Other programs set to fill the gap with Napster's pending shutdown

SAN FRANCISCO - As Napster Inc. faces shutting down, other file-sharing services similar to the company remain in operation.

While some provide directories to songs through central servers as Napster does, others use distributed networks, where each logged-on user acts as a server. That enables even more connections than directories with a central server.

Napster's ''MusicShare'' software, Scour Exchange, iMesh and CuteMX update directories to songs via central servers. Gnutella and Freenet are programs which used the distributed system.

Napster was designed to search only for shared MP3 files. Scour Exchange, iMesh and CuteMX can be used to search for audio, video and images. Gnutella and Freenet are ''file agnostic'' and can be used to share all file types.

Also, another free program called Wrapster is available on the Internet which allows any file to be disguised as an MP3 file and transmitted via Napster.

All these programs are available on the Internet and are free to download and use.

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