DAAP Licensing

DAAP (Digital Audio Access Protocol) is a protocol defined by Apple and used for iTunes streaming. Apple has licensed the DAAP protocol to at least one company: Roku. Their SoundBridge product is a networked music player that streams music from your computer. Thanks to Bonjour and DAAP the SoundBridge can stream music from an iTunes library without any configuration necessary.

The first version of DAAP was reverse engineered. In response, Apple added hashing of secret values to the next version of DAAP to block non-iTunes clients from connecting to the new version of iTunes. The new version of DAAP was also reverse engineered.

When Apple released iTunes 7 last September, they changed the secret hashing. You would think they would have informed their DAAP licensees of this in advance and provided them with updated DAAP documentation (they wouldn’t need to reveal the release date of the new iTunes version).

Not so.

According to this forum post by Roku’s Mike Kobb they were not given advance notice, let alone any updated documentation. It appears that it took Apple several weeks to supply Roku with updated DAAP documentation.

In light of this, it is not surprising that Steve Jobs is claiming that licensing FairPlay is not feasible and using bogus arguments to support his claim. Licensing FairPlay is quite feasible, it’s just that Steve doesn’t want to do so. Of course, from a business perspective I don’t mind 😉

I knew last year that Apple had licensed DAAP to Roku, but I didn’t learn until today that Apple had stabbed Roku in the back. Thanks to snorp (developer of ipod-sharp and other cool code) for pointing this out to me.

4 thoughts on “DAAP Licensing”

  1. As a Roku Soundbridge owner I peruse their forums a lot, the furore that Roku faced from users was amazing. The damage to their business rep must have had an impact as suddenly their claim for their product was untrue. This isnt just Apple stabbing Roku in the back but I would consider unethical. Roku seemed to take the blame with the majority of iTunes users ignorant of the fact or unwilling to accept that it was actual Apples fault.
    It is nice to see you set the record straight here.
    I wonder if Roku considered any legal action or were Apple so much the big fish that Roku knew that legal action would only server to damage them further in terms of finances.

  2. If Dave Winer still provides a searchable archive of his blog posts, you could try to search and find his comments regarding Apple and its developers. The bottomline is, Apple rarely cares its developers. To a certain degree, one could even say that Microsoft treats its developers a lot better than Apple does — after all, MS does make money by selling development tools.

    People needs to constantly remind themselves that Apple is a hardware company. It wants people to buy Apple hardware. Anything that will cause their hardware sales to decrease will never happen.

  3. In other words, Apple is incompetent at licensing. I guess they really can’t roll out updates quickly to third parties.

    Of course, this doesn’t incline me to dismiss “the second option”, but to tell them to buckle down.

  4. I know that Limewire also can make use of DAAP, as I frequently see suchandsuch’s “Limewire Tunes” in iTunes as a shared library while on my school network. I sort of doubt that they licensed the technology.

    And for other interested readers of the *nix persuasion but who’ve got at least one Mac, mt-daapd is really sweet, especially when you combine it with SSH tunneling. Take your music library with you without the iPod 🙂

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