Friday, August 06, 2004

Virgin Juices Apple

An interesting development in the ongoing juicing of Apple's iPod: VirginMega, Vrigin's French online music venture, has accused Apple of anti-competitive behaviour by not licensing its FairPlay DRM technology. It has filed a complaint with the French Competition Council and a hearing is expected somewhere around October/November.

Though the data are disputed, the iPod is said to have an ever increasing market share in the flash/hard-drive music players, with reported numbers as high as 50%. Since the iPod isn't compatible with the DRM and WMA format Virgin uses for it's songs, Virgin has asked Apple to license FairPlay so they can code it into their songs and enable compatibility that way. As with RealNetworks, Apple has refused licensing so far.

Real tried to reach his goal through technical code with the creation of Harmony, which allows Real's songs to be played on the iPod. Something Jon Lech Johansen and the Hymn project made possible much earlier.
Virgin has now taken the path of legal code and filed a complaint. It might say that Apple's business model is focussed on the prevention of competition rather than consumer choice. The non-licensing and use of the FairPlay DRM in combination with the integration of the ITMS and iPod may function as an anti-competitive action on the complementary market.

Real's "hacking", as Apple has called it, will probably be questioned in court anyway. Intertwinement of technical and legal code to juice the iPod is as probable as always.

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Link to Register article on VirginMega complain.

Link to VirginMega, which has this great announcement: "Pour surfer sur ce site depuis un Mac vous devez utiliser Internet Explorer 5.2 et supérieur, comme navigateur." Talking about compatibility...

A good oversight of the Apple - Real riot can be found at A Copyfighter's Musings


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