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vendredi 10 novembre 2006

EMI's "DRM Circumventing HOWTO"

Unbelievable... I got the info from corsario through StopDRM!: the document it is all about is there. The whole thing is in French, so here's a quick explanation of what's going on: the EMI label maintains a website which explains how to circumvent their own DRM. (quick summary: DRM are more or less anti-copying systems, EMI (cf Wikipedia) is a record label which sells music with DRM, circumventing is forbidden by the newly-adopted DADVSI law in France and by the DMCA in the USA).

Here's a quick translation of the beginning of the front page :

Copy Control has been created as a measure against digital cloning and the uploading of our artists' music on illegal file-sharing networks, while allowing you a complete and free personal use of the music as stated by the law about private copying [translator's note: this is a reference to French law. French citizens pay a tax on storage peripherals (USB drives, DAPs, etc.) and media (blank CDs, etc.) which goes to an organism (the SACEM) whose role is to pay the artists back, and in counterpart they are allowed to make private copies of what they buy, for personal use. However, circumventing a DRM, even for private copying purposes, is forbidden...].

It is indeed possible and simple to make a personal copy of a Copy Control disc, or even to copy the tracks on a computer's hard drive in order, for example, to transfer them to a digital audio player. The principle is that of analog copying: we are going to copy the sound signal emitted by the CD player on another CD or on a computer. This tutorial explains how.

... and of a chosen excerpt from this page :

1. Installing the required software

The first thing to do is to install a recording software on your computer. Most computers have a software coming with the sound card in order to do that; however, for this tutorial, we are going to use the Audiotools software which is available on line for free by clicking here (all info about this software on the website Once the software is downloaded and installed, we are going to connect the hardware.

2. Connection of the hardware

It is required to link the "out" or "line out" plug of the source (CD player, small music player, personal stereo) to the "in" or "line in" plug of the computer's soundcard (usually in blue, at the back of the computer).


It is therefore usually sufficient to plug in a RCA wire on one side (on the player's output) and mini-jack on the other one (on the computer) but this may vary according to your hardware.


Once this is done, we will proceed with the recording of the tracks.

Some thoughts about this:

  • DRM are not yet a consensus, even within their advocates, and the nightmare of a grand unified control system is not for today (as shown by the question of interoperability; it is still war, and there are neither consortia nor monopole for now).
  • DADVSI's revolting dispositions are probably caused as much by incompetence than by lobbying.
  • The fact that DRM are fundamentally inefficient is not the main problem, their aim is to require people to jump through hoops to stop illegal downloading as a social practice (no technical skills are required anymore to do this). Problem: it only complicates the upload, but those who to this have the knowledge, and once it's online, downloading (and serving as a peer) is not more complex.
  • The worse thing about DRM is the lack of info about them being there when you buy something. I could even accept the private copying right to be removed (and the tax along with it, of course) if the protected works were labelled so that I may avoid them. Sadly, DRMised CDs aren't really labelled in a clear way, and the presence of the CSS DRM on DVDs isn't indicated anywhere.

EMI explique comment contourner ses propres DRM !

Une information incroyable rapportée par corsario sur StopDRM! : allez donc voir les pages du site web d'EMI (cf Wikipédia, j'adore la page d'homonymie...). Pas grand-chose à rajouter, tout y est. Petit rappel vulgarisé pour non initiés : un DRM est un dispositif anti-copie, EMI est une maison de disque qui vend de la musique avec DRM, les pages web visées sont issues de leur site et expliquent comment contourner leur propre DRM (pour autoriser en fin de compte la copie), ce genre d'aide au contournement est sévèrement puni par la loi DADVSI récemment adoptée en France.

Quelques réflexions en vrac :

  • Les DRM sont encore loin de faire consensus, même chez ceux en chantant les louanges, et le cauchemar d'un système de DRM unifié n'est pas pour tout de suite (comme pour leur interopérabilité : c'est pour le moment toujours la guerre ouverte, on n'a ni consortium ni monopole pour l'instant).
  • Les dispositions révoltantes de la loi DADVSI sont probablement dues aussi bien à l'incompétence qu'au lobbying.
  • Le fait que les DRM soit faillibles n'est pas le problème principal, leur but est de nécessiter une compétence technique pour le contournement afin d'éviter la pratique sociale du téléchargement illégal (qui est maintenant devenu un acte ne nécessitant que peu de connaissances préalables). Problème : cela ne fait que compliquer la mise en ligne, mais ce sont des gens doués qui font ça, et après le téléchargement (et le fait de servir de relais) n'est pas plus complexe.
  • Le point le plus gênant à propos des DRM est le peu d'informations sur leur présence lors de l'achat. À l'extrême limite, l'abolition du droit à la copie privée (et la suppression de la redevance) me conviendraient si les oeuvres "copiables" et "non copiables" étaient indiquées comme telles à l'achat pour que je n'en achète que dans la première catégorie. Malheureusement, la signalisation des CD Audio est moyenne et la présence de CSS sur les DVD n'est indiquée nulle part.

vendredi 3 novembre 2006

The FSF France vs. Free affair, or: lose-lose is better than win-win

Here is a post written hastily in order to be somewhat up to date with the news (and avoid to report them with a few months' delay). It is about the Freebox controversy, about the respect of the GNU General Public License. Although the debate was about quite specialised issues, it was widely reported on French IT information websites:

A quick search on Google did not report any English news article about the topic, so I may be one of the first to report it to the English-speaking world. (Although that, given to Free's national nature, this is in fact local news, and it could well be that nobody's interested after all.)

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jeudi 2 novembre 2006

L'affaire FSF France vs. Free, ou comment risquer beaucoup pour gagner peu

Voici un billet rédigé rapidement pour essayer d'être à peu près à jour concernant l'actualité. Il traite de la controverse concernant les Freebox, quant au respect de la GNU General Public License. Le débat, bien qu'assez spécialisé, a été remarquablement relayé par les sites d'actualité informatique :

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propulsé par DotClear