iTunes Hack One Ups Apple…Again

Anything you can do,
I can do better.
I can do anything
Better than you.
No, you canit.
Yes, I can. No, you canit.
Yes, I can. No, you canit.
Yes, I can,
Yes, I can!

Lyrics from "Anything You Can Do", written by Irving Berlin for the Broadway Musical "Annie Get Your Gun."

With Apple Computer playing Annie Oakley and software programmer Jon Lech Johansen the out-witting Frank Butler, the battle over protection of digital music downloads has taken another tit-for-tat move in an on-going, modern day battle of high tech.

Less than 24 hours after Apple released an iTunes software update to prevent iTunes Music Store (iTMS) customers from copying music downloads an unlimited number of times, a team of developers has released a new update to its PyMusique software program to defeat Appleis patch.

After PyMusique was first released some two weeks ago, Apple made changes to its encryption method at the iTMS, defeating the PyMusique front-end (as well as older versions of iTunes). At the time, Apple estimated some 15% of its iTMS customers would need to upgrade to iTunes version 4.7 if they wanted to continue purchasing music.

Led by European programmer Jon Lech Johansen, the three-man development team has reversed Appleis software patch, releasing a new update Mr. Johansen and others confirmed to The Mac Observer, late Tuesday.

PyMusique is billed as "the fair interface to the iTunes Music Store," according to its authors Travis Watkins, Cody Brocious, and Mr. Johansen, the infamous "DVD Jon" who cracked the encryption used in DVDs and was later acquitted of piracy charges for having done so.

Realizing that iTunes adds a Digital Rights Management (DRM) software "key" to purchased tracks after the songs have been downloaded -- which enables them to be tied to specific buyers and restricts the number of downloads -- the authors of PyMusique created a front-end to the iTMS that allows tracks to be bought and downloaded as 128kbps AAC files, but doesnit add the DRM at the end. The result is a file that can be shared with anyone and used however the purchaser desires.

PyMusique is currently available only for Windows and Linux, but a number of developers have confirmed through online message boards that a native Mac OS X version is being developed.

An Apple spokesperson was not immediately available for comment on the latest developments.

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