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October 26, 2006
DVD Jon Does It Again
Apparenly Jon Johansen has cracked the code that locks iPods into downloading only from iTunes. If this is true then it should be possible for other stores to offer iPod content for purchase.
Unlike some of Jon's other code ventures, this one sounds like a legitimate case of reverse engineering with obvious business models. Like those who crack proprietary codes for things like printer cartridges, Jon's crack doesn't directly remove Apple's DRM, but it does permit competitors to enter a market that had been technology-locked.
It will be trivial, of course, for Apple to change its codes and push a download out to iPod users any time they connect to iTunes or other networked Apple service. This change could re-establish Apple's monopoly. However, if Apple does so, what's to stop a rival music provider from suing for unfair restraint of trade? It seems to me that the printer-cartridge analogy is pretty strong and would give at least a skeleton of a legal case.
According to the Ars Technica blurb, Johansen and his new company will argue that the enabling of competition is protected by the interoperablity clause in the DMCA. This is a very different story than an effort to make iTunes music available on other players, wihch might be viewed as impermissible removal of DRM software.
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