Court order sends Napster users seeking files elsewhere
April 15, 2001
By JIM BROOKS
The court-ordered ban on copyrighted songs on the music file-swapping
service Napster has some Americans turning to alternative services
for their music.
Napster was ordered to take steps to remove copyrighted songs off its
network on March 6. The service has been trying with moderate success
to filter out banned material to meet the court order's demand.
While still the dominant file-swapping service, the number of users
dropped from 15.2 million users in February to 12.1 million in March,
according to Jupiter Media Metrix.
Interestingly, the number of visitors to the Napster Web site --
probably seeking the latest news and information on Napster's service
-- jumped by 30 percent during the same time period.
Other file-swapping services remain in operation, but some of them
are altering the way they operate to avoid the copyright problems
that hit Napster.
The Israel-based iMesh, the largest pure file-swapping service next
to Napster, agreed earlier this month to disable downloads of
MOVE OVER MP3. Microsoft's dominance of computer operating
systems is fact. More than 90 percent of the world's computers use
some version of the Windows operating system.
Microsoft's latest target is the ever-popular MP3 format used for
music files that are swapped and traded online.
The MP3 format creates a compact music file that retains excellent
sound quality. It's become so popular that portable players for these
files are now all the rage.
But Microsoft's next-generation operating system to be released this
year targets the MP3 file format and essentially cripples it.
The Wall Street Journal reported recently that Microsoft plans to
severely limit the quality of music that can be recorded as an MP3
file with its Windows XP operating system.
Music files recorded using Microsoft's own music format, Windows
Media Audio, will sound superior in quality and require less storage
space on a computer's hard drive.
The move to make the MP3 format obsolete stems from the format's lack
of a way to digitally protect a file's copyright. As a result, the
music industry doesn't support the MP3 format, and is supporting any
alternatives that will give it better control over who can record or
share copyrighted music files.
And while third-party software for MP3 recording is supposed to
operate under Windows XP, beta testers who have used the new
operating system say the MP3 software didn't always function properly.
The restrictions in Windows XP for MP3 files will prevent recording
the files at fidelity rates higher than 56k per second.
That means your favorite tunes will lose most of their sound quality
PENTIUM 4 PRICE CUTS. Intel plans to dramatically cut the
price of its Pentium 4, with some models slashed by 50 percent.
The move is aimed at creating demand for the company's latest
Along with the price cuts, Intel will introduce a 1.7GHz Pentium 4
later this month.
Demand for computer chips is slowing, and Intel officials plan to
replace the Pentium III in desktop computers by year's end with the
Analysts say the price cuts will pose a problem for the computer chip
maker, because the Pentium 4 is expensive to make, and the company
has already been giving PC makers rebates to use the new chip.
ZIP DRIVE SUIT SETTLED. Iomega Corp. has settled a
class-action lawsuit which will hand out rebates to U.S. customers
who purchased a Zip drive between Jan. 1, 1995, and March 19, 2001.
The lawsuit was filed in 1998, and claimed the company's product had
a manufacturing flaw that frequently caused the drives and disks to fail.
An affected drive would refuse to read the disk, and then click
repeatedly as it tried to access the disk. This clicking continued
until the user ejected the disk. Repeated clicking ruined any Zip
disk inserted in the drive.
My own PC Zip drive began the "Click of Death" within the
first year after I purchased it. The clicks ruined any disk inserted
in it. Iomega agreed to replace any Zip drive affected by the
"Click of Death," even those drives outside the warranty period.
One interesting aspect of the problem was the fact that few Zip
drives failed when they were used with Macintosh computers.
Macs dominate the newspaper industry, particularly in graphic design,
and few, if any, Zip drives failed among the newspaper graphics
professionals I have known.
U.S. customers who purchased a Zip drive will be entitled to rebates
worth up to $40 for various Iomega products.
The company will also donate $1 million in products and services to
schools, and provide free technical support for customers who
experience the clicking.
For more information, visit www.iomega.com.