windows media drm compromised
August 25, 2006
Two members of the Doom9 forums, “viodentia” and “mayang,” have posted a utility named “FairUse4WM” that can successfully remove DRM components from Windows Media 10 and Windows Media 11 files (though not WM9), which constitute the protection schemes for Microsoft’s PlaysForSure media platform. Although the original post states that the program is “ONLY designed and intended to enable fair-use rights to PURCHASED media,” the implications for music piracy are staggering. Files downloaded from subscription music services such as Napster and Yahoo Music Unlimited can be stripped of DRM and used indefinitely rather than becoming unplayable when the subscription lapses. It does, of course, also facilitate fair-use applications such as allowing the files to be played on Macintosh-based systems via the Flip4Mac program (which does not support DRMed files) and non-PlaysForSure-compatible portable devices.
And remember: you are responsible for the use of this utility. Legally, it can be used only on files that you have purchased, and then only for the duration of your subcription. Depending on how widespread the program’s availability becomes, this could be the beginning of the end for Windows Media DRM, at least until Microsoft and its partners–that is, the music store operators–can completely overhaul their content protection schemes. For now, viodentia and mayang may become minor, even major, celebrities in geek circles. It would appear that the mighty giant has fallen, if only for a moment.
Update: Engadget has confirmed that the tool works, and also brings you some reactions in the form of comments.
Update 2: One Engadget poster writes that the utility also works on DRMed Windows Media Video (wmv) files. Not having any on hand, I can’t confirm this, but if true it only adds to Microsoft’s woes: online movie-download services such as CinemaNow and MovieLink also use the DRM for their files (and they are a good deal more expensive/valuable than mere songs).
–D. S. W.