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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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  • by tcopeland (32225) * <tom@@@thomasleecopeland...com> on Friday April 16, 2004 @11:06AM (#8881749) Homepage
    ...since it was getting downloaded around 5000 times a day before it got pulled. I'm sure the other project admins at Sarovar aren't sad to see it go; now they have a much more responsive server :-)

    And again, if you put up a public (foo)Forge, make sure you have a Terms of Service [rubyforge.org] document to cover this sort of thing.
  • by Jon Abbott (723) on Friday April 16, 2004 @11:07AM (#8881766) Homepage
    ...It'll never be caught there! :^)

    Ba-doom-boom-crash!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2004 @11:09AM (#8881796)
    It seems as if their strongest argument is "take it down because Sourceforge did".
    Not only that, the PlayFair program is against the express provisions of our Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Copyright Act, 1957 and you are equally liable as accessories,
    I'm not familiar with what they are referring to. Is that Indian law, or are they doing some cross-ocean hand-waving and hoping Sarovar doesn't notice?
    • You know that RIAA notice on movies? The one that says 'protected by United States copyright law and international treaties'? And then they show the INTERPOL logo? Of which India is a member [wikipedia.org]?

      Probably relates to this, too...
    • by cygnusx (193092) on Friday April 16, 2004 @11:32AM (#8882122) Homepage
      > Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Copyright Act, 1957
      > ... Is that Indian law

      Both are Indian laws. FWIW, Indian law is largely based upon English common law. It's quite common for Indian courts to cite English and US Court judgement in their judgements. (India's tradition of of law interpretation is one reason why India has been considered a "safer" IP outsourcing destination than, say, China).

      One thing that Indian courts don't have (very apparent in criminal trials) is a jury. (It had one to begin with, it was abandoned after it was found prone to abuse) The judge alone hears arguments and interprets the law.

  • Too little ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2004 @11:11AM (#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.
    • Re:Too little ... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by in7ane (678796)
      Keep in mind that Apple may not even care about 'getting it back' as was the case with the studios and DeCSS, it's profits are not directly affected since the music store is not profitable, iPods are, and the only downside is the labels complaining. So as long as Apple is seen to be making an effort (for the program not to be readily available) that's all that's required.

      Keep in mind that everything Apple has done has been to remove the program, not to go after the author.
  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by minus_273 (174041) <aaaaa@SPAM. y a h oo.com> on Friday April 16, 2004 @11:11AM (#8881835) Journal
    Why? if you dont like the itunes licence, don't use it. There are other ways of getting music online either legally or illgally. There are WMA options or you could just buy a real CD. When you bought the song on itunes, you agreed to the licence
    The way people are talking here, it is ok if you bought a box of GPL software, decided it had commercial potential then released it. I make the comparison becasue, like the GPL, in the itunes system, you understand clearly what you agree to when you get it.
    How is violating the itunes licence (that being you can share it with 3 machines, unliited ipods yada yada yada) different from voilating the GPL?
    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Informative)

      by iamacat (583406)
      The way people are talking here, it is ok if you bought a box of GPL software, decided it had commercial potential then released it.

      No, the way people are talking here, you got a box of GPL software, made changes and then installed a binary copy on your friend's machine, but intended for your own use only. Then, you refused to release the changes, saying it's fair use, not redistribution.

      There are all kinds of rights users get in addition to license - fair use, first sale doctrine, lemon law. It's good w
  • Fine by me. (Score:4, Informative)

    by the unbeliever (201915) <chris+slashdot.atlgeek@com> on Friday April 16, 2004 @11:13AM (#8881865) Homepage
    I could care less about this program.

    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.

    (besides, I could never get the win32 version of this program to do anything other than spit out the help file)
    • Re:Fine by me. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Brian Blessed (258910)
      > I could care less about this program.

      I'm not a iTMS customer, but I care about this program.

      It's the thin end of the wedge, and we need to be reacting to these DMCA takedowns. I don't see any reason for someone to be unable to choose to distribute the source code to any program that they have created. I want to protect this idea as a fundamental principle because otherwise more companies or "industry groups" will erode it and attack other free software projects.

      We shouldn't be in a position where pe
  • What's the problem? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by r4bb1t (663244) on Friday April 16, 2004 @11:14AM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 16, 2004 @11:23AM (#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
    • Keep in mind that you have to have PlayFair installed in "/usr/local/bin/". I'm not sure, but you also may need to add the leading slash to "usr/" to make it "/usr/" on the line:

      do shell script "usr/local/bin/playfair '" & protectedAACPath & "' '" & freeAACPath & "'"

      I could be wrong...it's been working for me without it. Sorry about that. But the script works!
  • The laws are Indian (Score:5, Informative)

    by shamir_k (222154) on Friday April 16, 2004 @11:25AM (#8882022) Homepage
    Both the Copyright Act 1957 [naukri.com] and the Information Technology Act, 2000 [mit.gov.in] are Indian laws. I doubt that the Copyright Act would have any DMCA like provisions that could apply on this case. Not so sure about the Information Technology Act. It was hailed as a great piece of forward looking legislation when it was introduced. Any Indian lawyers care to comment?
    • by dsanfte (443781)
      The technology act seems to mainly deal with digital signatures, hacking other people's systems, and erasing "source code" to a computer system. I couldn't find anything to do with copyright in there.
  • Post it on Freenet (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sebby (238625) on Friday April 16, 2004 @11:25AM (#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 Vandil X (636030) on Friday April 16, 2004 @11:28AM (#8882066)
    It seems to me that many of the copy-protection-circumvention programs that have come out in recent years (DeCSS, PlayFair) are not meant for piracy as much as they are to enable users of Linux and Unix to play DRM'd/locked content because they don't want to use the media on a Windows or Macintosh computer.

    If Apple developed iTunes (and iPod drivers) for Linux and Unix, perhaps the number of people trying to circumvent the DRM would decrease.

    As it stands, you can only buy online music if you use Windows or Mac OS X --a set up that accounts for 98% of computer users, maybe, but obviously the remaining 2% (Unix/Linux users) know how to code.

    C'mon Apple, OS X is "based on Unix", so how hard could it be to port iTunes over to Linux and Unix? If you really want to set an online music standard (and possibly reduce OSS-attempts at circumvention), you gotta give Linux some love.
    • "C'mon Apple, OS X is "based on Unix", so how hard could it be to port iTunes over to Linux and Unix? If you really want to set an online music standard (and possibly reduce OSS-attempts at circumvention), you gotta give Linux some love."

      Because Linux doesn't have Aqua. I doubt iTunes makes much use of any particular underlying UNIX features. It does use a particular toolkit (Aqua) designed to run on a particular graphics engine (which sure as hell isn't X11) using NeXT APIs (Objective-C based equivalent
    • The bigger problem is getting Quicktime on Linux. That's a lot of iTunes underpinnings right there. Quicktime has been on Windows for ages and has some of Apple's APIs included. That made getting iTunes on Windows a little less troublesome. Linux is a bit of a bigger project, I'm sure, despite the "UNIX based" nature of OSX. As much as I'd like to see iTunes on Linux, I don't see it happening unless Apple suddenly open-sourced it and let others do the work. I suspect that their R&D will be directe
    • Actually, the author of PlayFair made it clear that he wrote it because he hates DRM, not because he wants to use his Linux box to play iTMS file. Aside from that, VLC on Linux will decrypt iTMS-encrypted files, anyway.
    • This comes up in every thread that remotely relates to Apple, and the answer is always the same: OS X has a huge number of libraries not present on Linux, mostly relating to the GUI. There's no Quicktime, no Carbon, no Cocoa (which has diverged significantly from *Step by now), and no Quartz. OS X apps do not resemble Linux apps in any way internally, and it would be just as hard as porting to any other OS.

      And it wouldn't reduce circumvention attempts, as it would be exposed even more to the "everything
    • I 100% agree with you, BUT:

      they don't want to use the media on a Windows or Macintosh computer

      I really want to use iMovie and Sherlock, but I don't want to use them on a Macintosh, I like my Windows machine. I'm out of luck. There's nothing forcing Apple to make Windows versions of this software because I want it. If I want it bad enough, I have to buy a Mac. Just as a company can't force you to buy something, you as a customer can't force them to make something!

      Again, I agree, in an ideal world..
    • Playfair assists in removing DRM from songs you personally have already purchased from iTunes store. It does nothing to strip DRM off songs that someone else bought. It doesn't help you get stuff from iTunes from your *nix box.

      So in order to use Playfair, you're already a mac or PC user anyhow.
  • by Tuxedo Jack (648130) on Friday April 16, 2004 @11:30AM (#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.
  • 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 MoFoQ (584566) on Friday April 16, 2004 @11:39AM (#8882236)
    What about Canada? The recent court rulings have been pro-consumer so it might be safe-haven for PlayFair.

    Or how about the Norway? The courts there said that DeCSS (AAC-DRM is to music as CSS is to video) didn't infringe, especially since the intent of the utility was not to make illegal distribution but to enable normal use on unsupported systems (OS's).

    One way (and better than what they did) to get rid of Playfair is for Apple to release a Linux player to eliminate the main legal objective for PlayFair.

    O yea, as for that first post [slashdot.org] that essentially says "Take it or leave it," ...well..would you buy a car that has its hood welded shut? And I tend to argee with this guy [slashdot.org]; the pro's don't outweigh the cons. Why buy a cake that no one can eat when the intention is to eat it?
  • by sab39 (10510) on Friday April 16, 2004 @11:44AM (#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.
  • by bogie (31020) on Friday April 16, 2004 @11:46AM (#8882380) Journal
    People act like this is a tool that let's you hack into the Itunes Store and get Free unencrypted files that are then automatically shared for Free on the Net. Gimme a break. Playfair is one of a million other things people use "not in accordance to manufacturer guidelines". Just because its Apple we supposed to give them a free pass for cracking down? What's next? If I use my Oven to dry clothes instead of cook food do I go to jail because the Oven maker says your not allowed to put anything but food in it? And don't give me any of this "well don't buy from Itunes" crap.

    Gotta love a whole generation of people who have nothing better to do then get all up in arms because *gasp* you change the file format on a product you already own. Lastly of course my favorite response is when people say its "O.K," if you go from digital->digital(CD)->digital but not if you go from digital->digital(Playfair)->digital. If the end result is the same what the heck is the difference besides one method being slightly easier than the other. Oh right, the whole "not in accordance to manufacturer guidelines"...

    Sorry you think Playfair ruined your favorite incarnation of DRM. If this makes you uncomfortable you better get out of computing now because it just going to get worse.

    btw I understand you can do this with Applescript as well. So is Apple going to sue Apple now?
  • by Zastrossi (603991) on Friday April 16, 2004 @11:48AM (#8882433) Homepage

    Let me quote Cory Doctorow here, who is fond of saying:

    No consumer ever woke up in the morning and said "you know, I want to do less with my music today".

    For me, it's the principle of the thing. If you look at the last hundred and fifty years of technological development, copyright regularly gets broken. It's happened again with peer-to-peer file sharing networks.

    DRM represents and maintains the status quo. Artists still get shafted while studios make more profit and we get less control over the music we 'own'. Furthermore, it endorses instead of punsihing an industry that refuses, again and again, to embrace technological change. Alternatives like voluntary collective licensing of music file sharing [eff.org] offer a way forward.

    In my view, buying from the iTunes store is a tacit approval of the music industry and its appalling treatment of its consumers over the past five years. Me, I'm waiting for a paradigm shift.

  • by DCowern (182668) * on Friday April 16, 2004 @11:55AM (#8882580) Homepage

    Let's hope that 'PlayFair' might appear in some other country now.

    In Soviet Russia, Apple plays fair!

  • NotFair (Score:3, Interesting)

    by YouHaveSnail (202852) on Friday April 16, 2004 @11:57AM (#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."
  • by masonbrown (208074) on Friday April 16, 2004 @12:46PM (#8883428) Homepage
    Seriously, I welcome the fact that I can go and instantly buy a single song I heard and liked for 99 cents. The one thing that upsets me is that just because someone's being all bitchy about any DRM, this solution is possibly in jeopardy. If you want the song without DRM, go get it on some P2P network. Is there any song that's available on Apple's store that's not already available ripped straight from CD to MP3/OGG/MP4/WMA? The only thing this guy's doing is weakening Apple's ability to assuage the RIAA's fears about digital distribution, threatening the distribution medium and process altogether.
  • by Powercntrl (458442) on Friday April 16, 2004 @02:04PM (#8884690)
    It takes forever, and you lose all the metadata!

    PlayFair allows you to strip the annoying DRM from the M4P files while preserving the metadata. Those of you saying "burn and re-rip" are missing the point. Time is a finite resourse and PlayFair makes the converting process MUCH quicker, so you can spend time enjoying your music instead of messing with it.

    You can then use a utility like the free dBpowerAMP with an AAC plug-in to convert to LAME MP3, WMA or even OGG, while still preserving the metadata. The last step is to use an MP3/WMA/OGG tag utility program to use the metadata to rename the file to something more meaningful than ITMS's default "[track] [title].m4a"

    I've converted over 151 protected iTunes tracks this way so I could play them on my MuVo2. With the WinAmp AAC plugin, I can also play my iTunes purchases on my old laptop that still runs Windows 98. Thank you PlayFair!
  • Freenet! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DaCool42 (525559) on Friday April 16, 2004 @04:53PM (#8886783) Homepage
    If anyone has a copy, post it up on freenet. This is just the kind of thing that freenet is good for.

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