[CNET] Aimster nears 1 million users

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From: Adam Rifkin (Adam@KnowNow.Com)
Date: Thu Aug 31 2000 - 23:19:23 PDT

[p2p isn't dead. If anything, Intel's trying to make it hotter than ever... :]


Aimster nears 1 million users
By Reuters, Special to CNET News.com, August 31, 2000, 10:10 p.m. PT

LOS ANGELES--Aimster, a new Napster-like program that piggybacks on America
Online's Instant Messaging service and could be the biggest nightmare to
date for studios trying to stop film and music swapping online, said it has
held initial talks with Intel to forge ties.

"Intel has contacted us and said they thought we had a great thing in this
space. We're hoping to meet with them soon and enter into a strategic
partnership with them," said Johnny Deep, a spokesman for the Troy,
N.Y.-based group of 14 software developers who created the program.

Deep also said that Aimster next week plans to announce that it has
attracted 1 million AOL users less than one month after the program was
launched on Aug. 8, among an estimated 60 million users of the AOL Instant
Messaging system.

Intel had no comment, but last week announced it formed an industry working
group to foster standards and protocols for peer-to-peer (P2P) computing
for use in businesses. It said its venture capital arm was preparing to
invest in P2P start-ups.

"Peer-to-peer computing could be as important to Internet's future as the
Web browser was to its past," Patrick Gelsinger, chief technology officer,
Intel Architecture Group, said at the time.

An alliance between Intel and Aimster would be a significant turning point
for the evolution of file-sharing communities, like Napster and Gnutella,
which have for the most part been reviled and sued by the entertainment
industry for allegedly facilitating copyright infringement.

Intel sees the programs as creating strong demand for greater computing
power that in the long run could bolster sales of personal computers that
run on its microprocessors.

Deep said he would hope to eventually reach a partnership agreement with
AOL, as well. But analysts said AOL may not be entirely receptive and that
Aimster could also wind up in court like other file-sharing services.

"We are aware of the program," said Andrew Weinstein, an AOL spokesman.
"And we are currently looking into it."
Trade groups representing some technology giants filed briefs Monday to a
federal appeals court expressing concerns about an injunction issued last
month by a U.S. District court against song-swap company Napster.

In filing these "friend-of-the-court" briefs, groups like the Computer &
Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which represents technology
giants such as AT&T, Oracle and Yahoo, said the courts need to reinterpret
and revise some of the models for intellectual property protection.

Unlike Napster, which uses central computers known as servers to link
people swapping songs, Aimster and Gnutella require no central computer and
can be used to swap picture and video files as well as MP3 music files.
This decentralized file-sharing method makes it harder to crack down on
potential piracy.

The Aimster service, which attaches a Gnutella browser to AOL's Instant
Messaging service (AIM), puts AOL again in an unusual position with its
soon-to-be merger partner Time Warner.

Time Warner, the world's biggest media company, is among several
entertainment industry giants such as Sony and Bertelsmann that have sued
file-sharing companies like Scour and Napster for copyright infringement.

Earlier this month, AOL had to remove a search engine that locates music
files on its Winamp music player, citing concerns about intellectual
property rights.

And ironically, engineers at AOL's Nullsoft unit were behind the creation
of Gnutella, released onto the Web in March. AOL subsequently shut the Web
site down but copied versions have proliferated as the court cases against
Napster continues.

"The music and movie industries are trying to cut the head off Napster when
underneath what is about to emerge is much nastier. A Gnutella network on
top of AOL makes Napster look like kids' stuff. If you can use the AOL
network to share files, its pretty enormous," said Bruce Forest, director
at Viant, a Boston-based developer of digital business.

He added that more programmers will figure out how to attach file-sharing
technologies to other platforms, extending the impact of such tools to an
ever wider audience.

But, he said leveraging the file-sharing market would create a whole new
revenue stream for content companies.

Deep said Aimster believes it is insulated from lawsuits because it can be
used for many non-infringing purposes.
And, Aimster users share files only with people on AIM "buddy lists," which
gives it a legal advantage over Napster, which lets users download from
anybody else on the service, he said.

Deep said on Tuesday, Aimster released a new version of the program that
could handle up to 10 million users at once and that next month it a still
newer version would be able to handle a nearly unlimited number of users.


STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) - The World Wrestling Federation is proposing a matchup in the ring between the presidential opponents, Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush. The Stamford-based WWF is offering each candidate five minutes to address the 12- to 34-year-old men who make up the majority of the audience of ``Smackdown,'' the Thursday night wrestling program seen in about 5 million homes each week. Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, a former WWF wrestler, has been asked to moderate the discussion. ``We have such a strong presence in that demographic that both parties have indicated are difficult to reach,'' WWFE Chief Executive Officer Linda McMahon said Wednesday. ``We are a public company and this is an opportune time for us to give back, to contribute as good corporate citizens.'' Neither presidential campaign nor Ventura has responded to the offer, said WWF spokesman Gary Davis. Neither campaign returned calls for comment. -- http://my.aol.com/news/story.tmpl?table=n&cat=0107&id=0008310956622791

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