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MS digital rights management scheme cracked
From: InfoSec News <isn () c4i org>
Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 03:21:54 -0500 (CDT)


By Thomas C Greene in Washington
Posted: 19/10/2001 at 09:19 GMT

An anonymous coder named 'Beale Screamer' claims to have broken the
Version-2 Microsoft digital rights management (DRM) scheme, and has
produced the source code and a DOS utility to un-protect .WMA audio

The author's zipped file http://www.theregister.co.uk/media/657.zip
contains a well-written and lengthy description of the MS DRM
weaknesses, a philosophical tract explaining why he thinks it
necessary to crack, the source code, and the command-line utility.

The alias Beale Screamer, incidentally, derives from the lines of
'Howard Beale' in the movie 'Network', we're told. "Just yell to the
publishers 'I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!'"

The motive here is said to be an assertion of fair use and a check
against the abuse of copyright for purposes of consumer extortion.

A DRM scheme "used to give the consumer more possibilities than
existed before," Screamer tells us. "I think the idea of limited time,
full-length previews, or time-limited Internet-based rentals is
excellent. If DRM was only used for this, in order to give us more
options than we previously had, I would not have taken the effort to
break the scheme. What is bad is the use of DRM to restrict the
traditional form of music sale. When I buy a piece of music (not rent
it, and not preview it), I expect (and demand!) my traditional fair
use rights to the material. I should be able to take that content,
copy it onto all my computers at home, my laptop, my portable MP3
player....basically anything I use to listen to the music that I have

Well said; a tremendous amount of thought and effort has obviously
gone into all this, and we have to wonder who this crusader is. A
university connection seems all but certain. We've got a few feelers
out, and hope very much that he'll submit to an interview soon.

There's clearly more to this story than meets the eye. For one thing,
the quality of writing in the text files exceeds that in the code
files, suggesting more than one actor. Readers are encouraged to share
their insights as they read through the texts and fiddle with the
code, using the link above.

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