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Hacker Cracks Apple's iTunes
... the Windows Version. :)

 12:54 pm on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Norwegian programmer cracks Apple Anticopying
A Norwegian who drew the ire of the Hollywood movie industry by breaking the encryption code for DVDs at age 15 has now cracked the codes for Apple Computer's online music site iTunes, a report said

- AFP Story [story.news.yahoo.com]
- MacCentral Story [story.news.yahoo.com]



 1:53 pm on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

So now, not only would it be stealing from the artist, but stealing from an online business.. That is akin to walking into a music store and walking out with an armload of CD's.


 1:55 pm on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

and cash!


 1:56 pm on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

So, iTunes becomes the new Kazaa?



 2:12 pm on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

All the mainstream press have gotten this report absolutely wrong, only going for the sensationlistic aspect (surprise, suprise). Nothing can be downloaded for free, and its not really a "crack", its a memory dump.

What he has done is modify the Quicktime component that reads AAC files. His modifications make it so that when the AAC file is decrypted and played (on a legally authorized computer), it writes an unencrypted version of the AAC stream out. This requires that the music be purchased and downloaded from Apple, and then played on an authorized computer. The only advantage that this method offers over burning the AAC file to a CD and ripping it is that it does not transcode the file at all, leaving it at the exact same level of quality that it originally had.

Basically it allows people to save a high quality copy of what they paid for in the first place.


 3:50 pm on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

leaving it at the exact same level of quality that it originally had

Is there a discernable difference between the usual download quality and what this guy is doing?

I know in theory the more compression and the smaller the file size, the more you'll lose ... but can you tell by listening?


 4:06 pm on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

This article explains the story in more (technical) detail. Parts of the Yahoo! story are just plain wrong (ie. it does not circumvent the 99p charge per song).

[theregister.co.uk ]

As far as I know, what his program does is allow you to save a song you purchase, versus being able to only play it on the particular machine you downloaded in to, or in short, to remove the rights management.


 4:10 pm on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>I know in theory the more compression and the smaller the file size, the more you'll lose ... but can you tell by listening?<<

It depends on the frequency response, (range of tones), of the device you are listening to it on as well as the frequency response of the speakers or headphones and how ‘hard of hearing’ you are.

[edit]MP4, uses a script language like PostScript, so there will be no loss in compression.[/edit]

[edited by: jim_w at 4:12 pm (utc) on Nov. 26, 2003]


 4:12 pm on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

Is this any different than burning a CD in iTunes and ripping MP3s from that CD?


 4:19 pm on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

> but can you tell by listening?

I can tell the difference between an MP3 @ 128 Kbps over original CD audio. Most MP3 available for "free" download is poorly encoded. Only one person needs to buy the song convert the file to a distributable form. Encoding rate (and file size) has been a barrier, but making song file quality is no longer an issue.


 6:25 pm on Nov 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

>discernible difference

Depends if he is copying the stream out from the sound card (will result in some loss of quality) or he managed to get an exact digital replica of the source file, unencrypted (no quality loss).


 3:51 am on Nov 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

>All the mainstream press have gotten this report absolutely wrong,
Right on, amznVibe.


 5:40 am on Nov 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

That story concerns Windows users, but as everyone hip to the Mac file-sharing scene knows songs from at least part of the iTunes database have been there for the taking since early summer. This is via one of the visible Mac Napster substitutes, not the great pirate fleet that sails off the ordinary radar screens.



 8:23 pm on Nov 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

There are many MP3's out there that are at 320kbps quality. This is about the same quality as CD..

As for the technology hack described above.

There are financial ramifications, as now one has to purchase an entire CD, rip it, and then illegally distribute it..

With the iTunes case, someone could purchase just the more "popular" cuts, at a much cheaper cost than purchasing entire CD's, save them without the copy protection code, and distribute them freely to whomever.

The ramifications are HUGE!

I've long been against the record(cd) labels that have hoarded the majority of revenues from sales, etc., while the artist rarely get's more than small percentage of the take....

When broadband became mainstream, I was hoping that more artists would just dump the labels, and distribute to consumers, using the web as the interface. They could sell at a much lower cost to consumers, keep the majority of the revenues, and both artist and consumer win!

But, with the theft of music that has become rampant on the web, there is little or no incentive for an artist to break away from a label, and take distribution/marketing responsbilities, when their cut won't be much more than what they already receive, with the current logistics in the music industry.

Theft of music via file sharing systems such as Napster, Kazaa, or whatever, has built a bigger wall, than previously existed in the music industry.

The only way that artists will get their true, much deserved share of the pie, and consumers will get music at a reasonable cost, is for the consumer to support artists directly.. Obviously this won't happen with "well established" artists that have been locked in, to the labels for some time.

But, if we as a "mass" directly support bands that are still "Indie", waiting to get signed (hung) by the record labels, we can begin a trend, that takes the huge record companies out of the loop. Until the web, they were nothing but an necessary evil, to distribute music.

Now, with the recent advances in recording technology, bands can record most of the tracks on their own, and then rent time in an independent studio for final mixing and editing. The cost to put a CD out, had dropped dramatically.

Also, for marketing and distribution, the web is a natural path, that also takes the record companies out of the loop.

But we as consumers will never see this come to realization, if we steal from the hand that feeds us the music we so much need in our lives....


 1:35 am on Nov 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

Having a method to create non-encrypted files does not have to be followed immediately with free and illegal distribution of the file.

The whole issue of what can and cannot be done, has been suggestively implanted in our minds by the media. We are trained to "presume" the individual is guilty (in this case the Norwegian programmer).

If we continue on this path of presumption and prejudgement - liberty and freedom, as we know it, will be gone to give way to paranoia and prejudgement.

Does profiling sound bad to you? How about genetic predisposition? You think it's all a kook story? Tell the jews, catholics and gipsies who died in WWII.

Several of you already made up your minds that the programmers actions were for-profit, and malicious. Double check, then check again.


 5:53 am on Nov 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

I used the phrase "could", not "is"... :)

What I really don't understand is, why do it anyway?
Apple had fairly liberal duplication allowances built into iTunes. I thought you could make up to 10 copies to be run on various media? I'm not an Apple guy, so don't quote me on that. But my brother mentioned it, while we were discussing the recording industry, and this subject during Thanksgiving dinner....


 9:05 am on Nov 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

the reason why is so people can use the music files they paid $1 for on their mp3 players.

what if I want to make my startup sound on windows a clip from the file I bought?

What if I want to make it part of my answering machine message?

what if apple goes out of business and stops making iTunes?

what if WMA is the only audio file supported in the future? what will i do with a AAC then?

what if I want to play the song I bought on a Linux computer?

what if I want to use that song I paid for in a way I didn't think of when I bought it.

These tasks can only be accomplished with file formats that are not restricted.

Bravo for Jon, he's 1 person making a huge difference in the world. So don't ever let anyone tell you one person can't make a difference.


 9:24 am on Nov 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>What if I want to make it part of my answering machine message?<<

Back in about ’91, I was working with a company that got in hot water for putting a CD on their phone’s hold system. They said that they did not have right to broadcast the works.

>>what if apple goes out of business and stops making iTunes?<<

Would be the same if you purchased a CD at Best Buy and they went out of business.

>>what if WMA is the only audio file supported in the future? what will i do with a AAC then?<<

What did all the people with BeatVision video types do?

Personally I think a buck is toooo much. They have no money into the hardware, CD, jewel case, and labels, plus no labor in making it, warehousing it, or transporting it to stores, yet, they get just about the same per song than if you purchase the entire CD. Of course you have less labor because you don’t have to rip it yourself. But big deal. Put the CD in and take a shower or eat something and it’s done.


 9:54 am on Nov 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

Definition of Hacker: Person with a great knowledge about security systems who is able to break them and does it.

Being a hacker does not mean being a criminal. Most of hackers are doing only a reivindicative movement against the arrogance and prepotence of men.
It is usual to see some company telling that they have developed a perfect system. People believe it and buy that "perfect" system for a lot of money. But, of course, any system is never perfect. And then comes the hacker, who studies that system, finds its errors and publish them in order to improve the system.
There are also the crackers and the pirates, who search the web for information about system errors and explode them for profit. They call themselves hackers, and this is an offense to the hacker's communities, so they pursue and capture the offender.

Please do not treat the hackers as criminals cause they are not. Thanks to hackers, all the users of the Internet are safer against the crackers and pirates, among many other undesirable people like lammers.

Hackers are powerfull, and use to stand unite: one for all and all for one. If they wanted, they could get control of the World, but they don't do it. I understand that the people is afraid from hackers, it's natural. I'm a bit afraid, too. But they are wise, powerfull and a good moral example to follow. Please respect them.


Note: I'm not a hacker, I'm not wise enough, but I'd like to be.
Note about the discussion tittle: A hacker hacks, a cracker cracks. Telling that a hacker has cracked can be considered an offense. I apologize to any hacker who reads this for the ignorance shown by the global world society.


 11:41 am on Nov 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

Actually, hacking is not directly about security systems either for that matter.

Hacking just means you like to take things apart and figure out how they work and/or change them.

With those kinds of skills/attitude in life, it's easy to be tempted to try things that are
1) designed to work against hacking
2) going to save you money
3) going to make you money

Cracking is when hacking goes bad aka illegal (on the next FOX special ;) ).

In a sense, even SEO's are hackers.


 6:21 pm on Nov 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

jim_w, I don't know the specifics on broadcasting, but I imagine for a personal answering machine you should be able to do that. Just like if it was playing in the background you should be expected to filter it out.

The point about iTunes and why it's different from BestBuy going out of business is this:
I don't need BestBuy to play my CD. I can get players from other companies. If Apple goes out of business or drops the iTunes player between now and when longhorn comes out, then I might not be able to play my paid for music on a new version of Windows.

I don't know what a BeatVision video file is, so I can't answer that directly. But I know that I can take my old audio cassettes and convert them to mp3 if I want, because there is no restrictions on that media, same goes for CD's. VHS' and Betamaxes

And I kind of agree with your $1 price model argument. Not sure why you have to pay for music downloads when others will distribute and make no profit. We aren't required to pay for television audio listening or radio audio listening. Those distributers profit share with RIAA because they make money. No one on Kazaa is making money.


 6:44 pm on Nov 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

Anyways, anynews with what happened with the guy? Brainstormers like him help companies like iTunes to further harden their backbones.


 11:06 am on Nov 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

Actually, hacking is not directly about security systems either for that matter.
Hacking just means you like to take things apart and figure out how they work

Completely agree! ;) An ampliation of the original definition. I still remember when the hackers were only phone technics... They used to repair the phones bi hitting them on the sides, as when the TV doesn't works... This hits were called hacks and then the ones who hacked were called hackers. Nowadays, hacking means something very different, and people do not know what are now the hackers... Only an historical curiosity :P

and/or change them.

I don't agree with that part :(. A true hacker never makes changes on the systems.

Cracking is when hacking goes bad aka illegal

Almost agree... But some crackers simply use 3rd party software to break in systems without knowing how that work. Those crackers are usually called lammers and they are not hackers. The worst part is that lammers don't even know what a hacker actually is, and they call themselves hackers stainig the reputation of true hackers who only do it as a kind of sport.

In a sense, even SEO's are hackers.

ff... This could be more discussed, but it isn't strictly right. SEO's study a system (the search engines), learn how it works and try to get well ranked...
The only point is that true hacking is no more than a hobby, and SEO is a profession... Perhaps SEO's are a midpoint between hackers and crackers: take profit of what they know, but do not do anithing outside the law.
As I have said, this could be discussed, and I would enjoy participating in a discussion about what hacking is... But this is not the place to do it.



 10:01 am on Dec 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've started a debate about what hackers are.
If you want to enter, this is the URL:

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