Napster feels the heat over flawed copy-protection scheme

“Less than three weeks after Napster Inc. began touting its all-you-can-rent music subscription service, the company finds itself refuting Internet claims that its copy-protection measures are flawed,” The Associated Press reports. “The company posted a message this week, saying the service’s digital music tracks are no more susceptible to unauthorized copying than any other licensed music service.”

“The statement comes after word surfaced on the Internet about how subscribers of Napster To Go, which lets users play an unlimited number of tracks on their computer or on certain portable devices for about $15 a month, could make permanent copies of the songs,” AP reports. “The method involves downloading a free audio player that is able to record audio directly from a computer’s sound card, bypassing copy-protection technology designed to prevent copying. Such a method could potentially harm the prospects for the company’s new service.”

Full article here.
Napster’s statement here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s iTunes model works because you at least have to buy the song for 99-cents before you can play it and/or strip off the DRM. Napster To Go’s model does not work for the artists and music labels because a user can simply pay one low monthly subscription fee (or get the free 14-day trial) and strip the DRM off every song in the 1,000,000 song library. Do the artists and music labels understand the problem here? This new Napster To Go is potentially worse for them than even the original Napster.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Apple CEO Steve Jobs warns record industry of Napster To Go’s security gap – February 16, 2005
Users thwart Napster To Go’s copy protection; do the music labels realize the piracy potential? – February 15, 2005
Napster-To-Go’s ‘rental music’ DRM circumvented – February 14, 2005
Napster CEO Gorog: ‘it’s stupid to buy an iPod’ – February 10, 2005


  1. And Gorog has an attitude of “I don’t care.” I wonder if the recording industry likes that attitude as millions of dollars are being ripped of in music downloads. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”tongue wink” style=”border:0;” />

  2. Since Tuesday, Napster has declined after peaking on the news of NTG. The impact is revenue on the Napster bottom line. If you can rip the analog line off of the subscription model, why puchase any tracks for $.99? You won’t if you can get it for free. This will translate into a reduced possible revenue for Napster, thus lower stock price. Short Napster shares!

  3. A method that would batch process sound files and strip the DRM would be significant.

    Track by track stealing at real time, on the other hand, is sufficiently onerous that no significant number of people would make the attempt. Spend 45 minutes to rip a pop CD worth of tracks? No thanks, that’s idiotic.

    If that is the only extent to which Napster’s DRM has been “cracked” then who gives a flying fsck at a rolling donut? No DRM is going to be 100% effective–if it is effective enough to make 99.5% of people not copy it is more than sufficient.

  4. Check out Slashdot. It is trivial to fire up as many instances of WinAmp as resources allow to simultaneously record multiple streams. The whole 1:1 argument of the aplogists is flawed.

  5. This is actually much easier than Napster 1.0 and P2P services, and is thus a very very big deal. It takes forever these days to find even one album with quick and consistent quality tracks using P2P. It may have been easier with Napster 1.0, but it still wasn’t as easy as Napster 2.0 or iTunes Music Store. I really doubt that Napster folks are so stupid as to believe what they wrote on their website. The obvious problem is that subscription services let you gorge yourself, and this hack makes it easy to walk away without paying. I doubt many people will want to go through the pain of downloading nearly 300 CDs over a two week period. But grabbing 2 or 3 CDs per day over 14 days is really easy. Only two tracks will download at a time, but the rest are put into a que. So, you can rapidly go through the service and click on tracks to download. Then you drag all of the downloaded files into a Winamp playlist and play. Go to bed, wake up in the morning and you have a ton of unprotected wav files.

    I’m not interested in stealing music. But I am interested in the subscription concept being killed as quickly as possible. I don’t want to ever be in a situation where the only way to get music is to pay a subscription to a content provider. I can go 2 or 3 months without wanting to buy any music, because I think most of the new stuff sucks. Why should I have to keep paying during this period of time? So, I hope people jump all over this and it makes Napster pull the service. In the end, Apple will look so much better for not letting people gorge themselves on free music.

  6. So, finally Napster finds a business plan to be the “iTMS killer”. Get $15, pay next to nothing to the artists, get users to download unlimited music and blame users for copyright infringement to escape RIAA’s wrath. Sounds good to me. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

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