MyTunes downloads shared music files using iTunes

A U.S. programmer has developed a software tool that allows users to download shared music files using the Windows version of Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes software, which was released last month.

The software undermines anti-piracy features developed by Apple to ensure that iTunes is not used to distribute music illegally, although the author warns that the software should not be used in any such illegal fashion.

MyTunes overrides a feature in iTunes that prevents users from downloading music files that are shared over a network, according to information posted on the Cow Pimp Productions Web site where MyTunes has been available for download since Oct. 26.

ITunes allows users to purchase music for download and play that music, in either MP3 or AAC format, on computers running either MacOS or Microsoft's Windows XP and Windows 2000 operating systems. Users can also listen to music stored on other computers that use iTunes to share music files over a network. However, iTunes does not allow those music files to be downloaded and stored on another computer's hard drive.

In addition, iTunes no longer allows users to share files over the Internet. That feature was stripped from the MacOS version of iTunes in May, when Apple released iTunes 4.0.1x for Mac OSX, to stop shared music files being copied illegally over the Internet. Current versions of iTunes allow music files to be streamed over a local network, and playlists to be shared. ITunes does not allow sharing of the music files themselves, however.

MyTunes, which was written by Bill Zeller, overrides the restriction that prevents users from saving shared music and allows users to save music to the hard drives of their Windows-based PCs, Cow Pimp Productions said. The software differs from other similar programs that allowed music streamed using iTunes to be recorded, it said, noting that MyTunes downloads the original music file.

At press time, neither Zeller -- who is also listed as the administrative contact for the Cow Pimp Productions Web site -- nor Apple could be reached for comment.

In a statement posted on the Cow Pimp Productions Web site, it recognized the possibility that MyTunes can be used to distribute music files illegally and admonishes users not to use MyTunes in a manner that involves copyright infringement.

"If you plan on stealing music, do not download this software. If you plan on infringing upon copyrights, do not download this software. Only download this software if you plan on acting responsibly," the Web site said.

For users with questions regarding copyright infringement, Cow Pimp Productions refers them to the Web site of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which is waging a high-profile battle against Internet music piracy.

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