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Napster Gets Software for Fee-Based Service

February 17, 2001|Jon Healey

Napster Inc., the embattled online song-swapping service, said it has developed a key piece of the software it needs to become a fee-based service that compensates artists, songwriters and publishers. The new software, which will run on users' computers, wraps digital music files in a layer of security as they are copied to a new user's computer. The security layer is designed to prevent songs from being received by Web users who aren't paying members of the new Napster service. Other limits may also be imposed, such as preventing users from recording the songs they copy onto CDs. Napster executives declined to say what the additional limits might be, or when the system will be launched. The company also asked U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel to hold a hearing before imposing a preliminary injunction on Napster that could force the removal of the most popular music from the service, or even shut it down. Napster hopes its fee-based service, which is backed by German media conglomerate Bertelsmann and leading independent label TVT Records, will draw the support of the other major label groups.

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