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PlayFair Pulled Due to DMCA Request 711

doubleacr writes "MacSlash is reporting that PlayFair has been removed from Didn't see that one coming." We posted about PlayFair on Monday. received a DMCA complaint from Apple on Thursday, claiming PlayFair is in violation of the anti-circumvention provision of the DMCA, section 1201(a)(2). As per policy, the project has been disabled. Should the project managers file a counterclaim, the project could be restored. is owned by OSDN, the parent company of Slashdot.
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PlayFair Pulled Due to DMCA Request

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  • by michael path ( 94586 ) * on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:53PM (#8817454) Homepage Journal
    The project has been moved here: []

    Though nothing has yet been posted to it, the author posted on MacSlash that the C&D order from Apple will be posted - and will be continued as long as there is no violation of Indian law.
    • by Saint Aardvark ( 159009 ) * on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:59PM (#8817544) Homepage Journal
      Thought this might happen, so I checked out a copy from CVS when the original story was posted. The tarball can be found at: r.tgz []

      Keep in mind that all you have is my word that nothing's been changed (nothing has, but that doesn't mean you should trust me). I'm open to suggestions about verification (md5s of original files, maybe?).

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:13PM (#8817724)
      From a macslash post:
      I am the playfair author. Yes, it was a C&D from Apple. The kind folks at have agreed to host the project, as it does not violate any Indian laws. The C&D from Apple will be posted to the website when it's back up at [].

      To clarify:

      1. The DRMS code was written by VLC folks. I just used their code and two libaries (mp4ff and mp4v2) to create a nice, easy-to-use program. I did NOT reverse-engineer FairPlay.
      2. I think $0.99 is a fair price, too. I just (a) philosophically disagree with DRM and (b) want to be able to play the songs that I have legally purchased outside of iTunes / Quicktime. For the record, I do not use P2P networks to share files illegally.
      3. The DMCA is an abomination. Please write your congresspeople and ask them to repeal it.
      • 2. I think $0.99 is a fair price, too. I just (a) philosophically disagree with DRM and (b) want to be able to play the songs that I have legally purchased outside of iTunes / Quicktime.

        It's in their terms of service, and is a contract/license that is fully enforceable - while click throughs are arguable, payment definitely constitutes agreement. By this logic, he doesn't really care about the GPL or any agreement that isn't convenient to his personal whims.
        • Not quite (Score:3, Interesting)

          That's a bit of a leap of logic. If the contract said "and we get your firstborn son", he could have a philosophical objection to that without being against the idea of enforcable contracts. In other words, he objects to the terms of the contract, not the contract itself.

          while click throughs are arguable, payment definitely constitutes agreement
          Just because he legally agrees doesn't mean he philosophically agrees. Just because he accepts terms he doesn't agree with - terms he can't escape when buying
    • by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:37PM (#8818029)
      The project has been off-shored.
  • by ln -sf head ass ( 585724 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:54PM (#8817469)
    By trying to sue something off the Internet, you only ensure its wider propagation and interest among people who otherwise wouldn't have cared. I'll be sharing a tarball on eMule immediately. Come and sue everybody, Apple.
    • Oh come on. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Liselle ( 684663 ) * <`slashdot' `at' `'> on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:04PM (#8817607) Journal
      Give me a break, you speak as if they have a reasonable alternative. If Apple doesn't go after these people, you know that the recording industry is going to throw a conniption fit.
      • Re:Oh come on. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dasmegabyte ( 267018 ) <> on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:43PM (#8818147) Homepage Journal
        Is a lawsuit a "conniption fit?"

        Because a nice, juicy negligent breach of contract is surely brewing if Apple doesn't put it's foot squarely in the ass of PlayFair. It's be the same even without the DMCA -- if I sell you a security system, and somebody posts the backdoor password, I'd be in a world of shit if I didn't try my hardest to make it better.
      • Remember deCSS? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by SvnLyrBrto ( 62138 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @03:00PM (#8818476)
        The parent has a good point. Apple should have looked at the example set by deCSS.

        Before the MPAA started harassing "DVD-Jon" and DMCA-ing everyone who so much as mentioned the name deCSS in public; only a small handful of linux nerds had even heard of the thing, much less built and compiled it into media players for their own machines. No big deal. It was just a toy for extreme hobbyists.

        After the MPAA tried to take deCSS out, every self-righteous geek on the 'net made sure to get a copy. And many of them made it their mission to spread it further, and more mirrors than I could guess popped up. Somewhere *I* still have a copy of deCSS embedded into a webpage banner in some way that I don't even remember how to extract it.

        So what was PlayFair before Apple DMCA'd sourceforge? Another cute toy that was only of any use to someone who had already BOUGHT the song from ITMS in the first place. It's not like anybody hacked a backdoor into ITMS itself and made the entire library free to the 'net. Now, there are half a dozen mirrors in this /. article alone. And more are coming. And no doubt that work on PlayFair will continue, with much-increased enthusiasm once it is hosted somewhere outside US borders.

        It reminds me of a Douglas Adams quote.... about how while humans are unique in being the only species capable of learning from the mistakes of others, we are remarkably disinclined to actually do so.

        • Re:Remember deCSS? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 09, 2004 @03:13PM (#8818672)
          only a small handful of linux nerds had even heard of the thing,

          False. DVD-Jon's warez palz had built a Windows-based GUI ripper program long before the Linux community was aware of the software.

          The Windows Rip & Pirate community was up and running and distributing thousands of movies over P2P before Linux even got DVD filesystem support, much less a working player.
    • by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:06PM (#8817638) Journal
      I honestly don't know, but I would imagine that Apple is concerned about this not because they want to make sure everything stays locked up for the sake of being locked up, but probably because they don't want the RIAA to yank their licenses and cause all of the iTMS to come crashing down.

      Sure, you can make all the standard black helicopter and tinfoil hat jokes, but I really don't see how Apple would care about this, save the ramifications for keeping an amicable relationship with the RIAA pigopolists.

      While the DMCA is a horrible piece of legislation, a business would not be doing their shareholders a favor if they didn't use it to protect their business. This is a standard move, everyone saw it coming; and to say that it is a dumb mistake is a bit myopic.

      To do nothing would be a bigger mistake for Apple, for entirely different reasons.
  • by hoggoth ( 414195 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:55PM (#8817489) Journal
    > PlayFair has been removed from

    Oh good, should I order my T-shirts now?

  • Lest we forget... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Gothic_Walrus ( 692125 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:56PM (#8817497) Journal
    Once a file's made it to the internet, it's always going to be available. Undergroud websites, file sharing, Usenet's still available. It's just become a bit harder to find.

    In this case, though, that's a moot point, seeing as it's been rehosted. Oh well.

  • by jamonterrell ( 517500 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @01:59PM (#8817541)
    It's that time again... Seems like people would eventually get the point that programs are free speech. I can't wait to see the poems and prime numbers that get produced for this (remniscent of DeCSS).
  • Apple has no right (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sloppy ( 14984 ) * on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:00PM (#8817549) Homepage Journal
    Unless you mean the music publishing company. Which of Apple Computer's copyrighted works, does PlayFair remove the protection from?
  • need to have a Terms of Service to deal with junx like this. We've got one on RubyForge [] just in case...
  • by aacool ( 700143 ) <> on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:00PM (#8817559) Journal is India's first portal to host projects under Free/Open source licenses. It is located in Trivandrum, India and hosted at Asianet data center []. is customised, installed and maintained by Linuxense [] as part of their community services and sponsored by River Valley Technologies []

    Sarovar is hosted on a Compaq box running Debian woody and GForge.

    (34,266) PSTricks Tutorial
    (5,855) PDFscreen
    (5,693) LaTeX Primer
    (3,965) PDFslide
    (3,675) PDFtricks
    (2,087) Draft Copy for PDFTeX
    (1,504) JavaDBF
    (1,256) TeXLive
    (966) Swathantra Malayalam Computing
    (802) CVSPermissions - An ACL tool for CVS

    Hosted Projects: 126
    Registered Users: 659

  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:03PM (#8817595)
    Mirror early, mirror often!
  • Test Case? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Landaras ( 159892 ) <neil@we h n e m a n . c om> on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:04PM (#8817603) Homepage
    Unfortunately, I am not a lawyer, nor do I have the disposable income to pay for one.

    However, this looks to me like a(nother) possible test case of the DMCA.

    What makes this case attractive is that, to my understanding, PlayFair works WITHIN the accepted norms of society for copyright law (if you don't have a key from iTunes showing you bought the song, it won't convert the audio).

    It is a law that is OUTSIDE the accepted norms of society that is causing the problem here.

    I googled for "playfair" and didn't have any returns of relevance.

    Is the EFF involved in this case, or are they even aware of it?

    - Neil Wehneman

    P.S. I've mentioned this in previous [] posts [], but I'll mention it again here because it's relevant.

    Dr. Larry Lessig, who argued "our side" in Eldred v. Ashcroft, has put up his new book Free Culture under a Creative Commons license. Noncommercial redistribution with attribution is freely allowed.

    Download [] the PDF or buy it [] and support Creative Commons in the process.
  • Playfair torrent (Score:5, Informative)

    by SeanTobin ( 138474 ) * <.byrdhuntr. .at.> on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:06PM (#8817636)
    I haven't gotten a DMCA takedown notice in the last week or so, so here is a torrent for everyone to enjoy: []

  • by acomj ( 20611 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:09PM (#8817668) Homepage
    This is purely a business move by apple. They're DRM is pretty light. Everyone has known that you can burn a cd then rip it back. Even easier you can record anything going to the speaker as an mp3 using some freely available software.

    Jobs is quoted as saying the his PHds said you can't make a DRM that stops piracy completely.

    However apple needs music to resell. To allow software the strips the DRM would likely irk those big music companies that sell apple the songs it needs to sell. And with other DRMed formats apple probably needed DRM to open the store in the first place.

  • by Chilltowner ( 647305 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:09PM (#8817672) Homepage Journal
    As soon as I read the earlier /. story about PlayFair, I went straight to SourceForge and downloaded a copy. It now sits at home in a (sadly) ever expanding directory named "samizdat []", along with things like deCSS stuff [], the Grey Album [], and various other bits from Illegal Art []. Some of those things are still available, but I have such little faith in the DCMA that I think private copies are warranted.
  • by seangw ( 454819 ) <> on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:12PM (#8817701) Homepage
    That no matter how good/bad the encryption mechanism is, people can't break it.

    If I published software that "encrypted" an audio stream by reversing the bits, and someone figured it out or wrote software to get rid of my "encryption" scheme, then I could just start a legal battle against all those who try to publish against me?

    This is a wild, unpredictable, capitalistic world, not a pre-school.

  • by mfh ( 56 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:12PM (#8817709) Homepage Journal
    Consider this.

    Apple's 128kbps AAC's quality is very good, about the same as a 192kbps mp3. You can burn AAC to CD - that's allowed by the iTunes DRM scheme with no problems.

    The AAC -> CD data conversion has no quality loss associated with it. The data, on the CD, is sonically identical to how you bought it from Apple.

    If people rip commercial CDs to OGG (or any other format) without complaining about quality loss, I don't see how it's anything but hypocrisy to say that converting from AAC -> CD -> OGG/whatever is some kind of huge hindrance to their fair use. There's only one loss of quality, which is tiny, in that chain of events, and it happens EVERYWHERE else you convert CD data to a compressed music format.

    Where is this mysterious and show-stopping quality loss happening?
    • by Kev Vance ( 833 ) <kvance@kvanc[ ]om ['e.c' in gap]> on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:51PM (#8818318) Homepage
      Lossy encoding by definition removes bits from some bitstream.

      AAC removes some bits from the master copy of the audio. When you burn it to disc, you don't get those bits back; they're still gone.

      When you read it back from disc, and encode with $LOSSY_ENCODER, it removes some different bits from your copy of the audio. The final copy on your hard drive has fewer bits than the AAC copy or the master copy.

      The more levels of lossy transcoding you do, the more the result is going to diverge from the original. Your example would be true only if all music CDs were actually run through lossy compression.
  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:12PM (#8817715)
    As per policy, the project has been disabled.

    Huh? The policy linked to speaks of copyright violation. Was the code stolen? If not, I fail to see the reasoning.

    It simply allowed fair use- it couldn't be used to unlock songs you didn't already own, right?

    What about programs which are almost exclusively used for illegal activity, ie, copyright infringement? Like, say, emule? Or BitTorrent? Or any of dozens of gnutella clones? None of which require you to own a copy of anything?

    One can argue that all these p2p clients CAN be used for perfectly legal purposes. The same argument applies to PlayFair, if not more so because it required ownership in the first place.

    • I also think Sourceforge should fix their policy since it doesn't make clear that they will comply with any and all DMCA-related cease-and-desist requests, which is essentially what they are now doing.

      But to be fair to OSDN and Sourceforge, the Slashdot blurb linked to the wrong section of the Sourceforge policy. See instead this section [] on termination. Essentially, if they are required by law to disable an account or remove content, they will. I agree that they could have pushed back on a simple C

    • Huh? The policy linked to speaks of copyright violation. Was the code stolen? If not, I fail to see the reasoning.

      Sourceforge is not in the business of judging the code it hosts. If a third party has a problem and the developers don't want to take responsibility and fight them, I don't see any problem with SF yanking the project.
  • My 2 cents (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kaltekar ( 464545 ) <> on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:14PM (#8817743) Homepage
    Apple is mearly defending there copy protection mechinism(sp), most likly a requirment in the sea of contracts that Apple has with the RIAA and its affiliats, though I do not agree with using the C&D with the DMCA instead of a normal C&D. You must remember that Apples DRM is is the most liberal out there, allowing you to burn multiple CD's (which can still be ripped into MP3's) and transfer AAC Files to a back up and restore.

    I don't see this as any type of strong arm tactic by Apple to "put the little guy down" just protecting an updated bussiness model. Without ITMS no more iPod sales, which means no more street muggings (maybe this is a good dthing after all)
  • by diamondsw ( 685967 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:20PM (#8817810)
    I fully expect this to be struck down in the same way action against DeCSS was struck down. PlayFair only allows those who have already legally purchased the music to remove the DRM protections - something that was already possible with burning and re-ripping.

    Apple is no friend of DRM, but you can bet they are going to do what is necessary to maintain their relationship with the music labels, particularly in light of the labels trying to raise prices and increase restrictions.

    The end result of this is moot. Some will say the cat's out of the bag, the genie's out of the bottle, etc, but that's not the case. The cat was never in the bag - this could always be accomplished by a simple burn/rip cycle.

    (And before people point out that this doesn't require lossy recompression, seriously consider how many people will leave the file in AAC format, rather than transcode it to the ever-popular MP3.)
  • by avaric3 ( 580446 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:23PM (#8817854)
    This "crack" would not have cost Apple one cent (okay 99) in lost downloads.

    So someone could distribute high quality AAC files stripped of DRM. So what? There are already plenty of high-quality mp3, ogg and various other audio format rips of cds on p2p. There are also tons of fakes, radio rips, decoys, trojans, and just plain crappy rips floating on these networks as well. There is nothing stopping anyone from taking a fake or crappy mp3 rip and re-encoding it as aac and distributing it via p2p.

    The people that shop at itunes are not going to stop because there are now some additional aac files available on p2p. People that shop iTunes do so because of the user experience. You know you will get a fast, high quality download from iTunes. You can't be sure with P2P until you've downed the file and listened to the whole thing.

    On the other hand, increasing [] the price of downloads and/or forced bundling will cause iTunes sales to drop.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Sure there are otherways to get MP3s of songs. Apple just does not want to be the conduit for the loss. That's reasonable isn't it. It certainly is there obligation to protect their music partners.
  • Challenging this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcc ( 14761 ) <> on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:34PM (#8817979) Homepage
    Should the project managers file a counterclaim, the project could be restored.

    Uhh, I doubt it. This is about the most clear-cut case of the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions applying you could get. The only way this could be declared unworkable is if the DMCA was struck down. Given, striking down the DMCA is only a matter of time, and it needs to happen. But if you're trying to find an optimal case on which to challenge the DMCA, this certainly isn't it.

    The EFF failed to challenge their lower-court losses over DeCSS because they believed they would not have a higher court's sympathy when defending a group named "", and they needed to wait for a more opportune small case that could be used to set precedent. I'm not so sure this was a good idea. But in any case, this would be even worse.

    With DeCSS, there was at least overwhelming public sympathy, and the intent of the opposition was clear; you were fighting the DVD consortium and MPAA directly, and they were clearly moneygrubbing oligopolists trying to price-fix between countries and take rights consumers had had for years (like copying vhs tapes) and remove them through a law they personally bought. Whereas Apple has created something new, and is giving their users at least a modicum of ability to exercise fair use. The application of the DMCA is still unjust, and DRM is still an idiotic concept, but framing Apple as a villan in this would be really difficult, especially when far more clear abuses of the DMCA are still going on.

    I do wonder, though, why the EFF seems totally disinterested in challenging the DMCA anti-circumvention provisions. It seemed like DVDxCopy made a great test case, and the bullshit with the lexmark print drivers made an even better one. Have they just given up?

    (P.S.: If I am not mistaken, isn't this the first time Apple has ever invoked the DMCA? There was that one time that someone was doing something wierd involving allowing iDVD to work on a different OS version, and Apple asked them to stop, and they did and went and complained to the press and made some cryptic comments about the DMCA, yet from what was seen of apple legal's correspondence with them there didn't actually appear to be any DMCA invocation. Hm.. oh well.)
  • by Exmet Paff Daxx ( 535601 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:47PM (#8818249) Homepage Journal
    The MPAA tries to use the DMCA to suppress source code as free speech, spawns a million Slashdot stories and a T-shirt, and the concept of the "digital crowbar" is born. They're suppressing fair use! We can't excerpt or time-shift!

    Apple tries to use the DMCA to suppress source code as free speech, a million Slashdot users get in line to support their right to do it because hey, "They're Apple!!".

    Maybe Jack Valenti was right after all - it's all about who you know.

    Now get in line and drink the cool-aid.
  • by timmi ( 769795 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @02:51PM (#8818335)
    Having read "This Business of Music" Revised and expanded 8th edition By Krasilovski and Shemel, I feel I am qualified to set the record straight on copyright law. As the Law stands, (or stood at the time of the book's publising) all people involved in the creation of a work, be it a book, speech, Musical score, or recording, or Video content such as TV and Film, have equal rights as anyone else invloved in the production. In the case of the band I am with, I have equal rights to the copyright and any royalties, even though I am not a "Musician" (I am the Recording engineer, and I insure that levels are good, and without my contribution the recordings would sound lousy.) If, on the other hand, I was working at a professional studio, all clients (Bands and individual artists) would sign a contrack that establishes the studio as a contractor on a "Work for Hire" basis, and therefore, by default hold no power over the copyright, except anything explicitly spelled out in the contract. A common clause of this nature gives all employees of the studio who work directly for the band, (All the people in the control room) the right to use excerpts of the band's songs as a Demo Reel, or in promoting the studio as a whole. the point of the above was that "Record Labels" make musicians who are "Signed" give up full copyright control over their existing body of work, to the "Label" Lastly, Failure to take action against a known infringer is tantamount, according to the letter of the law, to willfully allowing the work to fall into the public domain. The ultimate point is this: The Judicial system needs to work out who holds the trump card. The Users: In other words "Fair Use is the trump that overrides all else" The DMCA: DMCA makes it illegal to break the DRM, and that is the end of it. Apple: The iTMS EULA is the trump and everything, even fair use must be carried out in accordance with the EULA and its DRM protections
  • You could buy your car only from an authorized dealer, and only online... but it would be delivered to you in 23 seconds and placed in your garage.

    You could drive your car anywhere you wanted, so long as you only park it in authorized spaces. Those who do not park in an authorized space will be immediately crushed and sold for scrap during your incarceration.

    You may drive your car anytime you want, so long as you gain permission from an authorized Apple Car Dealer first. Once permission has been granted, your car will be unlocked and started for you. Any attempt to unlock or start your car without prior authorization will result in your car exploding.

    You are the only authorized driver of the car. Any attempt to "share" the car with another passenger or driver will result in your immediate incarceration.

    All cars would only have 3 seats.
  • by Beek Dog ( 610072 ) on Friday April 09, 2004 @04:03PM (#8819374)
    Burn a bunch of iTunes with copywrite protection. The format on the disc will now be AIFF. Put the new disc back in. Re-rip (Using iTunes, if you like). No more 'FairPlay'. Not that I'd do it, I'm just saying... I have bought songs from iTunes. I was fine with only burning them twice. But because I can't burn with iTunes (No idea why), I was forced to use the Toast Lite that came with the burner. It wasn't until I had put an iTune on about five different mixes that I realized I was (Gasp!) 'circumventing the DMCA'! Of course I quickly microwaved the discs and scattered them at sea. Then I realized I had just dumped toxic waste in the ocean. I quickly wrote a letter to the EPA telling them I was going to have to move my business to another country if they decided to pursue any legal action. Then I sent the Republican Party a check for $2,000. Then I threw a big party at a hotel, got the Bush twins drunk, and took pictures of them taking lines. The moral of the story? Don't cheat, unless you're a good cheater with lots o' dough.

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced -- even a proverb is no proverb to you till your life has illustrated it. -- John Keats