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Apple Hunts Playfair in India 782

Posted by michael
from the from-hell's-heart-i-stab-at-thee dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A news posting at Sarovar.org says that they have to take down the 'PlayFair' program upon receiving a notice from Apple's attorneys. They are awaiting their attorneys' response. This is bad news for all those who appreciated this cool program. Let's hope that 'PlayFair' might appear in some other country now."
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Apple Hunts Playfair in India

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  • Let's hope indeed (Score:-1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:06PM (#8881747)
    I won't buy from ITMS unless there is something like Playfair. The DRM is a nuisance to be cleaned off of files I bought for and own to use on my own machines.
  • P2P? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by DiSKiLLeR (17651) * on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:07PM (#8881761) Homepage Journal
    So its gonna be all over gnutella, winmx, etc?

    If Apple keeps going after every website that hosts it, its gonna be everywhere on P2P... what are they gonna do then?
  • Apple Playing Fair (Score:0, Interesting)

    by turbobuick (227672) on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:07PM (#8881771)
    Why can't they just seem to leave well enough alone? I'd like to know under what law they are threatening PlayFair.

  • by MoneyT (548795) on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:09PM (#8881799) Journal
    This certainly doesn't suprise me, however, I find something odd about the letter they posted. Something about that letter just doesn't seems right. Granted, I don't have much experience with C&D letters, but there's something about the language in the letter that seems off.
  • Re:A few thoughts (Score:1, Interesting)

    by DAldredge (2353) * <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:11PM (#8881827) Journal
    Isn't that the same logic that abused wives use to stay with their 'loving' husband?
  • Too little ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:11PM (#8881834)
    ... too late. It's out there, Apple can't get it back.

    Mind you, I don't think it's such a terrible thing for them that they can't. It's not like you can get any old AAC and remove the DRM - only ones you own. So this is no different to CD ripping with its associated risks of ripped files being shared on P2P networks.
  • What's the problem? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by r4bb1t (663244) on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:14PM (#8881871)

    I have one of the original 5 gig iPods that I use on a daily basis. I may be one of the "converted" or "brainwashed" or whatever you'd like to say, but I don't see what's so wrong with the minmal DRM that Apple chose to use.

    If I want, I can burn my songs to a CD. And play them in my car. Or in my house. Or at work. Or in a portable CD player.

    If I want, I can put these songs on my iPod and listen to them wherever I go.

    If I want, I can listen to these songs on my computer using iTunes.

    I've yet to find a gross infraction upon my rights to do with the music as I wish.

  • Re:A few thoughts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by athakur999 (44340) on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:16PM (#8881907) Journal
    If things were different it was the Microsoft Music Store and you could download songs with the same exact DRM policy as what iTunes has now, would you still have a problem if someone released a program such as this?

  • Re:Do this instead (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JanneM (7445) on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:17PM (#8881920) Homepage
    Which, of course, would only be binding in those jurisdictions where such a condition would actually be legal and enforceable. In Sweden, for example, any DRM used specifically for the purpose of hindering fair-use provisions (such as copying, media transfer and so on) are explicitly allowed to be circumvented.

  • Re:Fine by me. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jkabbe (631234) on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:18PM (#8881934)
    Anyone who's concerned about what little DRM Apple has put in the ITMS files can just burn it to an audio cd (on a rewritable disc) and then rip it to MP3. It's what my girlfriend and I do.

    I have been told you can even use Toast to do this without creating a coaster.

    But, honestly, this was bound to happen. If you can use Quicktime to play the song on your computer, it was only a matter of time before someone wrote a program to take that audio stream and recompress it to AAC (or any other format). Sure it's lossy, but it's good enough.

    Of course, for me, having the songs stored in Fairplay encrypted AAC is good enough :)
  • my usage (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:19PM (#8881942)
    Playfair... let's me use my iTunes music library on my linux box. Tell me again why this is bad? Apple does not provide iTunes for linux, or any way to play their files under linux. I can't bring my personal machine to work because of a security policy, and I'm bound to a linux box.

    So, since playfair has been released and I can play the music on my linux box, I have purchased about $200 worth of music from the itunes store. Previously, I had about 30 songs. playfair has only resulted in increased sales for apple.

  • Re:P2P? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Liselle (684663) * <[ten.ellesil] [ta] [todhsals]> on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:20PM (#8881947) Journal
    If Apple keeps going after every website that hosts it, its gonna be everywhere on P2P... what are they gonna do then?
    Once they pick all the low-hanging fruit (hosted on popular websites), the recording industry can't claim they didn't try. Steve Jobs said himself that it was only a matter of time before the DRM was cracked, I am surprised it lasted this long (I'm sure he is, too). I predict Apple is going to make a good-faith effort to send around take-down notices to anyone who hosts it, and then it will live on in the P2P underground.

    Remember bnetd? Blizzard had no problem with people who loved their game, but they'd be idiots to stand by while a program existed that circumvented their CD-key system. Same deal with Apple (sot of).
  • Re:A few thoughts (Score:0, Interesting)

    by tdemark (512406) on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:23PM (#8881995) Homepage
    So far, what has Apple done?

    They've sent out two letter to two different organizations.

    Total cost to them: Probably $300 + overnight mail fees.

    I don't see how this is "throwing their legal and financial weight around".

    - Tony

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:23PM (#8881999)
    (*
    This applescript will peruse the selected playlist for protected AAC songs, run the tracks through PlayFair, and add the stripped songs to a new playlist. This is for your own fair use...please don't ruin it for the rest of us and make your songs available on P2P networks.
    *)
    global protectedTracksFound
    global newPlaylist

    --initialize playList
    tell me to set newPlaylist to ""

    -- initialize protectedTracksFound flag
    tell me to set protectedTracksFound to false

    display dialog "This script will search for Protected AAC tracks in the selected playlist and prepare them for your own personal Fair Use...such as moving them to a non-iPod portable music player...by stripping the DRM. The original, protected, tracks will not be affected. DON'T STEAL MUSIC!"

    -- Create/Set the new playlist for the converted tracks
    tell me to handleNewPlaylist()

    -- Begin search and conversion process
    tell application "iTunes"
    set oldFI to fixed indexing
    set fixed indexing to true
    set thePlaylist to a reference to view of front window
    repeat with i from 1 to (count of tracks in thePlaylist)
    set theTrack to track i of thePlaylist
    with timeout of 300000 seconds
    try
    tell theTrack
    if the kind of theTrack contains "Protected" then
    set protectedTracksFound to true
    set fileLoc to location as string
    display dialog (("Converting '" & name of theTrack as string) & "'") giving up after 1
    tell me to callPlayFair(fileLoc)
    end if
    end tell
    end try
    end timeout
    end repeat
    set fixed indexing to oldFI

    if protectedTracksFound is false then
    display dialog "No protected AAC tracks were found in the selected playlist. Please choose a playlist with at least one Protected AAC track and try again." with icon 0 giving up after 10
    error number -128
    else
    display dialog "Finished! Your music has been set free!" buttons {"Thanks"} default button 1 giving up after 10
    end if
    end tell

    -- Conversion subroutine
    to callPlayFair(useFile)
    tell application "iTunes"
    set protectedAACPath to (POSIX path of useFile as string)
    set freeAACPath to (POSIX path of (text 1 thru -5 of useFile) & ".m4a") as string
    set writingFile to false
    do shell script "usr/local/bin/playfair '" & protectedAACPath & "' '" & freeAACPath & "'"
    tell me to addToNewPlaylist(freeAACPath)
    end tell
    end callPlayFair

    -- add track to the output playlist subroutine
    on addToNewPlaylist(freeTrack)
    set newTrack to (POSIX file freeTrack)
    tell application "iTunes"
    add newTrack to newPlaylist
    end tell
    end addToNewPlaylist

    -- Create or set output playlist subroutine
    on handleNewPlaylist()
    copy (display dialog "Add converted files to a playlist named:" default answer
    "FairPlay Free" buttons {"OK"} default button 1 with icon 1
    giving up after 300) to newPlaylistPrompt
    set newPlaylistName to (text returned of newPlaylistPrompt)
    tell application "iTunes"
    if user playlist newPlaylistName exists then
    set newPlaylist to a reference to user playlist named newPlaylistName
    else
    copy (make new playlist with properties {name:newPlaylistName}) to newPlaylist
    end if
    end tell
    end handleNewPlaylist
  • Post it on Freenet (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sebby (238625) on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:25PM (#8882030)
    Although I'm not sure I would endorse this tool, I do support the idea behind it (using the songs you legally bought how you want, short of massive sharing or copyright infringment)

    But I guess these guys could always post it on Freenet - let's see them trying to pull it off then!

  • by Tuxedo Jack (648130) on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:30PM (#8882094) Homepage
    Apple has one of the least restrictive DRMs out there, and honestly, it's not like you can't burn your iTunes songs to a CD and then rip them to MP3 using something else - and Apple knows it.

    They're the lesser of evils, and I'd rather have them than proprietary formats and players that only work on one OS. *Cough*WMV, Windows Media Player*Cough*

    Though I'm glad WMP only works on Windows - other platforms don't endure the horror.
  • Re:A few thoughts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thenextpresident (559469) on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:30PM (#8882107) Homepage Journal
    I look at it simply like this: You are either for DRM technology, or you are against it. I am against it. It's really as simple as that.

    So, DRM is either wrong or right. Acceptance of "some" DRM is acceptance of DRM. If you really wish to choose not to accept DRM technology, you must not accept it at all. By accepting Apple's DRM as acceptable, you are in essence accepting DRM technology.

    "I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good." - Martin Luther King, Jr
  • Is playfair even illegal under DMCA, at a technical (not practical) level?

    This paragraph (Section (f)(2) [cornell.edu]) seems to explicitly allow applications like playfair, which have a primary use of enabling someone who has legally purchased a song to make use of it on other devices:
    Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a)(2) and (b), a person may develop and employ technological means to circumvent a technological measure, or to circumvent protection afforded by a technological measure, in order to enable the identification and analysis under paragraph (1), or for the purpose of enabling interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs, if such means are necessary to achieve such interoperability, to the extent that doing so does not constitute infringement under this title.
    I'm not addressing the questions of whether the user is legally bound enough by the EULA that they can't *use* playfair, only asking whether, technically, playfair is in fact covered by this clause and therefore not subject to a "DMCA takedown."

    If so, then sourceforge should be able to distribute it with no repercussions, and Apple could return to (1) going after people who distribute playfair'd tracks, or (2) going after people in civil court for contract violations pertaining to the EULA.

    Of course, if anyone were to call Apple on this (and had the $$ and time to do so), and if Apple were to realize halfway through that they'd lose, then they'd just withdraw their C&D letter, pulling the rug out from under the defendants (who'd lose standing as a result) (yes, pun intended), and so no precedent would be set. Just like happened with the RIAA and, was it, Felten?

  • by needacoolnickname (716083) on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:36PM (#8882178)
    1. Apple improves their protection.
    2. Slashdot users complain even more about the DRM on the songs which they refuse to buy because to make them into any file type they want they have to work to do it.
    Damned if they do. Damned if they don't me thinks..
  • by Vandil X (636030) on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:36PM (#8882187)
    A lot of the language in the letter was "press release" material. I'm sure Apple knew that the letter would be posted on web sites worldwide, so they probably figured "why not take the opportunity to remind people how nice iTunes, iPod, and the iTMS are!"

    Free advertising at its best.
  • by zvoid (706873) on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:37PM (#8882190)

    Well, Apple is different in that they were able to establish a relationship with the RIAA that was more benevolent towards DRM than the RIAA wanted with regards to consumer rights in the first place. Yes, Apple sells more music/iPods because of this, but I doubt MS/Real would do anything other than kowtow to the RIAA's demands.

    I believe that is the fundamental difference..

    Beyond that, of course Apple is a large multinational corporation that looks out for its' and APPL shareholder's interests. No point in pretending otherwise. Still, Thinking Different beats being told Where To Go Today :)

  • by vwjeff (709903) on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:39PM (#8882230)
    I thought that Apple was different than other large companies?

    Why would Apple be any different? Apple is looking out for their own interests. They make little to no money with the ITMS. They make their money with the iPod. If people can play their ITMS music on other portable music players Apple will not sell as many iPods and make less money.

  • Re:Let's hope indeed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dschuetz (10924) <(slash) (at) (david.dasnet.org)> on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:43PM (#8882315) Homepage
    Remember, when you buy something, you accept the sale conditions that the seller (owner or owner's agent) specifies. That's a contract between you and the seller. If that contract involves DRM, well, too bad, but remember, you are not obligated to make the purchase.

    Except that in some cases, even those conditions are not enforceable.

    Many years ago (early 1900's, I think), book publishers tried to insert conditions on the front page of a book saying that you couldn't resell the book, etc. It was struck down, and thus the "doctrine of first sale" was born. (or something like that, IANAL and my memory isn't what it used to be).

    So there might be an argument that these doctrines take precedence over the "agreement" entered into when you first started using iTunes. But nobody's tested it (and probably never will).
  • by sab39 (10510) on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:44PM (#8882353) Homepage
    So many people are missing one important reason why PlayFair is important.

    Think "iTunes store for Linux".

    Think Open Source iTunes store for Linux.

    Think someone reverse-engineering the protocol for iTunes store and allowing music to be downloaded - AND PAID FOR - on a Linux computer using only Open Source software.

    That would be a big deal. Apple's never going to do it. Playfair is necessary (but not sufficient) to make it happen.

    Furthermore, it's probably the only way that I'd ever use iTunes store. I haven't decided for sure whether I'd consider using a binary proprietary iTunes release for Linux, but I certainly won't be using a Windows or Mac version.

    The Open Source client could even enforce the DRM when used unmodified - I'd still use it, and I wouldn't hack the source to remove it. Probably some people would, but those people already have Playfair anyway. I have no need to bypass those restrictions, but I do need a Linux client if I'm going to use the thing at all.

    So in a small way, Playfair would allow Apple to make a little more money (by selling to Linux users - a small but not non-existent, and growing market) without costing them a cent in development costs.
  • Re:A few thoughts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 1u3hr (530656) on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:49PM (#8882450)
    Apple has a lot more resouces than most people and can make good on their threats.

    Apple used to have service manuals for their old Macs on ftp.apple.com, with no passwords. But if anyone even gave a link to them in any Mac discussion group they had very heavy legal threats using "copyright" and "trade secret" language that made all the site and list owners immedaitely delete the articles. Again, these were simply links to documents freely available on Apple's own site, for obsolete machines that would cost more than they were worth to take to a repair centre -- even for trivial (once you see the diagrams) tasks like replacing the motherboard battery.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:55PM (#8882581)
    "It'll be the end of digital music stores. THAT's the real danger here."

    nope.. itll be the end of *RIAA sponsored* digital music stores.

    GOOD, no big loss there.

    soon we will have no need for the RIAA, soon they will not be able to ham-fist new artists into draconian contracts, soon people will be able to develop their own tastes rather than being spoon-fed whatever clearchannel wants them to like, soon musicians will be more concerned with perfecting their MUSIC rather than their choreography...

    i look forward to that day.

  • NotFair (Score:3, Interesting)

    by YouHaveSnail (202852) on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:57PM (#8882608)
    If you ask me, making Apple play Whack-A-Mole by running around to different countries trying to find one that's friendly to your cause is a lot like SCO or Microsoft shopping around for the friendliest venue in which to have their various cases tried. If you've actually got a legal leg to stand on in your own damn country, then make your case and get on with it. Else, stop your infringing behavior, and stop giving the rest of us a black eye.

    The current strategy definitely does not live up to the name "PlayFair."
  • Re:A few thoughts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jugalator (259273) on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:58PM (#8882619) Journal
    This is going a bit off-topic, but ShareReactor.com was recently shut down for giving away *checksums* (yes, imagine that!) for software and movies on their site, which could in turn be used in P2P applications.

    What's next? Not being allowed to speak the name of copyrighted material since it could give pirates an idea that they can download it? :-P
  • Re:A few thoughts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Catbeller (118204) on Friday April 16, 2004 @01:04PM (#8882739) Homepage
    That court decision was wrong. We disobey. And don't necessarily want to pay the "consequences", either.

    Some court decisions, some laws, are just plain wrong. Forbidding people to look at a web site by refusing permission to anyone to link to it is wrong. I don't care about legal; it's wrong.

    Streeeeetching for an example: jury nullification. Juries actually have four verdict options.

    1. Guilty
    2. Not guilty.
    3. No verdict (hung in a tie, or unable to reach majority).
    4. NULLIFICATION. The jury can decide that, although the defendant is guilty of violating the law, the law itself is wrong.

    I don't know what happens as a result of 4: guilty? not guilty? I do know that judges do not want such an outcome, and as far as I know never inform the jury that they can decide in that manner.

    There is civil disobediance, of course, but you can go to jail or be fined. Juries aren't charged for nullification.

    Let's say that in this case I am nullifying the legal decision. No precedent on the books, but plenty in real life. People speed. People take mood enhancing drugs. They end-ran Prohibition. They copy music. Bush is sandbagging the Plame investigators. Cheney won't give up notes to energy policy meetings that he should. They don't think of themselves as criminals as they do all these felonious things. They effectively nullify the law.

    So tho there is precedent, I agree, in that court ruling, I deny the validity of the decision. I have lots of company.

    And the parent poster is simply not guilty of linking to the code: he's hosting the source, making it available for downloard. He's past the 2600 decision, and out in another dimension.

    Not that it stopped me from downloading it. I don't like being told by whatever power that I can't read forbidden text.
  • by the pickle (261584) on Friday April 16, 2004 @01:16PM (#8882948) Homepage
    Something I haven't seen addressed here yet is this:

    Is it possible that Apple is doing this to cover their own butts? I don't think there's any question that the industry would take their ball and go home, so to speak, if Apple were to effectively ignore such a program, but worse yet, could Apple actually be sued for allowing PlayFair to exist unmolested?

    IANAL, but I'd like to know unofficial legal opinions from SOYWAL (some of you who are lawyers).

    p
  • by feloneous cat (564318) on Friday April 16, 2004 @01:45PM (#8883419)
    I recall a time when every software program "locked".

    There were many attempts at protecting this software from copying (recall this was back in the 5 1/4" days). Everything from bit mangling to (gack) writing your own driver to read a custom written track (in some bizzarro land format). Guess what? Folks got around it.

    Finally, some bright genius did some math and realized "hey, we are spending more money on this copy protection than it's worth". I recall the first program WITHOUT copy protection received more press than probably was due. PR? Marketing? Who knows.

    This concept of copy protection died years ago.

    First, it is not economically supportable without knowledge (read FACTS, not freaking guesses) how much and how many illegal copies are out there.

    Second, it is a waste of resources. Spending time and money on it reduces, not increases, your bottom line.

    Finally, in the long run your just pissing off the very customer base you want to expand. How many people bought from iTMS only to discover that they couldn't play the song on their favorite (non-iPod) music player? THEN blamed it on Apple when it was really the RIAA who places the restrictions?

    Yup. Copy Protection is dead. But then again, I could be wrong...
  • Re:A few thoughts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by allgood2 (226994) on Friday April 16, 2004 @01:50PM (#8883497)
    That's a little like saying your either for privacy or against privacy. DRM or even just RM is not inherently evil. Just like invoking privacy isn't inherently good. While I would love to believe in the intrinsic good of all mankind, the truth is that their will always be people trying to take advantage of other people, whether they be con artists that prey on the elderly and unaware, or spammers, phishers, or criminal hackers.

    There will always be someone who believes that the easiest way to get ahead is to step on the person in front of them. And so long as they exit, there will be the need for laws and rights management software/solution. The careful balance, just as in privacy cases, is weighing whats good, and acceptable for the public at-large, without trampling all over the individual.

    There will be those who reckless, uncaring, and attempting to circumvent the limits of law, then hide behind their right to privacy (see comments on Automobile Blackbox [slashdot.org]), but there is no right to do what you want without regard. You have the right to be who you are, and do what you want within the limits of the law.

    I don't agree with most DRM, as its being used to limited rights of ownership, but I can no more say that I'm against DRM then I can say I'm against using a password to protect my computer from curious eyes. So yes, I agree with Apple's DRM, it gives me many rights of ownership, while preventing my casual disregard of copyright holders.

    Sure, there are components I'd change about it, like being able to authorize 5 computers instead of 3; or an advanced option that allowed you to convert to MP3 without going to CD (I'd find this acceptable even if it drastically reduce sound quality (say to 96kbps), because sometimes I just want someone to hear a song, without burning them a CD, or streaming, etc.).

    But otherwise I find Apple's DRM unintrusive, and very fair. And when I am being casual in my disregard of copyright, it quietly reminds me, but still allows me to options to perform the task I was trying to do, in other more legal ways.

    This doesn't mean I'm all for ALL DRM, because just like legal encroachment on privacy is a slippery slope, so is DRM. There are bullies on the playground--whether at work, school, or often even at home. I don't trust most corporations to ever even consider what is right and fair to its customers, since its often counter-intutive to making a quick profit. That said, there are those corporations that do care or at least try to care. I'd place Apple and Google as two of a few.

    But the counter argument is do I trust that people will do what is right to support artist. And I'm sorry to say, I can't say I do. There are a great many of us who will, but the ones of us who won't will undoubtable depreciate the revenue generated by those of us who would greatly. So until then, just like I activate my password, when I want to say "don't casually use my computer", and light weight DRM is appropriate for stopping misuse of music and other files.
  • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Friday April 16, 2004 @02:00PM (#8883657) Homepage
    The thing is, DRM is an attack on copyright. It is profoundly anti-copyright. Copyright envisions that a) the public gets to decide what the scope of copyright is, b) copyrights must ultimately expire. DRM seeks to prevent both by letting the creator determine the scope of protection (e.g. it's legal to make backups of software you own a copy of per 17 USC 117, but DRM might hinder your attempts to meaningfully do so) and since DRM never goes away, the creator's control doesn't expire when the copyright term does.

    If we want the copyright system to work properly, we need to stamp out DRM wherever it rears its ugly head.

    I am not against people using encryption, of course -- just against works being protected by both copyright (which requires no DRM) and encryption at the same time. Encryption is great for privacy, just bad for published works. If you're going to publish with DRM and without copyright, that's your perogative, but just as we would applaud someone who discovered a long-lost creative work of significance (e.g. digging up an ancient sculpture or something) we should also applaud those who break DRM so as to get public domain works meaningfully into the public domain.

    Your idiotic attempt at a counterargument in the real world is, well, idiotic, because this is a discussion about copyrights, and they're a whole different kettle of fish.
  • RIAA Response (Score:2, Interesting)

    by shortstop (524334) on Friday April 16, 2004 @02:18PM (#8883924)
    How strong do you think the relationship is between Apple and the copyright holders? If AAC is going to be ineffective DRM then would it surprise anyone if the copyright holders end their relationship with Apple/iTunes?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2004 @03:35PM (#8885140)
    There are so many confused and misinformed people posting on this story I can't reply to them all, especially since I post AC. Therefore, I will make this one summary post and hope somebody finds it and mods it up.

    The difference between PlayFair and GPL violations is in fact quite simple. They concern two separate laws. Violating the GPL means that the person in violation is breaking copyright law. They are redistributing without the permission of the copyright owner. This is bad. Using PlayFair means the person in violation is breaking the DMCA. They are using in a way that is in violation of the DMCA. This is good!

    The fundamental difference between the two laws is simple. Copyright law reserves distribution rights to the copyright holder. It does not make any (but a handful) restrictions on use of the copyrighted material. Under copyright law, If I have a legally aquired copy of a work, I can use it in just about any way I wish. I can manipulate it. I can copy it. I can even destroy it. What I cannot do under copyright law is redistribute copies of the work. Bad pirates. No breaking copyright laws.

    The DMCA is a different beast. There are apparently a large number of people here who are either too young to know why the DMCA is bad, or have just forgotten it. The problem with the DMCA is that it does place restrictions on use. Use restrictions are a new thing that take away rights we once had, for no significant benefit. There is, especially, no benefit for the people. Think about it. For what benefit do these use restrictions exist? They are supposed to stop piracy, yet piracy, being illegal redistribution, was already illegal under copyright law. Why add restrictions that only aggravate law-abiding citizens? There is no real benefit to the use restrictions of the DMCA. Worse, it is in fact detrimental to the stated mission of copyright.
    "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;"

    Use restrictions inhibit the progress of Science and the useful Arts. Just look at the cases where the DMCA has been used. Academic researchers have been stopped from sharing information. Interoperability-enabling software has been buried. And yes, I can't stream the audio of iTMS songs from my Linux server.

    I hope that clarifies the issues. Copyright law's distribution restrictions (and limited use restrictions) promote progress. The DMCA's use restrictions inhibit progress. That is why we can cry for the blood of GPL violators who break copyright law, while at the same time praising people who violate the DMCA.
  • Re:A few thoughts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Forgotten (225254) on Friday April 16, 2004 @05:15PM (#8886362)
    I can't listen to it on portable MP3 players other than iPod.

    And this, of course, is the only reason Apple is bullying Sarovar with baseless legal threats.

    A lot of people seem to think it's about walking a fine line with the music industry - that they won't cooperate with Apple and the iTMS if Apple doesn't defend the DRM (and thus Apple is really working for consumers). Maybe the RIAA would react that way, though it's doubtful at this point given the iTMS's profitability to them (not to Apple). But that's not Apple's real concern.

    Apple wants control over the iTMS so it can sell iPods and retain its market position in online music sales. In its current view, that means no other players should be able to play iTMS tracks. This is the reason for the threats. Check out some recent [myway.com] links. [wsj.com]

    If the Playfair code exists, another rival music player vendor can incorporate it into their own music player download app (for instance). They could seamlessly support iTMS tracks to their own player, just by supporting straight AAC and stripping Fairplay. I think this is Apple's biggest fear (never mind that the DMCA and like laws would make that illegal in the US and probably the EU). It's not about the RIAA, it's about Rio.

    They're probably pretty scared right now. The DMCA takedown against Sourceforge was obvious, but they have no legal basis for these claims in India - it's pure old-fashioned extortion and copyright chill. They must know that, but then you'd think they'd have known that Fairplay would be quickly broken too.

    Apple makes great products and if they were content to do that and remain a successful niche player they'd continue to do well. But this kind of bullying turns my stomach; it makes me want to trade in the iBook I'm typing this on for an x86 Linux box, and it puts me off buying the iPod I'd eventually have succumbed to. It damn sure means I'll never spend a cent at the iTMS. I'm not deluded enough to think that means they're shooting themselves in the foot (most people will never hear of these threats or give a damn if they do), but it loses them goodwill in the user community, and that kind of erosion is what's hurting them the most.

    The irony is that while Playfair may not be good for their vision of the iPod and iTMS, it is good for Mac sales. So-called piracy has always driven the computer industry, in part because it generally represents the same sort of ease-of-use that Apple is known for.

  • Re:Freenet! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vyrus128 (747164) <gwillen@nerdnet.org> on Friday April 16, 2004 @06:04PM (#8886915) Homepage
    Here's a copy packaged off the CVS about a week ago, around the time of the Sourceforge takedown. I make no assertions about functionality; I don't have a recent enough version of autoconf to build it, and have no use for it anyway. Put it up on Freenet if you like, or grab it while you can. I will take it down if I get a DMCA notice, and probably before then.

    http://vyrus.nerdnet.org/playfair-unofficial-20040 405.tar.gz [nerdnet.org]

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