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New workaround for Apple DRM

PlayFair undoes FairPlay

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Jon Lech Johansen's code that circumvents iTunes DRM has been given a fresh workout. A project named 'playfair' allows users with an iTunes key to create unencrypted AAC files. Apple uses the AAC format in combination with FairPlay DRM to lock down the music bought from its iTunes Music Store.

"The playfair program is quite simple," according to the README. "It takes one of the iTMS Protected AAC Audio Files, decodes it using a key obtained from your iPod or Microsoft Windows system and then writes the new, decoded version to disk as a regular AAC Audio File. It then optionally copies the metadata tags that describe the song, including the cover art, to the new file."

The restriction doesn't allow wholesale decryption: you must own a key and the files must be associated with that key. On the Macintosh, you'll also need an iPod to generate the key.

Jon Johansen first published his circumvent ion in November, and in January worked it into the open source VideoLAN project.

Despite Steve Jobs comments to Rolling Stone magazine - "we don't believe it's possible to protect digital content" - Apple continues to lead the industry in attempting protecting digital content. It promises to keep the hackers busy: a patent application published last July indicates that Apple is brewing its own DRM, which it may or may not share with the industry. The author co-chaired the secretive Copy Protection Technology Working Group - which bars journalists from attending its sessions - with representatives from Sony Corporation and Warner Brothers. ®

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