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Napster downloads rocket

Song filter-induced drop-off reversed

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Napster usage is on the increase again after its post-filter dip, online entertainment market watcher Webnoize has reported.

At its peak, the number of songs downloaded in a month from the MP3 sharing network was around 2.79 billion files, achieved last February. Napster's court-imposed song filtering mechanism was implemented early March and saw the number of downloads fall immediately.

However, download activity appears to be picking up again. According to Webnoize, the last week of March saw 593 million songs grabbed from the network, a 25 per cent increase on the previous week's downloads. That pushed up the total number of downloads for the month to 2.49 billion files were downloaded, a drop of just under 11 per cent on February's figure.

This despite Napster's claim to have blocked over 275,000 songs stored under 1.6 million filenames, roughly six filenames per song. Napster may well have filtered all those filenames out, but clearly plenty of the material is still getting through, thanks no doubt to ingenious anti-filter encoding tools like Aimster's Pig Encoder. Aimster withdrew the encoder from its public servers at the behest of Napster, but there are clearly plenty of copies out there. And it's by no means the only one.

That's going to fuel the Recording Industry Association of America's allegation that Napster isn't doing enough to block the tracks request by the court. Napster countered with the claim that the RIAA's members - and Sony in particular - hadn't provided it with enough information to do so, but that hasn't stopped it forming alliances with music tracking companies Gracenote and NetPD. ®

Related Stories

Napster blocks 275,000 tracks
Napster filter cuts downloads by half
Napster gags Aimster anti-filter app
Canadians target filtered Napster fans for profit
Aimster tells Napster file filter to 'pig off'

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