Real Fires Back at Apple Saying Consumers Deserve Choice

RealNetworks responded Thursday to attacks by Apple Computer about its plan to allow songs bought on its online music store to be played on the iPod, saying they are offering consumers choice and have not broken any copyright laws.

"Consumers, and not Apple, should be the ones choosing what music goes on their iPod," Real Networks said in prepared statement given to the news media. The company said they "remain fully committed to Harmony," its recently announced technology that when released will allow customers of its Rhapsody online music service to play their music on a number of competitors players, including the iPod, thereby circumventing Appleis Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology known as Fairplay. Apple has refused to license Fairplay to any other music download service.

The company defended its claims that it has not broken any copyright laws by working around Appleis Fairplay.

"Harmony follows in a well-established tradition of fully legal, independently developed paths to achieve compatibility," said RealNetworks. "There is ample and clear precedent for this activity, for instance the first IBM compatible PCs from Compaq. Harmony creates a way to lock content from Realis music store in a way that is compatible with the iPod, Windows Media DRM devices, and Helix DRM devices. Harmony technology does not remove or disable any digital rights management system. Apple has suggested that new laws such as the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) are relevant to this dispute. In fact, the DMCA is not designed to prevent the creation of new methods of locking content and explicitly allows the creation of interoperable software."

Earlier Thursday, Apple called Realis move to soon release Harmony, "the tactics and ethics of a hacker" and cautioned Harmony users they could be blocked from playing music on the iPod.

In a brief statement, Apple said, "we are investigating the implications of their actions under the DMCA and other laws. We strongly caution Real and their customers that when we update our iPod software from time to time it is highly likely that Realis Harmony technology will cease to work with current and future iPods."