PRIVATE SURF: Richard Davies, the managing director of the web agency Good Technology, ponders both the Napster site and software

Napster allows anyone online to share their music with any other Napster user, the clever bit being that instead of downloading your music through a website, you get it directly from their machine.

Napster allows anyone online to share their music with any other

Napster user, the clever bit being that instead of downloading your

music through a website, you get it directly from their machine.



Unlike the web, which despite its early image as the great leveller of

the communications age still relies on distributing content through

specific sites, Napster is less centralised, which makes shutting it

down extremely difficult.



Unsurprisingly, this does not please musicians, whose challenge is

obvious: given that legal and technical solutions for stopping Napster

are unenforcable, how can they best protect their assets?



We can only hope that they learn from the mistakes made when MP3 (which

posed similar problems) came along, and do some serious thinking about

how they can leverage Napster’s strengths instead of denying its

impact.



Why don’t labels start taking the live recordings and oddities that are

typically the province of bootleggers and make them available through

Napster? That way they could claw back control over unlicensed

product.



Napster is just another reminder to content owners everywhere that

copyright is not, in the long term, enforceable. The options are simple.

Owners of music rights can either refuse to acknowledge the threat, or

they can work with the technology (and those that follow it: Gnutella

and Freenet spring to mind, both of which develop and extend the ideas

behind Napster) and reap the rewards.





www.napster.com



Owners: Shawn Fanning and the Napster Company



Site positioning: Enable music fans to locate and share media files

online from one interface



Launched: September 1999



Developed: In-house.