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DMCA vs. reverse enginnering

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  • DMCA vs. reverse enginnering

    Reverse engineering has something of a longstanding history in allowing for interoperability between multiple vendors. Vendor A may not want you to clone his product, but if you get someone to look at it and write a spec, and have someone else implement a compatible version from that spec, you used to be good to go.

    Not anymore, thanks to the DMCA

    The latest version of the iPod Shuffle contains an "authentication chip" which interfaces with the headphones. Apple considers this chip part of their copyright enforcement ecosystem, so trying to build 3rd party headphones for the new shuffle without getting Apple's authorization means you're creating a "circumvention device" under the DMCA:

    Is this just a little bit goddamned ridiculous?
    45 5F E1 04 22 CA 29 C4 93 3F 95 05 2B 79 2A B0
    45 5F E1 04 22 CA 29 C4 93 3F 95 05 2B 79 2A B1
    [ redacted ]

  • #2
    Re: DMCA vs. reverse enginnering

    They're throwing the word 'suggest' around a lot in that article. I've seen the headphones, and they are backwards compatible with previous models of ipod, which suggests to me one of two things:

    1. Apple has been planning on a brute-force takeover of the headphone industry for years


    2. Someone at apple discovered that an ipod can be controlled via the headphone jack and they decided to implement that into a production-level design.

    I have a hard time believing that there is authentication between the headphones and the I-device. I would wager that this is less of a "persecute our customers for using other accessories" scheme, and more of a "charge third-party manufacturers more licensing fees for producing peripherals for our product".

    It's funny that this kind of bullying only works when a corporation controls a dominating market share, otherwise the third-party manufacturers would simply tell apple to bugger off.


    ^^They claim that Apple has confirmed that there is not any form of encryption used by the headphones. I'd still like to know what that chip does, though.

    So, in short:

    If it's encrypted or uses authentication, DMCA+Apple prosecutes for reverse-engineering, but apple can still license third-parties to make the headphones.
    If not, third-party manufacturers can reverse engineer it

    Worst case scenario, the only people that own a shuffle already have another ipod of some sort for the most part, and only this shuffle is affected by not having the proprietary headphones.



    • #3
      Re: DMCA vs. reverse enginnering

      The best solution is to not buy products made by Apple.
      A third party security audit is the IT equivalent of a colonoscopy. It's long, intrusive, very uncomfortable, and when it's done, you'll have seen things you really didn't want to see, and you'll never forget that you've had one.