Music industry to examine Napster clones for copyright violations

May 6, 20001



As Napster's court-ordered filtering slows the trading of copyrighted music files on its file swapping service, the recording industry is taking aim at other, similar services.

In the wake of Napster's work to keep copyrighted music files off its site, the number of downloads has dropped by 40 percent since February, according to a study by Webnoize of Cambridge, Mass.

With Napster less of an issue, the Recording Industry of America Association (RIAA) is shifting its focus to include similar file-trading sites like Aimster, and any of the software programs based on Gnutella, like Lime Wire and BearShare.

The Motion Picture Association of America is also targeting file swapping sites because some sites are swapping video clips -- and in some cases, entire movies.

While the number of users is smaller than Napster at its peak, other services will begin to feel the heat, particularly if they allow the swapping of copyrighted files.

ALUMNI E-MAIL. Colleges and universities are offering a perk that is both a graduation gift and a way to help keep their graduates in touch with the university.

A number of colleges are now offering free lifetime e-mail addresses to their graduates.

Not only does it give you an identity with your college, but its a way to keep a constant e-mail address and not have to worry about changing Internet providers -- and e-mail addresses -- if graduates move around the country.

My alma mater, Western Kentucky University, doesn't offer graduates free e-mail, but it does give members of its alumni association free e-mail as one of the many alumni association perks.

Colleges will have their graduates' e-mail addresses -- at least one they know that works -- for future promotions and requests.

It's an inexpensive perk for the graduates new and old, and maybe even a way to poke your college's name in the face of your in-state rivals (unfortunately, neither U of L nor UK offer free e-mail to their alumni).

NEW GROWTH. Seven million more Web surfers used the Internet from their homes in March than in February, according to the AC Nielsen Web site.

Most of the growth was due to new users in Asia, the survey said.

More than 211 million people were active on the Internet in March, the company said. The amount of time spent online per month jumped from just less than nine hours to nine hours and 29 minutes.

Web surfers in South Korea spent less than 30 seconds viewing each page, the survey said. This compares to the more leisurely viewing rates of most Australians and Americans, who spend an average of a minute looking over each Web page, the survey said.

The list of most active users by country was also led by South Korea, followed by Hong Kong, Germany, Japan, Canada, Singapore and the U.S.

WINDOWS XP DATE SET. The next-generation version of the Windows operating system, Windows XP, will go on sale in stores Oct. 29, according to a story on the CNET Web site.

The replacement for Windows 95, 98, Me, and 2000 was tentatively set for release in July, but rumors about a delay had predicted it would be much later this year, or even early next year. Microsoft didn't set the date, but a source with ties to the software giant leaked the date.

The new operating system comes at a time when PC sales are down, and hardware makers have to hope the new version of Windows will spur sales of new computers.

Microsoft is also faced with reports from those testing early versions of Windows XP who say not all Windows applications will run correctly with the new operating system.

Longtime computer users will remember the compatibility problems between Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. Some software just would not run under Windows 95.

A number of drivers for hardware like digital cameras and scanners are reported to not operate under Windows XP.

And any software that uses DOS drivers will be facing trouble, too. Windows XP is not DOS-based, and drivers may not run at all.

As of last year, the International Data Corp. surveys found that 44 percent of all Windows operating systems installed were Windows 98. Thirty-three percent were Windows 95 installs, and 22 percent were either Windows NT or Windows 2000 Professional. One percent used Windows Me.

Many of the incompatibility issues will be worked out, as vendors create new driver software to allow their hardware to work with Windows XP.

Since the release of Windows 95, there have been two computer operating system product lines that Microsoft has maintained.

The first is the consumer-oriented Windows operating systems like 95, 98, Me, and 2000.

The second product line was aimed at corporate computing needs, particularly servers, with the various incarnations of the Windows NT operating system.

Windows XP's goal is to merge both product lines into one common operating system. It's something that Microsoft has talked about for a number of years, dating back to before Windows 98 was released.

And of course, time will tell how quickly consumers and the corporate computing world adopt the operating system whenever it is finally released.

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