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The DRM Scorecard

samzenpus posted about 7 years ago | from the guess-who's-ahead dept.

Security 543

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

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Geeks do- everyone else doesn't. (5, Insightful)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | about 7 years ago | (#20079725)

Just because the ability exists to crack it, doesn't mean that the average Joe on the street can do so.

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

Re:Geeks do- everyone else doesn't. (4, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | about 7 years ago | (#20079745)

Music execs are.

Re:Geeks do- everyone else doesn't. (5, Insightful)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | about 7 years ago | (#20079761)

Never assume stupidity for what can be explained as malice.

To do otherwise is naive at best.

Re:Geeks do- everyone else doesn't. (5, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | about 7 years ago | (#20079797)

No, they really are dumb.

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

"That's right!"

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

Re:Geeks do- everyone else doesn't. (4, Insightful)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | about 7 years ago | (#20079917)

That's a naive view. Even if they believed that the first time, (which anyone with a little common sense would not have), it's even less likely they believed it the second, or the third, or the fourth time.

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

Re:Geeks do- everyone else doesn't. (5, Insightful)

shark72 (702619) | about 7 years ago | (#20080183)

That's an interesting viewpoint.

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

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

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

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

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

Re:Geeks do- everyone else doesn't. (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | about 7 years ago | (#20080255)

I'm a reverse engineering guy. I can and have cracked programs. Do I still do this? No. Because there are people out there who have a whole lot more fun doing it than I would.. so I just use their stuff. Same with DVD copying. You don't have to be "skilled" to use DVD Shrink.. in fact, it's trivial, and millions of people do.

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

Re:Geeks do- everyone else doesn't. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20079775)

"Just because the ability exists to crack it, doesn't mean that the average Joe on the street can do so."

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

Where do these newbies come from on here? Sheeez.

Re:Geeks do- everyone else doesn't. (4, Insightful)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | about 7 years ago | (#20079933)

I realize that. That was not the point.

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

Is this approach effective? To some degree, yes, it is. Will it ever be 100% effective? No, it will not.

Re:Geeks do- everyone else doesn't. (4, Interesting)

imtheguru (625011) | about 7 years ago | (#20080187)

Mod parent up.

This is indeed the root of any high-distribution system and is applicable to several domains--piracy, drugs, airborne diseases. It only takes one copy on a viable transmission medium to start the ball rolling.

Re:Geeks do- everyone else doesn't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20079823)

ou don't know how wrong you are. My 40 something father-n-law uses DVD-X-Copy to rip DVD's to backup media so the grandkids don't kill the originals, my 8 year old niece uses some program to rip DVD's to her iPod, etc. These days almost everyone who can use a computer is able to break the stupid freaking DRM and use the content as they see fit, and generally fitting with fair use rights.

Re:Geeks do- everyone else doesn't. (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | about 7 years ago | (#20079895)

You're talking about CSS, which was introduced in 1996. While, yes, CSS is compromised and there are tons of pieces of software out there that take advantage of this, this is not really true in general. It happens to be true for DVDs, as they are so widespread, but the software for cracking other DRM generally has nowhere near the same popularity.

Even so, I think you're vastly overrating the prevelance of this software. My mother in law also browses torrent sites and has tons of DVD rips on her PC- but she's a software deployment manager.

Generally, people do not know how to use it, and generally they don't.

DRM is hardly 'strong', but it was never meant to be; it is, after all, essentially impossible, and all the designers have long realized this.

Re:Geeks do- everyone else doesn't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20079965)


The time it takes for these cracks to make to the average college kids dorm room in an easy to use package decreases year after year. Your logic that only elites are ripping is 5 or 6 years old.

And lets not forget organized crime :-)

Re:Geeks do- everyone else doesn't. (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | about 7 years ago | (#20079979)

Oh, certainly, I don't doubt that. I never argued that DRM is now or ever would be 100% effective. But it is doing what it is designed to do- making casual duplication and copying of new media unpalatable and generally difficult for the masses of people.

Organized crime is a whole other ball game- they tend not to be dissuaded by the MPAA/RIAA's habit of suing people, for example.

Re:Geeks do- everyone else doesn't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20079889)

Can someone tell me how Atlantis-Rising's comments rate "insightful"? His comments are those of an ignoramus! "Just because the ability exists to crack it, doesn't mean that the average Joe on the street can do so." Please, people crack, copy, and distribute. Joe and Jane Average don't have to lift a finger beyond clicking their mouse!

Give someone a browswer and they think they know something.

Re:Geeks do- everyone else doesn't. (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | about 7 years ago | (#20080009)

This response does not appear to have gone through, so I'll give it to you again- look at my cousin posts. The point is not that downloadable media is not available. The point is that decentralized personal copying is untraceable and essentially untargetable. They way they deal with that is via lawsuit. DRM is just to make personal copying difficult and unpalatable.

As I said there:

I realize that. That was not the point.

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

Is this approach effective? To some degree, yes, it is. Will it ever be 100% effective? No, it will not.

It's a rational, well-thought out tactical plan. Is it going to work? I personally think it's about even money as to whether they will eventually slap down media copying or whether they'll be overrun and give up.

Re:Geeks do- everyone else doesn't (1)

Coopjust (872796) | about 7 years ago | (#20079897)

Exactly. I doubt anyone other than geeks know that there isn't a foolproof DRM method. However, upper management in these companies aren't geeks, and it doesn't help that the people who make the system market it as foolproof.

Even if the music/movie companies (or any other company) acknowledges internally that DRM isn't perfect, it still stops a large majority of customers from cracking it. Better yet (for the companies), consumers rebuy content when it isn't compatible with their new phones.

All bank vaults and locks have also been cracked (3, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | about 7 years ago | (#20079931)

There is no uncrackable security technology. This does not make them worthless.

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

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

Re:All bank vaults and locks have also been cracke (5, Funny)

langelgjm (860756) | about 7 years ago | (#20080039)

Oh that music on my MP2 player.

Was someone a little strapped for cash?

Re:All bank vaults and locks have also been cracke (4, Insightful)

danpat (119101) | about 7 years ago | (#20080045)

Unfortunately, the analogy doesn't quite hold. Breaking into bank vaults is more like performing a brute force attack on a DRM scheme, every time you wanted to break it. DRM schemes don't work like that. Typically once a scheme is compromised, it becomes possible for anyone subject to it to break it almost instantly. All it takes is for someone to write a quick tool that automates the cracking process and all the barriers presented by the DRM scheme pretty much fall away.

I'd say that DRM schemes are like having one giant bank vault. Yes, it will eventually get compromised, and once it is, everything inside is trivial to take.

This is called "the Smart Cow problem" (5, Informative)

Spy der Mann (805235) | about 7 years ago | (#20080225)

From Wikipedia [] :

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

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

      1. ^,60901-0.html [] Buck a Song, or Buccaneer? , retrieved 2007-02-13
      2. ^,1412,67556,00 .html [] Give Your DVD Player the Finger, retrieved 2007-02-13

Re:Geeks do- everyone else doesn't. (4, Interesting)

mark-t (151149) | about 7 years ago | (#20079937)

And the irony of all this is that the industry isn't even hurt by typical casual copying, which is often be done for the private use of the copier anyways.

Re:Geeks do- everyone else doesn't. (2, Informative)

Original Replica (908688) | about 7 years ago | (#20079943)

The Average Joe doesn't need to be able to crack it himself. He just needs to get ahold of a cracked copy. Which he can.

Re:Geeks do- everyone else doesn't. (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | about 7 years ago | (#20079961)

Which is being dealt with via other methods- the mass deployment of lawsuits against torrent users in an attempt to make it generally unpalatable to illegally download content.

Re:Geeks do- everyone else doesn't. (4, Interesting)

langelgjm (860756) | about 7 years ago | (#20079995)

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

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

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

Re:Geeks do- everyone else doesn't. (2, Informative)

ucblockhead (63650) | about 7 years ago | (#20080275)

The Average Joe doesn't need to crack it. The Average Joe just uses the torrent that The Knowledgeable Joe uploaded after running the ripper he downloaded from a site run by The DRM-Cracking Expert Joe.

The only thing not cracked yet... (4, Insightful)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | about 7 years ago | (#20079733)

Frivolous lawsuits. Until the RIAA finally realizes that its lawsuit tactic isn't working it's the only attempt at DRM that hasn't been made completely useless yet. Unfortunately I don't see that happening unless/until they lose bigtime in multiple court cases.

You mother fuckers are pissing me off (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20079735)

I have this massive pile of digital rights that I really need to manage. Yet every fucking piece of management software I download has been hacked. There's not even any patches for this shit. How the fuck am I, as a concerned citizen, supposed to manage my rights?

Re:You mother fuckers are pissing me off (3, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | about 7 years ago | (#20079863)

you're trolling, but with a valid point. The bottom line is that the idea itself is fundamentally flawed. You cannot give the public limited access to information that requires their full access (however carefully managed you make it) without making it vulnerable to defeat. The only true three purposes at this point are (1) to make casual infringement difficult enough to be inconvenient, (2) to prevent use of IP in a way that you really don't feel like letting them use it, and (3) to give them a legal defense. (if you fail to defend your IP you tend to lose it in court)

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

DirecTV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20079763)

I don't think DirecTV's DRM has been cracked since they replaced it a few years ago.

Re:DirecTV (3, Interesting)

Dun Malg (230075) | about 7 years ago | (#20080135)

I don't think DirecTV's DRM has been cracked since they replaced it a few years ago.
DirecTV encryption isn't classical "DRM". It's a live, encrypted delivery system rather than a chunk of data in a fixed medium, which makes it a moving target. It would be quite possible (though not exactly trivial) to record a given segment of the data stream and hack the particular key used to encrypt it, thus "breaking the DRM" on that particular block of content. This could not be done in a timely enough manner (i.e. in real time) to make it worthwhile, though, which is why no one does it.

The only thing really not broken... yet (4, Funny)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | about 7 years ago | (#20079783)

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

Re:The only thing really not broken... yet (2, Funny)

infonography (566403) | about 7 years ago | (#20080059)

I used a Yellowray on the disk and got greenlit. Copy away!

hmmmm (1)

User 956 (568564) | about 7 years ago | (#20079787)

Can anyone think of a DRM technology which hasn't been cracked, and of course this begs the obvious question:

Which of course, is that it's obvious that DRM is flawed because it is constantly cracked.

The best DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20079791)

The best DRM is rot13.

No one has ever cracked that yet in nearly 25 years.

Once the RIAA finds out about that one, we're all doomed.

Re:The best DRM (2, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | about 7 years ago | (#20079825)

The best DRM is rot13. No one has ever cracked that yet in nearly 25 years.

In the eyes of the DMCA, the best DRM is ROT26.

Re:The best DRM (2, Funny)

martin_henry (1032656) | about 7 years ago | (#20079899)

no crack. []

HDMI (1)

DavidYaw (447706) | about 7 years ago | (#20079799)

I don't use HDMI, so I may be wrong on some of the details, but doesn't HDMI have some sort of copy protection/encryption? Has that been cracked?

Re:HDMI (1)

sssssss27 (1117705) | about 7 years ago | (#20079879)

A proof of concept for getting around HDCP has already been published.

Re:HDMI (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | about 7 years ago | (#20080129)

A proof of concept for getting around HDCP has already been published.

Yeah, but the author didn't understand the combinatorics involved. He implied you only needed 400 queries to decipher the HDCP, when it is still orders of magnitude more. I think around 2,432,902,008,176,640,000 attempts.

Re:HDMI (5, Informative)

sssssss27 (1117705) | about 7 years ago | (#20080205)

From Wikipedia:
"Cryptanalysis researchers demonstrated fatal flaws in HDCP for the first time in 2001, prior to its adoption in any commercial product. Scott Crosby of Carnegie Mellon University authored a paper with Ian Goldberg, Robert Johnson, Dawn Song, and David Wagner called "A Cryptanalysis of the High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection System". This paper was presented at ACM-CCS8 DRM Workshop on November 5, 2001.[1]

The authors conclude:

"HDCP's linear key exchange is a fundamental weakness. We can:

* Eavesdrop on any data
* Clone any device with only their public key
* Avoid any blacklist on devices
* Create new device keyvectors.
* In aggregate, we can usurp the authority completely."

It must be noticed, however, that for this attack you first have to break Blom's scheme (the linear algebra based key exchange system). In the case of HDCP you need a minimum of 39 device keys in order to reconstruct the secret symmetrical master matrix that has been used to compute all device keys.

Around the same time that Scott Crosby and co-authors were writing this paper, noted cryptographer Niels Ferguson independently claimed to have broken the HDCP scheme, but he did not publish his research, citing legal concerns arising from the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act [1].

The most well-known attack on HDCP is the conspiracy attack, where a number of devices are compromised and the information gathered is used to reproduce the private key of the central authority.

DRM isn't supposed to be foolproof (5, Insightful)

cavetroll (602361) | about 7 years ago | (#20079811)

The point of DRM isn't to hinder in any noticeable way the large groups that are responsible for most of the copyright infringement that takes place, rather the aim is to annoy and infuriate the average 'consumer' to the point where needlessly buying extra copies of $ITEM is the path of least resistance.

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

Bad arguments and bad reasoning (5, Insightful)

timholman (71886) | about 7 years ago | (#20079815)

Okay, let's try Alex Wolfe's argument in a different context:

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

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

Re:Bad arguments and bad reasoning (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20080043)

Not a perfect analogy: DRM is more like a lock than a law(although the fact that the DMCA makes it illegal to break DRM complicates things, most "piracy" would already be illegal without any DRM scheme cracking). Still, the overwhelming majority of locks in production can probably be picked, and I don't think anyone's suggesting that these locks are useless.

Re:Bad arguments and bad reasoning (2, Insightful)

Original Replica (908688) | about 7 years ago | (#20080069)

The question is not just have they been broken? But, by what percentage of the populace are they regularly broken? I'm thinking of things like: speed limits, marijuana laws, jaywalking, (in it's day) prohibition, etc. If the people choose to ignore the law, then why is it a law? There are countless laws on the books, left there to be tools for the police or local government to use to control the citizens. Is there any doubt that parking or most speeding tickets are nothing more than revenue for the local government? Do marijuana laws do anything other than create a source of funding for organized crime? DRM does it's job just fine, it criminalizes people, which gives other people the leverage to control them.

Re:Bad arguments and bad reasoning (2, Funny)

cdrguru (88047) | about 7 years ago | (#20080281)

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

We do not want to see these folks roaming the streets on drugs. A few times a year someone does something utterly boneheaded and gives their friend drugs. Then finds out their friend falls into the above category and get to watch while they (a) destroy their life with drug-seeking behavior, (b) do unbelievable stuff like burning down their house, running over little old ladies, etc. and (c) end up in a head-ward or jail.

Some people do not belong getting drunk. Some people do not belong using drugs. Some people should never, ever smoke marijuana.

Re:Bad arguments and bad reasoning (5, Funny)

Braino420 (896819) | about 7 years ago | (#20080147)

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

When you list every major car safety feature implemented to "protect" life and limb, they have all failed. Can anyone think of a car safety feature which hasn't failed, and of course this begs the obvious question: Why doesn't society just give up and go seatbelt-free?

Re:Bad arguments and bad reasoning (1)

obeythefist (719316) | about 7 years ago | (#20080259)

Little off context there - DRM is not a law. Copyright is a law.

DRM is more like a fence, made to discourage people from breaking the law and trespassing over it. But most fences are trivial to get over or around.

No wait, sorry, some readers might not understand that. I'll put it in car analogy.

DRM is more like a car immobiliser, made to discourage people from breaking the law and stealing the car. But any good car thief can easily bypass it anyway.

Cracking DRM needs to be easier to use (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20079833)

we (geeks) can do it because we are prepared to go through the many steps to remove the DRM
the average joe needs a (free) really easy (integrated) app that strips the DRM, no command line stuff or blind them with options
and (in|un)stallers hell i bet they dont even know what DRM is other than the dialog in their player saying "sorry you dont have a license"
just a simple .exe "click here to remove any DRM found on your system",
no need for finding keys or running multiple apps to crack it just a press button and joe can play his file again

the easier it is to do something the more people will do it

All DRM has been cracked? (1)

edlinfan (1131341) | about 7 years ago | (#20079847)

Can anyone think of a DRM technology which hasn't been cracked?

Straight from TFA, "The one major online music DRM technology about which I couldn't find any definitive cracking information is Rhapsody DNA, used by the RealNetworks' subscription music service."

It might not be an overwhelmingly popular format, but its DRM is still effective.

Unbroken DRM: paper trail at the voting booth (1)

viking80 (697716) | about 7 years ago | (#20079853)

A voting machine with a paper trail. I am saying this jokingly as a challenge to all the complain about media under DRM, and that are challenging all efforts to use electronic voting, insisting that the only reliable "DRM" is a paper trail.

Is that rally the only option? Any CS with a better "DRM" for a voting machine than a paper trail?

I don't like them Putting Words in people's mouths (3, Funny)

JamesRose (1062530) | about 7 years ago | (#20079855)

but as far as this goes: "However, like true Brits, they're soldiering on and releasing it, possibly convinced that it's not much use worry about what those stupid Americans are up to with their software schemes, anyway." I think they got it pretty bang on.

What cracks? (-1, Troll)

ninevoltz (910404) | about 7 years ago | (#20079857)

Windows Media isn't cracked anymore. M$ scared the crackster into hiding by threatening to sue his ass off, and then patched it. I don't think FairPlay is cracked anymore either. DRM will never stop. Nobody gives a shit whether or not you can play _your_ media in Linux either, or on any MP3 player you own for that matter.

Fairplay (0)

Winckle (870180) | about 7 years ago | (#20079875)

The article says fairplay has been cracked, but the Hymn project haven't updated in a long time, and the old versions do not work with Apples current implementation of the DRM.

Of course some other project may exist, and I would be very happy to be proven wrong.

Re:Fairplay (1)

Winckle (870180) | about 7 years ago | (#20079913)

My bad, you see I used to use JHymn, and apparently QTfairuse is the way to go, just mod down my above post with redundant or something.

DRM is doing it's job (4, Informative)

dirk (87083) | about 7 years ago | (#20079883)

No one ever expected DRM to stop all copying. That was never it's purpose. The purpose of DRM was to curb copying, which it has done. Everyone realizes there will always be a way to get around DRM (or anything else really) if you really want to. But if you can implement DRM and stop 50% or 75% of copying, that is a big improvement. That is exactly what they did. They implemented a solution that will reduce copying by the average person, which means more money in their pockets since less people are copying CDs and giving them to friends (and no, I'm not claiming every person who copied a CD would go and buy it, but certainly some of them will).

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

Re:DRM is doing it's job (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 7 years ago | (#20080011)

But that 50 to 75% off all copying that DRM actually stops probably amounts to about 90% casual copying that would have been for the private use of the copier anyways, and doesn't actually hurt the industry. So DRM blocks maybe about 5 to 10% of the copying that it was trying to curb, simultaneously preventing a vast majority from perfectly reasonable use unless they bypass the DRM.

Re:DRM is doing it's job (1)

cdrguru (88047) | about 7 years ago | (#20080227)

Yup. The problem is that the difference between "for the use of the copier" and "hog wild distribution for the planet at large" is in the mind of the copier and nowhere else. It does not manifest itself in any other modality.

Thus preventing many (or maybe most) of the users from "hog wild distribution for the planet at large" also prevents any other sort of copying, format transfer or anything else.

In the mind of the media content owner they see the 10% (or 20% or 30%) of the piracy they aren't stopping and extrapolate that to 3-10x the scale of the piracy issue they are seeing. So you do a search for The Simpsons Movie today (less than a week in theaters) and I am sure you can download it right now. I assure you if I downloaded that movie I would not be spending $20 (2 tickets) to see it in the theater. Ever. And why would I buy the DVD? For the "Interview with Homer" special feature? I doubt it.

Do you think the media companies would be comfortable with the idea that without any sort of DRM their piracy problem would be 3x (minimum) to 10x (probable maximum) of what it is today? Sure, that is probably the worse-case way of looking at it. But it isn't a completely unreasonable assumption.

Re:DRM is doing it's job (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | about 7 years ago | (#20080307)

Take a look at your average torrent site. DRM hasn't curbed 50% of copying. I'd be surprised if it's curbed 5% of copying.

Cable HDTV DRM (4, Interesting)

nukem996 (624036) | about 7 years ago | (#20079887)

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

Re:Cable HDTV DRM (3, Informative)

afidel (530433) | about 7 years ago | (#20080093)

HDCP has been cracked but unless you have a display with DVI and no HDCP support it does you very little good. The problem is the HDCP protected signal is a full bandwidth signal, not the compressed OTA or disk steam, and there is currently no system available that can really deal with capturing that much data in real time that is in the consumer price range.

Re:Cable HDTV DRM (1)

nukem996 (624036) | about 7 years ago | (#20080221)

According to wikipedia it was cracked but never released due to the DMCA. But even if it was cracked its kind of worthless when you want to build a PVR or play HD games(PS3) on an HD monitor which doesn't support HDCP. I'm against DRM because of the limits it puts on users but I really think HDCP is over used. I can at least understand why its used with HD movies but for Windows and the PS3 to use it seems insane to me.

Re:Cable HDTV DRM (1)

no_such_user (196771) | about 7 years ago | (#20080151)

A good place to start would be to crack DigiCipher II [] , which encrypts the data in the first place. You wouldn't even need a CableCard -- just a tuner which supported QAM256 (e.g. FusionHDTV, etc.).

Re:Cable HDTV DRM (1)

nukem996 (624036) | about 7 years ago | (#20080201)

When I looked it up the CableCard format is actually open( and is actually in a standard PCMCIA format. What I was trying to create is a legal way(in the US) to build a myth box and have HDTV.

Why DRM? (3, Insightful)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | about 7 years ago | (#20079893)

DRM is just "an electronic lock".

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

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

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

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

Smokey The Bear Says: Only YOU can prevent the violation of your civil rights "in the interest of National Security".

Re:Why DRM? (2, Insightful)

qbwiz (87077) | about 7 years ago | (#20080229)

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

So you never lock your car, or your house, or anything you own?

Hackers Batting 1000, Industry Zero (1)

Fireflymantis (670938) | about 7 years ago | (#20079909)

What's nice is that in this article they are actually using the term 'hacker' properly. After all, 'cracking' DRM is about having a problem or a goal (copying music/video files) and finding an ingenious solution to solve/achieve that problem/goal. Considering some of the crazy things that people have to do to break stronger and stronger DRM, 'hacking' is a very proper term.

what about satelite tv? (1)

hibji (966961) | about 7 years ago | (#20079919)

from the little reading I have done, it seems as though getting free satelite television is impractical.

Re:what about satelite tv? - Not cracked yet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20080033)

It's called Videocipher. "The Videocipher-RS system (RS for Renewable Security) is the Videocipher II Plus system with a slot in the back of the decoder module to where a card could be inserted to upgrade the security if the VCII Plus system were ever breached." []

As far as I can tell, the Videocipher-RS system has been on the air for years and hasn't been cracked.

DIVX (2, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | about 7 years ago | (#20079973)

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

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

Re:DIVX (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 7 years ago | (#20080257)

Same with my old NetMD Minidisc player. I can't get music on there without Sony's permission. There's a couple projects out there, but none of them have gotten anywhere close to being to put music on the thing. It's really all about the need to crack this stuff. Everything where there has been a large demand for cracking the DRM, it has happened.

We have everything we need... almost (2, Interesting)

BlueParrot (965239) | about 7 years ago | (#20079993)

Plausible deniability
Analogue hole

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

*Yes yes, I know I'm not supposed to have had a girlfriend and post to slashdot... If it helps maintain the stereotype I could disclose that I'm nocturnal, skinny and still living with my mother...

Re:We have everything we need... almost (1)

jaclu (66513) | about 7 years ago | (#20080273)

I also use TOR every now and then, but I dont think it is a silver-bullet for DRM stuff.

If usage would increase to much of TOR, ISPs would either on their own account block it, or be forced to by authorities.

Even if it is "impossible" to see what goes on in the TOR cloud, it can be blocked.

Convenience (1)

Xzarakizraiia (751181) | about 7 years ago | (#20079999)

I think it's rather simple: buying music and videos legally online has become more convenient to me than either pirating it or stripping the DRM. I'm pretty sure that if I needed to remove the DRM I could, but why? It seems like a lot of hassle to get out of paying one or two dollars, and I get to support the artists that way, which makes me happy and less worried about my favorite shows getting canceled. Whether it's because people are unable to remove the DRM or simply don't care to, it's working because not everyone takes the time to do it. I buy stuff from the Apple Store, keep it on the two computers I own and put it on my iPod... there's really nothing else I need to do in order to enjoy it, so I don't feel restricted enough to bother stripping the DRM.

Re:Convenience (1)

cdrguru (88047) | about 7 years ago | (#20080171)

I believe piracy is going to get a lot more convenient in the near future. Today you have bandwidth-choaked distributors that are on fairly low-bandwidth circuits. This is almost certainly going to change. When you see the difference between a 1Mb upload (cable) and a 20Mb upload (fiber) the effect will make significant changes for piracy.

It is all going to get a lot faster, easier and simpler for everyone.

This will (of course) result in most of the piracy predictions "ending the world as we know it" come true. But the pirates won't care.

Re:Convenience (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 7 years ago | (#20080313)

What if you wanted a portable music player that wasn't an iPod? Would you feel restricted then? Currently there's not much out there that puts up much competition to the iPod, or at least not much that's a whole lot better. However, in a few years who knows. Maybe some company will put out a device with 300 GB of storage, and 30 hours of battery life while playing videos. And it will have a nice interface. Buying music and other media encrypted may not seem like such a big deal right now, but it seems to me like a very shortsighted point of view. Who know's what kind of players of operating systems will be available in the future. It would be a shame if you couldn't experiece the newest hardware because your music was locked down.

Certainly there are some things which come to mind (3, Informative)

zuki (845560) | about 7 years ago | (#20080007)

Perhaps this has already been mentioned, but the dongle systems that protect many Mac music applications and plugins seem to have held up so far, as in either iLok []
or some of the Synchrosoft dongles. Logic Pro 7 is not really something that has been cracked yet either, to my (admitedly limited) knowledge.

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

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


DIVX was never cracked (1)

qazxsw (207003) | about 7 years ago | (#20080013)

I don't remember DIVX (rental DVD DIVX disks from Circuit City) ever being cracked. Instead, everyone just avoided them and if failed as a product.

Re:DIVX was never cracked (1)

Ai Olor-Wile (997427) | about 7 years ago | (#20080025)

Yes, it seems that's the only way a scheme can avoid being cracked: by being too unpopular to be cared about. I suppose, then, that the solution to making DRM feasible is to make so *many* kinds of intricate and complex DRM, one for every company, that it isn't worth it to crack a single one...

The psychological answer (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20080019)

Why doesn't the industry just give up and go DRM-free?

It's impossible for them to trust consumers not to rip them off if given unencumbered music - never mind that they've been doing so with every previous media up to an including the still ubiquitous CD without the ever-predicted imminent collapse of the commercial entertainment industry. I suppose the reason behind the reason is that since, as an industry, they live largely by appropriating the value of the work of others, they naturally expect everyone else in the world to behave likewise towards them.

Pathetic, no?

A Long-Standing Illusion (4, Insightful)

ewhac (5844) | about 7 years ago | (#20080035)

Copy protection systems have been around a lot longer than the recent crop of Defective Recorded Media would suggest.

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

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

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

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

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


Is there a store that is shop lifting proof? (1)

f0dder (570496) | about 7 years ago | (#20080063)

Why do stores have security guards and cameras? Are there any stores theft proof? To limit theft. This is such a retarded argument. OK we steal music. But using this analogy to defend it is kinda retarded. Wasn't it reported yesterday that ITMS sold its one billionth song.

Apple iTunes Video (3, Informative)

IdahoEv (195056) | about 7 years ago | (#20080065)

Last time I checked, you can strip the FairPlay DRM from iTunes music files pretty easily, but nobody has released a tool that does the same for video files purchased from iTunes.

So ya can't yet burn that episode of "Lost" you bought on iTunes to a DVD.

Re:Apple iTunes Video (2, Insightful)

The Lost Supertone (754279) | about 7 years ago | (#20080269)

Actually we really don't have the iTunes DRM cracked. I mean it can be circumvented but it hasn't been cracked since version 4.6

Grammar Nazi (2, Informative)

Haganah (991196) | about 7 years ago | (#20080083)

That does not "beg the question" at all. []

Re:Grammar Nazi (0)

Virak (897071) | about 7 years ago | (#20080119)

Grammar Nazi
This has nothing to do with grammar.

That does not "beg the question" at all.
Yes, it does. As both the literal and most popular interpretation of the phrase, you can't really argue that it's wrong (at least, not without looking like an idiot). If you don't like it, make your own language so you can ensure that nobody ever corrupts your precious idioms.

Its a delay tactic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20080087)

Its a delay tactic until they can get all the laws on books that they've been working on.
Look at analog cable which, aside from some cheesy filters, has no DRM.
And, if I'm not mistaken, there are some pretty strong laws and penalties.
They're trying to ban any equipment that would allow you to copy anything that has a copyright.
And, unfortunately, it's the same technology used for material no copyright.
Let's start from the presumption that we're all guilty and go from there.
Yeah, yeah... anonymous coward... blah, blah, blah...
I'm just tired of registering and keeping track of every f*cking forum that I want to post to.

Natural content protection length (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20080089)

The natural length of content protection should be as long as the DRM lasts. As soon as it gets cracked, the content is under the public domain. Simple as that.

live performance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20080091)

it's hard to copy this.

FairPlay on videos not cracked (2, Interesting)

Shrubbman (3807) | about 7 years ago | (#20080107)

What annoys me is that while current versions of QTFairUse strip the DRM off audio files just fine, nobody as of yet has put out a simple tool to strip off FairPlay from Apple's video files. If it's the same DRM scheme you'd think they'd just extend FairUse to do video files as well, but they've just not done that. I guess there must be some issue with the exploit they use that precludes using that hole for video as well I suppose...

It's been what, 2+ years since Apple started selling videos and still no crack?

You know (5, Funny)

SoulRider (148285) | about 7 years ago | (#20080145)

one definition of insane is doing the exact same thing over and over and expecting different results.

DRM that has not been cracked... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20080153)

The original DivX has not been cracked.

The BBC and Licensing? (1, Interesting)

aslate (675607) | about 7 years ago | (#20080155)

Although a rather unusual case when it comes to the world-wide status of DRM, the BBC has a reason for implementing DRM.

As one of the few British channels to make their content available online they have fine line to cross. The commerical channels funded by advertising offer a week or so's worth of TV to download for free with popular shows having a minimal fee (£0.99 to rent or £1.99 to purchase). This is all well and good, but the BBC cannot operate under this model. Either they release their content for free or don't release it at all to the British public.

There are few paths the BBC can take. At the moment for their online streaming media they use Geo-Targeting and attempt to restrict access to the UK public (although this can result in false negatives/positives) but provide the content itself for free. If they make it available to all for free they are breaking several points of their Royal Charter. They can either show the British public the shows for free and without advertising or broadcast it to foreigners with either a charge or adverts, but they cannot show it to the UK audience with adverts or a charge. This is where the problem lies.

The BBC's iPlayer has recently come under fire for being Windows only and DRM-riddled, but what can they do? They can either implement some form of UK-based DRM or not attempt to show programmes online at all. The BBC often doesn't own the content the broadcast in full and therefore aren't able to make their content available without caveats, and many of the companies they produce media in conjunction with require this. Coupled with their charter they are stuck with no online media at all or some form of DRM inbetween. I'd prefer the DRM version then to wait for some form of non-DRM equivalent to be implemented!

it really doesn't beg that question. (2, Interesting)

buddyglass (925859) | about 7 years ago | (#20080197)

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

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

Uncracked DRM (2, Insightful)

krelian (525362) | about 7 years ago | (#20080203)

I've never heard of an MMORPG that was cracked to that you could play for free (on an official server) or even play without purchasing the client software.

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

As someone has already mentioned, no DRM is uncrackable but some of them require a lot of work. The DRM's of popular products will always be cracked because of the demand but there are many people who use niche products that are usually not worth the effort for the skilled crackers. These will just have to take the pill and suffer quietly.

To read my post (5, Funny)

Geekbot (641878) | about 7 years ago | (#20080211)

To read my post please enter the first word from pages 6, 27, and 32 from the manual.

H2O (1)

jumperboy (1054800) | about 7 years ago | (#20080243)

Digital content is as plentiful as water. In my neighborhood, the tapwater is excellent. It tastes fine, and is purified to the highest standards. If that isn't good enough, I can filter it even more. The best part is that it's virtually free, and delivery requires no effort on my part beyond turning a faucet handle. Nonetheless, there is a thriving business for bottled water, with water trucks making daily deliveries. Everyone I know buys bottled water at comparitively outrageous prices. Some of that water is pumped directly from springs, but a good portion of it is simply another municipality's tap water. Strangely enough, there is also water that is bottled halfway around the world, then transported over the ocean (more water) and sold at astronomically high prices in area stores. Are you ready to be stunned? In my neighborhood, water actually falls out of the sky. I'm not kidding! We call it rain. It's entirely free for the taking, but that doesn't stop anyone from buying water.

Digital content is pouring down on us like rain. I'm sorry, but I don't have the time to determine if I have the right to enjoy it or not. Frankly, I'm having a hard time filtering all the content being streamed at me at any given time in favor of a single stream I'd actually enjoy (or even silence, for that matter). I can guarantee one thing, though, and that's that if people will buy ordinary water in designer bottles at outrageous prices when it's available for free, they'll do the same for DRM-free digital content.

Not just DRM...all protection is useless... (1)

Gybrwe666 (1007849) | about 7 years ago | (#20080249)

As someone who might have...had friends...who spent time in the 80's attempting to circumvent copy protection on Apple II software, I've always wondered why companies have even bothered in the first place. Back in the 80's there were many companies utilizing all kinds of crazy software techniques to keep the pirates from copying software. As far as I know, there wasn't any software on the Apple II that didn't get cracked. Heck, I even see some of the stuff my friends cracked still imaged on the internet in places.

Now its over 20 years later, and companies are still trying to find a way to stop copying. And to top it off, they're still spending big bucks to stop copying media, where any device with an output is a potential way to digitize the media. As we've seen, there are people out there who will take the time and effort to circumvent and digitize *ANYTHING*. Have you seen some of the crap on Usenet lately? I can't believe someone bought it, let alone took the hours to digitize and upload some of that crap.

I noticed some of this arguments on this thread that DRM wasn't meant to stop everyone, just the common guy. However, that argument falls far short when we have a generation of kids who are raised on computers and have no money. As a teen, I spent a lot of time copying albums and CD's and tapes onto tape. As an adult, I now realize that, if I had had the money, most of it I would have bought. These days, I don't bother to steal things because I don't have time to sift through Usenet or BitTorrent for crap, and because I can afford them. I also buy the music I like, the games I want to play, the books I like. I do this for a simple reason: I want to hear the artisans (of any type) make more music. Like the system or not, I buy CD's and books and software because without that money, the people making those things can't do it without the support of my money. I'm voting with my dollars, so to speak.

I'm also surpised that no one has made a fuss about sneakernets. I've heard of far too many people who have burned CD's for their friends and family. Seems to me, this was extremely common at one point, although probably less so in the IPod generation of today.

I'll bet money that any protection scheme will fail. Never underestimate collective human ingenuity, even as we bash the collective stupidity that has brought us infinite copyright and lawsuits over downloaded music against people without computers.


DRM in current use that hasnt been cracked yet (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 7 years ago | (#20080253)

NDS VideoGuard sattelite and cable TV encryption
Super Audio CD copy protection
DVD Audio copy protection
Starforce copy protection for games (actually I don't know how far the latest work goes in cracking it)

It's not about being uncrackable. (0, Redundant)

liftphreaker (972707) | about 7 years ago | (#20080261)

Some seem to miss the point. It's not about creating unbreakable DRM which will serve RIAA/MPAA faultlessly till the sun goes nova. It's about throwing enough obstacles at the casual copier and as much as they can at the professional pirate to keep them at bay for the next few years, till the next great media format and DRM tech come along.
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