real on 22 Jan 2001 15:18:56 -0000

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<nettime> IBM targets post-Napster music biz

IBM targets post-Napster music biz
By: Tony Smith
Posted: 22/01/2001 at 12:02 GMT

IBM hopes to leverage Napster-induced paranoia to sell its EMMS digital
music distribution system to the world's biggest recording companies.

According to Big Blue, it has tailored its software to support Napster's
file sharing model. The idea is that MP3s are packaged to allow the
copyright holders to specify rules that govern how many times the file can
be sent to another user.

There's nothing new here - it's how other rights management system, such
as Intertrust, have been working for some time.

Of course, what IBM doesn't point out is that such an approach effectively
negates the whole point of Napster. After all, why grab files that only
let you listen to the first 30 seconds of the tracks they contain?

In short, the scheme is designed to make Napster so useless, everyone goes
back to the digital download model, and both the technology and music
industries can work as if Napster had never happened. In other words, a
return to a world where copyright is a packageable commodity.

As Scott Burnett, IBM's Global Media and Entertainment division's business
development executive, told CNET: "If you assume that Napster will
disappear in its current state, what's going to replace it? That's what
we're talking about here."

The trouble is, like the atomic bomb, you can't un-invent technologies you
don't like. Even if Napster does "disappear", the model it pioneered
won't, and it's going to be very difficult to prevent music being copied
and distributed without the controls IBM wants to let record companies add
to their tracks.

Better then to develop systems that allow content owners to profit from
the 'free' distribution of their material, through subscriptions or
ancillary services. If it can work for Red Hat, it can work for EMI and

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