July 29, 2004

"ACMD" (reverse DMCA) in Apple vs. Real Networks

The copyfight Daily Memo today is about the DMCA legal posturing between Real Networks and Apple over interoperability. Yadda, yadda, naughty-naughty, potkettleblack.

Me too.

I'm amusingly reminded of the SF story "Narapoia", where a character has a feeling that he's following someone, combined with a "strange feeling that people are plotting to do me good". Apple is upset that a rival *encrypts* files to Apple's proprietary format. That is, usually companies complain when people *decrypt* their proprietary format, making files formerly encrypted now free. But here, Apple doesn't want files being put into their proprietary format.

I don't see this as a DMCA violation. Apple wants an "ACMD" (reverse-DMCA). Nobody shall encrypt a file, without the authority of the DRM systems owner ...

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in dmca | on July 29, 2004 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
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I like your "reverse DMCA" concept, but aren't most DMCA lawsuits targeting companies of this sort? The defendants usually aren't interested in decrypting data, but providing services which interoperate (and might impact the business model envisioned by the original manufacturer).

Posted by: Florian Weimer at July 30, 2004 09:11 AM

The reversal here is that it's grounded in pure *encryption*. Most interoperability cases have to do with decrypting or somehow subverting an encryption system, to get results which it would not otherwise provide. But here, it's the inverse, it's about putting things *into* an encrypted format, like "breaking into" a prison.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at July 30, 2004 02:45 PM

I can see why Apple is upset with Real Networks, but I think it's only due to their interest in locking iTMS to the iPod in a closed network. In Apple's perspective, Real Networks has used AAC as a vehicle to "hack" into their iPods. But in the end, it's all about a conflict with their business interests. An analogy of the issue iPods and copyright protected digital music can be found in the relationship between cars and gas stations. Every car owner has the liberty to purchase gasoline from any station they wish. The car's manufacturer doesn't limit the brand of gas that the car is only compatible with. This is true vice versa as well. It only comes down to personal preference and convenience when the owner needs a refill.

What Apple has in mind is rather preposterous. The absurdity of this issue can be likened to Exxon manufacturing their own cars that are only compatible with their own brand of gas. Eventually we would have gas branded cars. Current car manufactuers wouldn't be able to purchase "licenses" from the gas companies for the same reasons why Apple refused Real Network's request to licence FairPlay.

Therefore Apple, like a typical car manufacturer, shouldn't limit the source from where people purchase their music. Where people ultimately buy from should ultimately be up to personal preference as well. This way, there's room for more competition, which in turn leads to better product development. As a concerned consumer, better product development is definitely music to my ears.

In my opinion, Apple should view this as a benefit. Real Networks is essentially promoting iPods. They could have avoided this predicament and made some extra money by agreeing to license FairPlay in the first place. Since they messed that up, they're left with this next best deal.

I definitely sympathize with Apple, but I guess there's a limit because it's almost as if they didn't learn from their mistake in the 80s.

Posted by: Max Evans at July 31, 2004 12:27 PM