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Hacker cracks Netflix copy restrictions

DRM is dead. Long live DRM.

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A hacker has found a way to crack digital rights management restrictions in major movies streamed by Netflix, allowing those with a valid account to save, copy and share the videos.

Using only Internet Explorer, Windows Media player, notepad and a program called FairUse4WM, a user by the name of DIzzIE offers step-by-step directions on Rorta, a message board for hackers.

The crack requires finding the URL of the video file, downloading it, obtaining the license key and then stripping out the DRM. The 14-step process sounds like a fair bit of work, even if the restrictions imposed by Netflix (requiring movies be consumed in a browser rather than on portable devices) are onerous. Translation: this hack is likely to appeal only to geeks.

It's also one more reminder of the fragility of DRM, which typically takes years to build and months - if not weeks - to tear down. Case in point, according to DIzzIE, after his initial post introducing the hack, Netflix updated the Individualized Blackbox Component used to wrap DRM around the files - presumably in the hope it would render the hack ineffective.

"This is no big deal," says DIzzIE, who goes on to detail a workaround. ®

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