A notorious Norwegian hacker known as DVD Jon is preparing for another run-in with the music industry after he released software that lets iPod owners copy music and videos bought from iTunes and play it on other devices.
The program allows people to drag and drop songs from iTunes into a folder on their desktop, which in turn copies the files to other devices such as mobile phones and games consoles via the web. In doing so, the software breaks the copy protection – known as ‘digital rights management’ or DRM – that is built into all music that is bought from iTunes. Music bought from iTunes can be played only on the iPod. DoubleTwist, DVD Jon’s company, maintains that its service is legal, but lawyers said that Apple would almost certainly seek to shut it down because the law now specifically targeted technologies which attempted to circumvent measures such as DRM. The program gets around Apple’s DRM software by replaying a song in fast-forward and taking a copy of the audio track, using a process similar to that by which a CD is ‘ripped’ – or copied – to a computer.
About a hundred songs can be converted in half an hour, doubleTwist said, although there is a 5 per cent loss of sound quality – about the same as when a CD is copied. “I would be astonished if doubleTwist doesn’t get a call from Apple,” Paul Jones, a partner in intellectual property law at the London-based firm Harbottle & Lewis, said.
I suspect we haven’t heard the last of this, it should get interesting.