The Queen’s iPod

3 April 2009

On his recent visit to England, President Obama presented the Queen with an iPod loaded with showtunes. Although one might question the diplomatic and musical judgment behind such a gift, it also raises some interesting questions about copyright law and computer security.

The EFF has an interesting article about the copyright issues: iPods, First Sale, President Obama, and the Queen of England, Fred von Lohmann, 2 April 2009. It starts,

President Obama reportedly gave an iPod, loaded with 40 show tunes, to England’s Queen Elizabeth II as a gift. Did he violate the law when he did so?

You know your copyright laws are broken when there is no easy answer to this question.

The other question this raises is how effective of a malware vector this is when the Queen attaches the iPod to her PC (okay, the Queen probably runs ubuntu). I don’t know if there are any known vulnerabilities in the iPod/iTunes interface, but its a wide enough interface that it would be very unsurprising if there are ways to get malware from an iPod to a host machine. Perhaps, this is all part of a clever strategy to make heads of less friendly states than the Queen expect to receive electronic gadgets from our President and connect them to their systems.