iPodRip

A quick word on the iPodRip saga. The iPod has some simple (and not incredibly effective) protections against users copying music from an iPod to a Mac or PC. It’s one of those things that “only stops honest people”. The reason that iPods do this is that Apple was very anxious not to make the iPod appear to be (and actually be) a vehicle for piracy. Imagine how much more often music would be pirated if iPods let you sync music in both directions. Imagine how hard this would be for Apple to implement.

This is not about technology, or even legality — it’s about Apple’s relationship with music publishers.

iPodRipĀ  is one of many programs that circumvents this restriction and lets you copy music back off your iPod. There are, of course, legitimate uses for it — imagine if you’re the proud owner of a large library of music bought from the App Store or painstakingly ripped from CDs, you copy everything onto your iPod, and then your hard disk dies. More plausibly, you might simply want to copy all your music from your home computer to your iPod and then to your office computer or laptop. I suspect, however, that the vast majority of iPodRip users are not doing this — more likely they’re just college students who want a dump of everything on their friends’ iPods.

So here’s the point: iPodRip is simply a program written by someone with no respect for trademark or copyright laws who is whining because Apple is doing the absolute minimum to protect its brand name and relationship with music publishers from a parasite. iPodRip wouldn’t be successful without the iPod’s success, and the iPod wouldn’t be successful if Apple hadn’t been able to cut deals with music publishers, and Apple wouldn’t have been able to cut deals with music publishers without demonstrating that it was reasonably serious about not turning iPods into a huge piracy channel. Apple can’t stop programs like iPodRip from existing or — easily — prevent them from working, but it can stop them using their trademarks.

  • The whole thing is just ridiculous. (By the way, it turns out the developer is Australian. Makes you proud, doesn’t it?)
    I don’t know what they were thinking e-mailing Jobs directly, other than “This will be good publicity”. Did they expect him to have a sudden revelation and intervene on their behalf?
    It’s like I’ve been saying recently (to anyone who’ll listen) “Everyone loves Capitalism, until it applies to them.”