DVD Jon says he has cracked iTunes

The Norwegian hacker who as a teenager broke the copy protection on DVDs claims that he has unlocked the restrictions in Apple's iTunes software. Jon Lech Johansen says his innovation means iTunes songs can be played on machines other than iPods.

Johansen is often known as DVD Jon because when just 15-years-old he shot to fame by cracking the CSS (Content Scrambling System) protection on commercial DVDs. The young Norwegian was charged with data break-in but was acquitted.

Apple has built its iTunes music software and iPod music players to work together. Tunes purchased on iTunes can only be played on computers or iPods.

Johansens's company, DoubeTwist Ventures, based in the US, said that Johansen had reverse engineered Apple's FairPlay digital rights management (DRM) system.

Where Johansen has previously made his technology available for free, the company said that it would sell it this time, charging a fee for allowing companies to ensure that their material works on the market-leading iPods.

Apple's close tie up of its music service and its device has been the source of action in Europe. The French parliament voted for a law insisting on interoperability, which would mean music services would have to be compatible with all devices, though the bill did not become law.

The consumer ombudsmen of Norway, Sweden and Denmark are still investigating Apple over the DRM and interoperability issues. Though Apple missed one deadline for co-operation with the Norwegian authorities, the company has since been in contact with the ombudsmen.

Apple's technology has been cracked before. RealNetworks has circumvented FairPlay, but often the next Apple software release ensures that FairPlay works again.

Johansen has reportedly also broken encryption and DRM technology for Windows Media Player, Google Video and Apple's wireless Airport system.