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Apple files anti-piracy DRM patent

updated 06:25 pm EST, Mon December 24, 2007

Apple files DRM patent

After many years of having its software not subject to copy protection or digital rights management, Apple may be looking to correct this with a new patent application entitled "Run-Time Code Injection To Perform Checks". PC World reports that the patent, dated December 13th, would be some sort of digital rights management system that would "restrict execution of that application to specific hardware platforms." Apple notes that some users that are proficient at circumventing protection methods could easily bypass dongles or encrypting software if it is worth enough to them, so Apple's approach relies on hardware-embedded cryptographic key mechanism that would inject bits of code into the application's execution stream, generating data that compares the digitally signed code with the DRM module.

Apple says that the checks could be frequent enough to be useful, but not so frequent as to impact the user's overall experience, using an example of every 5 to 10 minutes. The example provided is much more frequent than Windows Genuine Advantage, which has come under fire recently after customers found out that the layer would contact Microsoft's servers daily with reports on users' system configurations.

The patent applications isn't entirely new, as it refers to other applications, such as one filed in mid-2005, which wasn't posted publicly until January 2007. PC World couldn't obtain any more information from Apple, since the company has a policy of not commenting on patent applications.

by MacNN Staff





  1. Jacklibog

    Joined: Dec 1969



    It was only a question of time before Uncle Steve morphs into Uncle Bill. It seems like there is really no end to greed.

    I personally no of no one who, because of Apple's very reasonable consumer level software prices, does not buy legit software.

  1. ApeInTheShell

    Joined: Dec 1969



    This is just another way for Apple to control their consumer base and present it as a feature.

  1. adrian_milliner

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Is this yet another case of macnn saying "filed" when it means "filed an application?"

  1. Marook

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple already uses it...

    Hey All. Apple has used 'DRM' for years, but only on Server & High End software, so this is no news, but just a new way of doing it..

  1. Titanium Man

    Joined: Dec 1969


    no big deal

    ...some sort of digital rights management system that would "restrict execution of that application to specific hardware platforms."

    Sounds like they just want to keep people from running OS X on non-Apple machines.

  1. leamanc

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Driving the faithful away

    I can't say I didn't see this coming with the Intel transition (and Trusted Computing), but I still don't like some of the directions Apple is heading, after using their products for 25+ years. I use my Dell running Kubuntu more and more these's nice to run software free of restrictions or having to resort to "pirate" measures to do what I want with hardware and software I purchased.

  1. lkrupp

    Joined: Dec 1969


    driving the faithful away

    "I use my Dell running Kubuntu more and more these days...i"

    Don't let the door hit you in the butt on your way out. Apple doesn't need the "faithful" anymore. And, Linux in ANY shape or form will NEVER make it to the mainstream...EVER. Apple is actually hindered by users such as yourself.

  1. ZinkDifferent

    Joined: Dec 1969


    chill out, morons...

    titanium man, marook, and lkrupp appear to be the only ones who actually understand what this means, instead of knee-jerking into conspiracy mode.

    Listen up, you other idiot kids - all this means is that it ties certain executing code to certain HARDWARE, as the patent clearly points out - more than anything else, this is something to allow Apple to make sure that their high-end software (Logic, FCP, etc...) only runs on Mac hardware, and thus pulling the rug out from underneath the Hackintosh afficionados. Personally, I think they care less about nailing down the operating system to genuine Apple hardware (though, they may do so, in the long run), but rather in protecting their high-end software sales.

    They stand to gain more by letting acne faced kids install OS X on their hacked PCs, as it will invariably drive them to purchase a real Mac once they start to like it :-)

    As such, I see Apple implementing this patent more in apps like iLife and iWork - kinda like "Have fun running OS X on your Hackintosh -- Oh, you mean you can't run the really useful APPS as well ...?"

    Additionally, bear in mind that Leopard already has a ton of protective infrastructure (Library randomizations, code encryption) that Apple now extends to include a hardware component). As with everything Apple does, by the time it reaches a public patent stage, it will take several iterations to actually be fully implemented - so don't expect this anytime soon.

    Lastly, this may be their means of also setting up roadblocks to Chinese cloners (as, obviously, any sane person would anticipate that Chinese 'entrepreneurs' are busily working on their own Macintosh clones, and also to undermine future real iPhone clones (in both cases, the kind that even rip off firmware copies). By adding a hardware component/TPM they are simply pre-empting this -- and honestly, it is Chinese cloners that will determine when Apple will lock down OS X, not hackintosh kids.

  1. macnixer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    something I appreciate...

    as a developer. Frankly all means of protecting the copyright and knowledge is welcome considering every possible method is broken by pirates. think of it, you spend many hours producing a cookie which you know every one will want and pay you for it. You know the process and you can make some money out of it. Would you not help keep the secret by preventing some other guy figure out how you made the cookie and make the money with acknowledging your efforts. We talk about others making money and hate them doing so but we forget that there are people who need to be paid to live a life.

    I appreciate Linux but what is free there. Nothing really. We use Linux but all the software that would make perfect business sense on them boxes cost a lot. And why not? The developer needs money to live like I do. I spend hours and days thinking algorithm and code that would simplify processes and make the apps run faster so that our customers have some more time left to do something else. Would you think that if someone pirated the software we develop would help. Can we give it away free. No we cannot. We serious software you need serious decisions.

    The Mac OS is just another software that makes life easier for all of us. MS Office is a great piece of software. I don't run it on my Mac as there is no Intel version yet. I am using Neo-Office and I do my bit to support it. I know Neo can become faster and better if it went commercial. I would pay and use it even if it were commercial software as dedicated development with some means attached produces better quality.

    I guess we all know that even the quality toilet papers cost more just o keep us comfortable. :)

    Apple's patent will open up ways for serious developers to help prevent misuse of software. And if I am to understand Apple has patented it with an understanding that they would let others use the processes while Apple gets a share in the effort they have put in.

  1. DoggerBlue

    Joined: Dec 1969


    well, best of luck!

    You can't patent a perpetual motion machine. Why not? Because it can't work, and you can't patent things that don't work. Therefore, all patents for DRM technology should be rejected. And if Apple thinks that encryption derived from the motherboard will somehow be more secure than encryption derived from a dongle (because that is how those dongle's work, you know) will be more difficult to crack for the average pirate, then they're stupider than I thought.

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