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Here we'll explore the nexus of legal rulings, Capitol Hill policy-making, technical standards development, and technological innovation that creates -- and will recreate -- the networked world as we know it. Among the topics we'll touch on: intellectual property conflicts, technical architecture and innovation, the evolution of copyright, private vs. public interests in Net policy-making, lobbying and the law, and more.

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June 10, 2004

Incredibly Dumb DRM Tactics - iTunes Example #1

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Posted by Ernest Miller

Gizmodo has a very interesting story of DRM enforcers making it hard for people to play nice (How to Un-DRM your Un-DRM'd iTunes 4.6 Songs):

Now part of the whole shtick with Hymn is that even though it strips the iTunes DRM, it leaves your email address and other unique purchasing information in the protected AAC file, ostensibly to symbolically signify that Hymn users aren't trying to spread their fairly-purchased music files to the whole world, but instead to whatever devices they want. I unlocked mine so that I could be sure to play them after I had reformatted my machine. I'm pretty sure Apple has a method of reauthorizing your computer, but that's a hassle. But now the new version of iTunes has recognized that the DRM-stripped M4P files were purchased from iTMS and is telling me my (reformatted, reinstalled) machine isn't authorized to play them.

So, here we have a DRM stripping program that is deliberately designed to encourage copyright compliance yet still enable fair use. What does Apple do? They deliberately make such stripping programs untenable. Gizmodo has a work around for the short term. Of course, the likely long term solution will be for Hymn to strip all information from DRM'd files so that they can't be blocked this way.

This helps encourage copyright compliance, how?

Comments (10) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: IP Abuse


1. Anonymous Copyfighter on June 10, 2004 3:31 PM writes...

It was actually DeDRMS that introduced that shtick:

"DeDRMS does not remove the UserID, name and email address. The purpose of DeDRMS is to enable Fair Use, not facilitate copyright infringement."

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2. Ernest Miller on June 10, 2004 3:32 PM writes...

Cool, thanks for the info.

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3. Brad Hutchings on June 10, 2004 4:53 PM writes...

Um, backup your files before hacking them?!?

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4. Brad Hutchings on June 10, 2004 4:54 PM writes...

Sorry, the title of my comment should have been Incredibly dumb DRM circumvention tactics -- iTunes "Customer" Example #1.

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5. justpost on June 10, 2004 6:33 PM writes...


find ~/Music -iname '*.m4[a,p]' -exec perl -pi -e 'BEGIN{$b=0}if(!$b){if(s/geID\x00\x00/DIeg\x00\x00/){$b=1}}' {} ";"

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6. Tommy Lugnuts on June 10, 2004 10:36 PM writes...

I hope Apple doesn't strike back, and then HYMN strikes back, etc.. I for one can tell you this entire event has convinced me to leave my iTMS purchased songs ALONE and AS IS.

Hymn is cool, but losing songs you've bought is rather uncool.

Hopefully Apple will use this event as a shot across the bow instead of an ongoing assault, for a back and forth war may discourage buyers away from the ITMS.

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7. Doug Petrosky on June 11, 2004 2:50 AM writes...

Apple is trying to enforce the DRM scheme they agreed to implement so that they could get the music companies to sell their music online in an inexpensive and convent way. How does this make them the bad guys!

To download music through iTMS you agree to accept the usage limitations that are built into those songs. You knew up front what the rules were and you purchased the music. Why can't you live up to your end of the bargain? What makes you entitled to more than you agreed to. You do all understand that without DRM the music companies would not be selling music online.

Please! if you don't want to comply with iTunes DRM do not download iTunes music! Do no be surprised if some day your hacked files or iTunes it's self stops working on your computer, and don't get mad at Apple when it does! Apple needs to comply with the DRM imposed by the music companies. Consider this little shot fair warning.

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8. Brad Hutchings on June 11, 2004 4:01 AM writes...


But the point is that DRM isn't really effective as copy protection and only serves to tie the iTMS to the iPod and prevent us from using the music we purchase on other players. Now that you are caught up with the Copyfight, we welcome you.

(Um, this was a joke, lest anyone think I received my official Copyfight crack pipe in the mail today.)

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9. DRMfree on June 11, 2004 4:13 AM writes...

Speaking of DRM audio files, a new site just launched with DRM-Free downloadable audiobooks:

Check it out!

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10. Anonymous Copyfighter on June 11, 2004 11:09 AM writes...

Doug Petrosky,

The files don't play in iTunes 4.6. The files play just fine in WinAMP and every other AAC compatible player. The files can even be transferred on P2P networks.

Could you explain how making the files unplayable in iTunes, but not any other player, is enforcing the DRM scheme?

Perhaps you're saying that DRM is about preventing you from using your legally bought music, and not about preventing copyright infringement? I agree.

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