Napster users shut out as service revamps
July 8, 2001
By JIM BROOKS
Users of the Napster file-sharing service were locked out last week
after the company decided to block transfers of all music files.
On its Web site, Napster called the shut down temporary, placing the
blame on "the database upon which our new file identification
technology relies, and those problems were making the technology less effective."
Napster is under court order to prohibit the swapping of copyrighted
files on its service. The company has disabled support for older
versions of its file-swapping software, and users are prompted to
upgrade to the latest version -- which contains the technology to
help identify copyrighted works and prevent the sharing of those files.
The technology wasn't working as designed, and Napster officials said
some copyrighted works were slipping through. Shutting the service
down was seen as the best alternative, the Web site stated.
Napster's millions of users have fled the service for other similar
file-swapping Web sites, though they may also find themselves under
legal attack for allowing the transfer of copyrighted works.
At the beginning of May, Napster claimed it had more than 1.3 million
visitors a day to its file-swapping service. In the last couple of
weeks, the number of users has plunged to fewer than 150,000 a day.
Plans to revamp Napster into a fee-based service are still in the
works, the Web site stated.
It has tentative plans to offer users access to music from EMI,
Warner and BMG record labels, though that deal will depend largely on
Napster's ability to prevent unauthorized file swapping.
Originally, the new, fee-based Napster service was going to launch
this month, though the official word now is "sometime this summer."
Napster's Web site did not state when the shutdown of the service
For more details, visit Napster's Web site at www.napster.com.
FREE NO MORE. The transition of advertising-supported dot-com
businesses from "free" to "fee" seems to be continuing.
USA.net, a business and consumer Web-based e-mail provider, announced
last week its plans to drop its free, ad-supported consumer e-mail service.
The company said the change was necessary due to the drop in revenue
from online advertising.
Individuals with free consumer accounts will have to pay $29.99 for a
year of service after July 31. After that date, the price jumps to
$49.99 per year of service.
USA.net claims more than four million customers for its consumer and
business e-mail services.
Other companies have dropped the ad-supported business model and
shifted to a fee-based one for their services, including free e-mail
pioneer Juno and free Internet provider NetZero.
The company's Web site states its corporate services will not be
affected by the move.
For more information, visit www.usa.net.
CUBE ON ICE. Despite its cutting-edge design, Apple Computers
is pulling the plug on its Power Mac G4 Cube.
Just a year in production, the Cube never sold as well as the company
anticipated. The Cube had been unavailable from distributors for
quite some time, which fueled rumors of its demise.
The 8-inch square computer drew a lot of attention when it was
released, but it failed to catch on with new users. Most who
purchased it were Mac fans who liked the unique look it offered.