America Online is disabling a feature of its popular music software that had been used to evade copy-prevention features of digital music services, the company said Friday.
The company’s Winamp software was identified this week as part of a process that transformed copy-protected music downloads into songs that could be burned by the thousand to CD. The tool had potentially affected any subscription service that used Microsoft’s media format, including Napster, Virgin Music and even America Online’s own music subscription plan.
AOL has already removed the Winamp plug-in that made this process fairly simple. Programmers are developing a patch that will be automatically pushed to the software’s users. The patch will probably disable altogether the ability to play copy-protected songs in Microsoft’s format.
A new version of Winamp software will then be released that can once again play the Microsoft-formatted songs, but will block the stream-ripping capability, Burkart said.