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FairPlay Is Dead, Long Live FairPlay

FairPlay Is Dead, Long Live FairPlay

by , 11:00 AM EDT, May 1st, 2003

A while back we posted an article about a Canadian musician, Jade Leary, who was attempting to change the way music was being distributed. Jade Leary called his music distribution system FairPlay, and though it did garner some interest, it never really took off for various reasons.

Jade Leary was featured on Apple's AAC Audio Gallery [link to Google cached page], and during his conversations with Apple, Mr. Leary offered his ideas about how music could be distributed. While Apple seemed interested, they never got involved with his ideas. Jade Leary forged ahead with his version of FairPlay. He called it his 'Great Experiment' and hoped that, if nothing else, the ideas he proposed would catch somewhere. It looks like they did indeed catch, at least in spirit.

Apple is calling the Digital Rights Management (DRM) in its new music distribution system FairPlay, though it is nothing at all similar to the process Jade Leary attempted. Jade Leary didn't have big name labels backing him; what he tried to do was to get the artist closer to the listener and reduce the role of the big label companies.

Although many artists were interested in Jade Leary's system, none signed on, and so the only music that was available on Jade Leary's site was his own. Apple's system includes the big labels and so has instant access to hundreds of thousands of songs from well known artists, something that automatically attracts the attention of the music buying public.

Jade Leary's system was basically similar to shareware; you download and listen to an album, if you liked it you paid $7 and the music was yours to do with what you will. Apple's system offers an enhanced payment system and per-song billing, but does not depend on the kindness of strangers to get paid; you paid before you download the songs. Still, with Apple's new system you have almost the same usage right as in Jade Leary's system, and that was the whole point, to allow music customers to continue to enjoy music the way they wanted to.

Today, Jade Leary is ending his Great Experiment. Citing Apple's new music service as being the right way to distribute tunes, Jade Leary is stopping FairPlay and is offering his 2 albums free of charge.

From Jade Leary:

"FairPlay is now the name used by Apple's new DRM (Digital Rights Management) scheme. Did I have anything to do with that? Maybe, I don't know. But I do know it appears to be DRM done the right way, achieving the right balance between anti-piracy and fair use issues. In light of this I'm retiring the FairPlay concept as I saw it. Truth is, it never really took off. Although there was definite interest, many people downloaded, very few contributed. Artists never signed on. Am I pissed? No. I always saw this as an experiment. It is now over. To all those who encouraged me with words or contributions, I sincerely thank you.

As of today, I'm giving away my music. I just feel like it. The goal of FairPlay was always communication and exchange and I've decided to let the strings go. You can download albums in either mp3 or the new AAC audio format. The files now also include hi-rez cover art. Enjoy them, share them, you've got my blessing. I might also be making older unreleased material available as well. If you like what you hear send me an e-mail at [email protected] : you can't imagine how worthwhile it makes everything seem.

I've started work on my third album. Working title is The Lost Art of Human Kindness. Stay tuned for more in the coming months..."

Stop by Jade Leary's site; the music is good, the idea was great, and both deserves some attention.

The Mac Observer Spin:

We, at TMO, salute Jade Leary's efforts. It is pioneers like him, who not only see the problem and devise a solution, but is willing to make the extra effort to see the ideas blossom and bear fruit, at least in some form. We wish there were more people like Jade Leary who attempted to provide real solutions. A rarity in today's world.

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