I Have to Disagree with Many About the iTunes 4.0.1 Update

by Derrick Story

For the last week I've been thinking about how I feel about Apple's mishandling of iTunes 4. Clearly they made a mistake, and the mistake was enabling wholesale Internet streaming of music when the intention all along was to limit it to subnets. Talk about leaving the back door open.



I don't know about you, but I had an odd feeling in the gut of my stomach when I discovered this functionality in iTunes 4.0. I mean, we know what's going on in the world. We understand the political ramifications of certain technologies. Didn't you get even a little twinge when you first fired-up streaming in iTunes 4?



Twinge or not, Apple knew they had to fix the situation. Their communication skills could use a little polishing, however. And from this point forward, I will always be suspicious of the phrase network enhancement.



But to be honest, I'm more concerned about the big picture here. We actually have a little momentum in changing the online music world. I think we need to get more musicians and business people with fresh perspectives involved in evolving this industry, and Apple has an important role to play. I want them to remain credible so they can advocate for the really big things.



Sure, I wish Apple didn't have to limit the streaming of music. But even more, I hated how things were before April 28, and I don't want to go back. Ever.


27 Comments

anonymous2
2003-06-03 09:48:10
tell it to some of your fellow bloggers
Your "odd feeling" was steve m's accusation that apple was being "Sneaky".


(Then he quickly posted a work around. Thank's steve like the world does not have enough kazaa like activity now)


For all the good open source developers have done. They really need to get over the notion that "everything should be free" or that they have to right to do what ever they please with copyrighted material including leaving it places that anyone in the world can "share".


thank you for bringing some sanity back to the web logs.

anonymous2
2003-06-03 09:50:02
Who's REALLY to blame?
Those who wrote the software and those who used it to steal iTunes music. It's that simple.


If it wasn't for them, we'd probably still have internet streaming.


Thanks a lot.

anonymous2
2003-06-03 10:37:12
you are also missing the point...
You might want to read this:


http://daringfireball.net/2003/06/looney_tunes.html


before claiming that Apple needs help in its communication skills. I for one think that most people who are complaining are either:


1. illiterate.
2. angry that their pet feature (which is easily replicated) was axed.


Get over it. Move on. Apple had no choice and did the right thing in the right way.

anonymous2
2003-06-03 10:57:10
Re: I Have to Disagree with Many About the iTunes 4.0.1 Update
Apple can solve this problem pretty easily I think, and restore full network streaming. If I'm reading the code for iLeech right, all it does is set up a DAAP session with iTunes and write the music that gets streamed back to disk. I'm certainly no whiz with this stuff, but I should think all they would need to do is pass non-music data along with each packet paylod. This corrupts the stream until it is in iTunes (where it gets stripped out) but allows for streaming from wherever.
anonymous2
2003-06-03 10:57:28
Who's REALLY to blame?
alas who [what] is really to blame is the current atmosphere of immorality [ stealing music is just fine and don't interfere with my theft of property] and lack of ethical behavior which tuns rampant in American society. And now, if they are taken to task and told they have to stop, they look all hurt and bothered if you even suggest that you want to stop them.
anonymous2
2003-06-03 10:59:24
Who is to blame???
alas who [what] is really to blame is the current atmosphere of immorality [ stealing music is just fine and don't interfere with my theft of property] and lack of ethical behavior which tuns rampant in American society. And now, if they are taken to task and told they have to stop, they look all hurt and bothered if you even suggest that you want to stop them.
derrick
2003-06-03 11:03:13
Don't think I am...
I'm not sure you're reading my text correctly. But anyway, one of the points I'm trying to make is that Apple didn't communicate what it was doing with the iTunes update, or why it was doing it, to its users. I think by not "talking about it," they inadvertently fueled many of the hostile reactions we've all read. I think better communication from Apple on important issues such as this one would help matters tremendously.
kollivier
2003-06-03 11:43:56
Thank you!
I'm glad to hear a thoughtful reply on this topic. Many of the responses I've heard so far are IMHO kneejerk reactions that try to use this as another opportunity to villanize either Apple or the RIAA.


Very few people seem to even think about whether realistically Apple could allow the 'P2P hacks' to continue and grow, or even consider what Apple has done for consumers so far. They just see the removal of this feature as some great injustice.


Me? I'm glad Apple isn't going to sit back and let iTunes become the choice of pirates everywhere, which is even more important considering a Windows version is on the way.


Apple hasn't been 'hijacked' by the RIAA OR the pirates, as both the iTMS and this update testify to. They've held their ground and balanced the interests of these two groups better than any other company I know. (And the fact that they're even making the effort shows a genuine interest in improving the situation for the better.)


Unfortunately, I think for some people compromise is not an option, and I think that is what is underlying much of the frustration and anger behind the change. It's a shame, because the answer will ultimately need to compromise the needs of both groups.


Please people, let's just move on with our lives... =)

spaceman
2003-06-03 11:55:25
tell it to some of your fellow bloggers - Steve M here.
I still think they weren't forthcoming about what the update was for. It was giftwrapped.


I also don't think everything should be open sourced. I may be one of a few.

anonymous2
2003-06-03 12:21:36
tell it to some of your fellow bloggers
Here's the third sentence from the update message:


"iTunes 4.0.1 includes a number of performance and network access enhancements, and only allows music sharing between computers using iTunes 4.0.1 or later on a local network (in the same subnet)."


This isn't forthcoming? Did you want a 24 pt headline? Did you want a pop up warning you that you'll lose your non-local streaming? They were quite explicit about the limitations of the new iTunes.

anonymous2
2003-06-03 12:49:14
This was a media creation
There was no problem with iTunes internet sharing because it was nothing new and nothing was really stopped. You had to be willing to open up your music library and distribute you IP address for this to work.


Here, try this. Go to the system preferences and click on sharing. Now turn on Personal file sharing. Make sure you have a guess user and post your IP address onto the internet. You are now sharing files with people you don't know on the internet. Do you think apple should limit this to a single subnet?


The real irony is that if there had never been an iTunes music store nobody would have noticed this feature and the music downloaded from the iTunes Music store could not be shared this way because it is protected by Apples DRM.


It is a Crazy world, and the media creates it's own monsters.

dougadams
2003-06-03 12:50:18
Trial Balloon?
I wondered if the five-users limit was some kind of wacky experiment just to see what happened ("OK, here's the bet: it won't be thirty days before we have to release 4.0.1 because some hacker finds a way around it. Hee hee!") I mean, what's the worst that could have happened before the hammer fell? Most online piracy is committed by non-Mac users anyway, by virtue of their huge numbers. So what has it illustrated? The unscrupulous will always take advantage of good and fair intentions (like, who didn't know that?) and Apple doesn't want to be lawsuit-bait for the Big Five (or Four, or however few they are dwindling to), who, let us not forget, Own The World (and most of the recorded music in it).


Heck, as a teenager I used to swipe 45s from my local record store. So they put in locked glass cabinets and everybody said, oh well, slightly more bother but it's fair. Nothing has changed.

tychay
2003-06-03 13:01:06
Don't think I am...
Derrick,


I think he's pointing out that in your article you claim:


1) "Clearly they made a mistake, and the mistake was enabling wholesale Internet streaming of music when the intention all along was to limit it to subnets." This is not true, the INTENT was NOT to limit it to subnets but to limit it to 5(?) STREAMS. This allowed the legitamate use of streaming your home computer to your work (something I'd do if I didn't have a portable hard drive dock). Unfortunately, because people reverse engineered RAAP, they turned those STREAMS into DOWNLOADS.


2) "Their communication skills could use a little polishing, however. And from this point forward, I will always be suspicious of the phrase network enhancement." It was rather clearly stated in Software Update that there were network enhancements AND a disabling of internet streaming, those are two separate features. Unfortunately, people misread it.


Of course, I think there was a (small) error in daringfireballs weblog. He claims:


"I?m not aware of any ?promise? made by Apple with regard to ITMS songs being streamable over the Internet." While true, I don't think ITMS songs (m4p purchased music) are streamable over the internet in any realistic sense even pre-iTunes 4.0.1 (because you'd still need to register the computer to play back).


However, the spirit of your article and daringfireball's weblog is the same. I'd wish there was a little fingerpointing at the press here also. I remember reading the Wired and c|net articles about this. I'd say they have more to do with Apple closing this feature than the 5 people stealing music off someone else's hard drive. The fact is, you can do a lot more outside of "fair use" with freeware/shareware applications for Mac or PC than anything iTunes gives. I seem to remember that ITMS was made to give us an alternative to such applications.


To put this in perspective, I was much more upset when Apple started charging for iTools. Then again, I don't have Kazaa or Limewire on my computer so I guess I'm not representative.


Take care,


terry

derrick
2003-06-03 13:28:10
Don't think I am...
Well, regardless of how you guys feel, I still smile when I see "network enhancements" in the description for iTunes 4.0.1. Maybe my sense of humor is just different, but I put it in the same category as other famous oxymorons.


But my point about communication goes well beyond that. What I'm saying is that there should be some information from Apple about why they made that change, instead of just giving us the briefest of notices in Software Update.


And as I said before, I'm sticking with that opinion. I think it would have helped create a climate of more intelligent discussion.

tychay
2003-06-03 14:06:52
Who's REALLY to blame?
DISCLAIMER: I may be a bit biased because downloaded iLeech's source code in order to see how it did RAAP.


I'm not too sure they (developers and users) are necessary to blame. After all, how are they different from the 1000x as many (easily) who use Kazaa (and Napster before that) to steal music? Even if almost no one used iLeech or iSlurp (which I suspect might have been already the case), the fact that news sites made such a big deal of it (c|net and Wired) and knowledge of such a feature became so pervasive (ThinkSecret, MacSlash, etc.) would have forced Apple to shut down internet streaming. Apple benefits from a lot of media exposure, and that is also its curse (in this case).


I think reverse engineering RAAP was inevitable, especially in the Mac OS X world. In fact, it should be encouraged for a number of reasons:


1) This incident emphasizes the open nature of the platform and has turned the MacOS X into a developer-friendly system (I wonder how long it would have taken to reverse engineer iTunes internet sharing if RAAP wasn't documented, Mac OS X didn't exist, or there was no Developer Tools).


2) This is exactly the sort of positive "hacker" thing that exposes bugs in the system and makes software more reliable. Imagine if there was a security hole in a protocol which made people to download personal information from your hard drive--what do you think the turnaround time would have been long ago vs. now?


3) If you have any objection to DRM, then you can't believe that software can or should enforce laws or limit fair use. The solution to this problem certainly isn't in mandating that the developer community simply voluntarily refuse to write certain software.


Knowing such software can be written and was used advances the social condition. It pulls our heads out of the sand and forces us to discuss issues we'd rather ignore.


Software is exploration.


(Yes, even Napster.)

spaceman
2003-06-03 15:18:16
tell it to some of your fellow bloggers
No, it isn't. It is gift wrapping.


We aren't going to agree so I'm going to leave it at that.

anonymous2
2003-06-03 15:52:56
tell it to some of your fellow bloggers
"iTunes 4.0.1 includes a number of performance and network access enhancements, and only allows music sharing between computers using iTunes 4.0.1 or later on a local network (in the same subnet)."


Since when is gift wrapping a term used to describe software? The quote above plainly explains it.



anonymous2
2003-06-03 18:42:23
The door needed closing.
Get over it.


If you want to stream someone else's 'software' across the Internet, then build yourself a company comparable to Apple AND do the talking to the record companies to put your deal in place. This isn't a road worth going down.


Its easy to grumble about responsible actions when you aren't due the underlying responsibility.


Try to think of a bigger, longer-term picture.

chris_barker
2003-06-03 20:03:01
Thank you Derrick
I agree with you. Regardless of whether sharing beyond the local subnet was a bug or a feature, Apple is within their rights to change their software. Seems to me that most of the webloggers complaining about their "loss" have plenty of other workable solutions. It seems to me that far too many people are now willing to put themselves in the victim role when it comes to percieved violations of rights which they may or may not have in the first place.
derrick
2003-06-03 20:04:06
Are you even reading the posts?
Because if you were, you would not have responded to what I'm saying in that manner. I'm in favor of what Apple is doing and support their efforts.
anonymous2
2003-06-03 20:23:47
Who's REALLY to blame?
tychay,


Your argument amounts to, "Hey. Don't blame me if I do something illegal: THEY made it possible -- and *I* don't think it should be illegal anyway! Besides, through my illegal actions I exposed their hole. Now that I've done it, let's talk about why I should be allowed to have whatever I want."


It's a ridiculous, narcissistic argument.

derrick
2003-06-03 20:41:38
I find it odd...
... that something as beautiful as enjoying other people's music libraries -- from down the hall, upstairs, and around the corner, and legally -- doesn't outshine any "subnet" vs "Internet" conversation. It's possible that we're spending too much time talking about how to play the music, and not enough time actually listening to it.


I've noticed that some people are very worked up right now, even to the point that they are posting comments before closely reading the original text.


I've also notice that any attempt at humor is taken literally and often attacked. Hmmm.


I'm not sure what's going on here, with this issue, as with some others. But I ask that before you strongly react to something that I or another reader has written, that you make an effort to understand that person's point of view, and write with the respect that everyone in this Mac community deserves.


Last time I checked, we were still the tightest family in the world of computing. That doesn't mean we won't disagree, but let's do so as comrades, not adversaries.

anonymous2
2003-06-03 23:53:48
Changing the Online Music World...
No.. it's about changing the Music World ! "Online" is now a fact... three suggestions :


1- lower the 'unit price' $0,99 is too high


2- Incorporate some technology to lower the quality after each copy, with a maximum of copy (3 or 4) before full degradation ( an ACF : Authorized Copy Factor)


3- Authorized a 'second hand' market where unit pricing will lower according to the 'authorization copy factor' state


Driving the market will be better than trying to stop evidence

dogzilla
2003-06-04 17:07:20
Are you even reading the posts?
Hmm...well, I have to say if you're supporting Apple you're not doing a particularly good job of expressing it. After reading the article and the posts here, it rather sounds like you're peeved at Apple for removing the feature (eg: paraphrasing - "Cars are used in bank robberies but you don't take away all cars to avoid that"), peeved at them for not telling you exactly what was going to happen in updating iTunes in bold neon letters, and peeved at them for calling the update a "network enhancement".


I suppose I could be peeved at you for saying you "support" Apple's efforts.

derrick
2003-06-04 23:15:05
Are you even reading the posts?
How you attribute the phrase, "Cars are used in bank robberies but you don't take away all cars to avoid that" to me, is a total mystery. I never wrote that, and I'm not peeved at Apple for removing the feature. You're having some sort of hallucination by saying that I wrote that when I didn't.


Nor am I peeved at them for not saying they made a change in bold letters. That's not the point at all. As I've said before, I thought Apple could have mitigated much of the rancor by publishing a little information as to why the change was necessary. It's called communication.


Third, "network enhancement" was a bit of a joke. Sorry you didn't like it.


You're way off base. My posts are the ones signed "Derrick." I don't know who you're reading.

tychay
2003-06-06 18:51:14
Who's REALLY to blame?
No, my argument boils down to "Don't shoot the messenger."


If someone writes a program that exploits a flaw in the software, by blaming the writer of the program you are shooting the messenger. A more rabid person would also claim you're curbing the first amendment.


If you read computer security bulletins, you'll see that every day people are posting exploits to various flaws in software. That's a valid way of highlighting the flaw in the program. Apple wanted to give streaming music over the internet so that people can legally listen to their music from home at work, developers wrote software that shows the vulnerability (allows someone to "steal" a stream) that Apple didn't anticipate, Apple changes their software to limit that vulnerability (it's still possible, but the amount of work is now much higher). I added a note that there is equivalent software (and much worse) that PC developers make for Windows, the only difference here is that doesn't appear as a lead article in c|net or Wired.


Heck! Look at this one which appeared today: http://www.wired.com/news/mac/0,2125,59127,00.html


The fact is, such software will get written because the demand is there. The software, once written, points to an issue that Apple needed to (and did) address. If you want to eliminate piracy, you are tilting windmils. If you want to limit piracy, don't look to technology to do so. I guess a corrollary argument isthe NRAism: "if you make owning a gun criminal, only criminals will have guns."


There was a brief time when every software had some form of copy protection (disk timing, key dongles, limited installers, etc). For the most part, the software industry has grown up (and a few well-profiled lawsuits from the BSA didn't hurt) to limit (but not eliminate) the amount of piracy that goes on.


As for the "don't blame me if I do something illegal": I don't use LimeWire, iLeech, iSlurp, or Kazaa. I didn't write any of that software either. I mentioned all this in my previous post which you obviously didn't bother to read. The only thing "narcisistic" about my "argument" is that I have the guts to use my account to post this message instead of venting anonymously.


Take care,


terry

weberik
2003-06-10 14:49:01
Thoughts about the big picture
I find it interesting that so many people praise Apple for creating the Music Store, then go on to describe how Apple needs to change the business model in order for it to be "perfect".


Apple is going to tweak the business model as they go, but they're walking a difficult line between the RIAA, artists, regular music consumers, and music hackers.


While the workarounds, clever hacks, and other means people come up with to abuse Apple's intent with iTunes are often intended to be used for legitimate and proper uses, I find myself wondering if their creators really have taken the time to think about how they might be poisoning the well that Apple has created.


Take out the technical terms, take out the specific licensing language. Think like a moral person, not a legal person. Ask yourself if your alteration of iTunes is something that will enhance its chances of success or hinder it.


Apple is trying to build a system in which the music companies and music consumers can trust each other in some measure. It's an amazing effort, and as someone who simply doesn't have time in my day to hack iTunes to run some mod that allows me to get around its built-in restrictions, I am more than happy with the "as-is" functionality of iTunes.


It makes my life just a bit more fun to be able to snag a bunch of old Split Enz tunes and listen to the latest Radiohead without having to set foot inside the annoying confines of the local shopping mall. If a college kid with time on their hands creates a nifty hack that extends iTunes beyond Apple's original intent, that's great. But if in so doing, they introduce antagonism into the relationship between Apple and the music companies, that increases the chance that my happy enjoyment of iTunes might be curtailed.


Those of us in the tech community seem to be hooked on the crack cocaine of freedom, seeining it as an end unto itself, rather than part of a larger equation that includes responsibility.