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Is Interoperable DRM Really Less Secure?

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the throwing-away-the-key dept.

Music 189

Crouch and hold writes "Are closed DRM schemes like FairPlay more secure than interoperable ones? Based on the number of cracks, it doesn't look like it. 'When it comes to DRM, what history actually teaches us is that one approach is no more secure than the other in practice, as they relate to the keeping of secrets. Windows Media DRM has had fewer security breaches than Apple's FairPlay, yet WM DRM is licensed out the wazoo: there are more than a dozen companies with WM DRM licenses.'"

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+5 informative (5, Funny)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944816)

Windows Media DRM has had fewer security breaches than Apple's FairPlay, yet WM DRM is licensed out the wazoo

I had no idea that the MS licensing department was actually an orifice.

Re:+5 informative (1)

slicenglide (735363) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944844)

plus the whole, "Windows Media DRM has FEWER security breaches... yet Windows Media is licensed out the wazoo."
Wouldn't it make sense if it had less security breaches that it be more licensed as being more trusted.
-I still hate DRM.

Re:+5 informative (3, Informative)

Mr2001 (90979) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944984)

It's not a question of licensees choosing WM DRM because they trust it more than FairPlay - Apple doesn't license FairPlay at all, so Windows Media is the only choice for a third party.

Re:+5 informative (3, Interesting)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945020)

True enough, but I've always looked at it as such:
Closed DRM == one set of eyes for the "good" guys (arguably the bad guys in this case but whatever) == pwned by the freedom fighters.
licensed DRM == several sets of eyes, eyes with different corporate mentalities, eyes with different outlooks, thus sorta like OSS == less breaches.

-nB

Re:+5 informative (2, Insightful)

Heembo (916647) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945302)

This is only true over time. When you first open and then license a new DRM, more eyes could mean more BREACHES...

Re:+5 informative (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945734)

Closed DRM == one set of eyes for the "good" guys (arguably the bad guys in this case but whatever) == pwned by the freedom fighters.
licensed DRM == several sets of eyes, eyes with different corporate mentalities, eyes with different outlooks, thus sorta like OSS == less breaches.


I don't think this works for DRM. DRM is a deeply flawed concept -- in the long run, it can't work. Sooner or later, there will be a breach that's irreparable. Many eyes can't prevent this because it's a fundamental problem with the concept.

Jobs' essay was correct, I think: when that breach occurs, it is much easier to deal with if all implementations are under your own control, than if you have to coordinate a response between all of your licensees.

Re:+5 informative (1)

Eriky (724600) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946524)

Why is DRM a flawed concept? Why can't it work in the long run? Why would any breach be irreparable? What is the fundamental problem with the concept? All important questions that you don't answer. Didn't Jobs just say it would be beter if the music companies would accept to sell their music without DRM. He never talked about fundamental flaws, breaches, or anything like that.

DRM for music might disappear because people will object to it, but DRM can be very useful for all kinds of applications think about the corporate world, about digital documents, protection of software applications, etc. Interoperable DRM will survive. People are already working on open standards for DRM and DRM interoperability, it's only a matter of time for these standards to become mainstream.

Re:+5 informative (4, Insightful)

DECS (891519) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945868)

FairPlay = 2 Billion songs, 10 million movies

MS PFS DRM = 100,000 songs sold?

MS Zune DRM = 250 songs sold?

Leave it to ArsTechnica to suggest that number of exploits or number of licensees somehow relates to the complexity of managing DRM across multiple vendors.

Microsoft is also better suited to handle multiple vendors, as it already licenses OEM Windows, WinCE and various other products. Apple has only ever tried to license the Mac OS and Newton, license FireWire, and franchise iPods though HP, and license ad campaigns like Made for iPod. Apple isn't set up to license FairPlay, nor is it within its core competency.

A riddle of warfare between Apple and Microsoft: Steve Jobs and the iTunes DRM Threat to Microsoft [roughlydrafted.com] presents DRM as a shot across the bow of Microsoft's flagship, but suggests that, beyond DRM, "Apple is targeting another Microsoft mainstay with a missile that may cause far more damage than the iPod and iTunes together." 2007 - Apple Strikes Back [roughlydrafted.com] chronicles the recovery of Apple over the last decade, and Apple's Open Source Assault [roughlydrafted.com] hints at how Apple will engage Microsoft. What is Apple up to?

Re:+5 informative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17946106)

MS Zune DRM = 250 songs sold?


Are you sure you aren't exaggerating here?

Would that many DRM'ed songs even fit onto Steve Ballmer's Zune?

Re:+5 informative (3, Insightful)

thedarknite (1031380) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944936)

and here was me thinking that their licensing was forced into orifices.

Re:+5 informative (1)

rampant mac (561036) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945056)

Wait until you see which orifice they come knocking on when they want more money.

I'm gonna make you squeal like a pig. Weeeeeeee!

Re:+5 informative (1)

Scoldog (875927) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945144)

I had no idea that the MS licensing department was actually an orifice
 
Windows Licensing Orifice? Wonder what they print the licenses on?

Re:+5 informative (1)

cadeon (977561) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945318)

Just look at what comes out of it!

Re:+5 informative (1)

mindwhip (894744) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945368)

nononono... MS use Fidonet to distribute license information....

WaZOO protocol
Warp-zillion Opus-to-Opus. Fidonet's session layer protocol. Although it mentions Opus (a specific BBS from the 1980s), WaZOO is the session protocol used for the Fidonet network. Because WaZOO is much more efficient than other mechanisms (e.g., FTP), it is sometimes used for automated or batch communications in other parts of the Internet. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/wazoo

fairplay vs. wm? (3, Insightful)

applegoddess (768530) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944828)

Doesn't mean anything when you consider the market share of Apple vs. all of the Microsoft-licensed stores combined. Clearly people will be cracking the more-popular DRM, and that happens to be Apple's FairPlay.

funny (4, Insightful)

ArbitraryConstant (763964) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944914)

Funny how Apple supporters dismiss this reason when it's applied to Windows security, but when it supports Job's reasons for keeping FairPlay closed it's accepted.

It could just be poor implementation (4, Insightful)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944952)

Funny how Apple supporters dismiss this reason when it's applied to Windows security, but when it supports Job's reasons for keeping FairPlay closed it's accepted.

You're right to point out the contradiction. However, another way of interpreting it is just that FairPlay is simply not as well-iplemented as Windows Media DRM. That would be an interpretation consistent with the view that Windows gets cracked not just because of its market dominance, but also because of its flaws in implementation. Maybe Apple simply isn't as good at DRM as Microsoft, which isn't necessarily such a bad thing.

Re:It could just be poor implementation (2, Insightful)

edschurr (999028) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945604)

People are probably simplifying it too much. That is, it's a compound of reasons. It would be difficult to posit the actually balance. However, the quality of the implementation is at least possible to evaluate.

Re:It could just be poor implementation (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17945772)

IMHO, it is not that FairPlay is not well implemented, but rather it wasn't designed to be an "industrial strength" DRM in the first place. Right after iTunes (Music) Store opened, we learned that Jobs argued that DRM would be cracked regardless and it only took one person to crack it to render DRM useless. The essense of that argument backed by load of cases of failed download business won Apple the least restrictive license at that time: iTunes songs were playable on 3 computers and unlimited number of iPods, can be burned in the same playlist 10 times before you need to re-do the playlist (it's 5 computers and 7 times now) and unlimited burns to Audio CD. The DRM is there to discourage casual illegal sharing. It was a different approach from Microsoft's which was designed to satisfy content owners' desire for an unbreakable DRM because Microsoft was more interested in selling licenses for the DRM.

That leads me to believe that Apple never tried to design a complex, industrial strength DRM to lock down content which might consume Apple's engineering and developer resources. They are not interested in spending lots of money in a hacking-patching war with hackers. Rather, it's designed to be light and easily (and cheaply) updateable.

Microsoft ? Good ? In the same sentece ? (1)

DrYak (748999) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945910)

Maybe Apple simply isn't as good at DRM as Microsoft,


You're implying that Microsoft is good and anything else appart leveraging a monopoly ?
In light of a long past of being able to suck in anything they managed to make ?
With a long history of making the most easily cracked OS and whose product are the most targeted on, even when Vista is still in Beta and has a lower market share than Linux, or when IIS couldn't ever dream about reaching Apache's widespread ?

You must be kidding.

Re:funny (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945268)

Funny how Apple supporters dismiss this reason when it's applied to Windows security, but when it supports Job's reasons for keeping FairPlay closed it's accepted.

You've seen nothing yet. They're prepping a Chewbacca defense post as well.

Stupid (1, Troll)

phoenixwade (997892) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945952)

That is only true if Apple supporters are doing so. Something I didn't read in TFA (or the comments for that matter). I'm an Apple supporter, yet I don't apply this reasoning to either the DRM or the OS comparison. I haven't seen a lot of Apple supporters, much less ALL of them, comment in any form on the closed nature of Fairplay, or even commenting on DRM much at all. It wouldn't surprise me in the least to find that most "Apple Supporters" have no idea what Fairplay is, even.

Your remark, as far as I can see, is not only unsupported, it's erroneous. Just the musings of a fanboi troll looking to start "Yet Another MS v Apple thread" as if there weren't enough of those around /. already to amuse anyone for years of reading.

Nah, can explain it OK (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17946146)

(not a Mac supporter).

This case is saying that Apple should be more hacked because it is more popular.

When it comes to Windows/Linux, Linux won't be more hacked if it is more popular.

Although many of the words are reused (if you ignore the OS names), the order is different and the meaning also quite different.

If MS apologists were to say "if windows were less popular, it would be less hacked" then that would be arguably right and also no inconsistent with this OP supposition.

But for some reason, they never say that.

Re:fairplay vs. wm? (2, Interesting)

PapayaSF (721268) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945046)

Doesn't mean anything when you consider the market share of Apple vs. all of the Microsoft-licensed stores combined. Clearly people will be cracking the more-popular DRM, and that happens to be Apple's FairPlay.

Indeed, and let's also note that a sample size of 2 is rather small to support the conclusion that licensing a DRM system doesn't make it less secure. From a purely statistical standpoint, isn't it obvious that the more people who know about a secret, the less likely it is to stay a secret? You can't license a DRM system without telling more people exactly how it works.

And to get conspiratorial for a moment, what if a competitor of Apple's decided to sabotage iTunes by releasing its secrets? That would be easier if there were licensees to target for espionage. Or what if the major labels set up an iTunes competitor, licensed FairPlay, then "accidentally" leaked the secret? They could then pull their music from iTunes, leaving themselves as the only legal source for the music.

I don't think those scenarios are likely, but I tend to believe Jobs when he says he doesn't want to take the extra risk.

Re:fairplay vs. wm? (2, Funny)

prockcore (543967) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945824)

I don't think those scenarios are likely, but I tend to believe Jobs when he says he doesn't want to take the extra risk.


I find it ironic that Apple refuses to license fairplay out of fears of piracy.

Re:fairplay vs. wm? (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945914)

I don't think those scenarios are likely, but I tend to believe Jobs when he says he doesn't want to take the extra risk.
I find it ironic that Apple refuses to license fairplay out of fears of piracy.

I know! They could wrap the FairPlay library in some kind of DRM system...hmmm...I call dibs on patenting on wrapping a DRM system with another DRM system!

Anyway, I hope Apple sticks with it and DOESN'T license FairPlay. I'd prefer that they move to getting the 'big' music vendors to stop using DRM...

Re:fairplay vs. wm? (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945890)

Indeed, and let's also note that a sample size of 2 is rather small to support the conclusion that licensing a DRM system doesn't make it less secure. From a purely statistical standpoint, isn't it obvious that the more people who know about a secret, the less likely it is to stay a secret? You can't license a DRM system without telling more people exactly how it works.

And to get conspiratorial for a moment, what if a competitor of Apple's decided to sabotage iTunes by releasing its secrets? That would be easier if there were licensees to target for espionage. Or what if the major labels set up an iTunes competitor, licensed FairPlay, then "accidentally" leaked the secret? They could then pull their music from iTunes, leaving themselves as the only legal source for the music.

I don't think those scenarios are likely, but I tend to believe Jobs when he says he doesn't want to take the extra risk.
Security by obscurity hasn't worked that well through out history. for instance germany didn't fair so hot in WWII with their enigma encryption. When releasing any type of encryption you must assume yoru enemies will be aware of the method and to ensure the method is hard to crack despite this. DVD encryption made the assuption they wouldn't and it was cracked easily. With this in mind if Jobs had wanted a strong DRM I think they would have done a better job. They only made "good enough" drm. The whole subject of no sub licencing it is basically hardware lock in. Their Ipods are too profitable.

Re:fairplay vs. wm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17945050)

No. FairPlay is always cracked for the same reasons Windows is always compromised. It's popular and was never really secure in the first place.

Re:fairplay vs. wm? (1)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945188)

Does that apply to viruses and Operating systems too?

Re:fairplay vs. wm? (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945700)

'' Does that apply to viruses and Operating systems too? ''

There is a huge difference. An operating system is supposed to be uncrackable. Many eyes looking for improvements will find cracks and fix them, many eyes looking for cracks will find cracks and exploit them. Openness both helps and hinders.

DRM systems are crackable. What keeps people from cracking them is that the cracks are kept secret. There is no point looking for improvements, because the locations of the cracks are known (to a few people). More eyes can only make the situation worse by blabbing out the secrets. Multiple implementations can only make the situation worse, because some people will hide the secrets less well than others. Unlike an operating system, where the cleverest people decide how secure the system is, the security of a DRM system is determined by the dumbest people involved.

Re:fairplay vs. wm? (4, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945260)

Doesn't mean anything when you consider the market share of Apple vs. all of the Microsoft-licensed stores combined. Clearly people will be cracking the more-popular DRM, and that happens to be Apple's FairPlay.

You know, I once started thinking a lot and realized nothing ever means anything. It's all just a bunch of people arguing over unprovable hypotheses in a one-up-man-ship style and eventually spinning whatever facts they have in their disposal to reach a goal determined in advance before any analysis was done.

Wow. I'm boring.

Re:fairplay vs. wm? (2, Funny)

dwater (72834) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945916)

Marvin, is that you?

Re:fairplay vs. wm? (1)

tooslickvan (1061814) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945384)

Clearly people will be cracking the more-popular DRM, and that happens to be Apple's FairPlay.

I doubt that's the reason. I believe FairPlay has been hacked more often simply because it hasn't been implemented well. Apple slapped together something simply to please the record companies. Ultimately, they want to sell iPods. The more music people have, the more likely they'll by iPods.

PlaysForSure hasn't been hacked nearly as often because Microsoft invests lots of time and money to make its DRM as unbreakable as possible. Why? Because Microsoft wants to sell you content. If everyone has a Zune and an Xbox then the content providers can sell you music, movies, and tv shows with Microsoft's DRM and Microsoft gets a cut of the action. Microsoft needs DRM to make money every time people listen to music or watch movies.

Re:fairplay vs. wm? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945640)

Interesting theory... the iPod does predate fairplay, and playsforsure predates the Zune... I remember the Windows (Me?) media player using drm wmv by default when ripping CDs. That was back in 2001 or so.

Re:fairplay vs. wm? (1)

Anonymous McCartneyf (1037584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946156)

Actually, MS never had its own store for the original Plays4sure. It just licensed the format to other people.
The price to license Plays4Sure to a WMA/MP3 player: $0.10 a player.
The price to make Plays4sure WMAs, for sale or rent: one Windows OS. Making Plays4Sure WMAs is built into 2003 Server, and Windows Media Player can make Plays4Sure WMAs as well.
MS's specialty is, of course, Windows OSes. Their MediaPlayer is almost as critical to, and central to, their OS as Explorer is. When Europe made MS sell a copy of Windows without its MediaPlayer, MS made that vs. virtually silent.
Here is the reason we don't hear of more Plays4Sure hacks; they get mixed in with, and patched with, all the other WindowsMediaPlayer-related hacks.

Re:fairplay vs. wm? (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945536)

Exactly. But that doesn't refute the claim that they're as (in)secure as each other.

Re:fairplay vs. wm? (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945762)

Doesn't mean anything when you consider the market share of Apple vs. all of the Microsoft-licensed stores combined. Clearly people will be cracking the more-popular DRM, and that happens to be Apple's FairPlay.

Why would people do that? The best target, surely, is the easiest one to crack (assuming price and availability are equal)? Because you don't have to crack for everyone, you just crack the content you want to release and then let everyone copy the released content.

Re:fairplay vs. wm? (2, Insightful)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945870)

'' Why would people do that? The best target, surely, is the easiest one to crack (assuming price and availability are equal)? Because you don't have to crack for everyone, you just crack the content you want to release and then let everyone copy the released content. ''

You will find that the Fairplay cracks were published with the goal of allowing customers who _paid_ for their music use that music without the disadvantages of DRM, and _not_ in order to allow them to make illegal copies. Since there are many more people owning iTMS songs with Fairplay DRM, there is much more reason to crack Fairplay to "liberate" that music.

Since 90 percent of the music is sold without DRM anyway, cracking DRM in order to copy the content is not very productive.

Hang on, you can't have it both ways... (4, Interesting)

spoco2 (322835) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944874)

Windows Media DRM has had fewer security breaches than Apple's FairPlay, yet WM DRM is licensed out the wazoo: there are more than a dozen companies with WM DRM licenses.
Hang on... so in this case, where it's a Microsoft product that's fairing better you apparently can being into play the 'well, it's not used on nearly as many devices as the Apple version' shtick. Yet when OSX fares better than Windows in virus threats you aren't allowed to use the exact same and just as legitimate argument that Windows is installed on VASTLY more machines than OSX, and as such is a MUCH greater target for compromise?

How does that work?

Re:Hang on, you can't have it both ways... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17944896)

"How does that work?"

badly!

Re:Hang on, you can't have it both ways... (2, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944906)

Not defending Apple's DRM, but give it a break. Apple/Linux have decent internet marketshare compared to Windows on the internet - where are the actual security breaches?

The summary states both PlaysForSure and Apple's DRM has breach, not just the one or the other.

Re:Hang on, you can't have it both ways... (1)

toadlife (301863) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945172)

"where are the actual security breaches?

All over the place. Rooted linux servers knock on the door of my router every day.

If you're talking about *desktop* machines only, neither Linux nor OS X have reached the critical mass (Probably ~10-15% install base) necessary for socially engineered malware to spread. Network based worms that exploit services would be possible, but both Linux and OS X come with no daemons listening by default.

Re:Hang on, you can't have it both ways... (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945732)

Not defending Apple's DRM, but give it a break. Apple/Linux have decent internet marketshare compared to Windows on the internet [...]

_Conservatively_, Windows would have 8x - 9x the "internet marketshare" of OS X or Linux.

Re:Hang on, you can't have it both ways... (1)

applegoddess (768530) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944918)

It doesn't, and it's a preposterous argument. Jon Johansen argues that in the context of Steve Jobs' little blurb about DRM, it's not a valid argument that popularity matters, but everywhere else it does matter, and it's plain stupidity when you consider anything not in the context of the number of users.

Re:Hang on, you can't have it both ways... (1)

mrcdeckard (810717) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945096)


I think what the parent was getting at is that yes, while windows has a larger market share for desktop OS, Apple iPod (and thus, fairplay) has a larger market share as far as DRM'ed media goes.

So yes, it would make sense from this logic that windows has more viruses, and fairplay has more cracks -- both based on market share.

mr c

Re:Hang on, you can't have it both ways... (-1, Redundant)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945190)

You must be new here.
This is Slashdot.
Either you are against the Evil Empire, or you are for it. Comprende?

Re:Hang on, you can't have it both ways... (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945802)

Hang on... so in this case, where it's a Microsoft product that's fairing better you apparently can being into play the 'well, it's not used on nearly as many devices as the Apple version' shtick

Hmmm...? Last figures I saw suggest fairplay only had 54% market share (it's on the register, sometime in '06, I think). That's hardly absolute dominance. OK, so it's 5 times as much as the nearest competitor, but those competitors ALL use WMA.

Insecurity vs policy (4, Insightful)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944900)

I'm not suggesting this is official Apple policy, but just because something has been cracked more times than any other doesn't actually imply much. If Apple deliberately set the bar low, then they fulfill their obligation and allow the counter-culture to flourish as much as the "official" party line. Hmmm, who would that benefit ?

I know some very smart engineers at Microsoft, and I know some very smart engineers at Apple. Devising a hard-to-break DRM system wouldn't be beyond any of them, and iTunes really doesn't go to too much effort. I'll let you draw your own conclusions :-)

Simon.

Re:Insecurity vs policy (5, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944990)

If Apple deliberately set the bar low, then they fulfill their obligation and allow the counter-culture to flourish as much as the "official" party line.

Bingo!

Apple is doing the minimum necessary in order to be allowed to sell content. Microsoft is trying to do the maximum possible in order to sell the security system to the content owners.

Their markets are entirely different, so their products are entirely different.

KFG

Re:Insecurity vs policy (1)

Ahnteis (746045) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945440)

Which means that Jobs' argument against licensing the DRM is bogus -- which is the whole point of the article. (Yes, I know we aren't supposed to actually read them. Sorry.)

Re:Insecurity vs policy (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945524)

Which means that Jobs' argument against licensing the DRM is bogus

Of course. It's good old fashioned Jobsian Reality Distortion Field; and always was. The author of the article has just proved that -- there is no Santa Claus.

A lot of us have to go through that phase; those that remain are refered to as "religious fanatics" or "Apple Fanbois."

But I repeat myself.

KFG

Red Herring (2, Informative)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944924)

Not licensing Fair Play has nothing to do with making it more secure. It has to do with being able to roll out fixes to counter security breaches in a timely manner.

More BS... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17944996)

Apple has actually been accused of being slow to fix exploits in Fairplay. And exploits currently exist for even the latest version of iTunes (see QTFairUse). Steve Jobs argument for not licensing Fairplay makes no sense on any level.

Re:More BS... (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945828)

Have you actually read his essay? It makes perfect sense, if you ask me. Perhaps they've found some holes tricky to fix, yes. But they still need to be able to respond quickly to a hole that the record companies demand they fix quickly (that this hasn't happened over previous holes doesn't mean it won't happen in future).

Anyway, QTFairUse isn't a DRM crack, it's a player crack. Player cracks are almost impossible to prevent (not that DRM cracks are much harder...) without OS support. I bet Apple release an iTunes version for Vista that it doesn't work with.

Fewer security breaches? (4, Insightful)

Incoherent07 (695470) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944948)

It only takes one. Last I checked the FairUse4WM hole still hasn't been fixed.

Re:Fewer security breaches? (2, Informative)

solitu (1045848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945076)

Time you checked again. It doesn't work anymore.

Re:Fewer security breaches? (1)

Don_dumb (927108) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945446)

Only if you update. I am not using WM11, I have no need.

Re:Fewer security breaches? (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945750)

Which is a classic example of Jobs' point -- there are plenty of vendors out there still selling WM10 (and WM9) content, so there's no necessity to update to the latest version of the DRM, despite the fact that a fix for the flaw has been released.

If you were using an iPod with FairPlay, however, you wouldn't have a lot of choice -- your only source of content would be iTMS, which would have forced you to upgrade by only offering content in the latest version.

Wait (1)

gorrepati (866378) | more than 7 years ago | (#17944976)

Isn't this why Windows is hacked more often, because it is more widely used? What did I say???? Screw it..

Does Apple.. (1)

tylerwylie (956331) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945040)

Apple seems to update their DRM as well though, whenever FairPlay was cracked, but this can also be attributed to the fact that there are a lot more ipods than wma players. There's more harm done in breaking FairPlay than Windows DRM hell.

Who has the best BAD IDEA? (4, Insightful)

IBitOBear (410965) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945048)

It's like that thing were people propose a truly horrific law because they know they will be "forced to settle" for a merely terrible law.

No Digital Restriction Management is good. NONE of it.

I am not anti-encryption.
I am not anti-artist.

But any scheme that involves someone "selling" or "giving" me something so provisionally that they can then just take it back is simply a BAD IDEA.

The next step down this road is the one where some Bad Actor gets to send people threatening letters and blackmail that is "unprintable", "read only once", "no screen shot", "read only for 1 minute", watermarked to prevent your camera from taking a picture of the screen. Leaving you, in turn, with no proof for a complaint and then leaving the police with no clues while they are pondering over your corpse.

Eh, so what, at least some music executive is *sure* to get to split the full 99-cents that he ripped off the consumer for, in the name of an artist who got a bill for overages in production.

Oh, wait... which kind of Illegal Prior Restraint (commonly misspelled DRM) was good again?

It is _NEVER_ helpful to repeat the artificially biased question as if it represents something worth answering.

The question, as stated, presumes facts not in evidence, namely that the DRM that is harder to break is in any possible way "Better".

What a silly question (3, Insightful)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945102)

Since there are no effective DRM schemes out it seems silly to evaluate which are 'more secure'. What do you do; count the ways available to bypass the DRM? There are easy cookie cutter utilities to crack them all.

Re:What a silly question (1)

dido (9125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945676)

Right on. The DRM problem on a general-purpose computer is, from a security standpoint, completely [schneier.com] impossible [schneier.com] . If I have absolute control over my entire computer, and this is still possible today because systems like TCPA haven't been forced down everyone's throats, then any attempt by anyone to restrict what bits I can and cannot copy is doomed to failure. And once I have done it, I can publish my break to the world if I so desire. These people might as well go on rolling a huge boulder up a hill, only to have its weight defeat them just as they are approaching the top. The task of DRM is equally futile. The only way that has a snowball's chance in hell of success would be to ban the general-purpose computer entirely (e.g. a TCPA-based media console), and it is doubtful that they will ever succeed in making such a thing happen, especially as the ban would have to be international in scope and there are some places (e.g. China) that don't care a whit about these matters.

Re:What a silly question (1)

donaldm (919619) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945680)

From the Article "I've left out all manner of obvious circumvention techniques such as burning to CD or recording an audio stream, since those are not true cracks". Well it may not be a true crack in the Authors eyes but it still effectively gets around any DRM because if you can see or hear something then that something can easily be copied to a distributable media that is effectively DRM free. This is very simple to do although it may be slightly inconvenient and you will most likely loose some quality depending on your recording equipment.

The only way DRM can work is if every consumer is forced to have a special DRM chip in their head and it would be interesting or horrifying to see if the consumer would accept this blindly or fight against it.

Re:What a silly question (3, Informative)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946442)

The only way DRM can work is if every consumer is forced to have a special DRM chip in their head and it would be interesting or horrifying to see if the consumer would accept this blindly or fight against it.
Under Thatcher, nobody would ever have stood for such a thing. There would have been rioting in the streets, people burning effigies, punk rock benefit gigs and all sorts. People who had the brain chips fitted would be on the receiving end of flying bricks crudely scratched with "SCAB". We'd be out marching with placards, chanting "Maggie Thatcher's GOT one, [name of major Brain Chip proponent] IS one". Decrepit coaches would be brought out of retirement to ferry Flying Pickets around, and enterprising kids would be hard at it poking holes in old oil drums to make braziers to flog to the striking workers.

Under Blair, there would just be a bit of polite tutting and moaning, followed by total passive acceptance. The Working Classes (who mostly think they aren't working class anymore just because [1] they have mobile phones and DVD players and [2] a whole new social class has grown up beneath Working) would even be saying things like "Well, it's probably a good thing. I mean, I've been looking for ages for a reason to cut down the amount of media I copy, or even give it up altogether; so I mean, this chip-in-the brain thing is a good idea really."

Talk about licking your arse and calling it chocolate .....

Security through obscurity never works, however... (1)

strider44 (650833) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945106)

DRM can only be secure through secrets and confusion so it's pretty necessary.

Re:Security through obscurity never works, however (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945154)

Or, ya know, hardware. Which can be made tamperproof by suicide mechanisms.

Re:Security through obscurity never works, however (1)

Tharkban (877186) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945326)

and won't be bought by me.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say enough people will object to autodestructing chips that hardware manufacturers will not produce them.

Re:Security through obscurity never works, however (1)

rdebath (884132) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945496)

No contest, hardware makers provide guarentees. An auto destruct process is likely to amplify a spin doctored FDIV bug into a flaming death Lithium battery bug. They're not stupid, they're in the business of making nearly bug free products so they don't get too many defective returns. Unlike certain software houses.

Re:Security through obscurity never works, however (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946090)

They suicide when you try to open them.. I didn't think I'd have to explain that.

Wrong question (1, Insightful)

j235 (734628) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945110)

What you should be asking is "Is any DRM really secure?" It doesn't matter how open the DRM scheme is, if there are holes, an enterprising cracker can find them.

Hang on, get your terms right (2, Informative)

Senjutsu (614542) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945114)

The interoperability that Jobs said was less secure, the interoperability that Norway wants, isn't offered by Microsoft's WMV either. Norway is demanding that Apple allow fairplay encrypted files to be converted into files DRM'd under Microsoft's PlaysForSure(OrNot) DRM model or anyone else's, not that they start licensing FairPlay.

Because WMV sucks (3, Insightful)

kerouacsgp (516242) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945140)

"Windows Media DRM has had fewer security breaches than Apple's FairPlay, yet WM DRM is licensed out the wazoo: there are more than a dozen companies with WM DRM licenses"

Hmmmm.... could it because no one really cares about downloading wmv files? The point is that if the product sucks, no one will bother even to break into it.

Security through Obscurity (5, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945156)

Does Swiss Cheese have more holes when its package is opened or when it is closed?

Re:Security through Obscurity (1)

Mike1024 (184871) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945684)

Does Swiss Cheese have more holes when its package is opened or when it is closed?

Well, some obvious examples of licensed DRM schemes being cracked are DVD, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD.

It is my understanding that all three were cracked due to poorly implemented software players; for example DeCSS used code reverse-engineered from Xing, and HD-DVD was cracked by trying the entire contents of memory as the volume key, until the volume key was found.

Seems to me 'crap coding in third party players' has caused several DRM schemes to fail. It seems reasonable to want to avoid suffering the same fate.

One obvious argument here is "but what about hardware players? Surely they're secure, just like hardware DVD players are". It's true that you can't read the code off the DVD player under your TV, but Apple likes their iPods to be software-upgradable. This is useful if the DRM scheme changes, as has happened in the past. But I know of at least one embedded system that had its software become public after a firmware upgrade was sniffed as it was performed. Granted, you could encrypt firmware updates, but you would still be vulnerable to the 'crap coding by third parties' problem others have experienced.

In summary, keeping FairPlay closed helps protect apple against bugs in third party implementations.

[conspiracy theory]And Microsoft, Apple's main competitor in the DRMed MP3s arena, would have a clear economic incentive to create crap, easily cracked implementations in order to fuck with Apple, unlike Apple, who have an economic incentive to create hard-to-crack implementations.[/conspiracy theory]

Just my $0.02,

Michael

Does it really matter? (2, Interesting)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945186)

DRM is in of itself not secure because it will get cracked wide open each and every time
somebody comes up with a scheme. Take the digital broadcast / subscriber card hacker arms
race. They are already light years ahead of whatever Apple or Microsoft are cranking out
and they will be well prepared if "trusted computing hardware" comes out.

These people have phisticated lab equipment and are capable of cutting the chips wide open,
manipulating chip fuses, patching rom masks etc. They will extract Disney's latest singing
and dancing monkey mascot together with the accompanying mermaid from any and all DRM scheme.

To Be Fair... (1)

Hobbex (41473) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945212)


What Jobs seemed to be claiming wasn't that having fewer implementations would make it harder to crack (he admitted that it can always be cracked), but rather that it made it easier and faster to release new versions when the old ones had been cracked.

Re:To Be Fair... (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945298)

...and, from his article, this is important because if Apple does not fix such problems in a "few weeks time", the record companies can pull their content.

So, if the record companies feel Apple should license FairPlay, they should be willing to adjust this timetable.

Jobs' statements seem contradictory (1, Interesting)

nobodyman (90587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945228)

Jobs' statements seem to boil down to this:
"We want music without DRM. But we can't license FairPlay, 'cus hackers would... remove the DRM. The DRM we claim we dont really want. Yeah."
Yeah I'm being trite, but I still find think it's a contridiction to campaign for DRM-free music while claiming that you're worried about your DRM being compromised.

My hunch is that Fairplay is less about iPod lock-in and more like Zune lock-out. iTunes is your classic loss-leader* as it really only exists to add value to the iPod, which they make a tidy profit on. That being the case, there's no upside for Apple to sell at-cost music for devices they don't sell. The model would have to change, and I suspect that 99-cent downloads would become a thing of the past.

*Yes yes... i know that $0.99 downloads are more profitable than CD sales, but that's only for the MAFIAA. Apple only makes a few pennies off of that $0.99

You missed a bit (5, Insightful)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945292)

Quite an important bit, actually.

Apple had to sign over the right for the record-labels to pull their entire catalogue from the iTunes store, if a breach happens and Apple don't fix it in a timely manner.

Jobs doesn't care about DRM, but (because he's sane) he doesn't want to lose the iTunes store either - here's his nightmare scenario:

  • Apple licence fairplay to all who'll pay the fee
  • Some no-mark MP3-player company pays the fee, gains the licence, but screws up and somehow the encryption codes are made public - a bit like the first crack of DVD's was because some no-mark company screwed up their encryption key
  • Apple release a fix
  • No-mark company doesn't release the fix for *their* client-base, maybe there's no firmware update...
  • Apple lose all their iTunes songs from the "big 4".


Now Apple can try and pin liability on No-mark company, but at the end of the day, the iTunes store contract is between Apple and [insert record label], and if fairplay is compromised, [record-label] are fully entitled to pull their catalogue...

See it now ?

Simon

Re:You missed a bit (2, Interesting)

Budenny (888916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945358)

See it now?

Not really. First, they would be careful who they licensed in such a case - bonds posted and so on.

Second, if you imagine the size of this in the real world, the record companies might have the right to withdraw the catalogue, but that would increasingly seem self defeating. All that would happen is, Apple would have to fix it going forward. Maybe by withdrawing the license? Maybe by firmware updates for everyone else. Don't start arguing there are no technical solutions, there will be.

Whatever the spin, there can be no serious doubt that the point of Fairplay as implemented is to lock in users to a combination of Apple software, the Apple music store and the Apple players. This is why sooner or later it will crash. The longer it goes, the worse the crash will be.

Re:You missed a bit (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946408)

Not really. First, they would be careful who they licensed in such a case - bonds posted and so on.

If they were too careful, they would probably be targets of anti-trust litigation. Apple has already been targeted by European countries over their DRM. What if some country threatened legal action if they didn't license their DRM to everybody, or if they were deemed to charge too high a price for it?

Why should it even be Apple's business to get into some licensing mess if they don't want to? Your comment shows just how problematic licensing can be. Why waste time with all that crap, when you could focus on making a better product instead?

Don't start arguing there are no technical solutions, there will be.

That's an assertion with no basis in evidence. Particularly as piracy and licensing are social/political and business issues. Not every social/political or business issue has a technical solution, as much as geeks wish there were.

Whatever the spin, there can be no serious doubt that the point of Fairplay as implemented is to lock in users to a combination of Apple software, the Apple music store and the Apple players

Why can there be no doubt about this? From day one, jobs has been opposed to DRM. If the record labels didn't demand it, it wouldn't exist in iTunes. What is your evidence that Apple wanted DRM in the first place? I doubt that Apple ever expected to have an industry-leading role in this. The success of the iPod surprised everybody, including Apple and their fans.

Re:Jobs' statements seem contradictory (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945842)

Jobs' statements seem to boil down to this:

        "We want music without DRM. But we can't license FairPlay, 'cus hackers would... remove the DRM. The DRM we claim we dont really want. Yeah."


Did you actually read what he said? What he said was more like, "if we license FairPlay, when hackers work out how to strip the DRM we won't be able to release a new version to stop them quickly enough, and the record companies will shut down iTMS."

Re:Jobs' statements seem contradictory (1)

prockcore (543967) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945984)

Did you actually read what he said? What he said was more like, "if we license FairPlay, when hackers work out how to strip the DRM we won't be able to release a new version to stop them quickly enough, and the record companies will shut down iTMS."


It wouldn't shut down, the major labels would pull their music and iTMS would have the same music that eMusic currently has.

If Jobs hates DRM so much, and if iTMS really does "just barely break even" as mac users like to claim, then why not just drop the major labels and go with eMusic's indie-only model?

I don't see the motivation of keeping the major label's music on the store.

Re:Jobs' statements seem contradictory (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946124)

If Jobs hates DRM so much, and if iTMS really does "just barely break even" as mac users like to claim, then why not just drop the major labels and go with eMusic's indie-only model?

Because they'd lose the market share that less them sell 5 times as many downloads as their nearest competitor, and drives the sale of iPods, which is where they make their real profit. Besides, they made $452 million in the last quarter due to iTMS. iPod sales (of which they'd lose about half if they stopped selling popular music through iTMS, I reckon) made them $1,559 million.

How about neither? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17945254)

I believe I read Apple didn't support DRM in the first place. Didn't Our Lord Steve say that he would be fine with no DRM at all?

Digital Data = Copyable (2, Insightful)

domukun367 (681095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945258)

It seems to me, when looking at the big picture, that digital data is being distributed to customers. Digital data is exactly copyable, due to its nature.

Now this digital data is encrypted, however if it can be decrypted (i.e. played!) then the encryption can be broken. It might prove to be difficult, but it will be broken.

There are two possible ways that the big content distributors can go:

(1) Get rid of DRM and change your marketing and pricing model so that it is convenient and cheap enough for most consumers to just by the media through the channels that they provide.

(2) Remove digital data distribution and instead distribute media in the form of a sealed, enclosed device (with speakers, no other outputs) that only plays the media that you have purchased.

Option (1) is the logical conclusion to most people and the neolithic companies will eventually (maybe in 10 years?) realise this and go with it. Option (2) is just not feasible, due to cost, space and sound quality issues.

Does licensng DRM lead to success? (4, Insightful)

mveloso (325617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945434)

Again, this question isn't the right question. DRM is not interoperable. Using the word "interoperable" is deliberately confusing, because DRM by definition isn't interoperable. It's a method of restriction, not an operatable thing per se.

The operative word is "third party licensed."

Audible.com is licensed to multiple vendors. How have those vendors done? Besides the iPod, Audible.com's DRM is licensed to a number of other players. Has it been a major factor in anyone's purchase? Possibly, if they want to listen to audible.com content.

WMA/Plays for Sure is licensed to multiple vendors. How have those vendors done? The market has spoken.

Zune WMA isn't licensed. The market is in the process of working out how the Zune is doing, but the prognosis isn't good.

FairPlay isn't licensed. The iPod is doing great.

The iPod is reallly a good example of what's called a "Network Effect Monopoly." People buy iPods because it has the most accessories. The iPod has the most accessories because people buy iPods. Etc etc etc. eBay is the same: people sell on eBay because the buyers are there. The buyers are there because everyone sells on eBay. Ad infinitum.

Will licensing FairPlay change this? No. If Apple licenses FairPlay to hardware makers, it'll make the iTMS even more dominant. If Apple licenses FairPlay to other stores, it'll make the iPod even more dominant in hardware. If it licenses FairPlay to everyone, then Apple will sit on the dominant DRM system, period.

As I said before, there isn't one thing that makes the iPod successful. But of those things, DRM is definitely not one of them.

iPod is doing great, but Itunes not (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17945648)

They've sold what 100 million or more iPods, and 2 billion iTunes.
So 20 tracks, or 2 albums per iPod, sold to people who are into music (because they bought an iPod!)

So for all the hype iTunes isn't a success, it's only looks successful because the other DRM heavy stores flopped so badly.

So I fully agree with your last comment. That DRM wasn't the reason iPod succeeded. I think iTunes isn't the reason it succeeded either, if it was they'd have sold much more music than 2 CDs worth, it's the cool small neat stylish iPod itself that succeeded.

Number of cracks indicates popularity (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945556)

At least, first and foremost, it indicates popularity. There might be a secondary impact based on strength, but how you'd determine how big that is is a mystery to me. The large factor will drown out the smaller ones.

No user base for WMA cracks (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945672)

Why would DVD Jon or anyone want to develop a crack that only benefits a minority of users and applies to audio format that is non-standard even after decryption. iTunes is the most popular download service and Apple has geek appeal. Its no surprise that there are more cracks.

Re:No user base for WMA cracks (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945858)

Why would DVD Jon or anyone want to develop a crack that only benefits a minority of users and applies to audio format that is non-standard even after decryption.

Because:

(a) hardware players that support WMA are cheaper than those that support AAC. If all you care about is yourself, and you don't have an iPod, why would you pick FairPlay?
(b) if you want to release stuff, rather than just crack it for your own use, why does it matter what format it comes from... you'll want to transcode to MP3 (which is the only format supported on every player) anyway. At this point, you'll just crack whichever scheme is the easiest to crack.

Neither are secure. (1)

Jessta (666101) | more than 7 years ago | (#17945864)

Closed DRM schemes like FairPlay are not more secure than interoperable ones. Generally because both aren't secure.
They both attempt to accomplish something that is impossible.

Security requires communication between two or more trusted parties, if any of the parties are not secure then the communication isn't secure. With all DRM schemes there is only one trusted party, the content producer. The other party being the consumer who can't be trusted.
Without 'Trusted Computing'(trusted by the content producer not the consumer) DRM is impossible.

It is all about control (1)

NoPhD (963152) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946258)

The issue is not whether you can license it or not. The issue is whether letting other license it makes it harder to update it. If you only have one group of devices to update it is easier to maintain control....That sounds like lock in. Isn't that what we are all are talking about. You miss the point totally if you think that breaking the DRM is the point. The point is not if you can break the DRM. DRM will be broken. The point is how fast you can fix it. Revolving secrets in DRM was acceptable to the record companies. The secret revolves after you fix it from being broken. You can fix it faster if you don't have it licensed all over the place. Go to apple and read the post from Jobs. He has got it right.

No, no no!... (2, Informative)

karot (26201) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946350)

...Don't encourage them by implying that DRM can be licensed and is a legitimate option.

DRM is bad bad bad, and is broken whether licensed or not. Don't use it, that's the answer :)

uh.. DRM is EVER secure? (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946428)

You can't get less than "no security"..

a question (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946460)

from TFA:

'When it comes to DRM, what history actually teaches us is that one approach is nomore secure than the other in practice, as they relate to the keeping of secrets.


I'm confused, isn't DRM about protecting a copyright instead of "the keeping of secrets"? What is TFA trying to say here?

DRM is 'logically' infeasible. (2, Insightful)

hAckz0r (989977) | more than 7 years ago | (#17946462)

To achieve this concept of the mystical DRM you need three things: 1) Encrypted playable data, 2) the magic key, 3) the algorithm for applying that key to the data and sending it to the computers hardware. The problem is that you have to give the user all three components in order for them to play the music or watch the movie, otherwise its unusable. The producer of the DRM has but one goal, to keep the owner from knowing or accessing one or more of these components while still being able to put the three together when and how needed.

Whats wrong with this picture? Logically, if you can put them together in order to play the media you can 'read' the unencrypted data, and if you can read it you can copy it. The "magic" in DRM is simply the "how" that they keep you from knowing how to put them all together. Its nothing but a secret designed to prevent you from accessing your own computers data while playing the media. Everything else is nothing but hype with smoke and mirrors. The only people that truly benefit from the distribution of DRM are the ones designing, producing, and selling it the DRM itself, not the media that it encodes. The Media boardroom executives at the major studios are just not smart enough to realize the hype that they are being fed by these DRM designer companies. Bottom line, you can't make a DRM that is unbreakable so it prevents nothing so far as the goal that it is being sold for. Its a sham and it needs to be recognized for what it is.

To the professional black-market vendors all the DRM smoke-and-mirrors is merely a speed bump because they just physically copy the whole disk/file bit by bit and bypass the need to even decode the data, it's the user needs to do that and their player will happily do that for them. Making the much sought after DRM-free Internet down loadable version of the file is a little harder, but then you only need one pissed-off geek to put it out there and the game is over. Just one. Thats something that the all the Board Room Exec's should all think about. How much has the price of what they produce gone up due to the DRM they have uselessly added to their product? How many fewer people have purchased their product due to the DRM making it more expensive and in many cases completely unusable? If there is one thing I know is that the bottom line in their check book is what matters, and they are being duped by the technology vendors just like the snake oil salesmen of years ago.

Less Secure Because it's not Licensed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17946504)

Windows Media DRM has had fewer security breaches than Apple's FairPlay, yet WM DRM is licensed out the wazoo: there are more than a dozen companies with WM DRM licenses


Could it be possibly that FairPlay gets cracked more simply because it isn't licensed? It would seem to make sense to me that more people are interested in cracking it than an interoperable scheme simply because people would want to use their legally purchased songs on say their iriver/zen/nomad/[insert favorite interoperable media player here]. I know my interest in removing the FairPlay DRM has nothing to do with piracy or anything but the fact that i bought a song off of iTunes and just want to be able to use it in linux and/or on my iriver clix.
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