How soon will AAC DRM be cracked?


[burn baby burn] Apple made a reasonable DRM (digital rights management) system for their music store. You can copy to as many iPods you want to buy from them and up to three macs. And more importantly you can burn a cd for your car or old style stereo or your friend. Then you can of course also reimport the cd with a bit of a quality loss.

Despite all that, I am sure it won't take long before someone cracks the system. Any guesses on how long?

Will whoever cracks it be able to make something so protected AACs can just be changed to unprotected or will it be a crack to Quicktime/iTunes or something else?

Will it be before or after iTunes for Windows come out?

Macrumors has a bit more details on AAC.

Oh, and if you haven't tried the new iTunes: The biggest change is that the icon is now green. And it seems like it might support HTTP Range requests for HTTP streams; at least it doesn't disable the playhead slider when playing certain streams. Something to look into ...

Update: It's cracked. Sorta. It turns out that there are several applications that'll convert your protected AAC files to .AIFF files with no hassle. That requires you to recompress them with quality loss. A real crack would allow you to keep the files in AAC format but use them unrestricted.


You can't pause streams, it seems. I just tried, and no range was sent. When I paused, and hit play again, it started from the beginning. I can use the fwd and rev scan buttons to move ahead in a track, or click in the playhead and move the slider fwd and back, which seems like an improvement, but I actually can't move back at all, and moving fwd only moves ahead a fraction of a second. Glancing at the traffic being sent/received, I don't see anything about range requests being sent.

One improvement, however, is that -- finally! -- the ID3 tags are being pulled out of the stream. For the longest time, you got just the track name, with no album/artist/title/track number/etc. Now it pulls out all the ID3 info (for ID3v2 it is at the beginning of the track anyway) and puts it into the iTunes Library info.

I would say the biggest (coolest) change is the Rendezvous sharing, which works pretty well. Though ogg files don't seem to be streamable.

Also, finally there's support for album cover art. (though Clutter is better).

the music store is a big feature if you would use it, i guess.

i did my own uncontrolled listening test to see if 128kbps AAC was really as good as the CD audio. I ripped one track into Ogg (quality 4), AAC 128kbps, MP3 128kbps, and MP3 VBR (--r3mix with lame). compared with the original aiff file straight off the CD, I think OGG is the best., with the VBR MP3 coming in second. Some songs seemed to lose bass information and emphasize the treble on both the AAC and the 128kbps MP3. Really it was nearly imperceptible,though. (and the VBR MP3 was by far the largest file).

If there's a new CD that I want and it's available, I would probably buy it through the service. cheaper and faster than normal. burn the tracks to CD and it's as if you bought it.

To properly pause a stream, you would want to use RTSP/RTP. It will be a great day when we all switch from running HTTP based streams to RTSP/RTP based.

Sander: HTTP 1.1 has options for specifying the desired range of bytes, so when resuming a stream, it can just pick up from there. The same goes for FTP, but I don't think that will become a popular protocol for streaming.

Björn: wouldn't it be possible to create a virtual device driver that mimics a CD writer? That driver could then save all output from iTunes (which it sends as audio CD tracks) to unprotected files, and/or re-encode it into some other format, lossy or not.

It seems to me that the copy restrictions in place on AAC are not really very restrictive - for personal use. If that's the case, then the only reason to crack them is for piracy.
Given that this occuring adds weight to the arguement for extreemly restrictive technologies like Palladium, don't you think it would be in all our interests not to abuse this quite reasonable system?
(btw, I hate M$, and am not an employee of theirs - so don't flame me!)

I agree with some of what you're saying, but that's still an undesirable option, even if AAC was cracked. Reencoding one compression format into another is generally bad (in terms of sound quality - you get the combined artifacts introduced during both compression methods).
Also, I doubt it's necessary to crack AAC in order to reencode it into another format, since it is possible to interrupt and record the digital audio stream sent to the soundcard...

In any case, that's not really an arguement against DRM per se, but an arguement against using non-universally supported compression codecs.

Actually, there is a reason for cracking DRM for personal use and not piracy - my wife has an OTIS - it won't play the protected files that my Ipod does, I bought her a crapload of music from apple's store and it wouldn't transfer over - then I find out it's protected and the otis won't play them. Yea! So I need unprotected MP3's now. I freakin bought the songs I should be able to use them the way I want, fair use!

Fair use as long as you're using apple...too bad we don't have a standard that has protection for DRM that is a bit less restrictice to a specific company...

AAC could be implemented in other music players, it's their choice not to support it, it IS a standard.

AAC is not a standard. It is one of many options. The standard thusfar had been MP3 and only MP3. As far a universal acceptance goes, its the only one out there.

I find the sound quality is excellent if reimported from the CD on 192 kbps. The base is richer than the Protected AAC at 128 kbps. Some of you out there are probably obssessed with sound clarity. But I wager that for you its not about the music but about the piracy and the size of your collection. As Bjorn notes the sound degradation is "a little bit". I for one love music and don't regard my collection as coins or stamps but something i listen to. so get off of it and re-import off the CD to circumvent the system. The end.

i find what the last guy said to be true as well, though i think it takes balls to accept any kind of quality loss. i recently did a test with a 192k mp3 where i was trying to degrade the sound quality and get that swishy effect. one of the things that struck me was how good things sounded if you converted a converted wav back to mp3 at 192. i could scarcely tell the difference between them with good headphones. i'll try it again at the club and if i remember, i'll come back and let y'all know.

Well, reencoding or whatever, the analog loopwhole etc, is the end of all DRM.
The loss of quality is not so much important, if you compare what you get with a taperecorder. So what is protected by DRM? The aura of the original sotosay..........I dont want to pay for this.


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This page contains a single entry by Ask Bjørn Hansen published on April 30, 2003 2:29 AM.

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