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Apple DMCAs iPodHash Project 453

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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:27PM (#25836919)

    I believe the EU legislation that's closest to the DMCA explicitly allows reverse engineering for the purpose of interoperability. Perhaps someone should just make a Swedish mirror? :)

  • Re:Not for long (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) * on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:28PM (#25836937) Homepage Journal

    By pointing out the older versions on Slashdot, odds are good that Apple will demand they purge the pages from the database.

    www.archive.org [archive.org] is your friend. As of now the alternate pages are still up.

  • You're locked in dude.... The iPod connector is, as far as I know, licensed to 3rd party accessories manufacturers. No way in hell, is Apple going to license it to a competitor.

    And, yes, a connector can be patented without any problem. After all it is a physical device, where you can give schematics etc....
  • by Sir_Lewk ( 967686 ) <sirlewkNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:42PM (#25837171)
    FYI, if you install Rockbox on your ipod you can use it to play oggvorbis and flac files too. That's what I do myself, and it's also the reason I'd never get a new ipod.
  • by nsayer ( 86181 ) * <nsayer@@@kfu...com> on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:44PM (#25837203) Homepage

    And how are Microsoft and Apple different again?

    Here'e a list:

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

    And that makes it okay why?

    Did anybody say it did?

  • by JiffyPop ( 318506 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:45PM (#25837209)

    It is the same plug, but the pinout is different. It was a few years ago when my wife wanted a music player, and someone had plugged in a Sansa to an iPod accessory on the demo table at Best Buy. Fried the screen on the Sansa if I remember right.

    My memory is a bit fuzzy. Can someone else verify this?

  • by Gizzmonic ( 412910 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:52PM (#25837303) Homepage Journal

    I was unimpressed with the new version of iTunes, too. Turning off links to the Music Store no longer works either, unless you use this hack [macosxhints.com].

  • by MasterOfMagic ( 151058 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:55PM (#25837359) Journal

    Buy a used iPod (not refurbished and not from Apple), run Rockbox [rockbox.org] on it, and don't purchase anything else from the iTunes Music Store. Apple doesn't make any money from you on that. That's how I've acquired 3 out of my 4 Apple products (the other was a gift).

    If you want to avoid it on principle, I don't know of any competing player that uses the same dock standard, but even so, if you are rejecting on principle, do you want to encourage others to accept Apple's dock connector? As I recall, it is patented and has to be licensed from Apple - you don't want to encourage more people to pay licensing fees to Apple, do you?

    3.5mm stereo minijack or stereo RCA all the way. No encryption, no DRM, just analog goodness. Sure you need an additional wire for power, but that's rarely a problem.

  • by tgatliff ( 311583 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:59PM (#25837411)

    Maybe it is because people actually like the iTunes -> iPod setup.

    Meaning, you are not required to buy an iPod or iPhone. Also, you are not required to buy iTunes. There are plenty of other options to choose from. In MS Windows case, all of the vendor applications were written for Windows, so you really had no choice...

  • by rootofevil ( 188401 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @04:59PM (#25837417) Homepage Journal

    pin density is one factor that certainly weighed on that decision.

    how would you create video out from a USB port? the radio/headphone adapter? artist/song/albumart along with audio out for the dock devices?

    in the early days, firewire+usb?

    face it, without a specialized connector, none of that is possible. unless you make the ipod a host, in which case your battery life will suck and syncing with a computer will be an adventure.

  • by socketwiz ( 792252 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:03PM (#25837471) Homepage
    I have an iPhone and their DRM scheme doesn't affect me at all. I pay $0.99 for each song and I'm able to play it on my computer and my phone. If I want to use the song in a home movie or something, I simply burn it to a CD, then import it to my movie project. I can then use my song basically anywhere I choose.
  • by xRizen ( 319121 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:15PM (#25837689)

    iPod + Rockbox can play vorbis/flac.

  • by jorgis ( 1151067 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:27PM (#25837871) Homepage
    I wouldn't say nobody is doing anything.. Just because Apple doesn't get the treatment MS has gotten, doesn't mean nobody cares or does anything. ;) The Ombudsman of Norway has since sometime 2006 been in a legal battle [pcworld.com] against Apple for locking music on iTunes to their iPod's, demanding that it either only sell music playable on other players or open up iTunes to be able to export music to a format playable by other players (eg. DRM-free MP3). The latest development is that the case has going to be brought up for Markedsrådet (eng: The marketing council, a court for marketing related cases), which basically has the authority to set requirements for what Apple may sell/market in Norway. This may just lead to Apple stopping all sales of non-iTunes Plus music in Norway, solving the problem but leaving us with only a subset of the available music on iTunes..
  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:28PM (#25837881) Homepage Journal

    The DMCA explicitly prohibits the dissemination of information that can be used to circumvent such technology.

    Uh, no, actually it explicitly prohibits trafficking in "technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof," not necessarily all information. You can persuade a judge that Congress meant to restrict speech in addition to those other things, but don't say it "explicitly prohibits" speech, because it obviously doesn't.

  • by ubercam ( 1025540 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:29PM (#25837907)

    Yes the connector is exactly the same, but pinout is different. The connector is not patented by Apple, you can order them direct from Mouser (I forget the part number, but I have ordered one in the past). I found which one to order off of the Anything but iPod Forums. Besides, if they were patented by Apple, how would Sandisk be able to use it on their Sansa players without some exorbitant licensing fee? And you'd think for that price, iPod accessories would be compatible with Sansa players too.

    DO NOT EVER plug iPod-branded/compatible anything into anything except an iPod. Worst case scenario, it will fry the other thing beyond repair.

    Sandisk had/has a line of products specifically for Sansa players called "Made for Sansa" or something similar. I know that Futureshop (Canada) carries a small selection of stuff, but you can generally find extra cables or whatever on Amazon for next to nothing.

    They are great players, especially with Rockbox (if you're lucky enough to have a v1 (doesn't work on v2's yet).

  • by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:39PM (#25838059) Journal

    Yes, that was what he was referring to. It's called drag and drop. It's been around since windows XP and works on linux as well. It's also called "anything other than an ipod".

    Convert her discs to mp3, drag and drop.

  • by Omega996 ( 106762 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:46PM (#25838169)
    have you used one of the newer archos devices? the only ones I've messed about with were the ancient ones that looked like they were a portable hard drive enclosure. I'd forgotten about them, until your post. Some of their devices look pretty keen...
  • by profplump ( 309017 ) <zach-slashjunk@kotlarek.com> on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:50PM (#25838213)

    It's just to stop third-party interfaces. It has nothing whatever to do with DRM-encumbered media files -- the Apple-provided interface is perfectly happy to let you load media files with our without DRM.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 20, 2008 @05:53PM (#25838263)

    Someone has already taken the initiative [tucuxi.org] (from below).

  • by Vireo ( 190514 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:00PM (#25838355)

    3.5mm stereo minijack or stereo RCA all the way. No encryption, no DRM, just analog goodness. Sure you need an additional wire for power, but that's rarely a problem.

    I use my old gen-4 iPod in my car exclusively. The funny part is that nowadays, it does not act as a player at all, only as a USB hard drive. My radio is the player, has a USB port, and read off the iPod. It's digital, it recharges the device, and completely bypasses the iTuneDB.

    Of course I might as well use a USB key (and that's what I'll do when the iPod stops working), and I'm aware of the fact that this works as long as I don't need the player itself. However this shows that there often are alternatives to using analog signals or proprietary connectors.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:24PM (#25838699) Journal
    A standard USB connector doesn't have pins for composite video or analogue audio. The iPod dock connector has these, USB, FireWire (and includes power pins rated at closer to FireWire specification than USB, which means that they charge more slowly if you plug them in to USB), and a simple serial (RS-432, if I remember correctly, but I might be talking nonsense here) for cheap devices to control it without needing an expensive USB / FireWire controller chip. I don't know why more devices don't support the iPod dock connector. The socket is standard (you can buy them cheaply for hobby projects, and a few people have done so) and all of the signals it carries are also standard. The only proprietary bit is the mapping from pins to signal formats, and this was reverse-engineered within a few weeks of the first iPods with a dock connector being released.
  • by Threni ( 635302 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @06:57PM (#25839143)

    The 6th gen iPod hasn't been properly cracked so there's no rockbox for it.

  • by insllvn ( 994053 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @07:04PM (#25839229)
    Check out Cowon, Archos, Creative, and SanDisk. I can personally vouch for the SanDisk Sansa e200 series (one of those replaced my iPod 5G, and I am much happier with it) and I have a friend who has a Creative Zen. It is a sturdy device, with an attractive interface. The Zen will take some getting used to for an iPod user, while the Sansa is closer. It replaces the touch wheel with a physical one in addition to buttons on the perimeter (simialr to one of the older iPod models). It really depends on what you use it for, but try and look for something not locked into a particular store that supports the Mass Transfer Protocol (MTP) which is the closest to an open standard you are likely to find.
  • by MooUK ( 905450 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @07:20PM (#25839461)

    iRiver's H3xx series act as host to other standard devices, through a second mini-USB port.

  • by prockcore ( 543967 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @07:28PM (#25839565)

    Hahah.. um, this article is specifically about Apple preventing applications like gtkpod from working on 6th gen iPods.

    Buy a new ipod and you will NOT be able to use it under Ubuntu.

  • by jrumney ( 197329 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @08:24PM (#25840145)
    They don't need to sit down and devise it, MTP [wikipedia.org] was standardized as a USB device class earlier this year, and is already supported by pretty much all of Apple's competitors, with support built in to all major OSes (stretching the definition of OS to include any libraries that gets pulled in by a GNU/Linux distribution if you install a media player capable of syncing with an MP3 device).
  • by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @09:01PM (#25840479) Homepage

    pin density is one factor that certainly weighed on that decision.

    We are in 2008. Why would you even need to have a separate pin for everything ?!?

    We have very nice, completely standardized connection such as :
    - USB (specially since the On-The-Go and Pict-Bridge standards where the same physical connector can switch between master and slave depending on needs).
    - FireWire (which has the advantage of allowing several masters on the same bus and device sharing both master and slave role - just like SCSI. And has overall much better latency and bandwidth once you factor all possible overhead)

    They are almost ubiquitous. Today it's hard to find a device which is NOT USB-enabled. (although not all FireWire connectors you may encounter are 6pins with power. 4pins data-only are popular on some portable device).

    And they can easily do pretty much everything you cited and much-much more.

    Audio/Video (+controls for it) over FireWire is just a piece of cake, the standard was created with that purpose in mind.

    how would you create video out from a USB port?

    - If the device is a master and is PUSHing video OUT, video-over USB was among the first standardized stuff, with USB-to-VGA dongle being very popular. It's already a very popular method to get 2ndary output from device which lack a VGA or DVI out. Or get a 3rd output.
    - If the device is a slave and you are PULLing video FROM device, then a USB video device is perfect for it, just like thousands of Webcams, video receiver, etc. There's even an emerging standard called UVC - USB Video Class [berlios.de] (Before UVC, every webcam USB chip used a different protocol requiring several different procols).

    Given the sensitiveness of analog to electronic noise, digital video out makes A LOT of sense. And given that hosting the electronics for a DVI/HDMI/miniDisplay port would unnecessarily increase the costs of the device, the USB-to-VGA or UVC is the best compromise.

    the radio

    You must be joking. Just look at the crazy amount of USB FM+TV+DVB+DAB receiver dongles.
    There's a custom version of the OpenMoko sold with such an USB receiver contained in a spacer between the battery and the original cover.

    If you want a radio *emitter*, see next question about audio.

    headphone adapter?

    Still keeping with the everything over USB :
    - USB audio is an absolutely standard protocol.
    In fact dozens of headphone made for laptop/skype don't plug into the audio in/out ports, but instead plug into an USB port.
    As USB Audio does both input and output, it doesn't matter which is master which is slave, you can establish an audio link over USB.

    Now, plain analog audio has had a standard for many years : the simple 3mm Jack. For a quick and easy analog access you should leave an audio jack on the machine.

    For even more practical solution, you could go for a 3 or 4 ring jack instead of a classical stereo one, and carry video, s-video and/or mic.
    Put a LED on the bottom of the connector and it can also work as a nice digital out (Sony's MiniDisc already used hybrid optical+analog contacts for quite some time).
    Put them in line with the usb at very specific distance one from each other and you have a perfect connector with both analog and digital.

    The only reason not to do this is because by letting normal audio connection (jack), the constructor lose the incentive for users to buy the more expensive USB-based peripherals.

    artist/song/albumart along with audio out for the dock devices?

    That is just plain stupid.
    All this meta-data you cite is never going to be transmitted by lots of dedicated pins.
    Normally such kind of data is just emitted over a serial connection. (Even before the age of USB, Sony MiniDisc already used a serial link to transmit this. Audio goes through analog+optical jack, meta-data

  • USB On-the-Go (Score:3, Informative)

    by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Thursday November 20, 2008 @09:10PM (#25840571) Homepage

    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

    Yes, it can. It's called On-The-Go [wikipedia.org] and is already used by lots of devices.

    (Mainly smartphones and cameras).

    Any USB interface which deviates from this practice is by definition non-standard.

    OtG is an official supplement of USB 2.0. And OtG device can interact without any problem with plain USB slaves or USB masters.

  • by Brandano ( 1192819 ) on Friday November 21, 2008 @06:03AM (#25843347)
    Hem the DMCA itself explicitly allows reverse engineering in order to allow interoperability. http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/openlaw/DVD/1201.html [harvard.edu] , paragraph f)
  • by giuda ( 1232902 ) on Friday November 21, 2008 @06:07AM (#25843357)
    I have a cowon/iaudio i7 that plays Mp3, Flac, Ogg, wav, mpeg videos and more. I love it. Audio quality is awesome.

The other line moves faster.