July 17, 2007
By Pamela Mortimer
FairUse4M releases an advanced version of the program used to crack open copyrighted digital materials.
Cracking the copyright protection codes on digital music and movies is an ongoing challenge for hackers worldwide. FairUse4M has released a new version of software designed to do just that. Average PC users can install the software, which has a drag and drop interface, and strip away the copyright protection put in place by Microsoft. Digital music and movies, whether purchased individually or as part of a subscription service, can be copied and shared at will. Music can be converted into MP3 files that can be played on any MP3 device.
"We knew at the start that no digital rights management technology is going to be impervious to circumvention," said Jonathan Usher, a director in Microsoft's consumer media technology group.
Usher did not say how many songs have been stripped of copy protection and/or converted. Microsoft, who employs a full time department to deal with this type of issue, declined to say how long it will take to plug the holes. Last year, they filed a federal lawsuit against FairUse4M but had to withdraw when the owners of the software company could not be identified.
Usher feels that the recording industry has faith in Microsoft’s abilities and will not lose patience with the process. Microsoft will continue to commit to copy protection.
However, some think that the recording industry’s mindset may be starting to change.
Online giant iTunes, owned by Apple, Inc,. has had to face the same problem when hackers tried to maneuver around its FairPlay copy protection program. In May, the online store began selling unprotected selections from the EMI catalog.
Instead of fighting against those determined to steal the songs, Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, is making a recommendation to end digital music-locking efforts.
Jobs made his case in an online essay earlier this year. "There are many smart people in the world, some with a lot of time on their hands, who love to discover such secrets and publish a way for everyone to get free (and stolen) music. They are often successful in doing just that, so any company trying to protect content using a DRM must frequently update it with new and harder to discover secrets. It is a cat-and-mouse game."
Following suit, Amazon.com is preparing to sell items in an unprotected MP3 format. The digital music store is expecting a massive response.