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

iCommune, a plug-in for Appleis 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 Appleis 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 RIAAis 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 Licenseeis 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 UKis Web site.