HITS Daily Double
"Rendezvous music-sharing, another new feature in iTunes 4, has been used by some in ways that have surprised and disappointed us."
——Statement from Apple


iTunes File-Sharing Ability Curtailed After Discovery It Was Being Abused, Palm and Mute Release CDs with MP3 Tracks
File this one under "Oops."

Apple Computer Inc. has tightened the music-sharing feature in its iTunes Music Store software after discovering some Macintosh owners used it to swap songs over the Internet.

The company issued an update to the program on Tuesday, cutting back on consumers’ ability to share their individual playlists over the Internet.

Under the iTunes 4.0 version released last month, Apple allowed users to stream songs over a local network. The company touted it as a way family and friends could listen to each other's music between computers at home or in a small group setting. Of course, some users found a way to extend it beyond local networks to the Internet, making it similar to the music-swapping function offered by such controversial file-sharing services as KaZaA, Limewire and Grokster.

"Rendezvous music-sharing, another new feature in iTunes 4, has been used by some in ways that have surprised and disappointed us," Apple said in statement released yesterday. "Some people are taking advantage of it to stream music over the Internet to people they do not even know. This was never the intent."


The updated software now limits the so-called Rendezvous feature to work only between computers on a local network, the company said.

Apple also announced Wednesday that more than 3 million songs have been purchased and downloaded from the iTunes Music Store since its April 28th launch.

In other digital music news, a pair of indie labels, Palm and Mute, have recently released albums with MP3 files interspersed with regular audio tracks.

Palm put out Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid from the New York band Elefant, with a bonus song available only in MP3 format.

Leading electronic label Mute released a double album of techno tracks, 2 CD's & MP3's, with 12 MP3-only cuts in addition to 16 tunes in both formats.

Representatives of the labels say the decision to include MP3 files on the CDs does not reflect a surrender to illegal file traders, but rather, pragmatism.

Palm marketing exec Dan Cohen told the N.Y. Times: "We're just acknowledging the way our fans like to listen to their music. The idea of doing this isn't to say to kids, 'Hey, swap our files.' We're saying, 'Thank you for buying the record. We want to give you something.' Maybe that's saying, 'You'll burn this onto your iPod anyway; well, here—it's high quality, it's sanctioned by the artist and we're cool with you having it on your player.' And if a few people trade it, well, we're hoping they'll like it enough that they'll go buy it."

Mute label manager Seth Hodder added, "We spoke with some of the DJs we work with, and it became clear that more and more of them were abandoning vinyl for programs such as Final Scratch and Traktor, and playing digital files. It just made sense to include them on the CD."

Earlier this month, Mute's star DJ and techno composer Richie Hawtin spun a set using five iPods in a demonstration at Apple’s N.Y. office.

RIAA Chairman Hilary B. Rosen offered a tentative thumbs-up to the practice: "If companies want to save people the trouble of ripping their files to an MP3 format, that's fine," she said. "Our view has always been if the copyright holder wants to give away their product, it's fine. The key issue is that it's their choice to give it away."

Hawtin told the Times: "This is about artists trying to get closer to their audience. Maybe this CD is only giving people what they could already have, but it shows a good attitude from the label toward the consumer. These labels understand what's happening and want to be part of the digital revolution."