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Thread: Magic Shift Key

  1. #1
    Titanium Member efc's Avatar
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    Sep 2002
    North Central Arkansas

    Magic Shift Key

    Shift key breaks CD copy locks
    By John Borland
    October 7, 2003, 10:58 AM PT

    A Princeton University student has published instructions for disabling the new anticopying measures being tested on CDs by BMG--and they're as simple as holding down a computer's Shift key.

    In a paper published on his Web site this week, Princeton Ph.D. student John Halderman explained how he disabled a new kind of copy-protection technology, distributed as part of a new album by BMG soul artist Anthony Hamilton.

    Under normal circumstances, the antipiracy software is automatically loaded onto a Windows machine whenever the Hamilton album is run in a computer's CD drive, making traditional copying or MP3 ripping impossible. However, simply holding down the Shift key prevents Windows' AutoRun feature from loading the copy-protection software, leaving the music free to copy, Halderman said.

    The technique was confirmed by BMG and SunnComm Technologies, the small company that produces the anticopying technology. Both companies said they had known about it before releasing the CD, and that they still believed the protection would deter most average listeners' copying.

    "This is something we were aware of," BMG spokesman Nathaniel Brown said. "Copy management is intended as a speed bump, intended to thwart the casual listener from mass burning and uploading. We made a conscious decision to err on the side of playability and flexibility."

    The ease with which Halderman and others have disabled BMG and SunnComm's latest copy-protection techniques illustrates the delicate balance that record labels and technology companies are trying to strike in protecting content without angering listeners.

    SunnComm's technology is the most flexible version of CD copy-protection to hit the market yet. It includes "pre-ripped" versions of the songs on the CD itself, each of which can be transferred to a computer, burned to CD several times, or transferred to many kinds of portable devices. These differ from unrestricted MP3 files in that only limited copies can be made, and not every portable music device can play them.

    The Anthony Hamilton CD is the first release in this new generation of copy-protected CDs that come preloaded with these "second session" tracks designed for use on a computer, a strategy also being pursued by SunnComm rival Macrovision. Record labels have pushed for these tracks, mostly provided in Microsoft's Windows Media format, to be included on copy-protected CDs in order to ameliorate consumers' concerns about not being able to use their music on computers.

    SunnComm CEO Peter Jacobs said the technology--which will be improved in future versions--should still be attractive to record companies. Though simple, the act of holding down the Shift key in order to enable copying does let computer users know they're doing something unauthorized, he said. That alone will dissuade many people from making copies, he added.

    "This is not an all-or-nothing thing," Jacobs said. "People can break into your house, because there's lots of information out there on how to pick locks. But that knowledge doesn't mean you don't buy a lock."

    In order to fully prevent the antipiracy software from loading, a listener has to hold the Shift key down for a long period of time, at exactly the right time, every time they listen to the CD on a computer. Moreover, anyone who doesn't load the software won't get access to the second session tracks, which on future CDs will increasingly include videos and other bonus material, record company insiders say.

    For his part, Halderman says the workaround is so simple that it's hard to fix. Nor is he worried about falling afoul of laws that make it illegal to describe how to get around copy-protection measures.

    "I hardly think that telling people to push Shift constitutes trafficking in a (copy-protection technology) circumvention device," Halderman said. "I'm not very worried."
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  2. #2
    Old and Cranky Super Moderator rik's Avatar
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    Aug 2003
    Watching Your every move...
    I find it hard to believe that they will be able tp prosecute this when the so called "crack" to their security was a simple 1 key stroke...

  3. #3
    Security Intelligence TZ Veteran cash_site's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Software Paradise
    Originally posted by rik
    I find it hard to believe that they will be able tp prosecute this when the so called "crack" to their security was a simple 1 key stroke...
    unless they start putting in EULA saying you must not press shift to use/listen to CD

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  4. #4
    Head Honcho Administrator Reverend's Avatar
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    Apr 2002
    A software company has dropped a threat to sue a US student who published details on how to get around anti-piracy technology on a new music CD.The company behind the software, SunnComm Technologies, said it did not want to hamper academic research.

    Last week computer science graduate John Halderman showed how to defeat the copy-protection software by pressing a single computer key.

    Several firms are looking at ways to make it harder to share music online.

    SunnComm has originally said it was going to sue to Mr Halderman for revealing the secrets of the anti-piracy measures.But following publicity surrounding the case, the company's boss has backed away from the threat of legal action."It wasn't our intention to strike a blow against research," Peter Jacobs told the news agency Reuters."We sincerely thought that the research was not founded on the premise for which the technology was invented in the first place.The research doesn't dilute our technology at all, nor does it nullify our technology."

    BBC News

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  5. #5
    Super Moderator Super Moderator Big Booger's Avatar
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    Apr 2002
    They would have lost anyway.. I think if you publish this stuff.. you should do it as anonymously as possible...

    Perhaps use a wifi hotspot and use an anonymizer and proxy to prevent a trace back to you....

    I wouldn't publish crap without knowing that I'd be protected or at least trying to protect my identity..

    Some people are insane.. with the DMCA it is like an open ticket to take you to court...

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