back to article Hacker cracks Netflix copy restrictions

A hacker has found a way to crack digital rights management restrictions in major movies streamed by Netflix, allowing those with a valid account to save, copy and share the videos. Using only Internet Explorer, Windows Media player, notepad and a program called FairUse4WM, a user by the name of DIzzIE offers step-by-step …


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  1. Steve Roper

    It only needs one geek

    Even if the workaround is onerous, it only needs one geek to do the gruntwork and bung the resulting file onto the torrents, and everyone gets it. That's exactly what "scene release" means!

    DRM is snake oil, plain and simple. It's inherently flawed because considered in a cryptography scenario, the receiver is the same person as the attacker. Put another way, if it can be watched, it can be recorded.

    What I'm waiting for is to see a media company sue the arse off a DRM pusher because the product did not perform as advertised, or something along those lines. If you sell me a product you claim protects me from a type of attack, then if I suffer that attack after using your product, you are liable, because I paid you to prevent it. The sooner the media companies realise they're being shafted by these crooks, the sooner they'll put them out of business and the better off everyone will be.

  2. Julian Cook

    This is hopefully another nail in the coffin of DRM

    I understand the need to protect investment in digital media, however I have still to here of any studio going under because of it. DRM fails the consumer, If I have a CD I can rip it to MP3 then listen to it on my ipod on my computer, video juke box, via my media centre pc, in my car on my phone with no worries. If I buy a DRM track this become slightly more difficult. It is time to scrap DRM if I buy a track I should be able to play it where and when I want and not suffer restrictions in anyway

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will never work

    I love DRM, it written by people who have PhD's just for 13 year old to remove it.

    One day they will learn that DRM is a pointless expensive. You fair better off not having DRM as they pay them for something that doesn't work in the first place.

    DRM dosn't work as:-

    1) Customer can not do what ever they like (until)

    2) Customer can remove the DRM system so it pointless (Everyone finds out because of Internet in hours)

  4. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Let's get Serious.....

    "If you sell me a product you claim protects me from a type of attack, then if I suffer that attack after using your product, you are liable, because I paid you to prevent it."

    Surely Media have a much bigger problem than just DRM? For are they not responsible for all attacks suffered as a result of the methodology being shared as a Universal Programming to watch?

    What we see, we believe to be Real and therefore their Shows are responsible for all that is Real and therefore they must be Liable for Damages ...... or will they claim to be only following Orders, should they seek to argue that they didn't initiate the Chaos they only perpetuate and perpetrate it as a Proxy [Pox Sender]?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I second that

    @Steve Roper,

    I second that "It only needs one geek"

  6. Chris


    Good point, but sadly the media companies consider the 'users' as the crooks not the DRM-ified content provider.

  7. Kevin Johnston

    copy protection

    DRM has all the value to the supplier of Apple's audio copy prtotection system (That's the recording label, not the interloper). They instigated a rumour that their albums had some magical system built in to prevent copying and word of mouth helped large portions of the world believe it. Of course there was no such thing but at least they spent a lot less on it than people using DRM trying to achieve the same result. As Steve Roper says, if you can view it you can record it. It may not be the quality of a professionally made DVD but then again how often do you re-watch DVDs?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But the bigger problem ...

    is that the good people who devote their time and energy to breaking an excessive restriction that governments should never have been allowed to permit (because it fails to enable fair use rights) are likely to be prosecuted if caught.

    The law needs changing, to outlaw restrictions that fail to promote fair use rights including the ability of the legitimate recipient to save copies and play them at a later date on any machine of their choice.

  9. bobbles31

    Won't happen

    Unfortunatley, it is the media company hacks that are buying the emporers new clothes. They want and need to see a unhackable DRM solution so badly that if one mildly fits the bill they will waste millions implementing it in the vain hope that its the "one" that will mean they can have some enforced control over what we do with their product after we've paid for it.

    Give it up people, your selling air vibrations and light.

  10. Chris

    Translation: this hack is likely to appeal only to geeks.

    Like just about every DRM-stripping hack in other words

    When are the people who enjoy a good anti-DRM rant going to realise (or *admit*, to be honest, they're bright people after all) that the goal for the media companies and their DRM-creating lackeys isn't to make it impossible to circumvent the DRM, just too much of a hassle for the majority of casual ethically-flexible normals? I mean, the people who can't even be bothered to backup their iTunes purchases to audio CD to get that DRM off but who also are using torrents because that's *easy* even for a novice - they're not going to chase down hacker mirror sites for the latest update (and take the attendent risks) rather than pay a few bucks, because that's a waste of time to them and plus they're not fanatical about shoving it to the man.

    All the mathematical proofs and cryptographic analasyes and spy talk and faith in the skills of da community don't matter a hill of beans if you can't figure the psychology of that one out.

  11. Ross Fleming


    Don't know the full details, but if a human operator can do it, it usually follows that you can automate the task. The 14 step onorous task won't remain like that for long I would guess.

    Still, I agree with Chris but disagree with the premise. DRM shouldn't be about making it "too much of a hassle for the majority of casual ethnically-flexible" - that's what the average Joe wants to do, be it to transfer the media to another device or simply make a copy of a cd to keep in the car. The people who really hurt the record companies etc are those who make mass copies and flog down the market. Making a copy for personal use doesn't really harm, and this is the act they usually end up preventing.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    this hack is likely to appeal only to geeks.....

    "Like just about every DRM-stripping hack in other words"

    Really? Many Cd's ones can be defeated by marker pens and tape....

  13. Jason

    When will people realise...

    That if someone has built something, then someone will also be able to "unbuild" it, that's kind of how everything works.

    The only thing you cannot "unbuild" would be an atom, as it is not really built from anything (I'm sure someone has a smart arse answer to that).

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Atoms :)

    @ Jason:

    Ever heard about nuclear fission ?

    Russians are quite well known for their ridiculously large scale experiments on the subject even though they discovered that it was more fun to do the other way round tough nuclear fusion(or actually a combination of fission and fusion as multi stage fireworks). Quite a few other famous contries are famous fo their experiments and only one for their actual use of the technology, which even at its clunky start prooved quite effective.

    Also you might have heard about elctrons, neutrons and protons, which themselves are constituted of other elements ... but I am going out of my field there, can not remember the actual name of those :)

    Actually anythng over planck distance could possibly be dismanteled I guess. But I am not beting anything on it

    Sorry ... You asked for it.

    how do you people say

    coat -> door -> out

  15. james

    Read the License


    Do you read a EULA? Many of you have complained about what is in the EULA, so I know some of you have read them.

    Are you aware that you are agreeing to a License when you install the software? Read the license. You are limiting your use of the content by using the software.

    Similar to iTunes, you get limited benefits. Don't get me wrong, I use iTunes and like the freedom and simplicity. However, I don't get the "full bundle of rights" that I would have if I bought the CD and copied the songs to whichever format I wanted.

    Why don't I?

    Because I agreed to it in the license. Want to complain about your choices being limited? Complain to yourself for agreeing to a license you don't want to be bound by...

    Find one that suits you better. If you can't, perhaps you should try and make a better solution rather than not paying for something--you are not entitled to it.

    Why does it seem people don't understand this idea unless "someone" takes "something" from them without paying for it and preventing them from earning income from that item? If a robber breaks into your house and steals your wallet and cash, do you support them by saying property should not be locked up?

  16. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Real Deep Spaces.....

    Crikey, Jason, whenever you "unbuild" the atom, you create Universes and Special Forces ....... ....... and that wiki site is for the Lay person.

    You can imagine how heavy the likes of other dedicated sites/sights are. And I wonder when we can read "Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud"..Brian May

    And if IT is not really built from anything, then Reality may just be Imagined. Imagine, and it's true ...... :-) ..

    Live in that World and there is nothing which cannot be undone in order to start again with Valuable Hindsight in ForeSight.

    In the Beginning, there was always Imagination and ITs Code Crackers........ Registering their View for Peer Comment and Improvement....... NEUKlearer Enrichment.

  17. Dave

    Why would anyone bother?

    Crack the download stream of a movie? Why? Aren't they substandard encodings optimized for streaming? Why not just order the disk and rip it to HDD like everyone else?

    I guess he did it just for bragging rights.

  18. Chris

    Balance of Hassle

    Ross Fleming - I agree with you, DRM on physical media and much electronic media as it stands is mostly a problem for the wrong people and isn't likely to be able to usefully target the right ones, or at least the most damaging ones, and I don't think that legit users should face any hassle when it comes to making a backup or even tranferring to a different format in order to play elsewhere. But that said, keeping a copy of a streamed Netflix film isn't a legit use any more than copying the physical DVD you rent from Blockbusters for £2.75 and so DRM seems perfectly rational here - and I think it works for them as long as cracks aren't widely available, easily run and used by all, not just until it's cracked once. If DRM had a nail in its coffin every time someone cracked a bit, the damn thing would weigh more than China.

    Stu Reeves - I'm pretty sure that if you know how to use masking tape or marker pens to defeat DRM on a disc then you are a geek. At least, I can't imagine my dad scribbling all over his Iron Maiden CDs to get the music out.

  19. James Penketh


    Is amanfrommars starting to make sense or should I just be upping my medication again?

    On a more serious note, DRM is a waste of time and money. Both for the media barons, and the end users.

    I don't buy as many DVDs as I used to, because the 'anti-copying' measures they pack on the things stop me from watching them.

    (Just because I want to watch them on a *nix box.)

    But it's alright, because I can find software that breaks these anti-copying measures so that I can enjoy the film. DRM only harms the law abiding folk, it merely inconveniences everyone else for a short while.

  20. Mike P

    Reading the License...

    ... where it says you have to jump off the cliff if you watch the movie, are you going to do it???

    In my country, when a contract terms is illegal, it can be considered void, ie. like the term was never written. You simply plain ignore it.

    People following too close the rules, we know what it gives. Remember WW II? Remember Milgram's experiment ( ?

    Moreover, what's may be allegedly illegal today (like converting to an MP3, Oh you bad boy!), can well be the standard of tomorrow. Remember the revolution? Your ancestors fought and lost their lifes so that YOU can have more freedom, so please respect them by promoting a bit better that freedom.

  21. Richard

    Hurt the people who love you?

    Am I the only one who thinks that DRM only hurts the people that actually WANT to pay for music and videos? A pirate will get a copy of the music or video one way or another and no DRM in the world is going to stop it indefinitely. This same pirate will be free to copy it to whatever device they wish and watch or listen at their leisure.

    On the other hand, let's take our friend Dave who is a law abiding music and video lover. He's willing to pay for the media he wants but he has to do it with DRM encumbered media. He can't copy it to his devices. He has to watch it in a web browser. He can only listen to it fifteen times and if he loses data in a hard drive crash, he's got to pay all over again. And to think, he's PAYING for this...

    How long before Dave realises his folly and turns into a pirate?

  22. Dam

    Re: read the license

    Actually, smart ass, roughly half of the terms in there aren't even lawful...

    So yeah right, like I'll spend time reading the collection of stupid words that tells me I'm not allowed to listen to more than 30s of the track uninterrupted and all...

    I don't like the restrictions on it, I don't buy it.

    The stupid industry complains that its sales go down.

    The stupid industry collapses.

    The French surrender, the American get brains, the German sell quality open source porn.

    The world is happy forever.

    I've just won The Internet, anyone wants a rematch?

  23. david mccormick

    Copying a rental :)

    I have to pay £3.90 to get a blockbuster DVD from my local store. It seems I'm paying over the odds even to pirate my copies :(

    (Legal Disclaimer: This is obviously a joke. I don't really copy DVD's... It's much easier to download them overnight on Bittorrent :) )

    I think that's what it comes down to. If you offered movies for download for a £1 without DRM somebody would still want it for free. The internet has shown people a way to get something for nothing. I don't know anybody who hasn't got at least some 'Illegal' mp3's on their hard drives. These people aren't hardened criminals or thugs but just normal people like you. I don't think this harms the record companies like they say. We all have large collections of CD's and full iTunes playlists we've purchased. It's just easier to get some songs of a friend's cd you've borrowed. (the same thing we used to do with tapes when we where kids (anybody remember putting sellotape over the little holes on the top so they could be copied on. RM hasn't ever worked))

    As long as people want to have control over what they do with there own music, people will continue to bypass DRM.

  24. A. Merkin

    RE: Hurt your Customers

    Yeah; DRM is the suck.

    Makes life hard for paying customers; legal copies are quickly becoming inferior products for the many reasons mentioned above. Plus, now its making our computers and appliances "Crappier by Design" (TM).

    Another Duh: DRM attempts to protect every single copy of a media file. However, only one copy of the many millions sold actually needs to be cracked for a work to become widely distributed through the grey media channels.

    Maybe they should concentrate more on unique per-copy watermarks. If not for enforcement, then for tracking and allocating artist revenues for grey market distribution.

    I only see three ways to 'defeat' piracy for future media distribution (all DRM free):

    1) Fixed "All you can View" Pricing

    2) (Much) Lower Per-Unit Costs

    3) High Quality-High Price, Low Quality-Low Price Discrimination ( HD $ > DVD $ > SVCD $ > .avi $ )

    HELLO BIG MEDIA: It's the Price Stoopid! Make it cheap enough and convenient enough and the costs of pirating (time and risk) are easily offset.

    Why would a user bother to Search, Download/Decode, Archive and Index their own media collection if 'everything' was instantly available online (cheaply).

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't buy DRM how ever you dress it up.

    I don't buy any content which does not allow me some fair rights. That is my choice and from what I can see, a lot more people are making the same choice, hence the drop in sales of the full range of content (not just the pityful new crap, the media giants are trying to force feed us).

    I can only think it's greed from the content publishers that is causing DRM, after all, it's been proved that people will buy the same content again without DRM (look at early CD sales). I guess we are just not buying the same stuff over and over fast enough for them to pay for their *sniff* hobbies.

    I see the same logic for software, there has been no large up take for MS Vista (ME mark 2) , why? Could it be that it is seen for what it is, which after all is just an OS wraped in DRM to take control of the machine away from you. No thanks, I just use something else. Nice knowing you MS, bye bye.

    I hear non techies talkng about DRM, not directly but from its effects, like not being able to play CDs in their cars. When I tell them why, they are rightful angry and ask me how they can get around it. I am only to happy to explain, after all they bought the CD, they are not stealing it. Also being a techie people ask me about new laptops, PCs, ect. So I find, I am now explaining MS Vista in the same light. I'm sure MS and like will spend millions on PR explaining why people should not take notice of what I say. That works until those people are bitten by DRM again, then they trust me.

    You may have guessed that I have a slight bias to my thinking here. I just want to finish up by saying that I am sure there are a lot of good creators who do not agree with what is happening with DRM. One that stands out for me are Futuristic sex robotz. If you are not easily offended and are looking for some good DRM free content, check them out. (blatant plug I know, but on topic *smile*)

  26. Dillon Pyron

    early DRM sucked even worse

    Who's old enough to remember Macrovision? That certainly made for a pleasant viewing experience on some VCRs.

    I have 16 different versions of deCSS sitting around. Most are pretty nice, some down right elegant. But all equally effective. I don't rip the DVDs, but sometimes I'm on my Linux partition and don't want to reboot to XP.

    DRM has its uses. It keeps semi competent designers and programmers employed and allows high school juniors a way to stay busy cracking them during the summer break. Of course, once DRM is rolled out for a particular product, any future releases have to be backward compatible unless you want a lot of screaming, howling and, most distressing, litigating from consumers who own the 2 week old and now obsolete DVD player.

    Poll time: Would you pay iTunes (pick your favorite site) $.99 for a DRM free cut or would you still go out and download it from some unvetted source? Would you pay $10 for a DRM free movie or pull it down from a torrent? DVDs are going for what, $30 a throw? No manufacturing costs, no middle man (I'll let the studio sell it direct to me), almost no overhead. I suspect the studios would still come out ahead.

    BUT NOOOO! They can't get it through their heads.

  27. Aubry Thonon

    DRM only works in the US?

    Let's see some of the previous attempts by big companies to limit what I can watch...

    1) Audio cassettes... well, it didn't take long for someone to introduce the "record button", and even less time to a dual-deck to arrive to make copying even easier.

    2) Video casettes... took longer, but once again that little "record" button arrived, and if you could afford two VCRs, you were in business.

    3) DVDs... My favourite was the Zoning on the disks. Didn't take long for people to realise that most of these zones were a pain in the ass programmed into the players at the last moment. Result? In Australia at least, you'd have a hard time BUYING a zoned player, even from the big brands.

    4) PS/PS2/games... another "zoned" product. Result? Again in Australia, the courts ruled that it was legal to mod-chip your PS/PS2 for the express purpose of playing oversea games. The fact that you could ALSO play copied games was a different kettle of fish and you'd have to catch someone in the act - the chipping itself was legal.

    I won't even mention the various ripping options...

    I have a very large collection of DVDs and CDs (although I haven't bought a CD in a while... nothing interesting out there lately). I buy DVDs on a weekly basis. Why? Cause it's still easier - I might have to buy them overseas (because some idiots sitting in a boardroom in Melbourne has decided the Aussie public does not want that particualr title), but in the long run the storage of the data is easier that way.

    So I refuse to upgrade to Vista, I refuse to buy a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD piece of kit. Eventually, the companies will realise the stupidity of their actions... some of them may even do so before filling for bankruptcy.

  28. Chris

    Copy Protection and PC games

    While this doesn't relate to music/movies as such, it does relate to the DRM crap. I love PC games, as I'm sure many of you do, and I have no issues dropping $50-$70 on a good game (I figure 20-30 hours of gameplay, which means $2/hr or so.. cheaper then pool or drinking). The issue I have is when I pay this large amount of money, bring my shiny disk home and pop it in the drive.. only to find out that it refuses to run because of the copy protection. Maybe it detected a virtual drive, maybe securom just sucks so hard core it THOUGHT it MAYBE detected something strange and refuses to run. So I have to go download a crack from what may be a suspect site in order to run my legally purchased game.. which naturally throws out of whack my ambitions to play online. When it is easier for me to download a game online (and maybe faster), then going to the store and buying it and installing it, there is a problem.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I suspect

    amanfromars of cheating as I too think he has gotten

    much better or someone is impersonating him not fair

    otherwise it actually makes some kind of sense no

    meds required at least none that I am aware of.

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