Morpheus: ‘We’re Back’

Now that the U.S. Courts have ruled that Morpheus is both legal and legitimate, parent company StreamCast Wednesday said it will launch the newest version of its popular peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing software on May 1.

The software allows users to search and download all types of digital media, including audio, videos, games, photos, software and documents.

However according to discussion boards, the new version was already released this weekend. If you download Morpheus 2.0 from some sites you actually get version 3.0.

Los Angeles, Calif.-based StreamCast formerly known as also said Michael Weiss has returned to his position as CEO. After a two-year hiatus, Weiss says he is ready to take on all challenges.

“I intend for Morpheus to regain its number one position,” Weiss said. “We were number one because we cared about our users, we listened to our users and we provided our users with a superior experience. My message for everyone that has ever used Morpheus in the past is ‘we’re back’ and it starts tomorrow with the release of Morpheus 3.0.”

During his previous tenure, Weiss launched the first version of Morpheus software two years ago and was responsible for it becoming one of the most popular P2P software platforms on the Internet. Since then, over 110 million copies of the software have been downloaded worldwide.

Weiss told that by the end of this summer, his company will bring many changes to the P2P platform including the revitalization of MusicCity’s platform and Morpheus 4.0.

“The improvements will be in software and community building,” Weiss said. “I think that our MusicCity brand will become very popular as we work with independent musicians. Beyond that we are looking at bringing peer-to-peer to the wireless space so that users can remotely synchronize downloads with their wireless devices. There are bandwidth limitations, but this is something that can happen relatively quickly.”

Version 3.0 is a “substantial” overhaul of its predecessor offering better access to content and promising faster and more reliable downloads. StreamCast also says the new Morpheus uses less system resources on users’ computers.

In addition to a new interface, Morpheus 3.0 boasts a combination of open source and proprietary technology. The software offers an integrated media player and media library that helps users find and manage their media without leaving the application. The new version also has its own chat application. The platform is again based on the Gnutella network.

“I think that Gnutella will grow and become stronger and a cooperation between the developers,” Weiss said. “The beautiful part about the network is that no one single company controls Gnutella, similar to the Internet as a whole.”

But the competition is more fierce than ever and Morpheus is not out of the woods legally.

Rival site Grokster was also cleared in the suit filed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Other free download sites like KaZaA, LimeWire and BearShare are still looming around.

The record labels say they will appeal the judge’s decision with Hilary Rosen noting businesses that “intentionally facilitate massive piracy should not be able to evade responsibility for their actions.”

“We’re not going to walk away from anything,” Weiss said. “We’re in it for the long haul. We always were and always will be. History repeats itself and there are three phases when any new technology comes out — old media will always try to suppress new media; if old media can’t contain new media, it tries to stand in its way; and once they find they can’t stop new media, old media will work with new media and make money off of it. We’re in phase two now. When phase three comes, I don’t know but it has happened for over a 100 years.

As to detractors that point to illegal file sharing using the Morpheus platform, Weiss says there is a file verification technology site testing being done and the company continues to inform its membership of the dangers of copyright infringement.

And while Morpheus may run free, the Internet service providers that illegal file swappers use are now the target of lawsuits. Last week, a U.S. District judge said Verizon Communications must disclose under the subpoena power of the DMCA the name of an Internet customer who allegedly downloaded hundreds of copyrighted songs. The telecom giant is seeking a stay of that decision until its appeal.

Then there are the legal pay sites like pressplay, MusicNet, Rhapsody and Apple Computer’s new iTunes Music Store. All of which have been gaining ground while Morpheus was caught sleeping.

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