From: Adam Rifkin (Adam@KnowNow.Com)
Date: Fri Sep 15 2000 - 05:02:24 PDT
Wow, just in time for Intel's p2p hypefest on September 26...
File-swapping Aimster to tap into ICQ, Napster
By John Borland
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
September 14, 2000, 12:35 p.m. PT
Aimster, the Napster-like program that taps into America Online's Instant
Messenger software to create file-swapping buddy lists, is expanding its
file-searching capabilities to support ICQ and to search Napster and Scour
The new release will dramatically expand the potential audience for the
file-trading program, which the company says has already been downloaded
more than 1 million times. ICQ, also owned by AOL, has had more than 73
The Aimster software lets people create limited, trusted groups of
"buddies" with whom they can swap music and other files in much the same
way that Napster's tens of thousands of members typically trade
anonymously. The software can import the buddy lists produced by AOL
Instant Messenger (AIM), creating its own buddy lists from those groups of
people. The new version will also be able to read ICQ's buddy lists.
The Aimster software differs from other instant messaging programs that
have attempted to work with AOL's services because it doesn't try to
connect its members to AOL's central computers. Companies including
Microsoft, iCast and Tribal Voice are lobbying federal regulators to force
AOL to open its proprietary system and allow people on any instant
messaging system to talk to each other across the boundaries of the
AOL has blocked most other companies' software from communicating directly
with its own. It doesn't have the power to do that with Aimster because all
file trading and chat happens within Aimster's own networks. But the
company says it is taking a hard look at the software.
"We are aware of the technology, and are looking into it," said AOL
spokesman Andrew Weinstein.
The Aimster software is the latest innovation in file swapping, which is
moving ahead even as the corporate world and the courts seek to rein it in.
The software is based on Gnutella technology--which itself was developed at
AOL-owned Nullsoft before the project was shut down at AOL's behest.
The software acts as a combined file-swapping and chat program, much like
Napster itself. But it allows a computer to be searched only by people who
are included in a selected buddy list instead of opening a hard drive to
the world--as do most of today's file-swapping services.
Like Gnutella, the software can be used to trade any kind of file. Aimster
has focused initially on music swapping because of the amount of attention
it has received worldwide, but the company also means for the software to
be used for such activities as collaborative research projects, said
Aimster spokesman John Deep.
The initial release of the Aimster software also allowed searches of the
broader Gnutella network. This was a one-way power, however; Aimster users
could search Gnutella, but Gnutella users couldn't search computers running
only Aimster. The company said this option wasn't well received by the
"We pulled that," Deep said. "Our users tend to be mainstream, and they
told us they were confused."
Instead, the company has added the ability to search Scour's network and
the sprawling mass of OpenNap Napster servers, a network of individuals who
run Napster-like directories without being directly affiliated with the
controversial music-swapping start-up.
The company concedes these moves could push it further into the legal
firing line, as both Napster and Scour are being sued by the record
industry for contributing to massive numbers of copyright violations
online. But the company says it hasn't yet had legal problems.
"If it becomes a concern, then we'll try to respond," Deep said. "We're
just an interface. We're not letting people serve (songs or other
copyrighted material) into those networks."
The new version of Aimster that will draw on ICQ buddy lists is expected to
be released at the end of next week, Deep said. The company will also look
at adding support for other messaging programs such as Microsoft's MSN
Third Generation: Peer to Peer Computing... Could Amazon.com be an itinerant horde instead of a fixed Central Command Post? Yes. P2P: From zero to fifty COMPANIES in under a year, [representing] dozens of ideas, [with] hundreds of thousands of participants now! Peer-to-peer computing is leading us into the third generation of the internet! -- Bob Knighten, Intel Developer's Forum, August 24 2000, http://www.peer-to-peerwg.org/
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