DVD Jon liberates iTunes, but is that a good thing?

Permalink | October 24th, 2006

DVD Jon

When it comes to reverse engineering data formats, no-one can do it better than Jon Lech Johansen. Jon is most famous for his involvement in the DeCSS software which allows users to decode the content-scrambling system used to license DVDs. Now Jon has shifted his focus to music.

A self-proclaimed proponent against closed systems, Jon just announced that he has reverse-engineered FairPlay, the encryption technology Apple uses to make the iPod a closed system. Presently, thanks to FairPlay, music purchased from iTunes cannot be played on other MP3 players, while copy-protected material in a format other than Apple’s cannot be played on the iPod. Jon’s Doubletwist venture will change all of that.

Jon’s system will enable companies to emulate Apple’s FairPlay protection, thereby allowing them to directly sell iPod compatible, and protected, music without going through the iTunes store.

Is this a good idea? I’m not too sure, after all it was Steve Jobs who championed the $0.99 song, and it was the greedy music labels that wanted to charge more — and now they can.

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