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Return to the Dark Ages?
Posted by netwebly | 11.27.2000

It seems Emusic isn't the only digital music provider displeased with the impact Napster is having on business. MP3.com is in dark mood as well. In a lengthy
editorial posted on the company's web site November 9th, the digital music provider lashed out against Napster and other file sharing services, arguing that peer to peer technology isn't up to the task of delivering music to Net audiences.

In a detailed blow by blow critique of the Napster model, perhaps intended as much for investors as for the digital music fans who gather at the site, the company revealed the extent of its frustration with the Napster phenomenon.

The posting argues that only companies with centralized distribution systems - read companies like MP3.com - are capable of serving up music to the masses.

"many are overlooking ...[the]...fundamental facts and jumping on the P2P bandwagon. The claims that Napster-like software will revolutionize music delivery are overblown."

The statement goes on to cite factors the recording industry and artists opposed to Napster have made much of over the past year.

"Distributing ... responsibility to thousands or tens of thousands of random machines makes it impossible to assure the quality of the music or the speed of service."

Of course, MP3.com has a great deal to loose if services like Napster and Gnutella ever attain legitimacy.The company has invested an amazing amount of money to develop an infrastructure capable of handling pretty much anything the Net throws at it. A legal Napster or a label-friendly Gnutella could fatally handicap MP3.com's efforts to become the site people think of when they think of music.

There is also the argument that both Napster and Gnutella are costing MP3.com real money each and every day in the form of last DAM CD sales and lost visitors to the company's web site. Files by MP3.com artists are traded heavily on both Napster and Gnutella, a factor which on the surface seems to hurt MP3.com.

On the other hand - if file sharing advocates are right - this pseudo piracy might also be helping the company by generating increased exposure for the site's artists and creating traffic that otherwise might not have existed.

It's a tricky little scenario. Most tracks on the MP3.com site are available for free download, a key difference between the site and a pure retailer like emusic.
If MP3.com is giving files away, what right does the company have to stop people from sharing them on Napster?

More evidence - as if any were needed - that as far as digital music is concerned, things are likely to get a hell of a lot more confusing before they get better.

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