Jon Johansen, a hacker who's claim to fame was helping to crack DVD encryption, has cracked the iTunes FairPlay content protection.
Johansen's company, DoubleTwist, stated that he managed to reverse engineer the FairPlay system and plans to license the technology to Apple's competitors in an attempt to open up the digital music industry.
Apple's iTunes music store is responsible for around 88% of all legal music downloads, while the various iterations of the iPod are responsible for only 60% of the portable music player market.
Content downloaded from iTunes uses the FairPlay content protection technology that only allows users to play the music on Apple's iPod, up to five computers and any licensed devices like Motorola's Rokr mobile phone. The downloads can't be transferred to devices made by other manufacturers that haven't licensed Apple's FairPlay technology.
DoubleTwist's Managing Director, Monique Farantzos told Associated Press that "there's a certain amount of trouble that Apple can give us, but not enough to stop this. We believe we're on good legal ground, and our attorneys have given us the green light on this."
Indirectly, this could help iTunes to gain even more market share in the digital distribution world, but in the same way it is also going to have an effect on Apple's iPod business. It will be interesting to see how Apple reacts to Johansen's breakthrough and there are a number of routes the digital music giant could take.
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