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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 8, 2001

Napster announces new song-identifying technology

Associated Press

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The latest version of Napster's file-swapping software includes technology that can be used to identify songs by the characteristics of their sound — not just their filenames, the company said yesterday.

In a posting on Napster's Web site, the company said sound fingerprinting will be used to comply with a federal judge's order to block the free exchange of copyrighted songs as well as to add yet-to-be-announced features.

Since March, Napster has been excluding copyrighted songs based on filenames, which can vary substantially from user to user.

Last month, Napster announced it was licensing fingerprinting technology developed by Virginia-based Relatable LLC to identify songs by the way they sound, regardless of audio format.

"As the technology available for the identification and tracking of music files has evolved extremely rapidly over the past few months, Napster has quickly embraced it in order to better protect copyright holders and improve our users' experience," according to a message on the Napster Web site.

A Napster spokeswoman said the latest software release is only a first step in deploying the technology. The company has not said when it will be fully implemented.

U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel in March ordered Napster to block copyrighted songs from being freely exchanged. During a hearing last month on the effectiveness of filename filters, she called Napster's effort "disgraceful."

The Recording Industry Association of America, which represents the major labels, said it was heartened by the latest step toward blocking copyright tunes.

"We're pleased that Napster is announcing more and more steps toward compliance with the injunction," said RIAA spokesman Doug Curry. "The focus, however, should remain on a fully effective filtering mechanism, not on each step toward its creation."