Crackulous: Cracking iPhone App Copy Protection

[UPDATE: Erica Sadun of Ars Technica weighs in on Crackulous, and the humor of pirating pirate software... - Rene]

Let me start out by saying none of us here at TiPb condone any type of piracy. You think you deserve to get paid at the end of the day for your work? So do developers and their hungry children.

That being said, Apple must be saying Uh-Oh right about now. Crackulous, which is now available via Cydia, enables you to strip the protection off most apps from the App Store. What this simply means is if a single person purchases an app, he or she can put the app out there -- for free -- for anyone who has a Jailbroken iPhone to grab.

Of course, it was simply a matter of time before someone in the Jailbreak community came up with an app such as Crackulous, and we can just imagine how many new Jailbreak artists there will be because of this new app.

You can pretty much count on the fact that Apple is already addressing this issue with a FairPlay (their DRM that wraps all iTunes App Store apps) fix that will turn up in the next software update. Another cat and mouse game has just been born.

[Via Engadget Mobile, thanks to themurdock for the tip]

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!


Community editor. Tech enthusiast. All-around geek.

More Posts



← Previously

State of the Apps: The Great iPhone... er... Bouncing Battle of 2009

Next up →

Macworld 2009 iTunes Announcement Was All About the iPhone?

Reader comments

Crackulous: Cracking iPhone App Copy Protection


Because if I spend £5 on an app and it keeps crashing and does not work as it should, there is nothing I can do about it. Nothing at all!

This goes kind of far, but after all if apple would have fixed/added features that are ultra gigantic massively wanted there wouldn't have been so much people going to the jailbreak side.
If they're really saying "uh-oh" there will be an update coming soon for us, hopefully one that people will actually update to, or should i say one that will actually atract people to update coughnew featurescough

i used to have mine jailbroken but went back to the official build simply because it felt faster and more stable then jailbroken....
the Jailbroken is nice... but it makes things a tad bit slower... and i'm SUPER picky about that.

Your right iDutch, I jailbreak to be able to record video, copy and paste and keep apps working in the background. ALL things which apple refuse to give us.

How ironic that one has to pay for an app that allows one to steal apps from other authors? It also saddens me to see a few comments that rationalize the theft of others' property.
Daniel: if you buy an app and have difficulty getting it to operate on your phone, contact the author. I suspect most app authors would rather refund an unhappy customer than suffer from bad reviews.
iDutch: Nobody put a gun to your head, forcing you to buy an iPhone. "If you don;t give me what I want, now, I will feel free to jailbreak my phone and steal from others."
I fear for our collective future when I see how little we have come to value character and honesty.

Apple promised push notification and didn't deliver...think i can get a refund on my iphone??
Read reviews on the Sim City app, i have the same problem, of the game crashing at a certain point. Every single one of my emails have been ignored. EA have my £4.99 and clearly do not care wether or not the game works for me or not.
Your point about character and honesty is a valid one....but its one that all sides should adhere to.

Had apple not had such strict app store guidelines there wouldn't even have been such a thing as jailbreaking.

Crackulous saddens me. It's going to be the small developers that are going to suffer on this one. I am really all for Apple atracking this one. Being a mefia professional, I am all for copyright, like hobo on a hotdog.
I would assume by know that consumers buying an iPhone should know the limitations and the expecttions of the iPhone. If your not willing to buy an app, then go make your own...

I agree with whoever says that this goes a bit too far but I will probably still check it out lol.
When I first jailbroke my iphone it was having all kinds of problems. After deleting Kate or whatever that really buggy app was called from installer my Iphone was quicker and more responsive than non-jailbroken which kinda doesn't make any sense(to me a least) but now it works like a dream and with all the freedom I am completely 100% satisfied and will never go back EVER!!:)

if you read my post i said tis is kinda going far, anyway i wouldn't use it. I just wanted to point out that this could have been prevented in some way by apple. but now that they don't keep their promises (PNS) and don't even want to give a reason why the delay, less people are going to wait for their software update and actually use these kinda apps.
that's my point too

Email Apple about the problem, and they provide a full refund (and often some free song downloads too!), so that's not a genuine excuse. Apps like this should be strongly opposed by the jailbreak community, because it gives Apple an excuse to go out of their way to cause you problems.

Can you imagine there free apps on US store that arent available for folks in some other countries??? E.g. Google app/ Pinger to name a couple... I would be "tempted" to use this new app if faced with that situation...

I worry most that this will cause Apple to crack down on jailbreaking rather than just the piracy. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to jailbreak, and it would be a shame if that freedom was taken away because some people abused it to the point that Apple decided to really do something about it.

:ttwisted: iPhones should be programmed to self-destruct in their owner's faces within three seconds of being altered.

I certainly do not begrudge anyone their frustration at Apple's not having yet delivered push notification, and if jailbreaking provides a solution, I have no moral issues with that. My only objection was toward the notion that a failed promise from Apple is justification to steal apps.
As for EA: your best bet is to make it very clear to them that they have seen their last dollar from your wallet.

As I responded to Daniel, I have no moral objection to jailbreaking, as it is not definitionally theft. Using Jailbreak to run an app that allows one steal someone's intellectual property, well, that's where I have a serious problem.

If you read comment number 4 you will see what I am about to tell you about.
Over at the home of this app they are all whiny that someone has stolen their app and is trying to sell it. They even have the nerve to accuse this Crackulous of PIRACY! Now if that isn't the pot calling the kettle black! They deleted my comments calling them out on this hypocrisy! They claim they are not stealing, just getting what is deserved. That if developers would offer free demos there would be no need for pirated apps. When it boils down to a lack of any moral compass what so ever! If one defends the rights of the developers they are deleted and banned, but not before a round of juvenile name calling and brow bashing. No matter how you justify it, it's still stealing. How come just because the apps are not tangible they say it's not stealing. That is until someone has taken what they worked so hard on and is now tricking the unknowing into paying for something that they gave away free.
I think it's quite funny that they now have ther=ir panties in a bunch, and are accusing someone else of piracy.
Oh and why doesn't Apple have a phone line or special email to report and then shut down the links? I could use a job Apple cough cough! If you're willing to pay I'm willing to hunt!
On the jailbreaking front I am all for it. It opens ones iPhone to almost endless possibilities. A fact for you at least 180 Apple employees are using jailbroken iPhones! You might ask how could one know that. Well the Dev-Team (the developers of the jailbreaking software report that at least 180 different computers from Apple main office ip frequently download and update their software. I understand that Apple has to cover their butts in the whole jailbreaking issue, but jailbreaking is not the issue. Piracy is. If the developers would use the embedded security protocols i.e. the unique identifier from each iPhone/iPodtouch and then use that number to generate a unique serial and verify it over wifi or celluar networks this wouldn't be a problem. The problem is that Apple is not making the developers use those protocols, and the developers are using in most cases if at all a single serial. I mean seriously who thinks a single serial being used is not going to be found out and then plastered all over the internet! It's not all the developers fault, because when you join the Apple Developers program Apple claims that they will answer all your questions, and have people set up and willing to help, but they do not answer your emails. Not even with a computer generated response. Apple claims to be a helpful caring company. When in reality they are a huge money hungry two faced liar. They do not listen to customers and haven't since the beginning. Did you know that if you simply sat and watched youtube videos all day on your iPhone you would void your warranty and could be subject to having your contract with AT&T cancelled for over using their network. That's why PdaNet was not allowed in the APP Store.
There is a reason to negate every reason on both sides of the jailbreaking issue. Jailbreaking is not illegal. While piracy is! So who's to blame? The one and only answer is SOCIETY, and the extreme lack of personal responsibility that has cloaked our world.

I support jailbreaking since it offers features that apple should have included in the first place. I think cracklous is going just a little to far though.

Willingness to pay! We all compete against free! Goods & services - friggin hypocrites are the same that infringement the patents of copy protection providers ... It's all about "willingness to pay"!

Henry Hudson your willingness to pay statement confusses me. Do you mean supply and demand? For someone willingness to pay is not relevent when the guy down the street is handing out the same product for free because he has a truck load of stolen goods.

Jailbreak smailbreak ... The govt can't collect 100% of taxes, right? The issue is fairly determining the value of something - me thinks units of bandwidth ... Then we can define, actuarially, "piracy" against the threat of ID theft - reduction in privacy
Get over yourself & make software people want to pay for!

It doesn't have to be cash, "irony", just pay in bandwidth! We all pay for kilowatts & we all have limited time & computational resources ... F*ck jailbreaking - meter the bits!

You have confussed me even more. The only one that can fairly determine the value of something is the one that created the something. You can't measure the units of bandwith to define Piracy. I can easily use my neighbors bandwiths without there being any wiser. That would still be theft. As for Kilowatts it's not impossible to illegally connect ones electricity. The inclusion of ID theft and reduction in privacy. This makes no sense. Your meter the bits screams of big brother. If you are wanting to avoid a reduction in privacy you are barking up the wrong tree with that suggestion. In fact you are arguing against your own point. Not to mention the fact that if you really feel that way about it then the wifi connectivity of the iPhone and all cellular devices should be removed.
How much something is worth has nothing to do with the amount of bandwith it consumes. I mean there are apps offered on the underground to jailbroken phones that will allow you to find your iPhone if it is lost or stolen to with in a few feet. These apps are in most cases smaller than a megabyte while a game can be upwards of 50 plus. Does that make the game worth more. To those that work hard for their money and value the amount spent on that shiney new 3G would say the locating app would be worth more.
The get over yourself and make software people are willing to pay for statement would be equal to your boss coming in and saying, "No one likes the way you do your job Henry. So we are going to need you to work the next year for free, and since everyone feels this way we will be requiring you to pay everyone elses salaries." That wouldn't fly would it.
I do not see your point clearly stated at all. In fact you seem to obscure your point with each new statement. Please clarify.

Back in his 2003 Rolling Stone Interview, Steve Jobs mentioned he wanted to price music fairly so that people would stop stealing and start buying because stealing, he said, corrodes the soul.
I've found that to be true. Given fair pricing and availability, buying and supporting to make sure we get more is not only the better moral route, but the bette personal one.

If you have a jailbroken iPhone or are planing to do so. be advised that you will die by 5:00 pm central time tomorrow on the 3rd of February.

Irony: "I do not see your point clearly stated at all. In fact you seem to obscure your point with each new statement. Please clarify."
Argument: "Rene Ritchie Says:
February 2nd, 2009 at 9:31 pm
Back in his 2003 Rolling Stone Interview, Steve Jobs mentioned he wanted to price music fairly so that people would stop stealing and start buying because stealing, he said, corrodes the soul.
I’ve found that to be true. Given fair pricing and availability, buying and supporting to make sure we get more is not only the better moral route, but the bette personal one."
Clarity: If you meter the bits, you can provide proper attribution to the persons who should be paid. This platform is but one way to key content - it isn't even strictly "DRM" - no wrapping. The AAC & MPEG4 license and structure that can be seen provides for this type of "authorization" or keyed content. But the effort that goes into undermining a way forward to getting the attribution piece is very convoluted & cannot remove moral hazard. The best security cause the theif to steal from themselves as this example proves.