Norwegian hacker continues battle with Apple

A notorious Norwegian hacker has unveiled a new service that will allow its customers to copy and use iTunes songs on non-Apple devices.

"DVD Jon", as he has become known, first courted controversy when, at just 16-years-old, he published a code to break copy-protection for Hollywood movies.

Now 24, he has founded a new venture - doubleTwist - and become its chief technology officer, and continues his mission to help consumers "liberate" music from iTunes' copy protection regime.

And Reuters reports that doubleTwist has already received an undisclosed amount of first-round funding from Norway's NorthZone Ventures and Geneva-based Index Ventures, which was an early backer of Skype, Last.fm and MySQL before their eventual sale to larger companies.

The new service is based around software that converts media stored in one format (namely for use on Apple devices) to formats used by other devices.

According to Reuters, users can choose to share as many or as few media files as they wish with specific friends, and can create common playlists that mix songs from Apple iTunes on non-Apple devices.

The software essentially allows users to synchronise files sitting on their computers with mobile devices they or their friends own, simply by "dragging and dropping" media files into a desktop folder that then drops copies of the media files onto the mobile devices over the Web.

The software can share files with the PSP game console, Nokia's Nseries phone line, Sony Ericsson's Walkman and Cybershop lines, LG's Viewty, and Microsoft's Windows Mobile smartphones such as the Palm Treo and HTC.

DoubleTwist breaks into copy-protected formats by replaying a song in fast-forward mode and at the same time, capturing a copy of the audio track by re-recording it.

And doubleTwist says the process is legal, although it did not inform Apple when it was developing the software.

"Users can only play back the music they have already purchased and they are authorized to play", explained Monique Farantzos, doubleTwists's co-founder and chief executive to Reuters.

She added: "All we are facilitating are friends sending things to one another".

DoubleTwist claims that as many as one hundred songs can be converted in half an hour.

It adds, however, that the process results in about a 5% degradation in sound-quality.