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RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #50
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Glad to see a representative from Real participating on the forum and I hope Harmony is a huge success.  I was wondering if you could give some more details as to how AAC files with Helix DRM are translated into protected WMA files.  I'm assuming that this would not be a lossess process but rather an additional re-compression/re-encoding step since a different codec is involved.  Thanks!
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Thanks. If you have a WMA capable device, you are right, the only possibility is a full transcode. This is a lossy process. You can however decide which WMA bitrate to use, up to 192 kbps. Since both transmuxing and transcoding can be time-consuming, both for the AAC lossless transmux to iPod and AAC transcode to WMA, there is an option for RealPlayer to cache the converted files, so sub-sequent transfers to the device are much faster.
Sr. Codec Engineer (video) | RealNetworks Codec Group | helixcommunity.org 
This information is provided "AS IS" with no warranties,  grants no rights, and reflects my personal opinion.

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #51
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1. By somehow circumventing the its DRM.
2. Using Real Player.
3. If you get them to same burning program.
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Thanks for the answers. It seems that to the average user, who probably can't  tell the difference between 128kbps and 192kbs, it's somewhat of a nuisance to deal with Harmony songs if they are keeping their music library and playlists in iTunes, and burn CDs from iTunes.

There seems to be no advantage, and a bunch of hassles, to go with Harmony for most consumers. Unless, of course, a wanted song is not available on the iTunes music store.

It's interesting seeing Real cloak themselves as champions of consumer choice, when they probably went ahead with Harmony for the same hard business reasons that Apple would like to block it: the bottom line. Of course, Real's choice seems more popular in these forums.

But what if Apple lets Real get away with this, how about when Microsoft opens up their own music store, subsidized by their $50 billion, and does the same Harmony trick,  selling songs at a big discount from the Real and Apple stores? I think Real would lose any three-way race in on-line music stores.

It's also interesting to see, in RealNetworks' end user license agreement for RealPlayer with Harmony, the following:
2. LICENSE RESTRICTIONS. a) You may not: (ii) modify, translate, reverse engineer, decompile, disassemble (except to the extent that this restriction is expressly prohibited by law) or create derivative works based upon the Software or Documentation..
and
8.  DIGITAL RIGHTS MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS a) The Software includes a DRM called the RealSystem Media Commerce Update Software....You may not take any action to circumvent or defeat the security or content usage rules provided or enforced by either the DRM or the Software. 

Seems to me that's what Real has done to Apple, no? Well, I guess the attorneys and courts will decide..
Frank

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #52
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Thanks for the answers. It seems that to the average user, who probably can't  tell the difference between 128kbps and 192kbs, it's somewhat of a nuisance to deal with Harmony songs if they are keeping their music library and playlists in iTunes, and burn CDs from iTunes.

You could keep your music an playlists in Real's program, and burn CD's from there just as easily. Really, it's a matter of simply picking which you like better. FWIW, Real is capable of reading and working with songs purchased from iTunes Music Store, but iTunes is not capable of doing this the other way around.

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There seems to be no advantage, and a bunch of hassles, to go with Harmony for most consumers. Unless, of course, a wanted song is not available on the iTunes music store.

The advantage is simply that of choice. If you want to use iTunes, use it. If not, here's another choice. Maybe you want to use Real instead. If so, it's now capable of working with an iPod. That's really all that has happened here.

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It's interesting seeing Real cloak themselves as champions of consumer choice, when they probably went ahead with Harmony for the same hard business reasons that Apple would like to block it: the bottom line. Of course, Real's choice seems more popular in these forums.

Well, of *course* they want to make some cash. That's the whole reason for doing it, and I highly doubt they'd deny it. They're selling music. They want their customers to be able to listen to that music. So they added iPod support to their storefront program. Where's the issue?

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But what if Apple lets Real get away with this, how about when Microsoft opens up their own music store, subsidized by their $50 billion, and does the same Harmony trick,  selling songs at a big discount from the Real and Apple stores? I think Real would lose any three-way race in on-line music stores.

Firstly, it's not much of a "trick". Secondly, it's pretty hard to argue that they're doing anything illegal. And third, if M$ wants to abandon WMA (not a chance in hell, if you ask me) and create MPEG 4 music to sell, then I'll cheer them on. More competition = a good thing.

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It's also interesting to see, in RealNetworks' end user license agreement for RealPlayer with Harmony, the following:
2. LICENSE RESTRICTIONS. a) You may not: (ii) modify, translate, reverse engineer, decompile, disassemble (except to the extent that this restriction is expressly prohibited by law) or create derivative works based upon the Software or Documentation..
and
8.  DIGITAL RIGHTS MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS a) The Software includes a DRM called the RealSystem Media Commerce Update Software....You may not take any action to circumvent or defeat the security or content usage rules provided or enforced by either the DRM or the Software.

Yes? So? iTunes Music store has the same rules in their TOS. And Real's Harmony software violates neither of them, in fact, with regards to iTunes or the iTunes music store.

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Seems to me that's what Real has done to Apple, no? Well, I guess the attorneys and courts will decide..

Yes, well, now I'm pretty sure that you're a troll. I don't need a court to decide that.

In any case, Real hasn't done anything against Apple's various terms of service anywhere. All they did was create a way to convert *Real's* DRM into a form that's compatible with the way the iPod reads protected files. That's it. They didn't change the way the iPod works, they didn't change the way iTunes works. They just changed *their* software. It's hard to argue that they've done anything wrong when all they did was make their stuff compatible with other people's stuff.

This bellyaching from Apple happens a lot.. every time somebody works out how to break the Apple monopoly on whatever they happen to be griping about, in fact. And amazingly enough, Apple defenders rise up to complain about legal ramifactions nearly every time. Well, here's a tip: Making your software do virtually the exact same thing your competitors does is NOT ILLEGAL. It's called competition, and most of the free world thinks it's a good thing for consumers when it happens.

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #53
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There seems to be no advantage, and a bunch of hassles, to go with Harmony for most consumers. Unless, of course, a wanted song is not available on the iTunes music store.

The advantage is simply that of choice. If you want to use iTunes, use it. If not, here's another choice. Maybe you want to use Real instead..

Actually, if you download some of your music through Harmony, some choices are eliminated, because now you cannot move your purchased music into iTunes or iTunes playlists, or burn CDs from iTunes. You are forced to use Real. Where is the choice here?

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Well, of *course* they want to make some cash. That's the whole reason for doing it, and I highly doubt they'd deny it. They're selling music. They want their customers to be able to listen to that music. So they added iPod support to their storefront program. Where's the issue?

The issue is that Apple is losing a song sale to Real that it might have been able to make. Apple has a right to protect its profits and technology and it has the right to create and sell whatever legal products it wants to. You have the right not to purchase them.

If Apple blocks Harmony, and you have not purchased an iPod, you don't have to buy one if you don't like this limitation. If you have purchased an iPod, after doing a bit of research, you would know that it is only guaranteed to work with their own music store, and willingly bought it knowing that limitations. Apple has never claimed the iPod was an open system when it came to DRM, it has actually claimed the opposite. The iPod is closer to a Playstation2, which is open only to licensed developers, than a PC, which is open to anyone's software development. If you bought the Catwoman game for a Nintendo GameCube, would you expect it to work in your Playstation2,  just because both are manufactured by EA and are essentially the same game?

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But what if Apple lets Real get away with this, how about when Microsoft opens up their own music store, subsidized by their $50 billion, and does the same Harmony trick,  selling songs at a big discount from the Real and Apple stores?

if M$ wants to abandon WMA (not a chance in hell, if you ask me) and create MPEG 4 music to sell, then I'll cheer them on. More competition = a good thing.

I think that Microsoft will develop any strategy it has to in order to make a profit (as any company should), or its directors and managers would be remiss, even if it means going to an open standard. And the key word I used is SUBSIDIZED. Let's say that it costs Real or Apple $.80 total in costs per song sold, and they sell it for $.99 (these prices are illustrative). Now Microsoft comes along, with the same $.80/song overhead, but decides to take a loss (as it has many billions stashed away) to slice off a large share of the market, and sells the songs for $.50 each. Great for the consumer, right? But how about the Real and Apple developers, encoders, and personnel that are working supporting their music stores. Out of work because the companies cannot afford to subsidize them! You cannot just think of the customer, you also have to think of the developers, programmers, and long-term future ramifications for any affected industries when a product is "dumped" at below cost. Subsidizing a product is not necessarily "More competition = a good thing".

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Seems to me that's what Real has done to Apple, no? Well, I guess the attorneys and courts will decide..

Yes, well, now I'm pretty sure that you're a troll. I don't need a court to decide that.

It seems to me, reading in other news sites, that the legal issues in this matter are not totally clear-cut, which is why I mentioned that this will probably end up in the attorney's hands (as I am sure it has already), and possibly the courts.

No, I'm not a troll. I am pointing out that there are other sides to this issue. I am not necessarily on Apple's side, as I can't predict what they are going to do in this matter (can anyone?), or how their strategy is going to change over time, or when the 800 pound gorilla shows up for the party. I would like to think I can present a viewpoint, which may be in the minority in this forum, and have it discussed in a rational and logical manner by those that wish, without resorting to personal attacks.

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It's hard to argue that they've done anything wrong when all they did was make their stuff compatible with other people's stuff.

Well, they are taking profits away from Apple for every sale they make that would have gone to Apple instead, and there are some people that think this is wrong.

There is also another big issue here, which is not directly monetary. Apple has always strived hard to make its software and hardware work well together, be smoothly integrated, and provide as pleasant and trouble-free an experience to the user as possible. Thus, OSX only runs on its own hardware, much Apple software only runs on OSX, and up to now you could only buy AAC for your iPod from iTunes. The only way Apple can control a seamless integration is by controlling the entire process, from start to finish. Apple already got burned by licensing its OS years ago, and lost control over the hardware, leading to many compatibility problems. Now you can call Apple a control freak, but this is the only way to provide a total system that works seamlessly. I have never seen, on a Windows PC, the smooth integration between a digital still camera/iPhoto/a miniDV camera/firewire/iMovie/iDVD/audio CDs/and iTunes, so Apple must be doing something right, and some people like this integration. It is not for everyone, and we know there are often bugs and problems with Apple hardware and software, as with any OS or hardware.

The problem with Harmony is that it is only half a solution (it plays on iPod), the other half is broken (it does not work in iTunes). So, it breaks the smooth integration and user experience that Apple has strived so hard to achieve with its products. If I was Steve Jobs, this would bother me a lot more than the money I lost over song sales.

Apple has the right to control its own business model, as long as it is legal, and no-one has to purchase Apple products if they don't like it.

Frank

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #54
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Actually, if you download some of your music through Harmony, there is no choice, because now you cannot move your purchased music into iTunes or iTunes playlists, or burn CDs from iTunes. You are forced to use Real. Where is the choice?


The choice is not using iTunes, dammit

It's not about choosing iTunes and Real, it's choosing either iTunes or Real. Choose one and settle with it.

It's better than being forced to use iTunes only, IMO.

The point you seem to be completely missing is that Harmony is not about providing interoperability with iTunes. It's about allowing tracks from the Real Music Store to play back on the iPod, and maybe other hardware players.

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #55
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Actually, if you download some of your music through Harmony, some choices are eliminated, because now you cannot move your purchased music into iTunes or iTunes playlists, or burn CDs from iTunes. You are forced to use Real. Where is the choice here?

You have the choice to download via iTunes or to download via Real, and use *either* one of them with your iPod. How are you missing out on this fundamental new choice that you now have?

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The issue is that Apple is losing a song sale to Real that it might have been able to make. Apple has a right to protect its profits and technology and it has the right to create and sell whatever legal products it wants to. You have the right not to purchase them.

So, if I buy a song from Real, Apple loses a potential sale. And this is bad... why, exactly? Competition is a good thing for the consumer. Apple doesn't sell the iPod to drive iTunes Music Store sales. It's totally the reverse, in fact. They make money off the iPod, not the music store.

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If Apple blocks Harmony

First, let's be totally clear here. Assuming Real paid attention when writing the thing, Apple cannot block them. Period. Anybody who tells you otherwise is probably Apple, and they're wrong.

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and you have not purchased an iPod, you don't have to buy one if you don't like this limitation. If you have purchased an iPod, after doing a bit of research, you would know that it is only guaranteed to work with their own music store, and willingly bought it knowing that limitations. Apple has never claimed the iPod was an open system when it came to DRM, it has actually claimed the opposite.

Then they made claims that they couldn't keep, didn't they? It's not an open system, but that doesn't prevent me from developing compatible software.

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The iPod is closer to a Playstation2, which is open only to licensed developers, than a PC, which is open to anyone's software development.

In point of fact, courts have ruled on this very issue numerous times, and the fact is that game box makers cannot prevent somebody from creating software for their machine. Sega actually tried to do this first, I think. Nintendo also tried this, and got shot down after some extended lawsuits. Sony tried again later, with much the same results. The game companies don't have to sell you the developers kits, but they can't prevent you from releasing software to run on their hardware either. This is how you can get things like those code discs and such. They tried to stop them several times, and have always failed.

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But how about the Real and Apple developers, encoders, and personnel that are working supporting their music stores. Out of work because the companies cannot afford to subsidize them! You cannot just think of the customer, you also have to think of the developers, programmers, and long-term future ramifications for any affected industries when a product is "dumped" at below cost. Subsidizing a product is not necessarily "More competition = a good thing".

No, I don't have to think of the developers. And I *am* a software developer. All I have to think about is my bottom line. And yes, if M$ sold the music in the form I wanted, you're damned right I'd buy from them instead. If Apple didn't like it, well, Apple could lower their prices. If Apple couldn't lower their prices, then they'd go the hell out of business. That's the free market.

But you fail to see the bigger picture here. Stores are competing against each other, but they also have the big competitor of P2P looming down there at the "free" price point. If M$ were to do just that, drive them all out of business, and then raise prices or impose stupid restrictions or something, P2P would rise up and swallow their customer base whole. The constant danger of having the consumer slip back into the old ways is everpresent. This keeps 'em honest.

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It seems to me, reading in other news sites, that the legal issues in this matter are not totally clear-cut, which is why I mentioned that this will probably end up in the attorney's hands (as I am sure it has already), and possibly the courts.

Those other news sites were wrong. The legal issues in this matter are actually totally clear cut, and anybody who disagrees probably doesn't understand the way the system works here. Real has done nothing illegal, or indeed immoral.

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Well, they are taking profits away from Apple for every sale they make that would have gone to Apple instead, and there are some people that think this is wrong.

So setting up a competing business is wrong? How in the heck can you possibly justify such a statement?

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(bunch of Apple rhetoric promoting total control is a good thing)
...
The problem with Harmony is that it is only half a solution (it plays on iPod), the other half is broken (it does not work in iTunes). So, it breaks the smooth integration and user experience that Apple has strived so hard to achieve with its products. If I was Steve Jobs, this would bother me a lot more than the money I lost over song sales.

Actually, Harmony works with most *any* portable music player. And if iTunes doesn't work with Harmony DRM, then that's a problem with iTunes, not with Harmony. See, Harmony works fine with Apple's DRM. So I'd say it's perfectly compatible all around. But Real cannot force Apple to change iTunes. Blaming Real for problems with Apple's software seems rather disingenious.

Furthermore, why should it work with iTunes? It *replaces* iTunes. That's the *choice* aspect of the whole thing.

And even furthermore, Apple's user experience is anything but seamless, IMO. Frankly, I cannot stand Apple's user interfaces, as they are easily the worst in the business. They're confusing, nonintuitive, hard to use and learn, and usually quite ugly. They claim to have guidelines, but they frequently violate them. All in all, programs made for Windows, which lacks enforced guidelines (though such guidelines do exist), usually provide a much smoother and easier user interface. Windows Media Player being one of the major exceptions, I grant you.

You don't need total control to provide a smooth system, you need proper published standards to follow. Apple is pretty poor about publishing standards with regard to software development, extremely poor at actually implementing the standards they do publish, and hideously bad at creating good standards for their systems in the first place. Microsoft is not good at it either, but at least they don't claim to be good at it.

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Apple has the right to control its own business model, as long as it is legal, and no-one has to purchase Apple products if they don't like it.

Apple has the right to control it's business model, I agree. However, my iPod is *MINE*. It is not part of Apple's "business model". I paid good money for the iPod. I *OWN* IT. Understand? What I do with it is none of Apple's concern. The only right Apple has to my iPod is the copyright on the design and hardware. I can't copy it. But anything else I want to do with it, I can. Period. They do not own it. I do.

That's where my choice comes in. I have the choice not to use iTunes if I don't want to, and Apple can't make me.

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #56
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You don't need total control to provide a smooth system, you need proper published standards to follow. Apple is pretty poor about publishing standards with regard to software development, extremely poor at actually implementing the standards they do publish, and hideously bad at creating good standards for their systems in the first place. Microsoft is not good at it either, but at least they don't claim to be good at it.
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I can't help but find it a bit ironic that you claim that Apple are bad at publishing standards, when so many core technologies in Mac OS X are based on open standards. To name a few technologies Apple invented themselves, there's the QuickTime File Format and their file system. Both are completely documented on their homepage. Apple have been a major proponent of MPEG-4 for quite some time, and Real have only just begun to follow suit. In fact, QuickTime mainly uses MPEG-4 now. Their core operating system implements standards such as POSIX and the Single UNIX Specification. Their browser aims to be both standards conformant and able to read all the crappy HTML out there.

They have for long had the Aqua Human Interface Guidelines to ensure a consistant user interface. This means that inexperienced users - and experienced ones too - can approach properly written mac application and make a lot of assumptions about it's functionality without every bothering with a wizard or a manual. Recently, the GNOME project was inspired by this for their own guidelines. I'll grant you, though, that not all of Apple's applications conform to these, with Safari's toolbar being the most prominent example.

Apple are not completely without merit when they claim they are based on standards. In fact, it is not unreasonable to claim that the entire mac platform is based on open standards - after all, Apple have a huge interest in the interoperability of their computers and the rest of the world.

I'm not taking any side in this argument, I just believe that you are mistaken with regard to this particular issue.

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #57
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I can't help but find it a bit ironic that you claim that Apple are bad at publishing standards, when so many core technologies in Mac OS X are based on open standards. To name a few technologies Apple invented themselves, there's the QuickTime File Format and their file system. Both are completely documented on their homepage. Apple have been a major proponent of MPEG-4 for quite some time, and Real have only just begun to follow suit. In fact, QuickTime mainly uses MPEG-4 now. Their core operating system implements standards such as POSIX and the Single UNIX Specification. Their browser aims to be both standards conformant and able to read all the crappy HTML out there.


That's the other face of Apple. But that should not hide the other one.

Having UNIX foundations also helps them to get lots of applications for free that they would have to develop themselves.

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #58
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Having UNIX foundations also helps them to get lots of applications for free that they would have to develop themselves.
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Indeed like Safari is based on KHTML Html rendering engine from KDE project. But this is getting off topic 
An eye for eye will make the whole world blind

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #59
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I can't help but find it a bit ironic that you claim that Apple are bad at publishing standards, when so many core technologies in Mac OS X are based on open standards. ....Their core operating system implements standards such as POSIX and the Single UNIX Specification. Their browser aims to be both standards conformant and able to read all the crappy HTML out there.


That's the other face of Apple. But that should not hide the other one.
Having UNIX foundations also helps them to get lots of applications for free that they would have to develop themselves.
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What's interesting is that no matter what Apple does, there will be someone to criticize its actions. If OSX was closed and secret, it would get criticized for being so, but because much Apple technology is based on open source or open standards, it gets accused of profiting from free software! Sheesh....

That's why Apple should just legally do what it thinks its best for itself as a corporation and for the customer market segment it cares about, and not worry too much about what everyone alse thinks.

Frank

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #60
Dopey me!  Yes, I meant "don't Real and Apple use the same encoder, not codec.

Also, this Harmony technology has convinced me to sell my iRiver iHP-120 and get a 4G iPod.  The iHP-120 does not support DRM of any kind.

I already have more than 100 songs purchased from the RealPlayer Music Store.  Does the Harmony conversion only happen when the songs  are purchased?

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #61
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Thanks. If you have a WMA capable device, you are right, the only possibility is a full transcode. This is a lossy process. You can however decide which WMA bitrate to use, up to 192 kbps. Since both transmuxing and transcoding can be time-consuming, both for the AAC lossless transmux to iPod and AAC transcode to WMA, there is an option for RealPlayer to cache the converted files, so sub-sequent transfers to the device are much faster.
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Karl,

Thanks for the quick reply on a Sunday!  I was hesitant to purchase an ipod because I wanted to play music on other (non-apple) devices and I'm glad Real has solved that problem; time to get rid of my RCA player.  Unfortunately, I have some protected WMA files that I'll need to convert to an AAC format to play on the ipod.  I know I can burn them to CD and re-encode them to AAC.  Will Real Harmony allow me to skip this step and take protected WMA files and transcode them to protected AAC files?  I'm guessing not, but wanted to ask.  Thanks again!

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #62
Carlton Bale: You can play protected songs from any music store in RealPlayer (if you have the right QT and WM SDK DLLs installed, this is usually taken care of by having these other media players installed). You can however, not use RealPlayer to transfer protected songs from other music stores than the Real Music store, to the iPod. RealPlayer transfers unprotected WMA though, via transcoding to AAC.
Sr. Codec Engineer (video) | RealNetworks Codec Group | helixcommunity.org 
This information is provided "AS IS" with no warranties,  grants no rights, and reflects my personal opinion.

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #63
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As you know, the RealNetworks music store sells songs in 192 kbps AAC (as opposed to iTMS at 128 kbps). When transferring your purchased songs to the iPod, the AAC itself is not touched, but the Helix DRM is transmuxed to a DRM that is compatible with the iPod, i.e. fully protected and without trans-coding. If you then transfer the file back to your PC (for instance with Anapod), you get an M4P file, that is a protected MPEG-4 AAC file.

I did not work on this myself, I work with video codecs, but this is how you will see it works, after 5 minutes of testing, and is how the press release describes it as well, in less technical terms.
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Since you are connected to the source, how is your legal fight with Apple going? I know Apple was "shocked" by your actions. Personally, I can't figure out why Apple cares. Jobs openly admits that iTunes is just there to promote iPods (they only make about 20% of the revenue from song sales), so why wouldn't they like people to buy an iPod and use it with your online store? It seems like it's just broadening the market of iPods to me, which should please Apple.

Has Apple officially sued you, or are they simply threating to increase protection to eventually make your product incompatible?
-CyberInferno

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #64
Quote from: Otto42,Aug 2 2004, 10:43 PM
Quote from: Frank,Aug 2 2004, 10:40 PM
Actually, if you download some of your music through Harmony, some choices are eliminated....

You have the choice to download via iTunes or to download via Real, and use *either* one of them with your iPod. How are you missing out on this fundamental new choice that you now have?

Yes, I understand the new choice of where you can download music from,  but wanted to point out that you also now LOST a choice, because with Harmony songs you can't any longer sync your iPod music with your iTunes playlists, crippling iTunes. I would guess this is one of Apple's concerns.

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The issue is that Apple is losing a song sale to Real....

So, if I buy a song from Real, Apple loses a potential sale. And this is bad... why, exactly? Competition is a good thing for the consumer. Apple doesn't sell the iPod to drive iTunes Music Store sales. It's totally the reverse, in fact. They make money off the iPod, not the music store.

Competition may be good for the consumer, but subsidizing a product, which is what I was talking about, is not always good for an industry or the country. Yes, you can buy a $6 T-shirt, a $12 pair of shoes, and a $2 screwdriver. Great. What are you going to tell the 3 million people that recently lost manufacturing jobs (and probably their health care) in this country, that the consumer is better off now because he can save a few bucks?

Let's say it costs Microsoft, Real and Apple $.80 to sell a song through their on-line music store, and each company employs 40 people to support the store (illustrative number).  Now Microsoft decides to subsidize its music, and sells it for $.50/tune. Real and Apple can't do this for very long, drop out of the market, and lay off 80 people. Microsoft's sales triple, but due to economies of scale, they only need to hire 10 additional employees. So now you have 70 people out of work. My point is that competition is NOT automatically always good for everyone,  you can't just think of the consumer, there are other human beings in the equation.

Actually, Apple has started to make a small profit from the iTunes Music Store, now that it's up and running, their plan may be to increase these profits, and to be fully able to profit from the iPod/iTunes technology it developed.

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The iPod is closer to a Playstation2, which is open only to licensed developers, than a PC, which is open to anyone's software development.

In point of fact, courts have ruled on this very issue numerous times, and the fact is that game box makers cannot prevent somebody from creating software for their machine.

True, but don't third-party game makers have to pay Nintendo, Sega, Microsoft, etc. licensing fees to make a game for their boxes?
Real is not paying Apple any money in this situation.
Analogies always fail in the end, but I wonder, can anyone make a game for a Nintendo box, and legally sell it, as long as they send Nintendo the licensing fee? Or does Nintendo have to "license" the licensee?

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It seems to me, reading in other news sites, that the legal issues in this matter are not totally clear-cut, which is why I mentioned that this will probably end up in the attorney's hands (as I am sure it has already), and possibly the courts.

Those other news sites were wrong. The legal issues in this matter are actually totally clear cut, and anybody who disagrees probably doesn't understand the way the system works here. Real has done nothing illegal, or indeed immoral.

No impartial third party with the appropriate technical expertise has, to my knowledge, examined how RealNetworks managed to get their software to work with the Apple's DRM, all you have to go by is their claims that they did not reverse-engineer the DRM. I doubt that everyone is going to take Real's word for this, and it will need to be verified. Claims without verification don't mean very much, look at SCO vs IBM.

The legal issues involve at least the DMCA, copyright law as applicable to Apple's software, and click licenses. How can they be clear-cut until you know in technical detail how Real got their software to work with the iPod?

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(bunch of Apple rhetoric promoting total control is a good thing)

Well, those were my opinions, not Apple's "rhetoric". I have never seen official philosophy statements from them, but it is obvious what their strategy is.

I think that in many ways Microsoft exerts more control than Apple. Have your tried deleting the Explorer and Windows Media Player applications on a Windows PC lately? Easy enough to delete Safari and QuickTime on OSX, things will keep working just fine. Microsoft has managed to weld together the OS, the web browser, and the media player, and then claim that the OS will break if you delete them! Now how is that for control?

I did say that Apple's control is not for everyone. It is NOT a good thing for everyone! However, it is the philosophy, direction and products that Apple has developed over the years, for the people that want them and the market segment it is targeting. It has a right to do this, just as you have a right not to buy into it. As no other successful hardware/OS/software company is following this philosophy very strongly, it makes it available to those that want it. Would you deny them the ability to make it available?

It is obviously not for the people that have responded to my posts. However, it is very possible that Apple is not targeting your types of users, and it can't keep everyone happy.

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Furthermore, why should it work with iTunes? It *replaces* iTunes. That's the *choice* aspect of the whole thing.

Well, here again, I guess our semantic definition of choice is a bit different, the way I see it you are also removing a choice, you can't fully use iTunes any more with your iPod if you use Harmony, the Harmony song purchases forces the choice for you. What Harmony does is break the ability of two Apple products (iTunes and the iPod) to work together, which worked pretty well together up to now. No wonder Apple is concerned, it works hard for interoperability between its products.

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And even furthermore, Apple's user experience is anything but seamless, IMO. Frankly, I cannot stand Apple's user interfaces, as they are easily the worst in the business. They're confusing, nonintuitive, hard to use and learn, and usually quite ugly.

I am not sure what you are comparing Apple's software to, but I assume it is Windows-based software. I respect other's platform choices, so I'll try to restrain myself. Without criticizing Windows products, and without going too off-topic, I have seen recent comparisons, in mainstream trade journals, of Filemaker (which also runs on Windows) vs. Access, iMovie/iDVD vs. Windows Movie Maker/any free DVD program, XServe/XServe Raid/OSX Server, and the Panasonic HD VariCam/ AJ-HD100A deck/Final Cut Pro HD/Apple G4 Powerbook to comparable Windows products and combinations. In all these cases the Apple products were rated higher than the competition.

I also can't find on Windows anything that includes the functionality and integration of the four programs in iLife: iMovie, iDVD, iPhoto and iTunes.
And I can implement and start my apache web server with one click. Now that's confusing and nonintuitive!

A large percentage (if not the majority) of graphic artists, illustrators and digital photographers use Apple products, so there are many individuals with an eye for esthetics and usability that would disagree with you.

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However, my iPod is *MINE*. It is not part of Apple's "business model". But anything else I want to do with it, I can. Period. They do not own it. I do.

Well you do own that small chunk of metal, plastic and wires. However, there is also software and firmware on it, that you may or may not own.
I have not studied the fine print that comes with the iPod, I don't know what click licenses you might have agreed to, and I am not enough of a lawyer to know whether they mean anything, or are enforceable. I believe that you think you are right, but I would want to see an expert third-party legal opinion for confirmation. And there are many cases where owning a product does not give you the right to do whatever you want with it.

Apple has not made their next move, and Microsoft has not come to the dance yet, so anything can happen. There is also the possibility that while Apple may have the legal or technical ability to block Harmony on the iPod, it may decide that it is not in its best long-term interests to do so. It may not want to win the battle and then lose the war.

Frank

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #65
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Let's say it costs Microsoft, Real and Apple $.80 to sell a song through their on-line music store, and each company employs 40 people to support the store (illustrative number). Now Microsoft decides to subsidize its music, and sells it for $.50/tune. Real and Apple can't do this for very long, drop out of the market, and lay off 80 people. Microsoft's sales triple, but due to economies of scale, they only need to hire 10 additional employees. So now you have 70 people out of work. My point is that competition is NOT automatically always good for everyone, you can't just think of the consumer, there are other human beings in the equation.


Competition is always good.  In the long run, 70 people who lost thier jobs will find MORE productive jobs and will increase overall productivity for the whole economy.

No need to put 120 people for the jobs that 50 people can do.

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #66
Quote from: Frank,Aug 4 2004, 10:01 PM
Yes, I understand the new choice of where you can download music from,  but wanted to point out that you also now LOST a choice, because with Harmony songs you can't any longer sync your iPod music with your iTunes playlists, crippling iTunes. I would guess this is one of Apple's concerns.

Except for the fact that you're making absolutely no sense, sure. How does it cripple iTunes? It doesn't. If you want to use iTunes, then by all means use iTunes. I fail to see how you cannot continue to use iTunes if you want to do so.

But if you want to use Harmony, use Harmony. You have total freedom of choice here. The existance of other software to do what iTunes does does not prevent iTunes doing what iTunes does.

If you're stating that iTunes can't sync Harmony songs, well, yes. But then it can't sync songs from any other music store either. So how is this any different?

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My point is that competition is NOT automatically always good for everyone,  you can't just think of the consumer, there are other human beings in the equation.

I don't give a damn about everyone. I give a damn about me. Those other people can look out for themselves.

Look, the point is that capitalism is inherely selfish in nature. Yes, Microsoft could undercut Apple in theory, and possibly cause loss of jobs. So what? They can go find new jobs. My point is that it is not a given that I should pay higher prices just to keep somebody in work. Sorry, but if they can't hack it, then they go out of business. This is not a zero sum game.

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Actually, Apple has started to make a small profit from the iTunes Music Store, now that it's up and running, their plan may be to increase these profits, and to be fully able to profit from the iPod/iTunes technology it developed.

So developing some technology automatically gives you monopoly power over that technology? I find this to be a rather twisted view of the world.

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True, but don't third-party game makers have to pay Nintendo, Sega, Microsoft, etc. licensing fees to make a game for their boxes?

Nope. Not unless they want to use the Nintendo (or whoever's) logo on the thing.

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The legal issues involve at least the DMCA, copyright law as applicable to Apple's software, and click licenses. How can they be clear-cut until you know in technical detail how Real got their software to work with the iPod?

I do know, in technical detail, how they got Harmony to work with the iPod. It's fairly clear how it works, in fact. And it's my considered opinion, as somebody who knows how this stuff works, and as somebody who may not be a lawyer but is at least capable of reading the laws in question, that no laws have been broken. Happy now?

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As no other successful hardware/OS/software company is following this philosophy very strongly, it makes it available to those that want it. Would you deny them the ability to make it available?

As far as I am aware, competition does not prevent them from making their products available. Their products *are* available, which proves my point.

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Well, here again, I guess our semantic definition of choice is a bit different, the way I see it you are also removing a choice, you can't fully use iTunes any more with your iPod if you use Harmony, the Harmony song purchases forces the choice for you. What Harmony does is break the ability of two Apple products (iTunes and the iPod) to work together, which worked pretty well together up to now. No wonder Apple is concerned, it works hard for interoperability between its products.

Man, it's like talking to a wall here. If you don't want to use Harmony, then don't use Harmony. How much simpler can it be? You have the choice to decide what to use. You act as if, by creating software, Real has somehow broken other similar software. They haven't. iTunes does exactly the same thing that it did before. If you want to use iTunes, then by all means, do so. Yeesh.

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I have seen recent comparisons, in mainstream trade journals

Funny, I simply use software and perform my own comparisons without the benefits of "mainstream trade journals". This thing called a "brain" lets me make "decisions" and form "opinions". It's a fairly straightforward process, really.

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I also can't find on Windows anything that includes the functionality and integration of the four programs in iLife: iMovie, iDVD, iPhoto and iTunes.

Possibly, possibly not. Nevertheless, I find those 4 products to suck, for the most part. Maybe you like them, but the poor user interfaces on them is one of the primary reasons I dislike them.

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A large percentage (if not the majority) of graphic artists, illustrators and digital photographers use Apple products, so there are many individuals with an eye for esthetics and usability that would disagree with you.

I'm not asking them to agree with me. I frankly don't care what they use. That's their problem.

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And there are many cases where owning a product does not give you the right to do whatever you want with it.

Please clarify. I know of no such comparable cases.

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There is also the possibility that while Apple may have the legal or technical ability to block Harmony on the iPod

Again, let's be clear. Assuming Real implemented every little detail correctly, Apple does not have the technical ability to block Harmony. Not without breaking backwards compatibility, which would tick off a lot of iTMS users.

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #67
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You have total freedom of choice here.

Not really, Harmony forces you to use a PC to download files from its music store. Real is not opening its music store to Mac users, nor have they ever done so. There is no total freedom here, actually all major music stores except the iTunes Music Store force you to use Windows, the iTMS is the only one that gives you a CHOICE of which OS to use.

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So developing some technology automatically gives you monopoly power over that technology?

Well, it is proprietary technology, and I don't think that iTunes/iTunes Music Store/iPod qualifies legally or practically as a monopoly. From what I have read, the iPod has 50% market penetration, and the iTunes Music Store 70%. I think it boils down to the right of a company to offer the product that it wants (the unique iPod/iTunes Music Store closed integration), including any publicized limitations.

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And it's my considered opinion, as somebody who knows how this stuff works, and as somebody who may not be a lawyer but is at least capable of reading the laws in question, that no laws have been broken. Happy now?

Well, not really. If there is a dispute between two parties (Real and Apple), any believable expert third-party opinion should come from a disinterested neutral source. Can you point out such an opinion? In this case, although you may be an expert, I don't think you are neutral.
And opinions are not enforceable, so to make it so, a judge, jury or court-appointed expert would have the final say (which can be appealed) on interpreting the laws, which, of course, can always be changed. None of this has happened yet.

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You act as if, by creating software, Real has somehow broken other similar software. They haven't. iTunes does exactly the same thing that it did before.

No, it does not not. Before, iTunes could sync to ALL the songs on the iPod. Now, if you have some songs from iTunes and some from Rhapsody, it cannot sync to all the songs on the iPod.

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And there are many cases where owning a product does not give you the right to do whatever you want with it.

Please clarify. I know of no such comparable cases..

1. You own a house but you can't put vinyl siding on it because you live in a historic district.
2. You own land but you can't raise a few chickens on it because of zoning regulations.
3. You own an open bottle of wine but can't drive with it in some states.
4. You are a high school student and own a hat but can't wear it in school.
5. You own a ticket to the ball game but can't sell it for $1,000.

I admit I can't think of any direct comparable cases. The Harmony/iPod issue is really just part of a major new area where the concept of "ownership", its definition, rights and limitations in the digital world are being redefined on a daily basis.

There is also the issue that if Real is allowed to do this, every little Mom and Pop store, and bright teenager, can theoretically also make their store compatible with the iPod. Over a period of time, this limits Apple's ability to develop or improve the way the iPod and the iTunes Music Store work, as Apple becomes more and more responsible (practically if not legally) for the interoperability, or "squatter's rights", of third-party stores and music it never wanted on the iPod.

FairPlay DRM is not a licenseable "open" standard, but privately owned and controlled. What you really need in this industry is a DRM that works, developed and controlled by a neutral third-party organization, like MPEG, and licenseable to everyone on a non-discriminatory basis, at set rates (or free).

Well, we've gone round and round, and are starting to repeat ourselves, so I'll bow out for now and let you have the last word. I sympathize with many things you have said, but I admit I am a fan of Apple, so I try and see their side of the story. Somehow the company has survived, but its long-term longevity (with only 3-4% of the computer market) is always in doubt. Until it accumulates many billions of dollars year after year, I don't think it can be accused of being greedy. Apple has to do to whatever it deems necessary to survive, as long as it is legal, consistent with its business model, generally supportive of its user base, and profitable. Even if these actions do not benefit all consumers.

I know that my opinions probably go strongly against the beliefs of many in HA, so I truly thank them for restraining themselves and not attacking me personally, only my ideas.
Frank

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RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #68
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You act as if, by creating software, Real has somehow broken other similar software. They haven't. iTunes does exactly the same thing that it did before.

No, it does not not. Before, iTunes could sync to ALL the songs on the iPod. Now, if you have some songs from iTunes and some from Rhapsody, it cannot sync to all the songs on the iPod.


All the songs, or all the songs that were from iTunes?
"We cannot win against obsession. They care, we don't. They win."

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #69
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FairPlay DRM is not a licenseable "open" standard, but privately owned and controlled. What you really need in this industry is a DRM that works, developed and controlled by a neutral third-party organization, like MPEG, and licenseable to everyone on a non-discriminatory basis, at set rates (or free).

Well, we've gone round and round, and are starting to repeat ourselves, so I'll bow out for now and let you have the last word. I sympathize with many things you have said, but I admit I am a fan of Apple, so I try and see their side of the story. Somehow the company has survived, but its long-term longevity (with only 3-4% of the computer market) is always in doubt. Until it accumulates many billions of dollars year after year, I don't think it can be accused of being greedy. Apple has to do to whatever it deems necessary to survive, as long as it is legal, consistent with its business model, generally supportive of its user base, and profitable. Even if these actions do not benefit all consumers.

I know that my opinions probably go strongly against the beliefs of many in HA, so I truly thank them for restraining themselves and not attacking me personally, only my ideas.
Frank


Frank, I don't agree with many of your statements, but I absolutely agree that there should to be an accepted and implemented industry standard for protected downloads.  Unfortunately, as with instant messenger services, there are multiple companies fighting for market share using proprietary technologies.

I'm not anti-apple, I respect most their designs, and they have every right to sell proprietary products.  However, if I were to purchase an iPod or a song from iTunes, I would feel ownership of it and would want to be able to use it however and wherever possible.  Some people are glad to regain some freedom by being able to download DRM-protected files from Real, convert them to multiple formats, and store them on a large range of devices.  If Apple would do this, I'd be even more pleased.  All I really want is to be able to play DRM-protected music in my car's MusicKeg, or any other device I own!

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #70
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True, but don't third-party game makers have to pay Nintendo, Sega, Microsoft, etc. licensing fees to make a game for their boxes?

Nope. Not unless they want to use the Nintendo (or whoever's) logo on the thing.


Sorry, but as far as I understand it this is rubbish. I agree with most of the rest of your statements, but you can't do shit on your console without someone (either the user or the programmer of the hack) being liable somewhere, hence why most developers (like for example the Xbox Media Center chaps) dont distribute binaries, only source. You certainly can't sell anything unofficial without their contracts and fees, there is no high street store in the west that will deal with you at the risk of losing the 'right' to sell consoles and official software for that system.

Or am I missing something?

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #71
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most developers (like for example the Xbox Media Center chaps) dont distribute binaries, only source. You certainly can't sell anything unofficial without their contracts and fees, there is no high street store in the west that will deal with you at the risk of losing the 'right' to sell consoles and official software for that system.
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This is completely the case (as I understand it anyway).  The reason Xbox Media Center binaries (for example) are not distributed publicly is because they are compiled with an illegally-obtained version of the Microsoft Xbox Software Development Kit.  I believe there is work on an open source version of a Xbox SDK.  If something were to develop with this open SDK, it could be distributed pubicly.  (For the Xbox, there is also the issue of the 1024-bit encryption key included in every approved game, so software written using the open SDK would only run on hacked Xboxes.)

I think hacked Xboxs are similar enough to the iPod for a more in-depth "legal hacking" comparison.  For Xbox, it is legal to sell mod chips and Xbox’s with mod chips installed as long as the mod chips do not contain any illegal code.  When you buy a legal, hacked Xbox, it comes with a Linux cromwell bios installed; this bios can run no Xbox games or applications.  There is nothing illegal until a new bios (containing modified Microsoft code) is downloaded and installed, allowing any games or applications developed with the Microsoft SDK to run.  This new bios circumvents the 1024-bit encryption key, defeating Microsoft security measures.  Breaking the security and using copyrighted code is what is illegal, not installing the mod chip and running Linux code.

Real shouldn't have any legal issues, because:  1) they are not using any Apple code and 2) they are not breaking any Apple encryption or copy protection.  It is not illegal for a company to make software that runs on another company’s device as long as all software is free of copyright concerns.  Who knows, someone may even get Linux running on an iPod!  I'm kidding here, but I don't see how it would be illegal.

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #72
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Or am I missing something?
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What you're missing that that most projects along the lines you're thinking were developed using pirated versions of the stuff MS wants you to pay for. Thus the resulting binary works are not legal, because you didn't pay for the tool used to create them.

However, if you were to develop your own tool and use it to produce your program, then you're be perfectly in the clear. Microsoft cannot prevent people from developing software to run on or with the XBox, to use your example. They simply own all the available tools for it. Thus it's probably cheaper to go through Microsoft to develop for the XBox, since you don't have to reinvent the wheel in order to make your programs work.

But this is an economic control method, not a legal one. Because they have the cheaper solution, everybody goes through them. Legally, however, they cannot prevent somebody from developing software for the XBox itself, they can only have any control if you use their tools to do so. Develop your own tools, and you're outside their sphere of influence.

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #73
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You have total freedom of choice here.

Not really, Harmony forces you to use a PC to download files from its music store. Real is not opening its music store to Mac users, nor have they ever done so. There is no total freedom here, actually all major music stores except the iTunes Music Store force you to use Windows, the iTMS is the only one that gives you a CHOICE of which OS to use.

So what? You have the choice of what computer to buy as well. Just because Real doesn't offer a Mac solution at present, this affects the argument, how, exactly?

We were arguing that you're free to choose iTMS or Real's solution. The fact is that you are also free to choose the computer and OS you run. Are you trying to suggest that because, say, iTunes doesn't offer Linux support that they are delibrately limiting your choices or something? You're making very little sense here.

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Well, it is proprietary technology, and I don't think that iTunes/iTunes Music Store/iPod qualifies legally or practically as a monopoly. From what I have read, the iPod has 50% market penetration, and the iTunes Music Store 70%. I think it boils down to the right of a company to offer the product that it wants (the unique iPod/iTunes Music Store closed integration), including any publicized limitations.

Apple hasn't lost anything. They still offer the iPod/iTunes intergration. If you want to choose their way, then do so. iTunes still works as well as it always did. So does the iPod. Nothing Real has done changes that.

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Well, not really. If there is a dispute between two parties (Real and Apple), any believable expert third-party opinion should come from a disinterested neutral source. Can you point out such an opinion? In this case, although you may be an expert, I don't think you are neutral.

Frankly, I don't think you are neutral either. However, I don't work for anybody in this particular industry. My only connection is that I'm a compuuter programmer who happens to own an iPod.

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No, it does not not. Before, iTunes could sync to ALL the songs on the iPod. Now, if you have some songs from iTunes and some from Rhapsody, it cannot sync to all the songs on the iPod.

If you had songs from Rhapsody before Real released the Harmony Beta, iTunes still wasn't able to sync them to the iPod. Nothing has changed in that respect. The fact that iTunes lacks support for other music stores is all the more reason for Real to release something like Harmony, which makes that support available to iPod owners. Since Apple isn't going to do it, somebody else will.

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I admit I can't think of any direct comparable cases. The Harmony/iPod issue is really just part of a major new area where the concept of "ownership", its definition, rights and limitations in the digital world are being redefined on a daily basis.

No. Things like "ownership" are not being redefined. Corporations keep trying to do so, because they want to maximize their income. It makes perfect sense that way.. if you can lock somebody into using your solution, then you have guaranteed income, or at least more guaranteed than before. When you can lock out your competition, then you can make a bundle.

However, the legal definitions of these things have not changed in fact. That doesn't stop corporations trying to change people's perceptions of those things. They've done so to the extent that they make you think that you are actually buying a license instead of a piece of software, for example.

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There is also the issue that if Real is allowed to do this, every little Mom and Pop store, and bright teenager, can theoretically also make their store compatible with the iPod. Over a period of time, this limits Apple's ability to develop or improve the way the iPod and the iTunes Music Store work, as Apple becomes more and more responsible (practically if not legally) for the interoperability, or "squatter's rights", of third-party stores and music it never wanted on the iPod.

Apple is under no obligation to be responsible for whether other people's stuff works or not. If other people's stuff stops working, they will change it as needed.

Furthermore, Apple can only really break third party applications by breaking compatibility with their own older software. This is easily proven in fact.. If I create an application that behaves in the exact same way as iTunes does, with regard to the iPod, then my application can only break if Apple changes the iPod such that that particular version of iTunes breaks as well. If Apple is breaking backward compatibility that simply, then they have other issues than worrying about third party software.

A whole host of third party software already exists, BTW. Look at foo_pod, which Aero wrote and I helped with. It works very well with the iPod. Apple could break it by a new iPod firmware, but the fact of the matter is that if they did that, iTunes wouldn't work with the new iPod firmware either.

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FairPlay DRM is not a licenseable "open" standard, but privately owned and controlled. What you really need in this industry is a DRM that works, developed and controlled by a neutral third-party organization, like MPEG, and licenseable to everyone on a non-discriminatory basis, at set rates (or free).

I'll agree to that, except that I don't believe an effective open standard DRM is possible, because of the nature of DRM.

RealNetworks Says Files Can Play on iPod

Reply #74
AFAIK, XBOX SDK is available legally only for game developers who agree to pay M$ some percentage of the revenue from game sale as a licensing fee.

If some developer delevlop thier own SDK and using it to create software, the binary won't run on unmodded xbox anyway because it have not been signed by M$. (This also implied that ALL users of that software have to brake DMCA in some ways.)

This is the business model of the whole consol game industry.

Anyway, consol game business is totlally different from music player business, on game consol it runs softwares (which build with consol maker's software) but for portable player it plays music. Apple does not have any right to control thier customers where to purchase music and how they use their products.

P.S. Don't get me wrong, I totally support fair use rights, I use XBOX Media Center extensively on my modded XBOX, it's totaly awesome.

 
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