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Napster looks to audio fingerprints to monitor MP3 shares

Licenses Relatable music analysis code

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Napster has licensed audio software specialist Relatable's audio analysis technology, called TRM, in a bid to control which music tracks are shared on its network.

Relatable's code creates a unique fingerprint based on a track's acoustics. The fingerprint is the same no matter how high or low the quality of digital encoding used to record the track, Relatable claims. It is also works irrespective of the digital audio format used.

The upshot is that Napster will be able to match tracks to fingerprints, and thus block a given song whatever its filename.

To date, the MP3 sharing company hasn't fared too well at blocking all the songs US District Court Judge Marilyn Patel ordered it to. Napster was ordered to block 135,000 songs, and while it recently claimed to have blocked 275,000 songs hidden behind around six million filenames, the company was still recently censured by Judge Patel for not having worked hard enough to comply with her order.

Napster hopes Relatable's technology will help, but building up a fingerprint database and merging it with its filtering system will take time. The time taken will be worth it, however, since TRM will ultimately be used to monitor which songs are shared. That data can be used to calculate royalties, paid for by the user subscriptions the company is expected to introduce in the summer. ®

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