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Fanning is visiting record company execs, seeking backers for a new technology that would let file-sharing networks operate without copyright infringement.

LOOK WHO’S BACK… JUST IN TIME FOR NEW DIGITAL THREAT

Napster’s Shawn Fanning Returns with New Copyright-Friendly Technology as Earthstation 5 Claims RIAA Threat

The man who created Napster has returned… just in time to save the world from unprotected file-sharing.

The L.A. Times reports Shawn Fanning, who founded the groundbreaking P2P service, is visiting record company execs, seeking backers for a new technology that would let file-sharing networks operate without copyright infringement.

And not a moment too soon, as Palestine-based Earthstation 5, which promises file-sharers anonymity from potential prosecution, issues ominous warnings that the RIAA is trying to discredit it.

The latest missive from the Jenin, West Bank company’s President Ras Kabir, claims the RIAA "appears to be scared out of their minds," adding: "They have hired numerous individuals to try and persuade users not to use Earthstation 5 by claiming [we] are run by the RIAA."

Where’s the Iraqi Minister of Information when we need him?

Meanwhile, Fanning has been consulting new Napster owner Roxio on its own transition into a paid service built around the label-supported Pressplay subscription service the company recently acquired from UMG and Sony.

Fanning has told labels his development, which involves audio fingerprinting to identify every song being offered by users on a file-sharing network, would prevent any copyrighted material from being distributed. Fanning is hoping to enlist the major P2P companies, like Kazaa, Morpheus and Grokster, to sign on as well.

Good luck. There are a number of problems with the plan, not least of which the proliferation of illegal file-sharing services, like Earthstation 5, that keep cropping up like weeds.

Other issues include the controversy over identifying the rights-holders for each individual song and the question of who owns the digital rights for live recordings, a promising new source of revenue for labels and artists.

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