EMI Music Signs Up With P2P Network - InformationWeek

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EMI Music Signs Up With P2P Network

The service, called Qtrax, will be available in two versions: an ad-supported one that can be accessed at no charge and a premium subscription service that would require a monthly fee.

EMI Music has agreed to have its songs distributed over a legal peer-to-peer network being built by LTDnetwork Inc., which expects to test the service this year.

EMI, which is a divsion of U.K.-based EMI Group, is the first major music company to sign up with LTDnetwork. The service, called Qtrax, will be available in two versions: an ad-supported one that can be accessed at no charge and a premium subscription service that would require a monthly fee.

The two-tiered model is meant to attract consumers and then gradually upgrade them to either buy-to-own tunes or join the premium service, officials with New York-based LTDnetwork said.

The ad-supported service would enable subscribers to search the network and download tracks. Only songs registered with Qtrax would be available. The tunes, which would be in a proprietary file formant, could only be played a pre-defined number of times before the consumer would either have to buy the song or upgrade to the premium service.

Songs made available over the premium service would be copyright protected by Microsoft's digital rights management technology. Subscribers would also be able to play the music on devices running Windows Media player for as long as their subscriptions remained active.

In announcing the deal this week, EMI said it was attracted by the "up-selling opportunities" LTDnetwork's free subscription model presented.

"Our collaboration with Qtrax will give us great consumer insight and help us gauge the boundaries between sampling and purchasing music," David Munns, chairman and chief executive of EMI Music, said in a statement. "Ultimately, the feedback we get from Qtrax will help EMI be more responsive to consumer demand."

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but LTDnetworks said EMI would share in Internet advertising revenues.

The Qtrax service is expected to enter a test phase this year. The initial pilot would be available only in the United States.

Peer-to-peer network services, which enable people to download files from someone else's computer using a desktop client, have gained fame mostly for allowing illegal distribution of copyrighted music. Napster, a pioneer of the distribution system, was shut down by court order several years ago as the result of lawsuits by the movie industry. Other illegal services, however, have launched in countries outside the United States.

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