'DVD Jon' Opens Up Apple's FairPlay

Noted DRM hacker Jon Johansen, known more commonly by the nickname "DVD Jon," has now figured out a way to reverse engineer Apple's FairPlay digital rights management technology. Johansen is now licensing his workaround to companies who want their media to play on Apple devices.

According to a report on technology web log GigaOM, Johansen along with partner Monique Farantzos have already approached Apple CEO Steve Jobs about their technology, although they did not provide specifics on their plans.

Reportedly, Jobs told the pair -- who have formed the company DoubleTwist Ventures -- that Apple would not pursue legal action. Nevertheless, Jobs warned that other companies might not take so kindly to their motives.

It is unclear why Apple may be so receptive to DounleTwist's plans, although it may be due to the how Johansen has designed it to work. Instead of stripping the DRM, the technology will actually add another layer on top of what already exists.

It is in this layer that the technology lies that enables songs from music services other than iTunes to play on an iPod. While this might hurt music sales in Apple's own service, it could actually help the Cupertino company to sell more iPods, some say.

"Apple enjoys fat margins on its devices, and perhaps should turn a blind eye, for now," Liz Gannes opined for GigaOM Monday. "We won't be crossing our fingers for Jobs to keep his non-litigious promise, though."

Any help in selling more iPods should be welcomed by Apple. Microsoft plans to release its highly anticipated Zune music player in mid-November, and the device is seen as the first true threat to the company since the launch of the iPod in 2001.

However, the company has been notoriously protective of its intellectual property, and a legal challenge to Johansen's actions is fairly likely.

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