MyTunes returns for iTunes song sharing

Programs that turn Apple's software into a foundation for file swapping are multiplying.

Tools that turn Apple Computers' iTunes software into the core of a song-sharing network are multiplying, with the re-release this week of the previously defunct MyTunes.

Like OurTunes and a handful of other software programs, "MyTunes Redux" enables computer users to download songs freely from the hard drives of other iTunes users, as long as the two machines are on the same local network.

The software takes advantage of iTunes' ability to stream songs between computers. That feature is aimed at people who want to listen on one PC to songs stored on another computer inside a home network, among other uses, but Apple does not ordinarily allow the files to be downloaded permanently.

MyTunes developer Bill Zeller, like other independent programmers, has said he is simply interested in extending the way iTunes can be used. Zeller's original software, which also enabled people to download songs from other computers, was disabled by Apple in April, and he said on Tuesday he had had trepidations about releasing the "Redux" version.

"I was worried that if Apple doesn't like it, even though they haven't said anything to me, they could turn off sharing completely--and that would be bad," Zeller said. "But OurTunes was already out, and that has the same functionality."

Apple declined to comment specifically on MyTunes.

The release of the underground software programs have been a continual thorn in Apple's side, as it has worked to balance the desires of piracy-shy record labels with the company's own desire to build new features into its popular music jukebox software.

An early version of iTunes had allowed people to stream their songs over the Internet at large, instead of just over a local network. But when people began building Internet radio stations and tools that could search other people's hard drives for songs to play at any given moment, Apple disabled the feature .

Zeller's original version of MyTunes piggybacked on top of the iTunes software itself. It mimicked iTunes' requests to access another computer user's music library in order to perform downloads instead of iTunes' own streaming. Apple took out that software in an upgrade to its jukebox and music store last April.

Both Zeller's new MyTunes and the previously released OurTunes take advantage of work done by Australian student David Hammerton, who last spring on how to crack through part of the encryption Apple uses inside its iTunes software.

Neither tool allows downloads of songs that have been purchased though Apple's iTunes Music Store, which are wrapped in the company's proprietary FairPlay digital rights management software.

Zeller, a student at Trinity College in Connecticut, said he has not been contacted either by Apple or the Recording Industry Association of America about his software.

A recent court decision said peer-to-peer software distributors were not legally liable if people use their tool to violate copyrights, as long as the companies have no direct control over the file trades. Zeller's software, like most file-sharing tools, notifies users that downloading copyrighted music is illegal.

 

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