Apple's success in the nascent digital music market has justified its service as a potential target for crackers and hackers.
New software called QTFairUse appeared online last week. The software is capable of evading the anticopying technology that protects tracks sold through Apple's service – but only on Windows.
QTFairUse has been developed by Jon Johansen, a cracker that made a name for himself for figuring a way to break the copy-protection technology found on DVDs.
Though the software is complex to use, as a technology experiment it may be a signal that some tech-savvy music fans antagonized by the manner in which the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) protects its copyrights may develop software designed to obviate the security protection set by Apple and other online music stores.
Effectively, it extracts Digital Rights Management-free AAC data from a DRM'd AAC stream as it plays in the QuickTime player.
CNet reports that Johansen's software patches QuickTime with his own software, called 'memory dumper'. That name has caused developers to speculate that it works by making a copy of raw, unprotected data held in computer temporary memory, but this isn't confirmed. Apple could mend this, the report states.
Microsoft's Windows Media alternative was itself broken last month, but the company released updates to mend that vulnerability.
Industry watchers suggest that online content distribution rights management may transform into a growth industry for a variety of security specialists.
Some warn this serves as another example of why DRM is hard to create. If sounds play through speakers, it must exist in decrypted form somewhere in a computer's data path.