EMusic developed what it calls "acoustic fingerprinting" technology after discussions between the two companies concerning unauthorised distribution of songs licensed to EMusic broke down, the company said in a statement. The software launched by EMusic will be used to identify songs on the Napster service that EMusic says infringe copyright laws, the company said.
"Napster's unfortunate and inflexible response has been that EMusic's only course of action is to request that offending users' accounts be cut off completely," said Gene Hoffman, president and chief executive officer of EMusic in the statement.
Napster officials could not be reached for comment.
Napster's client software allows users to trade music in a noncommercial format, which has proven to be extremely controversial, while EMusic charges users for licensed titles either on a per-song, per-album, or subscription-based fee. Single songs on the site cost about 99 US cents with entire albums costing $US8.99. Additionally, EMusic offers users a $US9.99 subscription service with unlimited downloads of around 140,000 licensed titles, according to EMusic's Web site.
According to EMusic, the company tried to offer "several" technical solutions for blocking unauthorised songs from being downloaded through Napster but in turn Napster would only agree to provide the names of Napster users identified as distributing EMusic tracks so that EMusic could then block their accounts.