Earlier this month, we wrote about "DVD Jon" Lech Johansen's latest effort to reverse engineer Apple's FairPlay DRM so that others could offer copy-protected downloadable music that would play on the iPod, basically in an attempt to get rid of the walled gardens of music we discussed earlier today. Plenty of people wondered if Apple would sue, but in a Fortune article, Johansen makes it pretty clear that he did everything according to the law. Specifically, they didn't "circumvent" the copy protection, but reverse engineered it, creating a clone. As he says, they're not removing DRM from anything, but actually adding DRM to other content -- and that appears to be legal by the letter of the law. The Fortune article, though, raises plenty of questions about whether or not that will keep Apple from suing and (perhaps more importantly) whether or not anyone will seriously be willing to license the cloned DRM and risk pissing off Apple or being sued themselves. Considering that it really would be easier to follow the eMusic path of offering unencumbered MP3s rather than this convoluted path of adding DRM to get around DRM restrictions, hopefully there really isn't a big need for this DRM to route around DRM. Still, if it does go to court and is found legal, it raises questions about where the borderline is between circumvention and reverse engineering. If you reverse engineer copy protection, but then open up more rights using it, which does it fall under?
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