Legal Napster alternative to be unveiled

Putting music online legally without enforcing copyright is the novel plan behind Freenet's successor

A British computer programmer will next week reveal details on a Napster-like sharing application, that he guarantees will not infringe copyright law.

The project -- one of a number from US startup "Uprizer" -- remains classified but London-based cofounder Ian Clarke promises a press release will next week reveal more details. ZDNet UK News is pursuing an Eye 2 Eye interview with Clarke.

Clarke is the developer responsible for FreeNet, a well-known distributed, non-centralised file-sharing system similar to Gnutella. He says his experience with Freenet has been invaluable in the development of Uprizer's Napster alternative.

Napster is currently embroiled in a legal conflict with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) which sued the company in December for allegedly facilitating widespread music piracy.

Some pundits have predicted that Napster will be reborn in a format that generates income for artists. It remains unclear, however, just how this could be implemented.

Clarke says Uprizer's new application will seek to emulate the success of Stephen King's online publishing project. King publishes chapters of his latest book online in return for direct payment. This pays King for his work without having to enforce copyright regulations.

"We will not be doing anything that could be considered illegal, even by the RIAA," says Clarke. "We're most concerned with creating a business model that allows artists to be paid."

Clarke believes that Uprizer approach represents revolutionary approach to the protection of intellectual property. "I think that what's happening with Napster is delaying the inevitable," says Clarke.

"We're starting from the assumption that copyright is unenforceable and working from there."

Steven Vaughan-Nichols loves music and condemns its abuse, but not necessarily for the reasons you think. He says the benefits of Napster may outweigh the risk... for your home machine. But for the corporate network, the time to stop playing with Napster and its cousins is now. Go to AnchorDesk UK for the news comment.

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