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Apple Monopoly Faltering? 2006-10-25

Posted by clype in Gizmo, Money.
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The code that prevents music downloaded from ‘ Apple’s ‘iTunes’ store being played on any portable player other than an ‘iPod’ has been ‘cracked’.

Apple‘ has not commented on claims that Mr.Jon Lech Johansen has ‘reverse engineered’ the ‘FairPlay’ system.

Prominent ‘hacker’ Mr.Johansen has made a name circumventing software used to restrict the use of digital media.

His company, ‘ Double Twist‘, said that it planned to license the code to other digital music player manufacturers.

‘There’s a certain amount of trouble that “ Apple” can give us, but not enough to stop this,’ Ms.Monique Farantzos, managing director at “DoubleTwist” told “Associated Press”.

‘We believe we’re on good legal ground, and our attorneys have given us the green light on this.’

Market dominance

Mr.Johansen first distributed a program to bypass the ‘ Apple‘ system, called ‘QTFairUse’, in 2003.

Since then several versions of the program have been distributed to keep up to date with new versions of ‘iTunes’ and ‘FairPlay’.

These were distributed on the web for free but were difficult to use without technical know-how.

Now, Mr.Johansen and ‘DoubleTwist’ plan to commercialise the technology.

At the moment ‘iTunes’ controls 88 per cent of the legal music download market, while 60 per cent of those possessing a portable music player own an ‘iPod’.

All music sold through ‘iTunes’ uses the ‘FairPlay’ system that restricts the use of the downloads. Purchased music can only be moved between five computers and played on an ‘Apple iPod’.

Downloads cannot be transferred to players made by other manufacturers, such as ‘ Creative‘ or ‘ Sony‘.

The new ‘workaround’ could help companies like these sell  ‘iTunes’-compatible products that could start to scratch away at the ‘iPod’s’ dominance.

Mr.Johansen, also known as ‘DVD Jon’, rose to fame at the age of 15 when he wrote and distributed a program called ‘DeCSS’ that cracked the encryption codes on Digital Versatile Discs (DVDs).

The free program, posted on the web, was written by Mr.Johansen so that he could play his DVDs on a Linux-based computer. Following complaints by the film industry, Norwegian authorities charged Mr.Johansen, but he was later acquitted.

The courts ruled that he had a right to decode the DVD.

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