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NULLSOFT GOES FLACCID
AOL Subsidiary Pulls Plug
On Napster-Mimicking Software
March 16, 2000

Today we witnessed the birth of a new hyphenate: "Napster-type." That’s the term employed to describe Gnutella, a new music-copying program that was being tested by America Online-owned Nullsoft. The Sedona, AZ-based company, which developed WinAmp and oversees AOL’s Spinner streaming player, was forced to curtail testing yesterday after a post on Slashdot.org revealed the test site’s URL.

Here’s the post that caused all the trouble, from someone going by the cyber name Hemos:

"Luminescent writes ‘Nullsoft, in their new company, "Gnullsoft", (sic) just released an open source Napster clone. It does mp3s, movies, and any other format you could want.’ More details: Gnutella is currently at version .48. Presently, they are finishing the version on-hand and will be doing a release at 1, along with the source, which is *not* currently availible. In addition to releasing the source at version 1, they will be releasing the client for other OSes. Presently, it's a Windows-only thing. Despite all of these drawbacks, this is an interesting move from WinAmp->Netscape->AOL->Time-Warner. Or whatever they are today."

Don’t you love the way these geeks communicate with each other?

Gnutella was being designed to mimic Napster’s wide-open MP3 file-sharing software, invented by 19-year-old technogeek cum Net titan Shawn Fanning. On the face of it, the notion of AOL utilizing software that would allow users to freely swap files among themselves seems rather odd considering the recent RIAA suit against Napster but also AOL’s acquisition of Time Warner and its content. It’s unlikely they were planning to give the content away.

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