Nullsoft's Frankel To Leave

from the that-took-a-while dept

Considering the number of times AOL has forced their subsidiary Nullsoft to remove a product they had released on the web a day or so later, many people have expressed amazement that Justin Frankel hasn’t been fired. If you haven’t been following the story, Frankel created WinAmp, the first popular MP3 player for Windows, which AOL bought a few years back. They pretty much left him and his team alone as a “subsidiary”, and they went to work creating a series of programs that AOL clearly wouldn’t be happy about. The first was Gnutella, the original “Napster replacement” technology. Of course, since Frankel put it under GPL, once the code was out there, it didn’t matter that AOL pulled it down within a few hours. Next were a series of lesser-known products that upset AOL. There was the WinAmp add-on that would search the web for MP3s. There was also AIMazing, which would remove the ads from AOL’s instant messenger product. None of these lasted very long online. The latest, though, may have been the last straw. Last week he released a copy of a file sharing application called WASTE (bonus points for catching the reference). I actually was on the Nullsoft page reading about it when AOL pulled it down (I had been there about 30 seconds when I sent an IM to a friend with the link – and he wrote back that the page didn’t exist… and it never did again). WASTE actually has some potential to be useful as a sort of open-source “Groove-lite” for sharing information and files in a corporate setting. However, the potential to use it like any other file sharing network (though, limited to many fewer users) upset AOL quite a bit, and they pulled it – and tried to tell anyone who downloaded it that it was illegal. Frankel has finally decided he’s had enough. He’s suggested that he will be leaving AOL at some point in the near future. The surprise to me (after the fact that he wasn’t fired – or somehow prevented from doing all of these things in the first place) was that he stayed so long. Clearly, going off on his own would allow him to work on a variety of projects without the constant interference from AOL. Once he leaves, I imagine we’ll be seeing a lot more useful applications from him – and they’ll actually remain on his website for more than a few hours.

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