Update: Apple “stunned” at RealNetworks’ hacker tactics | iLounge News


Update: Apple “stunned” at RealNetworks’ hacker tactics

RealNetworks has responded to Apple’s statement (below) saying “consumers, and not Apple, should be the ones choosing what music goes on their iPod. Apple has suggested that new laws such as the DMCA are relevant to this dispute. In fact, the DMCA is not designed to prevent the creation of new methods of locking content and explicitly allows the creation of interoperable software. We remain fully committed to Harmony and to giving millions of consumers who own portable music devices, including the Apple iPod, choice and compatibility.

Harmony follows in a well-established tradition of fully legal, independently developed paths to achieve compatibility. There is ample and clear precedent for this activity, for instance the first IBM compatible PCs from Compaq. Harmony creates a way to lock content from Real’s music store in a way that is compatible with the iPod, Windows Media DRM devices, and Helix DRM devices. Harmony technology does not remove or disable any digital rights management system.”

Apple today released a statement in response to RealNetworks’ recent announcement that they had created a method to offer iPod-compatible song downloads through its new Harmony software. “We are stunned that RealNetworks has adopted the tactics and ethics of a hacker to break into the iPod, and we are investigating the implications of their actions under the DMCA and other laws. We strongly caution Real and their customers that when we update our iPod software from time to time it is highly likely that Real’s Harmony technology will cease to work with current and future iPods.”

« Windows: iRemote 1.9 released - customize your iTunes interface

4G iPod has secret features? »

Related Stories



Real -the company that locks away all content and plays back in low-fi hacks another company’s content but calls it consumer’s choice?

Real - it takes them 10 years to finally deliver a player that actually works for more than 2 minutes without crashing (and no ads) but only takes them 6 months to hack another company’s products?

Consumer choice? how about Real giving me a Real converter so I can convert my RAM and RM files to Mp3 - that’s what consumers really want but hey, it’s much more fun to hack another company’s products - WTF?

They are pretty much the last company on Earth that should be bitching about locked content.

I think we should let them know what we think:


Posted by jbelkin on July 29, 2004 at 3:46 PM (CDT)



Then Apple simply needs to publish APIs. Problem solved.

From an iPod USER perspective, what real has done is good. It offers additional choice.

Don’t like Real’s tactics, spyware, media player - fine, don’t use them. iTunes will continue to work for you.

You do want an alternative to the proprietary ITMS? Now you have one, and as long as you don’t update your iPod, you should be fine.

Your CHOICE, something you didn’t have before.

Apple made a CHOICE to keep the iPod interface proprietary. What Real has done isn’t philosophically different than Apple supporting FAT or SMB for file sharing with MS-DOS/Windows, or encouraging the initial development of SoftPC, so software which wasn’t designed to run on their systems, would.

The DCMA doesn’t apply. This isn’t about breaking copy protection, as might be the case if Real were allowing Fairplay protected content to be moved elsewhere.  It’s about maintaining copy protection, where Real protected content is changed so that it is protected by the Fairplay system.

It will be interesting to see if Apple can indeed do an update which breaks the Real tunes without also breaking exant ITMS tunes. I might even install it, if it offers the v4 enhancements (multiple playlists, menu improvements). Otherwise, there’s no incentive for me to do so.

Posted by m.s on July 29, 2004 at 3:47 PM (CDT)


I think most of you missed point of my post.  While would NEVER put a REAL file on MY iPod that doesn’t mean that reverse engineering the technology is WRONG.

Again, what if this was someone hacking Media Player to play m4p files (since I’m sure someone out there has done it), would you guys be bitching and moaning about that?  Or what about if Apple hacked protected wma files to play on the iPod (not saying the would or even should because wma is probably as bad as real) what then?  You guys would probably be saying things along the lines of “ha ha, eat it Microsoft” and things like that.

A choice is still a choice, even if it’s a bad one.  The thing is that you guys are making a big deal about this because Apple refused to “play nice” with Real and Real went ahead and did it their own way.  Personally as a programmer I want MY software to run on as many platforms as possible.  So Real is doing just that.  Most people are smart enough to know that if Real’s program breaks after a iPod firmware update that it isn’t Apple’s fault, it’s Real’s.  Not to mention that I doubt Real would release this and then not support (especially with as much fanfare as they’re trying to get for it) so if it did break they’d try to get it fixed ASAP.

So if Apple reverse engineered a windows app to run on a Mac would you guys be so quick to be “uh oh Apple did a no-no!”, I highly doubt it…

Posted by mkoby on July 29, 2004 at 3:56 PM (CDT)


Regardless of whether you think it is the RIGHT or WRONG decision of Real to reverse engineer the iPod, Apple will just update their firmware anyway to make the hack fail. This is a pointless endeavor on Real’s part.

Posted by br- on July 29, 2004 at 4:02 PM (CDT)


Take that Apple!

Assuming Real did not have knowledge of proprietary trade secrets and all of this was done using clean room reverse engineering, this is great news for iPod users!

I don’t know why so many users (apart from the fanboys) are seeing this as a bad thing or something illegal.

Posted by Neutral on July 29, 2004 at 4:07 PM (CDT)


>>Regardless of whether you think it is the RIGHT or WRONG decision of Real to reverse engineer the >>iPod, Apple will just update their firmware anyway to make the hack fail. This is a pointless >>endeavor on Real’s part.

LOL. If that were true, Real wouldn’t have spent time on it. The problem is, Apple’s copy protection is both based on hardware and software. They simply can’t update the firmware on all 1G to 4G iPods and still maintain backward compatiblity with songs that have already been downloaded.

Posted by Neutral on July 29, 2004 at 4:24 PM (CDT)


Lol i find this funny now reals latest player tells you if itunes is open and asks you if you want real player to close it for you now ^^ this is gonna be fun to watch unfold between apple and real networks

Posted by Xantos on July 29, 2004 at 5:00 PM (CDT)


you can really tell when the the fanboys that suck at microsoft’s t*ts are here. oh…I want “choices”. blah-blah-blah. ohhhh, i need “choices.” whatever. is that why you use cheap-ass Windows that sport the most proprietary system on the market.

This is what happens when you give people with sub-par educations access to a computer.

Posted by lol on July 29, 2004 at 6:01 PM (CDT)


and btw, without “fanboys” you twats wouldn’t be here discussing this. you’d probably be waiting for microsoft to tell you how to think

Posted by lol on July 29, 2004 at 6:03 PM (CDT)


“Quite an un-necessary statement. Don’t you think?”

Yes.  It can be argued that herpes is also worse than RealPlayer.  I’m not convinced, though.

Posted by goats on July 29, 2004 at 6:19 PM (CDT)


Apple is just trying to keep the barbarians at the gate.  If Real gets away with this then other music services will offer their own iPod compatible downloads (imagine if Microsoft’s music service was able to take advantage of the iPod market?).  Since Apple is hedging all their bets on the iTunes Music Service, they have to attempt to sue Real.  Even if they end up losing the lawsuit, the temporary injunction against Real will give Apple’s programmers the valuable time they need to make the iPod an even harder nut to crack and possibly render Real’s breakthrough technology worthless.

From a purely business standpoint, Apple is playing it smart.  From the customer’s point of view, well, it kinda sucks.

Posted by Mountain Man on July 29, 2004 at 8:01 PM (CDT)


As a hacker and supporter of open source, I do commend real on offering an alternative to itunes.  I don’t particularly like real, real player, or their music store, but ANYTHING that give ppl a choice is a GOOD thing.  Being locked into 1 music store, even if it is a great store, is monopolistic and unfair.  DRM as a whole is a horrible thing, but thats another story.  I personally don’t use real or itunes for that matter as my music store since I don’t feel that I should have to pay for data (personal choice).  Anyway, kudos to real for giving ppl a choice, hopefully this paves the way for more formats to be playable on the ipod.

Posted by acemilo on July 29, 2004 at 9:28 PM (CDT)


One thing on a side note, to lol, are you a mac user or a linux user?  Im betting a mac user because linux supporters wouldn’t say things like that about choices.  Most likely your on a mac, which, much like microsoft, is a propriatary operating system (altho built on unix) and apple offers no choices much like ms on that regard.  Please don’t spew bs without thinking first.

Posted by acemilo on July 29, 2004 at 9:32 PM (CDT)


You apple fans are truly pathetic exscuses for consumers, The Ipod should be compatible with ANY downloading service (provided it is legal) out of the box. (hackers will do the rest.) Perhaps I do not want to load useless quicktime onto my machine just to use Itunes, perhaps I like WMA fprmat for some reason (Don’t ask me, I use mp3 and AAC myself.) I should be able to use realplayer to manage my music if I wish to (Of course real would be responsible for supporting syncing with an Ipod.) Apple should make it easy for companies to make software(audio formats)/hardware compatible.

You Apple fans seem to really enjoy taking whatever apple gives you without question.

Posted by Shadow Skill on July 29, 2004 at 9:39 PM (CDT)


I would view this as a bad move on Apple’s part because really, if they turned a blind eye and simply said “good for them!,” it would have proved that Apple has strong enough market dominance to effectively ignore Real Networks’ half assed attempt to get some attention.

Now, this just serves as more ‘evidence’ for people who believe that the iPod/iTunes is Apple’s way for vendor lockin, and how Apple aims to take away choice.

Posted by Sraphim on July 29, 2004 at 10:38 PM (CDT)


For all those people out there who own an iPod and support Real, I strongly suggest that you download and test the new real player. It gives you a sinister dialog box that says that Real will manage the music for you.The most dangerous fallout of this hack is that it derides the seamless iPod-iTunes user experience.

Posted by bm in Brazil on July 29, 2004 at 10:40 PM (CDT)


It’s more of a warning than a fact.  I tried it out, and I can use both Real and iTunes to manage the iPod, as long as both programs are not set to autosync and do not run simultaneously.  If you want the pure iPod experience, then don’t use Real.  No one’s forcing anyone not to use iTunes.

Posted by P on July 29, 2004 at 11:01 PM (CDT)


Ok let’s say Average Bob PC user finds and downloads Real’s player. He then purchases a song, and puts it onto his iPod using Real’s software. A few weeks later, Apple releases a firmware update that disables Real’s songs from working on the iPod. Now Average Bob PC user will complain, and get mad, and then Real won’t support him, and then his iPod won’t be able to play anything, and so he’ll accuse Apple of screwing it all up, and Apple gets a bad name, and things spread, and so on.

So Apple doesn’t want to deal with crappy customers that Real would send their way. I don’t think legal action is necessary/appropriate. What does Real have going for it that would draw users from iTunes to them? A familiar name? That’s about it I think.

Posted by kainjow on July 29, 2004 at 11:34 PM (CDT)


All this crap about Apple being “bad” for not opening up the iPod to rival music store DRMs is a bunch of B.S. in my opinion. And calling it a monopoly isd just silly.

Is HP bad or a monoply because HP injet printers are only designed to work with HP injet cartridges (if you don’t like it you can buy a Canon or Epson printer)?

Is Nintendo bad or a monopoly because Game Cube systems only play Game Cube authorized titles (if you don’t like it you can buy a Playstation or XBox)?

Is Tivo bad or a monopoly because their DVR hardware only works with Tivo’s dial up service (if you don’t like it you can buy a ReplayTV box)?

If you don’t like using iTunes with an iPod then go get a Sony Network Walkman and use it with their Connect service or get a Rio and use it with an MS-based service. You do have a choice and Real hacking the iPod isn’t about choice, it’s about no device maker cares about working with Real’s lame service.

Posted by Friends of iPod on July 29, 2004 at 11:40 PM (CDT)


Friends of ipod, you make a valid point but its still flawed.  You can buy aftermarket cartridges that work with an hp printer that arent made by hp.  An xbox can play playstation, nintendo, supernintendo, genesis, arcade, and so on (with a mod of course).  They, like apple and the ipod, are propriatary systems, designed to solely work with one another.  Like someone else pointed out, there wouldnt be as many pc manufacturors unless compaq hacked the ibm bios and reverse engineered it into their own creating the first clone.  If this never happened, we would all be running off ibms.  Apple of course has the right to protect their property and their technology, however reverse engineering and hacking is a tool and a means of providing ppl with choice.  If you don’t like tivo or their service then you have the CHOICE of not using it.  If you already bought a tivo and dont like using it, then your out of luck since you agree to a eula to only use their service (someone step in if there is an alternative service like mythtv for tivo).  But there ARE alternatives.  It isnt like there is only ONE pvr, or ONE video game system, or ONE printer, there are many.  Choice is good.  It doesn’t matter if real’s service sucks or if its great.  I don’t think many ppl will jump over to real (I sure as hell won’t) but at least the option is there for some ppl if they don’t like itunes.

As a side note, no one has commented on the fact that there have been a handful of programs for years that can manage an ipod.  Has no one here used ephpod or anapod explorer?  No one is condemming them, in fact many ppl use these programs instead of itunes.  I am not a Real fanboy, or an apple fanboy for that matter.  Its just good to see options.

Posted by acemilo on July 30, 2004 at 12:41 AM (CDT)

Page 2 of 6 pages  < 1 2 3 4 >  Last ›

If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods/iPhones/iPad or accessories, or if you sell or market iPod/iPhone/iPad products or services, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.
Sign up for the iLounge Weekly Newsletter


Recent News

Recent Reviews

Recent Articles

Sign up for the iLounge Weekly Newsletter


iLounge is an independent resource for all things iPod, iPhone, iPad, and beyond.
iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, Apple TV, Mac, and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc.
iLounge is © 2001 - 2014 iLounge, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy