Record labels were hoping that the launch of Apple's iTunes store would be a giant leap forward for the authorized distribution of online music. But the iTunes player software has now been hacked to allow Mac users to share streaming music files.
Of course, this is not the first piece of software that allows the exchange of streaming music files. But it demonstrates that software, which allows streaming over a LAN, can be tweaked to allow streaming to the entire Internet. Apple does not support this form of file sharing, and declined to release documentation on its LAN tool. But this did not stop the software from being hacked by file traders.
Apple's music jukebox software only allows Mac-enabled music fans to listen to a song located on another user's Mac hard drive. It does not allow the music file to be permanently downloaded. There are now several Web sites and software applications, however, that say they permit users to search other Macs on the Internet for music files.
Spymac.com has launched a music-sharing hub, and ServerStore and iTunes Tracker claim to provide search tools. Another service called iCommune runs more like a full P2P service for Mac users, but it had to ditch the proprietary Apple software after the company complained.
While most Macs in people's homes have limited bandwidth for file sharing, the iTunes hack does present another way to search and stream music on demand without having to license it from the music companies.