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Monday, November 22, 2004

Blending free and fee in P2P

Here's a twist - sort of like iTunes and Kazaa in a single package. "While the music industry attempts to shutter peer-to-peer services in court and in Congress, one company is using P2P networks to promote and pay artists," Wired News reports. It's called Weed and it allows file-sharers to download a song and play it three times for free. The fourth time, they pay a dollar (iTunes-style pricing). Then they can burn it to an unlimited number of CDs, file-share at will, and even post it on a Web page. How does it help artists? They get promoted by their fans - in addition to their 50% of sales. Weed "encourages sharing by awarding a commission to people who pass the songs on to friends who then buy it. The copyright owner always gets 50% of each sale. Weed gets 15% for service and software costs. The fan who passes the music along gets 20% of the sale if a friend buys the track," Wired News explains.

Another idea being played with is Napster founder Shawn Fanning's. His new company Snocap has technology that, rumor has it, "would allow users to share a low-quality copy of a licensed song for free, and would grant them access to a higher-quality version only after they paid a fee," the Wall Street Journal reports. Snocap just licensed Vivendi Universal's catalog of 150,000 songs. A third idea being used right now at P2P service Grokster is a combination of file-sharing and Internet radio. It allows users to "stream and listen to high-quality versions of specific songs - even music that is not available through download software like Apple Computer's iTunes," CNET reports. Because the music is streamed and not downloaded, it's like sampling rather than owning and thus complies with copyright law, its promoters say. However successful, all three approaches are great for online families - because legal and ethical options for the file-sharing so popular with teens are definitely multiplying!


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