The man behind the original Napster, Shawn Fanning, has launched his own solution to illegal file sharing.
Fanning hopes his Snocap service will woo people away from illegal file sharing.
Rather than an iTunes-style music service, Snocap is a content management system for music distributed via P2P networks. Artists and record labels upload and globally manage their own content and define their own ground rules for how the music files can be used.
For example, a label or artist can decide the songs' digital file format; fee; and restrictions on which music service can license the files. Music fans don't buy the tunes directly from Snocap, music services are able to license the files depending on the rules set by the owner of the music.
It uses technology from Netherlands-based consumer electronics firm Royal Philips Electronics to fingerprint songs that are entered into the registry. So if users share a tune Snocap checks the database for the associated copyright information and enforces whatever usage rules the owner has assigned.
Snocap notifies the labels of any unauthorized files being requested, so they can be registered. Once the file is registered, it can be shared. Snocap logs the transaction, bills the music service for a transaction fee, and then sends the label the licensing fee it's owed.
The San Francisco-based company has secured content from the major music houses and larger indie labels - Universal Music Group, EMI Music, and Sony BMG Music Entertainment are all onboard. It is still in negotiations with Warner Music Group. Snocap is now calling for smaller independent labels to sign up.
Snocap boasts that about 500,000 tracks have been registered so far, reports Business Week.
The company needs to persuade one of the big P2P networks, such as eDonkey, to come onboard, analysts say.