iTMS DRM-Stripping Site (PlayFair) Pulled [Updated]
by , 5:15 PM EDT, April 9th, 2004
[6:15 PM Update: An Apple spokesperson declined to comment on this matter, citing Apple's policy of not commenting on legal issues. - Editor]
It will come as a surprise to few, but the PlayFair site we mentioned earlier this week has been pulled. PlayFair is a command line application that will strip Apple's DRM, called FairPlay, from iTunes Music Store (iTMS) downloads. Our friends at MacSlash are reporting that PlayFair's Web site has been pulled at its home at SourceForge.net, citing a possible Cease & Desist from Apple's legal department.
PlayFair's site is still available via Google cache, but none of the download links currently work. In addition, a Web page for the project is still available at FreshMeat.net, though its download links point to the no-longer functioning SourceForge.net links. MacSlash says that PlayFair's project members are looking for a new host, though any such host would most likely have to be outside the US, as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is fairly clear on software such as this.
Apple spokespersons were not immediately available to comment. You can find MacSlash's report at its Web site.
While using PlayFair is certainly a violation of the law, we believe that the law is wrong if it means that we can not move legally purchased music when and where we wish. That, of course, is just part of the problem with the DMCA.
In the meanwhile, we can't imagine anyone is surprised that SourceForge was asked to remove the site, and that includes people involved in the PlayFair project.
All of that said, we want to iterate that A.) Apple's DRM scheme is the most liberal one of all the mainstream online services, and B.) that we see Apple's FairPlay as an interim step towards either a liberalized recording industry, or a recording industry where the record labels no longer hold the power they do now.
In other words, we believe that Apple's FairPlay, while unwanted for the simple reason that is DRM of any sort, was a huge and necessary step forward in dealing with the record labels, and not an end unto itself. Also, our comments should not be interpreted as an endorsement for piracy or those who think they shouldn't have to pay for music.