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Apple DMCAs iPodHash Project 453

Posted by timothy
from the if-google-is-a-verb dept.
TRS-80 writes "Apple has sent a DMCA takedown notice to the IpodHash project, claiming it circumvents their FairPlay DRM scheme. Some background: Apple first added a hash to the iTunesDB file in 6th-gen iPods, but it was quickly reverse-engineered. They changed it with the release of iPhone 2.0 and a project was started to reverse the new hash, but wasn't successful yet. My guess is Apple used the same algorithm as FairPlay for the new hash, so Apple could use the DMCA to prevent competing apps like Songbird and Banshee from talking to iPods/iPhones. BTW, don't tell Apple, but the project uses a wiki, so the old page versions from before the takedown are still there."
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Apple DMCAs iPodHash Project

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  • by FictionPimp (712802) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:21PM (#25836815) Homepage

    Just another reason not to buy the ipod/phone. Double if you are not using a mac.

  • Not for long (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BrainInAJar (584756) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:22PM (#25836831)
    By pointing out the older versions on Slashdot, odds are good that Apple will demand they purge the pages from the database.

    Good job, timothy.
  • by MasterOfMagic (151058) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:28PM (#25836935) Journal

    And how are Microsoft and Apple different again? Oh, one screws a larger group of people than the other? And that makes it okay why?

  • Re:Not for long (Score:5, Insightful)

    by De Lemming (227104) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:28PM (#25836951) Homepage

    By pointing out the older versions on Slashdot, enough geeks will duplicate those pages before Apple has a chance to take action. Remember the Streisand effect [wikipedia.org]?

  • by Change (101897) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:32PM (#25837007)

    The Creative Zen Vision:M player used the same connector, but with a different pinout.

  • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:35PM (#25837063) Journal
    Just what is the point of having ipod? Why can't the competitors to apple just sit down and devise a common method for syncing the device to a media player? Get amazon & other drm free media stores involved to also provide a standard interface to purchase and install the music into a media player, and you've got the makings of an apple killer.

    I think there may be a more general rule for these situations. If you have an established proprietary leader, the only way to dislodge is for the competitors to come together create an open standard. I'm not sure if that's always the case, maybe its just my rose colored vision at work again, but its sometimes true. Feel free to discuss.
  • by wikki (13091) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:38PM (#25837103)

    Why are companies so intent on trying to lock people out of their hardware? I have stayed out of the portable MP3 market for years, but recently got a used 5th gen IPOD off of craigslist. Luckily it works fine with Amarok, and other Linux apps.

    I just don't understand what they gain by locking out a certain group of users from their Ipods.

    The main reason I got an iPod was because I knew I could use it in linux.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:47PM (#25837245)

    What is it about Apple products that make people willing to put up with all the crap they do to lock customers into everything. They do more bullying and steering of their customers through proprietary formats and schemes than any other company I know of.

    Is having the newest Shiny Thing(tm) really worth putting up with Apple?

  • Re:Not for long (Score:2, Insightful)

    by collinstocks (1295204) <collinstocks@NosPam.gmail.com> on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:50PM (#25837287) Homepage Journal

    Not long before they demand that the internet archive purge the pages, too.

  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:52PM (#25837313) Journal

    Why hasn't the EU screwed apple already? The itunes-ipod abuse is like 10 times worse than IE-windows, yet nobody seems to be doing anything to stop this abusive non-sense.

    One reason is because Apple does not have a monopoly. It's ok to mildly abuse your customers if they can go to one of your competitors.

    ITMS is far from the sole provider of online music, and Apple is far from the sole provider of "mp3" players.

  • Apple was very smart in creating their specific dock connector and then upselling it to other companies.

    There's no reason a standard USB interface couldn't have been decided upon by various media players that allowed digital playback and user interface to be exposed in both directions, but instead we have the iPhone dock connector in cars and on stereos.

  • by Beorytis (1014777) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:53PM (#25837343)

    ...just sit down and devise... an apple killer.

    Seems to me that although the technical details got them started, Apple's continued dominance has more to do with sexy industrial design and slick marketing aimed at nontechnical consumers. One thing that can be killed is the iPod trademark. Every time you use the word "iPod" as a common noun, you dilute the trademark a little more: I don't own an iPod.

  • by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:54PM (#25837353) Homepage Journal

    Because some geeks are more in love with Apple than with Microsoft.

    Apple is pretty evil too in their business practices, and anyone who denies it is just as much of a fanboy as those who deny Microsoft has ever done anything wrong either.

  • Unusual tagging... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kabuthunk (972557) <<moc.liamtoh> <ta> <knuhtubak>> on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:58PM (#25837399) Homepage

    Why is this article tagged "outbreak of stupidity"? In reality, it should be tagged "same ol', same ol'". An outbreak of stupidity would imply that wasn't already the norm.

  • by blhack (921171) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:04PM (#25837481)

    Apple's products are vastly superior to Microsoft's.

    How so? I have run windows xp and several different linuxes on my laptops and desktops, as well as having used Mac OS pretty extensively. Windows XP wins hands down every single time. What are you using your Mac for that makes it so superior to a windows machine?

    Microsoft has been convicted of anti-trust violations in federal court. Apple has not.

    Courts are now the deciders for quality of tech?

    Apple's monopoly power is in the portable music market. Microsoft's is in the desktop operating system market.

    Apple's monopoly power is also in the hardware-that-is-allowed-to-run-Mac-OSX department.

    Microsofts policy is "Here, do whatever you want with this so long as you buy it".
    Apple's policy is "We are licensing this to you. You have no rights to use it for anything other than what we explicitly declare and you better not fucking try to develop for it because we will sue you in to oblivion."

    How, seriously, is Apple any better than anything else?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:04PM (#25837483)

    Well, technically buying a used ipod could make Apple money. Maybe the seller was selling the ipod in order to buy a new one. But even if not, it prevented someone else from buying it, thus perhaps forcing another potential buyer to buy a used one. Also, using an ipod regularly is free advertising for Apple, so that could cause potential sales.

  • by MasterOfMagic (151058) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:08PM (#25837553) Journal

    Apple's products are vastly superior to Microsoft's.

    Value judgment. I think that the Mac OS is much more secure and stable than Windows, but how do you judge the Zune against the iPod? There's no objective criterion there.

    Microsoft has been convicted of anti-trust violations in federal court. Apple has not.

    True, but irrelevant. They both engage in business tactics that screw their customers. If Apple were bigger, they'd probably get slapped around the same way Microsoft did.

    Apple's monopoly power is in the portable music market. Microsoft's is in the desktop operating system market.

    Again, true but irrelevant. They both engage in business tactics that screw their customers.

    My argument is that they both smack around their customers. I'm wondering why geeks give one a pass while they rabidly fight the other.

  • Re:Nissan (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MightyYar (622222) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:09PM (#25837579)

    That Nissan of yours has just a *few* more proprietary parts than your iPod... just sayin'. iPods play unlocked content just fine, you know.

  • by KeithIrwin (243301) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:09PM (#25837581)

    Interestingly enough, that's not a DMCA takedown notice. It's just a threat dressed up to look like a takedown notice. You can tell because it doesn't allege copyright infringement.

    Notice, for instance, that the "DMCA Certification" part at the bottom says "I hereby state, under penalty of perjury, that I have a good faith belief that the activities identified above are not authorized by Apple, that the information in this notification is accurate, and that I am authorized to act on behalf of Apple in this regard."

    What it doesn't say is that the works in question are owned by Apple or anything else which in anyway makes a copyright claim.

    What it does allege is that they're violating the anti-circumvention provision of the DMCA. There is no takedown procedure for violating the anti-circumvention provision because there is no safe-harbor. If you create an circumventing device, you have violated the DMCA and you can't escape liability by following takedown notices.

    The further reason that it isn't a DMCA takedown notice is that what they ask to remove is not something that the receivers have a legal obligation to take down. Information about the workings of Apple's cryptographic schemes, whether or not they comprise an means which effectively controls access to a work, are not unto itself a device which circumvents their schemes, and, as such, is not in violation of the DMCA.

    Although Mr. Ramage writes "The DMCA explicitly prohibits the dissemination of information that can be used to circumvent such technology." that's very simply not true. The DMCA outlaws the creation of circumventing devices, but it does not outlaw exchanging information about how to create one. This, along with the research exception, is why DRM and other security research can still happen and has only rarely been hindered by the DMCA, and even then only by the specter of lawsuits.

    Beyond that, Apple's hash scheme quite certainly doesn't apply for DMCA protection for one simple reason: it isn't a scheme which, under the definitions of the DMCA, "effectively protects a copyrighted work." There are two distinct reasons why it doesn't qualify. First, it doesn't protect copyrighted files. It only protects the database which is not copyrighted and not eligible for copyright since it is not a creative work. Second, the hash protects it against modification, not reading. As such, it does not "effectively protect a copyrighted work" because the legal definition refers only to protecting something from being read in an unauthorized manner, not from being written.

    So, this might have been a valid takedown notice if:
    1) The hash in question were an effective measure under the legal definition
    2) It were protecting copyrighted information
    3) The DMCA outlawed the dissemination of information which could lead to creating circumvention devices
    4) There were a safe-harbor provision allowing service providers to avoid liability

    Except that the actions so far also all fall under the interoperability exception. Given that their only goal is to allow other programs to work with the iPod, this falls very, very squarely under interoperability exception.

    So, there would also have to be a fifth condition;
    5) There were no interoperability exception.
    As it stands, this notice has no legal standing, and if it were sent to me, I would ignore it. Hopefully the lawyers with whom this project consults will come to the same conclusion.

    Now, what Apple could do instead would be to assert copyright over the disassembled/decompiled versions of the source code which appeared on the web page. I would argue that that approach would also be legally invalid, but at least it wouldn't be so obviously so. It could at least lead to some fairly subtle legal arguments.

    This notice, on the other hand, is just factually and legally incorrect.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:10PM (#25837597)

    And how are Microsoft and Apple different again?

    Here'e a list:

    Apple's products are vastly superior to Microsoft's.
    Oh really.

    Microsoft has been convicted of anti-trust violations in federal court. Apple has not.
    Apple's monopoly power is in the portable music market. Microsoft's is in the desktop operating system market.

    How's that for starters?

    So what.

    And that makes it okay why?

    Did anybody say it did?

    Heard of that time when Microsoft locked down everything it had, fucked and censored its own fans and customers and had the most obnoxious followers on the planet?

    That's right. You didn't.

  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:13PM (#25837645)

    I just by the CD...

    At a minimum of 10 songs average on a CD, I can usually get it for the equivalent of $9.99 myself. It's uncompressed and doesn't need to go through a second lossy conversion to get it back onto CD...

    I can rip it to what devices I like at whatever bit-rate I like to as many devices I like...

    My friends and family can borrow it and listen to it...

    If I get bored with it, I can sell it and with the money I make put it towards the cost of another CD...

    I can sit and read the sleeve notes while sitting on the toilet... ...and having saved money by buying a reasonably priced phone and music player, I can put the money towards a nice shiny hifi on which I can enjoy my nice shiny CD in all it's full uncompressed beauty...

    So stick your iPhone and DRM where you think the sun shines out of...

  • by BrentH (1154987) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:15PM (#25837683)
    Problem is, no other manufacturer offers me a 160GB drive with good batterylife (40hrs+). Apple does.

    And don't start the 'do you really need that?' talk. No, I only really need food. Offer me a player like that for good money (got my 160GB iPod for 250 euro) and you have a deal.
  • by Draek (916851) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:23PM (#25837797)

    Apple's products are vastly superior to Microsoft's.

    Microsoft's PC peripheals are second to none but IBM, and that includes the poor excuse of a keyboard that comes with my Powerbook. And Apple may not make products in that area, but Visual Studio and Flight Simulator are also definitely at the top of their respective markets, so they do produce excellent products from time to time. I don't see how that excuses anything, though.

    Microsoft has been convicted of anti-trust violations in federal court. Apple has not.

    Legal, not moral difference. Unless you base your morality on law, which has some nasty (IMHO) consequences.

    Apple's monopoly power is in the portable music market. Microsoft's is in the desktop operating system market.

    And this is an action done to protect their monopoly in the portable music market, nothing to do with their OS. Unless you think there's an inherent difference to the markets themselves that makes an action OK in one, and unacceptable in the other?

  • by RDW (41497) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:30PM (#25837927)

    'Problem is, no other manufacturer offered me a 160GB drive with good battery life (40hrs+). Apple used to.'

    Fixed that for you.

  • by CompMD (522020) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:56PM (#25838311)

    I have a 1st gen ipod nano and it works really well with Rockbox.

    To completely avoid Apple, you could always get an Archos media player. They are fantastic. I rescued a JukeboxMulitmedia 20 from getting thrown out, as the former owner replaced it with an ipod. I think I got the better end of that deal...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:08PM (#25838473)

    According tho this, http://www.usatoday.com/tech/products/services/2006-07-30-emusic_x.htm) In 2006 ITMS had nearly 70% market share of the digital download music market. EMusic was in second at 11%. For all intents and porposes, that makes it a monopoly. There is nothing wrong with having a monopoly. But when you have a monopoly, it is not OK to use it to dominate another market, or to lock your customers into your services.

  • by supernova_hq (1014429) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:18PM (#25838599)

    The creative players are a bit more expensive (I have the Zen:W), but you get a LOT more out of them. The components are more robust and you get a lot of stuff with them by default such as IR port (you still need a remote), standard av-out (cable included), wall-plugin charger (usb also works), FM receiver (uses headphones as antena). They also until recently had many more features such as calendars, photo slideshows, movie support, etc. And this was about 3 years ago!

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:28PM (#25838773) Journal
    So, out of interest, do you have a custom version of rsync that handles merging changes to track metadata (MPEG-4 atoms and ID3 tags) on both ends? Specifically, making sure the play counts match (and ensuring that plays on either device are reflected) and ratings provided on either system are transferred correctly? If so, where do I download this program?
  • by JonathanBoyd (644397) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:34PM (#25838859) Homepage

    There's no reason a standard USB interface couldn't have been decided upon by various media players that allowed digital playback and user interface to be exposed in both directions, but instead we have the iPhone dock connector in cars and on stereos.

    Actually, a standard USB interface couldn't possibly provide such functionality because one end must be the host and the other the peer, but your suggestion requires that the media player be able to function as both (unless you're talking about having one USB interface for connecting to the computer, where the media player is the peer, and another interface for connecting devices to, where the media player is the host). Any USB interface which deviates from this practice is by definition non-standard.

    Firewire would have worked though.

  • by blhack (921171) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:39PM (#25838937)

    Apple's share of the portable music market is something like 70%, so it is a far bigger stretch to suggest that they have monopoly power in that market, but I have conceded the point for the sake of my prior post.

    Apple's share of the market for manufacturers of PCs that are allowed to run OSX is 100%. Psystar tried to enter the market, and Apple is (last time I checked pystar is still taking orders) trying to sue them into non-existence in order to maintain their 100% market share.

    You may wish to re-check the definition of "Monopoly".

  • by QuantumRoot (1412111) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:44PM (#25839003)
    Is [google.com] that [openoffice.org] so [wikipedia.org]?
    Me, I know a number of people who don't run Windows at home. I even know some who don't run Windows at work. I'm not sure what industry you work in, but even if you have to use Windows at work, no one is forcing you to at home. You can avoid it other than for your job. And frankly, work is work. There are lots of things you can't avoid at $work, unless you change jobs.
  • Re:Nissan (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:51PM (#25839079) Journal

    And here's Nissan abusing trademark law.

    That's not even the worst [nissan.com]. I'm sure as hell never buying a Nissan.

  • by AlXtreme (223728) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:57PM (#25839133) Homepage Journal

    How, seriously, is Apple any better than anything else?

    Well, Jobs' magical fairy dust is better than anything else.

    It's the dust that makes everything worth 3x their normal price, force you to buy a toy made in China even if it means waiting in line for a day and makes you act like you're suffering from rabies if anyone were ever to say anything slightly negative about said toy. You'll even rationalize using the DMCA to limit your own freedom.

    I have an iPod. It has been collecting dust for a while now, as I listen to music on my Nokia. I've had a couple of macs but since the Plus/SE time they never have actually been _better_ than a PC. The Jesusphone? Meh.

    Apple has their fans. They've been the driving force behind the company since the early days. That's where Apple has been better than everyone else. But for the love of Jobs, I really don't get why.

  • by sxpert (139117) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @08:03PM (#25839927)

    yet !

  • by Kooty-Sentinel (1291050) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @11:17PM (#25841437) Homepage
    I own an iPhone, iPod, MacBook Pro.... but my servers run Linux and Desktop runs Windows. I'm not a Apple fanboy. Your entire kitchen may be built by Frigidare - does that make you an Frigidare fanboy?

    There are some people in the world who choose practical functionality rather than that the "FOSS and Openness FTW!!!!" mentality. Windows for Games, Linux for Servers, and Macs for a Main Machine.

    I know this may start a flamewar, but I have a feeling a lot of the iPod flaming comes from the fact that Linux doesn't support the iPod yet. I have yet to see anything come close to the iTunes & iPod combination, and I've owned players by iRiver, Sony and Archos.

    Just my 0.02c.
  • by Shakrai (717556) on Friday November 21, 2008 @12:32AM (#25841929) Journal

    Yeah but does it have a shiny cover and is Steve Jobs going to tell me how badly I need one?

  • by SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) on Friday November 21, 2008 @01:59AM (#25842361)

    aimed at nontechnical consumers

    For god's sake, please stop associating good interface design with nontechnical users. There are plenty of very competent technical users out there that prefer a well designed interface because it makes things easier.

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