AfterDawn: Tech news

Apple accuses Real of cracking

Written by Jari Ketola @ 29 Jul 2004 16:10 User comments (9)

Apple accuses Real of cracking Apple Computer today released a statement in which it accuses RealNetworks of hacking [SIC] the iPod copy protection when creating the Harmony Technology
"We are stunned that RealNetworks has adopted the tactics and ethics of a hacker to break into the iPod(R), and we are investigating the implications of their actions under the DMCA and other laws. We strongly caution Real and their customers that when we update our iPod software from time to time it is highly likely that Real's Harmony technology will cease to work with current and future iPods," Apple said in their statement.

Apparently Apple confused the terms "hacker" and "cracker". It was painfully obvious when Harmony was announced that Apple would draw out the DMCA card.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act seems to be abused time after time without actually being used to it's intended purpose. The DMCA was designed to protect copyrights, but instead it is being used by RIAA, MPAA, and now Apple to maximize their profits.

In their counter statement Real said that "Consumers, and not Apple, should be the ones choosing what music goes on their iPod." Additionally they try to capture the essence of DMCA. "The DMCA is not designed to prevent the creation of new methods of locking content and explicitly allows the creation of interoperable software."

Even though Real obviously have their own interests in mind, Harmony does give consumers more choice, and the right to fair use of their purchased products -- in this case DRM crippled digital music and iPod players. The consumer rights aren't too highly valued, though, when they are put up against the DMCA.

321 Studios is probably the best known pro-consumer-rights companies. They tried to convince the legislators that consumers should have the right to fair use of their products, but failed. The endless and ridiculous lawsuits have meant that 400 people have already lost their jobs.

321 Studios CEO Robert Moore also sees DMCA as a tool that is, and will be constantly abused. "The DMCA is actually going to be used to trounce competition, stifle innovation, monopolize capitalistic industry and, in the end, the consumer will suffer the consequences," Moore commented.

It would be quite naive to think that what we are seeing now is the DMCA (or EUCD, or any other law limiting consumer rights) at its ugliest. This is just the tip of the iceberg. As the copyright laws get more and more strict, the companies come up with more ways to gain control over the complete media chain -- from production to your living rooms.

A great example of what's around the corner is the HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) standard, which is already being adopted in high-end products. While the idea of a single, digital bus is great, HDMI contains features that should send shivers up your spine. HDMI includes the High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) specification.

HDCP can definitely be titled the mother of all content protection systems. It gives the device manufacturers and content providers complete control over the devices used for displaying content. If an unlicensed device, such as a third party display, is detected in the HDMI bus, a licensed player, for example, can shut down the bus entirely, or degrade image quality.

Slowly but surely analog interfaces will be replaced by digital ones. Once all (or at least most) connections are digital, the entertainment industry has accomplished what Microsoft only dreams of -- a complete monopoly over the market.

Sources:
Apple statement(PR Newswire)
Real press release
HDMI.org
Digital Content Protection, LLC (HDCP)

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9 user comments

129.7.2004 19:03

In the late 70s Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created the first practical home computer. Why aren't they the largest in the industry? One word 'proprietary'. Give them time and they will will become equally insignificant in the portable music business.

230.7.2004 2:50

'practical' hahahahahahah!

330.7.2004 6:36

"Hi, I'd like to buy the HD-DVD of I-Robot, do you have it in stock?" "We sure do! Would you like some Vaseline with that?"

430.7.2004 13:14

real sucks ass!! it should die already....

531.7.2004 13:32

Apple deserves to accuse... Real products have always been faulty, full of bugs, and one of the first media moguls to invade into people's private lives. I don't blame Apple for being so -proprietary--- after all why allow an inferior product maker access to it's superior design? Rio, Nomad- whatever, if you can't afford Apple's products, you are left out of the fun, anyway. Get 'real' and use the iPod. Then go out and buy a Mac. Then complain......

61.8.2004 22:28

so what if real makes crappy products and music formats? Apple is still being abusive!

72.8.2004 10:40

Bottom line is they all suck. MP3 is the only good format that lets you do what you want with your music and some players dont even let you use it. Apple and real have a valid point, apple doesn't want to support problems that real networks software might cause but real networks has a line up of crappy mp3 players that no one wants :-). It was better when music was free and record companies were finally being cut out of the middle.

82.8.2004 12:15

I agree, mp3 is a much better format. ogg vorbis is also a good choice, but when it comes to compatibility with players, definitely mp3

92.8.2004 23:50

the bottom line is it doesnt really matter. i find it funny to watch apple and real, two companies i avoid like the plague, argue about the DMCA. maybe this will help speed the progress of reform. if not, we get good news stories of these 2 lamers losing money on litigation. lol. no offense to mac users, or real lovers (are there any) with this. i dont use macs because they cost more to do the same thing, period. that eats into my profits, therefore i dont choose closed systems. mac puter users are getting screwed by the ipod as well. apple will put their time where the money is, and it aint in the G5. as for real, well, um, what can i say that hasnt been said. the only place id like to see their codecs is in a capsule launched into outer space, towards the sun.

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