AfterDawn: Tech news

Personal info is embedded in non-DRM tracks from Apple, others

Written by Andre Yoskowitz (Google+) @ 07 Apr 2010 22:31 User comments (19)

Personal info is embedded in non-DRM tracks from Apple, others Techcrunch has a very interesting article today that speaks about "new DRM," the embedding of personal info into tracks purchased from major retailers such Apple and Wal-Mart.
Here is their post from an anonymous music industry 'insider':

Hidden in purchased music files from popular stores such as Apple and Walmart is information to identify the buyer and/or the transaction. You wonít find it disclosed in their published terms of use. Itís nowhere in their support documentation. Thereís no mention in the digital receipt. Consumers are largely oblivious to this, but it could have future ramifications as the music industry takes another stab at locking down music files.

Hereís how it works. During the buying process a username and transaction ID are known by the online retailers. Before making the song available for download their software embeds into the file either an account name or a transaction number or both. Once downloaded, the file has squirreled away this personal information in a manner where you canít easily see it, but if someone knows where to look they can. This information doesnít affect the audio fidelity, but it does permanently attach to the file data which can be used to trace back to the original purchaser which could be used at a later date.

Retailers arenít talking, but thereís ample proof of whatís transpiring. Using simple file comparison tools itís possible to verify this behavior by purchasing identical songs using different accounts and see if they match. I emailed support departments for several retailers asking if they would acknowledge these actions and inquiring about what specific information they are embedding. Only 7digital responded saying they donít use any watermarks. What retailers wonít say publicly is that the major record labels are requiring this behavior as a precondition to sell their music.

Certain record labels have aspirations to use this hidden data to control future access to music in a return to DRM (digital rights management). The labels yearn to control where you can listen to your music and this could be a backdoor for them to achieve it. When personal libraries are stored in the cloud, it becomes possible to retrieve this personal data and match it to a user identity. If the match is successful the song plays, but if not, access can be blocked through a network DRM system such as the one Lala patented (which is now owned by Apple).

For the scheme to work record labels need all retailers to support this and so far some notable names are resisting. Napster, Amazon and UK based 7digital are selling clean MP3 files. Files purchased from these stores do not have any user information whatsoever embedded into them. Other retailers such as Apple and Walmart have succumbed to label pressure to embed personal info.

Retailers and record labels should have the right to sell dirty files if they wish, however they should be obligated to disclose their practices in advance. Consumers should have this information so they can make an informed buying decision about whether to support dirty or clean MP3 vendors. If Barnes and Noble printed your name on pages of books you purchase that would be important information to know because it would affect the value of your book. Here the clandestine actions are even more worrisome because it could lead to a future lockdown of purchases. If the labels have plans to require cloud vendors to use this information in the future, they should disclose that as well.


For those of you who want to be able to compare "clean" versus "dirty" e-tailers, check this site: http://mp3storeguide.com/

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19 user comments

17.4.2010 23:00

This is pretty much like tracking anything you buy, and using it as a basis to obtain proof to legally persecute a customer in case they share the file.

28.4.2010 0:15

Sounds like it is not safe to buy music...better pirate it instead.

38.4.2010 0:26

lol killerbug :)

48.4.2010 0:52

Simple...DON'T SHARE YOUR PURCHASED MUSIC, IDIOTS! Oh no! I have files on my drive that might identify me??? No sh*t, Sherlock!!! More tinfoil hat dweeb nonsense!

58.4.2010 2:34

its Simple...RIP THIS SHIT OUT ITS AGAINST THE LAW,MORONS! See i can shout too. Xnon you dont sound like the dumb type please say you don't support this obvious illegal DRM.

68.4.2010 3:52

estimated time to cracking??? 4.3 seconds...

78.4.2010 4:19

Originally posted by KillerBug:
Sounds like it is not safe to buy music...better pirate it instead.
already ahead of you :)

88.4.2010 7:03

I gotta say once again kudos to the Conspiracy Theorists this shit is creepy as hell, I have never purchased MP3 files individually online. And now I never will, your not safe even if you do things legally its a catch 22.

98.4.2010 8:39

Originally posted by DXR88:
its Simple...RIP THIS SHIT OUT ITS AGAINST THE LAW,MORONS! See i can shout too. Xnon you dont sound like the dumb type please say you don't support this obvious illegal DRM.
I'm just sick of all the incessant whining about DRM...even when it's hardly invasive. There are many valid arguments against some DRM (e.g. not even being able to convert it to another format for whatever use), but simply having an ID tag on a downloaded file is hardly ANYTHING when it's easily stripped out, yet some feel a need to be a whackjob conspiracy theorist about it.

108.4.2010 9:14

Originally posted by xnonsuchx:
Originally posted by DXR88:
its Simple...RIP THIS SHIT OUT ITS AGAINST THE LAW,MORONS! See i can shout too. Xnon you dont sound like the dumb type please say you don't support this obvious illegal DRM.
I'm just sick of all the incessant whining about DRM...even when it's hardly invasive. There are many valid arguments against some DRM (e.g. not even being able to convert it to another format for whatever use), but simply having an ID tag on a downloaded file is hardly ANYTHING when it's easily stripped out, yet some feel a need to be a whackjob conspiracy theorist about it.
ok smartass,
say you downlaoded a song legally from itunes.you like it so much that you listen to it all day.
then you decide your dad might like it as well so you send him a copy. that copy somehow gets intercepted and youre facing a copyright infringement lawsuit.
sounds far fetched doesnt it? well its the world you live in and its people like you, ignorant farts, that make it possible for policies like these to be issued unhindered by the big corporations.

118.4.2010 10:50

Does it retain that data if you reformat it to CDA and re-rip?

128.4.2010 11:44

its been known for years that this is away for dmr to track music where has everyone been also if you line up 2 or more printers there is a hidden mark telling you which printer was used to print what paper wow its like this stuff needs to said over and over look its easy if you dont want to get caught doing something against the law dont do it other then that your rolling those dice and someday you'll shot crap...wow did you know when you burn a cdc or dvd your info (about the machine like ownership and registration numbers and type of burner gets added to the file... now thats about 15 year old info for you younger people so be carefull...

138.4.2010 18:16

Originally posted by Josipher:
Originally posted by xnonsuchx:
Originally posted by DXR88:
its Simple...RIP THIS SHIT OUT ITS AGAINST THE LAW,MORONS! See i can shout too. Xnon you dont sound like the dumb type please say you don't support this obvious illegal DRM.
I'm just sick of all the incessant whining about DRM...even when it's hardly invasive. There are many valid arguments against some DRM (e.g. not even being able to convert it to another format for whatever use), but simply having an ID tag on a downloaded file is hardly ANYTHING when it's easily stripped out, yet some feel a need to be a whackjob conspiracy theorist about it.
ok smartass,
say you downlaoded a song legally from itunes.you like it so much that you listen to it all day.
then you decide your dad might like it as well so you send him a copy. that copy somehow gets intercepted and youre facing a copyright infringement lawsuit.
sounds far fetched doesnt it? well its the world you live in and its people like you, ignorant farts, that make it possible for policies like these to be issued unhindered by the big corporations.
If you want your dad to have it, buy him his own damn copy! Arguing against DRM because you fully intend to 'pirate' is the most ridiculously lame (and truly ignorant) argument. And if you really want to pirate it, convert it to MP3 or otherwise strip out the info. Such LAZY people out there!
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 08 Apr 2010 @ 18:18

149.4.2010 13:21

Xnon, do you work for the RIAA??
Or maybe Apple?

159.4.2010 16:33

Originally posted by gnovak1:
Xnon, do you work for the RIAA??
Or maybe Apple?

No. Are you an adult w/o a mental disorder?

169.4.2010 17:54

Seriously...anyone who lives in your house or browses to your unsecured wireless connection (or hell, wireless is pretty easily crackable for the determined) can suck up all your MP3's and share them. Is it going to happen to you? Unlikely. Is it going to happen somewhere? Very likely.

You sound like you live in a situation where nobody else lives at your house or has access to your music/videos/etc. A majority of Americans don't live that way. They don't deserve to be prosecuted because of it.

179.4.2010 19:58

All let's tone it down now - there is no need flame one another. If you really feel the need to do it then do it elsewhere but not at aD




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1813.4.2010 14:59

Originally posted by Josipher:
Originally posted by xnonsuchx:
Originally posted by DXR88:
its Simple...RIP THIS SHIT OUT ITS AGAINST THE LAW,MORONS! See i can shout too. Xnon you dont sound like the dumb type please say you don't support this obvious illegal DRM.
I'm just sick of all the incessant whining about DRM...even when it's hardly invasive. There are many valid arguments against some DRM (e.g. not even being able to convert it to another format for whatever use), but simply having an ID tag on a downloaded file is hardly ANYTHING when it's easily stripped out, yet some feel a need to be a whackjob conspiracy theorist about it.
ok smartass,
say you downlaoded a song legally from itunes.you like it so much that you listen to it all day.
then you decide your dad might like it as well so you send him a copy. that copy somehow gets intercepted and youre facing a copyright infringement lawsuit.
sounds far fetched doesnt it? well its the world you live in and its people like you, ignorant farts, that make it possible for policies like these to be issued unhindered by the big corporations.
Or how about you backed up the files to your external hard drive and went to the airport. Now they're looking at your files, and since it's not on you're crappod they've decided your distributing the files, and you're screwed all over again.

Face it guys, you're not sovereign Citizens of a state you're slave "citizens" of the corporation dba USA, and not "these united states".

1913.4.2010 19:57

Originally posted by Tarsellis:
Originally posted by Josipher:
Originally posted by xnonsuchx:
Originally posted by DXR88:
its Simple...RIP THIS SHIT OUT ITS AGAINST THE LAW,MORONS! See i can shout too. Xnon you dont sound like the dumb type please say you don't support this obvious illegal DRM.
I'm just sick of all the incessant whining about DRM...even when it's hardly invasive. There are many valid arguments against some DRM (e.g. not even being able to convert it to another format for whatever use), but simply having an ID tag on a downloaded file is hardly ANYTHING when it's easily stripped out, yet some feel a need to be a whackjob conspiracy theorist about it.
ok smartass,
say you downlaoded a song legally from itunes.you like it so much that you listen to it all day.
then you decide your dad might like it as well so you send him a copy. that copy somehow gets intercepted and youre facing a copyright infringement lawsuit.
sounds far fetched doesnt it? well its the world you live in and its people like you, ignorant farts, that make it possible for policies like these to be issued unhindered by the big corporations.
Or how about you backed up the files to your external hard drive and went to the airport. Now they're looking at your files, and since it's not on you're crappod they've decided your distributing the files, and you're screwed all over again.

Face it guys, you're not sovereign Citizens of a state you're slave "citizens" of the corporation dba USA, and not "these united states".
I prefer Corporate Marketing Guinea Pigs, if you think living in the 18th Century America protects you from the evils of the modern age. i know a few places you'll love.

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