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Questioning the security of a closed FairPlay

David Chartier

Ken Fisher at Ars Technica thinks something smells fishy about Steve Jobs's claims that licensing a DRM system will lead to its defeat. By comparing the security track records of iTunes's FairPlay and Microsoft's rival and heavily-licensed PlaysForSure, Ken might also have a good point. As history goes, FairPlay has been cracked four times (including Real's own hack for their store), while PlaysForSure has suffered only one true crack in its time. Perhaps more significant than either of these numbers, however, is that none of these DRM breaches were the result of secrets being shared from the inside; they apparently were all spearheaded by creatives from the community who might not hold digital rights management in the highest of regards.

Of course, the issue isn't nearly this cut and dry. The iTunes Store's 800-pound gorilla-like popularity can help explain its greater number of breaches (however: wouldn't one be more interested in cracking the store that offers unlimited music via subscription?). In the end, Ken settles on revisiting the possibility of licensing DRM. Since Jobs already let the 'get rid of DRM' cat out of the bag, however, I'm thinking the public isn't going to put the idea to rest anytime soon.

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