The idea of sharing media files over the Internet has become a controversial subject as of late. While file sharing applications such as Napster are currently under fire from the US government and from Music Recording companies, one would think that no one would try to mimic Napster's technology. Johnny Deep, a computer consultant in Troy, New York, has been hailed as the creator of "The Next Napster." Deep is the mind behind "Aimster", named after his daughter, Aimee. Aimster piggybacks the common and very popular instant- messaging services such as AOL Instant Messenger, AOL, and MSN Messaging Service.

Aimster, a free download from web allows users to swap files with users on the buddy lists, or there is the option of searching all Aimster users with a "guest" option. Not only can users share audio files; they can share their pictures, their winamp playlists, and any other file on their computer. As of January 2001 Aimster racked up over 3 million users worldwide. AOL and other messaging services cannot block Aimster use, since it does not run through ISP Servers, rather, every Aimster member's personal computer acts as a server.

The controversy continues as more and more Napster wanna-be's are thrown into the mix. Deep believes that the Recording Industry will have less of a problem with his software, since Aimster users only share their files with friends and family on their buddy list, an act that is similar to loaning a CD to a friend - which is hardly illegal. In interview, Deep was quoted as saying "A lot of people say we " ll be sued not because we are doing anything wrong, but because we are successful." In my opinion, file-sharing should not be getting the negative media attention that it does. I am an avid user of all file-sharing applications: Napster, Aimster, KaZaA and scour. I have over 600 mp 3 files on my computer, and I'm downloading three more while I type this. I use file sharing not only as a way to download a song that I hear on the radio, but to look for new music.

Once I download two or three songs from a band and I enjoy them - I will then go buy their CD. Think about it this way: Do you buy a car with out test driving it? No, that would be ridiculous. So why should poor, starving college kids have to spend $18 on a CD that we can't be sure is any good?