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FairPlay is the name put on Apple Computer Inc.'s Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology used with the company's iTunes music store and iPod music players. The FairPlay DRM determines what the user can do with a file purchased from iTunes and prevents unauthorized distribution.
Apple has become a target of criticism for the FairPlay DRM. Some say that Apple is using the DRM to its advantage, so that people who buy music from the iTunes music store cannot store it on any other digital audio player than an iPod player. Apple simply refuses to license FairPlay to any other MP3 player manufacturers.
Another problem for consumers is the fact that iPods will only play music protected with FairPlay and other others protected with different DRM technology. For example, a song purchased from Napster's music store will not play on an iPod. Also, copy protected CDs may have DRM protected digital files on them that cannot be played back with an iPod. The record labels blame Apple and encourage consumers to demand that Apple license FairPlay to labels so that they can make copy protected CDs that contain audio files that work on an iPod.
FairPlay also means that when you download tracks from iTunes, you are stuck using the iTunes software to play it back, and stuck on only supported Operating Systems. Several successful projects have targeted FairPlay for this reason, and software does exist that allows users to buy tracks from the iTunes music store with FairPlay and on any Operating System