Wicked Cool, Muxtape Faces Copyrights Fray


Muxtape is a new way to make a mixed tape, online. Courtesy of Muxtape hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Muxtape

A Web site launched two weeks ago marks the rebirth of the mixed tape — that old-fashioned mix of songs custom-made for road trips and courting, for breakups and makeups. Muxtape.com lets you do in minutes online what used to take hours with a tape recorder.

Muxtape offers free individual accounts that hold no more than 12 songs at a time. Users can share their mixes with anyone by sending out a simple link (for an example, check out creator Justin Ouellette's).

For Ouellette, the point is to keep the site simple and clean. You can't search for individual songs, and you can't download the music. Muxtape is for streaming songs, not file-sharing. On the Web, he says, "There's a real tendency to provide a huge amount of information about listening habits or comparing your tastes. But none of those things are very personal."

Muxtape's only goal, Ouellette says, is to introduce people to new music. He says that with mixed tapes of old, he paid much more attention to an individual song because he knew someone had deliberately chosen it.

"People have thousands of songs," Ouellette says. "When they reduce them to 12, there's a higher standard of quality."

But sites where people share music by whatever means have a history of legal problems. Groups like the Recording Industry Association of America have forced major changes at music services like Napster. The RIAA declined to comment on Muxtape, and attorneys have offered conflicting opinions about whether the site flouts copyright laws.

For his part, Ouellette says he expects legal issues to come up. He says he has already started talking to record labels about cooperating in the site. "Napster was definitely about searching and getting all the music you can for free," he says. "[On Muxtape] you can't download these songs, you can't search, you can't scrub. It's intended purpose it to introduce you to new music that you can then buy."

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