Thursday, August 31, 2006

fairUse4WM strip digital rights management(DRM)

Microsoft Corp. has acknowledged the existence of a program circulating on the Internet that could circumvent its copy protection for online music, but said it was working on a fix.

The program called "fairUse4WM" enables users to strip out the so-called digital rights management (DRM) in downloaded songs that limits the number of copies that can be made.

A Microsoft spokesman said a patch was being developed with the software giant's online music partners, those who use the Windows media format for online music sales.

The program could undermine efforts to limit illicit copies of music circulated on the Web, but some analysts minimized the impact.

"Does it matter? Well, yes and no," said Mark Mulligan at Jupiter Research.

"Yes it exposes a vulnerability that technically means that rights protected content downloaded from the likes of Napster can now have its rights management circumvented. But in practice it doesn't actually mean that much."

Mulligan said consumers who want to use legitimate sites will probably not use the technology but that hackers and those interested in illegal copies may already have the means to accomplish this.

"This is big news in the weird and wonderful world of hackers and developers, but not really that big a deal for the digital music world," Mulligan said.

"Hackers will always crack technology. That is their raison d'etre."

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