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Computer enthusiasts have cracked the encryption protecting Stephen King's on-line novella Riding the Bullet, and are distributing pirated, cracked copies via the Web for free. The novella sells for US $2.50 at some of its on-line distributors; others have been giving it away as a promotional gimmick. The 16,000-word novella, published by Simon & Schuster, was posted earlier this month at several sites licensed for its electronic distribution. It has also been posted on a number of sites in its cracked free edition, though the publisher says most of the hosts have been cooperative in removing it when notified. Cover art in the cracked file which appears only in a certain legal distribution suggests that the original file came from Glassbook, an electronic publisher distributing PDF versions of the novella. It is not known whether Glassbook's own public key was attacked or whether Adobe's crypto system for PDF was exploited. Either way, this case, along with a number of other high-profile cracks and tricks recently used to defeat music and DVD copyright protections, should incline publishers to think twice before rushing to market poorly-protected intellectual property via the Web. ® Related stories ebooks ride bullet to mass market Stephen King publishes novella on Net only

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