DVD Jon Pimping iTunes DRM To Manufacturers
DVD Jon, the brilliant computer programmer known for posting a crack on his website, at the age of 15, that allowed users to copy DVD’s onto their computers, has now reverse engineered Apple’s Fairplay license that they use on iTunes to protect songs from being copied. Now here’s the kicker: instead of posting the crack on a website, he is offering the technology to non-Apple manufacturers who can use the crack to allow their devices to play songs purchased on iTunes.
Instead of stripping off Digital Rights Management (DRM) from iTunes movies and music, Jon’s selling software to add DRM onto songs and movies so companies can get their products to work with Apple devices. Third party studios could make their movies iTV compatible without having to go through Apple licensing, and thus circumvent Apple’s fees. Brilliant!
Jon Lech Johansen , AKA “DVD-Jon” moved to the United States recently to work for Michael Robertson’s MP3Tunes.com – but the work, designing a digital locker, bored the hell out of him and he left the company this past summer. Despite the parting of ways, Robertson, who loves to moon the establishment, would have probably patted the young lad on the back and given him a fatherly smile had he developed the idea at MP3tunes.
After the stint with Robertson, Johansen moved to San Francisco to work with Monique Farantzos on DoubleTwist Ventures, Johansenâ€™s first major attempt at commercializing his reverse-engineering skills. They haven’t raised any outside money because they have already found at least one paying customer.
According to Liz Gannes, a writer in San Francisco who interviewed the DoubleTwist duo, “Johansen doesn’t think what heâ€™s doing is illegal; heâ€™s adding DRM rather than breaking it. He and Farantzos were giddy about the prospect of Appleâ€™s iTV, hoping companies will pay up to get movies on the set-top box when it comes out, after seeing the ill effects of being shut off the iPod.”
The Future: DVD Jon never fails to amaze. At twenty, he’s got a maturity and the foresight of someone twice his age. The fascinating aspect of this new endeavor is that Jon is selling Apple’s DRM technology to add DRM to content, not strip it off. Will the super litigious Apple look the other way since they gain the majority of their profits selling music hardware devices, or will they hammer him hard for hacking into their vertical?
And banking on Apple’s iTV may be way premature. According to industry insiders, Apple’s announcement of iTV was merely a strategic ploy in its negotiations with a major set-top box company (TiVo? –Ed.), since it never pre-announces new products.