Feeds

Apple iPod out of tune with Real's Harmony

But how come no one noticed until now?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Premier League wants to PURGE ALL FOOTIE GIFs from social media
Not paying Murdoch? You're gonna get a right LEGALLING - thanks to automated software
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Ballmer quits Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
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.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.