Napster Says It Hasn't Been 'Hacked'

Napster denies what it called "inaccurate statements" on the Internet that the company's new music subscription service had been hacked.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

February 16, 2005

2 Min Read

Napster Inc. on Wednesday denied what it called "inaccurate statements" on the Internet that the company's new music subscription service had been hacked.

The Napster statement followed Tuesday's posting on the website that a subscriber of Napster's $15 a month Napster To Go service can convert its protected WMA files to WAV files and then burn them to CD. The all-you-can download service lets subscribers store music on a PC or mobile device, but doesn't let them copy the songs to CD.

"It has come to our attention that there are a number of inaccurate statements posted by various sources on the Internet regarding the security of Napster and Napster To Go," Bill Pence, Napster's chief technology officer, said in the statement released Wednesday. "As Napster's CTO, I would like to officially state that neither Napster To Go, Napster, nor Windows Media DRM have been hacked."

Napster uses Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Media digital rights management software to protect against illegal copying.

According to, by installing the digital music program Winamp and the Output Stacker plug-in, a person could convert the protected files, and bypass buying the subscription songs individually for 99 cents, in order to copy them.

Pence, however, said the programs allow the users to record the playback of tracks directly from the computer's sound card.

"This process can be likened to the way people used to record songs from the radio onto cassette tapes, but instead of capturing the music on a tape, the file is converted into a new, unprotected digital format," Pence said. "This program does not break the encryption of the files, which can only be recorded one at a time making the process quite laborious."

The Winamp and Output programs would take 10 hours to convert 10 hours of music, Pence said, also noting that files from any legal subscription and pay-per-download service could be copied in this way.

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