Apple, Real, Microsoft blamed for MP3 piracy

The cease and desist order cites Apple iTunes and Windows Vista

Apple , Microsoft , Real Networks and Adobe have been slapped with a cease and desist order by two US companies. The big four all make products that infringe digital copyright, Media Rights Technologies (MRT) and BlueBeat say. This is in contravention of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act .

"Together these four companies are responsible for 98 per cent of the media players in the marketplace," MRT says. "CNN, NPR, Clear Channel, MySpace, Yahoo and YouTube all use these infringing devices to distribute copyrighted works. We will hold the responsible parties accountable. The time of suing John Doe is over."

The technologies at fault include Microsoft Windows Vista, Adobe Flash Player, Real Player, the Apple iPod and iTunes. MRT CEO Hank Risan says Vista is particularly problematic:

"There are now over 250 different brands of Stream Rippers which support Vista.

"Microsoft has even built into the Vista OS a native ripper, called Sound Recorder, which will deaggregate performance-based streams of unlimited duration and convert them into unprotected WMA downloads, easily uploaded on to Zune players.

"This year, Microsoft's Q1 profit surged 65 per cent to $4.93 billion, boosted by sales of Vista, while the Recording Industry's profits have plummeted."

Apple Fairplay: not so fair

Risan also points the finger at Apple and music site Pandora :

"At the iTunes store, Fairplay protection can be easily stripped away, creating unprotected MP3s with the click of a Stream Ripper 'record' button. At Pandora, every one of their millions of user-created playlists can be copied and deaggregated by Stream Rippers. The resulting royalty-free files from these examples are being transferred to an iPod or any other MP3 player."

Of course both Media Rights Technologies and BlueBeat have a vested interest in issuing the cease and desist order. MRT creates and licences content management solutions for digital media. BlueBeat is a US internet radio station, which just so happens to carry protected audio content and is owned by MRT.