DVD Jon strikes again

Published: Wednesday, February 20th 2008

DVD Jon or Jon Lech Johansen as he is more commonly known gets a lot of love here. This great Norwegian famously broke the DVD encryption put in place by the big firms with the release of some software primarily aimed at allowing DVDs to be played on computers and unlocking the regionality of DVDs and DVD players.

When he released DeCSS he ran afoul of the US DMCA and was almost charged, he was then indicted by Norwegian authorities acting on behalf of the US who actually did go to court twice to try and convict him of hacking. Both times they failed and decided not to go to the Supreme Court.

Imagine our complete amusement in the office when we find out he's now trying it on with Apple via iTunes.

iTunes is a love it or hate it product - if you are part of the Apple / Steve Jobs faithful it is obviously the greatest thing on earth, if you know nothing about technology it's a simple product that allows you to use one of those "fangled new digital music type thingies".

If you are a techie you see it as a proprietary lock in and try and avoid it like the plague. The main issue for most techies is you can't play your music on anything other than your PC / Mac that has iTunes installed and your iPod / iPhone / iTouch.

I've railed against lock in for time immemorial - just a quick count of my personal items puts the following music players at my disposal - mobile phone (x2 because my wife has one that can play music too), MP3 capable stereo, PC (x3 - my office, my home and laptop), PSP, Xbox, a real MP3 player and my Nokia Internet Tablet - 10 devices at my personal disposal that I want to play music from and indeed do play music from.

The thing is, I know how to do all of this so I just push the files around on memory cards or over my network (streaming from my media server for example) onto the various devices. For many people this isn't possible and Apple's enforcement of the iTunes lock ins firmly violate the right I have to play my music (or video) on whatever device I choose at whatever time I choose. I also vote with my wallet and don't buy tunes from Apple.

What DVD Jon has done with his software (available from DoubleTwist for free) is allow you to take files that are locked into iTunes and essentially it plays the file, re-encoding it into a format you can play on other devices (I haven't looked properly but presumably OGG or MP3).

Just to rub salt into the wound he's going to cause Apple and the US music industry he's decided to let you share your files with friends as well. One wonders how long it will be before a writ arrive from the RIAA and Apple... I'm sure they'll be racing to get in first.

So well done Jon - keep up the good work and keep fighting the good fight - media we have legitimately purchased is ours to use on any device we own for our personal use.

Eventually the media industry will wake up and realise where they've been going wrong. Perhaps if EMI had taken notice of the way the world was going they wouldn't have had to cull a couple of thousand staff.

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About this post

"DVD Jon strikes again"
Published on
Wednesday, February 20th 2008
DRM media piracy rant
CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 International License
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