There has been a lot of back and forth on the net recently about the ability and perhaps importance - using a common Winamp plug-in - to un-lock files "rented" from Napster's new subscription service. Apple's Steve Jobs even weighed in with an email to music industry execs sharing the instructions in a shot across his competitor's bow.
Now according to TechNewsWorld, "America Online yesterday removed from the Web site of its Winamp media player a software plug-in that is reportedly being used to make unauthorized copies of tunes from the Napster To Go subscription service."
"According to AOL spokesperson Ann Burkart, the offending applet, Output Stacker, has been taken down from the Winamp site. "We are also working with Microsoft to ensure Winamp continues to provide secure playback of Windows Media content," she told TechNewsWorld."
"We are both proponents of legal consumption of digital music," she said. "No one wants a betrayal of that going on."
"The mischievous potential of the Winamp plug-in came to light after several Web sites, such as BoingBoing and Engadget, posted how-to's on using the program to capture online audio from a computer's sound card, a process known as "stream ripping."
"This process can be likened to the way people used to record songs from the radio onto cassette tapes, but instead of capturing the music on a tape, the file is converted into a new, unprotected digital format," explained Napster CTO William Pence in a statement."of the files, which can only be recorded one at a time, making the process quite laborious," he continued. "It would take 10 hours to convert 10 hours of music in this manner." "It is important to note," he added, "that this program is not specific to Napster; files from all legal subscription and pay-per-download services can be copied in this way."
"This program does not break the encryption
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