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iPod Cracked, But Does it Matter?

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the something-to-think-about dept.

370

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DRM sucks, news at 11 (4, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576540)

Is anyone really surprised by this?

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

We call that the theatre or a live performance.

Tom

Re:DRM sucks, news at 11 (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16576578)

Trying to make music uncopyable is like trying to make water not wet.

Re:DRM sucks, news at 11 (5, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576628)

Trying to make music uncopyable is like trying to make water not wet.

Behold the ice cube! : p

Re:DRM sucks, news at 11 (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576700)

And I shall offer comptetition with my new patent-pending innovation: "steam" -Eric

Re:DRM sucks, news at 11 (2)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576788)

Um, steam is wet. It's just a really hot sort of wet.

This is one of those "if you observe it". Cuz if you touch steam or ice, it often reverts to water. So how can you "feel" them to tell they're not wet? :-)

Tom

Re:DRM sucks, news at 11 (0)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576916)

Water has a special property that, however cold it is, pressure easily turns it back into water. As opposed to stuff like metal. That's why you slip on ice so easily -- the top layer turns to water under your feet.

Re:DRM sucks, news at 11 (4, Informative)

igny (716218) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577372)

Wrong, it is energetically favorable [wikipedia.org] to have a thin film of liquid on top of ice regardless of the pressure.

Re:DRM sucks, news at 11 (2, Informative)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577038)

Dry Steam... it isn't wet... wet steam has water droplets in it, Dry steam is entirely H2O in the gaseous state...If you watch a kettle spout when the water inside is boiling, then you'll see the clear stream of dry steam for approx one inch and then it mixes with air and the droplets start forming and it changes to wet steam (which you can see). Dry steam is very dangerous in that you can't actually see it.

Re:DRM sucks, news at 11 (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577196)

you can't see it ... oh and the horrible burns it gives you... hehehe

I was just joking about my post, I understand condensation ...

Tom

Re:DRM sucks, news at 11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16577250)

Put it with mine, osmosis

Re:DRM sucks, news at 11 (5, Funny)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576746)

Shut up Bruce.

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

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

Tom

P.S. note the quotes around "rights"

Re:DRM sucks, news at 11 (4, Funny)

Raptor CK (10482) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576874)

If the end result of DRM was that I'd have a live band following me at all times, I'd be all for it.

Re:DRM sucks, news at 11 (0)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577010)

I'm saying, at the point where your home entertainment kit is self contained [like a big Gameboy] you might as well throw it out and go see live performances [or go to the theatre].

Last I checked you can't pause/rewind/copy [normally] while sitting in a Regal theatre :-)

Tom

Dupey (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16576584)

Dupe (tm)

Bullshit! At least the editor(!) might RTFA! (5, Informative)

mstroeck (411799) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576596)

He is going to market a way for COMPANIES OTHER THAN APPLE to create copy-protected content that is playable on the iPod. None of the crap you just wrote is in any way relevant to what he is up to.

Re:Bullshit! At least the editor(!) might RTFA! (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576740)

Geez, I know this is /. But you think at least the SUBMITTERS could RTFA.

-Eric

Re:Bullshit! At least the editor(!) might RTFA! (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577192)

I think it is a new game, a new super troll, where you try to get an article submitted, with the most incorrect summary possible. At this point, I would say the trolls are winning.

Re:Bullshit! At least the editor(!) might RTFA! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16577638)

Are you sure this game is new?

As A Proud Slashdot Member (2, Funny)

TechForensics (944258) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577600)

...I can Articulate at all times, whether I have anything to Say or not.

Re:Bullshit! At least the editor(!) might RTFA! (3, Informative)

jfinke (68409) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576784)

I agree. I was wondering what the hell I was reading there. The whole point of what he is doing is to allow say Microsoft to encode their files such that it is native to the iPod format. It is not so you can pull iTunes songs off.

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

Re:Bullshit! At least the editor(!) might RTFA! (5, Interesting)

zeromorph (1009305) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576926)

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

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

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

Re:Bullshit! At least the editor(!) might RTFA! (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577232)

Not to mention whatever "Total Control" is. I think he meant Total Recorder.

Re:Bullshit! At least the editor(!) might RTFA! (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577266)

Exactly. One person hacking one encrypted file to playback where they want is not news.

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

Jon, theoretically, has made the defacto closed platform into an open standard that anyone can play with. Heck, you could now wrap Ogg Vorbis files in Apple's encryption, if one were so inclined.

But you lose quality (5, Insightful)

kill-1 (36256) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576598)

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

Re:But you lose quality (5, Informative)

mgabrys_sf (951552) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576686)

Audio Hijack from Rogue Amoeba. There - no analog conversion. Was that so hard?

Re:But you lose quality (3, Insightful)

kill-1 (36256) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576902)

That won't work with future DRMed PCs.

Re:But you lose quality (1)

MartinG (52587) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577160)

That won't work with future DRMed PCs.

Unless you get it "chipped"

Re:But you lose quality (2, Informative)

rincebrain (776480) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576992)

You're still transcoding from [codec of your choice] to raw audio data and back again, but you're correct, that does skip the digitalaudio steps.

Re:But you lose quality (2, Informative)

eldepeche (854916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576996)

Doesn't the audio get captured in its lossy state, then recompressed? That would be a quality loss whether or not there was an analog conversion.

Re:But you lose quality (5, Informative)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577078)

Audio Hijack from Rogue Amoeba. There - no analog conversion. Was that so hard?

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

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

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

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


Thus, if you consider the convenience of downloading compressed audio as worth the loss of quality compared to buying a CD (for almost the same price new, and actually less if you buy used) and ripping it yourself to something like FLAC - At least keep the original and never, ever transcode it. That means, if you want to really "own" your collection, you have the sole option of directly stripping out the DRM. Any other method will sacrifice quality for the convenience.

Lose Q only if you encode lossy AGAIN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16576978)

You don't "lose quality" if you leave it in the PCM wave form, or encode that using a lossless encoder. It's still "128 kbps AAC" quality but it's not any worse than you bought. Just don't use mp3, or any lossy encoded on it - that is very crappy and noticed by anyone that has normal hearing. Bluetooth A2DP, beknownst by few, does a lossy encode as well, but that's for another interesting /. article.

Re:But you lose quality (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576986)

Interesting that you mention quality loss from the conversion to analog, since analog was only barely touched upon in Bennett's writeup (as a last resort in case Total Recorder et al. are locked out somehow). Most of the methods that he outlines are fully in the digital realm. In those cases, the only quality loss will be artifacting due to the limitations of the formats you're transcoding from and to. I'd venture that if you're dealing with sufficient bitrates on both ends of the process that 99% of the people out there would never notice.

Re:But you lose quality (1)

slughead (592713) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577136)

But in the age of "CD quality" 128 kBit MP3s and crappy PC speakers, who cares about audio quality anyway...

*raises hand*

That's why I'm going back to buying CDs now that Allofmp3.com is basically gone.

Re:But you lose quality (1)

russellh (547685) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577162)

You lose quality if you first convert audio from digital to analog, and then sample it again. But in the age of "CD quality" 128 kBit MP3s and crappy PC speakers, who cares about audio quality anyway...
only theoretically. you only really loose if you just reencode the digital file directly. the analog out adds a lot of information, even if it is noise, which can actually improve the perceived quality in some ways. I bet a lot of my music sounds better played in an interesting audio environment like a church or concert hall, for instance, instead of in a dark, sound isolated recording studio. But to do it well you could probably spend more money on your equipment than to replace all your music with cds. the pain of actually doing it and having to add tags to the new file is why my cassette tapes are still in a box in the basement and not on my hard drive as mp3s.

Re:But you lose quality (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577394)

It makes me think of people who put everything on their stereo in Hall, or Concert, or Jazz mode. I highly doubt that most people can make the music sound better than what some professional audio guy with millions of dollars of equipment. But you say it sounds "cooler" when you put it in Hall mode and hear all the echos. Well, if they had intended for there to be echos, then there would have been echos. It's like my parents putting the surround sound system in a mode that makes all the sounds come out of all the speakers all the time, because they don't hear anything coming from the back. Don't try explaining to them that you're not supposed to hear the guy in front of you from the back. That's the whole point of surround sound.

And you can't batch job it (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577260)

Thought I'd point that out

Re:But you lose quality (2, Funny)

mochan_s (536939) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577624)

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

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

Analog re-recording is tedious! (3, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576600)

There is value to a fully digital cracking technique. If you have a large collection of songs, it is a royal pain to set things up to re-record them, re-label them with titles and artists and such... it's good for one or two songs at a time, but for a big collection? Ick. With a digital cracking procedure, you can write an automatic tool that runs at well above standard playback speed and which you can walk away from (or leave running while you browse the Web...)

Re:Analog re-recording is tedious! (2, Interesting)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576858)

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

Does anyone use the "fair use" argument against DRM anymore?

Re:Analog re-recording is tedious! (1)

UserGoogol (623581) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577004)

It's not that it takes away fair use rights, it's that it restricts fair use rights. I mean, we say that governments "take away" free speech rights when they censor you, but in that case all they're really doing is simply making it more difficult to speak. (That is, you can speak as much as you want, as long as you can figure out how to not get arrested.) Similarly, with DRM, companies are making it more difficult to exploit your fair use rights. You can still do it, but it's a pain in the ass.

Re:Analog re-recording is tedious! (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577150)

The difference is that when the government censors speech, they are making that speech illegal. If they catch you performing that speech, you will be arrested. On the other hand, if you're "caught" re-recording a clip that really falls under fair use rights, you won't be arrested, as that is legal. (Sure, the RIAA could bribe a judge or whatever, but in that case, the problem is bribery, not DRM.) A technological limitation of the encoding is not an infrigment of your fair use rights.

Re:Analog re-recording is tedious! (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577460)

But under the DMCA you aren't allowed to break the encryption, or you will be arrested, as a criminal offense.

Re:Analog re-recording is tedious! (1)

dsginter (104154) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576894)

There is value to a fully digital cracking technique.

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

Once this happens, Apple's iPod market will collapse.

Re:Analog re-recording is tedious! (1)

eldepeche (854916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577058)

Yeah, because the only reason anyone buys an iPod is to play iTunes DRM music. That must be why nobody bought an iPod before the ITMS.

Re:Analog re-recording is tedious! (1)

dsginter (104154) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577270)

Don't get me wrong - people will still buy iPods. They just won't be selling DRM music anymore.

I'll probably break down and get an ipod or a zune later this year. Either way, it will never see any DRM music.

Re:Analog re-recording is tedious! (2, Insightful)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577200)

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

Exactly! I can't believe that a story containing crap like ``you can easily burn a series of songs to a CD, then select the songs on the CD and import them into MP3 format.'' actually got posted to the front page of Slashdot. Sure, editors miss things, but I'd expect the Slashdot editors to know the difference between automated and manual processes, and why one would prefer the former over the latter. Guess I overestimated them.

And I'm not even talking about all the other things that are wrong with this story.

iPod Cracked? (4, Insightful)

Meatloaf Surprise (1017210) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576604)

I read most of the article and it discusses breaking drm on music purchased on iTunes. Can someone explain what this has to do with cracking the iPod?

Re:iPod Cracked? (2, Funny)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576762)

Welcome to Slashdot, pioneer of the misleading headline.

Re:iPod Cracked? (0, Flamebait)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576972)

Well, if you're dumb enough to actually buy music, I imagine you'll have thrown the ipod across the room at some point when reading this article. Hence the crack.

Or use this tecnique, certified to work 100% (0, Redundant)

avasol (904335) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576622)

Burn an Audio-CD from within iTunes.
When the tray opens up, simply insert the CD again.
Rip using your favorite ripper.

Ok, this costs the cost of a CD. But think of it as making a backup and liberating yourself from DRM at the same time. A small price to pay for Freedom (Tm).

Re:Or use this tecnique, certified to work 100% (1)

psxman (925240) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576750)

Wow!
Not only did you not RTFA, you didn't even RTFS.

Re:Or use this tecnique, certified to work 100% (1)

CnlPepper (140772) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576758)

And lo, did God, in his infinite wisdom, bless the geek with the almighty power of the CD-RW.

Re:Or use this tecnique, certified to work 100% (1)

scalarscience (961494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576864)

It doesn't cost a cd if you burn to an image then mount the image & rip from that, and the overall process is a LOT faster than cdr/dvdr speeds. However something that people are failing to mention (or perhaps aren't concerned about) is that even digital -> digital copies here will be lossy. Not because of any flaw in the digital copyies, but because iTunes quality AAC is still already lossy, and converting to pcm audio or red book audio then to another 'lossy' format (mp3) gives you more loss. Now the amount of additional aliasing & 'ringing' etc. may not be audible to most people as an above post alludes to (used to 128k rips? Have those bad*ss 'multimedia surround sound' speakers you spent $45 on?) but that doesn't mean it doesn't occur.

Re:Three problems with that idea (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577176)

1. The process causes quite a loss in audio quality
2. You loose your file tags
3. Is quite time consuming when you have a hundred albums to do.

It seems a pointless reasoning. (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576660)

First of all the importance of the achievement of DVD jon depends entirely on how hard it was to break the DRM protection. Whatever insights he gained from succeeding might be useful to crack other things. Second the very same thing could be said when he cracked CSS. After all one could always have sampled the output with some video equipment (macrovision permitting but that is defeatable) and then resampled. Only, it's not practical. Even burning to rewritable and then ripping is less practical than batch removing DRM from your collection. So, what's the point of TFA? I won't read it :D

that was done with powerdvd 3 (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577050)

Dude

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

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

Re:It seems a pointless reasoning. (1)

RingDev (879105) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577282)

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

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

Can a business exist if it depends on intelectual property (the decode/encode procedure of Fair play) that results in the breaking of a security schema, user agreements(not sure on the iTunes agreement), and enables potential copy right infringements?

-Rick

Conversion damage to the material. (1)

Analein (1012793) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576666)

Convertiong from lossy to lossless and then again to lossy means a decrease in quality. May be ok for non-audiophiles, but it would certainly piss me off. Recording from the PC directly might be an option, but really not the thing I'd want.

I'm using amarok anyways, but I think many people will think of this as useful. And in the end: It's not the nerdiest solution that wins, it's the one requiring the least work with the compared best results. At least when it comes to non-geeky, private software use.

YOU INSENSITIVE7 CLOD! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16576706)

TO USE THE GNAA it simple, The party in street way. It used to be Come on baby...and halt. Even Emacs Needs OS. Now BSDI but ssufice it

Re:YOU INSENSITIVE7 CLOD! (1)

koreaman (835838) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577636)

I think it says a lot about Slashdot that the parent post is actually more coherent than the submission.

Why I think this IS significant news? (1)

rhartness (993048) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576708)

First off, I read the /. post but not the linked article. I just wanted to put it out there. I believe, however, that this is significant news because this provides a method of decoding that I would assume to be lossless. If you burn an iTunes file to a CD and then rip the CD, even at the highest quality settings, there is going to be a slight degradation in quality. Converting it is going to be a much better option for any serious audiofile.

Don't let them know about that! (1)

Monkeyman334 (205694) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576712)

In the future, companies (those that are both hardware and media comapnies) will stop selling regular speakers and only sell digital/encrypted speakers. It's already illegal to "mod" the speakers by soldering a connection directly to the speaker output. Maybe it's not feasable, but don't pretend like they didn't already think about this.

Re:Don't let them know about that! (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577070)

Luckily we don't live in Japan, where it's illegal to sell legacy hardware. Just keep a set of the good ones around, or buy them on ebay if they ever break.

Oh Bennett (5, Informative)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576724)

It's clear that Bennett didn't even bother READING the article that he's supposedly using to back up his claims. Nowhere in that article does it talk about DVD Jon (or his company) selling a tool to crack the iTunes encryption. However, what it does talk about is DVD Jon's company selling a tool that will allow other music retailers to encrypt songs that they sell in the format that is used by iTunes and the iPod.

Remember kids, Reading Is Fundamental!

Re:Oh Bennett (4, Informative)

tabdelgawad (590061) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577354)

I don't know about TFA, but here is the first paragraph from a similar story on the BBC website:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6083110.stm [bbc.co.uk]

[Begin Quote]

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

[End Quote]

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

Retarded! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16576756)

because a user can always play a song through an audio output jack and use another device to record the sound

Retard! I can also beg you to fuck me in the ass instead of having sex with you mommy.

Shouldn't make a difference in quality, eh?

Perhaps this explains ... (1)

Keyslapper (852034) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576768)

Why I can't find the DRM removal tools that were supposedly available recently?

Can't really charge for something that anyone can download free, eh? Still, I guess I can't blame him for wanting to cash in on his work.

I know, it's trivial to convert it with the burn/import method, and I'm not gonna whine about the cost of a CD blank, but isn't the iTunes quality poor enough without tanking it even more with this method?

Now I'm kicking myself for not grabbing those tools the minute they were released.

Re:Perhaps this explains ... (3, Informative)

rincebrain (776480) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577096)

http://rapidshare.de/files/33076083/QTFairUse6-2.4 .zip.html [rapidshare.de]

Sorry, that's the "official" link. It works, though.

Re:Perhaps this explains ... (1)

Keyslapper (852034) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577288)

Hmm. I couldn't understand the apologetic tone of your response until I went there. Still, like you said, it works.

Many thanks!

It's a good think because (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576776)

It's a good thing because it makes it a lot easier to break the DRM. The other methods of audio-out to audio-in and record, or burn to CD and rip are much slower ways, as well as the loss in quality. If you could keep the original M4A, without re-encoding then it's a lot better solution. It's kind of like moving from the point where we were using frame-grabbers, or video out, to copy DVDs, to the point where we can just rip the encryption out of the VOB, without losing any quality, and doing it at much higher speeds.

Re:It's a good think because (1)

CaptSolo (899152) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576952)

Absolutely. Agree with you for all 100%.

There are other ways, but "DVD Jon's" way is much more efficient.

Plus: he is getting rid of the DRM or manipulating with it while those other ways described in this article are actually giving in to Apple's DRM not fighting it.

No Reason to buy an iPod... (3, Insightful)

PPGMD (679725) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576796)

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

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

Re:No Reason to buy an iPod... (2, Insightful)

danpsmith (922127) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576982)

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

So if you aren't using the store, why bother to buy an iPod? If you are using non-protected files anyway, I find it much easier to just drag and drop the files like you would on a portable hard drive than to mess around with some application, and every other player on the market it seems supports linking their device to your computer as a USB-Mass Storage class unit. Why bother with the iPod? The addons? I mean, come on.

Re:No Reason to buy an iPod... (1)

eldepeche (854916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577212)

I find it much easier just to drag and drop the albums I want onto the iPod in the source list in iTunes. It's not any more difficult. It can update automatically as well, if your iPod has more space than your library takes up. Also, because it builds a library file for the iPod, the interface is better IMHO, since it can preserve playlists and is searchable by artist, album, song title or genre.

Re:No Reason to buy an iPod... (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577118)

It's iTunes -- iTNS. That funny man with the hat is an N. It goes "nuh".

Re:No Reason to buy an iPod... (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577206)

iTunes isnt that great, its only HOT feature is tagging tracks to be synced or not.

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

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

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

Open Source always supports older hardware better.

RokBox looks great, tho it is only missing native itunes.db access, which
looks trivial for the coders to do, so DO IT!!!!

iTunes is damn slow, even on fast computers, whats it written in , 68k code emulated via a basic decoder? Even a mozzila dhtml implmentation
would be faster.

This is silly ! (1)

CaptSolo (899152) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576814)

Suggesting using the 'analog' loophole is a silly argument for not worrying about DRM and not breaking it.

The same way you should not then worry that your HDTV allows to play video at full resultion at only some devices because you can always watch the same video in lower resolution. If you use the 'analog' loophole, there is a loss of quality and the issue of speed - to convert to MP3 a collection with 30 days worth of music will take 30 days of recording.

We could take the analogy a bit further and say that you should not worry if e-books and documents get locked against, say, printing them. You can always take a screenshot of the screen and put it together in the Photoshop, take a picture of the screen with a digital camera. Or just take a sheet of paper and put down all the text of the document on paper. That's the kind of thing you are talking about when suggesting recording analog audio signal.

Obligatory Commando quote (1)

William_Lee (834197) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576826)

Let off some steam, Bennett!

reson to buy an iPod? (2, Insightful)

DrBdan (987477) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576834)

Bottom line: there's no reason yet to get excited about the iTunes-cracking technology (and, indeed, no reason to buy an iPod), when you can already convert songs this way

Considering that the iPod is the top selling MP3 player right now it sounds more like he's missing the point than making great insights. He makes it sound like people only buy iPods for the specific purpose of playing music bought from the iTunes store. I'm sure there are plenty of people (myself included) that have never bought music online and bought the iPod for other reasons, be it usability, style, social status or whatever. The ability to play music bought from iTunes never even crossed my mind.

First thing I do (0, Redundant)

pete.com (741064) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576844)

1st thing I do after purchasing music from Apple is burn an audio CD (for archive) of the song(s) and rip them back into iTunes removing the DRM in the process.

Re:First thing I do (1)

eldepeche (854916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577262)

Me too, I love compression artifacts.

Bennett (3, Funny)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576882)

Who is this Bennett person and why do I get the feeling he'll be as popular as John Katz?

This is not about "cracking" the DRM per se (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576908)

It is about other media players being able to use ITMS content and about allowing other stores to release content that can be played on the iPod (and on other media players that can now play the ITMS content).

Fact is, if you want to operate a music store, you are going to need some kind of DRM. This module allows one particular kind of DRM (that happens to be used by the #1 online media store) to play on more media players players than it can currently be played on and to allow organizations other than Apple to release media protected with this DRM.

Say what? (1)

Cereal Box (4286) | more than 7 years ago | (#16576910)

Bottom line: there's no reason yet to get excited about the iTunes-cracking technology (and, indeed, no reason to buy an iPod), when you can already convert songs this way.


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

CD Burner Emulator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16576956)

Rather than effectively making a coaster each time I want to create an MP3, is there any software that can emulate a CD Burner and write an iso to disk, which I can then mount with Daemontools and rip from? This seems like a laughably trivial idea, but I haven't found any good solutions for windows that actually WORK.

Watermarks are evil (2, Insightful)

dupont54 (857462) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577064)

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

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

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

Sorry, but I do not want to take so much juridical risks for stupid songs. The scary thing is that iTunes or any other service could very well implement that in their "burn cd" features, and without telling you about it.

The Audacity of it all! (1)

Channard (693317) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577092)

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

My way to crack it (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577140)

This may be a bit didnt than what TFA says, but my way or moving songs from one place to another was (Show hidden files and folders) you would then get a list of music in a random order....just find what you want.

crack still matters (4, Interesting)

theStorminMormon (883615) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577166)

One common misconception I've come across on Slashdot a lot is that security is either open or shut. An algorithm is either secure or broken. This is not how security works, and a couple real-life examples demonstrate this. You lock the doors on your car, but someone can still just break the window to gain access. But this doesn't mean locking the doors is meaningless, it makes it harder (or more risky) for a thief to gain access to the contents of your vehicle.

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

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

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

-stormin

Not quite true, other methods lack quality or ease (1)

grgcombs (524535) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577234)

If DVD Jon can build a method of stripping the DRM from iTunes files that's easier than assorted python scripts and DOS command lines, or more universal than relying on a specific version of iTunes (Windows 6.0.4, or whatever), or more universal for other platforms (like for Macs, since just about every fricking Mac owner uses iTunes), then hell yes I'm excited about it. There's no mac solution, the solutions I know of know rely on specific knowledge about the structure of the DLL windows library (hens no mac, linux, etc), and it's a pain in the ass since there's no suitable UI for any songs from iTunes 6.x onward.

If he can build some commercial institution to create something like we're lacking, I'll pay, big time, to be able to play my iTunes songs on my other media players.

eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16577328)

Wait, so the guy who cracks DRMs for a living is offering a method for companies (other than Apple) to sell DRMed music to iPod users.
I bet he will crack it later!

iPod Cracked? Wrong... (1)

IAmTheDave (746256) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577404)

The iPod wasn't cracked, the stupid DRM encoded into the AAC files you purchase from iTunes has been reverse engineered to allow others to apply the same DRM technology to their files without Apple's permission.

How misleading. And no, this isn't a reason to go buy an iPod. A reason to buy an iPod is that you like how it looks, operates, etc. It's not like this suddenly opens the iPod to a whole WORLD of music it wasn't able to access before. Aside from OGG support which is hardly prevelant, the iPod supports most major music encoding formats right out of the box.

Not futile (1)

slavelayer (956212) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577412)

There is one way DRM can work. Force all customers to have decoders implanted into their brains. Then when that customer plays iPod it will play an encoded version of the song that only the customer can decoded.
Of course the music industry hasn't put out any music worth the trouble

I imagine that the early adopters of this approach would be the same people who put RFID's into their bodies/hands.

Too much loss (2, Interesting)

Extremist (4666) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577414)

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

To go from iTunes (lossy, I believe) to CD, then rip to MP3? Yuck. 2 stages of loss. Recording off the analog output is worse, as now there is the inherent loss of multiple AD/DA conversions on top of the double encoding to lossy formats.

Really, DRM just needs to die.

What the Comments Are Missing (1, Insightful)

tabdelgawad (590061) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577544)

DoubleTwist has the potential to 'decouple' iTunes from the iPod. Want to buy DRM tracks on iTunes then play them on your Sansa? No problem - DoubleTwist will license its software to SanDisk so you can do just that. Want to buy DRM tracks from Walmart that will play on your iPod? No problem - DoubleTwist will license its software to Walmart so it can offer tracks in Apple's DRM for sale.

This could be huge for consumers and a huge blow for Apple. I expect extended court fights!

Goodbye Slashdot. (1, Insightful)

clinko (232501) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577604)

Dear Slashdot,

I just wanted to say, I've loved reading you for the last few years. I'm sure I clicked on an ad or two to make up for it. I just can't stand the duplicates, unjust bias, and inability for the site to "grow up."

We're just not the same anymore. I don't have time for linux. have a job. I have money to buy a new pc when my old one breaks. I just don't agree with 90% of what you say anymore.

It's been great,
-Clinko

Doesn't really matter (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577608)

DRM is just to keep the dumb users from copying their music. If I want to copy an iTMS-encoded file, I do it digitally, on Mac's. Simple: Use jack (the open source music daemon) to relay data from your output to the input of any MP3 encoder (Lame for example). If you want to automate it you can use AppleScript to start/stop recordings, handle file naming etc.

wow, new low (4, Insightful)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#16577644)

Not only did both the submitter and the editor get wrong what the guy was actually planning on marketing, the whole thing was followed by an uninformed and irrelevant rant about watermarking. What's the problem, guys? Are mere dupes getting boring?
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