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DVD Jon aims to smash digital Tower of Babel

doubleTwist rolls out media sharing utility

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doubleTwist, the firm founded by scourge of DRM manufacturers Jon Lech Johansen (AKA DVD Jon) last March, has released software designed to allow users to share digital media files - including copy protected content - across devices.

doubleTwist desktop allows users to "share and sync digital media without worrying about codecs and bitrates". The Windows utility will allow users to play a video made on a Nokia smartphone on an iPod or Sony PSP, for example. The software is available as a free download from doubletwist.com. The firm also released a developers kit designed to spur adoption of the technology.

"We've built a format agnostic solution that handles the complexity of file and device compatibility so consumers don't have to," said Jon Lech Johansen, founder and CTO.

doubleTwist said the digital media landscape has become a "tower of Babel" thanks to multiple formats and competing technologies. The firm aims to ease consumer hassles and confusion with technology that allows punters to "share, consume and sync audio, video and photos regardless of device, file format or social network", as explained in a statement on doubleTwist desktop (extract below).

When a user connects a digital camera, mobile phone or PSP, media files are found and displayed on doubleTwist desktop. Users select the media they wish to transfer and the application transparently handles any necessary format conversions. The application also integrates with iTunes, allowing users to sync their music playlists and iTunes music purchases with their Sony Ericsson, Sony PSP, Windows Mobile, LG Viewty, Nokia N series phones and Amazon's Kindle.

The ability to drag-&-drop copy protected media, purchased from iTunes, is sure to displease Apple. doubleTwist told Reuters that it is simply allowing users to enjoy fair use of material they have purchased. It said its technology doesn't encourage file-sharing. "Users can only play back the music they have already purchased and they are authorised to play," said Monique Farantzos, doubleTwist's co-founder and chief exec.

doubleTwist said it doesn't expect to face legal problems from Apple over its technology even though the consumer electronics giant was not made aware of what it was doing. DVD Jon has a long history of unpicking Apple's DRM technologies allowing punters to buy DRM-less tracks from Apple iTunes in 2005 long before Apple offered MP3 tracks at a premium, for example. His reverse engineering work has also covered copy protection schemes in Windows Media Player and (most famously) DVD copy protection technology. Since his December 2003 acquittal over the creation of the DeCSS utility, following a long-running prosecution in his native Norway, Johansen has escaped further significant legal problems over his work.

A Twist on social networking

In a nod to the current fad for Web 2.0 applications, doubleTwist also launched "Twist me!," a social network application designed to allows users to share media directly from their profile pages. The beta release allows punters to share media with their Facebook friends and provides sync support for the Sony PSP, Nokia N Series, Sony Ericsson Walkman & Cybershot phones, LG Viewty, and Windows Mobile smart phones. Support for Apple iPhone devices is in development.

The launch of the products on Tuesday, the first from doubleTwist, comes as the firm announced the completion of its first round of funding from Index Ventures and Northzone Ventures. Index Ventures previously backed Last.fm, the popular online social music, and Skype, among others. ®

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