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New code added to iTunes database file prevents iPods from being used with any program other than iTunes.

Less than two weeks ago Apple revamped its entire iPod lineup along with introducing a new iPod model, the iPod touch. The product line update consisted of new features and designs for Apple’s iPod brand. The update, though, shouldn’t be taken entirely at face value; Apple also managed to sneak in some code that locks the new iPods to only work with iTunes.

Apple has locked out other digital content management software by adding “SHA1 hashes” to the beginning of the iTunesDB file, the database file which keeps track of digital content stored on the iPods. The enhanced code locks the iTunes database to one specific iPod and also prevents any modifications to it. If an attempt is made to either change the database file to a different iPod or to modify the file, the iPod reports “0 songs” are stored on the device. What this means is that essentially only iTunes can add or delete content from the iPod.  

The most plausible reason for locking then new iPods to iTunes is that Apple is becoming conscious of the growing threat that other music services are offering. Since many music labels are dumping DRM, it is now easier than ever for music services like Rhapsody to load non-DRM music directly to iPods through its own player; meaning iTunes is taken out of the picture as the digital content handler for iPods.

Locking iPods to iTunes effectively inhibits other media players from handling content for iPods. This move also prevents other music services from truly competing with the iTunes store and maintains Apple’s dominance.  

Apple has been very aggressive in the past to ensure that nothing changes the relationship between iPods and iTunes. Three years ago RealNetworks attempted to create an alliance between Apple and RealNetwork that would allow Real to license Apple’s Fairplay DRM technology so that it could sell files compatible with iPods.

Real’s ambitions turned out to be a failure when its talks with Apple failed, and so the company decided to simply reverse engineer Apple's FairPlay to create Harmony technology, which allowed music sold via RealNetworks to work on Apple’s iPods along with a plethora of other portable devices.

Apple nearly immediately issued a scathing response, and stated that Real’s move violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Apple also issued a firmware update to its iPods which blocked iPod access to Harmony files. At the time Apple said it was “stunned” by RealNetwork’s moves and accused it of using "tactics and ethics of a hacker."

Do you have an iPod but run Linux?  Tough luck says Apple.  Windows users who prefer to use other management tools, such as Winamp, will also need to use iTunes exclusively for now as well.

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Maybe now some people will wake up.
By Domicinator on 9/16/2007 9:18:34 PM , Rating: 3
I've always wondered what it would take to finally make people realize that Apple products are not all they're cracked up to be. Maybe this will finally be what does it.

Apple tries and tries to force its users to get all their music from iTunes. Just wait--the next thing they will get rid of is the ability to rip your store bought CDs to iTunes and put them on your iPod.

What's interesting to me though is that people actually think there is no other alternative to the iPod. They don't realize that there are other players out there, hell, a lot of people don't even really know what an MP3 actually is. All they know is that they download a song from iTunes and then it appears on their iPod.

The reality is that there are much better players out there than the iPod. They just aren't as trendy looking and don't have the little shiny logo on the back.

RE: Maybe now some people will wake up.
RE: Maybe now some people will wake up.
By theapparition on 9/17/2007 8:58:06 AM , Rating: 2
And if everyone else jumped off a cliff.........

By Pythias on 9/19/2007 8:01:15 AM , Rating: 2
And if everyone else jumped off a cliff...

...They'd probably be Apple consumers.

RE: Maybe now some people will wake up.
By AlphaVirus on 9/17/2007 9:57:11 AM , Rating: 2
I am sure Apple is paying a bill to Amazon to have their items listed before anyone else. It is popular but also Apple has plenty of cash to do such things.

By chrish89 on 9/17/2007 6:39:53 PM , Rating: 1
What sort of argument is products are lousy because their in high demand. If so, follow the minority and buy a zune or sansa...

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads
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