Feeds

Apple iPod out of tune with Real's Harmony

But how come no one noticed until now?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Apple has made good its pledge to prevent iPods from playing songs downloaded from Real Networks' Rhapsody online music store.

But the discovery, reported on a variety of online news sites, has left users puzzled: just when did Apple make the change?

Real introduced its Harmony DRM conversion technology last July, drawing immediate criticism from Apple. In addition to converting rules encoded Real's own DRM system, Helix, into a form compatible with Microsoft's Windows Media DRM technology, it also converts to FairPlay, Apple's DRM system.

The upshot is that AAC-encoded songs downloaded from Rhapsody can be tweaked to play on the iPod without stripping out the usage rules originally embossed on each file.

Real claimed it reverse engineered FairPlay, following Apple's refusal to license the technology. That approach, along with the maintenance of all DRM rules, has thus far prevented Apple from challenging Real in court. But Apple did warn anyone purchasing songs from Rhapsody with the intention of playing them on an iPod that it reserved the right to tweak its code to prevent Harmony from working.

And that's what it appears to have done, reports suggest, modifying its music player's firmware. Apple last issued an iPod update on 15 November, but only changed the firmware on two models: the latest, fourth-generation iPod and the iPod Mini. Older models were previously updated on 20 October, just ahead of the release of iTunes 4.7. That would seem the most likely time at which Apple introduced its 'disharmony' code.

That's bad news for Real - partly because the move limits the company's ability to sell to iPod owners, but mostly because no one has noticed until now, almost a month and a half later. That suggests that Real's iPod-owning customer base is rather smaller than it would like.

Real said its remains "fully committed to providing consumers with the freedom to use the music libraries they purchase from us on different portable audio devices they acquire, both now and in the future", so the prospect remains that it will modify its own code to cope with Apple's changes if possible. ®

Related stories

Shawn Fanning's Snocap touts vision of P2P heaven
France rules Apple's DRM denial not anti-competition
Real '49c a song' promo pushes downloads to 3m
Real anti-Apple poll swamped by pro-Apple posters
Real halves music prices, widens loss
Virgin demands Apple license iTunes DRM
Real fires back at Apple in DRM dogfight
Apple blasts Real DRM translator
Real to 'free' iPod from iTunes Music Store

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
Bose says today IS F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.