updated 2/17/2005 9:09:29 AM ET 2005-02-17T14:09:29

Less than three weeks after Napster Inc. began touting its all-you-can-rent music subscription service, the company finds itself refuting Internet claims that its copy-protection measures are flawed.

The company posted a message this week, saying the service's digital music tracks are no more susceptible to unauthorized copying than any other licensed music service.

The statement comes after word surfaced on the Internet about how subscribers of Napster To Go, which lets users play an unlimited number of tracks on their computer or on certain portable devices for about $15 a month, could make permanent copies of the songs.

The method involves downloading a free audio player that is able to record audio directly from a computer's sound card, bypassing copy-protection technology designed to prevent copying.

Such a method could potentially harm the prospects for the company's new service.

In its statement, the company compared the process described on the Internet to copying songs from the radio onto cassette tapes.

"This program does not break the encryption of the files, which can only be recorded one at a time making the process quite laborious," the company said.  "It would take 10 hours to convert 10 hours of music in this manner."

Despite efforts to use copy-protection technology on CDs and within digital tracks, most, if not all, fail to block recording of analog audio signals.

"As long as you can listen to the music, there's going to be a way to capture it like this," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Jupiter Research.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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