Saturday, April 10, 2004

On FairPlay

As many geeks know, an application was released last week on SourceForge called "Playfair". Playfair used a couple of the VLC project libraries to read a protected iTunes Music Store .m4p protected AAC file and rewrite it as a regular .m4a file with the FairPlay DRM stripped from the file. It uses a users' legitimate key to do the conversion, and can only work on music for which it has the key.

Despite that limitation, Apple came down on it using the force of the DMCA behind it, and SourceForge took the site down. It is now hosted offshore by Sarovar.org. Well, I'm going to use Playfair on all my iTMS content, but not so I can share it illegally. I really don't believe in that, surprisingly.

The reason I'll strip the DRM from my purchased music files is different. I believe I should be able to stream my music to non-Apple devices, and Apple only allows their AAC variation to work with iPods and computers that run iTunes. This leaves out standalone devices that otherwise support AAC, and Linux computers. So by stripping the DRM out I can eventually rig up a streaming audio converter to my home theater downstairs, and read audio off a Mac upstairs. There are several devices on the market, mainly cheap, that can do this today with regular old open AAC but since Apple doesn't license FairPlay they can't support the music I buy online.

So this gives me the best of both worlds. I can support legal downloads of music, and use it any way I want.

I've already converted my Nellie McKay album - it sounds the same (duh - no recompression was performed), and took about 25 seconds to do.

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