit trojan. The darknet is not so dark, but like national news, it’s not found without wearing the right glasses. They do indeed Live. Kids learn to navigate the mess and the fun of commercial games, movies, etc. are shared with the neighborhood for free.

We’re going to have to live with DRM for a bit. There’s too much money pushing it for now. But I agree with the spirit of this site: Fight with your wallet. At first, the pirates will be blamed, but the fasting pays off. If they build it and nobody will come, they will tear it down. Businesses are very hungry beasts and cannot fast with you.

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fold this thread CK  Monday, 29 January 2007 o godz. 5:56 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

The protected file format used by iTunes Music Store is called “.m4p” (p for ‘protected’). This is a variation on the .mp4 container that is standard for carrying MPEG-4-compatible video and audio, such as H.264 video and AAC audio. Files that end in .m4p could theoretically use any kind of encryption, but Apple’s implementation (which comes from another company that created the “FairPlay” scheme) is the most common.

CK.

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fold this thread milksop  Monday, 29 January 2007 o godz. 7:46 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Here’s some fairly technical details on output content protection in Vista from a Microsoft WinHEC conference: http://doxi.ca/60u4 (or original link for those with Word installed http://download.microsoft.com/download/5/D/6/5D6EA F2B-7DDF-476B-93DC-7CF0072878E6/output_protect.doc).

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fold this thread Stephane Rodriguez  Monday, 29 January 2007 o godz. 7:51 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

“In Poland, for instance, a protest led by one of the big pro-Linux portals and thousands of computer users made the leading party to abandon the project to introduce a DMCA-like law in Poland.”

Since Poland is part of the EU, and that EU votes laws that are backed by the influential companies you refer to in the article, perhaps it’s wiser to not assume that Poland is insulated for a long time.
To the contrary, you can already assume that it is only a matter of time before Microsoft, Universal and others mandate the EU for draconian laws to be enforced in all member states, regardless their national belief and tradition.

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fold this thread Zak.  Monday, 29 January 2007 o godz. 11:01 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I fully support the DRM idea. But ideas can have different implementations. The one from Microsoft may seem very gloomy, but there are other vendors who may propose a fair system, which would not have much impact on ‘normal’ user’s life (except making the system more stable and trusted). Yes, the key is in the hardware and which hardware is legal. Distributing cracked hardware is much more difficult than the software hence the real control power is there. Intel/Apple should come into play and send Microsoft home. But they should do it fair. Only crackers get pissed off, that’s perfectly fine with me. Then legal licensees won’t have to pay for everybody who got their ‘free’ copy. Users should not be scared – they will always be free to not buy stuff they do not like. There’s enough competition once you’re open enough to look out. Look out of PC, or Mac, or Windows, or Linux. You can’t be ‘open’ only to Linux, can you?
Now look at iPods. It’s got the FairPlay DRM and most users consider it fair. It is cool, it moved the whole industry to a new era. The same must happen to PCs. From my personal point of view, the PCs (and Macs) are not trustworthy now, because they are not protected in hardware from the malice intent of a person.
It scares me to think that nuclear weaponry might be controlled by the same computer architecture as a common PC.
We surely need to improve. A new arhitecture standard is in lieu. But even MS/Apple is not strong enough to revolutionize, they want evolution and it’s just what we see. I personally don’t believe they will get it right with evolution, so basically until there’s something totally NEW, like the Mac was in 1984, there’s not so much to worry about DRM.
Open to intelligent discussion (not flames),
Yours truly,
Zak McPherson (zak1974@yahoo.com)

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fold this thread QuadFreak  Monday, 29 January 2007 o godz. 12:44 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

# eboogie Says:
January 28th, 2007 at 6:32 pm

In terms of DRM, I tried to use JHymn, but to no avail. A friend of mine purchased for me an iTunes Store gift card. Has anyone recently used it to decrypt songs purchased from the latest iTunes (7.0.2.16)? If so, please reply! Thanks.

Buy them, burn straight to CD as audio files and reimport without protection – viola, Apple’s DRM bypassed

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fold this thread DaveyJJ  Monday, 29 January 2007 o godz. 2:07 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Hi!

Again, the FUD about Apple’s Fairplay/AAC. You stated “…(AAC works flawlessly only on Apple products like iTunes player or iPod and a few other players approved by Apple)” which is true, but not complete.

AAC does work flawlessly on the devices you mentioned, but also on any personal computer running OSX or W2K/XP/Vista via platform neutral software called iTunes. Furthermore, iTunes software is, for the most part, is also able to play media files (video and audio) in a number of other popular formats perfectly … MP3, MPEG, etc etc etc.

Please stop spreading the FUD that AAC plays ONLY on iPods. I’m playing AAC files on my PC right now while typing this.

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fold this thread Paulo  Monday, 29 January 2007 o godz. 2:38 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

You need to fight the cause, not the symptoms – and DRM is an ugly symptom. DRM will disappear when there is no need for it.

Fight for a digital license – 50cents a week – to legalize P2P file sharing, with the revenue going to rights holders. See EFF site.

DRM is already going away – we need to make sure it stays away.

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fold this thread Russell McOrmond  Monday, 29 January 2007 o godz. 4:29 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Canada doesn’t yet have anti-circumvention legislation, but various governments have been proposing this change for a few years now. Canadians need to get actively involved, and I host a website called Digital Copyright Canada to try to help coordinate the response.

If you are a Canadian and think that the owner of computers should be in control of what they own, rather than some third party (whether virus authors or the manufacturer/maker), then please sign our Petition to protect Information Technology property rights.

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fold this thread Dave  Monday, 29 January 2007 o godz. 5:26 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

“what we cannot do is decided the provider” should be “what we cannot do is decided the by provider” :-)

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fold this thread Etienne  Tuesday, 30 January 2007 o godz. 7:15 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I support DRM. Just let’s pay for anyone’s work.

BUT, the required condition is to allow fare and healthy competition. This is the best way to get the most for your buck. Remember that where there is a lot of money, there is a lot of pretenders…

So, the actual situation where Microsoft use it’s monopoly to kill competition (netscape, ICQ, Winamp, etc..) is unacceptable.
And i guess that i could say the same thing about any “media” production house…

The answer is not by looking at DRM, but at the way the your goverment apply your laws. And why that goverment is so corrupted? Look at the values you are giving to your children:
“Hey son! what about download and watch a movie tonight?”

He that will steal a penny will steal a pound…

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fold this thread Etienne  Tuesday, 30 January 2007 o godz. 7:38 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I support DRM. Let’s just pay for anyone’s work.

BUT, there must be fare and healthy competition. This is the best way to get the most for your buck. If your provider is to restrictive on what you pay for, the competitors will be there to help you…. Remember, where there is a lot of money, there is a lot of pretenders.

So the situation where Microsoft use it’s monopoly (and its huge assets) to kill competition (netscape, ICQ, winamp, etc.) is unacceptable. And I guest i could say the same thing about any “media” production house…

The problem isn’t in DRM. Look at your goverment that don’t apply your laws (don’t you remember what “anti-trust” means ?). And now, why that goverment is so corrupted? Look at the values you give to your children:

“Hey son, what about downloading and watching a movie tonight?”

He that will steal a penny will steal a pound…

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fold this thread Reb Yid  Tuesday, 30 January 2007 o godz. 7:39 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

What is a “yiddish economy system”?

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fold this thread Placid  Tuesday, 30 January 2007 o godz. 1:29 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I am quite happy that you’ve managed to write such an informative blog post regarding this. The important part in the fight against DRM is educating the end user; and this post is a step towards that.

Thanks!

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fold this thread don west  Tuesday, 30 January 2007 o godz. 8:47 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +1

etienne, telling your son to go dl a movie to watch is NOT in any way corrupting him. thats just absurd. also, i am not willing to pay an extra 50% for any piece of hardware or software so it can be “protected” (from us). it’s insulting to think that these multi-billion dollar corporations are concerned with piracy, implementing DRM, and the price of them doing so is reflected in the price of the content and hardware/software to play this “protected” (from us) content. who has to pay the price for these implementations? we do. who has to live everyday worrying about the possibility of a closed-environment computing world as a result of DRM? us avid computer users that have embraced the PC as the last truly free flowing information environment. my opinion is that, once an artist makes a piece of work for the public to enjoy, it is no longer the artists property. it belongs to the public. if you are an artist, and you allow your content to be protected under DRM procedures, you are in fact NOT an artist, but a business man, and i’m not willing to view a piece of material written or produced by business men whose only incentive is to make money. intelectual property is abstract and we should keep it that way and out of the books… also anyone that supports DRM obviously can’t think deeply enough to consider how these restrictions are going to hurt independant artists, which is how we all started with art in the first place. so not only is DRM hurting the consumers, but also the independant artists (and in vista’s case, independant software and hardware vendors) as well. but thats just my opinion…

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fold this thread Bruno Gola  Thursday, 1 February 2007 o godz. 6:36 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Hi michuk,

i liked this article for it’s simple way to explain a little the bad things about DRM and Trusted Computing.

I would like to know if it’s ok to translate it to portuguese and publish it at my website (and at brazilan community sites), of course, with a link to the original text and author.

Thanks,
brunogola gmail com

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fold this thread michuk  Thursday, 1 February 2007 o godz. 9:31 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I would like to know if it’s ok to translate it to portuguese and publish it at my website (and at brazilan community sites), of course, with a link to the original text and author.

Of course, you are encouraged to translate it to any language you want. The GFDL licence itself allows this, so you didn’t even have to ask :)

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fold this thread Mike  Friday, 9 February 2007 o godz. 2:28 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Borys, you should take greater care in spreading such garbage as there are many people who will read it, and take it at face value.

This is the most ridiculous article I’ve read in a while. I’m reminded the the fear-based tactics that the U.S. media feeds it’s citizens. Don’t be part of that fiasco!

Shareware could be considered DRM for crying out loud! Just like what others have said: If you don’t like DRM’d products, DON’T USE THEM! Cracks and workarounds will always be available to break DRM so this whole uproar is pointless.

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fold this thread kazek  Monday, 19 February 2007 o godz. 10:10 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

There is one big mistake in the content: Microsoft intention. It is not about controll software or computer industry at all!!! Microsoft wants to control ENTERTIMENT companies! They want to take his hands on movie and music industry by tieing his propducts, music and movies to his software platform. rememberr: wins not the p[roducers, wins tjous guys whio controll the possibility of watching! If You hold in Your hands the only way to watch content then You dictate prices! From that point of view DRM does not have to be technically efficient.

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fold this thread Ben Webbq  Sunday, 8 April 2007 o godz. 1:24 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

If you don’t like DRM’d products, DON’T USE THEM!

Every single HD-DVD and Blu-Ray disk produced by the major corporations will be DRM encrytped. Even some of us Open Source people like to watch films, you know!

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fold this thread michuk  Sunday, 8 April 2007 o godz. 3:21 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Every single HD-DVD and Blu-Ray disk produced by the major corporations will be DRM encrytped. Even some of us Open Source people like to watch films, you know!

Go to the movies and pay for it or download one from Bittorrent/edonkey instead of paying for the tainted content.

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fold this thread tom  Monday, 17 December 2007 o godz. 12:00 am #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

odd if this happens my current pc’s could become countermand cause i could by pass drm or write programs to do so but all i do is play wow {world of war craft} browse the web and blog on it but it has no drm hardware or software at the very least i could record of the radio or an ipod head though a head phone jack and lets even to my Linux computers yep all due the dcma this would the first time in the history ware computer performance has gone down i mean my so so computer running xp will be faster than top of the line computer running vista

this the great American company microshaft at work they shat thare customers a little bit more each day and the are still in business they must be in the market of shafting so wont’s to shaft you today

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fold this thread Anton F  Tuesday, 25 March 2008 o godz. 12:57 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

Although federal rights have make a crime to remove DRM protection, we still can find a legal way to free from DRM protection. Let’s take converter TuneCab as an example. It could record video or audio files when they are played and generate to unprotected mp3, mp4 wma formats etc. Actually, It only makes a unprotected copy for DRM protected file. but that works and isn’t illegal. http://www.tunecab.com

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fold this thread someone55  Tuesday, 13 October 2009 o godz. 7:43 pm #  Add karma Subtract karma  +0

I (2009)have gotten a new computer this Christmas ,I had been using xp on a laptop with a amd 1.3 ghz athi. which I transferred my file to my new computer ,I tried to play an song from a cd i bought and burned a while back and to my amazement I required a license ! After reading your article I still wonder ? is this 2009 or am i in 1940 Nazi Germany I have bought this cd why dose Microsoft or any company need to be “notified” for me to do this ? what happened to “the land of the free” cause I don’t see any ” land of the free” I see “the land of Microsoft and the corrupted controlling bastards ” but also the site in which I buy my music on line recommended burning it to cd and importing it and had a option for it ! I mean why buy a $20 and up cd with 19 songs i don’t like with one i do ? drm is insane there is no need for it. besides isn’t this what the British believe “the men can only be trusted if they only march in a straight line toward the Germans lines even if it causes the lives of our men !” that was in ww 1 what’s drm’s supporters excuse?

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