Hackers claim to crack Kindle copyright armor

Two hackers, one in Israel and one in the United States, say they've found ways to export e-books from Amazon's popular e-reader to other devices.

A not-so-merry holiday gift for Amazon.com: hackers say they've successfully cracked copyright protections on the company's Kindle e-reader, making it possible to export e-books to other devices.

One hack reportedly resulted from a Kindle DRM challenge issued on Israeli forum Hacking.org. On that site, an Israeli hacker known as Labba claims to have created a tool that lets e-books stored on the Kindle be transferred as PDF files.

Kindle for PC
A U.S. hacker has written a program to crack copyright protections on the Kindle for PC application. Amazon

A U.S. hacker who goes by the name "i♥cabbages," meanwhile, created a program called Unswindle that promises to convert books stored in the Kindle for PC application into a different file format.

The free Kindle for PC app lets book buyers read their books right from their PCs without having to buy a Kindle reader. Unswindle has to be used in conjunction with MobiDeDRM, a program by another hacker named "darkreverser."

Posters on i♥cabbages' blog give Unswindle mixed reviews, ranging from "works like a charm" and "worked flawlessly" to descriptions of various errors.

Unswindle's creator originally detailed the tool on December 17, and posted two updates on the program Tuesday. One noted that Amazon has demonstrated that "it (unlike Adobe Systems) takes its digital rights management, or DRM, seriously: it has already pushed out a new version of K4PC, which breaks this particular script."

In a second update, the hacker notes that "the K4PC update may not actually have been targeted at Unswindle, as Amazon seems to have done nothing in particular to make the basic approach more difficult. In any case, I've updated Unswindle to handle the 20091222 version of the executable. We'll see if Amazon throws out another new build in short order."

CNET has contacted Amazon for comment and will update this post as soon as we hear back.

The Amazon hacks are, of course, just the latest DRM hacks. In 2005, a group of hackers that included a 17-year-old and a man noted for cracking the anticopying protections on DVDs released PyMusique, a program that essentially stripped DRM from iTunes' songs.

Each time Apple tried to plug the hole that the software exploited, the hackers would find another.

(Sources: BBC News, IDG News Service)

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