Project: Zapster

One of Napster's biggest selling points is also one of its biggest flaws: Almost everything available through the program is teeny-bopper crap. This hits us where we live; nobody's going to buy a Britney Spears album if they can download the one hit they want off Napster while selectively whacking off to her pre- and post-modification band mates. But in a year, all those songs are going to stink like over-ripe fish and — given the computer-savvy habits of the typical Windows user — they're going to spend from today until the end of time clogging up the Napster network.

While this isn't a bad outcome in itself, it doesn't solve the deeper problem. Our plan is to offer Napster users a fix, at a price: We produce our own version of Napster — "Zapster" is what Gerhard in marketing came up with — that allows you to delete an MP3 on someone else's machine for every song you actually buy. An ID number on the CD can be entered into Zapster to give you deletion credits. If you decide that all traces of Lou Bega should be dropped back into whatever hole he crawled out of, you can kill off every copy of "Mambo Number 5" you can find, providing you've got enough deletion credits.

The great thing about this scheme is that it's self-sustaining. If you buy a CD to get deletion credits today, you'll be buying another to kill off those songs tomorrow. We can also pit different genres of music against each other, to see which can lay waste to the other fastest: country versus techno, metal versus classic rock, etc., etc., etc.

In order to get people to use Zapster instead of Napster, we may have to offer small payments "to the generous souls who keep music current." Or, perhaps better, we could release a virus that silently turns Napster into Zapster, deleting songs at random.

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