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August 19, 2004
Hypocrite, Thy Name Is Real
RealNetworks put Fred von Lohmann criticizing Apple's FairPlay on its "Freedom of Music Choice" campaign website homepage. But something tells me it may decide to veto Fred von Lohmann criticizing Real's undistinguished record on promoting choice via interoperability.
If Real actually cared about "Freedom of Music Choice," it would be telling its customers to burn the downloaded music they purchase to CD, then rip to any DRM-free format they like (including MP3, WAV, or AAC, all of which play just fine on the iPod). That's a much better option than being dragged into a feud between Apple and Real.
Meanwhile, Real's record for promoting the "healthy, open competition" made possible by reverse engineering for interoperability is less than inspiring. Consider, for example:
- In the RealNetworks v. Streambox case, Real was among the first litigants to invoke the DMCA to squash a competitor trying to interoperate with Real's proprietary streaming software.
- Real's own end-user licenses expressly forbid reverse engineering, even where that activity would be lawful as a fair use.
- Real has been conspicuously silent when it comes to legislative reforms, like H.R. 107, that have been introduced to reform the DMCA to permit legitimate reverse engineering.
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