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Napster creator unveils new online music technology

Shawn Fanning, creator of the song-swap service Napster, has launched a new service designed to turn the threat of still popular peer-to-peer services into an opportunity for music companies and artists, Reuters reported.

The original Napster was shutdown in 2001 by copyright litigation and then sold to Roxio, which re-launched it as a paid online service.

In launching the new platform, Snocap, Fanning and co-founders Jordan Mendelson and Ron Conway, said the company, also named Snocap, reached a deal with Vivendi Universal’s Universal Music Group to license its catalog.

After registering music and copyright information in Snocap’s database, labels and artists can manage online distribution through Snocap’s copyright management system, which lets them set rules for each track on a global basis.

It will give consumers authorized options equal to file-sharing services. By removing the threat of litigation, consumers will also be able to get better quality service and avoid things like the risk of litigation from the industry or downloading a computer virus, spoofed downloads or unwanted advertising, Fanning said.

Perhaps more important, the rollout of Snocap may figure in the industry’s bid to reverse a series of losses in court, where the major labels have been seeking verdicts to hold the companies behind the Grokster and Morpheus networks liable for copyright violations.

The networks have long argued — and a federal appeals court has agreed — that they cannot monitor their users. But the music companies may argue that Snocap proves that it is possible to track and block the transmission of unauthorized content.

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