back to article DRM in latest QuickTime cripples Adobe video editing code

The latest version of Apple's QuickTime media player has video production people venting their spleens after discovering that new digital rights management features have crippled the use editing software from Adobe. Shortly after updating to QuickTime 7.4, legions of people charged chat groups to report they were unable to …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. kain preacher


    I smell a class action coming .

  2. Dazzer
    Jobs Horns


    So are the files being created by the Adobe software .mov? If not, what business does QuickTime have with them?

  3. Herby

    Once again, DRM is RESTRICTION management.

    I'm not saying that Apple has it wrong, but why can't we just get rid of all of this.

    Gone for the weekend. Got my coat.

  4. Wal


    Yes, the error is exclusive to the QuickTime format.

    My case specifically:

    When attempting to render a QuickTime movie from After Effects I get the message "After Effects error: opening movie - you do not have permission to open this file (-54)"

    As a workaround I need to write a cumbersome sequence of files (ie. PICT), before transferring these over to another workstation on the network which hasn’t had its version of QuickTime updated and then using that machine to translate the file sequence into a movie before playing out to tape...

    When I have 12 x 30 second sequences to put to tape first thing in the morning this method adds no less than 1.5 hours to my work-flow.

    What a waste of time...

    In general I enjoy using Apple products, but this is pretty shoddy by anyone's standards. You've got to wonder what's going on when this kind of thing can happen so soon after the release of their Intel based Macs, which essentially forced Adobe CS2 users into a pricey CS3 upgrade which in turn became useless when Leopard was 'unleashed' (until Adobe eventually released a patch...)

    Talk about disregard for the end user.

    I’ve heard talk that this is an Adobe problem – even if it were, it still stinks that these 2 companies who rely on each others software to do business aren’t communicating in the way they should.

  5. Adam Bishop

    *Not* DRM

    Error -54 is a Unix Permissions errer, not a DRM error...

  6. David T

    The real question

    The real question is why would any one use quicktime as their media player anyway. There are plenty of quicktime alternatives that are DRM free and much more responsive.

    I cringe at quicktime and its taskbar icons and its sluggish response as well as generally crap interface compared to other decoders as well as its size and just generally the fact that it has mostly sucked since its inception.

    It feels like apples version of bloatware.. it doesn't do much but its slow and cumbersome and now riddled with DRM.

  7. John Boyarsky

    Uhhh Better update this...

    It's not a DRM issue. I have seen that error before. Though I am not a programmer (and thanks to Adam Bishop above for the exact spec) I know it's a FILE PERMISSION issue, not a DRM issue.

    Seems like a Unix command-line or 2 could change the file permissions.

    Question is which set of permissions?

    Just my 4¢


    Fairbanks, Alaska

  8. Harris Upham


    as a freelance video engineer currently working on a broadcast that ends Sunday, I'm really, really glad I neglected to update my quicktime software.

    I have long been bothered by the idea that there is very little separating my usage of video media for professional purposes and anyone's usage for piracy purposes. Many of the same techniques are used, although for different reasons and clearly separated by legal rights. The plain fact is that in the digital world, there is no practical way to isolate lawful media manipulation from certain acts of piracy, and this sort of thing is bound to get in my way from time to time. I've adopted a policy of lagging behind the moment for all software updates, and it pays off time after time in my line of work. This is at least ideologically antithetical to the always-current mindset of software development and system security, but it's easy to embrace when one's paycheck depends on it.

    So long as DRM is used to prevent any playback and transcoding in media, people like myself will have to spend more time (and charge more fees) to circumvent these methods to suit the commercial needs of lawful, rights-holding productions, while possibly compromising the security of such media precisely when it is in its most vulnerable and valuable pre-release state.

    Stop the madness already!

  9. Dan Silver badge

    @Dazzer, David T

    QuickTime is more than a media player on the Mac, in Windows it would be like DirectShow + Media Player.

    And unfortunately it's impossible to rollback QuickTime updates and by the time you find out what's changed it's too late after you've installed it. More and more options seem to be disappearing lately from the non-Pro version of QuickTime Player (which you use to edit video) and now Apple have stuck some DRM in there. Grrr.

  10. SimonB
    Thumb Up

    @David T

    The problem in this case isn't Quicktime *player* but the problems *creating* Quicktime files.

    In the Mac world it is very common to use Quicktime as the file format when digitising and laying off to tape. In fact there isn't any choice in the matter, and until now has been rock solid. We've handled entire 2 hour feature films as uncompressed HD (1920x1080) Quicktimes this way with no issues whatsoever, and Quicktime player can be amazingly responsive on the right hardware. Also remember that Quicktime isn't itself a single format but instead a wrapper for many different formats.

  11. Greg

    Good old DRM

    I don't care if it's your movie, made by you on your workstation using your own software. You're obviously a filthy pirate scumbag and I'm not letting you play it!

  12. Richard

    Use VLC

    Any reason why they cannot use VLC instead or at least until Adobe pull their finger out and implement this new "standard" (used advisedly 8-) ???

  13. Mark
    Thumb Down

    @Adam Bishop

    How do you know? DRM is all about telling you you can't read or copy a file (if you can READ a file, you can decrypt it with brute force).

    Oh, and take a look at the POSIX requirements. EPERM is errno=1

  14. Wyrmhole
    Jobs Horns

    Re: The real question

    It's not a matter of using Quicktime as media player. The format is an industry standard for video editing (captures, intermediates, etc.). Most of the time there just isn't another viable option (considering price, interoperability and so on).

    But yes, QuickTime is Apple's too successful impression of Microsoft.

  15. eddiewrenn
    Thumb Down

    I agee with David T

    So many Apple-based vendors are bloatware - Quicktime, Adobe PDF, iTunes, among others are colassal, lockdown pieces ofsoftware, which - as someone bought up on PCs but happy to use Macs - really makes me think less of Apple when I need use them. If I have update Adobe or iTunes one more time this week...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The grounds for a lawsuit...

    Denying you access to your own property (your files) would presumably be prosecutable as trespass to chattels.

  17. snafu


    Quicktime is OS X' multimedia infrastructure. As David said, the Windows equivalent would be something like DirectShow, and contains sort of a mini-Mac OS to cover for the things a Mac OS environment would provide. It is old, and full of idiosincrasies, but it is a solid product, and has served video pros very well.

    The Quicktime Player app, on the other hand, is a schizophrenic thing: it wants to be an utilitarian barebones player/editor, but then it wants to be a decently featured Media Player, and then we have this whole idiotic "pay for the pro features" that, if it is a matter of licensing issues, I don't know why at the very least that can't be subsumed into the OS X one for the guys that purchase a Mac.

    Now, this SNAFU is typical Apple, and there have been enough Quicktime-related ones for them to put a permanent uninstaller mechanism in place already, specially when they know they are deploying rather big changes in the article: is not just these permission issues (or whatever they are): I am told they have sort of disabled a certain number of old codecs (one can re-enable them via some preferences checkbox).

  18. Anonymous Coward

    cry, cry, cry

    Obviously, professionals on deadlines would not update *anything* on a critical production system mid-project, at least not without prior backup. Nevertheless, the sissy crying will help making Apple & Adobe kick out a speedy update.

  19. vincent himpe
    Jobs Horns

    MAc's only or also PC ?

    Doe sthis only affect Mac machines , or also Windows based Premiere ?

    I run Premiere CS2 on windows for editing ( in combination with a matrox RTX2 to do HD) .

    Time to change the name from quicktime to quit-time i guess ...

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @crying Anonymous Coward

    I'm guessing you'd be the first to vent your spleen at the 'crying sissies' who *didn't* upgrade Quicktime and got malware via a 'sploit. Therefore, you are a hypocrite, and can roll it up tight.

  21. tempemeaty
    Thumb Down

    Open source?

    As long as the corporations like DRM studios are flirting with this kind of editing crisis cropping up at any time. Only thing I can think will fix it is to go to open source solutions.

  22. Martin

    updating critical machines?

    No, Anonymous is right. When I'm in the middle of a project, nothing is allowed to auto-update. And if it's related to the core of my business, then the update is done on a non-critical machine, or in a virtual machine.

    That's just common sense.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Its not DRM you morons!

    Funny how the so called IT Experts ignore the fact its a unix file permission error.

    Wake up and smell the roses.... stop being jaded.

  24. Rolf Howarth

    Calm down everyone

    If you use After Effects to render a movie less than 10 minutes it's ok, longer than 10 minutes you get a -54 error. Relax. It's a simple bug. There'll be a 7.4.1 update that fixes this before you know it.

    And as others have said, QuickTime is the API that's used at the heart of media handling in Mac OS X, it's not the Player app. QuickTime Player is just a simple demo application useful for showcasing some of its features and performing tests. If you don't want to use QuickTime Player or buy or play DRM protected media that's fine, but if you want to develop an application for playing, editing or manipulating media files of all kinds QuickTime is still by far your best (if not only) option. It's flexible, extensible, cross platform, and incredibly feature rich.

  25. Alan Lukaszewicz

    A lot to learn?

    A lot can be learned from this especially the importance of user management of updates and effect on work in progress. I am sure that won't be lost to either party.

  26. Paul Talbot


    This is great news in a way. The content creators are the people trying to force DRM onto the rest of us. The more of them who have problems like this due to DRM, the more will hopefully realise what a waste and frustration it is, and abandon DRM altogether. Then maybe I'll be willing to buy digital content (I buy only non-DRM, not much choice right now in the movie/TV world).

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    now the worst

    official. Apple now have worse practices than Microsoft.

  28. Shabble

    Apple don't care about artists

    Face it, Apple's 21st Century core audience comprises of geeks, teenagers & fashion victims. They hope to widen their appeal by providing more multimedia content and so if there is a trade-off between pleasing the big multimedia corporations and screwing over the creative types its no contest. Apple knows where the money is. I think the term is 'sell-outs'.

  29. Anonymous Coward


    Maybe people will have to stop using quicklime, that would be a terrible shame.

  30. Wal

    @Rolf Howarth

    >If you use After Effects to render a movie less than 10 minutes it's ok

    May I point out that Rolf is referring to the render time here, not the duration of the movie you're trying to render. Considering the fact that even a relatively straightforward 10 second sequence can take considerably longer than 10 minutes to render, it becomes apparent that the bug isn't as innocuous as Rolf is trying to suggest...

    While it's true that only an idiot would perform major updates on a mission critical system midway through a project, it's perhaps only fair to point out that a lot of designers working in broadcast are on fairly short turnarounds, ie. 4 or 5 days. The downtime in between projects is often a convenient point to perform upgrades / housekeeping etc. without any immediate threat to your work flow. When a bug like this pops up (coupled with the fact that Apple have made it such a convoluted process to roll-back system components) it can rapidly turn a drama into a crises. I understand the concept that to assume an upgrade is going to work correctly from the get go is a dangerous assumption to make, but if we take this to it's logical conclusion we'd all still be running Egg on QuickTime 1.

    Rather annoyingly (and I'm venting here) various fanbois have been cropping up on forums to suggest that a 'real professional' would be running a 'clone' system (their language, not mine) in order to check that updates perform as expected. Yeah, right. Like that's going to happen. We've all got the money to spend on an extra 8 Core Mac + licences for it to sit about being a 'clone'.

    At some point someone's got to trust that the software vendors are doing their jobs correctly.

    Interestingly enough, even now a visit to the QuickTime download page reveals no mention of the potential difficulties users may run into using the software. Indeed, a visit to the QuickTime support page describes the 7.4 update as "recommended for all QuickTime 7 users". Pah.

  31. Ilgaz Öcal
    Thumb Down

    Quality declines every single day

    If someone told me Apple would release Quicktime framework on OS X with bugs like this just 1-2 years ago, I would tell him to go away.

    Apple should choose what to do with the lack of testing, quality assurance, lack of professional programmers immediately.

    Everyone suggests rollback to previous Quicktime but forgets that previous Quicktime means disconnection of a professional Machine from Internet. The security issues are documented now and that thing also has a browser plugin which runs in users level with users own home permissions.

    Apple should divide Framework to 2.

    1) Quicktime Framework (the usual, DRM functions, iTunes stuff)

    2) Quicktime Professional Framework (which will only read/write unprotected files but won't do DRM or any iTunes, iPhone end user junk)

    If there is any media professional left in Apple (doesn't seem so), I am suggesting the DAT scheme of doing things. Pro DAT and Consumer DAT.

  32. Ilgaz Öcal
    Thumb Down

    There are total 2 genres of Professional Video editors, AVI or Mov

    1) Mov based (sometimes called quicktime based)

    2) AVI based.

    The end. Nothing else.

    A "mov" file is preferred since it is multiplatform, has excellent timecode support, colour correction layers, anything you can imagine on a single file.

    When professionals speak about Mov, they are not speaking about the Mov files you see on Net. They are speaking about Terabyte level, uncompressed, RAW videos with seperate timecode track and insane levels of audio channels.

    So, if you suggest VLC to them, you make VLC look funny.

    I tell you the camps.

    AVI Camp: Adobe Premiere Pro, Video Toaster (aka VT). Video Toaster is generally preferred by news guys. Premiere Pro is... Anyway, lets not make its fans mad.

    Mov (Quicktime Camp): AVID, Final Cut Pro (Class A TV series like HBO stuff, blockbuster movies, independent movies)

    If Apple does end user consumer jokes on Quicktime Framework like that, your TV station or favourite movie director/editor gets hit.

    The issue is, those ex-Linux "I know c++, look at my Stanford diploma" guys Apple hires. They have no experience with professional production workflow, they don't know what it means to check a 2K/4K file every 10 min. How would they seperate the file and figure if it is professional or end user? Even size check would be OK yet alone there are hundreds of quicktime headers to give the clue.

    OS X is especially preferred on very high bandwidth (2K/4K) projects because you don't have to run a online (e.g. check written files) antivirus, you can disable journaling. Why? Because on such projects, you are at limit of bandwidth current storage technology provides. Read a file every 10 min to check? You can't enable journaling because of 5-10% overhead! You can't run antivirus.

    We speak about an industry which ATTO SCSI/Fiber cards having their own CPU is used to handle the storage.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Welcome to the Real World

    Welcome to the rest of the computing world, Apple now behaves like everyone else (actually they have already been but now have the "media's" ear with their "cool" devices like iPods and iPhones.

    It seems that most Apple fans have rose colored glasses when it comes to past Apple practices. They are typically very forgiving of their favored cult, until it starts costing more and more and more money for the "professionals".

    Who remembers OS 10.0 crashing constantly, or OS 10.2.8 (or was it 10.2.7) breaking just about every firewire attached drive regardless of make and model.

    Apple may be a very nice, popular and niche hardware/software provider but as they get more and more popular they are going to have to change their tactics and methods of customer support, otherwise they will be exactly like Intel and Microsoft.

  34. Scott Aubrey

    @ Wal

    My goodness!

    I read the following sentence:

    "If you use After Effects to render a movie less than 10 minutes it's ok"


    "If you use After Effects to render a >movie less than 10 minutes<, it's ok"


    "If you use After Effects to render a movie, and that movie is less that 10 minutes long, it's OK."

    I actually cannot read that sentence the way you have described?

    I do agree however, that that is still not an excessive amount of time. Wherever the fault lies, Apple should have done more QA. A speech given in 1997 about looking after loyal creative markets comes to mind. How come this wasn't tested???

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Not a unix file permission error

    "Funny how the so called IT Experts ignore the fact its a unix file permission error.

    Wake up and smell the roses.... stop being jaded."

    No it isn't. The error message is worded to sound like one, probably in order to confuse users. Though, to be honest, the fact that it happens after the render has been running for exactly 10 minutes (no 10 minutes of output, 10 minutes rendering time) is probably a big clue.

  36. Richard
    Thumb Down

    @ Paul Talbot

    I don't think that this will help kill DRM. It's the content owners, not the content creators who want DRM.

  37. This post has been deleted by its author

This topic is closed for new posts.