Jon Lech Johansen

Times Online

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.




  1. Improbus says:

    Stick that in your turtleneck and smoke it Steve! Ha Ha!

  2. Mister Catshit says:

    Are American copyright laws enforceable in different countries?

    Maybe Pirate Bay would like to mirror his site for him.

  3. edwinrogers says:

    #2. Yes, even if they do not own the copyright.

  4. Aroooga says:

    Looks at the pic…

    “Good thing he’s smart.”

  5. bobbo says:

    There is a 5% loss of sound quality when ripping CD’s? I don’t hear it. I assume this is loss of sounds that you can’t hear anyway?

  6. DavidtheDuke says:

    He looks like your average comment/essay posting digger

  7. amodedoma says:

    Ya gotta hand it to this geek. He pulled it off… Kudos! DRM is slowly dying and none too soon. THERE IS NO WAY TO PROTECT DIGITAL MEDIA! Sooner these Multi-million dollar industries figure that out the sooner they’ll realize that they need to offer a quality service at a reasonable price. Most people don’t object to paying, but the cheaper the better. Can you imagine how much you could charge to sell publicity on a server that has all the most popular downloads for free? In the end it’s just like radio. You can’t keep people from recording. Sooner or later it’s gonna be this way. Hopefully the unrealistic and impractical concept of ‘intellectual property’ we have now will die soon and give way to a better future for all concerned.

  8. RLF says:

    I;m sorry, can’t you but non drm’d music already? Isn’t that music cheaper? So what exactly has been accomplished?

  9. the answer says:

    so where’s the link to the program?

  10. brucemlloyd says:

    I’m not entirely sure I understand why DRM is a bad thing. I buy music from iTunes quite a bit, both DRM and DRM-free music. Other than having a higer bit-rate, the non-DRM files are no different.

    People make it sound like the government/recording industry/whatever is spying on them through DRM.

    So his software removes the DRM from music. Does he make software to tell us the sky is blue?

  11. Named says:

    11,

    DRM is not about quality but usage rights. For example, you buy a track from iTunes and upload it to your iPod. Great. But you cannot get that song off your iPod using Apple sanctioned apps. Its a one way trust. So, you now have this song which plays in iTunes or your iPod. But, you want to play it on another non-iPod MP3 player you have. You cannot. Unless you;
    a) use tools to strip the DRM
    b) burn the song to a DVD and then re-rip it to MP3 using iTunes or any other software
    c) buy it again from another site compatible with your other MP3 player.

    You bought the song, but you can only USE it the way Apple / RIAA allow. This is why DRM is a problem.

    DRM applied to any media restricts in any number of ways the LEGITIMATE purchaser of the product under the guise of preventing piracy.

  12. Joey B says:

    Recording is a misnomer for the recording industry. They are more like the reproducing industry. I remember when copying a tape took a while, i almost bought music. But NOW in this day and age? Anyone can make 1000 copys of an album on his hard drive. So who neeeds em?

  13. natefrog says:

    Eh, I’m not impressed.

    All he’s really doing is a faster version of the “rip song to CD, then re-encode as MP3” that everyone has known about for a while.

    If he was actually circumventing or removing the DRM from the file, now THAT would be cool.

  14. lou says:

    F DRM

  15. Gareth says:

    #14 he did that before, ages ago, they shut him down.

  16. eaze says:

    #14 I agree, I thought that this was common knowledge.

  17. Eric Susch says:

    @#6 You don’t lose quality when you rip a CD. It’s a digital transfer.

    My wife was at a tech conference yesterday. There was a sign on the wall that read “Intellectual Property has about the same shelf life as a banana.”

    I’ll add – “…even with DRM.”

  18. MrBloedumpSpladderschitt says:

    I think the author was confused about copying a CD vs ripping it to a compressed format. Or maybe he just doesn’t know. Who cares. The real point is here is something else that has to piss off Steve Jobs. Hooray!

  19. oil of dog says:

    Google is your friend!!

  20. patrick says:

    If Apple hadn’t engaged in illegal anti-competitive behavior this program wouldn’t have been designed.

  21. OhForTheLoveOf says:

    #6 – There is a 5% loss of sound quality when ripping CD’s? I don’t hear it. I assume this is loss of sounds that you can’t hear anyway?

    I am unaware of any loss in quality when making an exact copy or ripping the cda file to wav or some such… but anytime you compress the audio, there is a notable loss.

    You can hear it clear as day when you drive compressed audio through good, efficient speakers.

  22. bobbo says:

    #23–Thats my experience–and why I rip at 48 kbps. I took a day off and ripped at all the different settings until I could tell a difference. Some differences were noted, but I couldn’t tell which I preferred, so it was chalked up as a “no difference.” With good speakers in a quiet room, I think I got as low as 40 kbps so I went up to the next highest level as a safety buffer.

    Now when I listen to my music thru earbuds while walking on the road–it is simply loverly.

  23. JimD says:

    The program EAC, for Exact Audio Copy, does Exactly that !!! So there is NO LOSS from ripping CDs to Wav files on a PC. You can even tell EAC to keep trying until the copy is perfect … MP3 Compression is VERY LOSSY AND IS NOT HI-FI AT ***ANY*** BIT-RATE !!!

  24. MikeN says:

    You lose quality when you copy a CD?

  25. Chief Twitter says:

    I fully supported DVDJon when he broke the drm on dvd’s because that allowed linux users to play dvd’s. I would further support him if he were getting around drm used in Windows or PlaysforSure’s drm. However, DVDJon has crossed the line. He is now moving from the evil drm to the user-friendly FairPlay. He is now hacking software produced by Steve. Real tried something similiar, and we Mac loyalists proceeded to bomb their inbox and websites. DVDJon should expect more of this from us faithful. Besides, all Steve has to do is upgrade iTunes as we Apple users live for anything new from Steve and our update our software automatically.

  26. the Three-Headed Cat™ says:

    #23 – OFTLO

    “I am unaware of any loss in quality when making an exact copy or ripping the cda file to wav or some such…”

    There isn’t any loss; the audio portion of the target file is bit-identical to the source file if you rip from CD to WAV or AIFF.

    “…but anytime you compress the audio, there is a notable loss.”

    Not true. Some forms of compression are lossy, data is sacrificed for reduced filesize; but Apple Lossless and Meridian Lossless Packing (the standard used in DVD-Audio disks) achieve ~50% reduction in filesize while keeping bit-identical playback.

    “You can hear it clear as day when you drive compressed audio through good, efficient speakers.”

    You didn’t actually say that, did you? 🙂

    Audio fidelity has absolutely no relation to the efficiency of speakers; some of the finest speakers ever created take huge amounts of power to be heard, and others can be hooked up to a cheap car stereo. Efficiency has it’s pluses and minuses, but the quality of the reproduction depends in no way on how efficient a speaker is or isn’t…

    • • • • • • • •

    #24 – bobbo

    “#23–Thats my experience–and why I rip at 48 kbps. I took a day off and ripped at all the different settings until I could tell a difference. Some differences were noted, but I couldn’t tell which I preferred, so it was chalked up as a “no difference.” With good speakers in a quiet room, I think I got as low as 40 kbps so I went up to the next highest level as a safety buffer.”

    Far more important, and keeping things as simple as possible – since CD audio is sampled at 44.1kHz, when you change the sample rate, you are introducing unnecessary and quality-reducing processing. You cannot benefit from sampling at a higher rate than that of the original file, and a lower rate throws data away. Just use 44.1 > 44.1.

    • • • • •

    #25 JimD

    “…MP3 Compression is VERY LOSSY AND IS NOT HI-FI AT ***ANY*** BIT-RATE !!!”

    True – mp3 simply is not hi-fidelity, but it’s lossiness depends on where you choose to set the encoder.

    mp4, better known as AAC and .m4a, is a great improvement over the best mp3 encoders. A CD file squished down to a 320k CBR AAC file is not true hi-fi, either, but on most kinds of modern, commercially processed music, and particularly on a portable device, it isn’t icepicks-in-the-ears, either… Not suitable for critical listening, but you don’t do critical listening jogging, riding a bike or bopping through the mall, anyway. The sacrifice in quality is effectively unnoticeable.

  27. brucemlloyd says:

    #12…

    I have three iPods. I have a B&W Zeppelin which is connected to my television. I have an iPod interface in my car. I don’t own any other “MP3” player. I have iTunes on my MacBook and iMac, with an Airport Express for each speaker system in the house. How is DRM hurting me again? Your argument is a lot like saying you can’t play a 33.3 RPM record on your tape deck.


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