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Update — No DRM In New iPod Shuffle 264

Posted by kdawson
from the nothing-to-see-here dept.
An anonymous reader writes "BoingBoing Gadgets has updated their story from yesterday on DRM contained in the new iPod Shuffle. (We also discussed this rumor last week.) It's a false alarm. There is a chip in the headphone controls but it is just an encoder chip. There is no DRM and no reason to believe that third party headphones wouldn't work with the new Shuffle. (Apple would still prefer you to license the encoder under the Made for iPod program, but with no DRM, there is no DMCA risk to a manufacturer reverse engineering it.) The money quote: 'For the record, we do not believe that the new iPod headphones with in-line remote use DRM that affects audio playback in any way.'"
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Update — No DRM In New iPod Shuffle

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @02:33AM (#27222045)

    * Mobile phones & Ipods (make sure user can't run Apps which haven't paid the Apple tax)
    * In their O/S (Check it's installed on correct hardware)
    * ITMS (video)
    * Video out of Iphone (make sure you can't use third party docks to watch ipod/iphone vids on your TV.

    So frankly, DRM on Apple products was not surprising - it was a natural assumption to make.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by spankyofoz (445751)

      So...no DRM, only ARM.

      They are still trying to lock you into their crappy products, or 3rd party products that have paid the Apple tax for certification and pass those costs onto you.

      Why does it always get so complicated every time Apple try to reinvent simplicity?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by intheshelter (906917)
        I don't think that is complicated at all. I think it's more likely you want to complain about Apple and so you make a big deal about nothing to try and get people to think it is complicated.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      *They also encrypt firmware on all new ipods, specifically to prevent people from installing alternate firmware such as Rockbox [rockbox.org].

      Seriously, encrypting firmware? How evil is that? How can apple apologists even try to justify that?

      • by Nursie (632944) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @07:21AM (#27223135)

        Not just that, but there's also now some sort of crypto signature on the index files the newer iPods create/read. If it's not present then the iPod refuses to recognise any of the music.

        This seems to be there solely to destroy interoperability with any non-iTunes software (Amarok). Great, thanks Apple.

        (Sightly OT - as linux user, with a 40+ GB music collection, mostly in mp3 format, what is the best current high capacity media player? 32GB Xen X-fi with an additional SD Card? Or is there anything else non-Apple that can store all my music?)

  • by CountBrass (590228) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @02:35AM (#27222049)
    Is the real story.

    What disappoints me is that Boing Boing get on the front page of /. for lying, and then a second time for admitting they lied.

    The real story is Boing Boing is an unreliable site: who'd have thought that on the interwebs there would be dishonest sites *shock* *horror*!
    • by syousef (465911)

      What disappoints me is that Boing Boing get on the front page of /. for lying, and then a second time for admitting they lied.

      You'd prefer they just left the "lie" out there? Where I come from admitting your mistakes and taking responsibility for them is a good thing and to be encouraged. If you honestly believe they misled everyone despite knowing the purpose of the chip in the first place, please present your evidence.

      • by CountBrass (590228) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:14AM (#27222177)
        The problem is I don't believe it was an honest mistake, so I'd rather they didn't lie in the first place.

        All this has taught BoingBoing is that they can lie, get the publicity, then admit they lied and get more publicity. As to evidence: I'd point to the fact that they had no evidence whatsoever to back-up their claim and yet they made it any way. The onus isn't on me.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by syousef (465911)

          The problem is I don't believe it was an honest mistake, so I'd rather they didn't lie in the first place.

          As I said, present your evidence.

          As to evidence: I'd point to the fact that they had no evidence whatsoever to back-up their claim and yet they made it any way.

          As has been pointed out to you, there were other sites reporting the same.

          The onus isn't on me.

          Actually it is, since you're the one accusing them of lying with no evidence. They may have said something that turned out to be wrong but they've ret

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by p0tat03 (985078)

            Very well, then I will accuse BoingBoing and any other sites who reported on this to be grossly incompetent at basic first-year electrical engineering.

            Anyone can figure this, even yours truly (who isn't even trained as an electrical engineer: Apple has added extra pins to the headphone jack in order to support things as simple as a single-button headset control on the iPhone. Clearly it was not feasible for Apple to keep just adding pins onto a short headphone jack in the hopes of cramming more buttons in.

            I

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Uberbah (647458)

            It's sort of like Bush Administration officials on Iraqi WMD's: if they weren't lying through their teeth, they were less competent than a jellyfish. Pick your poison.

            You still insist on accusing them with no proof and nothing to back you, yet you don't seem to realise the irony.

            Yawn. And you don't realize that you're asking him to prove a negative.

          • As has been pointed out to you, there were other sites reporting the same.

            Well, no actually. What happened was that one site looked at the new headphones and found there was a chip in there. Instead of coming to the most obvious conclusion -- that supporting the custom functionality of the headphones would logically require some sort of hardware in there -- that outlet (iLounge) jumped straight to OH NOES A DRM CHIP.

            Everybody else who reported this "story" went solely on that, building increasingly purel

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by tpgp (48001) *

          The onus isn't on me.

          Yes it is. You're the one who made a claim (BoingBoing is lying).

          How do you propose we prove the negative?

        • by dogzilla (83896)

          Well, there's no question that BoingBoing *wanted* to believe this - they're pretty strong anti-DRM crusaders and they're supposedly very anti-Apple because of this. But I'm pretty sure BoingBoing is, if not the most read, then certainly in the top 10 blogs read, so I honestly doubt they did this for more traffic.

          But there is a strong whiff of hypocrisy around BoingBoing. For example - Cory Doctorow leaves the US because it invades personal freedoms and moves to...London? The most surveilled city in the wor

        • At least Slashdot never does anything like that.

          The 'admit the incendary story they posted on the front page is nonsense' bit, I mean.

    • by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:47AM (#27222311)
      What disappoints me is that Apple gets (buys?) a ridiculous amount of publicity in so called "news" stories for inferior and overpriced products while much better and cheaper alternatives hardly ever get a mention - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00126V8WU [amazon.com]
      • by Aranykai (1053846)

        I felt exactly the same way, except I pointed to my old(or ancient depending on your perspective) creative MoVu. It had 1GB of storage AND a display for half the price of the shuffle, and months before apple ever released it. Oh yeah, and it had an input jack, a microphone, a FM tuner and connected via Mini USB.

        But alas the marketing team at Apple is the real reason they own most of the market, not the merit of their product.

      • by Uberbah (647458)

        while much better and cheaper alternatives

        Then why does Apple still have 80% of the mp3 player market. And don't give us that BS about advertising; if Apple's marketing was all-powerful, then why are they behind Dell & HP in marketshare.

    • by MoellerPlesset2 (1419023) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @04:03AM (#27222385)
      I wouldn't call it lying. But I would call it very, very, very bad 'reporting' (and did so at the time). Basically the 'story' amounted to "We heard there was DRM in the iPod, so we opened the headphones and found this unknown chip!" As if proprietary chips with strange numbers was an unusual thing. And as if the chip they found could really concievably be used for DRM (it's a simple chip that doesn't look anything like a DSP or microcontroller. IMHO, hardly likely to be a DRM decoder of any sort). More importantly, why didn't they just draw up the schematic and try to deduce what the thing did? And look at the signals with a logic analyzer or similar? The answer seems to be 'because they simply didn't know what they were doing'. Really, I think any halfway competent Electrical Engineer with the right tools should probably be able to fully reverse-engineer those headphones in very little time. I know I probably could, and I'm just an electronics hobbyist. Lesson here is: "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gad_zuki! (70830)

        >"We heard there was DRM in the iPod, so we opened the headphones and found this unknown chip!"

        Heard? From whom? What proof?

        Thats internet journalism for you. The blogger revolution is simply nothing more than rumors and outrage.

    • I think this has less to do with Boing Boing being dishonest and more to do with a bad journalism. I have many problems with news sites and professional journalists today (especially most IT journalists), but they do have a very good point when it comes to many bloggers. When your site becomes as popular as Slashdot or Boing Boing, where you make enough money to live off it, shouldn't you also be doing a better job than most of other bloggers when it comes to basic journalistic principles?

      I like both sites,

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Eevee (535658)
      The real story is that Boing Boing posted a story that doesn't involve the author's latest book...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Please stop calling authentication chips DRM. DRM = digital rights management, its for digital content, you cant physically have DRM on a headphone cord.

    • by broken_chaos (1188549) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:15AM (#27222179)

      This is no place for sensible discussion! (I kid. Mostly.)

      The point was brought up several times by several people, myself included, in the last discussion. (Interestingly enough, many of those posts got modded up and down about a dozen times each.) It's a lock in, and only partially - you need an adapter or specially manufactured headphones, but there's nothing to stop reverse engineering, or from using unlicensed headphones/adapters.

      On a side note, I wonder if the EFF is going to retract their statement, or issue some sort of apology...

    • by Firehed (942385) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:17AM (#27222187) Homepage

      It would be rights management on a digital device. But more to the point, DRM has become a catch-all term for any form of vendor lock-in, specifically lock-in which when avoided is punishable by the DMCA.

  • retractions? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by socsoc (1116769) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:07AM (#27222151)
    So are all those sites that posted rumors going to retract? iLounge, Consumerist, Engadget, Gizmodo, etc. The only honest source during this whole controversy was boingboing, who said that they are not electrical engineers and can't be sure of what it does.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      The only honest source during this whole controversy was boingboing, who said that they are not electrical engineers and can't be sure of what it does.

      I don't see what's honest about that. Why didn't they ask an electrical engineer then, rather than engage in wild speculation?
      Because anyone who did know anything about electronics could immediately tell you that you should expect to find a chip in there; something the people at BoingBoing gadgets made a big deal out of. With three button states to send ov

  • Why all the fuss? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by abhi_beckert (785219) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:07AM (#27222153)

    If a company wants to make an MP3 player with buttons on the headphone cable, instead of on the device, why is that evil?

    Why is everyone going mental? So you can't use the headphones you already have, so what? Just buy a different MP3 player!

    Lots of people don't care much what headphones they have, they just wanna listen to music while exercising, and they want a small light device to do that. By the end of the month there will even be a handful of other headphones to choose from.

    There's no standard way to control a device from a standard headphone jack, and you'll be buried in lawsuits if you do it the same as someone else is doing it, so a new approach had to be made. Why is this such a big deal? We're stifling innovation by making a scene over stuff like this.

    • by fermion (181285)
      I agree. In particular there was a time when many people had the radio build into a pair of headphones. The only reason I see why we don't build an MP3 player into a pair of headphones is because the industry has moved away from the big earphones to the tiny ear buds, at least for MP3 players.

      That said, I wish that Apple would have designed the player so that when any pair of headphones were inserted it would just start to play. This is possible because the headphones are removed it stops. I can get i

      • by FleaPlus (6935)

        The only reason I see why we don't build an MP3 player into a pair of headphones is because the industry has moved away from the big earphones to the tiny ear buds, at least for MP3 players.

        I'm not sure if this is what you meant, but there's actually a large selection of MP3 players built into headphones, sunglasses, etc.

        http://www.google.com/products?q=headphones+built-in+mp3+player [google.com]

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by beelsebob (529313)

        That said, I wish that Apple would have designed the player so that when any pair of headphones were inserted it would just start to play.
        Of note, the only control left on the device is the power/shuffle switch. You can plug in any headphones you like, turn it on, and it plays. This is a giant load of rubbish over absolutely nothing.

        A new way of doing remote control of players, which will more than likely (looking at apple's track record) be open to industrial partners to duplicate.

        • by Tweenk (1274968)

          As I said before, this could be solved in a different way. First you have to realize that the control function is actually separate from the sound reproduction function.

          Make the remote a separate device, and put a headphone jack on it. You'll then be able to use remote control with any headphones. In fact, count with me until such device from a third party or Apple itself appears for this iPod: 3... 2... 1...

          (unless they will be assholes and shoot it down)

    • by syousef (465911) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @04:35AM (#27222519) Journal

      If a company wants to make an MP3 player with buttons on the headphone cable, instead of on the device, why is that evil?

      - It isn't standards compliant. When standards disintegrate the consumer pays.

      - It promotes vendor lock in. It isn't inter-operable with other equipment. Consider digital SLRs. Once you buy into a brand and you've invested in enough equipment you're stuck with that brand unless you sell it all and start again.

      - People who are replacing an older model may not realize there is new lock in until they've actually bought the product.

      Why is everyone going mental? So you can't use the headphones you already have, so what? Just buy a different MP3 player!

      When a market leader pulls this crap, others do too and pretty soon all the MP3 players you can buy have this "feature".

      Lots of people don't care much what headphones they have, they just wanna listen to music while exercising, and they want a small light device to do that.

      That's nice. They get what they want. What about those that do care about the headphones? What about those who can't use ear buds due to hearing or ear problems?

      By the end of the month there will even be a handful of other headphones to choose from.

      - Not if there's a patent on the tech and Apple wants to lock them out

      - If they aren't locked out there's a licensing fee which drives the price up of all the headphones

      There's no standard way to control a device from a standard headphone jack

      Sounds like a good argument to develop a standard rather than applaud this bad behaviour.

      you'll be buried in lawsuits if you do it the same as someone else is doing it, so a new approach had to be made

      Don't you see there's something very very wrong with that? At this point it's not innovative so why are people afraid of being buried in lawsuites? Sounds like an argument for IP law reform.

      Why is this such a big deal? We're stifling innovation by making a scene over stuff like this.

      This is innovation? Seriously? Controlling a player externally via a proprietary cable? Really??? If this is considered innovation, there's a real problem.

      • If you don't like the new headphones - don't frikkin buy a new shuffle.

        You're telling me to wake up??? Sheesh!

        He was being nice. I'd tell you to pull your head out, as there are no set standards for you to whine about. If Apple wants to release an mp3 player that only works with an infrared remote control and bluetooth headphones, that's their business. And you of course are free to take your business elsewhere.

      • by itsdapead (734413)

        That's nice. They get what they want. What about those that do care about the headphones?

        Er, they won't buy 3rd Gen iPod Shuffles and Apple won't make any money out of them? I don't see the problem.

        The only problem is if you have built up a huge library of iTunes music: So don't do that, then! If you like the design of the iPod, then iPod/iTunes will work quite happily with a music library of un-DRM'd MP3 files.

      • It isn't standards compliant. When standards disintegrate the consumer pays.

        You aware of the price consumers paid having to support "standards" like ISA, SCSI, RS232, Centronix, and others that "had to" be complied with, at considerable cost in $$$ and size and complexity, for years beyond any sane benefit.

        It promotes vendor lock in. It isn't inter-operable with other equipment. Consider digital SLRs.

        For some systems, inter-operability is a hindrance. You're buying into a SYSTEM, not an individual product,

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        > > There's no standard way to control a device from a standard headphone jack

        > Sounds like a good argument to develop a standard rather than applaud this bad behaviour.

        There is a kind-of standard which solved the problem years back, which (for instance) my old Sony Minidisc player and at least 3 or 4 of the phones I've had follow.

        You have a propriety connection into the phone, and at the other end of the cable you have your clip with microphone/volume/pause/track-skip/answer-call buttons an

    • by MtViewGuy (197597)

      I'll say this: if Apple had offered right from the start at low cost a short dongle with the player controls on it so you can plug in any headphone with a 3.5 mm stereo phone jack, we wouldn't be having this discussion in the first place.

      But since Apple didn't do that, the whole thing smacks of "illegal product tie-in" and ends up forcing a long delay as third-party iPod manufacturers make the dongle and headphone manufacturers redesign their headphone cables to be truly compatible with the 3G shuffle.

      • by portnoy (16520)

        I considered that as well when I was looking at the new shuffle specs. Unfortunately, a "short dongle", by its nature, forces the controls to be near the player body. If you're going to force that aspect of the design, you might as well put the controls on the player itself.

        Apple clearly thought that the controls needed to be higher up on the body, closer to the user's head, and let that drive several decisions you disagree with.

      • by kchrist (938224)

        I'm glad you put illegal product tie-in in quotes because there isn't actually anything even approaching illegal about this.

    • If a company wants to make an MP3 player with buttons on the headphone cable, instead of on the device, why is that evil?

      Because the reactionaries haven't realized that these headphones are the device. The stick part of the shuffle is only there because the engineers haven't yet shrunk it out of existence. If you buy the new Shuffle you're buying earbuds that play music with controls on the cable.

      Since these fancy earbuds are also cheap, complaining that you can't replace them with other headphones is lik

    • by Tweenk (1274968)

      There's no standard way to control a device from a standard headphone jack

      There is. Put a headphone jack on the remote.

    • by houghi (78078)

      By the end of the month there will even be a handful of other headphones to choose from.

      Try that on a fixed phone in an office. 100+EUR for a headset I can buy anywhere for 15EUR.

      We're stifling innovation by making a scene over stuff like this.

      Do you think that there is ANY innovation going on as long as you are forced to buy it that way? Why would the company invest in R&D if they can make the same amount of money without that investment?
      Pick another company you say? Sure, it is just that they all play

  • by ricelid (1383657) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:13AM (#27222173)
    I was just thinking about buying an iPod shuffle. Good thing I read this article that reminds me that I have to use the headphones that come with it, and I don't like those headphones nearly as much as I like my headphones. Hmm, I could probably splice the cable without tooo much trouble.
    • I spliced the cable of my mobile phones headphones which had control buttons on the cable as well. It was great PITA. Those wires inside the cable are extremely tiny and are joined with nylon thread (probably for endurance) which makes those signal wires almost impossible to handle by hand. So unless you have some special tools and alot of patience I can't recommend cutting the cables.

      • by bloodninja (1291306) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @07:55AM (#27223329)

        Those wires inside the cable are extremely tiny and are joined with nylon thread (probably for endurance) which makes those signal wires almost impossible to handle by hand. So unless you have some special tools and alot of patience I can't recommend cutting the cables.

        That special tool is called fire! Half a second under flame and the nylon fibers ball up near the bottom, and the copper wires can then be twisted together. Everything has those fibers now, and you need this technique to modify everything from a cellphone charger to a bluetooth headset to a standalone DVD player.

        • Hehe, I did try that method before though, and it barely worked for me because the timing with the flame has to be just right not to melt the tiny copper fibers too;) That was around two years ago, and I only did it once though. Maybe it is not that difficult though.

          But in any case, my only point was that it isn't too simple to splice those wires if you are doing it for the first time.

    • I thought of doing this, but I suspect you'll likely find this very hard for a myriad of reasons, least of which is that the control part is actually about 3" below the right headphone earpiece -- so you'll have to do at least two splice jobs, one for each ear. I had hoped you could actually adapt the built-in headphones into an adapter, but I fear that's unlikely to be feasible.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        I thought of doing this, but I suspect you'll likely find this very hard for a myriad of reasons, least of which is that the control part is actually about 3" below the right headphone earpiece -- so you'll have to do at least two splice jobs, one for each ear.

        or you could do it the smart way instead, take it all apart, and just make a pigtail that you can use with any headphones. Or, you know, wait two or three weeks and buy one from Taiwan.

  • by Macrat (638047) on Tuesday March 17, 2009 @03:23AM (#27222211)
    While this was a false alarm, Slashdot will still consider Apple evil, right?
  • ...a failing world economy, an ecosystem being taxed to it's limits.

    ...and a fucking ipod the most important thing people have to discuss.

    Apple +1, Universe -1
  • They're just pissed their voices aren't THE VOICES of the new shuffle.
  • The first person to create a remote control with a standard headphone jack on it for the iPod Shuffle 3G will make big money.

    e.g. iPod => remote cable => remote => headphone cable => headphones of your choice

    Unless Apple prevents that. We'll see whether they're really evil.

    I've already seen this solution on an old Philips discman. I don't know why they didn't think about this.

  • They aren't non-standard either. 3.5mm contact with 4 contacts on it and buttons on the lead have been around for ages, I have no idea who started them or how interoperable they are. I had a pair that came with my Nokia N95, play, stop, forward, reverse, volume, on a standard sized 3.5 mm plug with one extra contact. That actually terminated in the remote which had a socket for any normal 3.5 mm three contact headphones, so you could use your nice sennheisers with the phone instead of the shitty nokia buds.

  • I never liked those earbud 'phones anyway. If you buy one of those new
    shuffles and have a pair of phones you'd rather use the solution is simple
    (if you can solder). Just cut the cable anywhere between the control pod
    and the earbuds, solder a 3.5mm stereo jack onto the cable, and plug in
    your favorite pair of headphones. Unless Apple has done something
    devious by using very high or low impedance in their phones your
    headphones will now work fine, and you can still control your shuffle
    using the controls on th

  • There is no DRM

    The new iPod isn't FairPlay-compatible? Really? That's gonna piss off some old iTMS customers. And this new iPod will also play music even if the database (which apparently Apple thinks it holds the copyright to) isn't signed with Apple's key?

    That's what "no DRM" would mean.

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