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Emusic Takes on Napster Users

Emusic (www.emusic.com), began an initiative to stop illegal distribution of Emusic songs over the Napster service. The company is deploying a technology that automatically searches the Napster services for Emusic songs, and identifies them with an acoustic fingerprinting technology. The automated technology begins by searching for identifiable file names and confirms the match by downloading and "listening" to the beginning of the song.

Once identified, the user who is making the Emusic song available, will be notified by an instant message to remove the song from public sharing within 24 hours. If the user does not comply, Emusic will supply Napster with the username and IP address of the offender and recommend the account be blocked.

If the user continues to share the music files illegally by signing on to Napster again under a new user name, Emusic may contact their ISP directly with their complaint of illegal activity. The technology deployed maintains a list of IP and usernames along with a list of Emusic files being shared, which can help to identify repeat offenders.

At a press conference this morning, Gene Hoffman, Jr., president and CEO of EMusic.com, expressed regret, stating that the company was unable to negotiate with Napster an action that would be less disruptive to the end user. He hoped that no accounts would be blocked, and that the users would comply with the initial warning to remove Emusic files from public folders.

Hoffman stated that Napster rejected Emusic's offer to provide technology that would block the sharing of Emusic files. Napster maintained it was impossible to block or remove individual files from its server, a position with which Emusic does not agree.

"Napster's claim that it can't remove tracks from its database isdisingenuous and we believe their stance will work to the detriment oftheir own users," said Hoffman. "It seems Napster would rather shutdown user accounts, than to deal directly with the problem of illegallydistributed files. Our proposed solution deals with illegal activityonly, allowing the exchange of legitimate files. However, EMusicremains open to the possibility of working with Napster to implement amore reasonable approach to solving the problem."

Hank Barry, CEO of Napster, responded in a statement to Emusic's announcement: "We met with EMusic and reviewed the technology theypresented. We continue to welcome EMusic's suggestions, and we have been meeting with other interested parties as we develop our technology. Having reviewed the technology EMusic presented last week, we do not believe their approach was consistent with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), and it is not technologically feasible."

Barry continued "it appears that EMusic's announcement today is different than what they have proposed to us previously. We will be reviewing EMusic's interaction with the Napster system to determine whether it is consistent with Napster's privacy policy."

Emusic offers a subscription service that gives members access to its library of 140,000 downloadable songs. Hoffman believes at least one-third to one-half of that library is made publicly available for free by Napster users, a fact which cannot help, but hurt their revenue stream. Emusic pays royalties to artists and labels, and maintains that the illegal sharing of its music files not only hurts its business but also hurts the artists and labels.

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