New iPod shuffle requires headphones with an authentication chip

By on March 16, 2009 at 9:32 AM.

New iPod shuffle requires headphones with an authentication chip

The folks over at iLounge stumbled upon some curious info regarding the new iPod Shuffle that has us scratching our heads. We all know the controls for the new Shuffle are on the headphones, but apparently Cupertino decided to make it even more difficult for headphone makers to get in on some Shuffle action. Control of playback and adjustment of volume will not be permitted unless the headphones used are equipped with an Apple authentication chip. D’oh! To further complicate matters, headphones with this new authentication chip are not yet available. Phooey, you say, I will pair my high-end headphones with a third party remote control device instead. Denied! Third party remotes with this authentication chip are not yet available either. Until these new accessories hit the market, shuffle owners are stuck using the stock headphones for the time being. What is Apple’s reasoning behind the move? We’re not sure, though we imagine it has to do with ensuring Apple can prevent companies from producing Shuffle gear without its blessing. Good job Apple, now it’ll cost less-than-scrupulous manufacturers overseas an extra 7¢ per unit to make compatible headphones. Major fail.

[Via EFF]

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iTunes music still shackled to DRM in Canada and elsewhere?

By on January 6, 2009 at 5:32 PM.

iTunes music still shackled to DRM in Canada and elsewhere?

When Apple annouced that iTunes users now had its consent to free their iTunes-purchased music from the hellish enslavement of DRM, people across the world rejoiced. That is until they tried to remove the DRM themselves. Users in Canada (amongst other nations) are reporting that iTunes is refusing to allow them to convert their protected files into .DRM-free MP3 files for use on devices that don’t bear the Apple logo. Was Apple only intending for this service to come to the US due to legal issues? Hopefully it’s just a matter of time before those regions currently without the option to unchain their libraries but until we get official word from Apple, we have to fear the worst. If you’re living outside the US, hit us up in the comments and let us know if you’re experiencing any de-DRMing difficulties.

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Hasta la vista, Macworld

By on January 6, 2009 at 2:43 PM.

Hasta la vista, Macworld

There you have it Apple fans, Apple’s final Macworld keynote has come and gone. As expected, Steve Jobs was nowhere to be found – indeed due to health reasons as many had dismissed as false until Jobs’ recent letter was issued on Monday. Phill Schiller had some pretty big shoes to fill but he did a great job and even threw in a joke or two. As for the announcements, the only surprise was iLife ’09 and we think it was a pretty good surprise in fact. Apple looks to have made some great updates to its suite and we can’t wait to upgrade and start playing with all the new features. As far as the three other big announcements – iWork ’09, the new 17″ MacBook Pro and DRM-free iTunes – leaks did an ok job of covering each one to some extent. In terms of the massive list of rumors that weren’t made a reality today, this year’s Macworld had more rumors surrounding it than ever before so most were obviously destined to be squashed. We would have liked to have seen a refreshed iMac and Mac Mini, case manufacturers would have liked to have seen an iPhone nano and Apple’s board would have liked to have seen a more sustained and significant spike in Apple shares today. Hey, you can’t win ‘em all…

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Apple finally drops DRM on iTunes music, OTA 3G music downloads?

By on January 5, 2009 at 10:56 PM.

Apple finally drops DRM on iTunes music, OTA 3G music downloads?

Apple has dropped DRM from iTunes, according to various reports. While we’ve been waiting for this for a pretty long ass time, it’s said that the actual deal was only inked in the last week or so. What does this mean for you if Apple actually announces this tomorrow? Well, for starters, older music would drop to $0.79/song, but this would open the possibility of pricing current “hits” for more than $0.99. Most likely $1.99, if we had to guess. The good news is that any new music would be DRM-free out of the gate, with the older titles slowly being freed from their chains over the course of the next little while. Additionally, those same sneaky sources have reported that Apple has also got past another hurdle: music downloads over 3G. We’ll see if this pans out, but it sure as heck makes sense, and boy, would it make iTunes an even bigger goldmine.

[Via AppleInsider]

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Nokia Comes With Music comes with DRM and gets cracked

By on December 10, 2008 at 4:12 PM.

Nokia Comes With Music comes with DRM and gets cracked

Nokia Comes With Music No DRM

It’s the same old story, content providers try to prevent piracy by wrapping media in DRM. Hackers crack the DRM. We have seen it with protected WMA, iTunes AAC, DVD, HD-DVD, Blu-Ray and so on. Next to lay claim to the dubious honor of being “crackable” is the DRM that encases tracks downloaded from Nokia Comes with Music service. Nokia Comes with Music allows owners of supported Nokia phones to download an unlimited number of tracks during the first year of service. DRM is the controlling force that limits these tracks to one designated mobile device and one PC. For a mere €20 / £17.50 / $26 USD, an owner of a Nokia Comes with Music phone can use the DRM-removal tool Tunebite to re-encode his or her downloaded music tracks into an unencrypted format in only a matter of minutes. Nokia has not responded nor indicated what measures it will presumably take to prevent future DRM removal.

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Sony BMG may jump on board with DRM-free iTunes Plus

By on November 9, 2008 at 12:14 PM.

Sony BMG may jump on board with DRM-free iTunes Plus

For the time being, we’ll definitely have to file this one under rumor but our fingers are most certainly crossed. According to 9to5Mac’s “hunch”, which we would hope to mean anonymous reliable source, Sony BMG will soon become the second major label to get on board with Apple’s iTunes Plus offering. iTunes Plus, for those not keeping score at home, is Apple’s name for higher quality DRM-free tracks offered through its store. If this rumor pans out, Sony BMG will join EMI in making 256kbit DRM-free tracks available through iTunes. Apple launched the iTunes Plus service back in May of 2007 and initially charged a premium of 30¢ per track before seeing the light and lowering Plus prices to the normal 99¢ price point. Since then however, lack of major label adoption beyond EMI has kept the world pretty quiet about Apple’s DRM-free library. News of Sony BMG jumping on board would definitely be a huge knock against DRM and might help the other two majors, Universal and Warner, see the light.

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The United States now has a Czar, for IP

By on October 14, 2008 at 4:43 AM.

The United States now has a Czar, for IP

On October 13, President Bush signed a highly controversial anti-piracy law. The dictator President has put into effect a law that will appoint an intellectual property czar (yeah folks, you heard it right) that will report directly to the President (again, you heard that right) on how to keep hax0rz from illegally obtaining copyrighted materials. The targets are primarily music, movies, and TV, but you can bet this will be leaking over to other stuff with copyrights. The bill was, of course, backed by none other than the RIAA and MPAA (our favorite institutions!). Say good-bye to the phrase “DRM Free” everyone. Apparently, counterfeiting and piracy costs the U.S. $250 billion annually… that’s a lotta billions for free tunes and movies. Any devices used in piracy may have to be forfeited to Big Brother, lest “firemen” come into your house and burn down your gadgets Fahrenheit 450 style.

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slotMusic announced; uses microSD for audio distribution

By on September 22, 2008 at 5:54 PM.

slotMusic announced; uses microSD for audio distribution

Say goodbye to those jewel-cased CDs and say hello to music-filled microSDs. Universal Music Group, SONY BMG, Warner Music Group, and EMI Music in conjunction with Sandisk, have announced a new audio distribution platform called “slotMusic”. With slotMusic, you will be able to buy a microSD card filled with DRM-free, 320Kbps MP3 files. No DRM means that the music can be played on any system that has a microSD slot. They are even bundle with a USB reader so you can use it on your desktop, laptop or any other device that has a USB port. So far Best Buy and Walmart have agreed to sell the new slotMusic cards which are expected to arrive in time for the upcoming holiday season. It almost seems too easy to have been put together by the record labels. Nonetheless, we applaud their move to a distribution platform that removes DRM and lets us listen to our music where we want, when we want and on whichever device we want. We only wish they would use something a bit bigger than those “easy-to-lose” microSD cards. We bet that many phones on eBay will accidentally come with an unexpected bonus slotMusic card installed. Chime in and let us know what you think of this new audio format. Any chance it might keep you away from Pirate Bay?

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Nokia 5310 now Comes With Music

By on September 2, 2008 at 3:22 PM.

Nokia 5310 now Comes With Music

Music lovers in the UK, Nokia now has a new phone for you. The Nokia 5310 XpressMusic ‘Comes With Music’ edition will be the first handset to feature Nokia’s new “Comes with Music” service. Makes sense, right? The subscription model music service allows phone owners one year of free access to Nokia’s music catalog which includes artists from Sony BMG, EMI, Warner Music, and Universal Music Group. Users can download tracks to one phone and one computer and are able keep the downloaded tracks after their free subscription expires. A “relatively high” download limit has been hinted at and PlaysForSure DRM is expected to hinder your overall music experience. After the trial year has ended, you can purchase new music by renewing your subscription (for a fee of course) or by purchasing on a track by track basis. If you buy a new Comes with Music phone, you can transfer your purchased music to your new phone. One little problem with that scenario is how do you coordinate a 12 month subscription service with an 18 month contract? Hmm. Hopefully that question and more will be answered on October 2 when more information about the Comes With Music service will be released at a Nokia event to be held in London.

Enough of the music service, now back to the phone. Only the music service appears to differentiate the new 5310 Comes With Music edition from the original Nokia 5310 XpressMusic phone. The phone will be sold through Carphone Warehouse who will start taking pre-orders today. Carphone Warehouse has an exclusive UK deal until the end of the year so don’t look for the phone outside of the UK anytime soon.

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