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Napster adds audio fingerprint filter code

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Napster has released an updated version of its MP3 sharing software that incorporates the technology it licensed from Relatable last month.

Relatable's code is capable of working out what song is being shared whatever its filename happens to be. The software extrapolates a unique 'fingerprint' from the song's audio waveform.

The inclusion of Relatable's system is Napster's latest attempt to prevent users sharing songs that the US District Court has ruled the company must remove from its network. The process has proved rather harder than Napster foresaw, with canny users resorting to a number of tricks to outwit the sharing software's built in filtering system.

Relatable's technology will presumably be used to identify songs on users' PCs, but whether it will scan files as they're transferred or just while they're sitting on the sharer's hard drive isn't known. Either way, there are implications for the software's use of network bandwidth and processor resources. If the code is looking at files on a user's hard disk, we hope it's only scanning files that have been marked for sharing. To do otherwise would surely be a grave infringement of users' privacy. ®

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