| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Qtrax, a new legal online file-sharing
service that allows fans to download songs for free, said on
Sunday it will launch with 25 million to 30 million copyrighted
tracks with backing from major labels.
The free service will be funded through advertising revenue
that Qtrax will share with the music companies.
Qtrax executives said the company's digital rights
management technology will count the number of times each song
has been played in order to fairly compensate artists and
rights' holders, without restricting consumer use.
The company has focused on ensuring that its network is
free of spyware or adware such as pop-ups common on many
peer-to-peer networks to improve the customer experience.
"If you want people to come to a legal environment it has
to be demonstrably better," said Chief Executive Allan
Peer-to-peer services, which allow fans to exchange digital
media files quickly and easily, have been controversial for
media companies because the technology enables illegal
distribution of copyrighted material.
Music companies have been badly hit as fans flocked to P2P
services like Limewire and e-Donkey to download millions of
free songs rather than buy CDs or legal downloads from Apple
Inc.'s iTunes digital store.
The music trade organizations have used litigation with
varying degrees of success to try and close down P2P services
they argue are promoting piracy.
Klepfisz said the privately held Qtrax will help music
companies by allowing fans to achieve a balance between the
ease of use of a free P2P service with the need to compensate
artists and songwriters.
Qtrax has deals with all four major companies including
Vivendi's Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment,
Warner Music Group and EMI Group.
To take advantage of the free but legal service, the user
will need to download the Qtrax software which displays adverts
while the user is searching and downloading songs.
The site will feature special sections including one called
'Last Night' where users can search for newly added tracks from
live concerts that were recorded the night before. It will also
feature music videos, artist documentaries, interviews, album
reviews and biographies among other features.
Qtrax is not the first service to offer free songs for
download with advertising support. Last September, SpiralFrog
launched an ad-supported free service with music from just one
of the major record companies Universal Music. It is still in
talks with other labels.
(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke, editing by Leslie Gevirtz)