Send in the clones: Users flock to wannabe Napsters

Napster wannabes step in to fill the free music void...

Napster wannabes step in to fill the free music void...

Napster has lost thousands of users to rival file-sharing applications which still offer copyrighted songs for free download. The company's main song-swapping rival is Bodetella - a program designed for the Gnutella network - which recorded one million unique users for May. Bodetella is followed closely by Audiogalaxy, which recorded over 978,000 visitors in the same month. Other file-sharing applications trailing Napster, but gaining ground fast, include Bearshare, Imesh, LimeWire and Napigator. Last year, Napster was one of the fastest-growing software applications ever. Its user base nearly quadrupled within six months of its US debut. However, according to a study published on Friday by Jupiter Media Metrix, Napster usage worldwide has plummeted 65 per cent among home users after the controversial service was forced to implement song-filtering software. The research claims unique users of Napster fell by 31 per cent from 26.4 million in February 2001 to 18.3 million in June 2001. The consequent splintering of the market that followed the legal rulings against Napster is thought to spell worse news for the music industry because the rise of Napster-esque sites reduces the ability to control and restrict the amount of copyrighted files being swapped.