The Mac Observer

Skip navigational links

You're viewing an article in TMO's historic archive vault. Here, we've preserved the comments and how the site looked along with the article. Use this link to view the article on our current site:
Apple Excommunicates iCommune: iTunes File Swapping Plug-In Violates SDK Terms Of Service According

Apple Excommunicates iCommune: iTunes File Swapping Plug-In Violates SDK Terms Of Service According To Company

by , 10:00 AM EST, January 20th, 2003

iCommune, a plug-in for Apple's iTunes that allows users on a network to browse and share music files, has been shut down by Apple, according to an article on ZDNet UK. James Speth, the developer of iCommune, was ordered by Apple to discontinue offering iCommune for download, alleging that Speth violated the terms of the software development kit (SDK) agreement. Apple claims that the iTunes SDK is licensed only for developers to add hardware support to iTunes.

The plug-in could have put Apple's iTunes in the targets of the RIAA, the recording industry trade group that has been targeting anyone and everyone in its quest to lock down digital media. Apple has so far taken the path of discouraging piracy, and publicly stating that users should be trusted to behave legally, and be left responsible for their own actions. The RIAA and the MPAA both have taken the position that users can not be trusted to behave in a legal and ethical fashion, and instead want technology locked down to prevent their customers trading files, or even making legal backups of those files. So far, Apple has managed to keep clear of the RIAA's legal gun sights, and the action against James Speth could have been intended to keep Apple out of any fracas with the organization.

The story from ZDNet UK:

Apple made the move amid an environment of increasing hostility between the entertainment industry and music-swapping applications such as Kazaa and the now-defunct Napster.

However, Apple did not make any direct reference to copyright issues in pulling the plug on iCommune. Instead, the company said that Speth broke the terms of the iTunes Device Plug-In SDK Agreement, which is aimed at allowing hardware makers to connect devices such as MP3 players to iTunes.

"The iTunes SDK materials are licensed only for the purpose of enabling the Licensee's hardware device identified in the agreement to interoperate with iTunes. The iTunes SDK is not licensed for use in a software program for sharing of music over a network," Apple said in its letter, according to Speth.

Speth said that the conflict with Apple was the result of a misunderstanding. He had specified that he would be connecting iTunes to a "component system MP3 player console", but what he had in mind was turning a Mac into a home entertainment system. "I use iTunes and iCommune on the Cube to turn (the Mac) into the MP3 player console I was envisioning when I started work on it," Speth said on Thursday in an e-mail to an iCommune discussion list.

You can read the whole article at ZDNet UK's Web site.

The Mac Observer Spin:

Apple has had a very poor reaction to some modifications of iTunes, like skinning. We frankly don't understand why in the world Apple would wish to stop people from customizing their iTunes player to their liking, but we understand where the company is coming from on the iCommune issue. The RIAA has made it expensive for companies to be even peripherally associated with file sharing, and discretion may well be the better part of valor for Apple in this instance.

That said, we would love to see Apple come right out and call today's recording industry an obsolete dinosaur best put out of its misery before it causes any more damage to music itself. For some reason we aren't holding our breath on that one.

Definitely take the time to read the full ZDNet article. James Speth's original idea for iCommune is an exciting and outstanding idea. He wanted to be able to use iTunes to play music through his stereo system, the embodiment of the Digital Hub concept, and it's too bad that Apple felt it necessary to put an end to the goodness.

Recent TMO Headlines - Updated May 22nd

Wed, 10:34 AM
Cannes Lions Names Apple 2019 Creative Marketer of the Year
Wed, 10:01 AM
Portland Transit Riders Can Add Hop Fastpass to Wallet
Wed, 9:44 AM
UN Report Says Making Siri Voice Female by Default is Sexist
Wed, 9:34 AM
Apple’s Privacy Preserving Ad Click Attribution in Safari
Wed, 8:43 AM
EE Unveils UK 5G Launch And Harry Potter Partnership
Wed, 8:32 AM
Apple AR Hiring Increases to 33 Positions Since Last Year
Tue, 6:35 PM
Are AIs Being Designed to Harm Us?
Tue, 6:17 PM
How Apple is Actually Protecting Mac Sales with Marzipan
Tue, 4:11 PM
New Backlight Service Program Addresses ‘Flexgate’ Problem
Tue, 4:07 PM
2018 MacBook Pro, MacBook Air Added to Keyboard Service Program
Tue, 3:08 PM
Chinese Move to Boycott Apple Because of Huawei
Tue, 2:44 PM
iMessage is the Apple Social Network
  • __________
  • Buy Stuff, Support TMO!
  • Podcast: Mac Geek Gab
  • Podcast: Apple Weekly Report
  • TMO on Twitter!