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SJ Mercury/AP: Bugging AOL: innovative little software company Nullsoft a thorn in parent's side

Oct 23, 2000, 17:22 (0 Talkback[s])

[ Thanks to George Mitchell for this link. ]

"America Online spent $86 million last year to buy Nullsoft Inc., a renegade startup responsible for programs such as Winamp and Gnutella, which have helped millions use the Internet to obtain and play music free-of-charge. Far from being co-opted, Nullsoft programmers have since spent some of their spare time cracking AOL's code, apparently happy to subvert corporate profit models with software that leverages the global information network's innate distributive power."

"Casual observers of Nullsoft's headquarters in an old Mission District warehouse might mistake the programmers pecking away at terminals for nice, clean-cut, 20-something establishment types. Casual observers would be wrong. According to the credo posted in blood-red lettering on Nullsoft's Web site, they consider themselves "legitimate nihilistic media terrorists" whom history will "no doubt canonize."

"Despite all the baggage, Nullsoft's cutting-edge software engineers remain highly valued by AOL, says Aram Sinnreich, an analyst with Jupiter Research. AOL "didn't hire the guys at Nullsoft to decide what is and is not legal behavior for consumers on the Internet," Sinnreich said. "They hired the guys at Nullsoft to think of really cool things that you can do with music online."

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