Mac users being held hostage by Apple’s iTunes DRM (digital rights management) might have something the cheer about. A possible reprieve is being offered by seidai.50webs.com. The tool is called FairGame and it aims to free users from Apple’s DRM known as FairPlay.
FairGame is a Mac application that essentially uses scripting to automate a process of re-encoding iTunes music using iMovie and iTunes. The benefit of this particular process is that the music’s metadata, lyrics, and artwork remain intact. Quite creative, all things considered.
In my testing, I was unable to get FairGame to function. It kept breaking part of the way through the script. The first issue I had was the result of Default Folder. Disabling the Default Folder for iMovie got me even further through the process before the script simply failed.
What I found most interesting about FairGame is the way that the scripting was setup. I’ve never seen anything like it on the Mac (without the user of a 3rd party runtime tool). Rather than running a series of invisible AppleScript events to automate the conversion process, FairGame seems to be a scripted set of mouse based evens provided by the author. When running FairGame, the user can literally watch all of the screen based events take place. The mouse moves across the screen, menu are selected, options are changed, and files are manipulated. I’ve never seen this done before. Impressed as I am with the DRM removal tool, I’m even more curious how this script was generated.
As is always the case with files that are transcoded, a quality loss will invariably result. The results of this are generally more reliant on the quality of the codecs used along the way. At one point, FairGame transcodes the original iTunes file to WAV format. Once in WAV format, the file should have every bit the audio quality as the original as WAV is lossless. The only real hit will occur when FairGame converts the file back to AAC for MP3. The same sort of loss would occur when users burn protected music to a CD, and then convert back to AAC to remove the DRM. FairGame simply streamlines the process and saves CD media and time.
Posts around the web seem to indicate that I’m not the only one who has had trouble getting FairGame to work. This post on iPoddNN.com shows a great deal of user feedback. I encourage users to give FairGame a shot. Your mileage may vary, but the concept is sound.