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The DRM Scorecard 543

Posted by samzenpus
from the guess-who's-ahead dept.
An anonymous reader writes "InfoWeek blogger Alex Wolfe put together a scorecard which makes the obvious but interesting point that, when you list every major DRM technology implemented to "protect" music and video, they've all been cracked. This includes Apple's FairPlay, Microsoft's Windows Media DRM, the old-style Content Scrambling System (CSS) used on early DVDs and the new AACS for high-definition DVDs. And of course there was the Sony Rootkit disaster of 2005. Can anyone think of a DRM technology which hasn't been cracked, and of course this begs the obvious question: Why doesn't the industry just give up and go DRM-free?"
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The DRM Scorecard

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  • by Atlantis-Rising (857278) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:28PM (#20079725) Homepage
    Just because the ability exists to crack it, doesn't mean that the average Joe on the street can do so.

    It discourages casual copying, nothing more, but I can't imagine it was intended to do any more. Nobody's that stupid.

    • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:30PM (#20079745) Homepage Journal
      Music execs are.

      • by Atlantis-Rising (857278) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:31PM (#20079761) Homepage
        Never assume stupidity for what can be explained as malice.

        To do otherwise is naive at best.
        • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:33PM (#20079797) Homepage Journal
          No, they really are dumb.

          "You mean you can supply me with uncrackable protection from unauthorized copying?"

          "That's right!"

          "Wow, and I don't really understand all this stuff, but when it gets cracked later this month I'll keep sending you your checks."

          • by Atlantis-Rising (857278) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:42PM (#20079917) Homepage
            That's a naive view. Even if they believed that the first time, (which anyone with a little common sense would not have), it's even less likely they believed it the second, or the third, or the fourth time.

            Given that assuming everyone in the entire media industry has the combined intelligence of a bowl of fruit is irrational and unreasonable, malice (although not exactly the "Buwahahaha evil" type of malice) is the most reasonable explanation.

            • by bersl2 (689221) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @10:53PM (#20080887) Journal
              No, I think that the reason they keep doing this is economic.

              If they determine that the cost of adding DRM (licensing fees, lost sales, etc.) is less than the benefit (more legal purchases in place of casual copying), then they can say that DRM helps them (in the short term). I think that they have believed this to be the case.
            • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @04:10AM (#20082749)
              I don't think it's stupid as in having the intelligence of a slightly age slice of toast. It's more allowing themselves to be BS'ed.

              Here's music exec Joe Shmoe. He's fairly intelligent when it comes to business related topics. He has a masters in BA. He doesn't understand jack about all that computer stuff, but that's not his biz. His biz is music.

              Then here's Alex. He may or may not have a degree, but he sells Joe the DRM tools for his music. He knows both, commerce and computers.

              Joe realized that Alex' DRM tools were cracked. Alex knows that too, and he knows well that the spin of "we make it uncrackable" doesn't hold water. But he also knows how Joe thinks. His selling strategy thus is:

              1. Cracking DRM is another burden, which keeps a few more people from copying.
              2. Cracking DRM has been made illegal, which keeps another few more from copying.
              3. Our DRM solution costs less than the losses due to illegal copying.

              Joe understands that. And thus Joe buys.
          • by shark72 (702619) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @09:17PM (#20080183)

            That's an interesting viewpoint.

            Are you also of the opinion that auto industry executives hold the naive view that auto theft-deterrent systems are infallible?

            When I first got into the Apple warez scene in the early 80s, I asked somebody older and wiser why, say, they bothered to put copy protection on Wizardry when clever guys like me could easily crack it.

            "Because," he pointed out, "if the copy protection prevents just one person from copying it, it's done its job."

            And that's why copy protection on CDs and DVDs exists today: to deter casual copying. Much to their disadvantage, most people out there just aren't as technically adept as Slashdot readers.

            Can you clarify why you believe that folks who use DRM don't understand this? It requires quite a stretch, but if you think you have solid evidence, I'd like to hear it.

            • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @09:28PM (#20080255) Homepage Journal
              I'm a reverse engineering guy. I can and have cracked programs. Do I still do this? No. Because there are people out there who have a whole lot more fun doing it than I would.. so I just use their stuff. Same with DVD copying. You don't have to be "skilled" to use DVD Shrink.. in fact, it's trivial, and millions of people do.

              So take this "deter casual copying" crap and smoke it. If the residents of MySpace can work out how to copy and trade DRM'd stuff then anyone can.

              • by ubermiester (883599) * on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @11:21PM (#20081071)

                The question is not whether people can do it, its a matter of whether they actually will.

                To get DRM-less content, they need to:

                • know that a crack exits
                • know how to get it
                • khow how to use it
                • AND...feel as though it was really worth it to go through all that trouble so they can avoid paying for someone else's work.

                Each step filters people, and those people pay. Simple as that.

                The real question is how long the RIAA will take to realize that there are alternatives to this model.
            • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @09:50PM (#20080471) Homepage

              Are you also of the opinion that auto industry executives hold the naive view that auto theft-deterrent systems are infallible?

              Some car insurance companies hold this viewpoint, officially. It lets them get away with paying fewer claims one way or another. "But your car couldn't have been stolen, you must have been negligent and left the keys in." Or something to that effect.
            • by Fordiman (689627) <(fordiman) (at) (gmail.com)> on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @11:29PM (#20081131) Homepage Journal
              ""Because," he pointed out, "if the copy protection prevents just one person from copying it, it's done its job."

              And that's why copy protection on CDs and DVDs exists today: to deter casual copying. Much to their disadvantage, most people out there just aren't as technically adept as Slashdot readers."

              'Cept most are adept enough to just download a copy from someone whose already cracked and transcoded it.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Eivind (15695)
              You assume that the "casual copyers" today start with original "protected" media. They don't.

              The casual copiers of today visit a p2p-network and download the already-cracked, unprotected files. They don't notice that these files ever had DRM.
            • by Durandal64 (658649) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @03:40AM (#20082589)
              The other side of that coin is that if copy protection prevents just one customer from legitimately using the content he paid for, it's become an irritant that devalues your content. You can lose money either way. If a customer gives his copy of your software to one of his buddies, you've potentially lost a sale. If a customer tells one of his friends that your software is a pain in the ass because of the copy protection, you've almost certainly lost a sale.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            > "You mean you can supply me with uncrackable protection from unauthorized copying?"
            >"That's right!"

            It's more like the media execs were asking for it, so the IT execs sold it.
            I work in one of those huge companies that defined those crackable, ineffective DRM standards.
            I'm a security expert in that company. I know the other security experts. There's not one of them that believes the DRM standards can work, because we understand that DRM cannot work from a fundamental point of view. It is an intractabl
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by daem0n1x (748565)

            I can't tell if they are stupid or evil, but I always thought business men were really smart, learn really fast and have a huge outlook. None of that can be said about music industry executives.

            I guess they've been sitting on their asses receiving a shower of money for too long. They can read the writings on the wall, but it's too much for them to handle.

            My country has a lot of textile industry. Years ago, the WTO decided to open the textile market to China in 10 years. The industrials had 10 years t

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:32PM (#20079775)
      "Just because the ability exists to crack it, doesn't mean that the average Joe on the street can do so."

      Ummmm, lets think about that:
      1) It only takes ONE person to "crack" and copy music, a movie, etc. and make it available to all the average Joes.
      2) It only takes ONE person to create a patch or an app and every average Joe can use it.

      Where do these newbies come from on here? Sheeez.
      • by Atlantis-Rising (857278) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:44PM (#20079933) Homepage
        I realize that. That was not the point.

        The point was that the RIAA/MPAA is taking a dual-pronged approach, as is visibly obvious- they are targeting torrent sites with an offensive barrage of lawsuits to prevent downloading and they are targeting the media with an offensive barrage of DRM to prevent casual copying which is decentralized and untraceable.

        Is this approach effective? To some degree, yes, it is. Will it ever be 100% effective? No, it will not.
        • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @09:47PM (#20080435) Homepage Journal
          Maybe you haven't been paying attention, but the RIAA/MPAA are losing.

      • by imtheguru (625011) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @09:19PM (#20080187)
        Mod parent up.

        This is indeed the root of any high-distribution system and is applicable to several domains--piracy, drugs, airborne diseases. It only takes one copy on a viable transmission medium to start the ball rolling.
      • 1) It only takes ONE person to "crack" and copy music, a movie, etc. and make it available to all the average Joes.

        "Available" is a relative term.

        For your average iPod-buying Joe, it's easier to find a desirable song by buying a CD on the way home or to search and download it from the iTunes Store, than it is to find a reliable and spyware-free Gnutella client, search for the song, eliminate all the junk matches, find one that's good quality, and download it.

        I like using the iTunes Store to download singles
    • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:44PM (#20079931)
      There is no uncrackable security technology. This does not make them worthless.

      A mechanism that is difficult to crack (whether that is a physical lock or DRM or password) makes it harder for the cracker and reduces the likelihood of someone actually doing the cracking. That removes casual crackers from the equation.

      It also makes the cracking act more deliberate and makes it far harder for someone to claim: "That diamond got in my pocket.... I just found it on the sidewalk and thought it had been thrown out." or "Oh that music on my MP2 player... I thought it was free!"

      • by langelgjm (860756) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:56PM (#20080039) Journal

        Oh that music on my MP2 player.

        Was someone a little strapped for cash?

      • by danpat (119101) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:57PM (#20080045) Homepage
        Unfortunately, the analogy doesn't quite hold. Breaking into bank vaults is more like performing a brute force attack on a DRM scheme, every time you wanted to break it. DRM schemes don't work like that. Typically once a scheme is compromised, it becomes possible for anyone subject to it to break it almost instantly. All it takes is for someone to write a quick tool that automates the cracking process and all the barriers presented by the DRM scheme pretty much fall away.

        I'd say that DRM schemes are like having one giant bank vault. Yes, it will eventually get compromised, and once it is, everything inside is trivial to take.
        • From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

          The Smart Cow Problem describes the method by which a group of individuals, faced with a technically difficult task, only requires one of their number to solve the problem. Having been solved once, an easily repeatable method may be developed, allowing non-technically proficient entities to accomplish the task. The term Smart Cow Problem is thought to be derived from the expression: "It only takes one smart cow to open the latch of the gate, and then all the other cows follow." [1]

          This has recently been applied to Digital Rights Management (DRM), where, due to the rapid spread of information on the internet, it only takes one individual to defeat a DRM scheme to render the method obsolete. [2]

                1. ^ http://www.wired.com/news/business/1,60901-0.html [wired.com] Buck a Song, or Buccaneer? , retrieved 2007-02-13
                2. ^ http://www.wired.com/news/digiwood/0,1412,67556,00 .html [wired.com] Give Your DVD Player the Finger, retrieved 2007-02-13


        • by Nazlfrag (1035012) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @09:48PM (#20080451) Journal
          Even given the proper tools, it's a major pain in the arse for Joe Blow to decrypt CSS for example. The average consumer has trouble burning a data CD, let alone decrypting and copying DRMd content. It doesn't stop him downloading the divx torrent though, so I guess the bank vault is open even if just a fraction actually do the crack.

          Fundamentally, you're spot on. It is a hell of a lot worse than bank vault security. You can't have the party it's secured against also the one it decrypts for. It just makes no sense! All DRM is crackable by definition, they know this, they just want to make it as much of a hassle as possible.

        • by Eravnrekaree (467752) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @11:28PM (#20081127)
          I dont like the analogy of a bank vault at all. Its not like people are breaking into a video store and stealing videos. These are usually people who have lawfully purchased a video and want to use it for their own private purposes but this has been restricted by DRM. DRM circumvention is often an attempt for a consumer to simply use something they legally purchased for their own private use, such as making back up copies or playing it on their computer, or copying to their ipod. I dont see any problem with that unless they are distributing it to others, Once a person has legally obtained some work, it should be theirs to do as they please with it for their own private use.

          We already have copyrights to protect the producers of works. DRM is going too far as it restricts the users rights to use something for their own private use, for which they have legally purchased.
      • Bad analogy. You see, digital media can be copied for zero cost. Physical objects cannot. Therefore, as long as one person cracks the DRM, then essentially everyone has because that one person can the redistribute the DRM-free media for free. In fact, its even worse than that because not only can that one person distribute, but every person that the first person gives it to can also redistribute, and so on and so forth.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mr_matticus (928346)
          Which is exactly why they feel they have to make it harder to copy. It doesn't cost anything, so the only thing they can do is throw the law around while simultaneously making it more difficult to copy.

          Now, obviously the honor system doesn't work. If DRM vanished tomorrow, most Slashdotters would still keep downloading. It provides something to bitch about more than anything. The fundamental problem is that Slashdot has decided it doesn't like the media industry's business model. It doesn't actually ha
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Opportunist (166417)
            I dare to say I speak for many when I say, I don't mind paying for content. But I insist in being able to use content I pay for.

            I buy my music. I also buy my movies. I don't want so many that I couldn't afford it, and likely I wouldn't buy enough to make the industry survive. A handful of movies or music discs a year isn't really making or breaking it for them.

            But I do want to use those items in the way I intend. I want to be able to hear that music in my car, I want to be able to watch those movies on my c
      • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Thursday August 02, 2007 @02:36AM (#20082221) Homepage
        Sure there is. A correctly employed OTP is completely, mathemathically proven, uncrackable.

        But there is no uncrackable DRM-technology. There can't be. By nessecity the users machine MUST contain all the information needed to decode the media. If it didn't, it couldn't display it. If it can display it, it fundamentally CAN also save it in an unrestricted format.

        Yes, it may be more or less tricky to get at the keys. But it'll always be *possible*.
    • by mark-t (151149) <`markt' `at' `lynx.bc.ca'> on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:45PM (#20079937) Journal
      And the irony of all this is that the industry isn't even hurt by typical casual copying, which is often be done for the private use of the copier anyways.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The Average Joe doesn't need to be able to crack it himself. He just needs to get ahold of a cracked copy. Which he can.
    • by langelgjm (860756) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:52PM (#20079995) Journal

      It discourages casual copying, nothing more, but I can't imagine it was intended to do any more. Nobody's that stupid.

      Of course not. That's why the MAFIAA and similar parties use the legal system to fill the holes that technology can't. If you can't actually stop everyone from doing it, simply make it illegal, and sue anyone who gets past the initial hurdles.

      DRM and IP law, the technological and the legal - the two work in tandem, but I would say that the end goal is perfect control over content. Anything less than perfect control is, after all, simply an unexploited opportunity for profit.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ucblockhead (63650)
      The Average Joe doesn't need to crack it. The Average Joe just uses the torrent that The Knowledgeable Joe uploaded after running the ripper he downloaded from a site run by The DRM-Cracking Expert Joe.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gnpatton (796694)
      Your assumption that this stops the average Joe is incorrect. Average Joe will just pay someone else to do it for him. Nothing ever stops half a population from doing something, the unable half will simply pay the other half to do it for them.
  • by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:29PM (#20079733)
    Frivolous lawsuits. Until the RIAA finally realizes that its lawsuit tactic isn't working it's the only attempt at DRM that hasn't been made completely useless yet. Unfortunately I don't see that happening unless/until they lose bigtime in multiple court cases.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:29PM (#20079735)
    I have this massive pile of digital rights that I really need to manage. Yet every fucking piece of management software I download has been hacked. There's not even any patches for this shit. How the fuck am I, as a concerned citizen, supposed to manage my rights?
    • by v1 (525388) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:38PM (#20079863) Homepage Journal
      you're trolling, but with a valid point. The bottom line is that the idea itself is fundamentally flawed. You cannot give the public limited access to information that requires their full access (however carefully managed you make it) without making it vulnerable to defeat. The only true three purposes at this point are (1) to make casual infringement difficult enough to be inconvenient, (2) to prevent use of IP in a way that you really don't feel like letting them use it, and (3) to give them a legal defense. (if you fail to defend your IP you tend to lose it in court)

      They know how evolution works. The most draconian systems they come up with today will be childs play eight years from now. So in reality, for as nasty as they look now, they will be almost pointless 10 yrs from now. (look at CSS...) So what they're doing now really this isn't any worse than CSS was when it was made, relatively speaking. Six years from now we will look at this and yawn, as we feed a spindle of old blue rays into a reader (at 25 seconds each) and download our entire collection to our data cube.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by gbobeck (926553)

      How the fuck am I, as a concerned citizen, supposed to manage my rights?

      Well, you can surrender all of your rights to me, and I'll manage all of them for you.
  • by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:32PM (#20079783)

    Is Blueray. That's going to last another decade.

  • by cavetroll (602361) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:34PM (#20079811)
    The point of DRM isn't to hinder in any noticeable way the large groups that are responsible for most of the copyright infringement that takes place, rather the aim is to annoy and infuriate the average 'consumer' to the point where needlessly buying extra copies of $ITEM is the path of least resistance.

    The same effect has been observed in software for years, Windows XP had an activation thing built in, anyone who knew what they were doing would bypass it, anyone who didn't (and didn't know anyone who did) would eventually go and buy superfluous copies of software they already owned.

  • by timholman (71886) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:34PM (#20079815)
    Okay, let's try Alex Wolfe's argument in a different context:

    "When you list every major law implemented to "protect" life and property, they've all been broken. Can anyone think of a law which hasn't been broken, and of course this begs the obvious question: Why doesn't society just give up and go law-free?"

    DRM doesn't have to be perfect to do its job, anymore than law enforcement has to be "perfect". It just has to be effective enough to keep Joe Average from copying the file. Whether or not DRM is actually "good" or "bad" for media producers is a completely different argument, but Wolfe's sophomoric reasoning does nothing to address it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The question is not just have they been broken? But, by what percentage of the populace are they regularly broken? I'm thinking of things like: speed limits, marijuana laws, jaywalking, (in it's day) prohibition, etc. If the people choose to ignore the law, then why is it a law? There are countless laws on the books, left there to be tools for the police or local government to use to control the citizens. Is there any doubt that parking or most speeding tickets are nothing more than revenue for the local go
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by cdrguru (88047)
        Marijuana and other drug laws absolutely keep some people away from the stuff. They (a) have fear of authority and (b) zero self control.

        We do not want to see these folks roaming the streets on drugs. A few times a year someone does something utterly boneheaded and gives their friend drugs. Then finds out their friend falls into the above category and get to watch while they (a) destroy their life with drug-seeking behavior, (b) do unbelievable stuff like burning down their house, running over little old
    • by Braino420 (896819) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @09:13PM (#20080147)

      "When you list every major law implemented to "protect" life and property, they've all been broken. Can anyone think of a law which hasn't been broken, and of course this begs the obvious question: Why doesn't society just give up and go law-free?"
      Oh what is this, a law analogy? What are you new here? Nerds don't understand laws, they understand cars. Watch and learn:

      When you list every major car safety feature implemented to "protect" life and limb, they have all failed. Can anyone think of a car safety feature which hasn't failed, and of course this begs the obvious question: Why doesn't society just give up and go seatbelt-free?
  • by JamesRose (1062530) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:37PM (#20079855)
    but as far as this goes: "However, like true Brits, they're soldiering on and releasing it, possibly convinced that it's not much use worry about what those stupid Americans are up to with their software schemes, anyway." I think they got it pretty bang on.
  • by dirk (87083) <dirk@one.net> on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:39PM (#20079883) Homepage
    No one ever expected DRM to stop all copying. That was never it's purpose. The purpose of DRM was to curb copying, which it has done. Everyone realizes there will always be a way to get around DRM (or anything else really) if you really want to. But if you can implement DRM and stop 50% or 75% of copying, that is a big improvement. That is exactly what they did. They implemented a solution that will reduce copying by the average person, which means more money in their pockets since less people are copying CDs and giving them to friends (and no, I'm not claiming every person who copied a CD would go and buy it, but certainly some of them will).

    DRM works under the same concept as locking your car. IF someone really wants in, they will get in. But it certainly cuts down on the casual person who will take an easy opportunity, but doesn't care enough to put in the effort to get around the measures you put in place.
  • Cable HDTV DRM (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nukem996 (624036) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:39PM (#20079887)
    Last I looked Cable HDTV DRM still hasn't been cracked which sucks if you want to use a myth box. You can only get an HDMI with HDCP signal out which I also don't think has been cracked. I really hope they do crack it so I can watch the HDTV that I pay for on my computer whenever I want. As a side note I once talked to my friend(who works for comcast) about driving a GNU/Linux driver for the CableCard. He told me it would be hard and was 100% sure we would be taken to court. The CableCard apparently looks to make sure the hardware using it is certified. Cracking that shouldn't be to hard but apparently the deal that at least comcast has with the content providers is that if there DRM is cracked they have 30days to fix it otherwise they have to recall all devices with the DRM capability and destroy them. Then they can issue new ones with newer DRM, otherwise they risk losing that content.
    • Re:Cable HDTV DRM (Score:4, Informative)

      by afidel (530433) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @09:04PM (#20080093)
      HDCP has been cracked but unless you have a display with DVI and no HDCP support it does you very little good. The problem is the HDCP protected signal is a full bandwidth signal, not the compressed OTA or disk steam, and there is currently no system available that can really deal with capturing that much data in real time that is in the consumer price range.
  • Why DRM? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Crypto Gnome (651401) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:40PM (#20079893) Homepage Journal
    DRM is just "an electronic lock".

    There's a well known saying "Locks secure you against honest people" (or words to that effect).

    The hard-core/organized/professional criminals have the skills, technology and motivation to bypass these "security measures".

    Remember people, locks aren't about making you secure, they're about making you FEEL secure.

    s/locks/airport security screening procedures/
    s/locks/the department of homeland security/ (well, that and political empire-building and creating a police-state by stealth)

    Smokey The Bear Says: Only YOU can prevent the violation of your civil rights "in the interest of National Security".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by qbwiz (87077) *
      Remember people, locks aren't about making you secure, they're about making you FEEL secure.

      So you never lock your car, or your house, or anything you own?
  • DIVX (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:49PM (#20079973) Homepage

    I don't rember ever seeing DIVX [wikipedia.org] ever being cracked. The fact that it failed in the market and you could get the exact same content off of a non-DIVX DVD aside, I don't know of a crack for it.

    But everything that has been in use for a little while or on successful product? Yeah, it's cracked. The article doesn't even begin to mention all the software protection schemes that are no longer effective.

  • by BlueParrot (965239) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:52PM (#20079993)
    TOR
    Plausible deniability
    Analogue hole

    What we miss is a file sharing program that makes use of a TOR like network and stores the files in a plausibly deniable container by default (i.e no need to be a computer geek) so that everyone can use it. Such a program would essentially be a tactical nuke against the record label's business model. Some time ago I may have considered promoting this immoral, but after I had a night ruined by region codes ( my girlfriend* at the time had bought me a present while visiting the states ) I sort of want to see this bullshit fail as much as possible. Unfortunately I don't know shit about designing a decent network so I can't write the stuff myself, but if things continue the way they do it is only a question of time before somebody does it.

    *Yes yes, I know I'm not supposed to have had a girlfriend and post to slashdot... If it helps maintain the stereotype I could disclose that I'm nocturnal, skinny and still living with my mother...
  • by zuki (845560) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:53PM (#20080007) Journal
    Perhaps this has already been mentioned, but the dongle systems that protect many Mac music applications and plugins seem to have held up so far, as in either iLok [ilok.com]
    or some of the Synchrosoft dongles. Logic Pro 7 is not really something that has been cracked yet either, to my (admitedly limited) knowledge.

    From what I recall reading, when H2O did manage to [k] Nuendo, it took them so long that I think they said
    they were not going to bother doing it more, as the process was just too annoyingly time-consuming.

    Theoretically, these systems could probably be made to protect anything which is a software-based application. Not sure if this qualifies as DRM, rather than just some 'copy-protection'
    technique but certainly it has helped ensure that many small developers of quality audio plug-ins survive because their creations cannot be cracked.

    Z.
  • by ewhac (5844) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:56PM (#20080035) Homepage Journal
    Copy protection systems have been around a lot longer than the recent crop of Defective Recorded Media would suggest.

    There's only one copy protection system I know of that hasn't been (meaningfully) cracked, and that's MediaCipher, created by Motorola for the cable TV crowd. Ironically, it was one of the first ones ever created. (Of course, it helps that the boxes implementing MediaCipher are only rented -- never sold -- to end-users.)

    Copy protection next showed up in a major way for computer games, most notably for the Apple ][ computer. This fetish briefly spread into applications software as well as games, until the users thundered, "No Fscking Way." It took about four to six years for this to shake out.

    Despite the fact that there is no conclusive evidence that copy protection has any meaningful impact on sales, anti-copying measures are still used extensively, but by no means universally, throughout the games industry. In particular, Unreal Tournament's initial anti-copying measures are little more than perfunctory, and are later dropped entirely.

    Near as I can determine, copy protection advocates claim as axiomatic that unsanctioned copying will depress sales to livlihood-threatening levels. They cleave to this axiom with a fervor usually associated with religious fundamentalists. However, every time this axiom is honestly examined, mitigating or even entirely contradictory evidence is discovered. Yet the myth persists.

    It's not the technology we need to combat (since Turing proved it can never work). It's the defective thinking.

    Schwab

  • Apple iTunes Video (Score:4, Informative)

    by IdahoEv (195056) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @08:59PM (#20080065) Homepage
    Last time I checked, you can strip the FairPlay DRM from iTunes music files pretty easily, but nobody has released a tool that does the same for video files purchased from iTunes.

    So ya can't yet burn that episode of "Lost" you bought on iTunes to a DVD.
  • by Shrubbman (3807) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @09:07PM (#20080107)
    What annoys me is that while current versions of QTFairUse strip the DRM off audio files just fine, nobody as of yet has put out a simple tool to strip off FairPlay from Apple's video files. If it's the same DRM scheme you'd think they'd just extend FairUse to do video files as well, but they've just not done that. I guess there must be some issue with the exploit they use that precludes using that hole for video as well I suppose...

    It's been what, 2+ years since Apple started selling videos and still no crack?
  • You know (Score:5, Funny)

    by SoulRider (148285) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @09:13PM (#20080145)
    one definition of insane is doing the exact same thing over and over and expecting different results.
  • by buddyglass (925859) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @09:20PM (#20080197)

    Can anyone think of a DRM technology which hasn't been cracked, and of course this begs the obvious question: Why doesn't the industry just give up and go DRM-free?

    The industry isn't trying to make uncrackable DRM. They're trying to make DRM that's just annoying enough so that the majority of users don't go to the trouble. Expert users will always crack whatever they put out. That wouldn't be a problem except for the ease of distribution BitTorrent affords and other P2P services afford. The same principle applies w/ the RIAA lawsuits. They're not trying to sue everyone who pirates music. They're just trying to get enough publicity so that people start thinking, "Gee, if I download that song then there's a chance, however remote, that the RIAA is going to sue me. Even if the law is on my side and I win, that would be a colossal hassle. Maybe I'll just buy it instead."

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dido (9125)

      They're trying to make DRM that's just annoying enough so that the majority of users don't go to the trouble of buying the product legitimately in the first place. There, fixed it for you. This is a fine line these benighted fools must walk, as they are engaged in marketing a product that is inferior to and which can be more easily and cheaply obtained from illegitimate sources.

  • Uncracked DRM (Score:3, Insightful)

    by krelian (525362) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @09:21PM (#20080203)
    I've never heard of an MMORPG that was cracked to that you could play for free (on an official server) or even play without purchasing the client software.

    My idea of a cracked DRM is one that allows you to use the product exactly is if the DRM was not included. I think starforce which is used for gaming was never fully cracked. At least not the latest version. I remember seeing a crack for a game (I forgot its name, go figure) which used starforce that required you to physically unplug your dvd drive from the motherboard in order to work... Starforce was such a violent protection that even the game companies themselves decided to ditch it. It would do havoc to your machine and I even heard several cases were a DVD drive was rendered useless because of it.

    As someone has already mentioned, no DRM is uncrackable but some of them require a lot of work. The DRM's of popular products will always be cracked because of the demand but there are many people who use niche products that are usually not worth the effort for the skilled crackers. These will just have to take the pill and suffer quietly.
  • by Geekbot (641878) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @09:23PM (#20080211)
    To read my post please enter the first word from pages 6, 27, and 32 from the manual.
  • DRM and honesty (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ucblockhead (63650) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @09:37PM (#20080341) Homepage Journal
    The purpose of DRM isn't to keep dishonest people from copying music.

    The purpose of DRM is to force honest people to repurchase music every time the format changes.

    Once you understand that, the obsession with DRM makes more sense.
  • by rudy_wayne (414635) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @10:20PM (#20080685)
    "this begs the obvious question: Why doesn't the industry just give up and go DRM-free?"

    The entire entertainment industry is so consumed with greed that they are no longer able to think clearly. The failure of DRM is so painfully obvious, but the MPAA, RIAA, BSA, etc. are so blinded by greed that they can't see it. To them, the failure of DRM is proof that they need bigger badder DRM along with bigger badder laws to punish people. This is what greed does to you.

    The secret to success is simple: make a good product and sell it at a fair price. But when you are bkinded by greed and convinced that you're losing billions of dollars to "piracy", you think that the secret to success is to control your precious "intellectual property" with the most draconian iron-fisted methods possible.

  • by bitspotter (455598) on Wednesday August 01, 2007 @10:26PM (#20080735) Journal
    Ed Felten took a whack [freedom-to-tinker.com] at this question a while back that stuck with me in the context of HDCP DRM.

    First: Why is the weak system worth spending 10,000 gates for? The answer doesn't lie in platitudes about speedbumps or raising the bar -- any technical bumps or bars will be obliterated when the master secrets are published. ...

    So temporary piracy prevention doesn't seem like a good explanation.

    A much more plausible answer is that HDCP encryption exists only as a hook on which to hang lawsuits. For example, if somebody makes unlicensed displays or format converters, copyright owners could try to sue them under the DMCA for circumventing the encryption."


    Because if there's anything a tech mogul hates worse than his own customers, it's his competition.

    DRM in a Nutshell: [r30.net]

    An encryption system is a way to deliver information securely, even through the hands of the thieves.

    A DRM system is a way to cut out the middleman, and deliver information securely into the hands of thieves directly.

    See the problem?

    Confusing the thief for the customer is why DRM can never work.
    Confusing the customer for the thief is why DRM can never sell.
  • It is all about enforcing a monopolistic distribution channel, a walled garden. They are trying to get all of the pie, not just a chunk. I went into more detail here:
    http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=29161 [theinquirer.net]

                  -Charlie
  • by MemoryDragon (544441) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @03:24AM (#20082513)
    has not been cracked, but the only reason for this is, that there is no real incentive to do so, because all the movies are on DVD anyway, which is by now an "open" format.
  • by dhavleak (912889) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @04:13AM (#20082773)
    Not trying to be a troll. But I strongly disagree with the hive-mind about DRM being as hopeless as the comments proclaim.

    Frist off, digital piracy isn't that different from brick-and-mortar piracy -- sellers will always try to find ways to prevent theft, and those who want to pirate stuff will always find ways to circumvent the checks. This is human nature and the it'll probably never change.

    Second, while we (rightly) think that the RIAA could save itself a lot of effort by revamping its model, that argument doesn't scale to other media. For example, movies. Movies are expensive to make, and don't sell in the same volumes as songs. The RIAA might easily solve its problems by moving to an AllOfMp3-like model, and pricing structure. But the MPAA won't be able to do the same -- charging 10 cents a movie will mean that they need to sell about 150 times the volume to make similar profits. Charging even $4 a movie will be enough incentive for people to go back to bittorrent. So clearly, its a never-ending tug of war, and while we think the RIAA/MPAA should in good faith adjust it's pricing model etc. the MPAA (at least) can't rely on the same good faith from its customers.

    But of course, the RIAA and MPAA are not blameless. And neither are Apple and MS and anyone else creating DRM schemes for multimedia formats (in fact, perhaps the Apple and MS folk are more guily than the RIAA/MPAA. Thier real sin is, they are trying to exploit a side-effect of DRM by not openly licensing thier DRM schemes and not making them interoperable/platform-agnostic. They have seen the side-effect of locking in customers by not licensing thier DRM schemes and by using proprietary formats, and they're frothing at the mouth with the possibilities of locking in customers, and getting duplicate revenues from those that do defect.

    At one point, I was actually willing to give MS some props for trying to rally the industry around a single DRM scheme (PlaysForSure) and keeping the API for it open. The lack of PlaysForSure on Macs and Linux is a big problem, and using WMA is a bigger problem, but the real sin was when they came out with yet another DRM system for the Zune. (Unless their PlaysForSure contracts made it a necessity by stipulating that MS will never come out with a PlaysForSure device or something like that - I wonder).

    And Apples fault is in how they choose to license FairPlay. They seem to have some arbitrary 'coolness factor' that needs to be met before they license FairPlay (which they do license out). For example, it's clear that the Xbox ppl have given iPod integration a lot of importance, and they must surely have approached Apple to license Fairplay so that even protected songs could be streamed to the 360 from a PC/Mac or iPod. The fact that this doesn't work today can only be because Apple did not license FairPlay. A terrible sin, for what would have been a very cool and easy to use feature. They did not think about the benefit to their users first -- they thought about lock-in instead.

    This is really what's wrong with DRM today. Companies are having a field day with trying to lock in consumers, and not giving any thought to enabling them to use thier property in as many fair ways as possible. The focus is completely on lock-in, and disabling, rather than enabling, and maintianing an audit trail without hindering.

    The solution might come from the market, in time. But for that people need to be very vigilant about shunning DRM schemes until these companies learn thier lesson and start inter-oprating with each other. That doesn't look like its happening anytime soon -- what with iTunes downloads crossing the 3 billion mark the other day. Consumers only have themselves to blame if they endorse DRM in this manner.

    The solution might come faster through litigation. Either through class action lawsuits (iTunes customers who want to migrate so a non-apple mp3 player, who get pissed because thier collections are now worthless), or Congress (ve
  • uncracked DRM (Score:3, Interesting)

    by olman (127310) on Thursday August 02, 2007 @05:00AM (#20083049)
    Hmm.

    I propose Xbox 360 DRM.

    Essentially un-hacked after all this time. Interestingly enough it's been possible to run warez for long time but ONLY if it's right region and no modification whatsoever is possible (cheats etc)

    However, homebrew software, cross-region mods, or any modification to the games: Big Ix-Nay.

    Yes, if you go to extreme lenghts and took the necessary steps long time ago it's possible to change the region code of the console. The kernel vulnerability was patched and there's no way to un-patch unless you exploited the vulnerable kernel to obtain one of the encryption keys. Or in other words, if this is news for you, forget about it.
  • by Bert64 (520050) <bert@NoSPaM.slashdot.firenzee.com> on Thursday August 02, 2007 @06:25AM (#20083451) Homepage
    DRM doesn't exist to stop the big organised cracking groups who release media online (they try to do this with lawsuits).
    Nor does it try to prevent the street sellers, who mostly buy their stuff from the above, mass duplicate and sell cheaply.

    What it's intended for, is to screw more money out of the average consumer.
    When i was a kid, my parents would buy me music on vinyl records, and record them to audio cassette for me to play, because being a kid i would invariably ruin the media at some point. When that happened, they would make me another copy. Similarly, they would make copies to play in the car (tapes often got damaged if they were left on the dashboard in hot sunny weather, and i doubt there are many cars which can play vinyl).

    DRM will stop these law abiding citizens from making their own personal-use copies, and force them to buy multiple copies of their media, and there are even more reasons to format-shift now:
    CDs - to play in the car
    CDs - for kids to destroy
    Digital files - to play on a media center
    Digital files - for an ipod or cellphone

    Ofcourse, those who pirate media will continue to do so, and will be better off than those who don't. Eventually more of those people will choose to pirate media instead so that they gain the benefits of drm-free media.

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