Stream Sharing Pulled

All my curiosity about whether iTunes 4’s streaming capabilities amounted to webcasting or not turns out to have been on target — version 4.01 is out, and Apple has yanked the feature. Turns out that merely marking the feature “for personal use only” was insufficient — people found ways to list streams for public consumption within weeks. Apple says they’re “disappointed” that a few bad eggs ruined it for everyone else, which strikes me as funny — as if Mac users were a bunch of kids that Apple thought had all grown up, only to discover that, nope, we’re not ready to own a Daisy B-B Gun after all since we still leave our bicycle in the driveway*.

One has to wonder whether Apple’s new relationship with the big labels forced their hand here — I had assumed that the five-listener limit was one of the “reasonable compromises” Apple had reached with the labels, and that they fully knew what they were getting into with this limited form of webcasting. In retrospect, it looks as if either Apple or the labels got cold feet after releasing the feature, and backpedaled. Anyway you slice it, this is disappointing step backwards. I was getting a lot of perfectly legal mileage out of it, too.

Great discussion at MacSlash.

*Sorry for the obscure reference — when I was a kid there was often an ad on the back of comics that showed a kid leaving his bike in the driveway in the path of dad’s car, thus demonstrating he wasn’t yet mature enough to own his first gun.

Music: Afro Cult Foundation :: The Quest

5 Replies to “Stream Sharing Pulled”

  1. Isn’t there a way that Apple could encrypt the streams so that the actual music files would be hidden from pirates.

    So, iTunes would encrypt and decrypt the streams, but the encryption key would remain an Apple secret (except to determined hackers).

    We have encrypted online backing. How hard could it be to add 128-bit or higher encryption to music streaming?

  2. I’m no encryption expert, but I would think you would need to encrypt every frame of audio rather than just slap an encrypted header on it. Otherwise people could circumvent it just by stripping the header. And doing so would be quite math intensive – with banking you encrypt a number here or there – with streaming you’d be encyrpting hundreds or thousands of times per second.

  3. Jay, I don’t think anyone outside of Apple and the RIAA know *exactly* why the feature was pulled – I’m mostly focused on the webcasting issue because I’ve been following it for a while and it seemed immediatley obvious to me that someone was going to own someone royalties. But hacking the feature into a file copying feature would obviousl be equaly or greater cause for concern.

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