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iTMS as a starting point

OUR FRIEND JASON ROHRER, creator of the secure filesharing software MUTE and the Downhill Battle Peer-to-Peer Legal Defense Fund, has just written a great script that can search and display song and album results from the iTunes Music Store. We are psyched to present the script today: you can try it out here and you can get the source code here.

As Jason points out, this simple web interface is just the beginning. The iTunes database of song information, while very limited in its musical selection compared to filesharing networks, could serve as a key foundation for making peer-to-peer programs more welcoming and more vital.
One important use of Jason’s script would be to get information about whether a song or album is released by a major label or an independent (similar to the web functionality of RIAA Radar). This would make it easier for people who are searching for music determine whether or not they want to pay to support the label that releases it. As simple as it sounds, this could have a major political impact as people start to think more concretely about whether their music dollars are really going to musicians or just to radio station bribes and multi-million dollar executive salaries.

A second, and more elaborate use of this data source, would be to add browsability to filesharing software. People think about music in terms of bands, genres, and album, but filesharing software forces people to search by keywords–it’s just not a very music-oriented experience. If getting music can be more like browsing through All Music Guide it will make the great things about filesharing even better. The iTMS database could be a starting point for a filesharing program that lets users browse by genre, artist, and album, and then searches for the music on the network.

We hope that programmers and web designers will be interested in pursuing some of these ideas. We’ve made a page with more details about these two concepts as well as other, more complicated, ways that this script could have an impact. Read it.

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