Son of Napster

Robert X. Cringely has a new idea for an online music business which he calls Son of Napster, or Snapster for short.

Written by Robert X. Cringely

Napster failed because it was determined by the courts to violate intellectual property rights and because it did not have a successful business model, or any business model for that matter. Any successor to Napster must be both legal (if barely) and profitable.

First the law. Snapster is built on the legal concept of Fair Use, which allows people who purchase records, tapes, and CDs to make copies for backup and for moving the content to other media. So a CD can be copied to an MP3 player, for example. But to remain legal, the MP3 player should be that of the CD owner and not that of another person. CDs can be lent, sold, or borrowed, but in order to make backup or media-shifting copies, the copier must own the original CD. If the original CD is no longer owned by the maker of the backup or media shifting copies because the CD has been sold or given away, any copies should be destroyed under U.S. copyright law.

Snapster is all about ownership. Snapster will be a company that buys at retail one copy of every CD on the market. Figure 100,000 CDs at $14 each requires $1.4 million. Snapster will also be a download service with central servers capable of millions of transactions per day. Figure $100,000 for the download system and bandwidth for one year. Throw in $100,000 for marketing and $400,000 for legal fees and the startup capital required for the business is $2 million.

News source: I, Cringely | The Pulpit

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