HITS Daily Double
"Emusic remains open to the possibility of working with Napster to implement a more reasonable approach to solving the problem."
—Gene Hoffman, EMusic President/CEO


Approaching Holiday Makes Us Give Thanks For Smack-Talking CEOs
The hostility encountered over the drumstick at Thanksgiving diner will be a love-fest compared to the hostility between Napster and EMusic, as the music e-tailer tries to stop illegal downloads via the file-swapping service.

EMusic unveiled technology that will fingerprint its music in order to protect its licensed artists and label partners. Its software application will search Napster for illegal tracks, with users alerted when they commit an infringement and given 24 hours to stop distribution.

The announcement brings to a halt months of negotiations between the music services. EMusic and Napster had been working toward a solution, but could not reach a viable agreement. According to EMusic President/CEO Gene Hoffman, the blame is easy to place.

Said Hoffman: "Over the past several months, EMusic has continually offered to work in good faith with Napster on this issue. We have proposed a number of viable solutions, including detailing to Napster a fairly simple technology that would effectively block the unauthorized sharing of our music files without disrupting users' accounts. Napster's unfortunate and inflexible response has been that EMusic's only course of action is to request that offending users' accounts be cut off completely. Although we feel that Napster could easily implement a more consumer-friendly solution, we will begin supplying this information on an ongoing basis.

"Our proposed solution deals with illegal activity only, allowing the exchange of legitimate files. However, Emusic remains open to the possibility of working with Napster to implement a more reasonable approach to solving the problem."

Meanwhile, Napster CEO Hank Barry responded to Hoffman with a statement of his own.

"First, Napster believes that people engaged in person-to-person, noncommercial file sharing are acting entirely within the law. Second, Napster has a strong policy of compliance with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), and that policy goes well beyond the letter of the law. Our process is well known to rights-holders and to our users. Third, we met with EMusic and reviewed the technology they presented.

"We continue to welcome EMusic's suggestions, and we have been meeting with other interested parties as we develop our technology. Having reviewed the technology EMusic presented last week, we do not believe that their approach was consistent with the DMCA, and it is not technologically feasible. It appears that EMusic's announcement today is different than what they have proposed to us previously. We will be reviewing EMusic's interaction with the Napster system to determine whether it is consistent with Napster's privacy policy."

Relations were not always strained between the Netcos. Just this summer, Emusic and Napster were discussing possible joint ventures (hitsdailydouble.com 8/1). Now, it seems not even pumpkin pie can stop their squabbling. Geez, can't we all just get along?