Napster's business partner, Bertelsmann (BMG), is developing software that could be bought in to replace Napster if the peer-to-peer file sharing company is shut down.

The program is called Snoopstar, and has an "easy-to-use" interface that lets users search for music, videos and other files from multiple sources.

The Industry Standard claims Snoopstar was made available for beta testing in early February.

Positioning Napster CEO Hank Barry told German trade newspaper Net-Business that he wasn't aware of Snoopstar, but that he understood Bertelsmann's interest in such a service – either to replace Napster should Napster be closed, or as a bargaining chip against other labels.

The domain name was registered by a BMG executive, Matthias Runte, who works in BeCG – the part of the company that signed the deal with Napster last year.

A BMG source told The Industry Standard that Snoopstar is a Bertelsmann company, but called it "just a test project". He said the beta version of Snoopstar's technology was downloaded 1,000 times, but added "there are no further plans with Snoopstar". The company, however, posted want ads for software developers on German recruitment sites just three weeks ago.

Snoopstar's unified interface can be used only for searching on various services, not for offering one's own files for downloading. Beta testers of Snoopstar report that it included advertisements and links to Bertelsmann's retail music site CDNow, as well as to Barnesandnoble.com and BOL.