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Report: iTunes 9 to support DVD ripping, Facebook

A report filed by a tipster claiming access to iTunes 9 says that it is "possible" the next version of Apple's media player will sport both DVD import and playback as well as Facebook integration, allowing users to advertise songs and playlists with their friends.

The report and screenshots were published by the Boy Genius Report, which earlier in the month wrote that iTunes 9 is expected to allow organization of iPhone apps and iPod games and indicated some sort of social media integration was in the cards.

The latest report includes screen shots that depict a Facebook category in the iTunes Source list, allowing users to advertise new song titles and playlists in their Facebook profile. Also included is a screen shot of how advertised tracks would appear on Facebook.

BGR also presents a screen shot of iTunes 9 that suggests the capability to sync music, video, podcast, and photo content to third party device, a Samsung YH-J70xx MP3 player. Apple has previously only signaled a disinterest in supporting sync with third party devices, actively halting the Palm Pre's attempts to identify itself as an iPod.

More interesting are the depiction of buttons in the lower right that allow for DVD playback and import, suggesting that iTunes could do for DVDs what it got started doing for CDs. Were Apple to negotiate the right to rip DVDs, it would radically change the home movie industry in ways the industry has not demonstrated any interest in exploring. However, the addition of a "DVD Playback" button suggests that the screen shots are more likely to be fakes, as iTunes already has a playback button: "play."

The studios have worked hard to thwart any commercial attempts to enable users to rip their own DVDs, recently filing an injunction against RealNetwork's DVD Ripper software and even opposing a home theater installer from allowing users to rip their own DVDs for digital playback, despite the system not even producing an easy to distribute copy.

At Macworld Expo 2008, Apple announced having worked out a compromise with Twentieth Century Fox called Digital Copy for iTunes, which puts a mobile version of the movie on the DVD for use with iPods, the iPhone, Apple TV, and other media devices. Many new DVDs now include a Digital Copy of the movie, which doesn't require any media ripping steps (transcoding and compression); instead, it simply initiates an iTunes download using a code included with the DVD.

Ripping an entire DVD (which includes defeating its copy protection and transcoding) would require Apple to obtain a special exemption from the DVD Forum license, something that hasn't happened before. Similarly, the current DVD license also means that adding DVD playback to iTunes would require Apple to disable screen shots while the app was running, indicating that the screen shots of what appears to be iTunes playing a DVD would also need to be the product of a very relaxed DVD license or simply an outright fake.

Rumors also indicate Apple is gearing up to support Blu-ray playback, something that Apple has shown no interest in doing despite being an early member of the Blu-ray Disc Association and remaining one of its 19 board members. Blu-ray discs compete directly against Apple's preferred model of selling and promoting digital downloads.

While Blu-ray offers major advantages for high end users in terms of audio quality and video resolution, Apple primarily sells devices that don't really benefit from Blu-ray's higher resolution, prompting Apple to leave the new disc technology to HDTV makers like Sony and LG to push.

Apple is expected to release a new update to its iPod lineup in its September 9 event, which will likely also include an updated version of iTunes and possibly the long anticipated Apple TV 3.0 update adding support for HTTP Live Streaming, which has already shipped as part of iPhone 3.0 and will be part of the new QuickTime X in Mac OS X Snow Leopard.