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"The latest iPods have a cryptographic "checksum" in their song databases that prevents third-party applications from synching with the portable music players. This means that iPods can no longer be used with operating systems where iTunes doesn't exist -- like Linux, where gtkpod and Amarok are common free tools used by iPod owners to load their players.

Notice that this has nothing to do with piracy -- this is about Apple limiting the choices available to people who buy their iPod hardware." -- Read more

It's easy to love Apple. They still often appear as an innovative, cool and exciting company with an amazing history, but under this beautiful face, it appears that what we have is not much different than Microsoft. If they continue like this, I wouldn't be surprised (and would actually support the idea) of an antitrust case against them.

"Ring the bells, light the candles, etc, etc. It's here. Apple has started selling DRM-free downloads.

Does this come by way of big Thank You to the people who've been paying a rip-off dollar a go for Apple's DRM-polluted digital music files? Nope. It's so the company can adopt the label of Good Guy and pry another 30 cents out of users.

As p2pnet posted yesterday, quoting MacRumors, "From the iTunes Help, it appears you will be able to upgrade your existing songs to the iTunes Plus (DRM Free) version:

"The iTunes Store also offers songs without DRM protection, from participating record labels. These DRM-free songs, called "iTunes Plus," have no usage restrictions and feature higher-quality encoding."

Two long, but insightful and interesting articles:

Understanding how Apple’s FairPlay DRM works helps to answer a lot of questions: why it hasn’t been replaced with an open, interoperable DRM that anyone can use, why Apple isn’t broadly licensing FairPlay, and why the company hasn’t jumped to add DRM-free content from indie artists to iTunes.

How FairPlay Works: Apple's iTunes DRM Dilemma