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Napster is reaching out to a second music technology company as it works feverishly to develop a subscription service by summer and satisfy a court injunction that requires it to block copyrighted music. A Napster spokesman confirmed Friday that the Redwood City, Calif.-based startup has a “relationship” with Gigabeat, but he declined to disclose more details. Gigabeat, based in Palo Alto, Calif., has developed a large music database and a feature — called an engine — that recommends music. In a court filing earlier last week, the company disclosed in a small footnote that Napster has entered into an agreement in which it may in the future acquire certain Gigabeat assets. Gigabeat officials could not be reached for comment. “Looking ahead in the future of digital-music subscription models, really consumers are going to require far more service than they get from Napster or any other current service,” says Matt Bailey, an analyst with music research firm Webnoize. “So I would imagine what Napster is after more than anything is the recommendation engine.” Gigabeat’s technology can instantaneously generate playlists for users and stream those playlists to different platforms as part of a partner-hosted subscription service. One tool introduced more than a year ago, called the GigaSpiral, is a visual representation of recommended artists and songs based on the other music users say they like. The company has received $6.5 million in funding from venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers. Napster’s talks with Gigabeat follow an agreement Napster reached with Berkeley, Calif.-based Gracenote to help block hundreds of thousands of songs from its index, as required by a court injunction issued earlier this month. U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel issued that injunction in connection with a lawsuit filed against Napster by the major record labels in December 1999, which charged the company with copyright infringement. Efforts by Napster to block more than 200,000 songs have resulted in a 25 percent drop in the song-swapping service’s average number of daily users, according to Webnoize. That suggests Napster users are losing interest in the company’s free and wildly popular peer-to-peer file-sharing program as its song selection shrinks, Webnoize concludes. German media conglomerate Bertelsmann has loaned Napster $60 million to build antipiracy features into its software. Napster and Bertelsmann have said they plan to unveil a subscription music service in July. Related Articles from The Industry Standard: Napster Finds the Silver Lining Napster Blocks Over 115,000 Songs Can Napster Change Its Tune? Copyright � 2001 The Industry Standard

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