Napster to add fingerprinting to filters

The music file-swapping service is working with digital media company Loudeye Technologies to bolster its efforts to filter copyrighted material.

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As it moves toward a subscription-based model, Napster on Thursday said it is working with digital media company Loudeye Technologies to support its efforts to filter copyrighted material from its popular music file-swapping service.

Under the multiyear agreement, Loudeye intends to provide Napster's upcoming membership service with so-called digital fingerprints for a music listing of some 2 million titles. The service will combine a catalog of songs along with new releases, in connection with Napster's licensing deals with major labels such as EMI Recorded Music, AOL Time Warner and Bertelsmann's BMG Entertainment, along with independent labels.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Digital-fingerprinting technology identifies songs by using the wavelength patterns produced by their sounds, and it could help companies such as Napster keep track of files being downloaded. Along with the descriptive technology licensed from Loudeye, the digital fingerprints will allow Napster to verify the identity of files shared on its network, the companies said.

The deal follows Napster's latest effort to fulfill its commitment to compensate artists, music publishers and record companies after a U.S. court ordered it to halt swaps of copyrighted material.

Earlier this week, the company struck a distribution deal with MusicNet, the music subscription service jointly created by streaming-media provider RealNetworks and major record labels Warner Music, BMG and EMI. The pact with MusicNet will eventually give Napster access to more than half of the most popular, mainstream music titles.

Napster is also using software from Gracenote to help it find and block songs from being traded online. Gracenote maintains a massive database identifying recorded music, which Napster can use to find variations of songs that are slipping through its filters.

Napster said it has already received fingerprints from Loudeye and is working to implement fingerprint-based filtering. The companies are working to add fingerprints for newly released songs week by week.