Apple gadfly PlayFair up and running again

The PlayFair free software project is back online, with both the maintainer of the project and the hosting service willing to face a legal challenge from Apple Computer.

Apple last month shut down the free software project, which enables AAC (advanced audio coding) files downloaded from Apple iTunes to be played on platforms that Apple does not support. It does that by stripping the DRM (Digital Rights Management) mechanism from a song, provided the key for playing the song is available.

The project has been renamed Hymn, according to Anand Babu, the maintainer of the project. It is being hosted on two sites (http://playfair.org/ and http://hymn-project.org) by a U.S.-based hosting service provider. Babu said last month that the project would be hosted outside the U.S.

"This (hosting service) provider is well aware of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) and DRM issues and is very much willing to defend us in case Apple threatens to bring down the site," Babu said in an e-mail Tuesday, announcing the return online of the PlayFair project.

Apple shut down the free software project, which is available under the General Public License (GPL), after serving a legal notice, alleging infringement of copyright, to the sponsors of Sarovar (http://sarovar.org) a free software development community site based in Thiruvanthapuram, India, that was hosting the PlayFair project.

The project had earlier been brought down from SourceForge.net, an open-source software development Web site in the U.S. owned by Open Source Development Network (OSDN), after Apple invoked the DMCA.

The new release of the software, called release 0.6.0, is pretty much a complete rewrite, according to a posting on the two sites. The metadata from the protected AAC file downloaded from the Apple iTunes Music Store is left intact, including the Apple ID of the user who bought the song.

"This proves that our purpose is for fair use and not for piracy and should help us in our legal battles," the posting added.

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
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