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Will LimeWire displace Napster as the file swapping program of choice? Print E-mail
Friday, 13 April 2001
Now that Napster has been ordered to filter out most copywritten material by Judge Patel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, music fans have been scrambling to find a way to continue swapping music files for free via the Internet. Hard core file swappers have found that by mixing up the names and songs of the artists or misspelling the song title or artist’s name, it is possible to get around some of the filtering. The major record companies are aware that this is happening and Napster is in jeopardy of being shut down altogether. If Napster does meet its demise, there is a good chance that a new program called LimeWire will be the next way that people trade not only music files but video clips and movies as well.

Gnutella is a file swapping system that is an open networking protocol which allows users running software like as LimeWire to share all types of files. Gnutella’s decentralized design allows users to speak directly to each other without going through an intermediate server. Unlike other peer-to-peer solutions such as Napster, the Gnutella network is not controlled by a single entity and does not operate from a central point. While often compared to Napster, Gnutella has potential much greater than just sharing MP3 files. It was believed by many IT experts that Gnutella could not scale beyond a few thousand users, but the network currently handles over 200,000 users each day and is growing rapidly.

LimeWire is written in the programming language Java, and will run on any machine with an Internet connection and the ability to run Java version 1.1.8. The LimeWire program connects, via the Internet, to the LimeWire Gateway, a specialized intelligent Gnutella router, at startup to maximize the user's viewable network space. This is a much more hands off approach to connecting people to each other in order to share files.

When compared to Napster, LimeWire is a bit more difficult to setup and use, but has a much larger amount of content available to its users. The designers who created LimeWire hail from companies and prestigious institutions such as MIT, Columbia University, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, CIBC Oppenheimer, and Compaq and surely a more user-friendly version will be created. Lime Wire LLC, a privately funded New York-based startup, currently employs the largest single team dedicated to Gnutella software development.

The company is currently seeking venture capital to further the company’s expansion, but with the possibility of Napster's demise just over the horizon, will Wall Street take a risk on this highly controversial company? More importantly, will an easily downloadable application like LimeWire wake up the media companies to the fact that file sharing can not be stopped? If Napster is silenced with no pay-per-download solution available, savvy programmers will be one step ahead of the big 5 record companies which will prevent any possible profits by the copyright owners. AudioRevolution.com will keep you informed as the story unfolds.

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