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Music Media

What Are Microsoft And Napster Talking About? 137

Posted by timothy
from the hush-hush dept.
An Anonymous Coward points to this CNN article, writing: "look here, Microsoft and Napster are talking, looks like Microsoft is going to buy Napster." Actually, the story specifically says that Microsoft has rejected buying Napster, and that the ongoing secretive talks actually have another probable outcome: Microsoft's digital protection schemes for music files are a more likely point of confluence between the scrappy, beleagered protector of Internet Freedom and Goodness and, well, Napster.
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What Are Microsoft And Napster Talking About?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    considering napster was started, more or less, to prove a point about the fairness about sharing music, i'm more and more concerned that napster's giving up on morals and ideals every chance they can.

    hopefully the other projects being done with a similar motivation will keep the fight up, no matter how much VC gets thrown at them.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Even if MS is throwing $ at Napster, it probably doesn't mean much anyway. Large corporations invest in all sorts of projects to 'hedge their bets' and spread out the risk. My guess is they've got $ to burn and they figure it's worth a shot....

    Anyway, there's really no easy way for them to convert mp3 users to WMA. Compression isn't an issue with the proliferation of bandwidth. So what if it takes 45 seconds longer to download. Only if they strike a deal with the Record Cartels will they be able to force us to WMA.

    But I don't know how they'd be able to do that very easily. Napster is dead. It sucks that the blood sucking recording industry sought to restrict our rights to share files in general. They've killed Napster, but in the process, they've failed to capitalize on the opportunity to change their business model. Apparently, making huge profit margins (passing very little to the artist I might add...) on old fashioned CD distribution was all they knew what to do. Now, as a result, people will continue to exchange MP3s over gnutella or others. They've missed their opportunity. And that's fine with me. cameron

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ... and making a beowolf cluster of everything in sight.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 07, 2001 @09:13AM (#240049)

    Bill, I can't understand it, why you wont buy me
    After all the things I've bought from you
    I bought your Works and windows, put diamonds on your fingers (Diamond on your fingers)
    And still you still won't buy, what am I to do

    My girl uses Napster all the time
    Napster all the time, Napster all the time
    My girl uses Napster all the time
    Napster all the time, Napster all the time

    Ooh...hoo...hoo...
    Napster all the time
    She likes to use Napster all the time
    Napster all the time

    Ooh...hoo...hoo...
    Napster all the time
    She likes to use Napster all the time
    Napster all the time

    Bill, I seen you at the courts, just hangin' out and trollin'
    You plead the 5th to every judge you see
    You never come home at night because you're out controllin'
    I wish you'd bring some of your doe home to me

    But my girl uses Napster all the time
    My girl uses Napster all the time
    Napster all the time, Napster all the time
    My girl uses Napster all the time
    Napster all the time, Napster all the time

    Ooh...hoo...hoo...
    Napster all the time
    She likes to use Napster all the time
    Napster all the time

    Ooh...hoo...hoo...
    Napster all the time
    She likes to use Napster all the time
    Napster all the time

    Ooh...hoo...hoo...
    Napster all the time
    She likes to use Napster all the time
    Napster all the time

    Ooh...hoo...hoo...
    Napster all the time
    She likes to use Napster all the time
    Napster all the time

    \\s0nGdEvIL\\
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 07, 2001 @09:18AM (#240050)
    Microsoft: Ok, what's it gonna take for you to block all instances of the bootlegged copied of Bill Gates singing "Who Let the Dogs Out". Napster: $125 million dollars...... in quarters. Microsoft: Ok..... the 125 mil is no problem, the quarters part could take a while. So it's a deal? Napster: Sure. Microsoft: Now does that include blocking of B1ll G4T35 and other numerical representations as well? Napster: No. Microsoft: Damn.
  • Yes, but if they did get into a deal with Napster, then it'd probably have something like:

    We'll give you lots of $$$ if you push wma's, and make it so it will search for shared wma's first before mp3's.

    Probably even an option to convert your mp3's to wma's to save disk space and get better quality, etc...
  • Yeah...well, that would mostly be MS Advertising with a (*) somewhere the explains what you just said and that mileage may vary depending on the phase of the moon, etc...
  • s/scrappy, beleagered protector of Internet Freedom and Goodness/spineless abuser of others rights/

    Stop trying to pass off napster as the righteous defender of all that's good and true on the internet. Yes, file sharing is important to the nature of the internet, but when you build your service around pirating MP3s, you won't get any sympathy from me when the owners of the songs being pirated come after you.
  • by Jethro73 (14686) on Monday May 07, 2001 @09:06AM (#240054)
    Since MP3s were born Microsoft has been trying to rewrite the standard with their own technology. WMA was their answer, which, granted, provided better sound for the bandwidth cost. Could it be that they see Napster as the biggest proponent for the format that they would love to wipe out? Maybe they wish to buy it an either rewrite things to share WMAs, or throw it in the scrap heap... Interesting, and yet somehow scary...

    (not a troll or a conspiracy theory -- just an observation)

    Jethro
  • by mcc (14761)
    Well, you can't really know what they're doing in there.

    Your suggestion is probably closer than mine to what they're likely to wind up doing, though. Napster's going to put in a system like that eventually; they might as well liscense microsoft's..

  • by mcc (14761)
    Wow, cool. That would be a GREAT way to drive off the three remaining people who are still using napster.

    More likely it isn't about *forcing* the user to trade WMAs, but rather just *allowing* them to. Napster still requires all files moved to be mp3s or mp2s, don't they? Well, here's a nice alternative to forcing everybody on the file sharing network to use a format nobody uses yet and killing the file sharing network as a result: just find a way to get a bunch of .wmas floating around on that network, and make it so napster client can play those wmas. The napster user can't tell what format they're using; they just click on the first thing along the lines of "Creed - I Sure Do Like Pearl Jam.tla" in the search window and tell napster to play it for them. So start dumping .wmas on the network and pretty soon they'll get into vaguely wide circulation.. hell, i can't think of a better way to get a format widespread. Get a couple of .wmas on the hard drive of every single idiot napster user out there without said idiot user napsters noticing it. Then later when they go back to listen and discover they have to download WiMP to listen to it outside of the napster application.. well, which do you think they'll choose? Look for and redownload the Creed song as an mp3, download Windows Media Player, or switch to Gnutella? I'm thinking the second; it's the least work.

    Pity. I'd like to see napster dead; then something better would come along.

    Word of advice to the free software community: you need to learn how to play the game of making support for your formats viral, and you need to learn to play the game of using The Blinking 12:00 Effect to your advantage. Microsoft is the master of both of these games, and you people are HORRIBLE at them. My first suggestion: start talking to apple about putting Ogg Vorbis support into quicktime. Maybe even volunteer to write a nice little LGPLed quicktime plugin that apple could start including. Then you'd have this great big ol' installed base. Installed bases are good. Really! Trust me, they are.


  • Napster will be still able to download large amounts of audio files if this strategy is going where I've taken it. However, they will not be file you can play. You will have to use the Passport infrastructure to pay for these files to listen to them.
    Integrating Hailstorm and .NET will allow Napster to still have file sharing, but adds complete authentication services that the RIAA likes (note that I did not say couldn't be broken. I'd be stupid to think anything is uncrackable), and adds
    micropayments through Microsoft Billing Services.


    I think there is a weak point in the whole scheme, and it's just here under our noses.
    Everybody is treating Napster as if it were a big FTP server where everybody can download whatever she wants. But Napster, as any other P2P system, is nothing like that. It's mr. Joe Average who offers mrs. Jane Allthesame his hard drive's contents to share.
    However, what is the incentive in sharing something that can't be used unless paid by the recipient (thus destroying the "community feeling")? Sharing has a cost, because it lowers mr. Joe Average's browsing capabilities. If what's shared can't be freely (as in beer) exchanged, (because it's encrypted and has to be paid extra for) there is very little reward for the "wasted" resources. Result: the sharing system would crumble for lack of offer.

    This is not to say that the bleak scenario you're showing won't happen. Just that this piece (p2p networks) would not work under these conditions.
  • Microsoft charges money, lots of it, for tools that encrypt audio and video into the Windows Media format. Imagine how much money they could make if that was made a 'standard' for all streaming media. The way to have WM made into a standard is to make it appealing to the RIAA and its member companies by taking control away from the end user.

    If Microsoft killed off Napster, or killed off MP3 on Napster, the RIAA and its member companies would be so grateful that Windows Media would be made a standard format almost immediately. Microsoft isn't talking to Napster because they want to preserve online music - they're talking to Napster because they want to have a monopoly on streaming media.

  • sleeper0: This statement is blatently false. Did you even try to do any research? Perhaps you are thinking of Real? Microsoft's player, encoder, and DRM tools are all available for free. Almost everything can be instantly downloaded over the internet.

    To get decent results with streaming WindowsMedia (as compared to the static kind that would be used with Napster), you have to buy a specialized Microsoft streaming server, which runs on Windows. So you pay for the media server software and then pay for the OS. (Real will run on Unix and Windows, QuickTime on Mac and Windows, MP3 will stream from any signifcant platform.)
    If Napster uses WMA exclusively, that will give Microsoft a huge lead over the competition and could put RealNetworks out of business. (Why use Real for streams if everybody has a WM player already for static audio?) If MP3, Real, and QuickTime are gone, everybody that wants to stream media has to run Windows servers. That turns the Windows desktop OS monopoly into a media monopoly, and turns the media monopoly into a streaming server monopoly... Once we start sliding down this slope, it's hard to stop.
    And if you think the tools will still be free once WindowsMedia is the only codec, you're insane.

    My point being, Microsoft wants to kill MP3 so it can make WindowsMedia the standard and make money selling servers and (eventually) selling tools that are now free. Plus the control it will have over us all, which is also a draw for them I'm sure.

  • Depending on the mp3 encoder and you using the exact same settings, you might be able to get an mp3 to encode the same from a decoding, however chances are small... However, if you didn't hear the difference to begin with...
  • flat rate, unlimited MP3 sharing or NOTHING

    Bzzzt! Wrong, we want free unlimited MP3 sharing... or we'll go and make it our-fscking-selves.

    Dave
  • Something to keep an eye on as Microsoft broadens the use of its DRM technology: InterTrust's suit charging Microsoft with patent infringements. [intertrust.com]

    I wonder how many of Microsoft's current and potential DRM partners are aware this is underway?

  • Side note:

    IE on solaris, used it abused it, played around with it, it sucked.

    It crashed worse than Netscape and it displayed in this horrid shade of green in CDE. I ditched it and went back to Netscape in under a week.

    Ran pretty well for a beta port on a low end SUN though...

    Just for the record if any Microsoft employee is reading this (working on the next Halloween doc or something); I would buy Winux assuming DCOM support worked and MS Word was bundled with it. Also I would require as much compatability with the other distributions as is present within today's Linux distributions (say SuSE, Debian and Redhat). I would probably pay 100 - 150 GBP for this.
  • How about rewarding uploads and charging by the download, so If you provide oodles of mp3 every month you don't pay a penny, but if your downloading buckets of pirated music you pay a small amount per download.

    I can't imaging Napster paying YOU to upload music but I can imagine you having your subscription reduced towards and all the way to zero by providing a service.

    This probably only sounds good to me 'cos I'm on broadband. :)
  • Why should we take away the artist's right to sign over the rights to his works? It's not like a creator is forced to sign a record deal. The means exist for self distribution already.

    Gotta disagree with you there, man. If you want to be a financially successful recording artist, you must sign a contract given to you by one of the RIAA members. All the companies have -- for all practical purposes -- the same contract. (It amounts to a cartel, but don't tell them that!) The reason I think this right should be non-transferable is based on history; namely, that moneyed interests are able to suppress rights at the expense of the general welfare.

    Wish I were more eloquent, but I hope this clears things up somewhat.

    - Rev.
  • by revscat (35618) on Monday May 07, 2001 @09:21AM (#240066) Journal

    I know this sounds trite, but I think we should all mark our calendars as today being the day that Napster finally sunk into the grave, or at least sunk into a coma from which it will likely never recover. Yes yes, people have been saying this for months in relation to other events surrounding Napster, and I am not saying that those claims weren't true. But today it has come to light that Napster is sleeping with the enemy from the technology side, not just the legal side. They now have absolutely no moral leg to stand on insofar as the "Free as in Beer" philophy goes.

    Sad. There are alternatives available, to be sure, but none have the simplicity of Napster. I'm even having a hard time finishing my Bill Hicks collection, goddammit!

    Side note: I think that we should push for legislation that allows for a person (or persons) to be designated as the "primary creator" of any given work, without possiblity of that role being signed over to an Evil Industrial Corporation. If at any time that person(s) or their heirs wishes to release the work into the public domain, they can. Or they could stipulate in their will that works X, Y and Z are in the public domain, but A and B aren't.

    Too simple to work.

    - Rev.
  • When you search gnutella for mp3s, you get very little (read no) porn.

    When you search for video, you get a very interesting thing: you get the ratios in which people ACTUALLY HAVE AN INTEREST in video. These ratios will change as the gnutella user-base becomes more diverse, of course.

    One thing that gets me though, is the violent videos. There are clips of all kinds of atrocities from rape to murder. My cache grabs many of these, and sometimes I can't tell what they are without looking at them.

    Ye gods, what horror. I get a knot in my stomach, and want to do something to stop what I'm watching, but all I can do is hit the stop button, I can't help the person who is, almost certainly in most of these cases, already dead.

    If anyone wants to put together a foundation for paying people to research stopping such things (or an existing anti-violence group wants to start paying attention to gnutella), I will gladly pay into it.

    At the very least (and I grant that this is hardly even a band-aid), people, please label the crap out there. I'd love to configure my cache to ignore files with certain keywords, but nothing is consistant.

  • In a discussion of Napster, gnutella comes up. Seems on-topic. I reply clarifying some points, and adding a plee for help in a particular area of the stated topic (e.g. gnutella) and that's off-topic? Someone must have been browsing flat/newest....

    I have enough karma to burn on good causes like anti-violence, so I guess I'll keep doing so. I'll be polite and as on-topic as I can, but I think that this is an issue that deserves to be heard.
  • Good practice for their own legal problems...
    --
  • "100% Pure Bob" scares the heck out of me...
    Something about M$ Bob left big, nasty, gaping emotional scars that "Faces of Death" never could.

    --
  • Yes it's not like they are some giant unethical technology company with billions in the bank, tens thousands of programmers and millions of computers on hand.
  • "While this is true, I would point out that they still don't charge for internet explorer."

    Fucking commies.
  • Let's see what I said.

    Microsoft is a giant corporation: Objective truth
    Microsoft has billions of dollars: Objective Truth
    Microsoft has tens of thousands of programmers: Objective Truth
    Microsoft has millions of computers: Objective truth
    Microsoft is unethical: Subjective (but true).

    Saying Microsoft is unethical is much like saying Timothy McVeigh is unethical. You judge a corporation just like you'd judge an individual. You look at how they behave and speak and then form a conclusion. I have looked at how MS behaves and talks and have judged them to be unethical at best (downright evil at most). I believe that some people are evil and somehow the evil people in MS have risen up in the ranks. If these people were not billionaires they would be torturing cats and dogs in the backwoods (who know maybe they do that anyway).
  • This is what always the lamers resort to. "Yea but the truth is different then what everybody says it is". Funny how the defenders of Microsoft seem to rely on the same arguments as defenders of McVeigh.

    Somehow the the entire news media in every country of the world conspired to report lies about microsoft. Not one newspaper stood up and told the truth. All those court cases yea they were fraudulent too. All those lawsuits MS lost that was a conspiracy too. Those lawsuits that MS settled for hundreds of millions of dollars were because just got tired after several rounds of losing appeals.

    Get a grip willya.

    I would NEVER EVER work for an unethical company. I know that no matter how small your role if you work for an evil organization you are contributing to evil. The guy who cleans the toilets in the KKK headquarters has to share some burden of the moral responsibility for what the KKK does. I know people who used to work for MS and they tell me stories, I was offered a job there myself but I told them to go screw themselves (and got a higher paying job anyways).
  • Let me explain to you why microsoft is more evil then hitler or stalin.

    Hitler and Stalin killed millions of people which was an henious act but only effected a small percentage of the people on this planet. Those people got killed but the rest of the world went on pretty much business as usual.
    MS does not kill people instead what they kill is what makes us human. Here is what I mean.

    What separates us from animals is the ability to transmit information not only between your peers but to your offspring and future generations. The ability to educate our young and accumulate knowledge throughout the millenia is why we are the dominant species on this planet. Without that ability you are just a monkey.

    Microsoft is attacking your ability to own, transmit, receive or otherwise participate in the global exchange of information. Not software but information. They have taken the lead in developing ebooks which expire, music which can only be played on approved hardware and have claimed ownership of a HUGE amount of traffic that flows through their web properties. Not only that but they are poised to control all your private information as well with the upcoming .NET and Passport projects.

    Hitler killed people Bill gates is trying to kill what makes us human in the first place.
    In the end Hitler put a bullet in his own brain I hope Bill can do the same favor for humanity.
  • Or you could just use this. [gogeek.org]

    NOTE TO STUPID PEOPLE: PSEUDONEWS IS FAKE. "PSEUDONEWS" LITERALLY MEANS "FAKE NEWS".
    THIS IS NOT REAL.
    ------------------------

  • Hello,

    I did my homework on the Digital Certificates within Internet Explorer 5.x for Digital Rights Management.

    What I found were CA's for every major credit reporting agency (including Equifax), electronic billing providers, and a few Microsoft ones, besides the usual Thawte and Verisign Ones. Deustche Telekom even has two CA's in IE 5.x.

    Microsoft has been testing time-limited WMA files for about two years now. Windows XP and WMP8 include full DRM, among other 1984-eqsue identification tools.

    .NET, from what I have seen and played with, does have the APIs possible to generate a unique ID for a computer. That's the issue with Windows XP now, because it uses the hardware to generate a GUID-type string identifying the computer (and it changes with a hardware install). Windows XP adds significant identification abilities to .NET, allowing for identification of registered users, in combination with Hailstorm and Passport.

    Combine the two (and there are a LOT of things that Internet Explorer does to a system, the most significant being the DRM and installation of GTE CyberTrust and Equifax certificates), with the digital certificate generated for each user of a Windows 2000 or XP system (which is why IE 5.00 broke Windows 2000, because it overwrote RSABASE.DLL and RSAENH.DLL, the two DLL's Microsoft uses in IE for SSL and Digital Certificates for 56-bit and 128-bit encryption, respectively. When these are broken, Windows 2000 or XP cannot authenticate a user.).

    Microsoft has a complete DRM system in place capable of authenticating users, computers, installed software, and the capability to bill for it through MSN premium services. In addition, the acquisition of Great Plains software may provide Microsoft the ability for companies to integrate billing for these services (aka micropayments) through MSN bCentral (which is also going .NET).

    Napster may be interested in using this system of theirs to provide a way of keeping the file-sharing while charging to actually listen to the song through Windows Media Player 8 and Windows XP. It's all about money. This solution makes the RIAA happy, Microsoft happy, and Lars happy. It makes a lot of people who use Napster for MP3 files really pissed off. Most of all, it will make OpenNap, Gnutella, Freenet, and whatever cDc comes up with very popular.

    Just doing my homework on IE (and also worked on a PKI project here that involved certificates).

  • I am beginning to see a pattern here.

    First, eBay signed up to use .NET and Hailstorm for their authentication processes.

    Secondly, Microsoft integrated a complete Digital Rights Management system into IE 5.0 and above, with respective authentication in Windows 2000/XP, and a patch for Windows 98/Me.

    If you don't believe me and have IE, go to Tools, Internet Options, Content Tab, Certificates, and click on the Advanced Button on that tab. When you look at Intended Purpose, you will see Digital Rights as a certificate option (among many other things).

    Third, Microsoft is and has been in with the RIAA and assorted other agencies to promote Digital Rights, and has their own WMA format to do so. They can use certificates to provide strong authentication on media files.

    Fourth, the Passport infrastructure that Microsoft is building (which encompasses .NET, Hotmail, their other web services, and Windows Media Player) will allow for full Internet-based Digital Rights Management, with Microsoft acting as the central authenticating authority.

    Fifth, they can also use their commerce infrastructure for micropayments, or leverage the common billing authority they are working on with .NET to give all users of Microsoft Products a common Microsoft Services Bill. They will be able to handle micropayments because they will have themselves set up as a centralized billing authority for all premium web content. This will may include Office, Windows Update, Windows Media Services (which in Windows XP will expand this to high-quality video), MSN, and Hotmail premium services.

    Fifth, bringing Napster aboard means that Microsoft can track all files, and therefore all users, by giving them a centralized Passport ID (which you already have). They will have the ability, in Windows 2000 and XP, to link that to a root certificate that identifies your computer, users on it, and files you have downloaded.

    Napster will be still able to download large amounts of audio files if this strategy is going where I've taken it. However, they will not be file you can play. You will have to use the Passport infrastructure to pay for these files to listen to them. Integrating Hailstorm and .NET will allow Napster to still have file sharing, but adds complete authentication services that the RIAA likes (note that I did not say couldn't be broken. I'd be stupid to think anything is uncrackable), and adds micropayments through Microsoft Billing Services.

    eBay is switching to the model too, which scares me in that many popular sites seem to be more than willing to cede control of user authentication to a central authority that I would never trust with my personal information. Yahoo does the same thing, but they don't associate a user with a machine, hardware, registered software products, or personal information to the level that Microsoft does.

    Napster joining with Microsoft is a BAD thing. It's one more step for Passport/.NET/HailStorm before they end up controlling a large portion of the sites on the net through their services. That, and it would make Napster pay, which would only make Lars happy :).

  • Someone says, "Secondly, Microsoft integrated a complete Digital Rights Management system into IE 5.0 and above, with respective authentication in Windows 2000/XP, and a patch for Windows 98/Me. If you don't believe me and have IE, go to Tools, Internet Options, Content Tab, Certificates, and click on the Advanced Button on that tab. When you look at Intended Purpose, you will see Digital Rights as a certificate option (among many other things)."

    I have a very old IE 5 (v5.00.2314.1003, from a CD M$ handed out in early 1999), and while it has the Certificates stuff, it does *not* have any "Digital Rights" option. Thanks for yet another good reason NOT to update this beast (which I never let go out in public anyway, since it can't be trusted).

  • Repeat after me: Copyright is a stupid law.
  • Maybe its not as fake as you think. Swapster Development [gogeek.org]

  • *snort* you're uncle's name is ... *chuckle* ... Yablonski???

    This is all I have to say [eventsounds.com]
    --------
    "Counting in octal is just like counting in decimal--if you don't use your thumbs."
  • MojoNation [mojonation.com] has the right idea by using the laws of supply and demand. You spend Mojo (which might one day have an exchange rate for real money) to download files, and gain it for serving the files, processing searches, etc. If you serve files from your site which people want, you get more Mojo from the downloads.

    They've even considered a method of paying the artists/creators/whatever of the files within MojoNation.

    Unfortunately, MojoNation is about as useful as Freenet in its current form (which isn't saying much at all). Making a usable file sharing system out of it is a long way off, and even further off is getting the Mojo economy to work.
    --

  • I disagree on the really obscure genre's part.
    I've had great trouble finding such songs on Napster.
  • So you're saying it would run BSD?
  • Nah. It's most likely the filtering, which reduces the appeal to those interested in downloading popular copyrighted songs (those popular enough to be noticed and blocked, that is; with high probability they've been collecting statistical data on searches).

    They may also have some false positives slightly reducing traffic. *shrug*
  • Microsoft: Hi, honey.
    Mrs. Microsoft: Don't Hi Honey, me! Where were you yesterday?
    Microsoft: Yesterday? Nowhere!
    Mrs. Microsoft: Don't lie to me! You were with Napster.
    Microsoft: I swear, we didn't do anything!
    Mrs. Microsoft: Oh, just like you didn't to anything with Corel?! Don't talk to me. I don't even know who you are anymore. I want a divorce.


    --
  • Maybe all those bemused investors? Just a thought
  • ...if Napster didn't already allow the sharing of WMAs.
    Better luck next time.
  • I don't know who's more greedy? Microsoft or the RIAA... its sort of a toss-up, I think. I doubt that the RIAA would begin mass distributing their beloved IP on a format that they do not have exculsive control over. For Windows Media, Microsoft is holding all the keys. I'm sure that the RIAA would rather have it so that THEY were holding them.

    I see where Microsoft's plan is... and its just like IE. They give away the Windows Media tools (recording and playback) but they will only run on Windows (more specifically, Windows XP). Side note: did Microsoft ever release a *NIX version of IE? They had announced on for Solaris a while ago...
  • are all available for free

    Gee, is that speech or beer? Read this maze of twisty license agreements [microsoft.com], all alike.

    Oh, wait, did you research this? No? Okay, I'll paste it in for you:

    1. Application developers can incorporate the Encoder functionality into their applications by downloading the Windows Media Encoder SDK components and incorporating them into their applications. By accepting the terms in the Encoder SDK End-User License Agreement (EULA), developers have the right to redistribute these components. See the Encoder 7 SDK page page for information on how to download the SDK.

    2.Service providers, content producers, print publications, and others who wish to distribute the Windows Media Encoder 7 end-user application from their Web sites or on a CD-ROM should obtain the Windows Media Encoder Licensing Agreement.

    Any guesses in what's that EULA? (Hint: if there is a EULA at all, you can't do what you want with it.)

    So what happens if WMA completely replaces MP3, and you try to make your own WMA hardware/sofware that MS doesn't like? Answer: squashed like grape [imdb.com].

  • most appropriate...for a change.
  • Oh no, now I'll have to worry about Microsoft-developed security on my MP3s downloaded from Napster servers? Whatever shall I do?

    Please. Talk about a day late and a dollar short...


    Zaphod B
  • by niekze (96793) on Monday May 07, 2001 @09:44AM (#240094) Homepage
    I bet Microsoft is giving them advice.

    Microsoft: "...and that's how we stole the idea for a GUI."

    Napster: "Kinda like we let people steal music?"

    Microsoft: "Sure. Now you should introduce some nasty bugs in your software, then charge $50 or more for an official upgrade."

    Napster: "But our software is free??!?"

    Microsoft: "Then just change your servers and make them break older versions."

    Napster: "damn. That's genius."

    Microsoft: "yea, wait till we see how we steal your software and 'invent' file sharing in Windows XP."

  • The SEC or Department of Justice should go after the RIAA for abusing their monopoly powers, but the artists should still be allowed to sign whatever contracts they want.
  • While Napster may have made MP3s popular, you heve to remember that they didn't create the format, they ust use it. Microsoft couldn't buy the MP3 format from Napster because they never really owned it.
    =\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\= \=\=\
  • I thought I read in the FAW for the new verion of napster that is already shares WMAs. I'm not sure though.
    =\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\= \=\=\=\=\
  • I don't think 99% of the people using napster care what format the music comes in. I doubt most even KNOW what format it comes it. They ust want to find a song, click on it, and have it play. This can be done jsut as easly with WMA as MP3. I predict that maby 5% of the people using napster would even notice the change.
    =\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\= \=\=\=\=\
  • by Kagato (116051) on Monday May 07, 2001 @09:18AM (#240099)
    No, not the Napster Microsoft story it self, Timmy's comments showing he took the time and energy to read and analyize the story that was submitted.
  • aughgh! You were so close, but the i was just too tempting, wasn't it?

    -Erik
  • Why should we take away the artist's right to sign over the rights to his works? It's not like a creator is forced to sign a record deal. The means exist for self distribution already.
  • I agree for most artists it probably makes sense to sign with a label, but they aren't forced to.

    The original poster said we should not allow artists to sign with a label at all. This is what I disagreed with. Nobody forces an artist to sign a contract. They sign contracts because they think they will help their careers. To say that an artist can't sign a contract is absurd. Why should the government have the right to tell me who I can sign agreements with?
  • Why shouldn't an artist be able to sign all rights to their works over to another party? I'm not sure I understand what part of the constitution says the government can make a law that prevents me from signing all rights to my work to anyone else I choose.
  • Actually, the story specifically says that Microsoft has rejected buying Napster,

    When they say "Equity position" what they really mean is "We're going to put a minority of 900 pound apes on your board of directors, and if you don't do what we want, they will sit on you."
  • I used to do this with bmp/jpg/etc. Take any program that can convert between lossy and non-lossy formats. Take an interesting picture - the best one I tried was off some BBS, picture of topless well-endowed girl. cycle between all the formats. The lossy ones tend to enhance contrast. Take result and wallpaper. The end result is very Andy Warhol... in one case I had it up at a job for months, and people commented how pretty it was. However, if one were to mention the original picture, one could not help but see it... kinda like not thinking about elephants...
  • So what are we going to see? A "Napster - Only on Windows XP" ad on TV?

    This is potentially bad for any non-microsoft OS user (be it Linux, Mac, Be, whatever)
  • by mszeto (133525) <mszeto AT scompton DOT ca> on Monday May 07, 2001 @09:15AM (#240110)
    Microsoft has a history of using their money to buy into markets. If they wanted to try to compete with the large labels in any way, this would be it.

    Can you imagine U2's next album on the Microsoft label? Yikes!
    The question is, which is worst? The current labels or Microsoft?

    Too bad they're not doing it - it would be a very interesting battle.
  • Papers use that all the time. The very fact that they deny it makes it all that much more plausable. right?

    DanH
    Cav Pilot's Reference Page [cavalrypilot.com]
  • by AntiNorm (155641) on Monday May 07, 2001 @10:18AM (#240117)
    Maybe they wish to buy it an either rewrite things to share WMAs

    Napster already supports WMA trading.

    ---
    Am I the only Slashdotter who is sick and tired of losing 9000 karma points every time they moderate?
  • by Amon CMB (157028) on Monday May 07, 2001 @09:24AM (#240118)
    MS: "All your MP3s are belong to us."

    RIAA: "No, all your MP3s are belong to us."

    MS: "NO!! All your MP3s are belong to us!!"

    RIAA: "All your MP3s are copyright to us!!"

    MS: "YOU are belong to us. How much?"

    RIAA: "One legal threat and a dozen long drawn-out court battles!"

    MS: "You are on the path to bankruptcy. You have no chance to survive make your time."

    (Meanwhile Linux users watch the ongoing battle of the titans, consuming lots of popcorn and soda and cheering with joy.)

  • by siphonophore (158996) on Monday May 07, 2001 @09:16AM (#240120)
    There will no doubt be ways--simple and easily accessible--around it. Microsoft and Napster can talk all they'd like and come up with as good sounding solutions as they wamt, but it would all just be lip service to an enraged RIAA. The upside may be that it would remove free music from the common websurfer, thus appeasing the industry and once again giving us geeks more power than the masses
  • And to make that joke even funnier...

    Check the Nightcap discography [discographynet.com] from the real Jethro Tull.

    He was trolling way back in 1973. :)

  • by Ayatollah (172519) on Monday May 07, 2001 @09:22AM (#240123) Homepage
    From the article:
    MP3 music file downloads on the Napster service dropped 36 percent in April compared to March, according to Internet research firm Webnoize.

    If the economy is going down the crapper, wouldn't the use of free services go up? Or maybe people stopped using Napster once they cancelled their DSL subscription, because the economy is going down the crapper.


    .

  • You can share WMA's currently through Napster. It has the technology to play it now as well (as does WinAmp).
  • Except ((Your Current Ideal Version of Napster)!Exist)
  • They don't associate a user with a machine, hardware, registered software products, or personal information to the level that Microsoft does.

    Where did you get this information? My docs on .NET say nothing of the sort (that they'll go to that level of data mining).

  • All I can say is subjective, subjective, subjective.
  • But all of your "objective truths" come from subjective news brought about by third parties and the makers of the movie "Pirates of Silicon Valley". Have you ever dealt with the corporation directly? I don't mean buying their products -- I mean going to work for them or doing business with them on a grand scale?

    Or, like most people, are you simply making subjective statements based off news *you heard a certain way* during the trial proceedings? News corporations taint stories the way they feel like it -- that much is known.

    I'm not saying Timothy McVeigh is ethical, but I don't think we as a society have a right to judge from the information we're given. Same with Microsoft.

  • Don't you think you're putting a little too much emphasis on Microsoft being "evil"?

    Hitler was evil. Saddam Hussein (to an extent) was evil. Microsoft is a company. They may carry out practices you don't APPROVE OF, but evil is a completely different assumption.

    If competitiveness and striving to take out your competitor is evil, you may as well throw in Sun, Oracle, and *gasp* the legions who follow Linux.

  • 1) the Register had this [theregister.co.uk] on Friday 04/05/2001 at 16:03 GMT - which works out to be 9am in LA, I think.

    I am sure folks submitted it before the weekend.

    So what gives, is it news or not? Especially since MS rejected the plan. As the story said:

    Microsoft was said to be uninterested in such a deal, which isn't entirely surprising - acquiring Napster would bring Microsoft a valuable brand name, but one that wouldn't exactly endear it to the music industry. Far better to use Napster to promote its technology. If it works, and Napster's reputation is restored, Microsoft can buy the company then. If Napster dies the death - either because its fans reject the subscription service or the recording industry kills it - Microsoft can shrug its shoulders and say it was only a technology provider.

    This is news? Look at the surprise on my face.

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [eplugz.com] comic strip

  • ... masterminded by Microsoft! They get the RIAA to sue Napster and force them to protect the copyrights of the songs traded on their service. When the RIAA wins and Napster can't cope, they turn to Microsoft and strike a deal to use Microsoft's anti-piracy technology. Coincidence? No, conspiracy.


    Abstainer: a weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.
  • by sulli (195030) on Monday May 07, 2001 @11:00AM (#240139) Journal
    Hey, did you see the bit about Microsoft's DRM on their site [microsoft.com]?

    Advantages for Consumers
    Digital distribution offers consumers a convenient way to access their favorite content at any time. Consumers will also be able to access higher quality media on the Internet because content providers using DRM will be more willing to make such content widely available. Also, the DRM licensing scheme protects consumers from inadvertently pirating a file: Consumers can be confident that the media they receive is authentic material, and they have acquired it in a legitimate manner.

    Of course, this should read:

    Advantages for Consumers
    None.

  • by sulli (195030) on Monday May 07, 2001 @09:18AM (#240140) Journal
    The article I read talked about M$' "rights management" doing crap like limiting playing of tunes and so on. You can be sure that no Napster user will move to this. User hostile and useless in the extreme!

    Yes, they will probably try to foist .wma's on the user base. No, they won't succeed, I don't think.

    Repeat after me: flat rate, unlimited MP3 sharing or NOTHING. The model is ASCAP: royalties are apportioned by share of downloads.

    (!MP3 || !unlimited || !flatrate) == !Napster.

  • Talk about beating a dead horse... I seriously doubt MS can screw napster more than RIAA has already done, time to go looking for alternatives. For a start, try OpenNap - gnutella would be nice without all the pr0n, but hey.
  • gnutella would be nice without all the pr0n, but hey.

    You're joking, right?

  • ...but none have the simplicity of Napster

    Actually I have found that a new file sharing protocol Morpheus [musiccity.com]is a MUCH improved version of Gnutella that boasts all of the simplicity of Napster and actually performs pretty decently. If I were a betting guy, and luckily I am, I would venture to say that this is the future of P2P -- at least for the time being. (That is, until freenet becomes as user-friendly as napster)...

  • Have you tried audiogalaxy.com [audiogalaxy.com]? I've found a bunch of stuff there I could never find on Napster, OpenNap and otherwise.

    "// this is the most hacked, evil, bastardized thing I've ever seen. kjb"

  • Let Microsoft take napster. It will take attention away from the real way to get free music. OpenNAP and the new WinMX Peer Redirect. Microsoft coming into play is just going to keep the RIAA from noticing the underground. It's really silly actually. It will be impossible for them to stop every FTP server, every usenet group that has file attachments, hotline, e-mail, ICQ, IRC. Let the stupid napster take all the damage for breaking the archaic copyright laws. They'll never be able to arrest every single person with an mp3 on their computer. If napster goes out of business then we'll return to the nice cozy underground of the net where the warez, gamez, appz, ISOz, and the DivX ;-) movies are. That's where they belong.

    What I'm trying to say is that you can't set up a company to help distribute "copyrighted" material on the internet. It has to remain a peer to peer undergound thing. That way there is no target. The model for something like Hotline or WinMX can never be destroyed. Who cares if they attack hotline software? There are numerous other open source clients. Who cares if they take down trackers? We can put up new ones / static IPs.
  • I agree. There will be MP3s. They will be shared. If a service can be useful and cost-effective, people might be willing to pay a flat rate.

    I have no plan whatsoever to buy any hardware, software, or media that is not MP3-friendly.

    Nothing will stop these people from adding encryption to restrict "fair use", but nothing is going to make me buy their product, either.

    I propose a law that requires all encrypted CDs to be made on biodegradable media. Since the unsold products are going to be competing with DIVX discs for landfill space, we might as well be proactive.

  • by cp4 (250029)
    Maybe they'll try to get Napster to switch from .mp3 to .wma's. Force the user to use their format is always a great strategy.
  • by geomcbay (263540) on Monday May 07, 2001 @10:59AM (#240157)
    While I agree with the main point of your post, don't underestimate the power of the masses.

    Sure, there are plenty of geek-friendly Napster alternatives for getting MP3s, but the sheer number of folks that were using Napster pre-lawsuits meant you could pretty much find ANY song you wanted, right when you wanted it, even in really obscure genres. While geeks will still have the tools to fileshare, the extremely reduced number of participants means far less choice in terms of finding what you want exactly when you want it.

    The number of users was the true power of napster...And unfortunately, any service that manages to hit that number of users in the future will have the media companies coming down on them like a ton of bricks...Advanced systems like Freenet can (somewhat) avoid the law using technology, but will they ever be simple enough to use that they gain the type of numbers that make the service really useful? Time will tell.

  • Whilst driving in my car, I had the following thought: Napster users get files from file sharing, not from other sources. And thus, they all have the same digital copy of the same song. You can see this effect any time you do a napster search for something common; say, bob dylan. Notice that 80% of the files will have the same bitrate, file size and title, and another 10% will be interrupted downloads of the above. Now, since all mp3 encoders are different and have a different approach to compression, even compressing the same track at the same rate on different encoders will produce different effects. This means that all those users had the same source, a sort of digital music analogy of mitochondrial Eve. If that first file is cooked or truncated or a special version, all users will hve those cooks or truncations.

    So what does this mean? Well, if digital protection stops 95% of users from copying an mp3, it won't matter a pair od fetid dingo's kidneys to the music theft scene. One lucky champ will manage to get a decent sounding version somehow, and then everybody will trade that. In this scenario, copy prot only serves to slow down the trade of cds among friends, which most of the industry agrees should be encouraged (or at least not discouraged).

    To Recap: Napster users aren't particularly picky and all tend to grab the first example of a track they find. Digital protection will serve only to alienate the end user, making him or her more reliant on Napster and less able to deal with his or her own music. Result: more Napster usage, further development of the music release scene and less money for the music industry (namely, the money spent on the copy protection infrastructure).

    The only solution is freedom...I'm whistling "unforgiven" right now...
  • You seem to be missing the point. The reason MS is in talks with Napster is that they're trying to sell their "secure" media format to "protect" artists' works. No matter what the format of the original is, your Napster client will always save it as a "secured" wma/mp3 etc. I'm not sure if that will involve transcoding from MP3->WMA, but it probably won't. The client will simply place a Windows Media secure wrapper around the file, guaranteeing that only your copy of WMP will play it.

    It will have the ancillary effect of requiring more people to use WMP, but more importantly it will get MS in good with the RIAA people and convince them that WMP is the answer to all of their copy-protection questions (right now they're less than sure of it.)

  • This statement is blatently false. Did you even try to do any research? Perhaps you are thinking of Real? Microsoft's player, encoder, and DRM tools are all available for free.

    Yes, but if you were a record label or a software company and wanted to use these products in a serious commercial operation, you would get the "professional" tools and pay MS accordingly. MS makes their tools available to users like you and me, so we can all play with them and say things like "hey, MS is cool cause they give away free stuff".

    They're certainly not investing millions promoting their system to the record companies in order to give it to them free. They're willing to make things free to end users for a while, in hopes of creating a user base.

  • by dachshund (300733) on Monday May 07, 2001 @10:20AM (#240165)
    WMA was their answer, which, granted, provided better sound for the bandwidth cost.

    MP3s wasn't really optimized for use as a low-bandwidth format. They sound decent somewhere from 128-256K, and that's about it. Fortuitously, this is exactly the level that most people are interested in. Once you're passing about multi-megabyte files, you're willing to trade some bandwidth for a common, widely implemented standard. The people who were already in the (arguably of passing importance) low-bandwidth space, RealAudio, weren't any better than MS as far as proprietary technology goes, so who really cares if MS shuts them out (well...)

    What made MP3 popular is its availability. MP3 proved that as long as one decent codec is a standard and is freely available as code, it will proliferate and become popular. I think MS building an alternative into their OS will not change things too much, especially if it's a restrictive alternative.

  • by r_j_prahad (309298) <r_j_prahad&hotmail,com> on Monday May 07, 2001 @10:04AM (#240166)
    From a headline in the L.A. Times Business section today: "Microsoft May Supply Security for Napster".

    In other news, "Farmers to use Foxes to guard Henhouses."

  • >screw microsoft, screw the RIAA - napster should >just sell itself to anyone outside north america >and then there is nothing that could be done> I hate to break it to ya, but there's plenty that could be done. First off, since Napster does business in the USA, it can be sued in US courts. So they would have to physically move everything. Second, Napster is probably a violation of the copyright laws in most of the civilized world, (and don't start with China. They need the US to dump their exports, so it's the same) so Napster would have to move to a country without the financial or military resources to take on the United States, which would be a far worse scenario than being sued by the RIAA. The RIAA could just lobby Congress and George W. Bush (since they own his soul anyway) to threaten sanctions or invaision of the country is small or Caribbean enough. There goes Napster. >after all, the creator of napster was never in >it for the money.> Um, have you read any of the emails uncovered at the trial? He may not have been in it for the money when he started, but later he certainly came around to that point of view.

  • by JiffyPop (318506) on Monday May 07, 2001 @09:33AM (#240169)
    (not a troll or a conspiracy theory -- just an observation)

    Jethro


    That's too bad. If you were then you'd be "Jethro Troll"...

    *ignoring groans from audience*

  • Yes, but if you were a record label or a software company and wanted to use these products in a serious commercial operation, you would get the "professional" tools and pay MS accordingly.

    Which professional tools are these? I've worked with WMA for some time now, and I'd be very surprised if you could find any tools that Microsoft makes for WMA encoding, manipulation or encryption that you can pay for. Some software companies like sonic foundry and adobe have included windows media support in their commercial software... but not with any licensing that goes back to Microsoft.

    For those who are still confused, Windows Media is a platform play. They don't charge for the software components, but they do get two advantages. First is that most of their software only runs on Microsoft OS's, encouraging the use of windows 2000 among content creators and servers that might have otherwise been on macs and linux. Second is the control of the player. If Windows Media were to really take off, WM Player has the ability to be like Office is now. It currently works on Windows/Mac/Solaris, but would provide a powerful stick to co-opt new OS's or keep control over existing platforms.

  • This necessitates custom-built tools, and possibly a license (why is MS in talks with Napster about free software, anyway?)

    Microsoft would offer napster cash and/or marketing assistance to use windows media.

    Secondly, if MS does make Windows Media Rights Management the de facto standard for DRM, there's nothing to stop them from changing their business model, and requiring content providers to pay for different levels of protection.

    While this is true, I would point out that they still don't charge for internet explorer.

  • by sleeper0 (319432) on Monday May 07, 2001 @09:19AM (#240172)
    Since the fall, napster has had acquisition talks with just about everybody who stayed still long enough. It would indeed be much more illuminating to list companies which companies HADN'T been hit up to keep napster alive.

    Napster just isn't an attractive property. With a deal price with 8 zeros after it, not to mention the potential of huge civil liabilities, no one is opening their checkbook. No surprise there.

    This is actually interesting for two reasons: First, is napster persuing an approach where they seed all the content? It's certainly possible, as even if they included a WMA encoder and ripper in the package, one would assume that napster themselves would have to receive the file afterwards to encrypt it with microsoft's DRM tools, as I doubt they'd want to have the consumers generate the private keys for each encryption. Easier to just provide the files in the first place. But at that point, you have nothing more than a slow, complicated website that sells music on the back of my own bandwidth. I'm sure I feel like a lot of the rest of you: No Thanks, Napster.

    Also interesting from the leak is that Napster is still shopping for technology for it's secure launch. I don't know about you, but when my "Summer launch" project is still selecting core technology in may, I'm not thinking about a summer launch anymore.

    And while someone may point out that they could just be incorporating WMA playback into the engine... The windows media SDK's all have easy licensing terms and are downloadable over the Internet. No power meetings required.

  • by sleeper0 (319432) on Monday May 07, 2001 @09:28AM (#240173)
    Microsoft charges money, lots of it, for tools that encrypt audio and video into the Windows Media format.

    This statement is blatently false. Did you even try to do any research? Perhaps you are thinking of Real? Microsoft's player, encoder, and DRM tools are all available for free. Almost everything can be instantly downloaded over the internet.

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsmedia/ [microsoft.com]

  • by Snar Bloot (324250) on Monday May 07, 2001 @09:04AM (#240174)
    If nothing else, maybe Microsoft could help Napster drag the whole thing out for a few years.
  • by Guppy06 (410832) on Monday May 07, 2001 @09:20AM (#240175)
    Such a merger would mean that Microsoft's software will have a little demon for a logo. How fitting...
  • I filed an update to this story late Friday that didn't get picked up by CNN. Napster confirmed talks with Microsoft, without giving details about what they were talking about, except to say that if a Microsoft buyout was ever on the table, it ain't now. Microsoft talked at length about the virtues of Windows Audio for protecting copyright, but denied comment specifically about talks with Napster. Is this news? I say it's one more piece in the puzzle, if nothing else. I can be reached at george_chidi@(munge)idg.com.

An inclined plane is a slope up. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

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