Wednesday, 26 November 2008


I'm moved to create this post in response to some people claiming a right for Linux users to have the iTunes database file (iTunesDB) decrypted to facilitate use of iPods under their operating system. The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) have come out and criticised Apple for attempting to keep copyrighted material (and quite possibly proprietary intellectual property) private. Apple, for its part, have requested takedown of the site(s) and/or sections of site(s) publishing the information that may lead to its eventual decryption under the DMCA.

So here goes.

The DMCA isn't the Digital Music Copyright Act - its the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It doesn't *have* to be music (or video or literature or art etc) in the encrypted DB file for it to be illegal to circumvent the encryption - it just has to have the encryption in order to demonstrate that its usage is controlled in some manner and attempting to reverse engineer that encryption for the purpose of getting at the contents is specifically an attempt at circumvention of those controls.

If people want to get hung up about the contents of the file, then (and this is obviously pure speculation) Apple could place within it a section of licensed copyrighted material such as even a single artwork cover from *any* in its library (not YOUR library) and you wouldn't know until you've circumvented the encryption and found it. If this is the case, would all the efforts to facilitate operations of iPod integration on Linux immediately cease out of respect for the DMCA then? In essense, that last part is all that Apple is trying to achieve, without getting to a point where someone has already breached the DMCA. In my mind Apple's stance can be likened to a restraining order for the purpose of preventing a crime taking place and the EFF can be described as taking the place of the bully, in this matter.

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