Hacker strips DRM from streaming Netflix movies

Hackers escalate the war against Microsoft's copy protection technology by posting instructions for how to save streamed movies

A hacker has posted instructions for how to save streamed movies from the Netflix service, undermining Microsoft's copy protection technology designed to prevent people from saving the content.

The hack is the latest in an escalating technical war by hackers against DRM (Digital Rights Management) technologies, which limit how music and movies can be used in order to prevent piracy.

Netflix, which is best known for its mail-based movie rental service, introduced a service in January called Watch Now that lets people watch movies and TV shows immediately on their computer. Users can watch a certain number of hours of streamed content per month depending on their subscription.

A hacker who calls himself Dizzie wrote late last month on the Rorta hacking forum that "Netflix doesn’t easily allow you to save the flicks and watch them at your leisure because the films are entrapped in some ... Windows Media DRM wrapper," referring to Microsoft's DRM system. Word of his hack spread more widely this week in various blogs and Web sites.

Dizzie goes on to detail a 14-step process that includes the use of FairUse4WM, a program created by another hacker about a year ago, to remove Microsoft's DRM from the content. He writes that the process for removing the DRM could take a few attempts, and the process does not remove the time limit imposed by Netflix on viewing the content.

The Netflix site was down for maintenance early Thursday, although it was unclear if it was related to the hack. The site was back up later Thursday morning.

Microsoft has updated its DRM technology twice before to block the effectiveness of FairUse4WM. Last month, hackers on the Doom9.org forum declared another victory, saying it had defeated Microsoft's DRM again, and the company said it was investigating.

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