RealNetworks Deliver iPod Compatibility Through Harmony

RealNetworks have unveiled Harmony – a DRM translation tool that now makes it possible to transfer and play Real music downloads to Apple’s iPod. This new development means that Real’s music service is compatible with virtually every music player in the market.

Harmony is obviously Real’s answer to the resounding silence they met with after Rob Glaser contacted Steve Jobs with about Real and Apple working together.

Apple’s response is sure to be interesting as it means that iPod owners now have a choice of digital music online stores to fill their players from, and so they might not be entirely happy.

Real’s developers worked out how to make their player FairPlay-compatible purely by analysing publicly available information. This could be seen by some against the DMCA which expressly forbids reverse engineering and tampering with content protection systems.

This shouldn’t cause a problem with the legislation, however: Real are not defeating the FairPlay copy protection system, rather they are wrapping their own files in the FairPlay DRM.

Although potentially bad news for Apple, Harmony is great news for digital music fans – they can now transfer music from their various music stores to any music devices they may have. Not only does Harmony work with the iPod, but users can now perform the same trick with their Windows Media Player hardware too.

Harmony is built in to RealPlayer 10.5, which is available for download now.

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?