InSITE--Napster Reborn - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

10/09/03

InSITE--Napster Reborn

In the heyday of free internet music, Napster was king. Founder Shawn Fanning's innovative file-swapping program was the darling of the tech boom. But the recording industry had no love for the service, since it allowed people to enjoy the latest music, without paying for it.

Legal battles followed, and Napster was enjoined from operating, eventually selling off its assets to digital media distributor Roxio. Today, the company announced it's back online, for a fee.

The service now joins the likes of iTunes and Musicmatch in the digital music sales business. Other free services remain that have so far avoided liability for their users' actions, but the recording industry has made its intentions clear regarding certain users.

Whether Napster reborn will retain any of the appeal it had as the bad boy of the internet remains to be seen. Other for-pay services, though, are reporting success, with Apple's iTunes announcing its ten millionth download just four months after launching. Napster won't be fully ready till Oct. 29th, but the site says if you register ahead of time, you can get five free tracks. After that, they'll cost you 99 cents a pop.

The legal controversy over free file-swapping is far from over, but as the for-pay services keep attracting users, trade groups on both sides are coming up with new ideas for a win-win arrangement.

Reported by: Charles Gray, cgray@wtoc.com

 

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