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NY Times: Free Music Software May Have Rattled AOL

Mar 20, 2000, 16:34 (1 Talkback[s])

"Justin Frankel, a 21-year-old programming wizard who sold his digital music company, but perhaps not his soul, to America Online last year, did not endear himself to his new masters last week by publishing free software that enables users to find and trade music files quickly over the Internet."

"The software designed by Frankel and his team at AOL's Nullsoft unit is a variation of a popular program called Napster. College students and others have been using Napster in a frenzied exchange of music, pirated and not. The Recording Industry Association of America is suing Napster Inc. for copyright infringement."

"AOL executives directed that Nullsoft's program, called Gnutella, be removed a few hours after it was made available on the Internet last Tuesday. The shutdown may have been done for a simple reason, like preventing a traffic jam as thousands of Internet users rushed to get what was billed as a test version of the software. But in the absence of an explanation from AOL, the ensuing silence hinted at a more complicated situation. The site, gnutella.com, was reduced to an inscrutable one-liner: "temporarily down. come back later." An executive said Sunday, however, that the program would not return."

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