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Hackers have released an application that strips off copy-protection features on music bought via the Zune Marketplace, Microsoft's online music store.

The package makes it possible to remove the DRM shackles off Zune Marketplace tracks. Zune Marketplace works with Microsoft's Zune media players in a similar way to Apple's iTunes and iPod. But unlike iPods, Zune players come with built-in Wi-Fi connections. So the hack allows subscribers of Zune Marketplace to hand over music to their mates who don't have a subscription but do have a Zune. Normally shared music can only be played three times.

Zune DRM Stripper does exactly what it says on the tin, according to audiophiles at Zune Scene. "We were 100 per cent successful with the Zune crack on marketplace files and even files transferred via Zune to Zune Wi-Fi," the site reports.

The package comes with two executables - FairUse4wm and mirakagi, seemingly a Zune decryption extension to the previously released (main executable). Expect updates from Microsoft to address the apparent shortcomings of its file protection software, which hackers will continue to attack. As a result, end users - most of whom will never come near a Zune - will end up running ever more bloated and, inevitably, buggy software. ®

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