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Media (Apple) Businesses Media Music Apple

New Tool Cracks Apple's FairPlay DRM 1126

goombah99 writes "PlayFair is an integrated utility that removes the DRM from AAC music files protected by Apple's FairPlay encryption. Information is limited, but the source code is on SourceForge.net and it appears to actually remove the encryption itself and not simply hijack the QuickTime audio stream as earlier methods did. The cracking operation can only be done on songs the user has already has valid licenses for and requires either an iPod or a windows computer for key recovery. If you choose to redistribute these songs you will be violating the contract you bought them under: better hope they aren't watermarked or you might end up paying for releasing one in the wild. To me the authors are vandals not revolutionaries, and may have ensured WMA becomes the standard."
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New Tool Cracks Apple's FairPlay DRM

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  • Lies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by monstroyer ( 748389 ) * <devnull@slashdot.org> on Monday April 05, 2004 @05:52PM (#8773598) Homepage Journal
    1) My computer, my data, my choice. DRM snake oil providers can deal with it. The future won't tolerate the crap these copywrite perverters are trying to enforce, may as well wake up now before it's too late.

    2) Downloading music does not affect sales. [dailytarheel.com] DRM is only there to appease the record industry, still scared shitless that artists can have direct contact with their fans who still provide them with income. This cuts them out as the middleman. Like the landlord [landandfreedom.org] of times before us, they will be replaced or burnt to the ground. Again, deal with it.

    3) The previous two paragraphs are both 'revolutionary' premises. Vandals these coders are not.
    • Re:Lies (Score:4, Insightful)

      by neverkevin ( 601884 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:00PM (#8773687) Homepage
      My computer, my data, my choice

      Technically it is not your data, you did not write it, create it or anything, you just payed for the ability to listen to it. I doubt iTMS is selling the legal copyrights to songs for only $.99 a piece.
      • Re:Lies (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rjelks ( 635588 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:37PM (#8774137) Homepage
        When I spend $15.00 dollars on a CD, I own that media. I don't claim to own the copyright to it, just the CD itself. With my ownership, comes "fair use" rights and the ability to sell said CD. I can't copy it and sell multiple copies, but I can sell the CD....which to me confirms my ownership of it. When I buy a CD, I don't just purchase the "ability to listen to it", but also the ability to copy it for personal use, put it on an mp3 player or sell it. /don't really buy CD's anymore, new music sounds strange
  • by SeanTobin ( 138474 ) * <{byrdhuntr} {at} {hotmail.com}> on Monday April 05, 2004 @05:52PM (#8773602)
    Wouldn't it be wonderfull once the WMA standard becomes available everywhere? All online music stores will use it because it will be so secure. On-demand video companies will spring up from this new found industry standard. Portable players and home stereo systems will all support it. Every media file on your computer will fall under one standard.

    And then a code monky from Argentina will be codeing at 3am and have a Mountain Dew inspired breakthrough, and WMA will be broken wide open forever.

    Software companies continue to forget the days of dongles, code wheeles, and manual page/paragraph/word lookups. All it will do is annoy real consumers.
    • by __aagctu1952 ( 768423 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @05:59PM (#8773674)
      Unfortunately, if that happens it will only bring the age of gov't mandated hardware DRM even closer - and then you can say goodbye to actually owning your own computer. What it's really time for is a property revolution - and I'm not talking about the Lenin/Che Guevara kind, I'm talking about actually giving people control over what they legally own. My computer? Then let me hack it as much as I want - software as well as hardware. My DVD? Then let me play it however I want (skip trailers, play it backwards, make my own "phantom edit"). All those things are already restricted by the DMCA and other laws, and it will only get worse unless somethings is done, soon...
  • Boy howdy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aaronsb ( 138360 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .bsnoraa.> on Monday April 05, 2004 @05:53PM (#8773606)
    That's not much of a crack now, is it?
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Monday April 05, 2004 @05:54PM (#8773612) Homepage Journal
    To me the authors are vandals not revolutionaries, and may have ensured WMA becomes the standard."

    The problem with incredibly clever people is inevitably they come up with something you don't want. Who's to say they weren't WMA or even (shudder) RIAA proponents, bent on showing the public can't be trusted and DMCA is the right approach?

  • by csoto ( 220540 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @05:54PM (#8773614)
    but it's not as if WMA can't also be cracked.

    ALL technological barriers can be subverted. It just takes the proper motivation, be it economic, political or otherwise.

    I'll stick with purchasing tracks on iTMS. I love my iPod, iTunes and the quality and economical service Apple provides.
    • by 3Suns ( 250606 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:22PM (#8773941) Homepage
      I can't speak to the feasability of cracking WMA itself, but you seem to be romanticizing things a bit. True, all encryption technologies can be subverted. However, there are plenty of examples in which it is mathematically unfeasable to do so, and no amount of clever hacking tricks can change it. What if the next version of WMA encryption were as secure as AES? It's certainly not likely, but I wouldn't say it's impossible either. I understand that there are fundamental differences between DRM and plain encryption, but the point is that uncrackable systems are possible.

      We can't just rely on "someone" to eventually crack everything we don't like. Microsoft has a lot of smart people working for them, as does Apple. Apple will fix their encryption, and MS will improve theirs. What we have to do is get to the root of the problem with DRM; namely that fair-use rights are being blocked, and the standards are proprietary and strategically limited in availability. I don't think these problems are impossible to solve either.

      I would actually encourage an open-source DRM implementation, perhaps as part of OGG media. If a free alternative were available to publishers, that fixed the fair-use problems, I can certainly see that it might be adopted.
      • by daw ( 7006 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:47PM (#8774265)
        What if the next version of WMA encryption were as secure as AES? It's certainly not likely, but I wouldn't say it's impossible either. I understand that there are fundamental differences between DRM and plain encryption, but the point is that uncrackable systems are possible.

        This is nonsense. Encryption systems may be practically uncrackable. Encryption systems that have to decrypt the "protected" contents for you so that you can listen to them will never be in the least bit secure. If you can hear it you can record it. There is no getting around this. The entire idea of DRM is, on the face of it, futile.
    • Vandals (Score:5, Funny)

      by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:46PM (#8774248) Homepage
      (from dictionary.com)

      Vandal (van'dl)

      1. vandal One who willfully or maliciously defaces or destroys public or private property.
      2. A member of a Germanic people that overran Gaul, Spain, and northern Africa in the fourth and fifth centuries A.D. and sacked Rome in 455.

      As these people obviously have not maliciously defaced or destroyed public or private property, I can only assume, then, that the repeated references to them as "vandals" means that the FBI has identified the coders as coming from an obscure Germanic sect, whose culture was believed lost.

      Which leads to a conundrum. If we don't arrest these people, then we are validating the viewpoint that the DMCA is far overreaching. If we do arrest these people, then we are destroying the remnants of a lost civilization important to our shared cultural heritage.

      Declare a law overly broad, or destroy a valuable culture? What is Ashcroft to do?

  • UnfairPlay (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Monday April 05, 2004 @05:54PM (#8773615)
    This thing proves brags that the "information wants to be free" concept will doom absolutely any music protection scheme, because somebody's bound to figure out how the thing works. They're right, and FairPlay has just bit the dust as a secure format.

    Of course, you have to credit Apple for trying to build what they have, and maybe they'll be able to weather this storm because afterall, DVDs are still standing despite the existance of DeCSS. Maybe this will blow over and iTMS can stay in business... but this certainly isn't going to help.
    • by raehl ( 609729 ) <raehl311@yahoo.GAUSScom minus math_god> on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:12PM (#8773817) Homepage
      But is that a bad thing?

      What if sales of music in this format increase, because people are more likely to buy songs they can use as they please instead of buying songs that have annoying DRM restrictions on them?

      The bad assumption here is that by removing DRM, people won't want to buy a product, because they'll just copy it instead of paying for it. The problem with that assumption is it ignores the fact that copying itself has a cost, even if it's not a financial one: You both have to have a copy of what you want to make a copy of, and you then have to actually distribute that copy to whoever actually wants it.

      Or you could just go to a central store of digital copies, pay your paltry 99 cents, and get your own copy. For most people, 99 cents is worth the convenience of having whatever they want on demand.

      Before you start thinking this won't work, look at DVD sales nowadays. VHS tapes were priced to cost many, many times more than the price of a rental. Rentals were attractive. DVD's are priced at about $20-$30 each. Result? Even though people could fairly easy copy DVDs if they REALLY wanted to, it's just "easier" to walk into Best Buy and plop down the $20 - so much so that many many more people buy DVD's than used to buy VHS tapes.

      For most people, trying to find and download a copy of something off the internet just isn't worth the $20 to buy the copy at Best Buy, or the $20/month to have Netflix mail it to you.

      Very little of the cost/value of content is the content itself - most of it is the distribution. Efficient distribution can distribute content at prices low enough to be competitive with comparatively inefficient illegal distribution while still creating enough revenue to pay content providers.
      • by FredFnord ( 635797 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:27PM (#8774008)
        > What if sales of music in this format increase, because people are more likely to buy songs they can use as they please instead
        > of buying songs that have annoying DRM restrictions on them?

        Let's think this through. What if they do?

        Then the RIAA claims that Apple is in violation of their licensing terms. They could ask Apple to rewrite FairPlay, which I think is unlikely because it'll just get cracked again, given the way quicktime works. (I suspect, though I'm not certain, that I could have written a crack for this myself, because I know how QuickTime's guts work.)

        They could impose some much more restrictive DRM scheme on iTunes. This is the way I suspect they'd go.

        They could let things go on the way they are. I think that unlikely.

        Or they could just pull Apple's license altogether.

        Before you see this as a good thing, it might be wise to wonder which they'll do?

  • Let's hope (Score:5, Funny)

    by nsample ( 261457 ) <<nsample> <at> <stanford.edu>> on Monday April 05, 2004 @05:54PM (#8773622) Homepage
    I already have a removal tool for WMA. Just waiting for it to become a standard. ;)
  • by CrackedButter ( 646746 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @05:55PM (#8773625) Homepage Journal
    The fairplay system allowed for FAIRPLAY, it is seen as the best DRM scheme online and yet somebody has to crack it? What for other than to get bragging rights and make AAC look inferior to WMA with its security protocols?
    • by Ziviyr ( 95582 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:05PM (#8773750) Homepage
      Maybe they wanted to play their paid for tunes on something other then iTunes or an iPod.
    • by ctr2sprt ( 574731 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:20PM (#8773916)
      To you, Apple's DRM system is distinct from "other DRM" because it doesn't prevent you from doing the things you want. To me, Apple's DRM system is exactly like every other, because it does prevent me from doing what I want. (At least, as far as I've heard; I'm not going to pay for something that may or may not work, even if it is only a buck.)

      Maybe the guy who did this project is like me. He needed to something with AAC that "FairPlay" wasn't allowing him to do, so he found a way around it. Or maybe he was just being a geek and wanted to see if it could be done.

    • by James Lewis ( 641198 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:35PM (#8774103)
      Slashdotters lamenting the cracking of AAC and looking down their noses at the authors of this program need to wake up. You're spitting in the wind. This was GOING to happen, just like every single lock companies have put on their programs has been broken in the past. This should be further proof the the record companies that DRM does NOT WORK. If they want to switch to WMA fine... but no matter how hard Microsoft tries, it will be cracked too, just like it HAS been cracked over and over. Any time a company makes a product and says, "Don't do this, whatever you do please don't do this!" some nerd is going to wet himself in the anticipation of doing just whatever it was that company didn't want done. Like Steve Jobs himself said, it doesn't matter how good the lock is, because all it takes is ONE person getting in ONE time, and the whole thing is worthless. I totally agree that a solution to mass pirating needs to be found, but it isn't DRM. If we can't find a socially exceptable way of stopping pirating, then maybe someone is just going to pull their head out of the sand and change their business model...
    • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:41PM (#8774184)
      The fairplay system allowed for FAIRPLAY, it is seen as the best DRM scheme online

      This line of reasoning drives me crazy. For the last 20 years we have had an open, digital, non-DRM music standard which has succeded wildly. And yet now people are constantly praising FairPlay, because it is the least restrictive of the new DRM schemes. I am supposed to be happy that we have only taken one step back instead of two? To be fair it is worse than a step backwards, because it is introducing restrictions that have never existed before. FairPlay is not the best DRM - no DRM is the best DRM.

      But you are right on one thing. What is the point of buying music under terms that you don't agree with? If you don't like DRM, then don't buy DRM'd music. At least now you still have the option. If consumers continue to be so eager to support these new formats, that option won't exist for very long.
  • by Limecron ( 206141 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @05:57PM (#8773647)
    Micrsoft DRM *won't* be cracked?

    If *anything* is crack fodder after this...

    But seriously, the first thing to crack is what people actually use. So, good job crackers.

    Anyway, how is unlocking something you've paid for being a vandal?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 05, 2004 @05:57PM (#8773649)
    To me the authors are vandals not revolutionaries, and may have ensured WMA becomes the standard.

    If DRM is offensive to you, than FairPlay is no better than WMA.

    If you don't particularly mind DRM, then what's your complaint about WMA? I think it is the iTunes contract you like, and not FairPlay itself.
  • Big surprise (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 05, 2004 @05:58PM (#8773655)
    Anyone who didn't see this coming.. i don't know what you were thinking.

    Apple chose the "cheap bike lock" model. Instead of trying to absolutely lock down their digital music distribution, they put an [i]impairment[/i] to fully free use of the music, but one which they knew would eventually be broken. This is a rational thing; if you KNOW that someone, if they REALLY wanted to, would be able to break your encryption, what's the point of trying to make the encryption really strong?

    The trick is, you wait for the inevitable crack program, then attempt to prevent people from distributing it.

    Of course the interesting thing is, now Apple's going to go after the people who made this tool, and hundreds of Slashdotters will most likely deride it as an unconsiable use of the DMCA, then announce they are boycotting Apple and dumping the iTMS for, say, Napter2... which uses WMA, whose DRM is even worse...
  • by isomeme ( 177414 ) <cdberry@gmail.com> on Monday April 05, 2004 @05:59PM (#8773677) Homepage Journal
    To me the authors are vandals not revolutionaries, and may have ensured WMA becomes the standard.
    Interesting position. How is rearranging the bits of something I own "vandalism"? How is this not a perfect example of fair use?

    I agree that redistributing the results would be both unethical and illegal. But last I hear prior restraint was still frowned on by the courts.

  • DeCSS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeffrey Baker ( 6191 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @05:59PM (#8773679)
    Lots of ignorant comments already. PlayFair is the same as DeCSS: it removes restrictions on fair use, and allows compatibility. Now I can play my paid-for iTunes songs wherever I wish, just as DeCSS allowed me to play DVDs anywhere.

    It's a good thing.

  • by shadowcabbit ( 466253 ) <cx AT thefurryone DOT net> on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:00PM (#8773685) Journal
    Contrary to the knee-jerk reaction (and incidentally, also contrary to the blurb), I think that this tool is a blessing. Since it only works on songs that you have a valid license for (ie stuff you bought), it removes the burn-to-cd step from the "buy from ITMS, burn to CD, re-rip to MP3" process for those of us who don't have an iPod. I've bought quite a bit of music from the store, and I relish the opportunity to use it on my Lyra. This, I think, was the developers' intention with this tool-- not infringement. This is the only use I will have for this tool. Others may use it improperly or illegally, but that does not mean I should be denied access to the tool.
  • by ikewillis ( 586793 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:03PM (#8773715) Homepage
    When Apple opened the iTunes Music Store, they licensed a technology called "FairPlay" from a company called "Veridisc".

    Apple bought VeriDisc. They didn't license FairPlay; they own it.

  • by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:03PM (#8773717)
    Having this available is like a selling point for ITMS. I've been rather resistant about buying songs there because they place restrictions about what I can do with my own data on my own machine. (and no, I'm not talking about selling them).

  • Vandals ?!# (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PrimeNumber ( 136578 ) * <PrimeNumber@exc i t e.com> on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:03PM (#8773720) Homepage
    The cracking operation can only be done on songs the user has already has valid licenses for and requires either an iPod or a windows computer for key recovery.

    Is this article a cleverly disguised troll?

    If anything the creator(s) of PlayFair are doing the responsible thing, and not allowing the user to perform a so-called cracking operation on a song they haven't licensed/paid for.
  • by ChangeOnInstall ( 589099 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:04PM (#8773732)
    I can now go iTunes using my Windows XP box that doesn't even have speakers, buy music tracks, run them through this DRM remover, and then play them back on my Linux machines at home and at work?

    If this actually turns out to be the case, I'll be sending Apple (iTunes) about $20-50/month for the forseeable future.

  • Vandals, eh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cb8100 ( 682693 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:06PM (#8773762)

    From Merriam-Webster:

    One entry found for vandal.
    Main Entry: vandal
    Pronunciation: 'van-d&l
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Latin Vandalii (plural), of Germanic origin
    2 : one who willfully or ignorantly destroys, damages, or defaces property belonging to another or to the public

    Since I bought the music, it does not belong to the public. If I choose to remove the DRM that keeps me from doing what I want with my private property, that's not vandalism. Worst case: I just voided my song's warranty

  • Largely irrelevant. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Llywelyn ( 531070 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:07PM (#8773766) Homepage

    The cracking operation can only be done on songs the user has already has valid licenses for and requires either an iPod or a windows computer for key recovery.

    Let's emphasize this part. You still have to go through the trouble of downloading it, compiling it, and using it on your own songs. I don't see many people doing this just to share them over a P2P network.

    There would be a problem if this was something that could decrypt other's songs. If you do a search there are people sharing m4p files on filesharing networks (mainly because they just share their music library) and so the ability to then download those files and decrypt them would be more serious. As it stands with this program, I have to go through that for my own files, which I wouldn't go through the trouble of doing unless FairPlay got in my way, which it doesn't.

    Even then, however, I suspect it would not be a major concern. Apple expected this kind of thing and has a philosophy that most people will pay for their service regardless of if they can get it free elsewhere--simply because they will pay for quality and service.

  • watermarking? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ziggy the zagnut ( 639592 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:12PM (#8773815) Journal
    Well, what are we waiting for? Let's diff two cracked AAC's of the same iTune bought by different people to see if there's any encoding!
  • Just a GUI (Score:5, Insightful)

    by m1a1 ( 622864 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:16PM (#8773875)
    These guys didn't do anything special. The libraries they used have been out and available in a simple command-line form for quite awhile. They apparently just made it more accessible to the public. The libs are available at http://www.audiocoding.com/ [audiocoding.com]. I've played with the command-line version before and it works fine.
  • by dj_paulgibbs ( 619622 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:19PM (#8773910)
    Although Sourceforge have pulled the .tar.gz mirror, you can still login into the CVS and get it:

    cvs -d:pserver:anonymous@cvs.sourceforge.net:/cvsroot/ playfair login
    cvs -d:pserver:anonymous@cvs.sourceforge.net:/cvsroot/ playfair checkout playfair
  • What's the problem (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smartin ( 942 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:26PM (#8773998)
    This only works if you already have a key, so you aren't stealing anything, it just makes it possible to get better use out of music you paid for. Such as putting it on your slimserver etc. I don't think that the availability of such a tool is going to cause people to go hunting for protected aac files to crack, and if you are going share them, you could just rip them as mp3 (yes i know lesser quality yada yada). I think this tool is useful for people that do buy iTunes an i for one will probably buy more now that i can get better use out of them.

    Think of it as the same thing as cracking a game you already bought so that you don't have to put the CD in the drive every time you want to play it.
  • by smadnessness ( 702008 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:50PM (#8774309)
    Songs bought and downloaded from iTMS are watermarked with your account information. Checking out the source for the song with a simple text editor I was able to clearly see my name and email address used for purchasing from the store. I don't know yet if these are stripped when playfair strips DRM, but it's worth verifying before you start playing pirate again.

    Besides, CD quality is still better audio.
  • by D'Arque Bishop ( 84624 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:54PM (#8774357) Homepage
    *sigh* One thing that I've noticed in the business world is that more often than not, perception is reality. In other words, how something is perceived is more important than how it actually is. (For example, how many of you have bosses who don't want to use Linux because it's known as the "hacker's OS", and as such see it as being dangerous because it's used by hackers/crackers?)

    The reason I bring this up is because this tool, however benevolent the reasons for creating it are, may end up causing more problems than it solves. Apple went to a lot of trouble to create a DRM scheme that was most acceptable to both users and record companies. You know FairPlay-protected AAC files are easily transferred to another media already (burn to CD). I know it. Not much fuss was made about it.

    Now we have a tool that gets rid of that intermediate step. Is the end result the same as what we used before? Pretty much. Except now, the RIAA has something to point to and scream, "See those hackers! They'll even break liberal encoding to steal music! This is why we need tougher DRM!" It doesn't matter whether this was REALLY the case... all they have to do is PERCEIVE it as such a threat, and to them, it becomes truth. Granted, this may or may not be the case, but like I said... perception is reality. How many people outside of the tech community are going to get to see this as anything but a piracy tool?

    I really hope it doesn't come to this. I really do. Like a lot of people here, I understand this tool was probably created with the best of intentions. Unfortunately, we also need to remember what they say the road to Hell is paved with...

    Just my $.02...
  • by msimm ( 580077 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:55PM (#8774370) Homepage
    To me the authors are vandals not revolutionaries, and may have ensured WMA becomes the standard.

    Vandals? Really? Wow, because the first thing that came to my mind is: wow, I can unencrypt MY files and put them on my MythTV box, or trascode them to use in my cars mp3 player or send them through my Slimplayer. People are getting a little weird about DRM. Vandals is probably the most ridiculous thing I've hear yet. Itunes is great, but if we are going to continue to have fair use we are going to have to stop buying in to all the hype and realize that using a product we bought isn't criminal. I'm a fucking consumer, not a pirate.
  • Fair use... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rick Zeman ( 15628 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @06:56PM (#8774375)
    ...sure, I'm all for fair use--for me. My definition doesn't include me and a couple million of my closest friends.

    All the Kazaa-using pirate assholes and those cracking Fairplay are doing is making my life harder and as time goes on, interfering more and more with what can be considered fair use.
    You all need to consider what is cause and what is effect here. Was there DRM before Napster? Nope. So this is all a reaction to your sleazoid thievery and it just royally pisses me off.

    As DRM goes, Fairplay is by far the best of a bad lot. Its compromises I can live with. What are you assholes going to make Apple come up with next?
  • by N3wsByt3 ( 758224 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @07:01PM (#8774439) Journal
    "To me the authors are vandals not revolutionaries, and may have ensured WMA becomes the standard"

    Yes, well, I'm sure the aristocracy that had been exploiting the populace for centuries thought the same when the poor masses rebelled. Or maybe not, because they used the term 'revolutionary' as if it meant 'criminal'. In any way, it's all in the eye of the beholder, it would seem. But we can safely say that it's a good thing their rights were trampled on and disgarded and abolished, or most of us would still be serfs.

    The IFPI/RIAA is fighting a lost cause. And I think they know it.

    First off all, I have difficulties with their acclaimed 'stealing' of music. As far as I know, stealing implies that the one that has been stolen has been derived of something. When you take a copy, you do not take the original away, thus they have not 'lost' anything. They might claim that they loose money when ppl d/l music, but even that is far from certain. Not only is it not shown statistically to have had that effect (they didn't even show a correlation thusfar - see aussie music-news - let alone a causality).

    Furthermore, in an individual case, they would have to show they actually lost revenue. Which is far from said, because I sure know some guys who d/l music, but would NEVER have bought that music if they were unable to d/l it. So, how did the RIAA/IFPI loose revenue, exactly? And if they didn't lose anything, how can the term 'stealing' apply?

    It would still be copyright-infringement, ofcourse, but that's another matter. I think maybe it's time we went beyond our current system of copyrights and walk into the era of cyberspace. With the industrial revolution, patents and copyrights knew a high flight, maybe it's time to let it leave and try something new? Maybe something in the lines of this: fairshare [sourceforge.net].

    And don't worry, contrary to what the RIAA claims, musicians will not starve to death, and music-making will not stop. We had music long before we had copyrights, and we will have music long after copyrights have vanished from the scene.

    And lastly, it's something that *can not* be stopped. P2P progs and their development act as organisms that follow the darwinian rules of survival. When Napster was 'killed' by the RIAA, immediately others (like kazaa) took over, being more resistent to attacks from the RIAA&co. Whenever kazaa will be shut down, others again will take over. When endusers are targeted, systems that protect the user will become dominant (like FreeNet).

    It really is a lost cause. But then again, they are not truelly battling for the survival of musicians (as I said; they will survive, just as they used to do), it's for their OWN survival they are fighting. There is no way in hell they are going to keep the giant profits that they have been gathering for the last decades.

    But ultimately, they will have to do what P2P systems are already doing: adapt to the new circumstances (and forget about the former levels of profit), or whither and die.

    • by wayne606 ( 211893 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @07:34PM (#8774744)
      You say that in order for something to be stolen the original owner must lose. If they are no worse off than before then nothing has been stolen. But this misses the point. The record companies are the owners of the songs. They paid the artists for the rights. Maybe they haven't paid them fairly but the artists were under no obligation to sign the contracts.

      As the owners of the music they would be perfectly within their rights not to release it at all. Or to play it only in specific places and not allow in anybody with recording equipment. Etc etc.

      However they decide to release the music on CD's or on an on-line store and do so under a specific license. Namely, "don't give this music to your 1M closest friends without us getting extra money". If you don't like it why did you buy the CD in the first place? If you really like the music why don't you contact the artist and convince them to release their next album for free to the world, or possibly under different terms?

      If you want to listen to music for free, just say so. Admit you're breaking the law and violating the contract you agreed to when you bought the music. It won't be the first time and it won't be the last that it's happened. Admit that (in this case at least) you don't care about the law and you are just taking what you want. The world won't dissolve into anarchy because of it.

      If you want to convince the music industry that they are fighting a losing battle and making things harder for the honest people who just want "fair use" of their purchases, go for it. Ask them to reform their distribution model for the 21st century. Maybe with Steve Jobs on your side you will get somewhere.

      But just don't waste your time and everybody else's trying to pretend that you have a right to rip tracks from CD's and put them on P2P networks, just because "they wouldn't have gotten that revenue anyway". That's irrelevant and you make your other arguments lose credibility.
      • by N3wsByt3 ( 758224 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:07PM (#8775062) Journal
        Your first three paragraphs are quite true, but have no bearing at all on what I was saying. I was saying that the claim those companies make that 'It is just the same as stealing from a shop' (actual quote) is false.

        It does not matter what kind of contract they have with the musicians, nor if they are owners, nor if I or anyone else agreed to the licence. The *statement* is false. If I go to a shop, see some vase, let's say, and I copy that vase at home, can the shop or the owner accuse me of stealing his vase? No. (at least not icn the jurisdiction I live). I *could* be breaking copyright or some patents, yes, but I would not be charged with stealing it from the shop.

        The RIAA claims one could, if one does exactly the same, but instead of a vase, with one of their CDs. THAT is what is absurd, and what I was arguing.

        The problem with your line of reasoning, is that it starts from the established point of copyrights that we have developped into today, and do not try to see outside the framework that is now almost considered a natural right. but it isn't, and, in fact, it never was. It's very clear (whatever the Supreme Court says about it) that the founding fathers meant it to be a right of limited scope and duration, to *stimulate* new and innovative works, and then bring it to the public good.

        This, clearly, has been perverted and corrupted in a system that has virtual no limitations anymore, and which main goal is the squeeze as much money and profit out of it by and for the middle-man; corporations that have huge profits but hardly create anything innovative themselves, and, in fact, try their best to stiffle innovation when they feel threatened.

        You think 'asking to reform' will do actually amount to anything, since it would mean they practically vanish from the scene? Me thinks not. I think the chance of that happening is as big as it was if the serfs would have 'asked' the aristocracy if they would please give up their powerbase.

        This line of reasoning shows an apparent lack of sense for reality.

        Unjust laws are most often overruled by breaking them en masse, and what's more, I do not think that that is an immoral act on itself, on the contrary. Far from me to entice anyone in doing something illegal, but I still can say what I think (unless Free speech has been abolished too?), and I think that the law, as it was original conceived and intended was just, but what it is and has become today is unjust and immoral, and should not be used to make ppl guilty, let alone criminalised, when they are disregarding those perverted laws.
  • by Hao Wu ( 652581 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @07:08PM (#8774488) Homepage
    "To me the authors are vandals not revolutionaries, and may have ensured WMA becomes the standard."

    Interesting. Good point. So why was this allowed in reporting the story?

    This belongs in the comment section, to be moderated fairly, like my little opinion and other people's comments.

  • by Performer Guy ( 69820 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @07:30PM (#8774713)
    They have given people back the freedom to use the music thay have purchased as they see fit. This is *FAIR USE* it is the music industry that are vandals and thives, implementing a concerted campaign to steal our rights to use the products we purchase while pretending that they are being harmed by unrelated online theft. Do you really thing your cracked DRM'd copy matters a damn when anyone can rip the CD? Give me a break, copyability is not the issue at all. The evidence does not support the industries position and the facts make them look positively ridiculous. *ANYONE* can go rip any tune today from any CDROM, one uncracked mp3 later and you've got the equavalent of what they're so scared of. We have rights that are being undermined and the industry's protections including those enshrined in law are extremely artificial and strengthening with every law passed and court case prosecuted.

    It is not vandalism to protect consumers against unreasonable proprietary restrictions, particularly those that tie us to vendor specific platforms or even force multiple purchases of the same art. These developers are heroes and the activities of those corporations they fight against should be branded criminal but unfortunately are not. If congress did their job to uphold our constitution and rights instead of fostering corrupt lackeys like Orrin Hatch then this would not be a problem and user's rights would be physically guaranteed. Instead we have idiots like the senator from Disney continually trying to sell us all down the river for a few campaign dollars. When one individual stands up to help the situation fools like you call them a vandals, you should show more respect to people fighting and coding for freedoms and your rights to the information you have purchased.
  • Not a "Crack" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bert690 ( 540293 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @07:57PM (#8774960)
    A crack would imply it breaks the encryption scheme. However, seeing as it only works on music someone has legally purchased, it's clear to me that this relies on having access to the decryption keys. So it sounds as if they simply reverse engineered the decryption protocol. Not an easy task by any means, but it's not as interesting as something like DeCSS which involved determining both the decryption keys and decryption algorithm.
  • by rocketfairy ( 16253 ) <nmt2002NO@SPAMcolumbia.edu> on Monday April 05, 2004 @08:19PM (#8775158) Homepage

    Okay, so FairPlay:

    • Requires that you buy a copy of the song;
    • allows you to play that song on whatever AAC-compatable devices suit your fancy; and
    • won't make it particularly easier for filesharers, who appear to be more apt to share ripped CDs, anyways.

    And this is supposed to be bad how, exactly?

    iTunes customers will still have to pay; filesharing will be unaffected; and iTunes users will have more options in how they play their songs. Apple won't like it, since to them iTunes is only a way to sell their overpriced little toys ... But it won't have any appreciable impact on iTunes sales, methinks.

    The problem with DRM'ing music (aside from the fact that DRM-as-content-protection is a ricockulous business plan with no engineering merit whatsoever) is that record companies sell oodles of unwatermarked, non-DRM'ed CD's. Files don't wind up on Kazaa because some clever 13-year-old h4x0r3d your encryption; they wind up their because a chimpanzee could rip files off a CD.

  • by jocknerd ( 29758 ) on Monday April 05, 2004 @10:39PM (#8776067)
    I've downloaded about 275 songs from iTunes Music store. But I've come to the decision that I will no longer download music for one reason. And its not because of DRM. I can actually live with Apple's DRM. I don't notice it.

    I will stop downloading because I no longer want to own music that is in a format other than its original format. Let me be the one to decide what to encode my music to make the files smaller. Not Apple or Microsoft. If you let me purchase my music in WAV or even FLAC, I'll continue to support your store, but if you insist on keeping all downloads in AAC or WMA formats, I will no longer be a customer.

    And if CD's go away, I guess I just won't buy music anymore.
  • VideoLan (Score:5, Informative)

    by delus10n0 ( 524126 ) <delusion_@NoSPaM.pdsys.org> on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @12:59AM (#8776901) Homepage
    VideoLan can already decode/play back M4P iTunes-purchased files. It stores the system's key in the \Documents and Settings\\Application Data\drms\ folder -- you can copy that folder to other computers that aren't authorized via iTunes, and still play the M4P's with VideoLan. And since VideoLan supports streaming, you can set it to output the raw AAC into a new MP4 container. The only downside is that it's realtime, and that you have to do each file one at a time. But I wrote a Visual Basic app to loop through a directory recursively and call VideoLAN to convert each M4P file.

    Hopefully someone takes this new code and makes a windows version, that can do process large amounts of files at a time...
  • stop whining (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hak1du ( 761835 ) on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @04:35AM (#8777696) Journal
    To me the authors are vandals not revolutionaries, and may have ensured WMA becomes the standard.

    Well, and if Apple produces a DRM system with gaping holes, then from the point of view of the music industry, that's exactly what should happen. Or do you think people aren't also hard at work cracking WMA?

    If Apple wants to be a provider of DRM, then they better do it right or they don't do it at all.
  • by sjonke ( 457707 ) * on Tuesday April 06, 2004 @12:23PM (#8780778) Journal
    All this discussion of the concept of PlayFair - have any of you tried it? So far every track I have tried it on causes iTunes to crash when I attempt to add it to my iTunes library. Hopefully this is a temporary problem, and I have heard of others having some success, but at the most it's very unfinished. Not there yet.

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