Napster to use CDDB for filtering

Music file-sharing service Napster Inc. announced Tuesday that it will use technology from Gracenote Inc., formerly CDDB, to filter certain copyrighted songs from its service, to comply with last week's federal court injunction. Under U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Hall Patel's ruling, Napster must block songs from being traded on its service within three days of the copyright holder giving Napster the title, artist and file name of the song to be blocked, as well as proof of copyright ownership. Napster confirmed Tuesday that it filed documents with the court Monday intended to show that it is complying with the ruling.

After receiving such notices from copyright holders, Napster will use Gracenote's CDDB Music Recognition Service to help identify variations of the file names of the songs, which may have been changed by Napster users attempting to bypass the filter.

The announcement perhaps begs the question of why Gracenote would want to get tangled up in Napster's corner?

"We're big fans of Napster," David Hyman, Gracenote's president said. "Once we heard they were in trouble and they needed help, we called them up." Hyman added that he has been friends with Napster founder Shawn Fanning since November.

Gracenote's technology will be implemented into Napster's filtering system within the next couple of days, he said.

Gracenote's database holds 140,000 variations on 250,000 different artist names, and about 3 million variations on 9 million different pairings of artists and song titles, Hyman said. For example, Hyman said Gracenote's database has more than 50 different variations for the band "N Sync," including "N*Sync" and "N-Sync." The most popular artists have the most name variations.

"Basically, they send us the title and the artist, and we send them back the variants," Hyman said of how the system works.

"The deal is basically a no-brainer," said Malcolm Maclachlan, an electronic media analyst with International Data Corp. (IDC) "Basically, what Napster has to do is prove they're operating in good faith."

The agreement with Gracenote should go a long way to help deal with the file name variants, Maclachlan said. "They do a lot of the standard misspellings, which will free up Napster's people to do their own work."

The announcement could allay some concerns voiced by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), since variants on file names were one of the sticking points in the court case against Napster. Some users, however, have taken to disguising file names using Pig Latin or codes.

(IDC is a subsidiary of International Data Group Inc., the parent company of IDG News Service.)Napster, in San Mateo, California, can be reached at +1-650-373-3800 or Gracenote, in Berkeley, California, can be reached at +1-510-849-2332, or on the Web at

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