Apple, iPod, and CD Copy Protection

CNet reports that two of the major companies responsible for Audio-CD based copy protection methods are approaching Apple to make their CDs compatible with the Apple iPod.

Reportedly 80% of complaints generated from the copy protected CDs are due to iPod incompatibility. As a interesting side-effect, this may hurt Microsoft's dominance in this field. Current schemes involved providing protected Windows Media Audio files along side the copy protected tracks. While this allows Windows users to load the songs on their PCs, it prevents their use on the iPod - which does not support WMA files.

The upcoming versions of the copy protection appears to be more flexible and will also diminish Microsoft's control of the media:

SunnComm and Macrovision each say that the new generations of their technology, due later this summer and early next year, respectively, will let people effortlessly create versions of songs for computers and portable players, in almost the same way people rip CDs to create MP3 files today. Software will be loaded on the music CDs that will help create a new copy-protected file in a form that can be played on an iPod, or on Microsoft-compatible players such as the Rio Karma, or on whatever else a consumer might be using.

The only sticking point, however, is from Apple - who has not yet licensed their FairPlay digital rights management format to these companies. This could represent a new revenue source for Apple, depending on the terms of such a license.

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