Women in Music 2016

New Program Skirts iTunes Protection

The digital rights management technology Apple Computer Inc. uses to set limits for songs downloaded from its iTunes Music Store has been challenged by a familiar name.

The digital rights management technology Apple Computer Inc. uses to set limits for songs downloaded from its iTunes Music Store has been challenged by a familiar name. Jon Johansen, the Norwegian teenager best known for bypassing the copyright protection on DVDs, has devised a new program that performs a similar function on iTunes music. Apple has not yet commented.

QTFairUse, as Johansen dubbed his latest program, does not compromise the actual digital rights management (DRM). What it does, in effect, is intercept the file while it is streaming and before the DRM gets locked on.

This implies that the program only works on music that has been legitimately purchased from iTunes. Songs from iTunes come with liberal but not unrestricted usage rules and are encoded in Apple's MPEG-4 Advanced Audio Coding standard.

QTFairUse only works on Windows-based PCs and requires considerable programming knowledge to use. The short program is in the family of utilities technically known as a "memory dumper."

Johansen wrote his DeCSS program -- which descrambles the copy protection on DVDs -- in 1999 so he could view commercial DVDs on a Linux computer, a capability that was otherwise unavailable at the time. He was brought to trial in Norway but was acquitted in January after the court ruled that Johansen had the right to view legitimately purchased movies however he chose. Prosecutors are appealing the verdict.