DN Staff

July 10, 2001

2 Min Read
Napster? What's that?

Wednesday, November 1, 2000

The first shot in the Internet record wars was fired on Halloween-BAM!

That's the day that Brilliant(TM) Digital Entertainment Inc. (Los Angeles, CA, www.brilliantdigital.com) announced a new online song format that produces 3D animated streaming music videos. The company calls its creation Brilliant Animated Music...yup, that's BAM.

BAM videos squeeze their animation into small file sizes, so they can be played back without waiting for audio download. And listeners can use interactive features like clicking on the video to learn more about the artist, and to purchase CDs directly from their desktops. Brilliant makes these files with its b3d technology (www.b3d.com), which combines online promotion and e-commerce with simple music videos.

The technology could be useful to engineers who are trying to share memory-intensive CAD model files over Internet lines and to collaborate on design at the same time. Imagine if you could send that complex CAD assembly to an engineer in a different time zone, and hyperlink the different components to Web links that offered background information.

But the most interesting thing about the press release was what it didn't mention. Napster? Never heard of it. MP3? Must be joking.

The biggest story in online music this year is all about Shawn Fanning, the Michigan college student who created the Napster peer-to-peer song trading program that allows Internet users to trade MP3-format songs. All it takes is one college student in Arizona buying the new Britney Spears album, popping the CD into her PC, and within hours anyone with an Internet connection can hear the new tunes. But since Napster has no mechanism for listeners to actually pay for the music they hear, the record industry has reacted by slapping Fanning with congressional hearings and lawsuits.

One of those lawsuits was apparently settled yesterday, when the German music publishing giant Bertelsmann BMG announced it had made an alliance with Napster to create a membership-based song-trading service that provides copyright payments to the record company. In exchange for Napster's implementing this service, Bertelsmann agreed to open its enormous music catalog. The two parties are expected to try to entice other record companies to join them.

But BAM is still pretending Napster doesn't exist. Without mentioning Fanning by name, the BAM release pointedly says it will give viewers "an interactive online entertainment experience in a format that is authorized and approved by record companies; BAM productions are created in tandem with the labels and artists and distributed under mutually agreed upon terms."

BAM files will be distributed by Yahoo, Warner Brothers Online, Roadrunner, @Home, and VH1.com.

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