Microsoft lawyers have filed a federal suit against the mystery creator of the famous utility, which broke its digital rights management technology. The program, FairUse4WM, was published last August and prompted a record-speed patch release by Microsoft. Its author, known by his nickname “Viodentia”, has riled Microsoft by engaging in a “battle of updates”: after the first patch was released by the software giant, it took him only 24 hours to release an updated version of the utility. Now lawyers working for the Redmond company say the hacker has had access to source code, which accounted for the speed of the release of his updated utility.
It is thought the author of FairUse4WM created it for supposedly bona-fide purposes in order to allow users to play their copy-protected files on different players. However, others were quick to point out that the first version of the utility allowed users to remove protection on time-restricted files, which are used by subscription services such as Napster. The updated version, which was released to counter Microsofts first patch, was less dangerous in that respect, as it did not work with files obtained via online subscriptions, but Microsoft released a second patch to shut FairUse4WM for good. The software giant also allegedly sent notices to websites hosting the utility, ordering them to remove or disable access to it as soon as possible.
The whole FairUse4WM situation rekindled the debate on restrictive digital rights management, somewhat silenced since the infamous Sony rootkit fiasco of 2005. Microsofts swift move to patch the DRM breach with lightning speed has prompted the appearance of many a joke regarding the companys somewhat different approach to critical vulnerabilities in its other programs, such as Internet Explorer. The action launched by Microsoft is intended to utilise the full power of the US legal system to track down the unknown author of FairUse4WM and bring him to court. A Microsoft lawyer has accused the hacker of stealing the companys intellectual property in order to circumvent the copy-protection mechanism, and the experienced Microsoft Internet investigation team will presumably be on the trail of “Viodentia”. The hacker himself, however, has remained calm and in a recent interview promised to release a new version of FairUse4WM as early as this week.