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iTunes 4, is Apple stupid or courageous?

Now that people have had a couple of weeks to tinker with it, it’s become apparent that in iTunes, Apple has created their own little Napster. Well, half of Napster anyway. Just like with Napster or Kazaa, users of iTunes can share their music libraries with anyone with anyone they want. Several public sites and applications have already sprung up to help people find folks who are sharing their music, most notably ShareiTunes and SpyMac.

The catch is that you can’t save songs from someone else’s library to your local library using iTunes. However, a few enterprising developers looked at how iTunes shares music and have been building applications that provide the other half of the Napster experience, the downloading of music from remote libraries. iLeech is a very simple, tiny program that lets you download music from any publically available iTunes library (and there are other apps that do similar things).

Conventional wisdom is that Apple seriously fucked up, the RIAA is going to sue Apple’s pants off, and Apple’s new iTunes Music Store will be shut down by the some seriously pissed off record companies.

I’d like to believe an alternative theory. Apple had to know what they were doing with iTunes. Their engineers aren’t stupid. They left the whole thing wide open and had to know how trivial it would be for developers to figure out the protocol and write apps to download the music directly. Maybe Apple is taking a stand here, saying that this type of software is not illegal and that it is individual users who choose to break the law. Apple knows that it’s in our nature to want to share music, photos, and movies with each other and is building applications (social software?) to support that behavior. Apple wants to make a business out of this and maybe they’re daring the RIAA to sue them over it. Or daring the RIAA not to sue them. After all, Apple and the record companies are all buddy-buddy now with the iTunes Music Store…are they willing to sue Apple right after getting Jobs on the cover of Fortune with Sheryl Crow? If Apple is in fact taking a stand here, I say, go Apple!

Reader comments

DIRKMay 14, 2003 at 11:53AM

Brad DeLong, an economics professor at the University of California at Berkeley, puts it somewhat more succinctly: โ€œI am optimistic about technology, but not about profits.โ€

Just being analMay 14, 2003 at 11:58AM

Pedantic: it's "Sheryl" Crow.

Graham WalkerMay 14, 2003 at 12:10PM

Apple, you're *so* screwed.

Unless you weaseled something in your contract with the record industries that keeps you immune from liability.

In that case, nice work.

Mike BeltznerMay 14, 2003 at 12:27PM

I think you've hit the nail on the head, Jason. Napster tried a similar defense, of course, but failed because not only did the software they distributed contain all the tools required to download copies of songs that end users had no "right" to (in the legal, copyright "fair use" sense, I mean) but it really served no other purpose. Sure, it contained an MP3 player and a library in which your music was sorted alphabetically, but those features were secondary to the search and download functions.

iTunes 4 remains a music player first, and gateway to an online store for legitimate music downloading second. Should users hack away to extend its function in order to allow illegal activities, Apple can't be held responsible. It really forces the RIAA to go after the actual perpetrators of rights violations.

Good show, Apple.

ChrisMay 14, 2003 at 12:28PM

I think that there has to be a limit for how much liability you put on Apple for this. They can tell people to play fair and don't steal, but it's up to everyone to make their own choices, right or wrong. If I want to walk into a store and steal something, I will or will not, based on my own values and whether or not I obey the law. I don't think because people want to steal music from other iTunes users with some 3rd-party program it puts Apple in the hot seat. If you're going to do that, then why not sue Microsoft for releasing an OS than runs all the P2P programs.

scottMay 14, 2003 at 12:31PM

THough itunes may be capable of piracy, like a vcr this isn't the primary purpose of the program like napster. They may have a better chance in court defending their involvement in piracy.
Now I need to buy a mac.

gregMay 14, 2003 at 12:53PM

Also, any AAC files that you download via the Music Store are locked with your account, so those songs can't be downloaded and be useful (unless somebody figures out an easy way to crack the encryption). I think that it's obviously up to the users to use a "hack" method to copy other people's songs, and only with the cooperation of people who share their songs, so the onus is obviously on the users, and not Apple. (Btw, it's just as easy to download iCommune, or to just share your music via web DAV if you have the DAV savvy.)
Probably those sites will get shut down via the RIAA, and people will just have to share their music with friends only. Or just use something else.

Buzz AndersenMay 14, 2003 at 12:59PM

My opinion: Apple is indeed taking a stand. If you look at the history of Apple's involvement with music, they always seem to adopt the stance of protecting things just enough to discourage casual pirates but not enough to kill legitimate fair use. The iPod is a great example-it doesn't burden its users with complicated "check-in, check-out" procedures, but takes the sensible step of not allowing people to copy songs onto other peoples' computers.

AdamMay 14, 2003 at 1:02PM

As a licensed broker of sorts, it would appear that Apple has not been required to "purchase" their inventory of music before they sell it to consumers. If they did, I guarantee that they'd have their app patched in a heartbeat.

Why? For exactly the same reason Best Buy or any other retailer lock their doors every night.

If the Record Industry hasn't made Apple pay up front for their material AND hasn't made them liable for adequately protecting any unpaid inventory (virtual or no), how can't they expect to be robbed blind--no one bothered to locked the doors.

R.May 14, 2003 at 1:02PM

Is it true you can't stream protected files (.m4p) downloaded via the Store? I read that somewhere but haven't tried it.

Also, as I understand it, the functional scale of iTunes' sharing capabilities is such that any nefarious application is probably a rounding error on legitimate use. The RIAA has stated publicly in the past that it isn't interested in pursuing every individual who downloads a bootlegged mp3 (not necessarily because they wouldn't want to, I'm sure, but because it's not feasible) -- they've mostly sicced their lawyers on the so-called flagrant offenders. I don't know that an iTunes user, on a Mac, streaming to like two other Mac users over the internet is "flagrant."

Maybe this will be rendered moot by a decision to eliminate or cripple similar capabilities in the pending windows iTunes variant, where the scale of the user base would be more of a liability.

gregMay 14, 2003 at 1:29PM

you can stream protected m4p files, provided you "authorized" the account for whoever owns the songs on the computer that is going to play them. EG I authorized my gf's computer with my account, and now she can play the locked m4p files, streaming or from disk if they are copied. You can only authorize a total of 3 unique computers though, including the one you use to buy the music.

stevebMay 14, 2003 at 1:33PM

go Banana!

GluttonMay 14, 2003 at 1:59PM

Ninety-nine cents a song?! They music industry would never had agreed to this had they not been desperate. Five years from now there will be no music industry, and no lawyer can stop that. This is a last-gasp attempt to stave off a complete hemmorhaging of their business.

Jerry KindallMay 14, 2003 at 2:11PM

The RIAA is not up in arms about the iPod, even though the only "protection" to keep people copying songs off their friends' iPods is that the folder that contains the music has the "invisible" flag set in the directory. That's it! It is of course completely trivial to circumvent this, and several programs are available specifically to address the issue if you can't figure out how to do it using a more generalized utility program. Programs like iLeech are not any different, really, and the RIAA has no reason to object.

Matt HaugheyMay 14, 2003 at 2:24PM

Keep in mind the sharing capabilities only work for mp3 files, any purchased songs from the apple store require the login of the person that bought them (which you should never give out to anyone).

Still, I'd be surprised if Apple didn't drop the IP-based sharing and only allowed rendezvous to work for sharing (there's no way to fake local rendezvous network presence....yet).

BravadaMay 14, 2003 at 2:31PM

I don't see where the increased liablity for Apple is. OS X was capable of sharing the iTunes library before iTunes 4 came along. The built-in web sever can do it with a small addition to the configuration. File sharing can also be used. The user must take action to share files with all of these mechanisms including iTunes 4.

biologic showMay 14, 2003 at 2:50PM

I think in the course of your post you figured it out: Apple is taking a stand on file sharing, and also thinking the RIAA won't dare sue them after the steps they've taken toward getting users to pay money for the content they were formerly stealing.

This guyMay 14, 2003 at 2:51PM

Is it just me...why is this illegal? No one is stealing anything - you can't download the music to use anytime you like with Napster. You're just 'sharing.' Sounds more like a library to me, but I certainly am no lawyer.

JimMay 14, 2003 at 3:16PM

As Matt Haughey pointed out, none of these applets let users copy music purchased from the iTunes music store, just music that they've ripped from CD. The music industry owes Apple big time for coming up with a DRM scheme that actually makes sense.

TimMay 14, 2003 at 3:25PM

While its hard to believe that Apple simply screwed up, I'm don't see what one could claim they are taking a stand about that would be in their own interest. I'm sure Apple are as concerned about profit as Sony or Universal or anyother company. What would they gain by intentionally enabling people to steal music? All it would seem to do is legitimise all forms of piracy including that of Apple-produced software.

TimMay 14, 2003 at 3:26PM

While it's hard to believe that Apple simply screwed up, I don't see what it could be claimed they are taking a stand about that would be in their own interest. I'm sure Apple are as concerned about profit as Sony or Universal or anyother company. What would they gain by intentionally enabling people to steal music? All it would seem to do is legitimise all forms of piracy including that of Apple-produced software.

Ross KMay 14, 2003 at 4:01PM

This is probably the same idea as those copy-protected CD's that you could un-protect with a sharpie--- the 'hack' is trivial, but it is the no less of a DMCA violation.

GeneMay 14, 2003 at 4:38PM

The music industry owes Apple big time for coming up with a DRM scheme that actually makes sense.

I think the openness of the DRM is one of keys to success for the iTunes Music Store, since it won't affect most music consumers.

I think Apple's doing more than taking a stand--they're trying to make iTunes the music consumption platform. Buying, playing, sharing, streaming, stealing--iTunes can do it all. Genius, if they can pull it off.

jkottkeMay 14, 2003 at 4:41PM

On the issue of whether or not iTunes, Napster, Kazaa, or iLeech are illegal applications, I don't believe they should be, not one little bit. I want to live in a society where building such applications is possible. Not because I love to steal music, but because the freedom to create and share is essential to our well-being as social animals (see David Weinberger's Copy Protection is a Crime Against Humanity for a similar sentiment). If they could, the RIAA would push the courts and government to make CD burners (piracy!!!), personal computers (too many inputs and outputs for their comfort) and the Internet (piracy++!) illegal. I imagine that would be great for the RIAA and the record companies, but suck for 100% of the rest of us.

Winston DiggetsMay 14, 2003 at 4:54PM

Not because I love to steal music

I think it's a sad state of affairs when music is an object that can be stolen. Am I totally talking out of my ass here, or is that concept -- that music can be "owned" -- a purely 20th Century aberration that will be a sad footnote in the annals of creative history?

daserMay 14, 2003 at 5:09PM

There is a distinct difference between the new Music Store and the new Sharing feature of iTunes 4. I think the worst case scenario for Apple is that they will have to drop or redesign the Sharing feature. The Music Store will go on. Like so many have pointed out, the purchased songs can't be stolen anyway because the machine has to be authorized to play them.

pbMay 14, 2003 at 5:14PM


Apple's not taking any kind of stand. This is not that big a deal. It's no different from me connecting to your computer and grabbing your MP3's (not your AAC's of course which have limited playability).

Tom CoatesMay 14, 2003 at 5:32PM

Please excuse the self-linkage, but I think this is in some way connected with my thing on Apple and the Pirate Everyman. I think the emphasis goes like this - Apple build hardware. Generally it's in their interest to be the platform that makes it easiest to disseminate information and tools. In a sense, if it were legal if would be both in their interest (and the right thing, possibly) to make their platform ideal for copying and spreading software - what we now call piracy. Now, obviously there are other concerns in other industries - but that essential criteria remains - essentially they're able to be more relaxed about their approach, and not try and strip everyone's rights in order to save their own skins. So - like with the iPod - they constrict the distribution mechanisms enough to make it something that you have to break without making them thick and stodgy enough to restrict legitimate usage. That makes it very much the responsibility of the person who cracks the restriction (has to be a member of the geek priesthood) or the person who disseminates the software that breaks the restriction...

Dave WinerMay 14, 2003 at 6:25PM

Another theory, the record companies knew the hole was there, and were giving honest users a way to pay for the music while looking the other way on the sharing.

ZachMay 14, 2003 at 6:51PM

Yep, they screwed up. I'd like to see how this one plays out.

Rick HansenMay 14, 2003 at 7:25PM

Two thoughts:

1. The five major record companies know what the store and software can do and signed on with Apple; Apple's not liable for anything.

2. Apple has set the quality of the downloadable songs to a level that won't hold up to a lot of copying and format changes. The music is good enough for listening in most casual circumstances, but not worth copying.

Aaron SwartzMay 14, 2003 at 7:28PM

If the RIAA sues over this, will they complain about the File Sharing feature that's been in there since OS 8 also? It lets you share any file over the Internet. Outrageous!

gwintMay 14, 2003 at 7:34PM

Surpised no one yet mentioned that Apple's music store has sold 2 million tracks in 16 days (half as full albums). If that pace continues, I'd be surprised if the record industry is at all upset...

Leela ZoneMay 14, 2003 at 7:34PM

- iTunes won't stream files which were bought from the iTunes Store unless you use up one of your 3 authorisations to authorise the recipient. This means 99% of the files which are going to be streamed are MP3 rips, which are already out there on other file sharing networks.

- iTunes will only stream to 5 people at a time. This means you'll never get the same kind of numbers involved as Napster/Kazaa, where someone with a decent connection can easily serve up files to 20-30 users.

- Applications which capture the stream can only do so in real-time, since the stream is, well, streamed. On a 512Kb DSL line, it would take you about 7 days to download 10Gb of music (and there's no retry for partial downloads).

Given how significant iTunes now is for Apple, there's no way on earth they could "forget" about the implications of users passing music around that they didn't purchase. This whole project will have been gone over with a fine toothed comb by both Apple and the record companies, since neither of them have any interest in setting up a service which makes it easier to "steal" music.

They obviously realise that you can't stop people moving music around like this, but the bandwidth restrictions (both in terms of clients, and by making it a live stream) mean they're willing to let this one pass.

I wouldn't be surprised if you start seeing a way to look up arbitrary MP3s/stream sources in the iTunes Store, so that you can browse your friends' music and then jump directly to a purchase link if you want to get your own copy.

sgmMay 14, 2003 at 8:07PM

Does iTunes 4 have a way to encode the machine name/owner into the music file? Perhaps this was part of the deal with the RIAA (no evidence here - just a thought [after reading the new Gibson book]). If so, then there is a mighty big stick to go after those people who (ab)use sharing.

Are the mp3s from iTunes 4 different from those made with iTunes 3 and earlier?

nateMay 14, 2003 at 9:07PM

iTunes 4 and 3 encodes are the same but this i have noticed. music purchased from the itune music stire is not mp3, its an AAC format using mpeg layer 4. some people think this is not as good as mp3 but as far as i can tell every song i have downloaded sounds better than the mp3 version i previously had at the same settings.
and for a test i gave a friend one of the files i bought. they are .m4p files. he put it in iTunes and it logged into MY itunes account asking for the password to play it.
so the deal with the streaming is that yeah ileech can copy files and shit but it wont work with purchase music files... on many levels.

pbMay 15, 2003 at 1:15AM

Can someone please explain what the issue is and why this whole thing is considered a (loop)hole?

From iTunes help: "If you know a computer's IP address, you can also see shared music on that computer even if it isn't in the same subnet."

This is simply a feature of iTunes. What's the big deal?

jkottkeMay 15, 2003 at 1:27AM

This is simply a feature of iTunes. What's the big deal?

The big deal is that the RIAA sues companies that make software that does exactly that.

Adam (squared)May 15, 2003 at 3:17AM

The very nature of an automobile as a killing machine hasn't stopped it from being produced... the legality of anything is in the hands of the owner.

Dubious AlibiMay 15, 2003 at 6:20AM

Spymac's shut the service down due to piracy concerns now.

WonderingMay 15, 2003 at 7:26AM

I don't know about all of you, but I'm not willing to share music that I paid for with strangers. Why would anyone do this? Are they running a charity.

GregMay 15, 2003 at 8:32AM

I'm just curious. Since when is 99 cents a song a good deal? By my calculations it works out to about the same price for a cd as walking into the store and buying it. Granted you do get to choose the songs that you want but price-wise, it's not a steal. I seriously don't think that the RIAA will have a leg to stand on if they attempt to sue Apple. The reason being is that Apple is no more responsible for piracy than cassette or cd-r manufacturers. What is the RIAA going to do next, sue ISP's and Dell for providing the "access" to download copyrighted material? I've said this from the beginning, the RIAA should have embraced this new technology and accepted it as a new medium and worked WITH it, not against it. They would be sitting pretty now if they would have done this.....

Garret keoghMay 15, 2003 at 8:51AM

I worked for a digital download company (iCrunch) that didnt quite survive the dotcom wars. We tried the 99p per track approach and found it was just too cumbersome for most users - making a single purchase with a credit card wasnt really worth the time. A subscription model probably works better. People are right though - it's still too expensive - but at least it's a start.

I use filesharing services a lot but also buy CDs, buy gig tickets, music DVDs etc. I'm sure many others here do too. Kazaa etc give me a chance to check out music. If it's something I like, I'll probably go and buy it anyway.

MarcusMay 15, 2003 at 9:15AM

Apple fucked up. There's no clever-clever "Apple as information freedom fighter" subversive tactics going on here. They were just naive to think that people wouldn't reverse-engineer their software, that's all.

If Microsoft had something similar happen to them with Windows Media Player, nobody would think for a second it was any kind of conspiracy. Apple are a company, they exist to turn a profit, not champion the rights of consumers, and there's no way they'd jeopardise their position like this.

jmstephanMay 15, 2003 at 9:35AM

Interestingly, SpyMac Music has taken itself offline saying that:

"Our latest section -- Spymac Music -- has been taken offline in response to the growing number of applications that are easily available and skilled in stealing shared streams."

anaestheticaMay 15, 2003 at 9:44AM

Apple has a fine defense: grabbing a copy of an mp3 from iTunes is actually harder than grabbing a copy from an ftp site. People have been able to open their computers up to ftp traffic for years, and it's much simpler to just copy files. Copying a stream is much harder to do, and easier to screw up. So what apple has done is simply publicisized a harder way to share files: no big deal, the threats are still from kazaa and ftp and irc etc.

Price-wise 99c/track is a great deal. Sure, buying an album at 99c works out to over $10, but that's not more than you'd pay in a cd store, it's actually probably less in many circumstances, especially for older albums that aren't on sale anymore. The real savings is when you buy a whole load of singles: one radiohead song, one manson song, one dylan song, one talking heads song, one beck song, etc. To get all those songs normally would necessitate you buying a load of albums, with a bunch of extra tracks you didn't actually want in the first place. 99c/track for the perfect mix album is a *great* deal.

Also, i think it'd be interesting to see which bands had whole albums bought, and which bands just had singles downloaded. I'm sure there would be a giant split, the record-company constructed pop acts and bling-bling hip-hop clowns getting most of the singles downloads, and the actual bands and hip hop artists with real instruments and something to say getting the full album downloads. I hope they publish those statistics, vindicating our self-righteous but wholly justified contempt for the weak-sauce, high-radio-play, pre-fab-TRL-hype filler that we're being fed.

Jonathan BarlowMay 15, 2003 at 10:12AM

If your theory that Apple is "taking a stand" is correct, why say "go Apple"? In effect, you're saying "go piracy". If you want to share music for free, make some music on your own, record it, and share it with others. But it isn't really your choice whether to usurp other people's copyrights.

As for whether 99 cents is too high or too low; that's the big problem I see with the iTunes music service - 99 cents is the price of every song. There are no market forces in evidence there. Every CD is not the same price down at your local record store. Supply and demand should come into play there. Perhaps Liam Lynch's "My United States of Whatever" would cost 1.30 by some algorithm that experiments with supply and demand, finding the ideal cost at which to maximize sales of that single. And yet, some soft jazz schlock single would go for only 15 cents by the same token. Apple should talk to Amazon and buy some data on the various price tweaking experiments they have done.

GregMay 15, 2003 at 10:29AM

to Jonathan Barlow:

Jason is pointing out that Apple taking a stand is akin to standing up and saying that we aren't responsible for people using our applications to break the law and NOT saying he advocates piracy. These are two completely unrelated items just like cd burners and the fact that you could use the burner to burn an illegal copy of a cd. Your point is exactly what we're hoping Apple is taking a stand against....that just because someone uses your application to do something illegal, doesn't make you responsible for that.

Dan SicklesMay 15, 2003 at 11:03AM

One long symphony in four movements: $3.96.
One Jazz CD, 6 tracks: $5.94
One old jazz CD with 16 tracks: $15.86
One *smooth* (not soft) jazz cd: No Thanks

@ .20/minute - artists no longer constrained by the short-song pop-radio format. Assuming of course that they are targeting iTunes and the like.

Jazz and classical tracks are tylically much longer that roack/rap/pop tracks. And is inna-godda-da-vida really just .99 cents? Free bird? They should post the price per minute like the price per ounce at the supermarket ;-)

pbMay 15, 2003 at 11:54AM

Is there any evidence whatsoever that the RIAA has a problem with iTunes sharing? Hilary Rosen was at the iTMS launch after all. There was no reverse engineering. There is no hole. This is an iTunes *feature*!! Presumably the RIAA and all the labels know exactly what's going on and negotiated with Apple on the 5 stream limit.

So I reiterate: what's the big deal here?

MarcusMay 15, 2003 at 12:13PM

pb, you misunderstand - iTunes supposedly only has the capability to stream music to other users - ie you can only hear the music while it's being "transmitted" like a radio station, and no physical file is left on the recipient's hard drive. This is considered vaguely acceptable by the RIAA.

Distributing actual music files to other people, thus making them infinitely re-playable and re-distributable, most definately isn't found acceptable by the RIAA, and that's what iLeech does.

pbMay 15, 2003 at 12:23PM

How is this any different from me logging into your Mac via FTP or file sharing?

jkottkeMay 15, 2003 at 12:47PM

How is this any different from me logging into your Mac via FTP or file sharing?

Napster was not really any different from that either, but that didn't stop the RIAA from suing it into extinction.

MarcusMay 15, 2003 at 12:50PM

pb - Well, firstly I don't have a Mac. :) Secondly, the crucial thing about streaming is it leaves no data on the recipient's hard drive - so once the streaming stops, the recipient has no file to replay or do anything else with. That's how Internet radio stations work too - although the RIAA hasn't exactly gone easy on them.

iLeech turns iTunes into nothing less than a Napster clone, doling out infinitely redistributable MP3 files to whoever wants them, and if the RIAA are going to take that one sitting down, I will be very surprised.

pbMay 15, 2003 at 1:24PM

Napster was not really any different from that either

Napster was *massively* different! Users needed no information about the files sources. And the whole network was searchable. There's almost no comparison.

I'll be very surprised if Apple does anything beyond locking out the iLeech and iSlurps, even though they are not much more than FTP clients.

iLeech turns iTunes into nothing less than a Napster clone

Not really. There's still no searchability and you have to log into each source individually. iLeech is really nothing more than an FTP client.

Jonathan BarlowMay 15, 2003 at 1:33PM


The problem, though, is that Jason is celebrating an aspect of iTunes that is either a feature or a bug depending upon one's interpretation. And "sharing" one's copy of a song or a piece of software with a friend across town is simply illegal, so if it can be shown that Apple's sharing technique could have been another way (via Rendezvous, as someone above suggested) then it leaves them open to the charge of either incompetence or enabling illegal activities and there's no way to take a stand on that kind of enabling if it is of a character that can't be accounted for as a by-product of legitimate use. iTunes is unambiguous - it is for music. There's no way to make the same arguments on its behalf as you can make for a more general file-sharing app.

Back during the VCR court cases (Betamax), they actually studied patterns of use of VCRs by real consumers to find out what people were using them for. This went into the court record and influenced the decision. Time-shifting was a big use of the VCRs, so the argument was plausible. If a similar court case goes that far for Kazaa, et al, do you really think legal file sharing is even going to represent a percentage of use approaching 1%? The legal test, therefore, is not exclusively "can it be used for a legitimate purpose?" but it is also "all winks and nods aside, what are people actually doing with this thing?" Both questions are going to be taken into account in the courts. Judges and the law are not bound by logical positivism and the convenient causistry of people who want to pirate music. iTunes just might pass the test, but only because the average user will not know about the plug-in hacks that will enable illegal sharing and so the percentage of legitimate use will be very high.

JasonMay 15, 2003 at 2:17PM

Also, any AAC files that you download via the Music Store are locked with your account, so those songs can't be downloaded and be useful (unless somebody figures out an easy way to crack the encryption).

I may be wrong on this because I haven't tried it myself, but apparently, all you have to do is drag the AAC files into Toast, then burn a disc and then rip the disc, and they should be fine. Again, so I've heard.

I tend to agree that Apple knew this was going to happen. People, nobody will EVER develop a piece of software of this ilk that can't be hacked. Someone will ALWAYS crack it. Apple knew this. What they did do was make it not immediately obvious to the majority of the population. I'd be interested in knowing how many iTunes users are computer savvy like us over here. :-)

B GriggsMay 15, 2003 at 2:17PM

This is the very RIAA that has presented itself as a technology expert- they IM users about illegal downloads, they sue individuals, etc. The music industry has heralded this as "THE RIGHT THING." They will look like idiots (OK, they already do) if the pursue Apple. This is a user issue. I am sure Apple has indemnified itself. The bottom line here is that this is inevitable. Software companies write off users copying their CDs and the music indistry is simply going to have to come to terms with the fact that copying is essentially uncontrollable and copies represent revenue they would have never captured anyway. They can cry, scream, sue all they want but their sliding sales figures are not going to magically bounce back. We are in an economic recession. They suffered from the same excesses that many companies suffered from in the era - bad management. And trying to hide parts of that in their perceived losses to pirates doesn't excuse it. There stock prices reflect bad management and a recessed economy. Get over it and work on fixing the internal problems.

MarcusMay 15, 2003 at 2:24PM

pg - I agree, it looks like iLeech is no Napster in terms of searchability. Nevertheless it can be used to distribute MP3 files by exploiting iTunes, and that's all the RIAA will care about.

Yes, you could do the same with FTP, but FTP is a multi-purpose generic application established in the Dark Ages and not just used for sharing MP3 files. Let's face it, there's not a lot the RIAA can do about something as underground and impossible to regulate as FTP.

On the other hand, iTunes has a single manufacturer in control of how it works (Apple), has had recent massive publicity (iTunes Music Store), and is only supposed to play, stream or buy music, not transfer files "illegally". Let's also not forget that Apple are conspiciously in bed with the record companies, whereas FTP software companies aren't.

I agree with you, Apple/the RIAA will swat iLeech down - but at what cost to the iTunes streaming feature and/or the possibility of increased DRM?

john johnMay 15, 2003 at 3:48PM

No big deal. iTunes is successful because it's NOT A PAIN IN THE ASS to use. There are a LOT of people that don't want to have to deal with Napster and the like, they just want some thing fast and reliable and are willing to pay for it.

Jerry KindallMay 15, 2003 at 7:10PM

"They were just naive to think that people wouldn't reverse-engineer their software, that's all."

This would mean that Apple has the stupidest people in the world working for it, which I think we can all agree is not the case.

Richard EarneyMay 16, 2003 at 2:50AM

It is maybe a case of Apple doing file sharing right!! ;)

MarcusMay 16, 2003 at 10:29AM

Jerry - ok, Apple is by no means stupid. But honestly - why on earth would they spend all that time courting the RIAA, cosying up to the record companies and persuading them to sign contracts for music distribution and trumpeting their own "fair" DRM, whilst at the same time knowing full well they've left the door open for people to do the same old "illegal" filesharing that is, let's face it, not the best publicity for a company keen to promote it's new "legal" music store?

That is utterly illogical. That's why I don't buy the "Apple is taking a stand" angle, and that's why I think Apple didn't intend for their to be a filesharing hole in iLeech. If they did intend it to be there, they will have some serious explaining to do to the record companies, don't you think?

pbMay 16, 2003 at 12:07PM

No. Filesharing through iTunes is no easier than through FTP and it remains much more difficult than through Napster, Kazaa, etc. YOu have to have a rogue client, there's no searchability and there's a 5 stream limit.

The labels and possibly the RIAA have been fully aprised of the situation.

Again, what is the big deal?

SkoufMay 16, 2003 at 4:16PM

I"ve heard about the dilly-o, and its raging success. Here's why, prima facie, it will work:

a) Micropayments. If you can just get that crappy single without having to d/l the rest of the fucking album, why the hell not use the service? It represents an intermediary step between outright piracy and pay-for-play use, and one in which people are willing to pay for things honestly because the price is fair.

b) It's not a Napster/KaZaa machine, it's a service for contracted users. Third-party developers who extend the software will see to that, and even they will not likely be held accountable for their "plug-in" apps. It's a paid service first, and one developed in conjunction with the RIAA, which brings me to--

c) It's RIAA-backed. It has their name, their endorsements, and their greed all saturated within it. Someone, maybe Jobs, was cool and tricky enough to prove to them that they could recoup some "lost CD money" with the plan, and maybe left out the half of the story that encouraged the ideas of the technology's future (read: nigh-immediate) applications. The profit-driven, salacious RIAA agrees enthusiastically, immediately, and (We all hope) doomingly. By backing this service, which is a rousing financial success, they sign away their court-of-public-opinion-right to complain about its application. What the fuck are they going to do now? They sure can't turn around and sue or counter-legislate, because they co-developed the product. In short, the government will tell them, "uh, this was YOUR idea TOO, assholes. Fuck you if it fails."

And if the government goes and tries to subsidize the irfailure by overtaxing the service or prosecuting those who make off with some files under software additions to the system, people will truly rise up. Because now, file-sharers will have tried it the illegal way and the legal way. And if iTunes (and off-shoots) gets as popular as it will, and the feds try to take away the legal filesharing institution, people will realize it's time to torch the Capitol, because now nobody owns anything anymore, not even that which you pay for.

MimMay 16, 2003 at 8:56PM

Marcus, you said it yourself - you don't have a Mac. Find out a little about iTunes by reading the Apple web site. I'm not trying to flame you, but you are speading some serious fud.

1. Downloads from the Music Store are in "Protected AAC" format. The AAC file protection is governed by iTunes. Any "Protected AAC" file will not play on another computer unless you authorise that computer first - regardless of whether it is streamed or copied. "Protected AAC" files may be authorised to play on a maximum of 3 computers.

2. "Protected AAC" files cannot be converted directly into mp3 format (iTunes restriction...and as iTunes is the only player that can decode protected aac, well...there you are). To convert to mp3, you must burn tracks to a CD first, and then re-rip.

Ok - so now you've got a load of sub-quality mp3's that you personally paid 99c each for that you are ready to share with the world. Do you;

a) Leave them in your iTunes library in the hope that someone will stumble on them and start downloading, or;
b) Share via Limewire,Kazza,whatever.

The point is that yes, if you really want to pirate the music, you can do that. But it costs the same, and requires the same effort as pirating CD's bought from HMV. The RIAA isn't trying to shut down HMV for selling a non secure format, are they?

How many CD's have you bought and then ripped and shared the files on Kazza? Most people, even though they may have downloaded music from P2P, have not UPLOADED their OWN CD COLLECTIONS. This is why iTMS will do just fine. And the RIAA will be just fine thankyou very much.


Not Especially ImportantMay 16, 2003 at 9:58PM

I just don't get why people would develop something like iLeech. How long have we been defending P2P apps as "just sharing with our friends", when it was in fact copying? Now that Apple has developed a feature (with the support of the RIAA) that lets us do exactly that, someone has to go and defeat the whole purpose and turn it back into copying. Are we that spoiled? That we have to say "fuck you" to the very people who are working to change the music industry for the better? I just don't get it. USE your rights, don't ABUSE them.

TomMay 17, 2003 at 4:27PM

THough itunes may be capable of piracy, like a vcr this isn't the primary purpose of the program like napster.

Good analogy, Scott. Because a VCR can be made into a (illegal) TV station. What about a poppy flower? With the knowledge you can make it into a (illegal) drug. Ironically, once you have the know-how to make opium, it's illegal for you to grow the flower. But you can purchase these openly and freely. Because it has the potential does that make it illegal? That's the real question.

Rcihard YakerMay 17, 2003 at 9:49PM

Thank you for posting about
We do not support the stealing of music. Our vision of sharing is Apple's version of sharing. I don't think Apple is libel here they did not create a program that lets you steal music, nor do we run a directory of where you should steal music from. Some other independent programmers have hacked together apps that exploit features in iTunes 4 to steal music. It is these developers who are the problem, not Apple, not Share iTunes, not SpyMac or the other sharing directories that have shut down out of fear. I hope that if the RIAA and ACAP decide to take legal action based on whats going on that they go after the developers of the stealing apps, and leave Apple, individual sharers, and the Share ITunes like sites alone. Share iTunes has taken steps to limit the ability for stealers to get addresses from our site (its not imposssible, but its not automatable either), and to have links to buy the music you like you might have heard while sharing someone elses connection.

So come by persue others music collections, add your own. Maybe buy something you heard on someone elses share.

Our Parents Taught Us Well.
Don't Steal. Share!!

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.