Good old DVD Jon (aka Jon Lech Johansen) has done it again! The 22 year old hacker from Norway, who is renowned for his work on reverse engineering data formats (particularly in the case of the release of the DeCSS software that was used to crack the encryption on DVDs) has unlocked the playback restrictions of Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod and iTunes music products. DVD Jon plans to license his code to others for profit. By reverse engineering FairPlay, Jon will make it possible for other companies to offer content for the iPod – a move that is likely to make Apple see red.

Currently, music bought from Apple's iTunes online music store only plays on Apple products, and songs bought from other online stores typically do not work on iPods. But Jon's reverse engineering antics have changed all that, allowing rivals to sell competing products that play music from iTunes, and offering songs for download that work on iPods. Johansen's technique involves tricking an iPod into thinking it's playing an iTunes-purchased song by emulating FairPlay.

Johansen said he has developed a way to get around those restrictions. But unlike his previous work, which he usually posts for free, the Norway native plans to capitalize on his efforts through his Redwood Shores-based DoubleTwist Ventures, said the company's only other employee, managing director Monique Farantzos.

An unnamed client will soon use the technology so its copy-protected content will be playable on iPods, she said, declining to give any specifics.
Monique Farantzos claims that although Apple will not likely be very happy about these developments, in the end there is little that they can do to stop DoubleTwist Ventures. "We believe we're on good legal ground, and our attorneys have given us the green light on this," she said.