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by Franki

Music from the net is becoming big business, and you can always tell when something has reached that point when the lawsuits between the big boys begin. We’ve just reached that point.

Right now the biggest player on the legal online music industry is Apple, they have the vast majority of online sales, and back that up with their own iPod hardware player.
The problem is that Apple are using DRM (Digital Rights Management) as a means to lock anybody with an iPod into using the iTunes online music service. So if you are a competing music supplier, and you want to cater to the massive number of iPod owners out there, your out of luck. Likewise, if you can’t find what you’re looking for at iTunes, you’re not able to look anywhere else because the iPod won’t play any other companies DRM music files.

That is just like what many people are worried that Microsoft was/is trying to do with Palladium, make PC hardware that really only works to its full potential when its running Windows.

Then along comes Real Networks, who first asked Apple nicely to share, only to be publically rebuked. Real then worked out how Apple’s Fairplay (ironic name isn’t it?) DRM worked and created a program that can convert Real native formats into an iPod compatible format so users could play them on their iPods.

This method of work around doesn’t break DRM rules, it simply converts one type to another (it can do the same with Microsoft’s DRM formats as well). Still, its legality is untested though that could change soon, Apple are said to be shocked about it Reals action.

But this situation is not really any different from my complaints against Microsoft, when a monopoly uses technology and/or law as an intentional means to both lock in customers, and lock out competitors, something needs to be done.

It’s in all our best interests for Apple to lose whatever case they end up filing against Real Networks (assuming they do), since it means we’ll have companies competing for your music dollars, which always drives down prices and drives up choice. Right now it’s a one horse race, with Apple way out in front. That needs to change for the industry to develop as a whole. Another Microsoft we don’t need.

For more info, see and The register. Also see The register again for Reals return salvo in the war of words.



One Response to “Apple and Real, rounding up for a fight.”

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