Fair play

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Fair Play is a digital rights management of the corporation Apple for digital media, in the QuickTime is integrated technology. It is used in Apple products such as the iPod , iPhone , iTunes and the iTunes Store . Previously, every file sold through Apple's iTunes Store was tied to this system. Since the beginning of 2009, all pieces of music in the iTunes Store have been free of copy protection, but this led to the compromise that there are five new price classes for songs. For the videos offered, however, FairPlay is still the normal state.

Limitations of FairPlay Protected Files

FairPlay restricts the use of files compared to unprotected files as follows:

  • A media file protected with FairPlay can only be played on five computers at the same time. Each computer must be authorized for this. Computers can be (de) authorized as often as required.
  • Media files can only be played with iPods and not with other portable music or video players.
  • Media files protected with FairPlay, since QuickTime, iTunes and thus the iTunes Store are only available for Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows , cannot be played on other operating systems without bypassing the system.
  • Media files can be burned to CDs any number of times using iTunes. However, the same playlist can only be burned seven times. After changing the playlist, for example with regard to the order of the tracks, it can be burned again seven times. When burning, a distinction must be made between audio CD and data CD:
    • If audio files are burned onto an audio CD, the copy protection is removed because the actual data on the audio CD cannot be copy protected. (Copy-protected audio CDs on the market use other methods to restrict usability; see copy protection .)
    • Videos purchased from the iTunes Store can only be burned as data CDs, which means that copy protection is retained.

Protected files can be played on computers already authorized via iTunes by any program that understands QuickTime files.

The story of FairPlay

On April 28, 2003, iTunes 4 and the iTunes Store and with it FairPlay were released. QuickTime 7.0.3 and iTunes 6 appeared on October 12, 2005. Since then, videos can be purchased in the iTunes Store and their protection is part of FairPlay.

Apple's CEO Steve Jobs provoked on February 6, 2007 with his open letter Thoughts on Music, in which he outlined the imponderables of copy protection procedures and their social excesses, an escalation of the dispute between the computer, music and film industries as well as consumer protection organizations . Jobs' demand led Chief Executive Edgar Bronfman of the Warner Music Group and Mitch Bainwol, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America ( RIAA ) to demand that Apple must license FairPlay to its competitors. An agreement on a common standard with the participation of the various interest groups appears questionable due to the conflicting interests. Apple also seems to be aware of this and as a precaution filed two further patents on February 1, 2007, which on the one hand cover the secure configuration of an iPod using a digital signature and on the other hand describe a method for securely updating the DRM software. A major innovation of these patents from Apple is that impairments of the DRM software can be corrected through automated updates without having to ask the user.


Since iTunes started using FairPlay, there have been programs to remove the copy protection from FairPlay-protected files. By using the iTunes program data, these programs only allowed FairPlay to be removed from files that were legally acquired in iTunes and that the respective computer is authorized to play in iTunes. One of the first, QTFairUse, was published in 2003 by Jon Lech Johansen (known as a co-author of DeCSS ).

In such cases, based on contractual obligations to the rights holders, i.e. the music labels and the film and television industry, Apple always proceeded with warnings , injunctions and other legal remedies against the respective programmers and published program updates as quickly as possible in order to make FairPlay more attack-proof and such programs not to make it work more. To this day it is a game of cat and mouse between Apple and the opponents of the restrictive DRM system.

Most recently, users of iTunes up to and including version 10.7 were able to remove protected files with the Requiem program distributed on Freenet under OS X and Windows FairPlay while maintaining the original quality. The last version of Requiem (4.1) was released in late 2012. The project was discontinued with this publication.

Individual evidence

  1. Apple Inc. “Thoughts on Music” (February 6, 2007)
  2. https://www.mercurynews.com/2007/02/08/music-industry-fires-back-at-apples-jobs/ (February 8, 2007)
  3. WAZ "Steve Jobs calls for no copy protection" ( Memento from March 5, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) (February 7, 2007)
  4. https://www.neowin.net/news/riaa-counters-jobs-says-apple-should-open-technology/ (February 7, 2007)
  5. BusinessWeek A Few More “Thoughts on Music” (February 8, 2007)
  6. The time "In the digital cage" (February 8, 2007)
  7. InformationWeek A Few More “Apple Patents Point to iPhone Lockdown” (February 2, 2007)
  8. a b the Mac observer iTMS DRM-Stripping Site (PlayFair) Pulled (Updated) (April 9, 2004)
  9. a b Gulli DRM-free shopping at Apple ( Memento from June 15, 2014 in the web archive archive.today ) (September 19, 2005)
  10. a b Gulli DVD-Jon hacks FairPlay ( memento from January 24, 2013 in the web archive archive.today ) (October 4, 2006)
  11. a b JHymn documentation
  12. a b macnn / ipodnn Apple serves Cease & Desist to Hymn Project ( Memento of December 3, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) (February 25, 2008)
  13. a b Macnews FairPlay cracked: Two techniques remove Apple's copy protection ( Memento from December 2, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) (February 2008)
  14. Gizmo Lovers A Requiem For iTunes DRM (August 29, 2008)
  15. The register DVD Jon unlocks iTunes' locked music (November 22, 2003)
  16. ^ Hymn Forum Cease and Desist (February 20, 2008)
  17. Slashdot Apple Sends Cease-and-Desist To the Hymn Project (February 22, 2008)
  18. Gizmo Lovers A Death Knell For Requiem? (September 9, 2008)
  19. Requiem free site on Freenet
  20. Requiem ( Memento from April 16, 2013 in the web archive archive.today )