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Apple backs off Bluwiki legal threats in censorship dispute

post #1 of 43
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After repeatedly threatening legal action against a site host for content covering iTunes database exploration -- and drawing return litigation in the process -- Apple has decided to back off its threats against the Web site Bluwiki.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which was the Web site's legal representation, announced the development Wednesday.

Bluwiki offered a set of anonymous user-created wiki pages where users explained how to sync media with iPods and iPhones without the use of iTunes. That drew legal threats from Apple, which prompted the Web site to fire back.

OdioWorks, which runs the free and open wiki service BluWiki, wanted to bar Apple from repeatedly threatening its own legal action for letting BluWiki users host a wiki for iTunesDB.

iTunesDB is a project to learn about iTunes' database file system and create third-party software that can replicate the sync functionality of iTunes for iPhones and iPods without forcing users to run Apple's own media software.

Starting in Nov. 2008, Apple, through a series of lawsuits, claimed the very existence of iTunesDB violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)'s rules on circumventing copyright locks and successfully frightened OdioWorks into taking down the wiki entries.

Then, in April 2009, the EFF and Keker & Van Nests, a San Francisco-based law firm, returned fire, suing Apple on behalf of OdioWorks. They asked a court to reject Apple's claims and allow Bluwiki to restore the pages in question.

But earlier this month, Apple sent a letter withdrawing its cease and desist demands, and EFF responded in kind, moving to dismiss its complaint against Apple.

"Apple no longer has, nor will it have in the future, any objection to the publication of the iTunesDB Pages," Apple's letter reads.

"While we are glad that Apple retracted its baseless legal threats, we are disappointed that it only came after 7 months of censorship and a lawsuit," EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann said in a statement. "Because Apple continues to use technical measures to lock iPod Touch and iPhone owners into -- and Palm Pre owners out of -- using Apple's iTunes software, I wouldn't be surprised if there are more discussions among frustrated customers about reverse engineering Apple products. We hope Apple has learned its lesson here and will give those online discussions a wide berth in the future."
post #2 of 43
Good news.

Reading your own list of songs isn't against the law let alone talking about reading it. Sheesh!
post #3 of 43
Quote:
"While we are glad that Apple retracted its baseless legal threats, we are disappointed that it only came after 7 months of censorship and a lawsuit," EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann said in a statement.

Disappointed there Fred? Were you hoping it came later?

How about, ``we are dissapointed that it took 7 months of censorship and a counter lawsuit for this action to resolve amicably. We had hoped it would have come much sooner, but we applaud Apple for blah, blah, add more legal glad handing blah blah,'' for a shot?
post #4 of 43
.....

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #5 of 43
Apple walked into a no win situation for them and it is unfortunate they even tried this at all.
Hard-Core.
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Hard-Core.
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post #6 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


Regardless of your almost 8000 posts, that cat picture should have your account banned. IMO
post #7 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

iTunesDB is a project to learn about iTunes' database file system and create third-party software that can replicate the sync functionality of iTunes for iPhones and iPods without forcing users to run Apple's own media software.

But earlier this month, Apple sent a letter withdrawing its cease and desist demands, and EFF responded in kind, moving to dismiss its complaint against Apple.

"Apple no longer has, nor will it have in the future, any objection to the publication of the iTunesDB Pages," Apple's letter reads.

"While we are glad that Apple retracted its baseless legal threats, we are disappointed that it only came after 7 months of censorship and a lawsuit," EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann said in a statement. "Because Apple continues to use technical measures to lock iPod Touch and iPhone owners into -- and Palm Pre owners out of -- using Apple's iTunes software, I wouldn't be surprised if there are more discussions among frustrated customers about reverse engineering Apple products. We hope Apple has learned its lesson here and will give those online discussions a wide berth in the future."

Apple probably figures it's easier and cheaper to update iTunes programming to make such sync database tutorials invalid until they too are updated.

Be prepared to see iTunes update 8.2.1, 8.2.2, 8.2.3, 8.2.4, 8.2.5...

Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

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Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

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post #8 of 43
What exactly is the huge problem with iTunes that people need an iTunesDB to allow 3rd party software to sync their media with their iPhones and iPod Touches? Are people other than the folks with jailbroken iPhones and iPod Touches calling for a need for this option? Sorry, I just don't find the iPhone OS limiting or unappealing (aesthetically or functionally) and syncing my iPhone with iTunes is pretty damned seamless.

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"Be aware of wonder." ~ Robert Fulghum

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post #9 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

iTunesDB is a project to learn about iTunes' database file system and create third-party software that can replicate the sync functionality of iTunes for iPhones and iPods without forcing users to run Apple's own media software.as learned its lesson here and will give those online discussions a wide berth in the future."

That's ethically wrong. iTunes' database file system is Apple's IP.

There's a name for that sort of activity, it's called stealing.

"steal |stēl|
verb ( past stole |stōl|; past part. stolen |ˈstōlən|)
1 [ trans. ] take (another person's property) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it"
post #10 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by iPeon View Post

That's ethically wrong. iTunes' database file system is Apple's IP.

There's a name for that sort of activity, it's called stealing.

"steal |stēl|
verb ( past stole |stōl|; past part. stolen |ˈstōlən|)
1 [ trans. ] take (another person's property) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it"

It's legal in a lot of jurisdictions to reverse engineer for the purposes of interoperability. Most 'advanced' nation are signatories to TRIPS which I believe recognises this right. So there no ethical issues at all. It's permitted by the law.

And I'll say it again - you can't steal IP. Check any IP text and get back to me on it.
post #11 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by iPeon View Post

That's ethically wrong. iTunes' database file system is Apple's IP.

There's a name for that sort of activity, it's called stealing.

Bzzt, wrong, try again. Under your claim, it would be stealing for me to figure out how Honda assembled the Accord I bought from them; ie. I'm not allowed to remove and replace parts on my own car. Unless you want to defend that, you might want to back off your assertion.
post #12 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by djsherly View Post

It's legal in a lot of jurisdictions to reverse engineer for the purposes of interoperability. Most 'advanced' nation are signatories to TRIPS which I believe recognises this right. So there no ethical issues at all. It's permitted by the law.

And I'll say it again - you can't steal IP. Check any IP text and get back to me on it.

I thought I was quite familiar and in good standing with the TRIPS Agreement. Could you indicate where in the agreement it is permitted by law?
post #13 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abster2core View Post

I thought I was quite familiar and in good standing with the TRIPS Agreement. Could you indicate where in the agreement it is permitted by law?

You're right. I told a porky. TRIPS does not say it is impermissible which is different from how I tied legislation and treaty together.

Nevertheless, many jurisdictions do permit reverse engineering for the purposes of interoperability without infringing the rights of the rights owner.

Art 7,8 objective and principles support such measures as long as they not inconsistent with the provisions of the treaty. Yes?
post #14 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktappe View Post

Bzzt, wrong, try again. Under your claim, it would be stealing for me to figure out how Honda assembled the Accord I bought from them; ie. I'm not allowed to remove and replace parts on my own car. Unless you want to defend that, you might want to back off your assertion.

Since you bought it (exchanged work for), it is your property and you are free to do what you want with it. But if you do so to duplicate Honda's designs to then profit from, or to aid others in taking business away from Honda by "stealing" their designs, then it is ethically wrong. Legal maybe, but "legal" does not equal ethical.
post #15 of 43
I have an iPhone 3G, not jailbroken, and through AT&T.

Yet I cannot bring myself to run that iTunes update that breaks syncing with the Pre. It just seems wrong to me to release an update with the intention of making something less compatible.

This is a step in the wrong direction.
post #16 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanaCameron View Post

What exactly is the huge problem with iTunes that people need an iTunesDB to allow 3rd party software to sync their media with their iPhones and iPod Touches? Are people other than the folks with jailbroken iPhones and iPod Touches calling for a need for this option? Sorry, I just don't find the iPhone OS limiting or unappealing (aesthetically or functionally) and syncing my iPhone with iTunes is pretty damned seamless.

jailbroken iphones work fine with itunes thanks...
post #17 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by iPeon View Post

Since you bought it (exchanged work for), it is your property and you are free to do what you want with it. But if you do so to duplicate Honda's designs to then profit from, or to aid others in taking business away from Honda by "stealing" their designs, then it is ethically wrong. Legal maybe, but "legal" does not equal ethical.

there's a huge third party parts market for cars. Given that Honda sells their vehicle in an environment which they know permits other manufacturer to make compatible parts I fail to see the ethical issue or how it could be perceived that Honda is wronged?
post #18 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanaCameron View Post

What exactly is the huge problem with iTunes that people need an iTunesDB to allow 3rd party software to sync their media with their iPhones and iPod Touches? Are people other than the folks with jailbroken iPhones and iPod Touches calling for a need for this option? Sorry, I just don't find the iPhone OS limiting or unappealing (aesthetically or functionally) and syncing my iPhone with iTunes is pretty damned seamless.

iPhone is only allowed to synch on one Mac unlike iPods which can synch with multiple Macs. So if your iPhone is manually syched on a home iMac or Mac Pro and you travel with a Mobile Mac, when you hook your iPhone up to your Mobile Mac while traveling to for example manually add a newly purchased album from the iTunes store on your Mobile Mac, iTunes will offer and ONLY ALLOW YOU to ERASE THE ENTIRE CONTENTS of your iPhone before you are allowed to communicate with your iPhone on THIS FOREIGN Mobile Mac. Very annoying "feature". And good reason to need an alternative manually synching mechanism.

Looking forward to it's release ASAP please.

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post #19 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanaCameron View Post

What exactly is the huge problem with iTunes that people need an iTunesDB to allow 3rd party software to sync their media with their iPhones and iPod Touches?

Nothing wrong w/ itunes...but it would be nice to allow any application to use my music DB for other functionality...like auto-lyric downloads or better metadata management, etc.
post #20 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanaCameron View Post

What exactly is the huge problem with iTunes that people need an iTunesDB to allow 3rd party software to sync their media with their iPhones and iPod Touches? Are people other than the folks with jailbroken iPhones and iPod Touches calling for a need for this option? Sorry, I just don't find the iPhone OS limiting or unappealing (aesthetically or functionally) and syncing my iPhone with iTunes is pretty damned seamless.

You're right, of course. Only a tiny, tiny, minority of malcontents are always at the bottom of stuff like this. This is the same crowd that just had to break into and modify the Apple TV to "improve it". Same goes for the iPod jailbreak losers. They always know better than the manufacturer of the product. This is fringe stuff and will be totally ignored by the general user population.
post #21 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanaCameron View Post

What exactly is the huge problem with iTunes that people need an iTunesDB to allow 3rd party software to sync their media with their iPhones and iPod Touches? Are people other than the folks with jailbroken iPhones and iPod Touches calling for a need for this option? Sorry, I just don't find the iPhone OS limiting or unappealing (aesthetically or functionally) and syncing my iPhone with iTunes is pretty damned seamless.

One potential useful application would be for people who, for various reasons, are either not using Windows or Mac OS X on their primary computer system, or who are using a version of Windows or Mac OS X that is too old to work with the version of iTunes required for the current lineup of iPods.

The information gathered by iTunesDB could be used to create an alternative application, designed to run on these operating systems -- systems, by the way, that Apple has not made any effort to support themselves -- to allow the end user to synchronize their music libraries with their iPods.

If anything, I think this sort of development would certainly not do anything to discourage mainstream users from purchasing Apple's products, and it would actually serve as an incentive for a certain demographic of people, who would not have otherwise bought an iPod due to incompatibility, to now consider a purchase - thus actually increasing Apple's potential marketshare. And Apple wouldn't need to invest one iota of additional research or development, because all that burden is taken on by third parties.
post #22 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abster2core View Post

I thought I was quite familiar and in good standing with the TRIPS Agreement. Could you indicate where in the agreement it is permitted by law?

TRIPS is irrelevant. The law at dispute here is the DMCA and in that law it is perfectly acceptable to reverse engineer a product for interoperability with another product or service. It doesn't matter whether iTunes or the iTunes DB is Apple's IP or is protected through encryption. Here is the relevant sections from the law which should be quite clear in their meaning, even to non-lawyers:

(f) Reverse Engineering. -

(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a)(1)(A), a person who has lawfully obtained the right to use a copy of a computer program may circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a particular portion of that program for the sole purpose of identifying and analyzing those elements of the program that are necessary to achieve interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs, and that have not previously been readily available to the person engaging in the circumvention, to the extent any such acts of identification and analysis do not constitute infringement under this title.

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a)(2) and (b), a person may develop and employ technological means to circumvent a technological measure, or to circumvent protection afforded by a technological measure, in order to enable the identification and analysis under paragraph (1), or for the purpose of enabling interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs, if such means are necessary to achieve such interoperability, to the extent that doing so does not constitute infringement under this title.

(3) The information acquired through the acts permitted under paragraph (1), and the means permitted under paragraph (2), may be made available to others if the person referred to in paragraph (1) or (2), as the case may be, provides such information or means solely for the purpose of enabling interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs, and to the extent that doing so does not constitute infringement under this title or violate applicable law other than this section.

(4) For purposes of this subsection, the term ''interoperability'' means the ability of computer programs to exchange information, and of such programs mutually to use the information which has been exchanged.
post #23 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Multimedia View Post

iPhone is only allowed to synch on one Mac unlike iPods which can synch with multiple Macs.

This in incorrect.
All iPods will sync with only one computer. If you try to sync with a different one, it will ask if you want to erase the iPod.
Quote:
So if your iPhone is manually syched

To be correct, there is no manual sync. There is manually manage music and videos but it's not the same as sync.
post #24 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by lfmorrison View Post

One potential useful application would be for people who, for various reasons, are either not using Windows or Mac OS X on their primary computer system, or who are using a version of Windows or Mac OS X that is too old to work with the version of iTunes required for the current lineup of iPods.

The information gathered by iTunesDB could be used to create an alternative application, designed to run on these operating systems -- systems, by the way, that Apple has not made any effort to support themselves -- to allow the end user to synchronize their music libraries with their iPods.

Why can't they simply use the iTunes library.xml file, which is created for the sole purpose of allowing other applications to access the iTunes library?
post #25 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by iPeon View Post

"steal |stēl|
verb ( past stole |stōl|; past part. stolen |ˈstōlən|)
1 [ trans. ] take (another person's property) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it"

Thanks for the definition, I'm sure there are a lot of people unfamiliar with the word.
post #26 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by diamondgeeza View Post

jailbroken iphones work fine with itunes thanks...

I wasn't attacking the jailbreakers, but my understanding was that updates to iTunes or iPhone OS usually meant bricked iPhones/iPod Touches or having an out-of-date device for a whilean acceptable price to pay for some, but a real headache and unnecessary inconvenience for most (including me).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Multimedia View Post

iPhone is only allowed to synch on one Mac unlike iPods which can synch with multiple Macs. So if your iPhone is manually syched on a home iMac or Mac Pro and you travel with a Mobile Mac, when you hook your iPhone up to your Mobile Mac while traveling to for example manually add a newly purchased album from the iTunes store on your Mobile Mac, iTunes will offer and ONLY ALLOW YOU to ERASE THE ENTIRE CONTENTS of your iPhone before you are allowed to communicate with your iPhone on THIS FOREIGN Mobile Mac. Very annoying "feature". And good reason to need an alternative manually synching mechanism.

Looking forward to it's release ASAP please.

I didn't realize this was an issue as I haven't tried to sync my iPhone with multiple Macs or tried to add music while traveling. I'm planning on upgrading my system next year to a new desktop Mac with some sort of mobile solution (though Apple's mobile offerings for next year remain to be seen), so this issue is one that may apply to me in the future.

But I thought this "restriction" was to guard against piracy and applied (or at least used to apply) to iPods as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fishstick_kitty View Post

Nothing wrong w/ itunes...but it would be nice to allow any application to use my music DB for other functionality...like auto-lyric downloads or better metadata management, etc.

I'd like the ability to auto-download lyrics as well. Is there a single, or at least acceptable, depository of song lyrics equivalent to CDDB that iTunes could reference for the lyrics? Or at least one that users could select for iTunes to automatically/manually download the lyrics?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

You're right, of course. Only a tiny, tiny, minority of malcontents are always at the bottom of stuff like this. This is the same crowd that just had to break into and modify the Apple TV to "improve it". Same goes for the iPod jailbreak losers. They always know better than the manufacturer of the product. This is fringe stuff and will be totally ignored by the general user population.

I can't see most users ever having any need or desire to jailbreak their iPhones or iPod Touches, especially with so many apps available.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lfmorrison View Post

One potential useful application would be for people who, for various reasons, are either not using Windows or Mac OS X on their primary computer system, or who are using a version of Windows or Mac OS X that is too old to work with the version of iTunes required for the current lineup of iPods.

This has got to be a truly miniscule group of users. Apple probably couldn't justify the expense of supporting them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lfmorrison View Post

The information gathered by iTunesDB could be used to create an alternative application, designed to run on these operating systems -- systems, by the way, that Apple has not made any effort to support themselves -- to allow the end user to synchronize their music libraries with their iPods.

Apple's in business to make money, not satisfy everyone (particularly "fringe" users you describe). That's not to say those "fringe" users don't have the right to do what they want the way they want. But I think those users have to accept certain difficulties/inconveniences by choosing that type of computing lifestyle, such as lack of support from companies like Apple. Apple, perhaps more so than other companies, goes to extreme lengths to protect the reputation of the user experience of its products. They have to control/limit how their products are used so they can guaranty the quality of their brand. If users find ways to exploit Apple's technologies for uses not devised by Apple (no matter how useful), Apple shouldn't be expected to directly support those efforts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lfmorrison View Post

If anything, I think this sort of development would certainly not do anything to discourage mainstream users from purchasing Apple's products, and it would actually serve as an incentive for a certain demographic of people, who would not have otherwise bought an iPod due to incompatibility, to now consider a purchase - thus actually increasing Apple's potential marketshare. And Apple wouldn't need to invest one iota of additional research or development, because all that burden is taken on by third parties.

I agree, but Apple shouldn't be forced to support all efforts outside of its own ecosystem. On the other hand, user needs/desires (including "fringe" users to some degree) should certainly influence how Apple develops, improves and expands that ecosystem over time.

It seems to me that most of the functionality being sought (at least by posters here) are things that either already partly exist (though not as conveniently as some would like) or should be relatively easy for Apple to incorporate in future updates to iTunes, iPhone OS and they way Apple's iDevices sync, provided those items of functionality are in enough demand and Apple can justify the cost of implementing the changes.

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post #27 of 43
Speaking of definitions, the word "censorship" has been grossly misapplied here. Apple has no power to "censor" anyone, since by definition, this is an official/governmental act. One of the reasons why I've refused to support EFF (and many of their good works) over the years, is because of their tendency to use hyperbolic language like this. Apple may have been attempting to bully and even suppress, but they were not trying to censor -- because this is beyond their powers. So just tell the truth without the rhetorical deceptions. Is that so hard?
Please don't be insane.
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Please don't be insane.
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post #28 of 43
Once again, they go after Apple's proprietary (and rightfully so) technology and no other company's.

Although, who would care to reverse engineer the Winblows Media Player database?
post #29 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris_CA View Post

Why can't they simply use the iTunes library.xml file, which is created for the sole purpose of allowing other applications to access the iTunes library?

The iTunes library XML file is useful for the purpose of synchronizing your existing iTunes library with a non-iPod device. I was advocating the reverse process -- software to synchronize your iPod with a non-iTunes library.

...Which is one of the things that the iTunesDB project aims to facilitate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanaCameron

This has got to be a truly miniscule group of users. Apple probably couldn't justify the expense of supporting them.

Nor should they. Especially since there is obviously a team of 3rd party developers who are willing to make the effort instead of Apple. But Apple had been trying to block their efforts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanaCameron

If users find ways to exploit Apple's technologies for uses not devised by Apple (no matter how useful), Apple shouldn't be expected to directly support those efforts.

What did I say that sounded even remotely like I was advocating that? This is a 3rd party taking on the research to make it work, so any warranty, express or implied, would have to come from the 3rd party.
post #30 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by lfmorrison View Post

What did I say that sounded even remotely like I was advocating that? This is a 3rd party taking on the research to make it work, so any warranty, express or implied, would have to come from the 3rd party.

I misunderstood. I get it now. Thanks for the explanation.

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post #31 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Multimedia View Post

iPhone is only allowed to synch on one Mac unlike iPods which can synch with multiple Macs. So if your iPhone is manually syched on a home iMac or Mac Pro and you travel with a Mobile Mac, when you hook your iPhone up to your Mobile Mac while traveling to for example manually add a newly purchased album from the iTunes store on your Mobile Mac, iTunes will offer and ONLY ALLOW YOU to ERASE THE ENTIRE CONTENTS of your iPhone before you are allowed to communicate with your iPhone on THIS FOREIGN Mobile Mac. Very annoying "feature". And good reason to need an alternative manually synching mechanism.

Looking forward to it's release ASAP please.

That is only Partly true. You can hook up your iPhone to more than one system. I do it all the time for charging and occasional firmware updating. You can even backup to and restore from other computers. But none of that content is made available to the second computer, unless you transfer purchases to a computer that is also enabled for your account. The only thing that causes the iPhone to want to wipe is if you turn on any form of automatic syncing. Otherwise, you are pretty much incorrect.
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post #32 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cubert View Post

Once again, they go after Apple's proprietary (and rightfully so) technology and no other company's.

Although, who would care to reverse engineer the Winblows Media Player database?

Nobody would need to. At least, not in any way that would be analagous to the iTunesDB project. The vast majority of Windows Media-certified devices use the Media Transfer Protocol (MTP) to transfer music from the PC media library (whatever it is) to the player. MTP is a fully documented, standard USB device class, so there is less of a drive to pursue reverse-engineering options. Multiple implementations of MTP from 3rd parties already exist.

[edit]And, by the way, neither Microsoft nor any of the 3rd party device manufacturers who've adopted MTP as a synchronization mechanism have pursued legal action against the others who've developed their 3rd party implementations.[/edit]

(The MTP standard doesn't cover any Microsoft-specific DRM-related issues having to do with PlaysForSure, but then again, neither does the iTunesDB reverse-engineering project.)

Most Windows-centric media players that are not MTP-based, for the most part, will enumerate as a simple mass storage class removable hard drive, and any music files that you copy over to the filesystem will be incorporated into the music player's library automatically.
post #33 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by iPeon View Post

That's ethically wrong. iTunes' database file system is Apple's IP.

There's a name for that sort of activity, it's called stealing.

"steal |stēl|
verb ( past stole |stōl|; past part. stolen |ˈstōlən|)
1 [ trans. ] take (another person's property) without permission or legal right and without intending to return it"

If you're going call people unethical and accuse them of a crime, perhaps you had better get your definitions straight. Otherwise you just come off looking like an arrogant idiot.

Morality of the actions aside, what is at dispute here is "copyright infringement" or "circumvention of DRM" not "stealing". These are distinct concepts in reality as well as under the legal systems of pretty much every country on the planet.
post #34 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by trboyden View Post

TRIPS is irrelevant. The law at dispute here is the DMCA and in that law it is perfectly acceptable to reverse engineer a product for interoperability with another product or service. It doesn't matter whether iTunes or the iTunes DB is Apple's IP or is protected through encryption. Here is the relevant sections from the law which should be quite clear in their meaning, even to non-lawyers:

(f) Reverse Engineering. -

(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a)(1)(A), a person who has lawfully obtained the right to use a copy of a computer program may circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a particular portion of that program for the sole purpose of identifying and analyzing those elements of the program that are necessary to achieve interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs, and that have not previously been readily available to the person engaging in the circumvention, to the extent any such acts of identification and analysis do not constitute infringement under this title.

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a)(2) and (b), a person may develop and employ technological means to circumvent a technological measure, or to circumvent protection afforded by a technological measure, in order to enable the identification and analysis under paragraph (1), or for the purpose of enabling interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs, if such means are necessary to achieve such interoperability, to the extent that doing so does not constitute infringement under this title.

(3) The information acquired through the acts permitted under paragraph (1), and the means permitted under paragraph (2), may be made available to others if the person referred to in paragraph (1) or (2), as the case may be, provides such information or means solely for the purpose of enabling interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs, and to the extent that doing so does not constitute infringement under this title or violate applicable law other than this section.

(4) For purposes of this subsection, the term ''interoperability'' means the ability of computer programs to exchange information, and of such programs mutually to use the information which has been exchanged.

In the act, it states, "Reverse engineering (section 1201(f)). This exception permits circumvention, and the development of technological means for such circumvention, by a person who has lawfully obtained a right to use a copy of a computer program for the sole purpose of identifying and analyzing elements of the program necessary to achieve interoperability with other programs, to the extent that such acts are permitted under
copyright law."

As far as we understand it, and for example as in this case, Palm would only be allowed to Reverse Engineer the iTunes software in order to work with their product if they had gotten the Right to do so from Apple in the first place.

Downloading a free, or even if Apple charged for it, copy of iTunes does not allow anybody to unilaterly REVERSE ENGINEER the software for any reason as the TERMS of USE stipulates.

I would suggest that you get a lawyer before you enter into any agreement, particularly if you decide to make your mark in history by taking someone else creativity and making it your own. The Act as you have determined it is more complicated than you think, as referenced below:

Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers) about Reverse Engineering

Question: Is the reverse engineering of a technological protection measure illegal under the DMCA?

Answer: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) made an effort to recognize the value of interoperability to competition and innovation and included an exemption expressly allowing reverse engineering in order to preserve a healthy market in the information technology industry. Section 1201(f) of the DMCA allows software developers to circumvent technological protection measures of a lawfully obtained computer program in order "the elements necessary to achieve interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs." A person may reverse engineer the lawfully acquired computer program only where the elements necessary to achieve interoperability are not otherwise readily available and reverse engineering is otherwise permitted under the copyright law. The reverse engineer is required to ask permission first, however. The prohibition on the dissemination of circumvention devices also applies to reverse engineering. Under the "trafficking ban", a person may only develop and employ technological means to circumvent and make the circumvention information or tool available to others solely for the purpose of achieving interoperability. Reverse engineers are not exempt from the "trafficking ban" only if they permit the device to be made available to other persons for the purpose of gaining access to protected works for infringing purposes.

Question: What are the limitations of the interoperability criteria for the DMCA's reverse engineering exemption?

Answer: Section 1201(f) allows software developers to circumvent technological protection measures of a computer program that was lawfully obtained in order to identify the elements necessary to achieve the interoperability of an independently created computer program to achieve program to program interoperability. This means that reverse engineering a product to achieve interoperability between data and program is not permitted, nor is reverse engineering for any other purpose. In Universal v. Corley, the district court in New York held that this limitation on the interoperability criterion of the exemption therefore did not apply to the circumvention of the access control mechanism protecting digitally formatted works, such as music, movies, or video games. In order to be viewed on a computer, motion pictures on DVD require software systems that enable the Content Scrambling System to be decrypted in addition to the hardware requirement of a DVD drive. From the perspective of the consumer, the inability to view their DVDs on computer players that do not decrypt CSS may seem to be a problem of software interoperability.

The issue of whether or not the use of a technological protection measure can allow a copyright owner to control the hardware products on which the protected content can be used has not yet been fully addressed by the courts. By limiting the reverse engineering exemption to interoperability between programs, the DMCA may have effectively granted copyright owners some control over the hardware products used to operate digitally protected content in addition to the content itself. Without consideration of the effect of technological protection measures, courts have held that copyright holders cannot use copyright to exercise control over products which are outside the scope of the owner's rights under copyright. For example, in the recent case of Sony v. Connectix (which did not include a DMCA claim), the Ninth Circuit held that a product allowing Sony games to be played on computers and not only on the Sony PlayStation was a creation of a new product. The court considered the reverse engineering work engaged in during the creation of the product a "transformative" use of the initial copyrighted work, making it permissible according to copyright law.

Question: How are software development projects conducted over the Internet affected by the DMCA?

Answer: While the reverse engineering exemption permits software programmers to develop and distribute circumvention tools as part of their projects, there are significant limitations over who can do so and in what manner they can do it. Section 1201(f)(3) provides that only the person who performs the reverse engineering can provide the information necessary to achieve interoperability to others. Collaborative project environments conducted over the Internet, such as those used by many open source software developers may be considered illegal under a strict interpretation of the exemption. Even if the sharing of information regarding circumvention is done for the purpose of developing an interoperable product, its placement on the Internet may be interpreted as "trafficking" under the circumvention device ban.

Question: How is reverse engineering different from circumvention?

Answer: Circumvention, according to Section 1201(a)(3)(A), means "to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner." Reverse engineering, on the other hand, is the scientific method of taking something apart in order to figure out how it works. While not all acts of circumvention require the use of reverse engineering, the reverse engineering of works protected by technological mechanisms requires circumvention. The placement of digital protection systems on copyrighted works essentially fences in the information a reverse engineer seeks to discover about the way the product works.


http://www.chillingeffects.org/reverse/faq.cgi
post #35 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by dfiler View Post

If you're going call people unethical and accuse them of a crime, perhaps you had better get your definitions straight. Otherwise you just come off looking like an arrogant idiot.

Morality of the actions aside, what is at dispute here is "copyright infringement" or "circumvention of DRM" not "stealing". These are distinct concepts in reality as well as under the legal systems of pretty much every country on the planet.

Popularity isn't what I strive for - truth is never popular. Color it anyway you like it, it's not your product, you didn't create, you don't manage it, it's not yours. You have no ethical right to it. Confusing "legal systems" with ethics is the downfall.
post #36 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abster2core View Post

In the act, it states, "Reverse engineering (section 1201(f)). This exception permits circumvention, and the development of technological means for such circumvention, by a person who has lawfully obtained a right to use a copy of a computer program for the sole purpose of identifying and analyzing elements of the program necessary to achieve interoperability with other programs, to the extent that such acts are permitted under
copyright law."

I won't quote the rest of your post but I thought that reverse engineering provisions in the US were more liberal than those of Australia, where reverse engineering is also only applicable for program to program compatibility. You know what they say about Assume....
post #37 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by djsherly View Post

I won't quote the rest of your post but I thought that reverse engineering provisions in the US were more liberal than those of Australia, where reverse engineering is also only applicable for program to program compatibility. You know what they say about Assume....

It goes for most of the world.
post #38 of 43
Abster, I'm really interested in your interpretation of 17 USC 1201(f).

Subsection 1 says, "a person who has lawfully obtained the right to use a copy of a computer program may circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a particular portion of that program for the sole purpose of identifying and analyzing those elements of the program that are necessary to achieve interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs, and that have not previously been readily available to the person engaging in the circumvention, to the extent any such acts of identification and analysis do not constitute infringement under this title. "

No specific mention of having to seek or obtain permission for specific reverse-engineering rights there - if you have the right to use a copy of the computer program at all, then circumvention is not an infringement if your sole intention is to identify and analyze a means of achieving interoperability, provided you don't already have a readily-available alternative means of obtaining such information.

Subsection 2 has similar language, referring to the production of circumvention tools for use in the research described in subsection 1, or for the purpose of actually implementing the interoperable software. Again, no mention of seeking the copyright holder's specific reverse-engineering permission.

Subsection 3 allows the reverse engineer to disseminate the information and tools they created in subsections 1 and 2, and again, it does not specifically state that they have to obtain the copyright holder's specific reverse-engineering permission first.

Subsection 4 defines interoperability.

I understand that these provisions have not been extensively tested in court, so it's impossible to tell exactly what a judge would think about the matter. But what part of 17 USC 1201(f) actually leads you to the conclusion that specific permission to reverse engineer is required?

Clearly, if you obtained the copyright holder's permission first, then you'd be protecting yourself from possible litigation if the copyright holder doesn't like it. But by that reasoning, if you've already taken the steps to obtain the copyright holder's consent to reverse engineer, then you would never be in danger of litigation in the first place, rendering the entire point of subsection (f) irrelevant.
post #39 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by lfmorrison View Post

Abster, I'm really interested in your interpretation of 17 USC 1201(f).

As previously quoted:

Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers) about Reverse Engineering

Question: Is the reverse engineering of a technological protection measure illegal under the DMCA?

Answer: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) made an effort to recognize the value of interoperability to competition and innovation and included an exemption expressly allowing reverse engineering in order to preserve a healthy market in the information technology industry. Section 1201(f) of the DMCA allows software developers to circumvent technological protection measures of a lawfully obtained computer program in order "the elements necessary to achieve interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs." A person may reverse engineer the lawfully acquired computer program only where the elements necessary to achieve interoperability are not otherwise readily available and reverse engineering is otherwise permitted under the copyright law. The reverse engineer is required to ask permission first, however. The prohibition on the dissemination of circumvention devices also applies to reverse engineering. Under the "trafficking ban", a person may only develop and employ technological means to circumvent and make the circumvention information or tool available to others solely for the purpose of achieving interoperability. Reverse engineers are not exempt from the "trafficking ban" only if they permit the device to be made available to other persons for the purpose of gaining access to protected works for infringing purposes.

__________________________________________________ ___________________________________

Basically, a software developer can't just take anybodies software and simply unilaterally reverse engineer it. Certain conditions have to be met and complied with, including reasons for doing so, 'permission,' and what you can do with it.

One thing for sure, it is illegal to reverse engineer a software if your program was solely developed to access protected works for infringing purposes, e.g., as Palm is attempting to do with the Pre to get music out of the iTunes Store.
__________________________________________________ ________________________________________

As tabled above, perhaps looking at it in point form will help the understanding.
  • The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) made an effort to recognize the value of interoperability to competition and innovation and
  • included an exemption expressly allowing reverse engineering in order to preserve a healthy market in the information technology industry.
  • Section 1201(f) of the DMCA allows software developers to circumvent technological protection measures of a lawfully obtained computer program in order "the elements necessary to achieve interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs."
  • A person may reverse engineer the lawfully acquired computer program only where the elements necessary to achieve interoperability are not otherwise readily available and reverse engineering is otherwise permitted under the copyright law.
  • The reverse engineer is required to ask permission first, however.
  • The prohibition on the dissemination of circumvention devices also applies to reverse engineering.
  • Under the "trafficking ban", a person may only develop and employ technological means to circumvent and make the circumvention information or tool available to others solely for the purpose of achieving interoperability.
  • Reverse engineers are not exempt from the "trafficking ban" only if they permit the device to be made available to other persons for the purpose of gaining access to protected works for infringing purposes.
__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________

Quote:
Originally Posted by lfmorrison View Post

Clearly, if you obtained the copyright holder's permission first, then you'd be protecting yourself from possible litigation if the copyright holder doesn't like it. But by that reasoning, if you've already taken the steps to obtain the copyright holder's consent to reverse engineer, then you would never be in danger of litigation in the first place, rendering the entire point of subsection (f) irrelevant.

I am not sure if this is relevant; But this issue, i.e., The understanding of 'Reverse Engineering' was precipitated by a poster's declaration that
"It's legal in a lot of jurisdictions to reverse engineer for the purposes of interoperability. Most 'advanced' nation are signatories to TRIPS which I believe recognises this right. So there no ethical issues at all. It's permitted by the law," and a subsequent poster's comment that it was not TRIPS, but…
"TRIPS is irrelevant. The law at dispute here is the DMCA and in that law it is perfectly acceptable to reverse engineer a product for interoperability with another product or service. It doesn't matter whether iTunes or the iTunes DB is Apple's IP or is protected through encryption." Both assertions were wrong, as there was no mention of 'permission' or any other of the stated conditions
post #40 of 43
Thanks for the clarification. I should not have mentioned trips at all but I do come from a different jurisdiction. My understanding of trips is that it impels a sense of uniformity between signatories.

But it's a falsely wired argument as it would only really suggest as you point out that other places law would be roughly consistent but any event not necessarily in this case.
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