Select Page

Interestingly, read to the bottom and you’ll find info about AIMster.

Thursday August 10 7:10 PM ET AOL Takes Down Music Search Engine By PETER SVENSSON, AP Business Writer NEW YORK (AP) – America Online Inc. (NYSE:AOL – news) on Thursday once again reined in a subsidiary that has caused it embarrassment in the past, shutting down a search engine for digital music run by Nullsoft, an AOL unit that also has created a Napster-like file-sharing program. The search engine pointed consumers to Web pages with digital music in the popular MP3 format, which the recording industry says has become a vehicle for piracy. “We don’t have an efficient process for distinguishing between legal and illegal MP3s, so we decided to take it down until we can address that,” said AOL spokesman Jim Whitney. The search engine was located on the site that distributes Winamp, a popular MP3 player program for Windows written by Nullsoft. On Thursday, the Search button was still active on the Winamp site, but only returned this message when clicked: “Sorry. Search unavailable at this time. Sad, sad Nullsoft.” Nullsoft programmers sent AOL scrambling in March, when they posted Gnutella, a program that lets users exchange files, including software and music, over the Internet. It was quickly yanked, but has subsequently spread on the Web. Nullsoft’s Web site proclaims that they are “legitimate nihilistic media terrorists as history will no doubt canonize us.” Napster, a program similar to Gnutella that only lets users exchange MP3 files, has been sued by the recording industry for allegedly enabling copyright violations. The Recording Industry Association of America has also sued search engine MP3Board Inc. for providing links to outside Web pages that the industry considers to be copyright violators. The small San Rafael, Calif., company has countersued and last month started using a technology called LinkBlaster to allow copyright holders to delete links to their music on its site. There is still plenty of copyrighted music available through the site. Other Web search engines, such as AltaVista and Lycos’ Hotbot, also allow searches for MP3 files. In another twist, a programmer’s group in Troy, N.Y., on Wednesday released an add-on to AOL’s Instant Messenger that allows users to search the computers of friends who use the same program and download files from them. Instant Messenger, distributed free by AOL, is the dominant “chat” program. Even without add-ons, it allows users to download files from designated folders of other users who give their permission. The free Aimster add-on improves on this by allowing searches in these folders, creating a file-sharing network similar to Napster in a group of friends. AOL spokesman Andrew Weinstein said the company was aware of Aimster and was “looking into it.” –