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“DVD Jon” plans to license iPod code

October 25, 2006

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You might know Jon Lech Johansen as a teenager who cracked the copy-protection technology in DVDs a few years ago.

Well, he is now 22 years old and he stunned the world again by claiming to have unlocked the playback restrictions on Apple’s very own iPod and iTunes music products. This new hacking by the young Norwegian living in Fan Francisco could free users the restrictions placed on digital music, enabling iTunes to be played on any device and other music downloads to be iPod compatible. Most songs that you buy online are copy-protected but the codes aren’t always compatible. In fact, music downloaded from iTunes can only be played in iPods… until now, that is.

By developing a way to go around these restrictions, “DVD Jon” and his company, Doubletwist, may have started a battle with Apple’s lawyers, although the company’s managing director, Monique Farantzos, has already said they believe to be on good legal ground. “Our attorneys have given us the green light on this” she assures. DoubleTwist has said that it plans to license the code to digital music player manufacturers. Apple, whose profits have soared in recent years on the strength of the iPod, declined to comment.

This technology could help Apple’s rivals sell competing products that play music from iTunes and offer songs for download that work on iPods as they seek to take a bite out of Apple’s dominance of digital music.

iTunes commands an 88% share of legal song downloads in the US, while the iPod dominates digital music player sales with more than 60% of the market.

Meanwhile, consumers can keep watching this battle ragging on while they wait for technologies to merge to the point where all digital entertainment will be available for whichever player they own.

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