iTunes on Public Computers

So, thinking about putting iTunes on public computers?

Please, don't do it.

Now, this is completely my personal opinion, but it's really not a good idea.  Even the Apple help forums agree.

You can of course do it if you really want to, and likely if you're in a public library, you've had patrons request iTunes on the public computers.

Here's the problem - iTunes is designed to work with personal collections and personal devices, and does this whole authorization thing that verifies that the iPod is authorized to the iTunes library account (and not to a different account), as well as potentially limiting the number of machines that items in your library can be saved to.  If you have an iTunes account you can authorize up to 5 computers, and 5 devices to that one account.

If you hook up your device to a computer with a different authorization, the authorization on your device will be reset in order for it to work with iTunes on that computer.  When your authorization is set to a new one, you then lose the content on that device.  Now you can re-authorize the device to your account, but you're now using up device authorizations.

You can always of course, authorize the public computer to your account, but then you'd be giving other people access to your iTunes account if you leave it authorized.  Even if someone else authorizes a device, overwrites your authorization on the public machine, or the authorization gets wiped when the machine reboots due to the likely presence of reimaging software such as DeepFreeze, you use up authoirzations.  Then if you come back to that computer you have to use another authorization. 

If you can see how this can go horribly wrong, fast, congratulations.

Every time a patron has trouble understanding why they can't find their songs in the iTunes library because someone else left their authorization in the machine, you get to handle it.  Every time a patron hits the limits of authorizations because they're using iTunes on a public computer, you get to deal with it.  Every time a patron erases the contents of their iPod, you get to deal with it.  If you're really really lucky, they might not blame you for it.

Yes, you can use this as an opportunity to educate people about the software they use, and the EULA/Terms of Use they likely don't read.  They're probably not going to appreciate the teaching moment, and it still doesn't fix the fact that you now have some extremely unhappy patrons.

This is actually why, until very recently when In-Browser reading was added, that you couldn't read library ebooks in the library.  In fact, this is why, with some exceptions, you generally can't download library ebooks to transfer to your device using a library computer.  It's annoying, but we're working with programs that are requiring authorization in order to to interface with the different devices.

So, in my humble opinion, it is not worth it to put iTunes on public computers, for them or for you as a the person supporting the users.


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