Microsoft's DRM (.LIT) cracked
#1  Alexander Turcic 12-25-2002, 09:08 PM
As you can read on my frontpage, someone has released a tiny little tool that enables everyone to extract all component files from a protected .LIT file.

So Microsoft's Digital Rights Management (5) has been defeated, and as an aftermath, all the books that are (and were) sold in the .LIT format can now easily be converted and freely copied to anyone's PDA or Computer without restrictions.

The whole thing reminds me very much of the Elcomsoft case. Adobe tried to pursuade us and book publishers that its PDF protection was reliable and save against misuse. But then some Russians released a tiny tool, the Advanced eBook Processor, that proved Adobe wrong. And bang! In 2001, Dmitry Sklyarov was arrested during the Las Vegas Defcon hackers conference after giving a speech about the cracking software. And finally, a few days ago, the jury acquitted him and his company of all charges.

And now Microsoft's DRM5.

I wonder how the book authors must feel. And their publishers. What will they do in future? Will they go back to solely support the good old paper book, or will they wait for an improved (yet again) version of DRM? Makes me really wonder. And will there ever be a *save* copyright protection mechanism for electronic media? I doubt it...

#2  Alexander Turcic 12-26-2002, 07:56 AM
Beside the obvious harm this cracking tool can do, are there also any benefits from it? Well yes, because

- now you have a method to convert .lit files back into source files and can convert those source files into any reader format for any operation system you wish
- you can read all your legally acquired .LIT books even after you have switched a passport account
- you can move your previously .LIT books on any PDA, including PalmOS-based for which there is no .LIT reader available (yet)
- MS might see an incentive now to release .LIT readers also for non-PPC-products

#3  saw9000 01-02-2003, 09:14 AM
I voted that the cracking of the .lit format will not have any significant impact on the future of e media. I say this because I don't think it will be too easy for people to get the cracker. Further, those who do may find themselves subject to more than the usual scrutiny.
As for the legitimate uses of the cracker, I like the idea that Microsoft may see increased motivation to release versions of its reader for non-PPC platforms. However, I get all of my books from Peanut Press (Palm Digital Media), and I hardly feel boxed in by that fact. There are a few titles I wish I could get and cannot, but most of them are not available in electronic format at all, so I wouldn't be helped by having yet another proprietary text reader.
Regarding authors and publishers feeling unsafe about their products when releasing them online, it is getting quickly to the point where authors and publishers don't have much of a choice as to whether or not to release their products online. Other than books I have to have for classes, I do not buy or read paper books any more. All of my leisure reading is done electronically, using eBooks. There are some authors I have had to stop reading because of this (Tom Clancy, John Grisham, are you listening?). In fact, I found out that Tom Clancy steadfastly refuses to have his work released electronically, solely because of copy protection concerns. The family of J.R.R. Tolkein are in the same old-fashioned, leaky wooden boat. However, a few big-name authors (Michael Crichton, Stephen King, et. al) have made some of their work available electronically, and are profiting from it. To put it simply, eBooks are not just for unsigned authors any more. I think this is the future, and it looks bright, hackers or none.

#4  kezza 01-03-2003, 11:47 AM
I agree completely with what Scott said. Over the last year I've phased out paper books almost entirely. Some books I was half-tempted to buy in paper format weren't bought because reading a paper book is now an honest-to-goodness inconvenience for me. It helps, though, that most of those titles have since been released as ebooks (like Scott, I'm also a loyal PDM customer), bought, and read by me.
There are still a handful of authors that i'll buy in paper format. as far as i know, their books aren't being published electronically because of their publishers' wishes, not theirs (sandra cisneros and milan kundera come to mind), but that's not going to stop me from reading their work.
i think enough people are moving towards reading electronically, and in turn they're feeling like having to carry around an actual paper volume is a huge hassle. the demand for ebooks is going to keep growing, whether microsoft gets their DRM stuff taken care of or not.
On a related note, has anyone even bothered to try and get around PDM's encryption/DRM/etc? i'm quite fond of the current method of registering books, and i'd hate to see it get ruined because of a security flaw.

#5  Alexander Turcic 01-03-2003, 07:33 PM
If you are interested in how it works: have a look at the source code of the crack tool. Link is provided on my front page.

#6  kizer 01-03-2003, 11:21 PM is a good source of .lit files to start messing around with. I extracted encarta, which was around 2.4meg and after it was extracted it opened at 10meg. The little program does work like it says.

#7  saw9000 01-09-2003, 09:58 AM
Kezza: I also like PDM's content protection structure. It protects the books using a registration code that is freely available to the registered user, but that the user at the same time does not want to release. It makes me able to read books I have registered on any device I choose, including multiples of my own, while at the same time preventing their distribution en masse by registered users. Considering that PDM have doubled their sales, I believe to 1.6 million eBooks sold for 2002, they must be doing something right.

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