Defeat Any DRM: piece of tape

How astonishing is thisGMSV tells of a Gartner report that claims ANY and ALL DRM schemes on music CDs can be defeated with a small piece of opaque tape.

It turns out that the tape renders the data track unreadable, forcing the PC to simply skip to the music section of the disc.

Gartner offers this remarkable observation: 

"After more than five years of trying, the recording industry has not yet demonstrated a workable DRM scheme for music CDs. Gartner believes that it will never achieve this goal as long as CDs must be playable by stand-alone CD players. The industry may now refocus its attention on seeking legislation requiring the PC industry to include DRM technology in its products. Gartner believes the industry would be better-served by efforts to develop solutions that use DRM as an accounting/tracking tool, rather than as a lock. This approach would enable them to move to play-based business models not tied to hardware, and to track their digital assets without complicating users’ ability to move legitimately acquired content to whatever devices they choose."

So much for DRM . . . Nice work, Sony!

UPDATE: November 21, 2005 8:33pm

CM notes in the comments the old (and supposedly safer) trick of "obliterating part of the data
track with a black marker pen. The trick is to identify where the data
track starts, not too difficult because of the track gap, so as to not
impair the audio portion."


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What's been said:

Discussions found on the web:
  1. cm commented on Nov 21

    I knew the (supposedly safer) variant of obliterating part of the data track with a black marker pen. The trick is to identify where the data track starts (not too difficult because of the track gap), so as to not impair the audio portion.

    Never tried it though for lack of owning applicable CDs, but I saw instructions with pictures in a mainstream computer magazine.

    In the end, the only thing that will work is end-to-end encryption of the content. This almost surely requires end-to-end digital transmission, with tamperproof decoding hardware in the speakers/monitor. I think not.

  2. Rajesh commented on Nov 21


    Its been just over two weeks since I first saw your report regarding the Sony rootkit problem. CNet has decided that besides the lack of widespread mainstream coverage and the fact that Sony has just started a replacement program that its all smooth sailing for Sony:

    “Though Sony BMG Music Entertainment faces a torrent of criticism and lawsuits stemming from copy-protection software on some of its CDs, the so-called rootkit controversy has not yet had much of an impact on sales, according to market trackers.”

    Hmm. OK. But then a few paragraphs later CNet decides:

    “Regardless of whether mainstream consumer market response is slow to develop or is simply muted, Sony looks like to see a backlash for some time.”

    What backlash — according to CNet there is none. I am so confused!

  3. Chels commented on Jul 17

    This trick could be very useful to me, if someone could tell me where exactly to place the tape or where to find a picture of where to put the tape.

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