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Apple To Play Fairer With FairPlay? 153

Posted by kdawson
from the all's-fair dept.
NewbieMonster writes "According to tech.co.uk, Apple is about to license its Fairplay DRM to Made for iPod accessory manufacturers. It's reported that Apple will also allow streaming of protected AAC content via USB. Could this signal a move to allowing other music players to access and play ITMS content?" From the article: "The expected announcements could signal a move on Apple's part to take some of the sting out of its Fairplay DRM which has come in for a great deal of criticism over recent months. It may also be a way of keeping Made For iPod makers onside, as the draw of the Microsoft Zune becomes stronger." Anyone noticed the draw of the Microsoft Zune becoming stronger?
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Apple To Play Fairer With FairPlay?

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  • but seriously ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ganjadude (952775) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @09:14PM (#17639510) Homepage
    why was the zune thrown in there???? to start a flame war of course, no other reason, i mean whats a /. article without some micro bashing
  • again.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by User 956 (568564) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @09:18PM (#17639584) Homepage
    According to tech.co.uk, Apple is about to license its Fairplay DRM to Made for iPod accessory manufacturers. It's reported that Apple will also allow streaming of protected AAC content via USB. Could this signal a move to allowing other music players to access and play ITMS content?

    Again, reinforcing the point that DRM isn't about preventing piracy, it's about maintaining control over other things. Like competitors in the marketplace.
  • by larry bagina (561269) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @09:20PM (#17639600) Journal

    Outside of slashdot (an alternate reality where grandmothers use lunix and ogg vorbis is popular), who is criticizing fairplay? Is there anybody that doesn't think Zune is a turd?

    Please, enlighten me.

  • Re:again.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768@@@comcast...net> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @09:36PM (#17639776) Journal
    Again, reinforcing the point that DRM isn't about preventing piracy, it's about maintaining control over other things. Like competitors in the marketplace.
    ummmm NO SHIT? Steve Job himself said this to EVERYONE when they started the iTunes Music Store. The labels require it though (also to maintain control over your music unless you are living under a rock somewhere and wonder why about that too) so the honest question is, why not use it to your company's advantage when the people your licensing from require it anyway.

    Only a business moron or naive fool would not.

  • Re:No (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Knara (9377) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @09:41PM (#17639816)
    Wow... you sound really authoritative, but it seems [wikipedia.org] like you really [wikipedia.org] don't know what you're talking about [hymn-project.org].
  • by Mr2001 (90979) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @09:44PM (#17639854) Homepage Journal

    Outside of slashdot (an alternate reality where grandmothers use lunix and ogg vorbis is popular), who is criticizing fairplay?
    People who want to transfer files that they've bought to others without handing over the keys to their account. Like, for example, a father on Christmas morning who gives his son an iPod with Pirates of the Carribean loaded - but then he realizes he bought it with his own account, and the son will lose that file as soon as he syncs it with his own computer, unless he also gives his son one of his 5 "authorization" slots.

    Is there anybody that doesn't think Zune is a turd?
    I played with one for a few minutes in the store the other day, and the interface is at least as nice as the iPod's - perhaps a bit better. The screen is better for watching videos. The "squirting" seems too half-assed to be a valuable feature, though.

    Now a question for you: is there anybody who actually likes the iPod's click wheel? At first, it seems like a cool gizmo, but then you realize how hard it is to move just one click at a time. You can move halfway across the screen with just a little flick, but you have to move s-l-o-w-l-y if you only want to move one stop. When you're searching through a long list, and you do the super-fast spin to activate letter searching mode, you're lucky if you can stop within one or two letters of the one you're looking for.
  • by mgv (198488) <Nospam@01@slash2dot.veltman@org> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @09:52PM (#17639996) Homepage Journal
    Outside of slashdot (an alternate reality where grandmothers use lunix and ogg vorbis is popular), who is criticizing fairplay? Is there anybody that doesn't think Zune is a turd?

    Not too many people.

    In truth its not very restrictive, as far as the current policies go. And apple has defended the users against abuses from the RIAA (esp with increases in pricing).

    In particular, the fact that you can authorise 5 machines and an unlimited number of ipods is good.

    More importantly, you can reset the list of 5 machines once per year even if you have lost all your old machines. Which means that having your music work on a new machine isn't likely to be a problem, even if your old machines get stolen or reformatted before you could deauthorise them out of your list of 5 computers.

    Not to mention that you can burn the music and rip it again anyway. Sure it loses quality, but if you are buying for quality alone, you wouldn't be using either iTunes or an iPod for that matter.

    I'm not surprised that iTunes isn't yet hacked. Mostly because there aren't many reasons yet why a legit user would get pissed off.

    The biggest thing they should offer (in my opinion) is the ability to redownload your music that you have purchased. In this situation you would be getting defacto off-site storage of your music, which would be a huge plus for the service that you wouldn't get with mp3's. Unless you consider bittorrent as your off site backup.

    Anyway, DRM has worked against the RIAA. They thought it would give them control over the users. Instead it has given apple control of the RIAA.

    Michael
  • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @10:44PM (#17640602) Homepage
    You may already know about this, but here is how to un-DRM your songs: simply burn them to an audio CD, then re-import them from the CD's. Sure, you theoretically lose sound quality this way, but I cannot tell the difference, and I'll bet if I blindfolded you, you couldn't either.

    I'm surprised no one has made an AAC encoder specifically designed for this situation. Consider how lossy audio compression works. The 30000 ft overview would be that you simplify the input by throwing away some of it (hopefully, some of it that is inaudible), resulting in something that can be losslessly compressed.

    When you take a lossy compressed song and expand that (e.g., burn to an audio CD), and want to compress that again, you don't need to throw any of it away to get something that will compress well, if you are trying to compress using the same compression system that was originally used. (If you were expanding an AAC file, and then wanted to compress with, say MP3, that would have to have some degradation, because AAC and MP3 would have different ideas of what needs to be thrown away). What this means is that it should be possible to design an AAC encoder that can take advantage of the knowledge that the input is the result of expanding a 128 kbit/second stereo AAC file, and compress back to something that matches that original AAC file.

  • Re:Black hole (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Brian Gordon (987471) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @10:57PM (#17640742)
    Exactly like the PS3 :)
  • by Blondie-Wan (559212) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @11:05PM (#17640842) Homepage
    Those songs are sold with DRM on iTunes because other songs from the major labels are sold that way, and iTunes doesn't discriminate by label to know whether to apply DRM or not. It's simply universally applied to everything sold there, in accordance with the wishes of the majors who sell there (and whose music, I'm sure, overwhelmingly dominates sales there as elsewhere).

    eMusic doesn't have major label stuff precisely because it doesn't do DRM (well, that, plus it's not as lucrative). That's not necessarily a bad thing, of course; as an eMusic user myself for a fair while, I've come to realize one of the many benefits of the service is how it fosters discovering new/obscure music, and that's frankly easier without the same major label stuff one can get elsewhere anyway dominating the site and distracting one from the hidden real treasures. However, it does mean there's an additional factor that has to be taken into account when comparing DRMed iTunes to DRMless eMusic.

    There are in fact a bunch of download services, both with DRM and without (iTunes, eMusic, Audio Lunchbox, Napster, etc.), and the line dividing the ones with major label material from ones without is the same line dividing the ones with DRM from ones without. There's a reason for that, and it's a lot bigger than Apple, since only one of the download services is theirs.

  • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @01:46AM (#17642270) Homepage Journal
    please excuse me if I cause anyone offense in saying this, but maybe if Mac users didn't refer to crackers as "scum" and other names, they wouldn't ostracize the platform. I do appreciate that crackers are finally being recognized by others as the freedom fighters I've always considered them to be. It's about time.
  • Re:No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @02:39AM (#17642654) Homepage
    QTFairUse extracts AAC frames from memory, it does not break the encryption.

    Well, if that'll get you the original compressed AAC version with absolutely zero loss (not even transcoding loss, nevermind the D/A/D loss of the analog hole), what more exactly do you need? Even if you found the key, the encryption is no more or less broken than it was before, they can ship a new version with a new key and a new memory location and you're back to square one again.
  • by mgv (198488) <Nospam@01@slash2dot.veltman@org> on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @04:25AM (#17643182) Homepage Journal
    What mythical world do you live in? iTunes doesn't have every major label - last I checked, some of them refuse to sign up because "the DRM is too lax". How is Apple in control again?

    Because those labels haven't been anywhere near to disrupt Apple's success and continued growth? Eventually Apple will be such a large sales channel, they have no choice but to fall in line.

    I have to agree with Kjella.

    Look at Apple Corp (the Beatles). I'm willing to wager money that they are about to start releasing music using iTunes. Certainly you have to wonder why else Steve Jobs had their albums splashed everywhere in his keynote speech.

    The label's have two real choices: Fairplay for the iPod, or no DRM. The fact that they are starting to sell songs without DRM says how scared they are of apple.

    The trouble is that if they use any other DRM, the percentage of the market that they get is so small it isn't worth having. Not to mention the debacle that microsoft produced when it abandoned its "plays for sure" platform for the Zune. I wouldn't want to be selling music to any of those WMA players - the users there might forget to blame microsoft and blame the label when the music they bought 6 months ago now can't be played on a Zune, or pretty much any new hardware that's coming out.

    I'm not trying to defend apple for its DRM, but if you look at what happened with iTunes when the music store was cracked - basically they moved to a new version of iTunes but kept the old version still working, even though people were downloading music and bypassing the DRM. To my knowledge, you can still do this with the old version of iTunes if you really want to, but certainly nobody suffered from the DRM being bypassed.

    The net effect of this is that the RIAA, if it wants DRM, has to use Apple. Anything else is probably worse than pointless the way microsoft is playing with WMA.

    And if they have to use fairplay, they do so on apple's terms. A point which they are just starting to realise.

    Michael

  • Re:hmm.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @05:34AM (#17643532)
    Wow, I actually predicted this!

    We had a discussion about why Steve Jobs was so interested in making MS develop an iPod clone. Most of last January, Steve used every possible public apperance to claim that MS had to take control over the full music experience and copy how Apple developed iPod. There had to be a reason.

    And then Zune came, and Microsoft didn't just abadon their partners (by not using P4S as DRM), they screwed them first (making sure Zune didn't play P4S). This way they alienated all their current partners. And it made it extremly costly for Zune to enter the mobile marked. (MS is doing better in the mobile marked than they did in mp3 marked. Making a Zune phone is going to hurt them a lot more, than the destruction of the WMP marked.)

    So I speculated that the perfect trick would be to license Fairplay to the former Windows partners. So over 24 months Apple has turned the competition from everybody against Apple to Everybody against Zune, a nice trick considering the problem with MS having enough money to change the world.

    It solves the problem with the lawsuites against iTMS, it strengthens iTMS marked (and iTMS is now growing strong enough to actually be an important product at Apple), and Apple is still able to strengthen the iPod ecosystem independent of their partners. (Apple dosen't have to sell games og other features to other players).

    But as someone points out, its not published yet.
  • by LKM (227954) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @06:39AM (#17643838) Homepage
    the interface is at least as nice as the iPod's - perhaps a bit better

    No scroll wheel, nothing to even remotely replicate its functionality. It's just not an efficient interface.

  • by falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768@@@comcast...net> on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @10:22AM (#17645666) Journal
    Then how do you explain that *all* the labels on iTunes sell *all* that music in a higher quality (ie. not lossily compressed) unprotected form? It's called a CD.
    Easy, they havent found a DRM that works well on a CD without breaking things all over the place and making them look bad.

    Sony, Universal, Warner and EMI have all used copy protection on their CDs recently to mixed results. So your idea that the labels are not pushing it is completely and totally false.

  • by DaveCar (189300) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @01:55PM (#17649162)
    The sheer amount of articles out there talking about how only now within the last 4 months labels are beginning to decide that DRM on CDs is costing them sales.

    Of course, indie labels for years have known DRM is stupid, but the big 5 swore by it up till now despite you accusations of the contrary, or would you like me to google up 5 years of articles that prove you a liar?

    "Slashdot, where telling the truth is overrated but lying is insightful."


    OK. You clearly have some kind of personal demons about the whole "lying" thing.

    1) I stated that labels sell unprotected music on CD. Therefore labels do not "require" DRM to sell music. If they did they would not sell CDs.

    2) I stated that DRM is pushed by tech companies. OK that's an opinion, but it is one that I honestly hold.

    3) I stated that stuff will always end up on P2P anyway - an opinion again, but the emergence of the first HD-DVD title on p2p backs that up.

    4) 'Some labels might "want" DRM, but it is the illusion that they are buying, not the reality.' - OK, labels want to stop people copying stuff and mke them buy all their stuff again, but current DRM doesn't stop people copying stuff (see previous point) so the labels are being sold a pup.

    5) You: Easy, they havent found a DRM that works well on a CD without breaking things all over the place and making them look bad. Sony, Universal, Warner and EMI have all used copy protection on their CDs recently to mixed results. So your idea that the labels are not pushing it is completely and totally false.

    I actually only disagreed with your assertation that labels "require" it (see 1), they don't on CDs, some do on online but look at somewhere like http://www.playloudershop.com/browse/labels/ [playloudershop.com] for (indie admitedly) labels that don't; XL Recordings (The Prodigy), Play It Again Sam, Skint (Fatboy Slim), Beggars Banquet (Cult), 4AD (Pixies), or somewhere like bleep.com or juno.co.uk. These are all selling MP3s with no protection, so your statement "The labels require it" is false because not all labels do. You might want to qualify it as "The major labels". My assertion would be that most labels don't care (an opinion again, but there would seem to be a lot of labels that don't).

    6) You'll have to take my word that our labels aren't bothered, but to my knowledge none have used any protected CDs and I wrote the system which has processed a good deal of them for sending to Juno (which has no protection). This statement could be a lie, but you don't have any proof to the contrary, do you?

    7) You: The sheer amount of articles out there talking about how only now within the last 4 months labels are beginning to decide that DRM on CDs is costing them sales. Of course, indie labels for years have known DRM is stupid, but the big 5 swore by it up till now despite you accusations of the contrary, or would you like me to google up 5 years of articles that prove you a liar?

    So you admit that indie labels don't want it and the majors now see that what they have been given by the tech companies is hurting them. Again, I will state that what I think (opinion) is that the ones who do use DRM like the idea of DRM, but they can't buy it. Like a junkie expecting a better hit each time they are buying DRM pushed to them by tech companies.

    The labels are hurting (pissed off customers, class action suits), consumers are hurting (some might not have realised it yet though until they try and switch media player), and who is the only one getting any benefit out of each and every sale of track with a lovely little DRM license? Yeah, DRM manufacturers. I think that the push on DRM is coming from the tech companies like Apple and Microsoft who want a liiittle bit of money on every track sold. Their product is, however, not up to the job so they are selling the illusion of protection. I might be wrong, but it not a lie that that is what I think.

    So, am I a liar as you claim? On
  • by turnipsatemybaby (648996) on Wednesday January 17, 2007 @02:47PM (#17650028)
    Wow... where to begin? I think at the beginning is probably the best. When CDs were first created long long ago, the format itself was considered a DRM measure, because computers at the time were hopelessly incapable of copying them. They didn't have enough capacity, there was no "internet" to speak of... Hell, most computers at the time didn't even have CDROM drives, let alone CD Burners. No one could forsee the world we have now. CDs have been around for a LONG time now. So your assertion that the labels wouldn't sell CDs if they weren't concerned about theft is ridiculous. To add insult to injury, despite the fact that CDs were astoundingly cheaper to produce, CDs were significantly more expensive than casette tapes. I talked to someone once who worked in the industry, and they said it was because CDs had "longevity" and thus priced it accordingly. Riiiiight. Your "opinion" is that its the tech companies who are pushing DRM (and by implication, the major labels are just victims of the advertising). Well, until you can give some figures to back that up, I would say that that statement is downright idiotic and naive. As the GP mentioned, there are countless articles spanning years about the major labels talking about how desperate DRM is needed in order to curtail the rampant piracy and other nonsense. There are also a good number of articles pointing out how completely false these statements are, and how laughable the supposed supporting evidence is. Major labels, and major content providers in general (ie: movies) have ALWAYS had a fondness for ANYTHING they can use to control what people do with content, with the only limiting factor being the law. VHS tapes have special encodings to prevent them from being copied, for example. Content control is not a new thing. It is not some thing that tech companies suddenly dreamed up. Tech companies now are doing nothing more than similar companies did in the past. They saw that the media industry wanted to control the product they sell to customers, and created products accordingly to suit the media industries whims. The fact that it's biting the media industry in the ass is PURELY the media industry's fault, as a result of the media industries own greed. No amount of spinning you try to do will change that simple, widely acknowledged fact.

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