World of Business

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USE OF MUSIC-SHARING SITE NAPSTER QUADRUPLED

Despite the uncertain legality of the Napster online music-sharing service, the number of people using it more than quadrupled in just five months, Media Metrix said yesterday.

That made Napster the fastest-growing software application ever recorded by the Internet research company.

From 1.1 million home users in the United States in February, the first month Media Metrix tracked the application, Napster use rocketed to 4.9 million users in July.

That represents 6 percent of U.S. home PC users who have modems, said Media Metrix, which pays people to install monitoring software on their computers.

It estimates total usage from a panel of about 50,000 people in the United States.

Napster was also used at work by 887,000 people in July, Media Metrix said.

Napster Inc. has been sued by the recording industry for allegedly enabling copyright infringement. The federal government weighed in on the case Friday, saying the service is not protected under a key copyright law, as the San Mateo, Calif., company claims.

TIME WARNER TO SELL MUSIC ONLINE

Time Warner Inc.'s music division announced plans yesterday to sell digital music over the Web, becoming the last of the major music labels to jump on the Internet bandwagon.

Warner Music Group said it will offer about 100 songs from artists such as Barenaked Ladies and Manhattan Transfer at the November launch. It plans to expand eventually to 1,000 albums and singles from other major acts like Madonna and Phil Collins.

In the wake of the success of music-sharing software Napster, Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music have started selling a limited number of tracks as downloads this year. …