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Wednesday, 9 May, 2001, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Napster fingerprints its songs
Napster's Shawn Fanning and Hank Barry
Napster's Shawn Fanning and Hank Barry step up filters
Internet music-swapping service Napster has introduced advanced "fingerprinting" with its latest software - to help track down and prevent the exchange of copyright music.

The new Napster - version 2.0 beta 10.1 - was launched on Sunday, less than a month after US Judge Marilyn Hall Patel branded Napster's previous filtering efforts "disgraceful".

The software, licensed to Napster by US company Relatable, can make acoustic fingerprints of music to create a unique profile of a song - enabling copyright songs to be identified and blocked.

To date Napster has been using text-based filters to try to block song titles - which users have been easily able to circumvent by misspelling or translating titles.

'Compliance'

Napster has been stepping up its filtering efforts since April, when Judge Patel appointed a technical expert to advise her on whether Napster's song-blocking efforts were effective or not.
Napster logo
Napster: under pressure from injunction

A spokesman for the Recording Industry Association of America said: "We're pleased that Napster is announcing more and more steps toward compliance with the injunction."

But users of older versions of Napster are not required to upgrade the new version and only new users will be subject to the fingerprinting process - though Napster has declined to set a start date for the screening.

Subscription service

Since Napster began its attempts to block copyright works from its service, use has slumped - by 36% in April, according to a study released last week by Webnoize, the net entertainment information service.

Napster still plans to launch a legal subscription service with Digital World Services, part of the Bertlesmann group, in July.

Napster's controversial service has been a revolutionary new step in music distribution, enabling the free and rapid exchange of music worldwide in the MP3 format, which compresses music into small digital files.

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See also:

11 Apr 01 | Business
Judge threatens to close Napster
05 Apr 01 | Business
Yahoo joins online music venture
03 Apr 01 | Americas
Napster rallies its troops
03 Apr 01 | Business
Music giants form Napster rival
22 Mar 01 | Business
Napster faces new legal challenge
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