In an update to iTunes released Tuesday, the Mac maker removed a feature that had been exploited to allow Mac users to swap songs over the Internet. Version 4.0.1 of iTunes removes the ability to share iTunes play lists over the Internet, limiting the feature to streaming songs over a local network.
"The new iTunes 4.0.1 update limits Rendezvous music sharing to work only between computers on a local network (its intended use) and disables music sharing over the Internet," Apple said in a statement provided to CNET News.com.
Apple said in the statement that it was "disappointed" that people had used the new feature in iTunes to copy music with strangers.
"Rendezvous music sharing...has been used by some in ways that have surprised and disappointed us," Apple said. "We designed it to allow friends and family to easily stream (not copy) their music between computers at home or in a small group setting, and it does this well. But some people are taking advantage of it to stream music over the Internet to people they do not even know."
The company began distributing the more restrictive version of iTunes on Tuesday to those Mac users who have elected to receive updates automatically, but it is not yet available for download on Apple's Web site. An Apple representative was not immediately able to say what, if any, features have been added to the program in the latest version.
Nonetheless, Apple says "All iTunes 4 users should upgrade to iTunes 4.0.1."
Apple introduced iTunes 4 last month when it debuted the iTunes Music Store.
Although people were swapping their existing music collections using iTunes, Apple said that no one has broken the encryption used with songs purchased from its online store. "The iTunes Music Store has been very successful to date, and the mechanisms we put in place to secure that music against theft are working well," Apple said. "Music purchased from the iTunes Music Store can only be played on up to three authorized Macintosh computers, and there has been no breach of this security."