updated 11:50 am EDT, Mon October 2, 2006
Jon Lech Johansen is infamous for his ability to break copy protection. Known as "DVD Jon," he wrote his DeCSS program that circumvents the Macrovision protection on movie DVDs while trying to enable playback on Linux. Johansen has now turned his attention to Apple's FairPlay in a constructive way, writes GigaOM's Liz Gannes. While programmers have previously broken FairPlay as used for songs and videos from the iTunes Store, these attempts have largely been made for either personal gain or to replicate Apple's music services without permission. Johansen has instead reverse-engineered the format with the intent of offering it for legal licenses to online music stores, says Gannes, and has reportedly talked to Apple CEO Steve Jobs about his future plans. Although the article indicates that Jobs was not informed of Johansen's specific plans and may respond differently in the future, the former purportedly warned the latter only that while Apple was not a litigious company, other companies might not share the same opinion.
The FairPlay emulation technology and the Apple executive's possible attitude towards it may mark a change in the iPod ecosystem, where FairPlay-encrypted media bought through iTunes has been used as a way of tying users to the more profitable iPod hardware. [Photo courtesy of Irina Slutsky]