Apple to open up Fairplay DRM

Apple plans to open up protected music and movies content bought from the iTunes Store , has learned.

The iPod maker is expected to make two announcements, possibly as early as this week - the first will be to allow streaming of protected AAC content via USB; the second will be to licence its Fairplay DRM to the company's Made For iPod licencees. The news comes from one a long-term and reliable contact who just happens to be a Made For iPod licencee.

This will have the effect of enabling you to play songs bought from the iTunes Store through third party devices like hi-fis using digital connections. It may also mean that devices like iPod docks will be able to display more information - artwork and other track info, for example - which is stored alongside the protected audio.

The expected announcements could signal a move on Apple's part to take some of the sting out of its Fairplay DRM which has come in for a great deal of criticism over recent months. It may also be a way of keeping Made For iPod makers onside, as the draw of the Microsoft Zune becomes stronger.

Netgear became the first company to support FairPlay streaming with the launch of its EVA8000 Digital Entertainer HD at the Consumer Electronics Show ( CES ) last week. Apple also announced its own music, movie and photo streamer - the Apple TV - at MacWorld .