January 23, 2002 11:00 AM PST

Aimster changes name, adds fee service

File-swapping company Aimster has renamed its service and started a drive to turn free users into paying customers.

Aimster founder Johnny Deep said he transferred the Aimster name to America Online last week and rebranded the company Madster.com. In May, Aimster lost the rights to its domain name after an arbitration panel decided the name violated the AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) trademark.

Madster remains free, but the company has added a subscription service that offers features such as better connectivity and recommendations from other members.

Despite handing over the Aimster name, the company is not free of the courts. It's still caught in legal struggles with trade groups for the movie industry, recording industry and music publishers, which have filed separate lawsuits alleging the file-swapping company violated their copyrights.

AOL spokesman Andrew Weinstein said that although the company is no longer pursuing damages and attorney's fees, the "parties have not resolved their disputes with respect to copyright infringement and related matters." Weinstein added that the AOL Time Warner division does not plan to use the Aimster trademark.

The Madster site provides software upgrades and a subscription service, dubbed Club Madster, for $4.95 per month. The company is hoping to attract new and former Aimster fans by initially offering a second month of membership for free.

"The service hasn't changed an awful lot," said Deep, who changed his title from chief executive of Aimster to president of Madster.

 

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