Playing WMA DRM files

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by berns19, Mar 6, 2005.

  1. berns19 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    #1
    I belong to an institution that uses NetLibrary, which carries audio books, all of which are encoded with WMA DRM. Of course, WMA with DRM doesn't really work on the Mac, and I could really use the audio book. I've tried ffmpeg, EasyWMA, VLC, DivXWMAConvert, Hyperion and a few others to convert the audio in question to a listenable format, but for obvious reasons Microsoft doesn't like other people being able to use their format.

    What is a Mac user to do?

    (I'd appreciate it if any of the philosophical/legal arguments and/or flame wars could be set aside here, I'm interested only in the pragmatic aspects of playing files I should be able to play.) Thanks.
     
  2. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #2
    First off, see if you can play your WMA files using Windows Media Player 9 for MacOS X. Failing that, a Mac user is to find a Windows machine and install Windows Media Player 10 on it or to install WMP 10 on Virtual PC. Be warned--WMP 10 is a new malware-enabling technology from the wonderful people in Redmond. You might do well to turn your back on DRMed WMA.
     
  3. clayj macrumors 604

    clayj

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    #3
    What exactly does THAT mean?
     
  4. Yvan256 macrumors 601

    Yvan256

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    #4
    How about asking that institution to offer something else than a locked format controlled by an illegal monopolistic corporation? :confused:

    And if they go "everyone's got a PC", try to make a petition from all the Mac, BSD and Linux users. Maybe the institution will see how wrong they were in their DRM-WMA choice (here's hoping).

    I know this isn't the answer you were hoping for, but you never know what might happen unless you ask them.
     
  5. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #5
    So....I really should avoid this fight.... ;) But what's the alternative that should be put to them? Their claim to needing some kind of DRM seems fair enough. Fairplay is available at least on Mac and PC, but unless the materials are provided through iTMS (which seems unlikely atm, for this application), then they have no access to it. Protected WMA is often incompatible outside the PC world. I guess there are open source DRM activities, but are they up to speed? AFAIK, Ogg-Vorbis is the biggest OSS format, and it does not have a working DRM system yet. I don't know anyone personally who has software on their computer that supports such a thing.

    I'm kinda with the OP, that legal subtleties aside, there are occasions when something long the lines of JHymn for WMA DRM would be greatly appreciated. I don't personally use any educational materials that are delivered in DRM audio, but for instance, also for songs that occasionally are available through Win music services but not iTunes.
     
  6. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #6
    What it means is that Microsoft's new Windows Media 10 includes an unregulated downloadable license technology. My own experience with it was for free downloadable content. Can you think of a legitimate reason to require users to download licenses for free content? The user has no idea what else is being downloaded or what other servers are being accessed while downloading each license. Social engineering methods are tried and true techniques to trick users into allowing security breaches. Windows Media 10's licensing technlogy is an ideal social engineering tool to induce naive users to let their guards down.
     
  7. yellow Moderator emeritus

    yellow

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    #7
    The current WMP solution for Mac does not support the Microsoft DRM. Your solution? Play it on a PC and convert it to MP3/MPG/whatever.
     
  8. clayj macrumors 604

    clayj

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    #8
    One legitimate reason for requiring a license for free content (BTW, licenses aren't required by WMP 10... whether a license is required is up to the publisher of the content) is to test the licensing system. Another is that some free content still carries an expiration date, and the license is used to enforce this.

    Still, I'm curious as to why exactly you believe this is a problem. You state that the user "has no idea what else is being downloaded". Isn't that true for pretty much ANY program that works via the Internet? And why do you believe that there's some sort of hidden agenda? "Social engineering"? It kinda sounds to me like you hate Microsoft and are willing to charge them with wrongdoing even though you have no evidence of such.
     
  9. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #9
    That seems to be a stretch. If stuff it put out on the 'net for free, it seems highly unlikely that a legitmate provider would want to time limit it. In the interest of full disclosure, my experience was with WMV porn.
    ANY program? Absolutely not. If I download tune from iTMS, Real Media, Napster, or a numerous other sites, this is not the case. If I download software from trusted vendors or shareware portals, this is not the case.
    I never said that there is a hidden agenda. I do not believe for one femtosecond that Microsoft intended to release an easily exploitable licensing technology onto the public. However, I do believe that this scheme is poorly thought out and sloppily programmed.
    It is interesting that you ascribe ulterior malicious motives to my warnings. All I am saying is that Microsoft has done again what Microsoft has done before. As for evidence--well, I have a brain and I have eyes. I can see the obvious and I can recognize its implications. No possible exploit goes unexploited.
     
  10. clayj macrumors 604

    clayj

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    #10
    Ah, porn. OK. See, the thing is, I read what you wrote, and there is no mention of any actual harm that befell you as a result of using WMP 10. The text reads like a marketing release and is so vague that, at least to me, it's virtually meaningless. You ascribe to WMP 10 attributes (malware, easily exploited, etc.) for which there is seemingly no evidence. How exactly is it "easily exploited"? Is it so just because it's a Microsoft product? Please provide an example of how Microsoft's licensing system in WMP 10 could cause harm to a user, because I honestly don't see how it's possible. In other words, it's not as obvious as you make it out to be.

    Oh, and as to the question of whether a legitimate provider of free content would want to time limit it: Yes, they do. When Peter Gabriel's album Up was about to be released, Microsoft released the single Signal to Noise, free of charge, through WMP. It was licensed, and I had to accept the license, and the track expired and would no longer play effective about a week after the album was released. But nothing bad ever happened to me as a result of this.
     
  11. MisterMe macrumors G4

    MisterMe

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    #11
    None is so blind as he who will not see. You really fixate on the possibility that I may "hate" Microsoft. The possibility really bothers you, doesn't it. Rest assured that they are big boys who can take care of themselves. Not to worry.

    As to how to easily exploit Microsoft's downloadable licenses, there are two ways. One is that the licenses may contain links to third-party servers. What is on those third-party servers may be good, bad, or benign. However, there is no guarantee one way or another. Another possible exploit is that these licenses may act as trojans horses which carry malicious payloads.
    OK, you have given an example of a legtimate use of a downloadable license for free content, but you have not precluded the possibility of an illicit use for it. In my porn example, the actual video was a porn clip. I dare you to conceive of a legitimate need to DRM porn clips. Think about all the sites providing porn, pirated videos, and music on the 'Net. A person with malicious intent puts up such a site with free content "protected" by Microsoft DRM. The beauty of the scheme from the malicious provider's perspective is that the user actually agrees to download a license which carries malware. Not possible? It's certain.
     
  12. clayj macrumors 604

    clayj

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    #12
    How can a license carry malware? Maybe that's the relevant question here. A license is not a program... it's a string of bytes encoded into the content that tell the media player how long/often the file can be played, and whether it's transferrable to another system. Can you provide an example of a license that actually conveyed a PROGRAM onto a user's system?

    I'm not fixated on the fact that you may (or may not) hate Microsoft, but your original statement came off to me as FUD. That's why I seek clarification.
     
  13. mhamrick macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2005
    #13
    Can't play netlibrary content under VirtualPC

    It's actually not an issue with the version of WMP, it's really the fact that WMRM7 (Windows Media Rights Manager) is not implemented in WMP for MacOS X. So until our friends up at Redmond add that to the Mac, you're not going to be able to play netlibrary.com content on your Mac.

    If you try to play it via WMP10 under VirtualPC, you get a very generic "An Error Occured" error message.
     

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