DVD Jon Cracks iPod Playback Restrictions

Jon Lech Johansen, also known as “DVD Jon,” says he has cracked the playback restrictions put in place by Apple on their iPod mp3 players, and says an unnamed client will soon use his technology so that it’s copy-protected content will be playable on iPods. He says his lawyers have given him the green light to go ahead and that while Apple can give them some trouble, they cannot stop this.

A hacker known for cracking the copy-protection technology in DVDs claims to have unlocked the playback restrictions of Apple Computer Inc.’s iPod and iTunes music products and plans to license his code to others.

Today, songs purchased from Apple’s online iTunes Music Store can’t be played on portable devices made by other companies. Songs purchased from many other online music stores also won’t work on iPods because they similarly use a form of copy-protection that Apple doesn’t support.

Johansen said he has developed a way to get around those restrictions. But unlike his previous work, which he usually posts for free, the Norway native plans to capitalize on his efforts through his Redwood Shores-based DoubleTwist Ventures, said the company’s only other employee, managing director Monique Farantzos. Source: CNN

While his lawyers are giving him the green light, he will surely be sued by Apple in an attempt to block it. Fred von Lohmann, a staff attorney at the privacy-advocacy group, Electronic Frontier Foundation, said Johansen is treading carefully this time, but isn’t necessarily cleared from a legal fight over copy-protection laws. Saying, “There is a lot of untested legal ground surrounding reverse engineering.” Which is an understatement, I’m sure.

Johansen first rose to fame when he wrote DeCSS, to unlock the content scrambling system used by the film industry to prevent copying, he was charged with data break-in but was soon acquitted. He has been a hacker folk hero ever since.