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Apple Businesses

Apple Smacks Down iCommune 567

Posted by pudge
from the suuuuuck dept.
flipsidejones writes "Looks like Apple has killed iCommune. iCommune, as mentioned previously, allows users to share music libraries across a network from within iTunes. It seems the license for the iTunes plugin API does not allow for software-based plugins (only hardware: MP3 players, etc). Apple issued a 'Notice of Breach and Termination of License' to iCommune, who have since pulled the download. Something tells me that they won't be putting it back up anytime soon. Every time I forget about Mac OS X being proprietary, Apple does something to remind me." Well, in fairness, this could happen even if Mac OS X itself weren't proprietary, as iTunes still could be. For that matter, iCommune still is, too. Hm, none of that makes me feel any better ...
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Apple Smacks Down iCommune

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  • Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Bungi (221687) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:17PM (#5095383) Homepage
    Well, in fairness, this could happen even if [...]

    I'd like to see this type of editorial byline in the next Borg article, please.

    I'm constantly amazed at how Apple is really not considered evil because they happen to sell an OS based on Unix. Duh. They're a company that sells stuff and makes money just like any other.

    • Re:Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cruciform (42896)
      It's because they're the underdog. If there were suddenly a huge shift in power putting Apple on top of the heap, they would be the next "Evil Empire" that the Slashdot masses would want to overthrow.
      • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

        by alakazam (529128) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:37PM (#5095606)
        > because they're the underdog

        When I first read that, I agreed, but when I actually tried the thought on for size I found it didn't fit.

        If Microsoft was the "wanna-be" there's no way I'd be championing them. Most people who "prefer Microsoft" seem to do so for reasons other than "quality of product" or "innovation" or "great cool factor."

        If Microsoft was the underdog I don't think there would be all that many people rooting for them.

        • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @03:22PM (#5096559) Homepage Journal
          Well, if Microsoft were the underdog, they might make better products. The reason I stick with Apple, for all its sins, is because it makes great products -- and the reason it does so, I'm convinced, is because it's the underdog. If the relative market shares were reversed, MacOS would probably be stuck in the System 7 days, only more bloated, and Windows might very well be fast and stable (and quite possibly Unix-based.)

          Actually, I don't even think their market positions would have to be reversed for this to happen, just closer to parity (and preferably with other competitors, e.g. Linux, at about the same level.) An example of this is IBM. Big Blue actually makes some pretty good products these days -- once they lost their absolute market dominance, they figured out how to do actual engineering again.

          If Windows were head and shoulders above the competition the way, say, Photoshop is, no one would hate Microsoft that much. It's the combination of power and crappy products that makes them uniquely hated, especially when there are better products with much lower market share (OS X, Linux, et bloody cetera.)
        • Re:Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Oculus Habent (562837)
          What I have a problem with is the assumption that the companies are "evil". Who decided this, and when did it become accepted? A company making a product isn't evil, clearly. A company trying to make a profit (whether succeeding or not) isn't evil. A company producing bad products? A company breaking the law? Then was Enron evil? A monopoly?

          I don't care for Microsoft or Bill Gates' managerial style (let others come up with something and scream at them for getting details wrong) but I don't see them in dark robes sacrificing young employees to the God of Pain.

    • Re:Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bonker (243350)
      Really. The next time you go bitching about how wonderful Apple is compared to Microsft, remember that they're guilty of *exactly* the same kind of

      - vendor intimidation
      - semi-legal, prohibitive licensing practices
      - price gouging
      - market control
      - FUD
      - product tying
      - hiding software features
      and
      - employee abuse

      that our friends in Redmond are famous for. The only difference is that Apple tried to cater to a niche market while Microsoft decided to go for the lowest common denominator and won. The only reason Apple is seen as good is because they are not Microsoft.
      • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pi radians (170660) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:36PM (#5095593)
        Hey, you may be right but the big difference between the two is that Apple hasn't broken the law.

        Sure they are a corporation and they have the same intentions of profit like every other corporation, but their path to it, while not always favorable, has always been legal. They follow the same rules everyone else does. Thats why I think people will still try to defend Apple.
        • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

          by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @02:37PM (#5096119) Homepage
          They follow the same rules everyone else does. Thats why I think people will still try to defend Apple.

          Yeah, that's true, but I remain to be convinced that if it were Apple with 95% market share they'd be any less evil than Microsoft is. If anything, they'd probably be more evil - MS pulls more than its fair share of dirty tricks but they rarely resort to using the law as their weapon as Apple do all too frequently.

          At the end of the day, Apple have the same business models and methods that Microsoft do. Look at MacOS and Windows and tell me what's really different underneath. I'm not talking about technical details or "experience", I'm talking about business models. They both charge money for the OS and give away some free stuff with it. They both use it to try and reinforce their other products.

          So sure, in the real world it wasn't Apple, but it could have been if Jobs had actually followed the advice Gates gave him when he asked for it and licensed clones. Whether Apple would have tried to destroy Netscape is debatable, but they seem happy to clamp down on people when they make competing products to themselves, or even products that alter their own in some trivial way. It's a moot point, but interesting speculation.

        • is that Apple doesn't have a monopoly to leverage if they wanted to. If M$ didn't have the market share they do, none of what they do would be illegal. I'm not saying Apple is a bunch of greedy assholes - but I am saying that there's no way to tell that they're not just as bad.
        • > They follow the same rules everyone else does.

          The problem in this case, is that the rules are not the same for Microsoft, because of their unique market position (a monopoly on desktop OSes).

          Had Apple held such a monopoly, many of its practices would cause just as much, if not more, of an uporar as the ones MS got in trouble for. Think about it: they bundle all sorts of software "as part of the OS", and they have repeatedly cracked down hard on clone and part makers trying to enter their niche market.

          So, I say the actions of MS and Apple are pretty much the same. Only in the case of MS, these actions get defined as illegal, while for Apple they are merely low, dirty and unethical. But don't you think that sort of hair splitting should be left up to the lawyers?

      • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

        by IRNI (5906) <irni.irni@net> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:39PM (#5095624) Homepage
        Or it may be that they make an OS that works and every product they make is pleasing to the eye as well as fun to use. Couldn't be that could it though? So they don't want their product to be turned into a new kazaa via a plugin to their product. It is their right.
      • Re:Wow (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by The Bungi (221687)
        I'm not saying Apple is better than Microsoft, or more or less evil than Microsoft. That's not my point.

        My point is, every time Apple does something corporation-ish that is Evil and Stupid (as we understand that sort of thing) everyone just sorta ignores it. It's like "yeah, they're starting to be like [insert corporation name here] BUT hey, they have Darwin and iPod rocks, yipeee!".

        I think OS X is incredible although I haven't used it that much - but it's still a closed OS running most closed software produced by a company that is in the business of competing and being profitable.

      • by g4dget (579145) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @02:56PM (#5096266)
        It's OK to do those things when you have 3% of the market. It's not OK to do those things when you have 90% of the market.

        If you want "nice", use open source. While companies have profit motives that get in the way of quality and features, the interests of most open source developers are aligned with those of users because they are users.

    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by k_187 (61692) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:32PM (#5095561) Journal
      So they're evil because they're a company that sells stuff? Or they're evil because they're enforcing a licence that the developers agreed to go by? Would Linus be evil if someone was violating the GPL using linux and he sued?
      • by jaaron (551839) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @02:16PM (#5095930) Homepage
        I'm constantly amazed at how Apple is really not considered evil because they happen to sell an OS based on Unix. Duh. They're a company that sells stuff and makes money just like any other. ...

        So they're evil because they're a company that sells stuff? ...

        <rant>

        Exactly. You know I'm really getting tired of slashdot articles _and_ comments which suggest that such and such a company or organization is evil or good. Whether it's Apple or Microsoft or even the RIAA, things are not as black and white as most /.ers would like to think. Within each organization there are lots of different factions.

        Since when did the FSF become the bastion of all that is good and pure? Since when did making money become a crime? I don't think I want to label any company as purely good or evil, and particularly not any action so general as making money! Too many of us here are simply zealots, blindly spewing doctrine based on some twisted free-software/open-source/unix-rules/fsck-the-gove rnment/take-your-pick dogma. Following the popular anti-whatever rhetoric gets you karma or a nice troll. I can say that because when I was first introduced to the concepts of free software and open source, I swallowed the whole philosphy. Reading slashdot and other open source forums have allowed me to look in the mirror enough to realize how stupid it can sometimes sound.

        Don't get me wrong, I love open source. I agree with many of these principles. Heck, I contribute to couple projects and release open source code myself! But I hope I'm pragmatic enough not to simply buy the standard dogma that makes comments like "M$ sucks" or "making money is evil" rated "Insightful". Okay, <rant> off.
        • Since when did the FSF become the bastion of all that is good and pure? Since when did making money become a crime? I don't think I want to label any company as purely good or evil, and particularly not any action so general as making money! Too many of us here are simply zealots, blindly spewing doctrine based on some twisted free-software/open-source/unix-rules/fsck-the-gove rnment/take-your-pick dogma. Following the popular anti-whatever rhetoric gets you karma or a nice troll. I can say that because when I was first introduced to the concepts of free software and open source, I swallowed the whole philosphy. Reading slashdot and other open source forums have allowed me to look in the mirror enough to realize how stupid it can sometimes sound.

          The FSF has been fighting from a moral stance on copyright since its inception. They have been a bastion of good since people started accepting those morals as good morals.

          It has been the fashion now for twenty or more years never to refer to anyone as purely good or evil. Our culture has prevailed upon us to believe that all (or at least most) morality is relative to the culture it is a part of. In the past two years US culture has been moving away from being non-judgemental. Many sets of conflicting moral values are coming into conflict, and the morals of the FSF are only one of those. Contrast the arguments over property rights, freedom of expression, and freedom to share with the much more violent conflicts over family planning, abortion, and globalization.

          So you see, I agree with you in a sense. There certainly isn't one global set of morals that we can all agree with. On the other hand I think the moral relativism mindset is doomed for the near future -- eventually you'll have to decide what you believe in or people will label you as a bullshit hypocrite, not as one who is tolerant.

    • by pudge (3605)
      Yeah, how evil of me to correct an incorrect implication in the submitter's post, that this has anything to do with the license of Mac OS X. For shame. Now, I could have left the submission's last sentence off entirely, but I thought it made a valid point about being proprietary, so I pointed out the fact that it has nothing to do with Mac OS X's license, but iTunes'.

      If you want to bitch and whine, at least do it when I do something actually *wrong*. It's not that hard to find such cases.
    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lysurgon (126252) <joshkNO@SPAMoutlandishjosh.com> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:40PM (#5095628) Homepage Journal
      I'm constantly amazed at how Apple is really not considered evil because they happen to sell an OS based on Unix. Duh. They're a company that sells stuff and makes money just like any other.

      Well, in comparison to M$, they've remained relatively benign and tend to produce products of a higher quality. Microsoft has a long history of using underhanded business tactics (e.g. punative lawsuits, abuse of monopoly power) to pursue their ends, while Apple has maintained its edge primarily through innovation.

      In reality, this is a move made by Apple to protect itself from exposure to legal liability. It has more to do with the litigious nature of the US business environment than any desire by Apple to "smack down" anything.
    • They're a company that sells stuff and makes money just like any other.

      Oh, a little bit yes and a little bit no.

      Apple is a company, yes. They sell stuff and make money, yes. Just like any other? Not exactly.

      Microsoft's products are, at best, just good enough. Though they try, Microsoft doesn't really innovate very much. Microsoft isn't concerned with making the user experience pleasant.

      Apple is just the opposite. Most people (given a few notable exceptions [slashdot.org]) respect that, and appreciate it.

      Look at it this way. Macs are slower (yeah, they really are, dollar for dollar) and more expensive than PC's... and yet millions of people use 'em anyway. Doesn't that tell you something?
    • by daviddennis (10926) <david@amazing.com> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:47PM (#5095694) Homepage
      Apple is not considered evil because they make carefully designed products that work together smoothly. They also know how to make an operating system beautiful, and that's no small consideration if you look at Windows, Linux or even BeOS.

      In short, they know how to make something geeks love, and that's why a healthy percentage of geeks are moving to Apple despite the well known proprietary disadvantages and CPU speed shortfall.

      I don't think most of us truly consider Microsoft evil because of their monopoly. I think it can all be traced to bad products like Windows 3.1, Windows95, etc. The fact that they rapidly obliverated the competition, thus all but forcing people to use their products made them even more vile, but their original sin was bad products.

      If monopoly was truly evil, Adobe would be one of the most evil companies in the world, with Photoshop having a massive, massive market share. Photoshop users love the company, and this is because Photoshop, while a near-monopoly, is also a great product genuinely beloved by its users(*).

      Monopoly is only truly evil when the monopoly products themselves are evil. But when that is so, monopoly makes the evil even worse, since it becomes increasingly difficult to ignore evil products.

      If you think Apple IS an evil company, well, it's trivial to ignore them. And that's the difference.

      Hope this helps.

      D

      (*) Some people would say Adobe was evil due to its recent misuse of the DMCA. But that's not because Adobe is a monopoly, so it's not germane to this discussion.

      This messsage was posted from my PowerBook G4/1ghz SuperDrive running MacOS X 10.2.3.
    • Re:Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

      by poot_rootbeer (188613)
      I'd like to see this type of editorial byline in the next Borg article, please.

      I wouldn't.

      Slashdot Editors should be using their privileges for editing, not editorializing.

      The only situation in which they should append anything to a submitter's own copy is when a correction or a clarification is required.

      If an editor has an opinion to share, or a comment in response to the submitter, they can damn well post a comment like the rest of us do.

    • Unix and others (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jbolden (176878)
      I'm constantly amazed at how Apple is really not considered evil because they happen to sell an OS based on Unix. Duh. They're a company that sells stuff and makes money just like any other.

      1) Unix is actually a big deal. /. is a Unix supporting board. Macs prior to OSX were treated as toys. Non Unix operating systems like I-OS, Z-OS, VMS... get very little coverage on support here. So yes the number 1 selling Unix vendor is going to be treated better than the number 1 selling non Unix system.

      2) One of the key principles of the FSF is that IP creates an artifical economy. That is why should things which are expensive to produce the first copy of and virtually free to produce additional copies of be sold on a fixed cost per copy basis? That is why shouldn't an alternate means of financing software be found which brings its pricing structure in line with the cost of manufacture?
      The same artifical economy does not apply to hardware. Apple being primarily a hardware vendor gets treated more like: NEC, Intel, Dell or Seagate rather than like Microsoft which is the number 1 proponent of the artifical economy.

      3) Apple publically supports BSD, GPL and is moving towards releasing a great deal of software into the public domain. Microsoft publically attacks GPL and succesfully lobbied the government not to provide any support for GPL products. Further they've included anti GPL clauses in their license agreement.

      4) Apple has worked hard to improve software which effects /.ers who are not Apple users most importantly GCC. Microsoft conversely has refused to support any open source software at all.

      5) Microsoft Palladium is a move away from file permission systems back to the capability systems of the 1970s. The capability philosophy has been an enemy of Unix for 30 years. And it has been an enenemy primarily because it shifts political power within corporations away from the IS/IT staff and towards security management. Obviously that's not going to be popular with /.ers

      I could go on and on but those are 5 good reasons.

  • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:17PM (#5095393) Homepage Journal
    Open at Apple boardroom :

    Jobs : Well, our hardware advantage has gone, our OS is lukewarm Unix, all we have left is our fanatically loyal customer basis. Now, how can we piss them off?

    Senior exec : Why not deny them music file sharing, possibly the single biggest growing sector of internet use in the last 5 years...

    Jobs : Excellent! We'll be filing chapter 11 in no time...
    • They didn't kill iCommune because they don't like music file sharing. They killed iCommune because they're going to release the same thing down the road. They _already_ demo'd it when they announced Rendezvous. It's just a matter of time.

      Don't have a link, but I'm sure somebody else has posted this by now..
      • by antibryce (124264)
        the Rendezvous enabled iTunes they demo'd will only work on a local network. That's the nature of Rendezvous. It also only allows streaming of MP3s. I would say this proves they're afraid of being labelled a P2P network and a music "piracy" facilitator.

        My guess is they aren't ready to have the full brunt of the RIAA's legal division brought down on their heads.
    • by frankie (91710) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @02:03PM (#5095830) Journal
      Jobs : Excellent! We'll be filing chapter 11 in no time...

      Apple definitely does shoot itself in the foot too often. Here's the canonical article [satirewire.com]. Next, Apple's decision to abandon Quantum Link's bulletin board service caused that company to change its name (and its focus) to America Online [google.com]. And of course, Palm arose in Newton's wake. It's amazing how many fortunes were created by Apple's failures.

    • Right, because lord knows there's shitload of cash to be made writing P2P software. Also, allowing music sharing is a great way to protect yourself from expensive legal action.

      I think the problem is the "Slashdot Mentality". Let's see if can create the Ideal Apple:

      1. Setup RMS as the CEO/President/Company Savior
      2. Release all software completely open source
      3. Port OSX to the PC
      4. Become a huge, massive corporation that uses it's installed base of now open source software in some sort of monopolistic shutout of Microsoft, putting M$ as we like to call it, out of business
      5. Put all movies and music online to download for free
      6. Send in Steve Jobs with a machete to hack all RIAA/MPAA/Record Co Execs to pieces.
      7. Immediately go out business, since we hate big companies.

      Would that fix everything? I hope so. If it doesn't work, we can have Apple shoot some sort of Natalie Portman porn and see how that works out.

      Let it be said I never waste a list...
  • by NerdSlayer (300907) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:19PM (#5095409) Homepage
    "Every time I forget about Mac OS X being proprietary, Apple does something to remind me."

    I took a nice new car that I saw at the dealership down the block, and the bastards called the police on me.

    Everytime I forget that certain goods and services cost money, Lexus does something to remind me. Isn't this America? Can't I have everything for free?! The terrorists have already won.
    • Re:quit bitching (Score:5, Insightful)

      by glwtta (532858) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:26PM (#5095504) Homepage
      Can't I have everything for free?!

      To be fair, I don't think the poster was saying anything about prices, but rather the ability to extend the funcionality of a product.

      • To be fair, I don't think the poster was saying anything about prices, but rather the ability to extend the funcionality of a product.

        You're correct, and my position was a little overstated. I guess I'm venting my frustration about the "Slashdot Attitude" against sucessful companies/non-GPL software that's constantly shown. I think the story was worth posting, but the smug attitude at the end was annoying.

        Let's see... what would make everyone on slashdot love apple:

        1. Setup RMS as the CEO/President/Company Savior
        2. Release all software completely open source
        3. Port OSX to the PC
        4. Become a huge, massive corporation that uses it's installed base of now open source software in some sort of monopolistic shutout of Microsoft, putting M$ as we like to call it, out of business
        5. Put all movies and music online to download for free
        6. Send in Steve Jobs with a machete to hack all RIAA/MPAA/Record Co Execs to pieces.
        7. Immediately go out business, since we hate big companies.

        Would that fix everything? I hope so. If it doesn't work, we can have Apple shoot some sort of Natalie Portman porn and see how that works out.
        • "If it doesn't work, we can have Apple shoot some sort of Natalie Portman porn and see how that works out."
          • Why do you think they developed iMovie?
      • Re:quit bitching (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Twirlip of the Mists (615030) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:49PM (#5095727)
        To be fair, I don't think the poster was saying anything about prices, but rather the ability to extend the funcionality of a product.

        Not your product, dude. Apple didn't create iTunes so people could illegally (right or wrong, it is definitely still illegal) exchange music files. And because Apple created it, they have the right to tell you not to do that with it. If you don't like it-- and obviously some people don't-- then you should write your own MP3 library manager.

        It bothers me that people-- not you, but others-- actually use the word "free" in this context. Are you free to do whatever you want with other people's stuff? Um... no. That's the beginning and the end of the discussion, guys.
  • by EricWright (16803) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:19PM (#5095416) Journal
    Sounds like they're putting the kibosh on this project because they plan to do something like this in the near future. They may even have plans to make this a paid upgrade to the free iTunes download. Who knows?

    I actually thought they'd go after iCommune for trademark dilution...
  • by markv242 (622209) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:20PM (#5095427)
    Wouldn't one of the reasons that iCommune got pulled is because Apple is probably building in Rendezvous support for iTunes into iTunes 4? They don't want to be beaten to the punch, and a third party offering "Rendezvous-like" functionality goes against Apple's plan.
    • by mjpaci (33725) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:37PM (#5095600) Homepage Journal
      The Apple sharing functionality won't let you copy the songs down from the host -- just stream them. iCommune let users copy the songs as well as stream them. Remember, according to Jobs, Music Piracy is a Social Problem. I'm sure the contract violation had something to do with the copying of music. Apple doesn't want the RIAA attacking them for the transgressions of their licensed devlopers. Therefore, Apple has language in its license that somehow prohibits what iCommune was doing.

      --Mike
    • by dirkx (540136) <dirkx@vangulik.org> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:45PM (#5095678) Homepage
      Note that iCommune essentially used no code; it was just somethin which generated a few lines of apache config which would make the Music directory shared:

      Alias /Foo/Music

      Al.ow from all ...

      Along with a small perl/python script which took your playlist and turned it into a .pls file. I.e. the type you normally click on.

      That is all. Any one who can handle vi can do it manually.

      However, combine this with Eric his mod_rendevous and then it gets interesting... http://homepage.mac.com/macdomeeu/dev/current/mod_ rendezvous/

      As that will dynamically announce your web server to the local network.

      In Safari; just go to bookmarks, rendezvous - and here we go. Sharing as it should be.

      Dw.
  • by Funksaw (636954) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:21PM (#5095431)
    I may be missing the point, but what is it about iCommune that was so different from sharing the files over a network via network protocols, anyway?

    Since iTunes is a proprietary work, I'm not too upset by this - luckily, all iCommune needs to do to counter this is to produce an MP3 player better than iTunes, open source it, and they can very well do what they please. Just because iTunes is a proprietary MP3 player doesn't mean that it's the only possible one that'll work on the MacOSX platform.

    This is more molehill than mountain.
    • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @02:51PM (#5096238) Homepage
      Just because iTunes is a proprietary MP3 player doesn't mean that it's the only possible one that'll work on the MacOSX platform.

      No, but it comes bundled for 'free' with every Mac. I think most of us would agree that Mozilla is a better browser than IE, it has tabs, popup blocking, it's more secure, it's more standards compliant, it can look boring if you want but it can also look cool and so on. The latest builds are even comparable to IE6 in speed. Internet Explorer itself has hardly moved on in the last few years, Gates has his eye on other balls.

      Nonetheless, it's practically impossible to convince a lot of people to use it. Mozillas market share remains at rock bottom. I've tried to convince friends to try it and they point blank refuse, "IE is fine for me, why would I need Mozilla?".

      And you know what? I think they might be onto something. Trying to convince somebody to change their web browser, or media player, or zip extractor is like trying to convince people to buy a different brand of oil for their car.

      I mean, to most people, things like that are part of the furniture, it works, they don't think about it. The effort required to try something else, when what you have works, is simply too great. We can't be discerning buyers in everything we do (part of the reason classical economics fails) and so the idea that somehow a company could displace iTunes by making a better media player is probably wrong.

      The only way that'd be possible is if it was SO much better than iTunes, and iTunes was SO bad that people were willing to find out about the competition and download them and try them out etc, ie not going to happen anytime soon.

      So really this company is sort of screwed. I don't agree with the "well it was in the plugin license agreement so they are the criminals here" line either - arbitrary restrictions on plugin APIs that serve seemingly no purpose just reeks of control freakery and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if that was a planned feature for iTunes.

      Using license agreements to arbitrarily restrict competition like this is a classic Microsoft tactic, it's sad to see Apple do the same, but not entirely surprising.

    • by iamacat (583406) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @03:16PM (#5096493)
      It lets you stream your playlists to a Shoutcast server. It also has mp3pro and shows correct length for VBR MP3. But it doesn't LOOK as good as iTunes. So I wrote a Java program to write an older header to my VBR files rather than switch.

      I am kind of disappointed that Apple is bullying developers who promote their hardware and software for free. But I am not sure why you need plugin SDK for this project. iTunes writes its libraries and playlists as XML files. I wrote a tiny shell script to copy files in the playlist to my MP3 player, which acts as a USB hard drive. Why not just write a small web server that reads those XML files and lets others browse the files and listen to your playlists as streams?

      Also, MacOSX has Samba and NFS in addition to Apple's own file sharing. On a local network, everyone can just export their MP3 collections and then just point MP3 players to the parent directory under which other collections are mounted. Should be even more transparent than the plugin.

    • You've got the right idea, but you're going in the wrong direction.

      Apple didn't want to get hit with a Napster-Kazaa-like lawsuit. It's all a game of CYA when it comes to this sort of thing. Take a look at what RedHat did with the mp3 libs. That doesn't make the situation suck any less, but that is why they bother to make the license like the do and why they bothered to smack iCommune.

  • by japhar81 (640163) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:21PM (#5095435)
    The next release of iTunes is slated to include P2P technology over Rendezvous(sp).

    As much as I hate to see projects killed, in this case, its not necessarily a Bad Thing(tm). In windows-land, I've got a plethora of networks to hound for one file, depending on who has it. With my mac, I'll only have one, and if the file is out there, it's on that network.

    Like I said killed OSS projects are bad, mmmkay? But, a single, united, SUPPORTED p2p network is (maybe) worth it.
    • That single, united, SUPPORTED p2p network of yours is also a single target for the RIAA/MPAA.
      • Yeah, youre right. Heaven forbid they take away our right to do something illegal.

        What if this network has DRM? Or forces you to prove you own the CD? Or reads your mind to see if you own it? Or whatever the hell else Apple comes up with?

        And what if it is a target for RIAA? Once the software its out, its out. Corporations know this as well as we do. They'll ship it, go to bat with RIAA (Lose), but the p2p plugin will already be out and floating on every newsgroup across the globe. So great, Apple stops shipping it (and presumably keeps competition down like it did here), the plugin is still out, and its still that single, united network, the one that would be so nice.

        I'm sure redhat desktops are important to you, but get your head out of your ass, stop being a typical troll, and think a few steps ahead.
    • Maybe so. But think about these points:
      • iCommune shares the files via Apache (OS X comes with Apache installed). So one could, in theory, share these with anyone, not just with people in Rendezvous range.
      • iTunes doesn't share at all right now. iCommune lets it do so. How about if I tell the taco vendor at the corner to shut down now because I'm building a taqueria on that corner three months from now? You want a taco now? Too bad...
      As others are saying, this is a license issue, and I haven't yet seen anyone posting details as to what part of the license was violated. Do remember, though, that Apple is even more anticompetitive than Microsoft. It's just that Apple's products tend to work fairly well, and they have a miniscule market share, so nobody notices much.
    • I've got a plethora of networks to hound for one file, depending on who has it. With my mac, I'll only have one, and if the file is out there, it's on that network.

      I'd still call that a bad thing. I like diversity. It allows a much better match between my desires and what's provided.

    • > The next release of iTunes is slated to include P2P technology over Rendezvous(sp).

      One wonders why Apple didn't spring this at SFMW03. The cynic in me says that the keynote was so long already, that something had to get shelved.

      In the meantime, here's something fun you can do with iTunes, indeed anything that outputs sound on a Mac:

      Audio Hijack [rogueamoeba.com] - AH lets you tweak the sound of any app....and it can record streams as well. An awesome app.

    • by FreeUser (11483) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @02:14PM (#5095918)
      Like I said killed OSS projects are bad, mmmkay? But, a single, united, SUPPORTED p2p network is (maybe) worth it.

      You have just expressed a wry gladness that the project was killed, so that your convinience may be better served by having to look in only one place to find a file you are looking for, and with the next breath essentially said "I feel your pain" when you've made it rather clear you do not.

      Not only that, but your grand One P2P to Rule Them All and Bind Them will be a propriatary, commercial venture, subject to all the long term instability that implies, such as cut budgests, etc.), inaccessibility (no guarantee it will be compatible with anyone else, limiting your trading to just other mac players, a very small percentage of online file sharers), licensing restrictions (which may or may not be draconian, but either way, where's your choice gone?), possible monitoring capabilities (it is one network, after all, with likely only one approved client), and (seemingly remote at this time, but that will change on a dime if political or economic pressures come to bear) possibly DRM technology built in.

      Not to mention it will be a single point of failure. One good lawsuit from the media cartels, a single injunction, and you are out of business with no alternatives to turn to, and your own vendor prohibiting anyone else from offering you one.

      Welcome to the world of proprietary software. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Apple is a much nicer Master than Microsoft, and both their equipment and software are superior in every way, but they remain a master, and you a serf subject to their corporate whims. Furthermore, as occasional actions like this have demonstrated time and time again historically, there is absolutely no guarantee that Apple will remain the kinder Master in the future. At some point, these sorts of restrictions make it clear even to the most subserviant that no amount of convinience is worth this kind of tradeoff, and that freedom actually is something worth a modicum of effort to achieve, maintain, and insure.
  • It's the license (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mononoke (88668) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:22PM (#5095443) Homepage Journal
    Every time I forget about Mac OS X being proprietary, Apple does something to remind me.
    This has nothing to do with OSX being proprietary, and everything to do with violating the license for the Device Plug-in API. Sorry, but the rules were there in writing before iCommune ever started.

  • RIAA, on the other hand, might have a case against 'em.

    I'm not really familiar with the Apple license agreement for the iTune's API, is it something you need to download separately and sign a contract for? Or is it just something that's 'there' and you just need the right header files (or whatever) like the Windows Media API?

    Lots of software companies seem to love proclaiming legal rights they don't have and sending out C&D's based on them, but that doesn't mean they actually have a case.

    If it's true that the guy had an actual contract with apple, then they might have a case, but there's no legal way to stop someone from reverse engineering so way of interoperating with iTunes and creating a sharing system.
    • Yes, when you download the iTunes SDK as an Apple developer, you have to agree to a license that states what you can and cannot do with the SDK given to you.

      One thing Apple has learnt is how to legally cover their butts and use the law to their advantage. They were burnt once too often in the past.
  • So, future development is likely killed, unless he somehow "sort things out with Apple."

    However, the old download is availible elsewhere, including:

    http://www.macupdate.com/info.php/id/10486
    http ://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macos/1 7772

  • Next iTunes Version (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:23PM (#5095454)
    Considering that according to last July's MWNY keynote, the next version of iTunes will be coming soon with this exact same feature, I'm surprised Apple didn't just wait until they ship iTunes 4 or whatever and just kill off iCommune the same way they killed WindowShade (incorporated into System 7), Watson (incorporated into OS X 10.2), etc.

    Unless there's some reason they think we would prefer iCommune to their Rendezvous iTunes...?
    • Watson wasn't killed off. It is still out there and being updated on a regular basis. I much prefer it to Sherlock. Watson has more features and launches faster in my experience. It would have been great if they incorporated it into 10.2 but they didn't. For once, Apple was following the lead of shareware developers, just not doing it as well.
  • by Sanity (1431) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:24PM (#5095462) Homepage Journal
    Apple has every legal right to do this, as it is a provision of the license which iCommune signed when they clicked through the iTunes license agreement, and really it is for our own benefit - since Apple (unlike, say, Microsoft) has its users best interests at heart - you can tell by the warm fuzzy widgets on the OSX user interface.

    Now if Microsoft had done this, with their cold unfriendly pointy user interfaces, that would be a sin worthy of no less than torture and death for Gates and all his ilk.

    Those who complain that the Slashdot editors and much of the readership have a double standard where Apple and Microsoft are concerned are clearly missing one extremely important fact:

    Apple: Warm and fuzzy

    Microsoft: Cold and pointy
    Need I say more?
    • No double standard here. Apple and Microsoft both suck. In fact, I hate Apple just a touch more because it doesn't just plain lies, while Microsoft at least tries to be "creative" about it.
  • Just to take the opposing view for the sake of argument, lets assume apple ISN'T in bed with Big Media. Maybe, just maybe, they simply don't want to get sued for blatantly supporting what appears to be and usually is piracy (a p2p app). C'mon, its not like you can't just use any mac p2p app like you're doing already, they just don't want you writing a program using their API for the explicit purpose of piracy. Why? Because they are a monster big corporation in an oligopoly with the RIAA? Or maybe they just don't want to be named in the lawsuit. I know what most slashdotters think, but I don't think its the truth.
  • Can you blame them? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by elbowdonkey (516197) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:25PM (#5095475) Homepage
    Seems to me that the RIAA is starting to sue the hell out of anyone doing anything special with music or media in general.

    It's good business sense for Apple to cover their asses by squashing something they fear might get the RIAA crawling up their innards.

    And with earnings in the red, Apple is sure to be sensitive to the desires of shareholders, who might not be savvy enough to understand that a 3rd party tool should really not be of Apple's concern.
  • by kahei (466208) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:26PM (#5095483) Homepage

    So, Apple decided not to take on the considerable risk of being seen to sponsor music piracy.

    Sounds reasonable.

    Now, this is a more interesting question: why do some people believe that Apple had a responsibility to risk it's neck so you can download tunez more easily? Why do some people believe that just because Apple sold a certain product, they must have a responsibility to provide other things, such as use of their software for music distribution, too?

    I'm not sure about the answer... I expect it's something depressing.

  • What a lot of folks are overlooking is the fact that Apple smacked iCommune not because it was allowing P2P sharing, but because (supposedly) the development of iCommune violated the license agreement for the iTunes SDK -- which, apparently, has some sort of "you cannot use this SDK to develop apps" clause.

    Seems to me the easy solution would be to check the terms of the agreement. If there is such a clause that the iCommune folks broke, then there's nothing to see here. If, however, Apple doesn't have such a clause in the agreement, then we can bring out the packs of rabid Mac-bashers.

    • Only public SDK is the visual-plugin. The device plug SDK is by request. So only those who have it can answer that question.

      The solution of course is to rewrite it using visual API and leaching the audio. As the Visual SDK has no restrictions mentioned about hardware.
    • The License agreement concerned, the "iTunes SDK Agreement" is available upon request from Apple. I got a copy last year when I was thinking about writing a plug-in to drive the Rio Car mpeg player. It runs to eight pages and for the most part seems to be concerned with protecting the iTunes brand by ensuring that all plug-ins comply style, internationalisation and branding requirements.

      I'm not sure if I'm at liberty to post the license itself (from a copyright standpoint) and anyway it's a PDF, but looking through the terms it seems to me that iCommune is in breach in a number of fairly minor ways. There's no end user license "that is at least as protective of Apple's rights as [the iTunes SDK Agreement] is". The iCommune web site does not show "Mac OS compatible" logos or iTunes logos, as it is required to do. The iCommune code does not appear to display the required iTunes compatibility blurb. On top of this, I do not know if the original application for the SDK stated that it was to be used for a network based plug-in but the license requires you to specify the "device" for which you are writing a driver.

      All in all the current iCommune site is in clear breach of the agreement and Apple have every right to ask for the software to be taken down at least until the breaches are rectified.
  • Restricting uses (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WPIDalamar (122110) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:26PM (#5095493) Homepage
    It's a shame apple is actually restricting uses of their software like this. Isn't one of the best signs of good-designed software when people do things with it that you never imagined?

  • Well in the UK if not Europe, interoperability is protected.
    So I can reverse engineer ITunes (protocol or whatever) so that I can put a hook into a function to operate with ITunes.

    Though I'm not sure why anyone would bother with ITunes given Apples record of friendliness.
  • The Letter (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:30PM (#5095540)
    From: "James G. Speth"

    Well, for what it's worth, here's the letter that Apple sent me:

    ---
    Subject: Notice of Breach and Termination of License

    Dear Mr. Speth,

    It has come to our attention that you are distributing a software program
    called iCommune that violates the terms of the Apple Computer, Inc. iTunes
    Device Plug-In SDK Agreement you executed. 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. Your distribution of this program is a violation of the license
    agreement and of Apple's intellectual property rights.

    Due to your breach of the agreement, Apple hereby gives notice of
    termination of your license agreement pursuant to Section 7.2 of the
    agreement and demands that you cease distribution of the iCommune program
    immediately and return the iTunes SDK materials to Apple.

    Please contact me as soon as you receive this notice to confirm that you are
    taking immediate action to cease violating the agreement, and in particular,
    to cease distributing your iCommune software.

    Sincerely,

    [deleted]
    Sr. Director, Products Law
    Apple Computer, Inc.

    ---

    and here's some pertinent info from the agreement we entered:

    1.5 "Licensee Devices" means Licensee's hardware devices identified in Exhibit A or
    in an Addendum to this Agreement signed by Apple.

    7.2 If any breach of this Agreement by Licensee continues for more than thirty (30)
    days after Licensee's receipt of Apple's written notice, Apple may terminate this
    Agreement by written notice to Licensee, whereupon this Agreement and all rights
    granted to Licensee herein shall immediately cease. Apple may immediately upon
    written notice terminate this Agreement if Licensee becomes insolvent, has a receiver
    appointed, makes an assignment for the benefit of creditors, or becomes the subject
    of any proceeding under any bankruptcy, insolvency, or debtor's relief law. The
    rights of the parties under this clause are in addition to any other rights and
    remedies provided by law or under this Agreement.

    Exhibit A
    Licensee Devices
    SECTION BELOW MUST BE COMPLETED BY LICENSEE FOR EACH
    LICENSEE Device
    1. Name and description of Licensee Device(s):

    component system mp3 player console

    ---

    Now, my description of the device might be a little vague, but it does describe an application for which I use iCommune. I have a Mac G4 Cube set up as the media center of my living room. It's hooked into my stereo and television. I use iTunes and iCommune on the Cube to turn it into the mp3 player console I was envisioning when I started work on it. I use iCommune on my laptop to control that system. Unlike your typical device which is directly connected to the computer running iTunes, these systems talk over the network to each other.

    I think I'm in compliance with the agreement, but they don't. Hopefully we'll be able to work something out. Otherwise, I'm thinking of ways to do this without the Device Plug-in API, so the project might survive.

    Jim
  • iCommune wasn't open source
    Too bad I can't find out more about the iTunes API; all I can find is the iTunes Visual Plugins sdk
    Too bad this wasn't implemented as a Quicktime/Broadcaster kind of thing
    Too bad Apple didn't like this; For legal reasons? I suspect it's either for that, or because they're gonna unveil something similar for iTunes.

    Remember their eMacs+SuperDrive upgrade fiasco? They squashed someone else who had done that because just a month later they released a similar product. In this case I wouldn't be surprised if iTunes 3.1 was released with iLife that had Renedevous enabled broadcasting!
  • by feldsteins (313201) <<scott> <at> <scottfeldstein.net>> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:33PM (#5095568) Homepage
    ...ranting about how evil Apple is because they make proprietary software and how this is inherently casts them as The Man who is trying to crush our every freedom...consider that back in October they were herealded as pretty much the only company standing up for our rights [siliconvalley.com]. (I can't seem to raise the page but here [google.com] is the Google cache.)

    It occurs to me that Apple may have less-than-evil reasons for terminating the contract, not the least of which is to retain their credibility by not becoming associated with some half-assed Napster clone.

    Or, they could just be evil. I guess.
  • Stupid Computers. (Score:3, Informative)

    by CleverNickName (129189) <wil&wilwheaton,net> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:40PM (#5095629) Homepage Journal
    I gotta agree with Cory Doctorow, who said [boingboing.net] "Thanks, Apple, for making my computer less functional."
  • by RobTerrell (139316) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:45PM (#5095681) Homepage
    The problem isn't the APSL, it's the iTunes SDK license that developers have to agree to. That license keeps developers from making software plug-ins (except for visualizers).

    In cases like this, just don't agree to the API license. There are tools for digging into Cocoa apps and figuring out the class interfaces. I've already dug into iCal and iChat -- they don't have APIs, but there is some interesting stuff in there. (If I'd been looking, I might have seen some of the unnanouced iLife hooks talked about at Macworld!)

    That said, I don't think iTunes is Cocoa. It used to be Soundjam, right? So it's probably Carbon and the obj-c digging tools won't help much. Not sure the best way to figure out Carbon APIs. In the old days, we'd use MacNosy to "decompile" the code. Not sure what the Carbon equivalent would be.
  • Not About P2P (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pudge (3605) <`slashdot' `at' `pudge.net'> on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:50PM (#5095732) Homepage Journal
    This is not about P2P. iCommune sucks as a way to share music illegally, because you have to stream it, you can't copy it. Sure, that doesn't make it legal, but it makes it stupid as a means to "steal" music from a friend. The only way to copy an MP3 is outside of iTunes, using some external web client, as iCommune just shares via Apache. And if you are going to do that, you don't even need iCommune, you can just tell Apache to share your MP3 directory!

    iCommune does not serve MP3s, Apache does. iCommune does not copy MP3s, only an external web client could. This isn't about stopping P2P. It is about Apple using its license to prevent someone from doing something they don't like, probably because, as only a few people mentioned, Apple is going to enable Rendezvous sharing in iTunes (in theory, someday).
  • by jdreed1024 (443938) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @01:53PM (#5095754)
    Apple issued a 'Notice of Breach and Termination of License' to iCommune, who have since pulled the download. Something tells me that they won't be putting it back up anytime soon. Every time I forget about Mac OS X being proprietary, Apple does something to remind me.

    Uh, it's not about Mac OS X being proprietary. It's not about the DMCA. It's not about the RIAA. It's not about Big Corporations squashing innovation. It's about the iCommune folks agreeing to a license when they used the API, and violating the terms of that license, and Apple revoking it. Apple is fully within their rights to do this, and I have no sympathy for iCommune at all. They agreed to the license, and they broke the rules. That's just too damn bad.

    And it's not like Apple used the DMCA or something to do this. ALl they did was send a letter saying "Hey, you agreed to this license, and now you violated it. Please stop."

    Come on people, it's a LICENSE. Just because you don't like the terms of it doesn't mean it's not real. You know that if someone violated the terms of the GPL and got in trouble for it, we'd all be celebrating. When you support the enforcement of one LICENSE and cry foul when another is enforced, you lose a lot of credibility.

    Now, if the license was ambiguous, and what icommune did wasn't specifically prohibited, and then Apple tried to claim it was, then I'd be upset. But this is open and shut.

    Frankly, I'm getting a little upset about seeing all these stories on /. designed to trick you into thinking someone is stomping on your rights. Like the one about the student who STOLE documents from a law firm. And this one about a LICENSE VIOLATION. What's next? "Man Arrested for Possession of Linux: Police arrest man for breaking into BestBuy and stealing copies of RedHat Linux"

  • As I read through the threads in this story, I kept noticing that the Apple users stood out from the rest, and that the vast majority seemed to just nod and go "MmmHmmm, good job Steve....whatever you say Steve.....you're right Steve....".

    Maybe there's something to this Apple "cult" thing.
  • by tassii (615268) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @02:39PM (#5096139)
    Before everyone gets into a huff about this, you have to realize that Apple had to do this to survive. What iCommune did was basically create a iTunes-based Napster. Since RIAA has been suing every version of p2p they can track down, Apple stood to get involved in a huge lawsuit as well as being forced to change the way iTunes (and probably the iPod) works.

    Basic survival intincts. Blame RIAA, not Apple.
  • Solution (Score:3, Funny)

    by m0rph3us0 (549631) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @03:04PM (#5096348)
    iCommune solution.
    wget http://www.xmms.org/xmmstarball.tar.gz
    tar zvxf xmmstarball.tar.gz ./configure
    make
    make test
    make install
  • Apple vs. MS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jmv (93421) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @03:23PM (#5096571) Homepage
    Everytime I see a story like that, I imagine what it would be like if Apple was in the monopoly position that MS currently has. I really hate what MS is doing these days, but I think Apple would do 10 time worse it it was powerful enough.
  • by inkswamp (233692) on Thursday January 16, 2003 @10:21PM (#5099475)
    Remember that Apple (like most tech companies) often times has to balance the needs of their users against other concerns coming at them from other sectors. Other World Computing was recently asked by Apple to cease distribution of a piece of software that allowed third party DVD burners to operate with iMovie. Everyone cried fowl and accused Apple of behaving like Microsoft, until it was later revealed (by MacCentral, I believe) that Apple would have been liable for enormous fees for potential use of licensed MPEG technology for the use of iMovie with third party hardware (not sure how, but that was the claim.) In that case, Apple had to protect itself from uses that may have cost them dearly. Who knows if such circumstances exist here. I think Apple has done enough to show that they want to empower their users in ways that other companies have long since given up on (compare and contrast to Sony and Microsoft for starters.)

    So cut them a break and let's not all trample each other in the mad rush to scream Big Brother at them. Sometimes big companies have agreements and connections that force them into this kind of behavior from time to time.

    I don't like seeing it happen either, but there is no cause for calling them "evil" like I've seen here. That's overreaction and says more about the person saying it than it says about Apple.

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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