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Apple approves MP3 piracy, downloader apps

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By Charles Starrett

Contributing Editor
Published: Monday, February 28, 2011
News Categories: Apple, Apps + Games

Several applications designed to facilitate music piracy have unexpectedly been approved by Apple, and are currently available on the App Store. Music Forest (Free) and Music Forest Full ($1) from You Jinwen and Music Downloader ($1) from Chen Lunyu allow the user to search online databases of music or browse music charts—including the U.S. Billboard Top 100—then tap to download songs directly to the device. Music Forest automatically grabs song lyrics from the Internet; and also offers AirPlay streaming support. Interestingly, the apps offer users of jailbroken devices the ability to transfer downloaded files to a computer using a desktop file browsing application such as iPhone Explorer for the Mac.

Several other applications, such as Downloads - Download Manager ($2) by Hian Zin Jong, are now using modified browsers to support the downloading of all sorts of files, including music files and movies. Though a number of browser-based downloading applications have been offered for legitimate purposes, this one uses screenshots to show the illegal downloading of the entire Tron Legacy film soundtrack in its App Store screenshots, and allows direct importation into iTunes using Apple’s USB File Sharing feature. Additional screenshots and comments for the app explain that it can be used to download pornography and access well-known sources of pirated media files. Based on past experiences with applications of this sort, it is likely that Apple did not properly screen these apps before approving them, and will pull them from the App Store in the near future.

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Comments

1

Very strange. Maybe they’re just trying to gather info on pirates by letting them download stuff?? Just guessing here.

Posted by Clint on February 28, 2011 at 10:06 AM (PDT)

2

Not to rain on the parade of self-righteousness, but unless something changed from the time this article was thrown together and when I checked, the screenshot only shows downloading of the Tron Legacy *trailer*, which can hardly be called infringing, nor is there anything about that particular app that facilitates anything more nefarious than downloading directly from web sources, something that *could* be used for downloading copyrighted goods (of course, this applies to every single computer in the world) or could just be used for downloading a game patch while you’re at the office for transferring to your PC later. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that app at all and its been in the app store since December 2009.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on February 28, 2011 at 3:02 PM (PDT)

3

Agreed, Code Monkey. Its kind of like an expose on drain cleaner, explaining that it can be used to kill yourself AND flush your plumbing! Not…really a big deal here.

Posted by Daniel S. on February 28, 2011 at 6:27 PM (PDT)

4

#2: Look more carefully at the Rapidshare screen shot, which shows the soundtrack being downloaded.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on February 28, 2011 at 7:26 PM (PDT)

5

Uh, it shows “Funny_Animals_Vector.rar” on my screenshot.

Now unless Funny Animals Vector is some code for the Tron Legacy Soundtrack, nope, not seeing it.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on March 1, 2011 at 5:50 AM (PDT)

6

This is the original screenshot, which was still there as of the time my comment was posted last night. Four of the screenshots have now been changed.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 1, 2011 at 7:06 AM (PDT)

7

Fair enough, objection sustained wink

Still don’t see that there’s anything wrong with the app, and the fact that’s it been in the app store for well over a year says Apple doesn’t either.

Safari on a Mac allows people to infringe all day long. Safari on an iPhone *should* allow people to infringe all day long, it’s only that Apple didn’t see fit to implement any sort of native file handling at the OS level that prevents anything but pictures to be saved with the stock iOS. However, it’s no big stretch of the noggin to realize that if you allow any app to extend the OS to general file handling capabilities, ta-da, you will then be able to use Safari or any other web browser to infringe all day long. The problem isn’t the app, questionable original screen shot or not.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on March 1, 2011 at 7:45 AM (PDT)

8

Apps can obviously be used for infringing and non-infringing purposes. The problems start when they’re specifically designed to infringe, or when they’re capable of non-infringing uses but are being marketed for infringing ones.

The first three apps mentioned above are specifically designed to search and download pirated content. The fourth app was using its App Store page to advertise its ability to download pirated content, alongside comments referencing ways to grab porn using the app. Individual moral standards aside, the apps are/were in clear violation of Apple’s standards for the App Store. Debate the standards all you want. grin

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on March 1, 2011 at 8:09 AM (PDT)

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