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Napster rival offers copyright protection
(IDG) -- Napster rival SpinFrenzy.com has created a separate division called Pointera to license its file-sharing service to Web publishers and portals that want to let their users swap information with each other, instead of retrieving it from a central server.
But unlike Napster, Pointera offers a content filtering service that lets Web sites enforce copyright laws. With the Pointera service, Web sites can screen out particular file names or categories of files and prevent users from swapping them.
Pointera launches this week with a general-purpose file-sharing service that has powered SpinFrenzy.com for the last eight months. Modeled after Inktomi's successful Web caching strategy, Pointera is offering a private-label hosted service that will support file sharing for other Web sites.
With the Pointera Sharing Engine, users can find and swap Microsoft Office files, PDF documents, MP3 music files, video clips and images through a Web browser, without having to download or install client software as is required by Napster. Pointera refreshes its database every 30 seconds to ensure that files are kept current. Pointera also supports e-mail and chat.
In addition to its Web-based client and copyright filtering service, Pointera differentiates itself from Napster, Gnutella, iMesh and other file-sharing systems by supporting pay-per-download services that Web publishers can offer.
Pointera has not yet licensed its service to any Web publishers or portals other than SpinFrenzy.com. For Web publishers, Pointera charges a set-up fee and then negotiates ad revenue sharing arrangements. Portals pay a monthly fee that is less than a penny per query or per user.
Next year, Pointera plans to offer an enterprise version of its service for corporate intranets.
"Three applications come to mind on the intranet: search, private document sharing within a workgroup and remote access limited to employees," Pointera CEO Manish Vij says. "We would sell the corporation the Pointera server [software] to keep inside the company."
However, Pointera doesn't have a solution for corporate network managers worried about the bandwidth demands of file-sharing applications.
"It's going to get a whole lot worse. If portals start offering these services, it's going to be a huge hit on bandwidth," Vij predicts. He says Pointera minimizes bandwidth concerns by searching users' subnets first for files before going out across the Internet.
Pointera, in Palo Alto, is seeking $20 million in venture capital financing. The division employs 10 people.
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