Wednesday, February 20, 2008
The software will allow the sharing of music bought on iTunes
The release of software from a firm run by a notorious Norwegian hacker is likely to cause waves in the music and film download world.
Jon Lech Johansen became the "enfant terrible" of the DRM industry when he released software which cracked the encryption codes on DVDs, aged just 15.
His firm, DoubleTwist, has now released software allowing users to share digital media files across devices.
It would allow songs bought on Apple's iTunes to be shared on other devices.
At the moment, the only portable music player which can store content downloaded from the iTunes store is Apple's iPod.
Users can copy downloaded songs to a CD and then copy the disc back on to the computer so that the songs can then be moved to other portable devices - but the quality of the music is affected.
In 2003 Mr Johansen distributed a program which bypassed Apple's Fairplay system, the software that enforces this relationship between iTunes and the iPod. Since then he has had several other well-publicised run-ins with the firm.
Tower of Babel
The new software from his San Francisco-based company DoubleTwist will allow users to share both user-generated and professionally created music, photos and video clips between computers, mobiles and game consoles.
Media which lives on a computer can be moved to a variety of mobile devices by dragging and dropping the files to a desktop folder which then drops copies on the external device over the web.
Initially the system will allow file-sharing with Sony's PSP games console, Nokia's N-series mobile, Sony Ericsson's Walkman and Cybershot handsets and Microsoft's Windows Mobile smartphones.
The software converts media stored in one file format to those used by the other devices in a system that mimics the process of ripping a CD onto a computer.
One hundred songs can be converted in about half an hour, with a slight degradation in sound quality, according to the firm.
"With digital media such as video from a friend's cell phone or your own iTunes playlists, it's a jungle out there," said Monique Farantzos, co-founder of DoubleTwist.
"The digital media landscape has become a tower of Babel, alienating and frustrating consumers. Our goal is to provide a simple and well integrated solution that the average consumer can use to eliminate the headaches associated with their expanding digital universe," she said.
The company is confident there will not be any legal challenges from Apple.
"All we are facilitating are friends sending things to one another," Ms Farantzos told the Reuters news agency.
The software is available as a free download from the company's website.
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