After so many years of people hacking into the AOL instant messaging service, apparently they’ve had enough and want to help people do it. AOL has just released the AIM Software Development Kit so you can create your own instant messaging client using the service. But don’t get any Trillian-type ideas in your head; the license agreement strictly prohibits using the SDK in programs that also access other services:
Further, in addition to any other restrictions contained in this Agreement or in the applicable Addenda to this Agreement, you shall not use any Tool to, and your Application shall not, enable (a) direct communication (e.g., presence data, text, video, VoIP, file transfers, or data exchanges) between the AOL Services and any other instant messaging community or third party instant messaging services, or (b) an end user the ability to access any other instant messaging client and / or community (e.g., no multi-headed clients).
Might still be worth playing around with. Clearly, AOL is scared of losing its instant messaging market dominance and is relying on the universe of programmers to help keep it on top.