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Alternative To Napster Thrives

One Napster alternative that’s attracting thousands of downloads a day is taking a wholly different approach to file-swapping – and looks to be circling the wagons against potential legal threats.

First, Aimster is encrypted, so users can’t be spied on, something the recording industry did to Napster to collect evidence of copyright infringement. Aimster also asks users not to trade in pirated files. Aimster piggybacks on instant-messaging services including America Online’s AIM, allowing users on the same “buddy list” to share files.

A new version of Aimster posted late last month attracted 200,000 downloads in its first 10 days – bringing the number of registered users over the 3 million mark, Aimster spokesman Johnny Deep said Tuesday. The free software has attracted attention amid Napster’s legal problems as one of a number of alternatives for online file-swapping. Files of any type – not just MP3 music files as in Napster Inc.’s case – can be swapped on Aimster, although its design allows sharing only among groups of “buddies” and not across the entire Web like Napster.

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