By Richard Menta- 3/22/01
What do you do if music that you sell on your service ends up on Napster? Spy on the Napster Network is one idea that has come to fruition.
EMusic announced today that it has launched proprietary monitoring software that continually searches Napster network for EMusic MP3s made available on the service. The software not only seeks out these files, but it automatically reports these infringing track names to Napster Inc. for filtering.
A recent court decision requiring Napster to filter out copyright material once the copyright holder identifies those songs and notifies them. Napster has then 72 hours to block access to these files on their system.
EMusic already adds copy protection to the MP3 files it sells that allow the song to be tracked even if the title is altered.
"By identifying our licensed tracks by their unique MD5 sums instead of their titles, we can now effectively find and notify Napster of infringing files on their network -- including misspellings and other variants," said Gene Hoffman, EMusic president & CEO.
"A small amount of unauthorized music will always be available to those who seek it out, but we are confident that recent legal opinions and automated technology such as this will significantly curtail the large-scale, flagrant file-sharing that has been rampant for the past year."
Thanks to the MD5 identifiers EMusic's policing effort might prove effective with the new software. To date, EMusic has notified Napster Inc. of over 75,000 different filenames representing 35,000 copyrighted songs.
Napster's filtering process has so far met with mixed results. The company has managed to decrease the average amount of files shared among users by a healthy amount, but according to WebNoize Research that number is starting to pick up again. If EMusic's identifiers prove more effective because they go beyond file names, Napster may be required later on by the courts to adopt it into their own system.
This would open the floodgates with each music label coming up with their own identifier protocols because they know Napster would be forced to incorporate them into their system too.
That's a lot of baggage to carry for Napster when dozens of unencumbered clones will soon arrive to grab a piece of its 60+ million audience. Napster is slowly being pecked to death and the companies actual copyright infringement trial hasn't even made it to court yet.
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