EFF berates Apple over open-source iTunes project

Apple's attempt to quash an effort to help the latest iPods and iPhones work with non-Apple software such as the Linux operating system is out of line, the Electronic Frontier Foundation said Tuesday.

Earlier this month, a lawyer from Apple's legal counsel, O'Melveny & Myers, managed to get an open-source project called the iPodhash pulled from Bluwiki, a free Web site used to create Wiki pages, saying the project is illegal under the terms of the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

"It has come to our attention that a website you operate, www.bluwiki.com, is disseminating information designed to circumvent Apple's FairPlay digital rights management system," wrote O'Melveny & Myers representative Ian Ramage in an e-mail that was later to Bluwiki. "FairPlay is considered anti-circumvention technology under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The DMCA explicitly prohibits the dissemination of information that can be used to circumvent such technology."

Bluwiki's founder, Sam Odio, complied with the takedown request, but in an interview Tuesday he said that iPodhash's developer is not trying to get around Apple's copy protection. "He's not developing software to unencrypt the songs," he said. "What he's actually doing is unencrypting the database."

Here's how the EFF explained the matter in a to its blog Tuesday by senior staff attorney Fred von Lohmann:

In September 2007, Apple introduced new software into iTunes and the iPod that runs a cryptographic operation on iTunes data, creating a special number called a checksum hash. The number is used to ensure that the iPod is talking to Apple's iTunes software, rather than other programs such as Winamp or Songbird.