By Sharon Ugolini
Twenty-year-old former BYU student recently launched software designed to sort through servers holding countless MP3 files.
Travis Hill withdrew from the computer science program at BYU in order to look after his booming business.
Hill, the creator of Songbird, came up with the software to help artists discover if networks such as Napster and Gnutella are distributing music files.
The software searches for artist, songwriters, publishers, producers and record companies that have copyrighted material.
Selling specifically to musicians, this software allows an artist to track their music on networks that distribute without their consent.
Napster, Gnutella and other networks are taking opportunities away from artists to make money by posting free songs on the Internet, Hill said.
“I wanted a legitimate market to sell my music through,” Hill said.
Tom Lee, professor of law at BYU, said these networks violate the copyright laws set by the United States Government.
“The copyright theory is to allow for the person who created the copyrighted work to reap their rewards,” Lee said.
If these laws were not obeyed there would not be a reason to create, Lee said.
Tim Jenkins, a sophomore from UVSC, was the vocalist, guitarist and songwriter of his band before coming to Utah to attend school. His drummer posted songs on Napster in hopes to enhance their audience, Jenkins said.
“I think it”s harder if you are not at least semi-big,” Jenkins said regarding becoming better known through the use of Napster.
Jenkins has downloaded songs, but he said, “I use it only for live things that I have never heard on the radio, and if I like their stuff I go and buy their music to support them.”
That”s the key variable in this situation – the abuse of the privilege of getting free music off a server. “This is wrong, especially when people download entire CD”s,” Jenkins said.
Having produced and sold over 2,000 CDs, Jenkins understands the stress artist go under when battling the large networks which share MP3 files.
Musicians make their money by the CDs they sell. If their songs are distributed for free, they cannot cover the cost for the creation of their CD, Jenkins said.
“My company is working on software to provide a service like Napster,” Hill said.
The software will provide a controlled service where songs may be distributed through a community permitted to transfer songs and chat with one another, Hill said.