August 19, 2004 11:49 AM PDT

Hackers revive iTunes music sharing

A Stanford University programmer has released new software that allows music to be swapped via Apple Computer's popular iTunes jukebox.

Like an older piece of software called "MyTunes," student David Blackman's new "OurTunes" allows a person to browse complete iTunes libraries on other computers and download songs, either in MP3 or the AAC format preferred by Apple. Songs purchased from the iTunes Music Store and wrapped in Apple's copy protection technology cannot be traded.

OurTunes works only among computers that share a network, however. That means that students or employees can swap songs on a local network but cannot use it to browse computers on the Internet, as happens with file-trading programs such as Kazaa. Still, the software is likely to ring an alarm at Apple and among record company executives, who have waged war against file swapping since Napster's heyday.

"I'm a Linux guy. I expect my software to be extensible," Blackman said in an instant-message interview. "I really think that this will encourage people to join their local iTunes communities, and that's a good thing."

An Apple representative declined to comment for this report.

Apple has spent much of the past two years trying to balance its own desire to expand the way people use their music with record companies' requests that songs be protected against unauthorized copying. iTunes' ability to stream songs throughout a home network has been one of the sources of this tension.
Our reporters' take on what's
happening in broadband.

Since iTunes' release, Apple has increasingly touted it as the core of a home music system. It initially allowed streams to flow between Macintosh and, later, Windows computers on a network and ultimately released the AirPort Express wireless device for beaming music directly to a stereo receiver.

Outside programmers quickly turned this capability into a way to stream songs over the Internet, and a host of iTunes-based Net radio stations emerged.

Apple blocked the Net streaming capability but retained the ability to stream inside a single network. Trinity College student Bill Zeller then figured out how to turn the streaming capability into a way to download and save MP3s, and created MyTunes.

However, in April, Apple blocked MyTunes from functioning. A representative for Apple said at the time that iTunes technology had been "strengthened" so that song sharing was limited to authorized personal use.

Other programmers continued to test Apple's code, however. A Mac-only program called GetTunes has done much the same thing as MyTunes for months, despite Apple's changes.

More broadly, an Australian student named David Hammerton cracked through the encryption and authentication system used by iTunes last spring and posted details online, allowing other non-iTunes programs to access Apple's software. With this tool available, Zeller said, it was fairly easy to turn iTunes' streaming function into a download instead.

With OurTunes, the developers have expanded on the earlier tools, writing the software in Java so that it will work on Windows or Macintosh computers and adding a search tool that MyTunes lacked. The software has been released freely under an open-source license.

Blackman said he drew heavily on Hammerton's work and on another piece of software called AppleRecords to create OurTunes. He and other friends are continuing to develop new features and the interface for the program, he added.

"This isn't the first bit of software to do this," Blackman said. "We just do it better and in a more friendly way."


Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Much ado about nada
Microsoft has a similar tool that allows one to browse the songs on other's machines using the same network. In fact, it's designed to do just that.

It allows full downloading of those songs from one PC to another and then -- worse still -- the songs can be taken off that PC and / or shared via Kazaa.

The name of this tool? WINDOWS.
Posted by mrogo (122 comments )
Reply Link Flag
your right
but don't forget linux, mac os, and unix allow this to ;)
Posted by simcity1976 (136 comments )
Link Flag
we need to break out of this...
Don't get me wrong, i think this news is great .. it's just that you have to ask yourself - Why do you continue to stress yourself-out by hunting for that illusive mp3 track, movie, software app, book or game , then when you FINALLY get it, hope that it's not corrupt or infected with a virus ... or spyware - like that app you used to download this stuff.

...hmmm, nope that's not for me. I found that there are better ways (eg. <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a> or <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a> or <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>)

these are just some of the new file sharing sites starting to overtake old app-sites like Kazaa.

Let the fighting and long and expensive legal wrangling go on, the future, in my opinion, is in sites like MP3-Safe-Share. Fast, fresh and spyware free.
Posted by (1 comment )
Link Flag
ah that old saying.......
The more they rethink the plumbing, the easier it is to clog the pipes.

Truth is.....this whole idea of digital music being so controlled is laughable.

People will find a way. Even if it uses older or already existing means. It's all just 1's and 0's.
Posted by Prndll (382 comments )
Reply Link Flag
bad idea
It's a very bad idea.

Apple has gone out of their way to make things fair for everyone. When people do things like this, it just makes the record companies pull back, insist on tighter conrols and ruins things for everyone.

When someone hacks MS systems, that's one thing. The idea of not being able to play a CD on your computer, or do what you want with Music you've bought is ridiculous.

However, when a company has fought to have looser restrictions so we can do what we want with our own music, people are just cutting off their noses to spite their faces by doing things like this.

Like I said, they are going to ruin things for everyone else.
Posted by kxmmxk (320 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It is NOT our music.......
It is NOT our music. The music you download belongs to record company (that is their arguement) and the format that the music is recorded in also belongs to someone else. Digital music is software. The individual pc user owns no software.

The one and only thing that will ruin this for everyone is the fight between the big companies over how to best allow people to use what they themselves supply to the people. These are decisions that are made by the business communities, not by the average user.

It should be pointed out that when a user tries to do things like this for themselves, they are labeled with titles such as "hackers" and "thieves".
Posted by Prndll (382 comments )
Link Flag
Sure and Sears can tell you not to loan out your tools too
You comment must be a joke.

The RIAA who have demanded that Apple control the music on iTunes are attempting to control what you have purchased.

Either you bought it and own it and can do with it as you please or you don't own what you have paid for and are just paying to use it (rent).

You can buy a song or album from iTunes I don't see where it says that I'm renting.

Clearly a fair use of something that I own is my ability to let you borrow or listen to something I own.

We are being drowned by the voices of people and groups like the RIAA that are demanding control of what we own.
Posted by albrown (36 comments )
Link Flag
Nothing NEW
The file sharing that is available from OurTunes is nothing new
for computers on the same network. Today you can easily find
the mp3 files in an iTunes folder and with exisiting search
technology even search for the song of your choice.
The important thing here is that they could not hack into and
share iTMS purchased songs. It seems that you carried a non-
story to create a stir where none exists.
Posted by dpierce (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot



RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.