Apple to license its FairPlay DRM scheme

Apple has tightly guarded its FairPlay DRM scheme since the iTunes Music Store’s inception, but the company may now finally license the scheme to third parties. British website Tech.co.uk says it has learned that Apple will soon announce plans to license FairPlay to third-party companies who have Made for iPod licenses—in other words, iPod accessory makers. The site says this licensing might initially allow iPod accessories to display album art or to stream iTunes music digitally, but that in the longer term, it could forebode a move by Apple to loosen the iTunes/iPod lock-in. In the meantime, Netgear has already announced a device dubbed the Digital Entertainer HD EVA8000 that can stream songs purchased from the iTunes store to HDTVs and digital audio systems. Thanks to Engadget for the link.

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    • king_kilr
    • 13 years ago

    #6, thats beyond wishful, thats delusional :).

      • IntelMole
      • 13 years ago

      It’s only delusional if you don’t accept it to be so 😛

    • IntelMole
    • 13 years ago

    It’d be nice if Microsoft could license this tech. They might have a chance then.

    • blastdoor
    • 13 years ago

    I would not read anything into this beyond what is stated. It makes perfect sense for Apple to enhance the iPod “ecosystem” by helping accessory makers make good products for the iPod. These people pay non-trivial royalties to Apple for the privilege of selling iPod compatible stuff. This is totally in Apple’s self-interest.

    I see no reason to believe that this even remotely suggests Apple would allow competitors to license FairPlay. The only way Apple will ever allow a competing mp3 player to play iTunes music is if a court forces them or if the iPod’s marketshare falls below 50 percent.

    I’m not saying this is a good or bad thing — I’m just saying I think this is the way it is.

      • Willard
      • 13 years ago

      OTOH, Apple has undoubtedly studied people like me who refuse to go along with their company-store approach to music. Perhaps they’ve found that they could gain even more player market share by loosening up the drm, and the bean counters have found this to be (at least possibly) in their net interest.
      I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’.
      What spurs me to this is a recent article in the NYT about Apple’s “iChains:” usually the Times is unabashedly an Apple fanboy, but this article was quite negative and at least hinted that something important may be afoot. This Tech.co.uk article reinforces that impression.

    • Hattig
    • 13 years ago

    Good stuff if it happens in a useful manner, I dislike the idea of a single corporation having dictatorial control over an entire media platform (DRM is akin to a physical platform if it isn’t licensed to third parties – I wonder where CDs would be today if Philips had been the only maker of CD players and you had to buy CDs from Philips only) over extended durations of time.

    However I’ll only spend money on iTunes if the damn bitrate is decent – ideally it would arrive as a lossless file, and get transcoded to 128kbps (user definable) for iPod use.

    Given that Apple made $1b in profit in the last quarter, and sold 22m iPods, I think they can safely open up Fairplay a little bit. And I’d prefer that if DRM is here to stay, that the chosen DRM is fairly relaxed like Apple’s rather than something draconian and totally restrictive. Of course I’d rather have no DRM and some damn trust, and acceptance that poorer people will pirate, but they’re not lost sales.

    I wonder if Creative’s players will get Fairplay support – they’re a Made For iPod licensee …

    • rika13
    • 13 years ago

    or maybe apple is trying to avoid a lawsuit because of anti-competitive practices, they do have a de facto monopoly over the mp3 player market; much like m$ lorded a monopoly over them in the operating system market

    combined with the fact that keeping it an apple-only affair helps re-inforce real’s right under the dmca to make rhapsody (the name was most likely chosen to spite apple, since rhapsody was the codename for os x back in “the day”)

    • king_kilr
    • 13 years ago

    Pretty cool, I use an iPod+iTunes but its always nice to have more options.

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