Seattle: Microsoft is once again on the defensive against hackers after the launch of a new program that gives average PC users tools to unlock copy-protected digital music and movies.
The latest version of the program, FairUse4M, which can crack Microsoft’s digital rights management (DRM) system for Windows Media audio and video files, was published online late Friday.
FairUse4M has a simple drag-and-drop interface. And PC users can turn the protected music files they bought online into DRM-free tunes that can be copied and shared, or converted into MP3 files.
“We knew at the start that no DRM technology is going to be impervious to circumvention,” said Jonathan Usher, a director in Microsoft’s consumer media technology group.
He did not say how many songs have been stripped of copy protection, or how long it will take for Microsoft to combat the hack again.
But the music industry is aware of the nature of Microsoft’s technology, he said, and added that he does not expect record labels to lose patience with the process.
While Usher said Microsoft will remain committed to copy protection, attitudes around the industry are starting to shift.
Apple’s chief, Steve Jobs, for one, has started calling for an end to digital music-locking earlier this year. In fact, Apple, as well as Web retailer Amazon.com, have already jumped on the DRM-free bandwagon.
Josh Bernoff, an industry analyst, said he expects music DRM to fade out in the next few years as record companies begin to realise selling unprotected tracks online won’t hurt sales.