The locked ecosystem that Apple has created for its iPod is under threat from the machinations of an innocent-looking geek from Norway who has figured out a workaround to Apple's DRM.
Jon Lech Johansen, known in the blogosphere as DVD Jon for his work cracking DVD copy protection when he was just 15, is licencing technology through his company Double Twist to allow other music distributors the sell tracks for the iPod.
By reverse-engineering Apple's FairPlay copy protection, he's discovered how to add coding to non-iTunes songs that mimics the FairPlay code, thus tricking the iPod into thinking it's playing an iTunes track.
“Today's reality is that there's this iTunes-iPod ecosystem that excludes everyone else from the market”, Johansen told Fortune magazine. “I don't like closed systems.”
He also said that he hasn't broken the law because he hasn't tried to remove Apple's DRM, but rather has added another level of copy protection. “The law protects copyrights, but it doesn't keep you locked into the iPod.”