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Summary:

PlayFair, an open source project which mimics ITunes software and allows Linux users to listen to ITunes music has ended its Indian vacation, according to news reports here. The project which was kicked off SourceForge last week had relocated to an Indian server, hosted by Sarovar,org, […]

PlayFair, an open source project which mimics ITunes software and allows Linux users to listen to ITunes music has ended its Indian vacation, according to news reports here. The project which was kicked off SourceForge last week had relocated to an Indian server, hosted by Sarovar,org, an open source not for profit group. Sarovar folks received a legal notice from Apple India. (Here is the link.)

bq. “PlayFair lets music bought from Apple’s iTunes Music Store (iTMS) play on any computer. But Apple is fighting a global battle to restrict iTunes buyers to the iPod – its popular music player – apart from a limited number of PCs,” says S. Rajkumar, a founding member of the not-for-profit Sarovar.

Apple has been very aggressive in pulling the shutters on this software because it worries that it could slow the sales of its hit IPod product. Given that it is ITunes and IPod which are saving the company’s skin these days, it is no surprise.

bq. “Apple licences buyers to play iTunes on iPod and three other pre-decided computers. But PlayFair lets them listen to iTunes on any device. More than 30,000 have downloaded PlayFair within four days, from India,” says Rajkumar.

I am trying to figure out the implications of all this for the overall software and music business in India and will be filing a report later.

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  1. Patrick Bennett Monday, April 19, 2004

    This is a sad product IMHO. The BIG problem with it is that it doesn’t mimic anything, it just uses your iTunes DRM key to re-encode your purchased music MINUS the DRM. This is what allows the music to play all over the place.

    At it’s heart, I’m sure there was no intention to ruin the fun people are having using iTunes, but I think the implications of this product threaten the whole iTunes Music Store. The only way Apple was able to be first to the market with such a simple music download service with standard pricing was it’s promise that their DRM would work. Make breaking the DRM easy and the record companies will get scared. When they then pull support for the iTMS, no one will be happy. Especially, I would imagine, the author of the software that’s causing the problem in the first place.

    If he/they cared at all, they would voluntarily pull the software.

  2. patrick – thanks for the post and the detailed explanation. i think it is quite helpful in understanding one side of the issue. being here, i have not kept up with the regular news reading but seems like there is a lot of noise around this. would investigate more when i get back to the US

  3. Jon Sreekanth Monday, April 19, 2004

    I can see paying for “IP content”, meaning the efforts of musicians, but if I paid good money for a song, why should I not be able to play it on every musical device that I have, in my house or my car ? The whole concept of “Intellectual Property” is an artificial creation, as opposed to property rights in tangible property, where all civilizations and all religions converged to roughly the same rules (“thou shalt not steal”). A definition of IP that contradicts the average individual’s gut level definition of fair use will take many many years of education and policing, and may still fail to take hold. I can see Apple’s problems, but it’s hard to expect everyone to suspend their disbelief so that their business model can work.

  4. you have every opportunity to play it anywhere you see fit, joe. apple allows you to burn your purchased songs to cd (most cars and home entertainment systems are cd players at this time). if you need it on another portable, you can re-encode it in any format you choose from the cd.

  5. I dont think you quite understand Apple’s business model, if you believe they would pull out of the apple music store. Apple are not exactly going to pull out of the music market simply because there encryption software is being cracked. Apple have highly profitable IPod and ITunes arms and there is no possibility that they would consider pulling out.

  6. Well now that Balachandran, the Country manager of Apple Computer India has been fired perhaps Apple will go easy on this lawsuit.

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