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As we look at the music industry's decision to target Napster in the hopes of curtailing MP3 copyright infringment, it seems like the plan has backfired. If anything, Napster's slow demise has created a backlash, unleashing dozens of imitators that mimic its file-sharing capabilities, several even improving upon it.

When Napster began filtering songs from its service this past spring, frustrated music lovers began searching for alternatives. Many of these file-sharing programs, such as Gnutella, were plagued by their difficulty of use, while others like Morpheus did a good job of recreating the original Napster experience. Most of these new file-swapping programs also expanded the range of content that users could explore, by allowing the trading of video and image files.

While Napster is due to return as a pay service, it's doubtful that anyone will want to go back to it with free music still available elsewhere. While this is bad news for Napster and the industry, it's certainly good news for music lovers. Here's a brief guide to some of the best alternatives out there. While they're far from perfect, you'll never be missing Napster again.


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