No more free iTMS art?

As of today's iTunes Music Store update, methods of retreiving it's high quality artwork for free use in your own music collection have stopped working.

Examples:

-The original web-based search by Tristan (UNEASYsilence Mirror)

-A sweet Mac app implentation, Corripio, by nClass Software

First, a short explanation of how the iTunes Music Store works. The iTMS is essentially just a regular website with strange looking code. The code to display an image such as an album cover thumbnail image would normally look like this

Instead of conventional HTML, the iTunes Music Store uses it's own XML markup. iTMS code to display the same image looks something like this:

These album artwork grabbing applications look for this filename (in this case, mzi.qhmxnexd.100x100-99.jpg) in the code and replace the "100x100-99" with "600x600-100" giving the path of the large image. (It can also be replaced with 170x170-99 or 60x60-75 if you're into that sort of thing.)

Well after today's update, instead of large album artwork, we get

"An error occurred while processing your request.
Reference #50.526b9d40.1148422703.20d178"

Or in the case of Corripio, it just doesn't work.

Try it.


# [Follow-up 5/24/2006 2:08 AM CST]

Digg user PathDaemon was the first to point out that iTMS now uses a downloadKey system.

You can now access album art via this type of URI: http://a1.phobos.apple.com/r10/Music/cc/af/60/mzi.qxysl
gav.600x600-100.jpg?downloadKey=1149058082_affd6c1af964b548dd17b5d2440f5885

In order to obtain this key, you have to buy a song. Free iTMS art might be dead. I will post any new findings here.


# [Follow-up 5/24/2006 11:49 AM CST] I've found out a bit about the download key.

1149058082_affd6c1af964b548dd17b5d2440f5885

It is comprised of two parts.

1. 1149058082 - Expiration date/time, in Unix time format. Here is a little conversion tool to get a readable date and time.

Paste Unix time:

2. affd6c1af964b548dd17b5d2440f5885 - An MD5 Hash of something. Its going to be quite a while before I can tell you what it makes a hash of, since MD5 hashes can not simply be converted back to their original form; they must be brute forced. Anyone know what it is?

23 May 06 | +Permalink+ | Comments (9)