Engadget has an interview with “Viodentia”, creator of software which cracks Microsoft’s Windows Media DRM (Digital Rights Management). Engadget last month confirmed that the software (FairUse4WM) will strip the protection from music files downloaded from Napster (meaning that they could continue to play the music files after their Napster subscription ended).

It’s a relatively rare interview, given that this kind of activity now opens one up to prosecution under copyright legislation.

Of note are the following points:

  • It only took him–working alone–a few months to crack the DRM
  • In line with one of my theories, he didn’t do it because of a hatred for DRM or Microsoft; rather “my selfish rationale is the challenge in pitting my skills against the industry leader.” (ie the age-old true hacker motivation: technical challenge)
  • He has two insightful observations about DRM and subscription services: one, “the entire world doesn’t turn upside down when there’s no effective protection on content”; and two, “the value of a subscription is the continuing access to new titles, which isn’t dependent on the protection. I wonder if any subscription company will publicly admit that FairUse4WM was good for them.” (This is the flipside to my earlier observation that continuing access to existing acquired content is also a lot more important than people realise. (New content is what keeps customers, and keeping existing access is what doesn’t scare them away.)