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New iPod Firmware Locks Out RealNetworks Music 718

Posted by michael
from the providing-negative-customer-service dept.
rishimathew writes "Apple Computer has quietly updated its iPod software so that songs purchased from RealNetworks' online music store will no longer play on some of the Mac maker's popular MP3 players." You may remember the backstory: Real found a way to allow their DRM-restricted music to play on iPods, Apple protested, and there was a little back-and-forth. You asked Rob Glaser about the situation, and he said Real had a "comprehensive plan", whatever that means.
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New iPod Firmware Locks Out RealNetworks Music

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  • What about Hymn? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall (25149) * on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:03PM (#11086123)
    If they broke RealNetworks playback on iPods, what about files de-protected by Project Hymn? [hymn-project.org]

    I would assume it's broken since I figured Real used some of the code from this app. But the article does not say, and there is no news on the Hymn site (lterally, some kind of server error).
    • Re:What about Hymn? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Slack3r78 (596506) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:08PM (#11086184) Homepage
      I wouldn't think so. Hymnn strips the file of all DRM; what Real had done was essentially finding a way to get the iPod to play *their* protected files, just like files you bought off iTMS. Apple has evidently changed up the way their authentication behaves so this no longer works.

      Since there's no DRM in a file that's been run through Hymn, there's no reason they shouldn't still work.
      • For now there is no reason. But I bet soon if not already the iPod will check to make sure the DRM signature is in the file. No Sig, No Music. Hacking the right DRM INTO a music file is a lot harder than hacking it out especially if they use encryption.
        • I would bet anything that you're wrong. The reason is because that would involve removing mpa playback (i.e. mp4 AAC files without DRM built in) entirely. This would be a terrible move for several reasons, the least of which being that when iTunes rips a CD to AAC, it does so in mpa files without DRM. I think you just didn't realize what the grandparent poster was saying when he said Hymn stripped out the DRM. It creates a new file that simple doesn't have DRM in it.
        • I don't understand the fuss. As long as there are ways to convert your m4a or whatever formats to plain mp3 files, who can stop you?

        • Re:What about Hymn? (Score:5, Informative)

          by MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:21PM (#11086363)
          You seem to be confused about both the iPod and Hymn.

          1. The iPod will play unprotected AAC and MP3 files.
          2. Hymn produces unprotected AAC files.

          For Apple to disable the ability for the iPod to play files produces with Hymn, they would ostensibly have to either (1) remove unprotected AAC playback or (2) (a) watermark their AAC files prior to encryption and (b) update the iPod firmware to check for such a watermark for unprotected AAC files before playing.

          However such a watermark would likely be a prime target for a reverse engineering and removal tool, hey why don't we just build it into Hymn in the first place?

          Besides, updating iTunes, Quicktime, FairPlay, and iPod software from Apple doesn't force the end-user to update that software on any or all of their machines. So the most Apple could really hope for with the best possible solution would be to create an un-removable watermark (very, very, very hard), non-trickable FairPlay libraries (somewhat hard but then again it seems they're not really trying at this point), and even then there would be huge gaping holes w.r.t. the million or so songs already downloaded without the watermark technology.
        • by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:25PM (#11086427)
          For now there is no reason. But I bet soon if not already the iPod will check to make sure the DRM signature is in the file. No Sig, No Music.

          Yeah, and about 80% of all the music on all iPods around the world instantly stops working (hint: mp3). Great business plan.

          If you mean strictly AAC files, well, that wouldn't make much sense either, because any CD's you rip with iTunes are encoded by default as non-protected AAC files. So Apple'd be screwing their own customers with that strategy. (And of course iTunes is not the only AAC ripper, so even if they locked down iTunes and just decided to ignore everybody who ripped non-protected files with it to this point, they'd still have problems.)

          They realistically cannot lock out non-protected content, unless they want their player to be rendered absolutely useless. What do you think happened to Sony all this time? It'd be even worse for Apple, because there's already so much non-protected content on iPods throughout the world - they'd have an outright revolt on their hands.

          This, kids, is why DRM sucks, and no DRM is good. Honestly, why do people put up with this crap? Use MP3 and play it back on whatever the hell player you want. That's the way it should work, and that's the way it does work for those of us who refuse to host any DRM'd files on their PC's or music players.
  • by k4_pacific (736911) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {cificap_4k}> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:04PM (#11086129) Homepage Journal
    It turns out that this "comprehensive plan" involves a free screensaver download that DDOS's the iTunes store.
  • Thoughts (Score:3, Insightful)

    by daveschroeder (516195) * on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:04PM (#11086137)
    Number one, this is old, since the iPod firmware that did this, iPod Updater 2004-11-15, was released a month ago.

    Number two, Apple is under no obligation to support ANYONE else's DRM, period.

    Unprotected AAC, WAV, AIFF, MP3, etc., files from ANY source will play fine on ANY iPod. This is ONLY about Real reverse engineering FairPlay (more power to them) in order to allow their "Harmony" DRM-protected files to play on an iPod. They succeeded. And Apple is under NO obligation of any kind to allow it to continue. The iPod DOES NOT SUPPORT DRM files from ANY other source, so this isn't a matter of "doing what you want with something you bought". If you can personally get Real's songs to play on your iPod again, go for it. If Real re-engineers it such that the files work, great. Further, you are not forced to update the firmware. What's that? You'll eventually have to to get new features and bug fixes? Tough. Don't like it? Don't buy another iPod.

    Apple is doing nothing legally, technically, ethically, morally or wrong.

    Additionally, Apple does play with other vendors, such as Audible.com content [apple.com], and Macrovision will have to be a FairPlay licensor [arstechnica.com] to support some of its product claims (though more details aren't known), and Motorola phones will run a version of iTunes [motorola.com] and support Apple's protected music. Apple can do whatever it wishes with its own products, and consumers may decide whether or not they would like to purchase them.
    • by Tibor the Hun (143056) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:10PM (#11086211)
      is because this morning was the first time anyone actually tried to play a song purchased on Harmony on an iPod.
      (In related news, that was also the first person to actually use Harmony to buy a song!)

    • by glrotate (300695) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:10PM (#11086217) Homepage
      Obligated to ensure compatability, probably not. Obligated to refrain from taking antocompetitive measures in a market in which they are the dominant supplier, that's another question.

      How many people remember:
      DOS isn't done 'till Lotus won't run.
      • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:25PM (#11086434)

        Obligated to refrain from taking antocompetitive [sic] measures in a market in which they are the dominant supplier

        Umm, they have a good percentage of both the mp3 player and digital audio markets, but no monopoly in either. In any case, since when has it been illegal for a company to provide non-mandatory updates to the firmware of a device they create that prevents people from hacking around their DRM? If they refused to play non-protected files, I could see an argument. If they refused to play a competitors DRM, that they had at one time included I could see it as arguable. But refusing to play files masquerading as authenticated files from their own licensed system, well that does not bother me at all. Especially when that competitor is as shady as Real Networks.

      • by HeghmoH (13204) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:29PM (#11086504) Homepage Journal
        I'm not sure how disabling a feature that was never supposed to work in the first place is anticompetitive. If Real wanted to, they could sell naked MP3s or AACs and the iPod would happily play them. Instead, they're trying to latch on to Apple's proprietary DRM scheme, and now they've been burned by it. This is no different than an application using undocumented APIs and then exploding because those APIs changed in the next OS revision. Microsoft's screwing of Lotus was on a totally different level.
      • Obligated to ensure compatability, probably not. Obligated to refrain from taking antocompetitive measures in a market in which they are the dominant supplier, that's another question.

        No. Not really. This is not Microsoft. Apple has not been declared a monopoly in any market (even if they were, it would only restrict how they enter NEW markets). There are no laws (at least in the US) against selling proprietary software/hardware. Just because they are the market leader doesn't mean they have to 'play n
        • "No. Not really. This is not Microsoft. Apple has not been declared a monopoly in any market (even if they were, it would only restrict how they enter NEW markets)."

          Well, by that measure Microsoft was not Microsoft until they were declared a monopoly a couple of years ago in court. Ticketmaster hasn't been declared a monopoly; do you doubt that it is one?
      • Obligated to refrain from taking antocompetitive measures in a market in which they are the dominant supplier, that's another question.

        Speaking of them as the "dominant supplier"...

        A while back, Apple claimed they made basically no profit on iTMS, and only kept it going to boost sales of iPods.

        Having Real support the iPod would only increase sales thereof, while the possibility of decreasing sales at no profit via iTMS should not matter at all ("We lose a penny per sale, but we make it up in volume!"
    • Re:Thoughts (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jmcleod (233418)
      The hell it's not wrong.

      Apple doesn't own those iPods, therefore they have exactly zero right to make any sort of modifications to them whatsoever.

      It would be exactly the same thing if Apple modified that Sony NW-blahbX42fnordwhatever portable MP3 player to not be able to playback Real's tracks.

      It's anti-competitive and pseudo-monopolistic (since iPods are more or less ubiquitous in the portable player market).

      Don't be an Apple-apologist just because you're a rabid Apple fanboy.
      • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:26PM (#11086460)
        No one is forcing you to update your firmware. NO ONE.

        The firmware updates will only stay within the specified operating parameters of the device. There is no parameter that requires supporting reverse-engineered DRM content from other sources.

        Now if Apple removed the ability, for example, to play MP3s, then you might have a point.

        But they didn't, and Apple isn't forcing anyone to update firmware, therefore you're completely wrong, whether I'm "fanboy" or not.

        Thanks for playing.
    • brand loyalty (Score:3, Insightful)

      by farble1670 (803356)
      Apple is doing nothing legally, technically, ethically, morally or wrong.

      i think this can be better phrased as: "nobody can stop them". sorry, but if our friends in redmond did something like this the /. community would be screaming bloody murder. apple is certainly under no obligation to actively, support real's DRM, but that's not what we're talking about. apple has taken specific action to disallow real's DRM.

      apple is using it's monopoly in the digital audio player market to maintain it's monopoly
      • Re:brand loyalty (Score:5, Insightful)

        by liquidsin (398151) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @07:18PM (#11087306) Homepage
        Apple has a monopoly on digital audio players? I think the anti-Apple crowd around here is worse than the anti-MS crowd. At least the MS bashers seem to keep their heads out of their asses. Apple is nowhere near a monopoly. There are dozens of "digital audio players" on the market, if not hundreds. Just because Apple makes one of the better ones, does not make them a monopoly. And your analogy of MS bundling browsers is plain retarded. This has nothing to do with bundling. Real was trying to make money off of Apple's brand name, plain and simple. Apple, the terrible monopoly that they are, lets you play ANY mp3 or aac or wav file on the ipod, but restricts DRM to their own. Real, in their infinite stupidity, was selling (for money) music that was DRMed with a hack to work around that limitation. If they don't come up with a new trick, it's their own fault that their customers got fucked. So, if you bought music from Real, you can still play it on your pc and on whatever other devices are supported. You could probably even burn it, rip it, and put the rip on your ipod. So how is it that Apple is evil again?
    • Re:Thoughts (Score:2, Insightful)

      by LWATCDR (28044)
      "Apple is doing nothing legally, technically, ethically, morally or wrong."

      Gee so Apple has the right to make you use there store if you BUY an IPOD! I can get the legally wrong comment but how is this so different from Microsoft making Windows 3.11 not work under DR-DOS?

      Why you may make the argument that it is legal I do not feel that it is moral or ethical. It is called LOCK IN and that is never good for the end user. As to not buying another IPOD. This will pretty much make me not buy the first one.
      • Re:Thoughts (Score:3, Insightful)

        by daveschroeder (516195) *
        Apple doesn't make you use their store, dumbass. You can play ANY non-DRMed MP3, AAC, WAV, AIFF, Apple Lossless, etc., file that you wish. It was never advertised as working with any other online store with DRM, and Apple is under no obligation to support any other online store with DRM. If you don't agree with it, don't buy it. Simple.
    • Re:Thoughts (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bronz (429622) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:30PM (#11086516)
      I agree, but the obligatory Slashdot Bizarro twist... what if this was about Microsoft Word locking out OO.org with respect to "protected .doc" files. ...

      Number one, this is old, since Microsoft Word was released eons ago.

      Number two, Microsoft is under no obligation to support ANYONE else's DRM, period.

      Unprotected .doc files from ANY source will open fine on ANY version of Microsoft Word. This is ONLY about OO.org reverse engineering the Microsoft DRM (more power to them) in order to allow their ".doc" DRM-protected files to work with Microsoft Office. They succeeded. And Microsoft is under NO obligation of any kind to allow it to continue. Word DOES NOT SUPPORT DRM files from ANY other source, so this isn't a matter of "doing what you want with something you bought". If you can personally get OpenOffice.org's protected files to open on your version of Word, go for it. If OO.org re-engineers it such that the files work, great. Further, you are not forced to update the software. What's that? You'll eventually have to to get new features and bug fixes? Tough. Don't like it? Don't buy another version of Word.

      Microsoft is doing nothing legally, technically, ethically, morally or wrong. ...
      • Re:Thoughts (Score:3, Interesting)

        by alset_tech (683716)
        This is ONLY about OO.org reverse engineering the Microsoft DRM (more power to them) in order to allow their ".doc" DRM-protected files to work with Microsoft Office.

        I buy tracks from iTMS, and the licensing doesn't get in my way. I don't pay for individual Word documents. I pay for a program to create those docs. I see a hole in your analogy.

    • Re:Thoughts (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)
      I wish they would licence out more. I think Apple stands to gain by allowing anyone to licence Fairplay, if only to push out Microsoft's licencing. While iPod maybe the #1 hard drive based player, I bet that all the rest that support protected Windows Media Player files out number iPod, as well as giving consumers a choice between stores, a lot apparently support protected WMP.
    • Re:Thoughts (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jsebrech (525647)
      Number one, this is old, since the iPod firmware that did this, iPod Updater 2004-11-15, was released a month ago.

      Number two, Apple is under no obligation to support ANYONE else's DRM, period.


      I'm all for free business, but that also involves customers being able to freely take their business elsewhere. This basically is a lock-in tactic tieing you to the itms if you have an ipod.

      Apple can't have it both ways. If they intend to use the ipod to drive sales of the itunes music store, then yes, drm it all y
      • Re:Thoughts (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Have Blue (616)
        You're misreading Apple's strategy. The store is not "used to drive the iPod"- it's a feature of the iPod. (The fact that it's accessed through a program on a computer the iPod is plugged into is secondary.) That's why Apple feels that having people buy through the ITMS and only the ITMS is such an important part of the iPod strategy. The closed experience is part of what they are selling.
    • Re:Thoughts (Score:3, Insightful)

      by slashdot.org (321932)
      Apple is doing nothing legally, technically, ethically, morally or wrong.

      If anything, it _does_ show Apple's true color. Which is that they are just as any other big corporation and will resort to crippling one product to increase the sales of another product, and/or lock out a competitor. (don't be fooled, they deliberately removed the functionality, being perfectly aware of it)

      So long as they are not a monopoly that's probably legal.
      • Have you considered that reverse engineering isn't guaranteed to work with changes to the iPod and/or FairPlay and/or the implementation of such, etc.?

        Apple may or may not have deliberately disabled Real's reverse engineering, but what if, for the sake of argument, some third party reverse engineered service became popular in some circles, and then was inadvertently broken due to updates in Apple's products, or because the parties responsible for reverse engineering aren't aware of Apple product and firmwa
    • Re:Thoughts (Score:5, Insightful)

      by oobob (715122) * on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:45PM (#11086718)
      This is the 2nd time that I'm aware of Apple using a Firmware fix to keep competition down. The first happened when the G4s had just been released. It so happened that they had released a firmware update for the G3 a few weeks prior and, without telling anyone who used the firmware update, snuck in a patch to block G4 upgrades. It was only a couple weeks before the chip upgrade companies had broken the protection, but I was still pissed about paying hundreds of dollars more for an equivalent speed machine out of brand loyalty and them screwing me all the same.

      People on slashdot conviently forget everything that Apple does that doesn't fit inside their small, incredibly inconsistent world view. I want people to take this story, mentally replace all occurances of Apple to MS, then tell me if this is even remotely consistent with slashdot posts. There are comments rated 5 saying that Apple has the right to do this. Hey guys and moderaters giving these posts points: where were you in the discussions about the dangers of a proprietary .doc format? Did anyone else find it funny that no one talks about MSs "right" to bust cross-program functionality with .doc files? Note that word does work well with standard text, RTF, and HTML formats that are in wide use. That's the same thing as the ipod playing mp3s, right?

      The truth is that if MS did this with Word to mess up Staroffice, you'd all be up in arms for weeks complaining. And I wouldn't blame you at all - it would be a stupid, petty move from a company that is abusing its captive market. But when it comes from Apple, the wonderful word right appears, and you've saved yourselves from cognitive dissonance (as if having a right to do something made it desirable in any way, or somehow an acceptable path of action). Sure they can do this: are they assholes for doing so? Would you feel the same if another company did this? Apple has a history of acting like a business, which it is. Don't trick yourself into thinking that they're on your side against the big, bad, proprietary, stupid, plain, and evil PC orthodoxy. They're there to sell you computers.

      I'd kill to see more posts where products were graded on one critera only: functionality as a computer. If you'd ask the people here, you'd think Windows 2000 or XP still crashed frequently (my brother and I leave our cpus on for months) and was prone to driver and software conflicts with nearly everything. Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux are all tools. Do you use a hammer when you need a screwdriver? No. Do you screws all the time, cursing those nails which are so damned hard to remove? No. You use them when you need them and the price is acceptable for the use. Computers are no different. Let's stop treating these products like absolutes and get more of those shades of grey back that are required for rational discussion.
    • Re:Thoughts (Score:5, Insightful)

      by abertoll (460221) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @07:31PM (#11087511) Homepage Journal
      I would say it's unethical if Apple didn't issue a warning to you before you installed the firmware.
  • by fredistheking (464407) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:05PM (#11086139)

    So is Real going to refund the money that was spent on music that was "compatible" with the Ipod?
  • by garcia (6573) * on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:05PM (#11086151) Homepage
    RealNeworks said in a statement that it remains "fully committed to providing consumers with the freedom to use the music libraries they purchase from us on different portable audio devices they acquire, both now and in the future--including the iPod Photo."

    I know the popular opinion here is typically pro-Apple/iTMS/iPod but honestly I just don't see why we can be pro-reverse engineering on everything else and not this.

    I applaud Real for working to give their customers the most choice and I really don't approve of Apple *refusing* to support their customers the best way that they can.
    • Apple *is* supporting their customers. Apple is *not* supporting RealNetworks' customers, nor do they have any reason to.
      • If you have an iPod, you obviously own an Apple product, thereby making you a customer of Apple.

        Apple's move isn't about helping their customers. It's about stifling competition from Real. Competition is good for customers and if Apple were really pro-customer they'd modify iTMS to address its disadvantages to Real's offering.

        • by Issue9mm (97360) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:21PM (#11086365)
          Not necessarily. For all we know, they patched something completely unrelated, and moved a memory offset that Real's code depended on.

          Certainly you wouldn't hold Apple responsible for the quality of Real's code would you? It's certainly not their fault if they recompile an executable and stuff doesn't work anymore.

          It might not have deliberately broken a damn thing, other than shifted memory offsets, which will cause Real to have to disassemble the code and try to relocate.

          Don't get me wrong, if Apple did it on purpose, then yeah, it's kind of shitty... but we have no way of knowing that they did.

          -9mm-
          • by prockcore (543967) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @07:03PM (#11087074)
            Don't get me wrong, if Apple did it on purpose, then yeah, it's kind of shitty... but we have no way of knowing that they did.

            We don't? Apple came out in July and said flat out that future upgrades to the ipod firmware will break Real's stuff.

            And what's this about moving a memory offset? Apple didn't break Real's tools, they made the ipod recognize the minor differences between fairplay encoded AACs created by Apple and fairplay encoded AACs created by Real.

            We're talking about changing code that previously said "yes, I've checked this file and it is a valid fairplay encoded AAC" to saying "nope.. this isn't valid". You don't do that on accident.

            We don't know what specifically the ipod is using to differentiate between the two, but I'm sure that someone will reverse engineer the firmware update and find that it looks specifically for "Real" in the AAC headers or something similar.

            The ipod isn't done until Real wont run.
    • I know the popular opinion here is typically pro-Apple/iTMS/iPod but honestly I just don't see why we can be pro-reverse engineering on everything else and not this.

      I don't see why people keep targeting Apple's DRM and not all the WMA stuff out there.

      Crack Apple's DRM, you get to listen to the songs you already paid for in the program and OS of your choice.

      Crack MS' DRM, you get to listen to any song you want for a small subscription fee.

      Clear advantage in cracking a subscription based DRM. Why isn't
  • Big Surprsie... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DiscoNick (743960) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:06PM (#11086160) Homepage
    Did anyone really figure anything different would come out of this? I'm a die-hard Mac fan, but Apple really does have a way of getting away with murder when they pull Microsoft-like actions. Granted they need their protection, I thought this was the company that embraced Open-Source? I think it should be "Selectively Embraced Open Source", thanks for the code guys!
  • Meh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nordicfrost (118437) * on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:07PM (#11086172)
    I'm an Apple fanboy, but I don't really see this as the correct approach to the problem. In my opinion, the iTunes store is sufficient to attract customers and make the stick with Apple. For ordniary people, the store is cool, updated and fairly priced. Geeks all over the world know what pain in the ass Real is and mostly avoids them at all cost.

    Real is only continuing the war with different means. They don't do anything remotely original or radical like just dropping the DRM alltoghether for RIAA-influenced music. Honestly, I can't see the point of having DRM on ANY recoring that is also out on CD, it's just retarded.
  • May I inquire why it should matter who you bought the music from as long as you own it?
    • May I inquire why it should matter who you bought the music from as long as you own it?

      It should not, which is why music formats and DRM should be open standards. Unfortunately, MS is in the process of embracing the digital music industry with yet more illegal bundling. As the industry stands right now, the music seller is responsible for providing support and authentication for your digital music. Real just tried to make Apple do it for them, free of cost and Apple shot them down. If Apple does not

  • Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sulli (195030) * on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:07PM (#11086183) Journal
    You shouldn't use DRM'd files anyway.
  • and shoots themselves in the foot. Again. If I pay for music I should be able to play it on any hardware I own capable of audio reproduction, not just the files "authorized" for that piece of hardware. Or conversely, not just on the peice of hardware "authorized" for those files.

    Or maybe I am just a dreamer...
    • ---If I pay for music I should be able to play it on any hardware I own capable of audio reproduction, not just the files "authorized" for that piece of hardware---

      So you should be able to play your 8 track tapes on your cd player?

      What's that? You mean you'd have to convert the media format to do that? What's stopping you from doing that with your Real purchased tracks?
      • Re:Fantasy world (Score:2, Insightful)

        by davidtupper (228631)
        The files are already in a format(other than the DRM) that the hardware understands. Why should I not be able to play it? Why should I have to convert from MP3 to MP3 to allow a piece of hardware that understands MP3s to play it?

        This is where I have the problem, not Apple wanting to sell more music. You can play any music you buy on it as long as you buy it from Apple. That would be like buying a Ford and having to buy gas only from a Ford authorized station, and if you go to a Chevy authorized station you
    • It's not Apple's fault that Real produces DRMd content. It's not Apple's fault that the iPod (which far predates the Real music store) doesn't play Real's Harmony encoded content. It's not Apple's fault that you can't download plain-jane MP3s off of Real's site.

      Apple's iPod plays all ITMS songs, as well as regular MP3s and can convert WMVs. If Real's site distributed music in a widely understandable format, then they wouldn't have had to worry about Apple updating firmware and breaking Harmony.

      Further,
  • Of course... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Apple would be monumentally stupid not to do what it did. Real Networks has been trying to force some of those iTunes dollars to go their way. So in the name of freeing folks from iTunes, they'll parasitically try to siphon the profits Apple earns from its innovation and marketing.

    Which is not bad for consumers in the short run.
    • Re:Of course... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by anagama (611277)
      • So in the name of freeing folks from iTunes, they'll parasitically try to siphon the profits Apple earns from its innovation and marketing.

      I think the issue here is that people spend in excess of $250 on an ipod. Granted, Apple wants to make money selling songs, but first and foremost, it sells the hardware. When I buy hardware, I look for something I can use as I wish. I know there are millions who don't. That's sad. But I shouldn't have to buy a special music player for each different service in

  • And where do I (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stuffduff (681819) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:15PM (#11086280) Journal
    And where do I get a mod for that?

    I mean how many minutes will it be before a mod is available? Probably well under an hour when the right person gets the upgrade and loses a substattial part of their library!

  • We remember. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:15PM (#11086281)
    Realnetworks supported Linux.

    Apple didn't support Quicktime for Linux.

  • Seriously:

    if (realnetworks_file && 30_day_money_back_expired) {
    remove_ability_to_play_file();
    }

    way to go Apple!
  • ...because you can just un-DRM the stuff you bought from the Real Networks store and then import it to the iPod, right? I mean, iTunes Music Store lets you have an un-DRMed version of your bought songs (actually, as many as you want) on CD so it is a no-brainer. Right?
  • by bubba451 (779167) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:24PM (#11086416)
    Apple has not at all been coy about it's iTunes+iPod business platform. iPod sales support the iTunes store, which in turn increases the "value" of the iPod. Break that cycle and you start losing market share.

    I don't think there's anyone out their who naively bought Real songs to put on their iPod. Anyone who's savvy enough to know it could be done had to know that eventually Apple was going to pull the plug.

  • I love Apple. I hate Real.

    But why would Apple think I want them to take a feature OUT of something I already bought? Firmware updates should fix stuff and give me new features, but under no circumstances do I want them to REMOVE functionality that I once had.
    • Re:What? (Score:4, Funny)

      by reiggin (646111) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:28PM (#11086490)
      I don't think allowing Real to bypass their DRM technology can be called a "feature" of the iPod. More like a bug. Apple squashed a bug and its name was Real. Real has a history of being nothing more than a pest to the industry anyhow. Why should this be any different?
  • Obligatory GEB quote (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Florian Weimer (88405) <fw@deneb.enyo.de> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:24PM (#11086425) Homepage
    Tortoise: Oh, yes. Well, you see, the Crab came over to visit one day. You must understand that he's always had a weakness for fancy gadgets, and at that time he was quite an aficionado for, of all things, record players. He had just bought his first record player, and beign somewhat gullible, believed every word the salesman had told him about it -in particular, that it was capable of reproducing any and all sounds. In short, he was convinced that it was a Perfect phonograph.

    Achilles: Naturally, I suposse you disagreed.

    Tortoise: True, but he would hear nothing of my arguments. He staunchly maintained that any sound whatever was reproducible on his machine. Since I couldn't convince him of the contrary, I left it at that. But not long after that, I returned the visit, taking with me a record of a song which I had myself composed. The song was called "I Cannot Be Played on Record Player 1".

    Achiles: Rather unusual. Was it a present for the Crab?

    Tortoise: Absolutely. I suggested that we listen toit on his new phonograph, and he was very glad to oblige me. So he put it on. But unfortunately, after only a few notes, the record player began vibrating rather severely, and then with a loud "pop", broke into a large number of fairly small pieces, scattered all about the room. The record was utterly destroyed also, needless to say.

    Achiles: Calamitous blow for the poor fellow, I'd say. What was the matter with this record player?

    Tortoise: Really, there was nothing the matter, nothing at all. It simply couldn't reproduce the sounds on the record which I had brought him, because they were sounds that would make it vibrate and break.

    (More is here [geocities.com]. Buy the book, those dialogues are really fun to read, even if you are scared by the remaining parts of the book.)

    The Apple vs. Real battle will be fun to watch, and of course, Apple has no chance of winning within the system. We'll see when Apple realizes this, steps out of the system, and sues Real.
  • Anyone notice that there's no REQUIREMENT that you update the software on your ipod? Thus far, Apple hasn't made ANY requirements to iTunes or the Music Store to require that you update your firmware on the iPod to continue to use the software. In fact, quite the contrary, you can continue to use all the various firmwares, so long as those firmwares included support for iTunes/the store.
  • by jxyama (821091) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:28PM (#11086487)
    right now, real hacking iTMS DRM is for no one's benefit but real's. it is not offering "consumers" any more benefits. here is the reason: online music store isn't really an issue right now.

    the barrier to entry for consumers into the world of portable digital music is the music player, NOT the online music store. most people don't care how they might save 10 cents per track when they are faced with the decision of dropping $200+ on a digital player. they will decide which player is the best and if they want to buy music for it online, they will not complain that the said player only works with a limited number of online stores. (because all of them have about the same price, same songs, etc.) (proof: in the article, real says they sold 3 million tracks in 3 weeks they had "49 cent" half price sale. iTMS sells that much in a week and a half at 99 cents.)

    iPod is the most popular/profittable player out there - and that is an open market. everyone is free to buy whatever the player they want. they will all work with standard electric outlets, most computers and most popular music formats. real is doing nothing but leeching off of iPod's success while giving not much in tangible benefit to the consumers, not to mention apple. if they really wanted to help the cause for the consumers, instead of hacking iPod DRM, they should be talking to music industry executives so that they can offer music without DRM.

  • It is we who pay in money, in obsolescence, in broken things, in frustration. We are the collateral damage in the battle between who is a bigger asshole in the music sharing industry.

    Here's what I recommend Apple, Real, MPAA, RIAA: Go fuck yourselves, but first go to Home Depot get some sharp tools and fucking kill each other with them. Then, when one of you is standing proud and aroused amidst the gore on pile of children's skulls, we'll talk to you, whoeverthefuck you are. Until then PGFY (please go fuck
  • After all, you already have their money, why would you care about giving them choices?
  • by nra1871 (836627) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:49PM (#11086801)
    You can use music from Real or Napster or whereever on your iPod. Burn those songs to a cd and then import the cd into iTunes. Kinda clunky yes, but not a major hassle...especially for the technically inclined crowd around here.
  • by Jodka (520060) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:54PM (#11086899)
    I'm sure the RealNetworks customers who bougth tunes for their IPODS and now can't play them are going to be upset by this. Both the them.
  • by Warlock7 (531656) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @09:31PM (#11088758)
    If Apple allows this questionable scheme, it is a scheme, to continue then they will lose their licensing agreement with the labels which allows them to run the iTunes Music Store. Then no more iTMS and Rob Glaser is selling you your music which he will raise the price of, he already has since his little media stunt.

    The iPod is the single most open digital music device on the market today. It supports the playback of more audio formats than any other device like it. It supports AAC, MP3, Apple Lossless, AIFF, MP3 VBR, WAV and Audible. It also supports the DRM from the iTMS.

    It does not support any other form of DRM, which is really what has Rob Glaser's panties in a bunch, as it won't support the Real DRM. So, he tries to convince everybody that his little stunt will "open up the iPod" when all it did was allow his DRM to be supported. He didn't introduce OGG, there's no WMA on there. It's a smoke screen that he's created to get everybody back onto his failing format. The only thing that Real has done is create a bunch of hoopla for every Apple hater out there to jump onto the bandwagon. He's opened up the iPod to his proprietary DRM and nothing else. Real fooled a lot of people into believing their hype in order to keep their company alive. They sell their AAC encoded, Real DRM'd files at a loss and get a bunch of naive people into their camp.

    Now when Apple comes back and stops their product from breaking their licensing agreements that they set up with the labels, as they said they would, those naive people that thought they were getting a great deal are going to cry foul.
  • Lies, all Lies!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @10:47PM (#11089300)
    Unlike CDs, songs sold by competing online stores are often not directly compatible with different brands of MP3 players.

    If they're MP3 Players they'd play all MP3 files since there's no DRM on MP3 files.

  • by tm2b (42473) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @11:21PM (#11089532) Journal
    I'll bet Real loves that this particular framing of the issue has been picked up. It really ignores some very important aspects of the history of the legal commerce in digital music from just the last year or so.

    Think way back, a scant two years ago. The RIAA was basically dead set against any form of on-line selling of high quality music. The best that peope were doing legally was providing clips of songs to sell realspace media. Some companies were monkeying around with ideas like space shifting and library locking, but they were all at odds with the recording industry. That is, until Apple came along as a trusted partner and managed to seduce the recording industry into a compromise that everybody could live with.

    What Apple did was to go to the music labels and say, "Look. We control the software on the PC, we control the store, and we control the iPod. We can make it safe for you to sell inexpensively on-line by putting modest limits on what users can do, but making it difficult to leave the reservation with high quality recording. You sell recordings, we sell iPods, and you don't even have to ship CDs. We all win, because people want to buy if prices are reasonable, and we can do that while making sure that you don't have to worry about getting ripped off on a massive scale."

    What Real does by selling music into Apple's scheme, without entering into a licensing agreement with Apple, is suddenly endanger the whole position that Apple has with the record companies. Suddenly another unconnected corporation is pissing in Apple's pond - and worse, they're themselves engaging in anticompetitive practices (the $0.49 song dumping they tried to use to undercut Apple), trying to splice their own proprietary system into Apple's infrastructure!

    In Apple's place, I'd be pissed too. They went to a lot of trouble to reassure the RIAA and find a balance that would profit everybody, in an arena in which the recording industry wasn't at all sure they could prosper in the first place. Real is coming along and trying to disrupt that as much as possible - of course Apple's going to fight back.

    Refusing to raise Real's cuckoo's eggs isn't even close to unreasonable.
  • Sounds like BS (Score:3, Informative)

    by rspress (623984) on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @12:55AM (#11089997) Homepage
    What iPods have been updated not to work with Real Purchased songs? I bought my 3G ipod in May of this year and it is still running the same OS v2.2 that it shipped with....which is also the current version in all iPod updaters released since that time. Any updater I have downloaded did not update my iPod. I assume if Apple were going to make the Real tunes unavailable and I think they should, then how come they did not do it across the board on all models?
  • by zpok (604055) on Wednesday December 15, 2004 @10:17AM (#11091812) Homepage
    What's wrong here people!

    Apple updated its iPod firmware and Real got locked out again. Big deal, they've been told. I might not think this very nice, but that's the way it is.

    BUT IT TOOK PEOPLE ONE MONTH AND A HALF TO FIND OUT!

    So get real here, where are the victims of Apple's anti-social behaviour, where are the duped customers??????

    The real news - if any - is that apparently Real has at least one (1) iPod customer, the person who found out a 50 days after the fact that his song(s?) is locked out.

    His Jobsness has told everybody who wants to hear it that if there are compelling reasons to do so, he'd open up his DRM scheme. Well, that may seem very anti-social, but not more than every other company does or tries to do and when all is said and done, I guess at the Real side of things, there aren't that much compelling reasons to be found.

    But go ahead and "don't ever buy Apple". Say no to Monopolists. Shees, which high definition DVD format are you going to boycot? Are you faithful to Betamax still? How's your 8-track doing?

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