doubleTwist, the startup founded by hacker Jon “DVD Jon” Lech Johansen to combat restrictive DRM (and which we were first to write about in detail back in October 2006), launches Tuesday. The company has raised a Series A round of an unnamed amount from the top European VCs at Index Ventures.
San Francisco-based doubleTwist’s initial product is a Windows desktop application (and a companion Facebook application) for turning music files purchased on iTunes into MP3s (a.k.a. “liberating” them) in order to share them with friends and sync them with “the Sony PSP, Nokia N Series, Sony Ericsson Walkman & Cybershot phones, LG Viewty, and Windows Mobile smart phones such as those from HTC and Palm,” according to an emailed release. Video and photos are also supported. The basic product is free, but doubleTwist said it expects to charge for premium features. (Download it here and let us know what you think.)
Apple iPhone and Mac products are said to be on the way. The company had initially been set up as a counter to Apple, which has since loosened its stance on music DRM, but not completely. Back in 2006, doubleTwist co-founder and CTO Johansen explained his then solution was legal because he was adding DRM rather than stripping it away. “Instead of breaking the DRM (something he’s already done), Jon has replicated it, and wants to license the technology to companies that want their content (music, movies, whatever) to play on Apple devices,” we wrote. It seems his approach has changed — but now he has the VC backing to defend himself.