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Commercial? Mixed
Type of site Viral content sharing, social network service
Registration free, required to play many full length tracks
Owner imeem, Inc.
Created by Community
Current status Active

imeem is a social media service where users interact with each other by watching, posting, and sharing content of all digital media types, including blogs, photos, audio, and video. The company was founded by Dalton Caldwell (ex-VA Linux) and Jan Jannink (formerly of Napster) and many of the core engineers came from the original Napster file sharing service[1]. Launched in October 2004,[2] the service has both a social network structure as well as a content browsing/filtering structure similar to that of Flickr and YouTube. It works on an advertising based business model, and is therefore free to use.

According to imeem executives imeem has more than 25 million visitors per month[3] with over 65,000 new users every day[4].


[edit] Features

Visitors to the site may access music, video, photographs, blog posts and polls; however, commenting, rating, tagging and the posting of new content requires a user to register an account. A key feature promoted by imeem is the media playlist where content posted from multiple sources may be collected into a playlist which itself may be published for comments, tags and rating. Playlists can consist of videos, music or images, with the recent introduction of the 'Remix Player' music and images may be combined into a single presentation with customizable image transition effects. Several websites have since imitated the playlist feature, either adding it to an existing media player widget (e.g. YouTube) or building their entire service around the idea (ProjectPlaylist).

Imeem provides a number of mechanisms to make content available to audiences outside of the site through RSS syndication and embedding content into external sites. However, since February 2007 MySpace has been taking steps to limit the posting of imeem content on its site: any updates or comments have the word 'imeem' removed upon posting, making it impossible to even mention the site. It has since emerged that this block is likely because MySpace is attempting to copy the music features of imeem and is negotiating with record labels to license content[5]. Myspace has blocked imeem embeds as of July 22, 2008.

imeem used to require a software client, to support its distributed database model and provide features such as instant messaging and file sharing. However, this has since been phased out, and the site has been entirely web based since June 2007.

imeem links users through topic groups which were originally called "meems", relating to common interests. Media content can exist in custom profile pages and topic groups (called "meems", from the word "meme"), as well as in browsable content channels and charts. Meems can serve as online communities for artists, bands, clubs, films, schools, festivals, concert tours, friends, and sports enthusiasts. However a recent redesign of the site has renamed most of the references to the word "meem" with "group", presumably this is an attempt to reduce user confusion over the word. Formerly, it was possible for links to be made between groups which had related subject matters. However, this linking feature was only ever implemented on the client, and it is no longer possible to add or remove links with the website - the links are still visible on older groups, and officially created groups appear to have links added at creation time.

[edit] History

The service has changed drastically since its original inception. When it first launched the client was the primary platform; the website merely existed as a means for users to register and download the client. The original service was billed as a 'distributed, peer-to-peer, social network'[6] every client on the network had a database, which would accelerate access to content deemed to be close to the user. The database would also generate and store references to media content shared on the network; if a user shared photos or a podcast then the data would only exist on the client database network. Users who wanted to view the content would access it by peering directly with the publisher.

While this distributed model was interesting it proved to be difficult to attract many users since the only way to participate was to download the imeem client software. The application proved to be something of a resource hog for power users since the database could grow to quite large proportions just by associating with a few individuals who were sharing a lot of content.

Over time more features have been added to the website and now the client software is no longer functional and the innovative distributed database model has been centralized. Now that all of imeem's features are available without requiring a client download the service has rapidly grown in popularity, in particular with classes of user who have traditionally found themselves on the other side of the digital divide.[7]. According to comscore web traffic statistics was the fastest growing social site from October 2006-2007 with its usage rising almost 1600%. [8]

On January 28, 2008, imeem announced that it was acquiring the music locker service[9]

On February 1, 2008, imeem acquired the online music distributor Snocap. It had already been making extensive use of Snocap's audio fingerprinting technology and music database.[10]

In April 2008, imeem received a new round of funding from Sequoia Capital.[11]

On October 22, 2008, imeem laid off 25% of its staff.[12]

[edit] Copyright

In terms of content privacy and editing, imeem applies a user participation model and maintains a set of community guidelines, user flagging of inappropriate content, and a notice-and-takedown policy. imeem's user agreement requires users to respect copyright law, and is not responsible for any infringing activities in accordance with the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act,1998.

However in early 2007 it was proposed that imeem's increase in popularity was due to its "laissez-faire attitude towards copyright issues".[13][14]

Warner Music Group Corp. announced on July 12, 2007 that it had settled its copyright infringement lawsuit against imeem by agreeing to license its music and video content to the site for a slice of its ad revenue. Financial details of the settlement were not disclosed. Under the agreement, imeem Inc. can carry music and videos from all of the record company's artists, which include Madonna, Linkin Park and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Warner Music Group Corp has also recently released financial statements indicating that it has invested $15 million into the company.[15]

On September 26th, 2007 it was revealed that imeem had negotiated a deal with Sony/BMG music[16], furthermore the same story reported that imeem was in negotiations with both EMI and Vivendi Universal. A month later imeem announced a deal with EMI music[17] to allow their music to be freely available on the site, with one notable exception, the catalogue of The Beatles remains unavailable to any digital distribution. In December 2007 imeem completed its 'Royal Flush' of major labels when it signed a deal with Vivendi Universal[18], again the terms of the deal are secret, but it is presumed that users of the site can now legally share music from Universal's extensive catalogue.

If imeem determines that the legal copyright owner of an uploaded track is a record label which does not have a deal with imeem the track will be reduced to a 30 second sample when anyone except the original uploader attempts to listen to the track. Regardless of whether a full track or 30 second version is played, the user is presented with links to purchase the track from music retail sites, including and iTunes.

[edit] Privacy

Groups are either public or private, private groups are invite only and not visible to non members, private groups are more limited than public groups since you cannot upload multimedia files, only images are allowed. User profile information allows privacy levels to be set individually on each piece of information, so a user's first name may be public but their last name may be more protected.

The 3 levels of privacy are:

  • Myself
  • My friends
  • The Internet (web publishable)

[edit] Client security

  • The imeem client conducted most of its network activity using an encrypted protocol, making it difficult to monitor user activity.
  • Conversations via imeem's IM functionality and group chats are encrypted and only visible to conversation participants.
  • On startup the application validated with a central server. This ensured that unauthorized clients could not connect and run malicious exploits (such as monitoring traffic or spoofing identities) against the network.
  • Software updates were also delivered via the client and authenticated before they were installed.

The website obviously lacks many of the security features of the client, and since the majority of the content is now delivered from the website many of the original security features are no longer applicable outside the basic chat and file sharing features available on the client. Server-side configurations disables user's ability to use 3rd Party Programs (Such as Rich Media Downloaders for downloading media linked outside of the flash file) to download any imeem User Uploads.

[edit] Imeem technology

imeem is primarily written in C# which allows the same code to execute under Microsoft's .Net and the open source Mono environments, this has allowed imeem to use both Windows and Linux based servers to run the service and website and as a result imeem developers have had an active role in developing Mono by reporting problems and contributing patches to the project.

For a time imeem supported a version of imeem for Mac OS X[19] using Mono coupled with a library christened 'Dumbarton' which bridges data and methods between Objective C and Mono. The name of the library references the Dumbarton Bridge, the crossing of which has a dismal reputation due to pungent salt marshes alongside the span; as such the name "Dumbarton" serves as a suitable analogy for crossing between the two language environments.[20] This library has been released under the LGPL as an alternative to Cocoa# and can be downloaded from the imeem site, although the imeem client for Mac is no longer available

The website heavily uses Ajax and Flash to deliver the content and allow users to access it. Video and audio are both encoded as FLV files, audio is delivered as 128kbit near CD quality MP3 data. Video is encoded to mp3 audio at 96kbit and Sorenson video at > 700kbit with resolution resized to 400 pixels wide and preserving its aspect ratio. While the video quality and resolution is significantly better[21] than other video sites (youtube uses 300kbit video[21]) the video sharing aspect of imeem has been largely eclipsed by the audio sharing component[citation needed]. In 2008 imeem upgraded the video quality further and has become one of the first media sharing sites to offer video encoded with the H.264 codec and at the original source resolution.

On March 24th 2008[22] imeem announced the launch of a developer's platform which will permit third party developers to interact with imeem data[23], this is independent of imeem's Open Social API which is as yet unreleased.

Imeem has released an application for the Android mobile operating system[24], when released it was the only streaming music application on the platform which in turn has led to it being one of the most popular applications installed on Android devices. The application lets users either listen to computer selected radio stations based upon the Users tastes, popular music or even the user's current location. While it lacks the ability to listen to any song on the site, it still permits users to listen to any song they have uploaded to imeem. The imeem application was voted 'Best Mobile Application' at the 2009 Crunchie Awards.

[edit] References

  1. ^ Jan Jannink, Co-Founder thread in IMEEM forum
  2. ^ A Little More on imeem - The Social Software Weblog
  3. ^ Marketing Pop Culture: Digital Music Forum: Digital Music Trends Impacting the Music Business
  4. ^ Imeem puts musical spin on social networking -
  5. ^ MySpace's Nutty "Hulu For Music" Plan - Silicon Alley Insider
  6. ^ Imeem launches desktop component for distributed social networking - The Social Software Weblog
  7. ^ the riddim meth0d » imeem, i’m sayin
  8. ^ Social Site Rankings (September, 2007)
  9. ^ imeem Acquires Web Music Player Anywhere.FM
  10. ^ Imeem Acquires Snocap
  11. ^ Imeem receives additional funding from Sequoia Capital
  12. ^ Imeem Cuts Quarter of Staff, Might Be Looking for Buyer
  13. ^ Imeem Explodes
  14. ^ It's Rishi
  15. ^ "Warner Music has $15M investment in Imeem". 2008-08-08. Retrieved on 2008-08-11. 
  16. ^ Sony BMG Reaches Deal With Imeem -
  17. ^ EMI's Music Now Approved for Uploading to Imeem (Updated) | Listening Post from
  18. ^ / Companies / Media & internet - Universal digital link with Imeem
  19. ^ Imeem Finds a Creative Solution: Innovative Cross-Platform Development
  20. ^ On The Verge Post on IMEEM
  21. ^ a b Video Quality around the inernets Post on IMEEM
  22. ^ We’re open-minded about media Post on IMEEM
  23. ^ Developer Info - imeem
  24. ^

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