mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

How do they pick tech magazine editors?

Every now and then I read something on a tech site or a tech magazine that just makes me go huh? One of them is in This MacCentral column on the RealNetworks/iPod hack.

For those who haven't heard about it, Real Networks, possibly the worst software company in the world, has introduced a way of playing it's DRM (digital rights management copy protection)-enabled songs on the iPod. So far they haven't demoed it, so it's hard to tell what it does. Apple. however, is claiming that Real reverse-engineered it's iTunes/Fairplay DRM software in violation of the Digital Millenium Copywrite Act (DMCA).

Now the DMCA act has some stupid provisions, and it isn't a great law. But it is the law governing copywrite, and Apple's job as a profit-earning publically held company is to earn as much as possible for it's shareholders, and it has to do that by protecting it's technology, and in that case it protects it's profit by invoking the DMCA.

Anyway, the money quote from the article:
Now, I've always found RealPlayer to be an unsatisfying piece of software, and over the years, I've had oodles of trouble with Microsoft's Windows Media Player. Whereas Apple's QuickTime media player has always performed quite nicely on my Macs, and Windows-using friends have generally applauded how it works on their machines. But even QT-hating Win-users don't advocate suing Apple for developing a client that runs on their machines.

That analogy makes no sense. Windows and MacOS are operating systems. They are designed to run programs from multiple vendors - an operating sytem that you can't run programs on would be useless. Companies go out of their way to convince companies to develop software for their OS's by producing developer kits and sharing information with developers. In some cases, companies that make operating systems make applications that run on other systems - not only Apple with QuickTime and iTunes, but also Microsoft with Office for Mac and the oddly named Windows Media Player for Mac.

What Real Networks is accused of is way different than developing software - they are acussed of illegally reverse-engineering Apple's hardware and software to do things it wasn't intended to do. If they did this remains to be seen, and it's an interesting legal question if it should be illegal, but it's way different than developing an application for a specific platform.


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