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iTunes is a music application created by Apple for Macintosh and Microsoft Windows computers. The program allows users of Mac OS 9, Mac OS X, Windows 2000, or Windows XP to manipulate digital music. Users are able to organize playlists, edit ID3 tags, create compact discs, upload to MP3 players, and run a visualizer to display the music in a visual form. The primary export formats are AAC and MP3.

Version 4 (released on April 28, 2003), introduced features to browse and buy songs available on the iTunes Music Store, and to share unprotected music via a network.

Sharing songs via a network can be done automatically. Shared lists of songs within the same subnet are automatically detected, while shared lists outside of the subset can be added by specifing an IP address. The original version of iTunes supported sharing over any network (including the internet). This was disabled when people started using it in ways Apple considered to violate their EULA. Specifically, their concern was targeted at a music-sharing effort called iCommune. (iCommune said and continues to say it did not intend to go afoul of either the contractual agreements, or copyright law.)

On October 16, 2003 Apple released the version of iTunes for the Windows platform. The initial release caused some problems for some users, which were rapidly addressed by the version 4.1.1, released less than a week later.

iTunes is the preferred music player for Mac and Windows PC users using the iPod music player. Apple does not plan on making a large profit on the music service, a market which has a great deal of competition and where profits would only be pennies per song. Rather it hopes to to make money largely off the iPod, where it has a technological and brand recognition adavantage.

Current versions

The current version is 4.2. The last version compatible with Mac OS 9 is 3.0, which does not support the Music Store.

iTunes Digital Rights Management

Apple was required to include strict DRM (Digital Rights Management), (Dubbed FairPlay), by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). The popular standard MP3 has no DRM so Apple opted for AAC (Advanced audio coding). The EULA limits the downloaded music files to use on three computer devices. The devices are limited to Apple and Windows products; Unix, GNU/Linux and other Operating systems are not supported. Jon Lech Johansen, creator of DeCSS, published code to allow alternative operating systems to use the DRM music under the premiss of Fair use on January 5, 2004.

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