Apple may have begun strategic licensing of its FairPlay digital rights management (DRM) system.

Macrovision, one of two companies developing DRM technology to protect music sold on CD, is reportedly telling customers of its plans to add iTunes and iPod support to its software in the fourth quarter 2004.

The Register reports the company revealed these plans in mailing sent out with a recent software beta, and that this support will be enabled "via Apple FairPlay".

Macrovision wants to provide this support so that CDs sold by the record labels integrating its DRM systems (which make it difficult to rip music from protected CDs, and protects the music from being shared online) can be accesible to and usable by iTunes and iPod. The systems already support Windows Media Audio files and devices.

The Register adds: "It is also another nod toward Apple's importance in the fledgling digital music market, that companies like Macrovision no longer feel all they need do is follow Microsoft."