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"We will sign up with Napster if there is a copyright-protected system—at the moment, there isn’t."
——Gerald Levin, CEO, AOLTW

AOL TIME WARNER EXECS PONDER
NAPSTER: MAYBE, MAYBE NOT

Spinning Scenarios Suggest Softening…Or Posturing?
Even while it appears down for the count, Napster speculation hasn't thrown in the towel.

The legally embattled netco was on the lips of AOL Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin, who told the BBC, "We will sign up with Napster if there is a copyright-protected system—at the moment, there isn't."

On this side of the pond, Time Inc. Editorial Director Walter Isaacson, discussing e-commerce at the WorldCom Comedy Technology Summit ("Putting the WorldCom Back In Comedy") in Aspen, predicted that micropayments were the way of the future in e-commerce. Wake up, we're not at the good part yet.  Micropayments are a "pay-per-view" way of collecting small amounts of money, that are cost prohibitive to charge on a credit card. For example, 20 cents to view an archived story on hitsdailydouble.com. Isaacson claimed that whoever "conquers micropayments will rule commerce on the web. I think it comes in a year." Adding, "I think that's also in some ways a solution to Napster."

Add to this recent comments from Vivendi Universal's Jean-Marie Messier (see hitsdailydouble.com, 3/6), and the landscape appears to be getting hazy…although that could be all the glue-sniffing. Namely, Messier said Vivendi's criteria for licensing songs to Napster, or any other service like it, was that netcos "must respect copyright," and their "technology must be reasonably secure." And then he dropped this bon mot: "We will license Napster with urgency when those two criteria are met."  Messier had previously announced an online initiative with Sony Music, dubbed "Duet" (see related hitsdailydouble.com story, 2/22).

Could these be signals that pacts between the upcoming, paid-and-secure Napster and the other big companies may be on the horizon or is it merely part of the PR campaign/lobbying effort to keep Congress from getting involved? Imagine if AOL Time Warner and Vivendi Universal hooked up with BMG's Napster. The swapping service would be almost as complete as it was just last week, except it wouldn't be free. Looks like it might be a waste of time learning pig Latin after all.

HITS LIST: AMPERSANDS
Dynamic duos (12/3a)
TAYLOR'S TREMENDOUS YEAR
She'd make one helluva CEO. (12/3a)
THEY CALL THE WINDFALL MARIAH (HOLIDAY EDITION)
Ch-chingle bells (12/3a)
SONG REVENUE:
BOWS OF HOLLY
Adele is money. (12/3a)
UTA MUSIC EXPANDS IN NASHVILLE
Reshuffling the deck (12/3a)
CHESTNUTS
Roasting.
STOCKINGS
Stuffing.
PIPERS
Piping.
SANTA
Coming.
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